Pagan Roots Of The Trinity – Chapter 3 – Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity!

Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity bookCHAPTER 3: PAGAN ROOTS OF THE TRINITY?

WHAT ABOUT EGYPTIAN, BABYLONIAN, AND HINDU TRIADS?

 

At this point, the Watchtower booklet endeavors to validate their claims against the Trinity by trying to establish a link between the doctrine of the Trinity found in Christianity and the pagan “gods” of ancient religions. On page 10 of the Trinity brochure, endeavoring to convey the idea that the doctrine of the Trinity is of pagan origin, the Society pictures sculptures of Egyptian, Babylonian, and Hindu false gods of past centuries along with pictures of Trinitarian figures in more recent centuries. However, the Society totally overlooks one of the major difference between pagan false gods and Trinitarian doctrine.

Far from the teachings of Christian monotheists who hold to the concept that the Triune God is three persons yet one God, pagans were polytheists who believed in many gods. One prime example of this can be found in the Watchtower’s picture of the Egyptian “Triad of Horus, Osiris, Isis.” Richard H. Wilkinson, author of the book, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, notes:

“Groups of three deities are often aligned as members of a divine family of father (god), mother (goddess) and child (almost invariably a young male deity), with the triad of Orisis, Isis and Horus being the most prominent example.” –Richard H. Wilkenson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson Inc., 2003), page 75

The Society fails to mention, however, that this so-called “triad” was actually comprised of a family of several gods (not just three), led by a head god named “Amon Ra” or “Atum Re,” depending on spelling differences. This god family consisted of Shu and Tefnut (grandparents), Geb (father) and Nut (mother) whose sons were Osiris and Seth, and daughters were Isis and Nephthys. “Frequently, the god Horus, son and heir of Osiris and the deity most closely associated with kingship, was added to this group….”1. Concerning this family of gods, Barbara Watterson, author of the book, Gods of Ancient Egypt, had this to say:

“In due course, Osiris married Isis and Seth married Nephthys. They, together with their parents, Geb and Nut, their grandparents, Shu and Tefnut, and their brother, Haroeris, formed the group of gods which, with Atum at its head, was the Great Ennead of Iunu.” –Barbara Watterson, Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), page 30

Therefore, simply because one may find pagan sculptures which represent three of their many false gods together in one statue, does not imply that they believed in some sort of a Trinity. To the contrary, Barbara Watterson notes:

“As a uniform way of life developed in Egypt, this process of merging deities, called syncretism, should logically have led to the blending of all the gods and goddesses of Egypt into one god with a very long name made up of the syllables of the names of all the other gods. However, the Egyptians were not the most logical of people, and this ‘happy’ state was never attained! Thus, throughout their history, there were great numbers of deities. How many is impossible to establish …The number is enlarged, some estimate to over two thousand…” –Barbara Watterson, Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), page 14

Indeed, the Christian monotheistic concept of the one and only Triune God is diametrically opposed to the pagan legends involving groups of gods who ruled over many other gods. Concerning these pagan sculptures depicted in the Society’s brochure, Robert Bowman observes:

“Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hindu, and Buddhist triads, as well as Platonism, are all claimed as influencing the development of the Trinity. But it is absurd to claim that all of these significantly influenced the trinitarians. Third, most of these alleged ‘influences’ where either far too early of far too late, or far too removed geographically, to have any significant influence. Artwork picturing Egyptian and Babylonian triads are reproduced, despite the fact that the art dated from about two thousand years before the Witnesses claim the Trinity originated! Other artwork depicting Hindu and Buddhist triads from the seventh and twelfth centuries are shown, despite the fact that these were done centuries after the Trinity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire! Fourth, the JW booklet points out that Athanasius was a bishop in Alexandria, Egypt, and from this fact argues that his trinitarianism reflected the influence of Egyptian triads (p.11). But this geographical coincidence is no more significant than the fact that Athanasius’s archrival, Arius, was also from Alexandria!”—Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, 1989, p. 43

Another difference between the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity and the triadic sculptures represented in the Watchtower brochure is the fact that the person of Christ is the only person in the Trinity to possess a physical body. As discussed earlier, when the term “person” is used in reference to the Trinity, it designates the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—not as separate Gods or as separate people as the term “person” might be misunderstood to imply—but rather, that each “person” of the Triune God has the attributes of personality (i.e., mind, will, and emotions). These illustrations of triadic “gods” pictured in the Watchtower’s booklet misrepresent the doctrine of the Trinity, for they fail to take into account that while the three persons are each distinct from one another in their personalities, they are not identical to each other, nor do they possess physical, humanlike bodies. Since the Father and the Holy Spirit are spirit-persons without physical, human bodies (John 4:24), these two persons of the Trinity should never be pictured in human form. It is only the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ the Son, who possesses a human body because He took upon Himself the physical nature of humanity, becoming the true God-man.  As “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), I believe that He is the only humanlike person of the Triune God that has been physically seen by believers throughout the centuries. (For more information on this subject, see the chapter entitled, “Is Jesus Christ the Angel of the LORD?” in the Appendix of this book.)

Yet, seeking scholarly support for their claims, the Society once again quotes a number of sources that show the similarities between Christian doctrine and pagan religions. The following is an examination of these sources:

THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION: Part III, Caesar and Christ, by Will Durant

The Society quotes Will Durant on page 11 as stating that “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it.” However, Durant is not a reputable source to consult, for he makes several assertions regarding Christianity which neither the Society nor Biblical Christians would accept. Note the following:

“It seems incredible that the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel should have come from the same hand. The Apocalypse is Jewish poetry, the Fourth Gospel is Greek philosophy….Just as Philo, learned in Greek speculation, had felt a need to rephrase Judaism in forms acceptable to the logic-loving Greeks, so John…sought to give a Greek philosophical tinge to the mystic Jewish doctrine that the Wisdom of God was a living being, and to the Christian doctrine that Jesus was the Messiah. Consciously or not, he continued Paul’s work of detaching Christianity from Judaism.…Now the pagan world—even the anti-Semitic world—could accept him as its own. Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it.”—The Story of Civilization: Part III, Caesar and Christ, 1944, pp. 594-595

 

EGYPTIAN RELIGION, by Siegfried Morenz

Siegfried Morenz is another author who the Watchtower Society quotes on page 11 as saying “The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians… Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology.” However, neither the Society nor Biblical Christians would agree with many of the following claims Morenz makes concerning Christianity:

Creation through God’s word A third mode of creation, again completely different from the foregoing ones, is through the word of the creator. This, too, was turned into a classical doctrine in Egypt, which centred not on Atum of Heliopolis, as the previously mentioned one did, but on Ptah of Memphis….Keeping to such rigorous interpretation of the evidence, we may go on to recall the doctrine of creation through the word, which as we know (see pp. 163-6) was one of the principal elements in the Egyptian cosmogony….Less important, but more readily comprehensible, is the influence of the Egyptian court chronicle upon the literary form of the Israelites’ chronicle account of David and Solomon….It is also found in the familiar parallels between Egyptian and Israelite wisdom literature, which in general may be regarded as a gift of Egypt.…Other passages can, however, be claimed as Egyptian in inspiration: for instance, the Egyptian (and Mesopotamian) lists of knowledge, which were the basis of the proverbs which King Solomon spoke.…In one of the few cases where a concept that figures in the New Testament has been taken to be ultimately of Egyptian origin, Jesus’s parable of Dives and Lazarus.…and how large a part was played by Greek elements (Stoic diatribes), emerged some years ago from an analysis of the association between ship and tongue in the Epistle of St James, which was originally Egyptian.…two passages in the Epistle to the Romans: the proverbial ‘coals of fire’…derived from a Late Egyptian penitential rite – and, much more significantly, the Apostle’s words on the absolute power of the Creator to confer honour and dishonour….It is also present in the notion of a ‘crown of life’, or in those of righteousness and glory; in elucidating these concepts one must draw not only upon Greek material but also upon the ‘crown of righteousness’ to which there were so many references during the last centuries of Egyptian paganism.”—Egyptian Religion, pp. 163, 251-252, 254-255

In spite of the fact that Morenz draws these parallels between pagan philosophy and Christian doctrine, he nevertheless concludes that these doctrines are taught in the Bible. Notice his specific claims about the Trinity doctrine being Biblical:

“In order to avoid any gross misunderstanding, we must at once emphasize that the substance of the Christian Trinity is of course Biblical: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.…All this entitles us to the opinion that Egypt played its part in the efforts of Christians to achieve an understanding of God and his works, which are eternal.”—Egyptian Religion, pp. 255, 257

THE PAGANISM IN OUR CHRISTIANITY, by Arthur Weigall

On pages 3, 6, and 11 of the Society’s brochure, they quote from Arthur Weigall’s book The Paganism in Our Christianity in support of their assertion that the concept of the Trinity is “entirely pagan.” Is Weigall a credible source? Note the following statements Weigall makes concerning the accuracy of the New Testament, the virgin birth, and the death and resurrection of Christ:

No Biblical scholar of any standing to-day, whether he be a clergyman, a minister, or a layman, accepts the entire New Testament as authentic; and all admit that many errors, misunderstandings, and absurdities have crept into the story of Christ’s life and other matters.…In regard to the Virgin Birth….It seems clear, therefore, that the story was not known, or at any rate was not accepted, before A.D. 100, that is to say, a whole century after the date of the event it records.…if Joseph was not then thought to be the father of Jesus it is difficult to understand why the pedigree was given at all.…The growth of such a story may well be understood, for tales of the births of pagan gods….He had not been much hurt by being crucified.…no faith would be worth consideration which based itself merely on the apparent coming to life of a dead body.…in the end His mortal body must have died and returned to dust.”—The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, pp. 30-31, 42-43, 44, 94-95

As a liberal scholar who denies so many doctrines of Biblical Christianity, it is clearly evident that Weigall is not a scholar one should consult in matters pertaining to essential doctrines of the historic Christian faith.

ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF RELIGION AND ETHICS, by James Hastings

While it is true that James Hastings does state that the concept of the Trinity can be found in pagan religions, he nevertheless goes on to remark that: “Truly, if the doctrine of the Trinity appeared somewhat late in theology, it must have lived very early in devotion.”—Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 12, pp. 458-459

THE NEW SCHAFF-HERZOG ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE

Although this encyclopedia also endeavors to draw a parallel between the pagan doctrines of Plato and the teachings of Christianity, it goes on to declare that the early church fathers prior to Nicaea such as “Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen.…”3. were also influenced by Platonic philosophy.

THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST THREE CENTURIES, by Alvan Lamson

Throughout their brochure, the Society quotes Lamson’s book endeavoring to provide support for their assertion that the doctrine of the Trinity “had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures;…it grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers.”4. A look at the title page of this book reveals that its publisher is the “British and Foreign Unitarian Association.” Concerning Unitarianism, various encyclopedias have this to say:

“Unitarianism is a religious view that was organized in institutional form in Poland, Transylvania, England, and the United States.…The separate movements had common characteristics” among these being their “rejections of the doctrines of the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, and human corruption or total depravity.…The British and Foreign Unitarian Association, founded in 1825, was aided by the repeal of laws against nonconformity.…”5. William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), who was the “most prominent supporter of the Unitarians during this period” and whose “sermon ‘Unitarian Christianity’ (1819) was widely accepted as a good statement of their position”6. “replied that…most of the liberal ministers were Arians….”7.

“Unitarianism…denies the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.…Theological foundations…are found in 2nd- and 3rd-century monarchianism and in the teachings of Arius….The modern roots of Unitarianism are traced to the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, when certain liberal, radical, and rationalist reformers revived the Platonic emphasis on reason and the unity of God.”—The New Encyclopaedia Britannica 1768, 1998 (15th ed.), vol. 12, p. 137

“Unitarian Universalists believe an individual should be free to form his own religious beliefs. They hold an optimistic view of the nature of man….8. “Unitarian ministers soon began to argue that religious truth should be based on universal religious experiences, rather than on the record of historical events. In addition, these ministers believed that religious truth and inspiration could be found in traditions other than Christianity.” (The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 20, (Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc., 1994), 42-43)

In view of the liberal, biased nature of Unitarianism against the doctrine of the Trinity, is it any wonder that such an organization would be behind a book which promotes an alleged “late origin and gradual formation” of the doctrine of the Trinity?

OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF DOGMA, by Adolf Harnack

The Society cites Adolf Harnack as another authority in support of their claims. However, the Society fails to mention that Harnack was a strong liberal whose appointment as professor at Berlin from 1889-1921 “was challenged by the church because of Harnack’s doubts about the authorship of the fourth gospel and other NT books, his unorthodox interpretations of biblical miracles including the Resurrection and his denial of Christ’s institution of baptism (see his History of Dogma, 7 vols., 1894-99).”—New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1978, p. 452

A STATEMENT OF REASONS, by Andrews Norton

Another disreputable source the Society references is this book by Andrews Norton. The full title of his book is as follows: “A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing The Doctrine of Trinitarians Concerning the Nature of God and the Person of Christ,” published by the “Boston American Unitarian Association, 1880.” Andrews Norton was a Unitarian! Is it any wonder he wrote a book against Trinity doctrine?

Not only do the sources referenced in the Society’s brochure draw parallels between pagan doctrine and Christian doctrine, many of these sources are attacking the Bible as being the cause of the alleged paganism in Christianity! Since many of these liberal authors claim the Bible is pagan in origin, one wonders how credible the Society’s claim of the alleged pagan infiltration into Christian doctrine truly is. As every honest Jehovah’s Witness would admit, it is one thing to assert that Christianity adopted paganism; it is quite another thing to say the Bible adopted paganism.

Simply because similarities between pagan gods and the Christian concept of the Trinity may be found, this is not a valid reason to conclude that the concept of the Trinity is of pagan origin. Let me draw your attention to the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not reject other key doctrines of Christianity that skeptics criticize are pagan in origin. For example, the Egyptians believed that one of their gods, named “Osiris,” was “an earthly ruler who was resurrected after his death,” (See Richard H. Wilkenson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, page 119) and in the Babylonian and Syrian legends, their “god,” named “Tammuz,” died and resurrected annually in the vegetation life cycle (See Barbara Watterson, Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), 57).  Likewise, many pagan legends hold to the view that a worldwide flood occurred sometime in the history of mankind (See The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 5,(Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc., 2012), 118, 171). So, you can ask a Jehovah’s Witness this question:

“If the Trinity doctrine is pagan in origin because similar views were taught in ancient non-Christian religions, would it be legitimate to argue that the Biblical teachings concerning Jesus Christ’s resurrection and Noah’s flood are of pagan origin as well because pagans taught similar accounts long ago?”

Of course, no Jehovah’s Witness would want to claim that these Biblical beliefs are pagan simply because similar beliefs were taught in ancient religions. Rather, on the contrary (as the following illustration will demonstrate), the very fact that pagan legends hold to these concepts actually lends credence to the validity of these doctrines.

 Take, for example, the existence of counterfeit money. Since no real U.S. three dollar bill exists, one will search in vain to find a counterfeit three dollar bill, for it would easily be recognized. Because the purpose of the counterfeit is to deceive people into accepting the counterfeit in place of the real thing, counterfeit bills are only designed to resemble real dollar bills. Just as this occurs in the physical realm, Satan employs this deception in the spiritual realm in order to deceive people into accepting counterfeit doctrine. Thus, the very fact that similarities between the Biblical doctrine of Noah’s flood, the Resurrection, and the Trinity may be found in pagan cultures, actually aids in substantiating these doctrines as true.

IS THE STORY OF JESUS DERIVED FROM THE PAGAN LEGENDS OF OSIRIS, HORUS, MITHRAS AND OTHER MYTHICAL GODS?

As we have seen in the sources quoted by the Watchtower Society, critics of Biblical Christianity often point to similarities in ancient pagan religions to try to discredit the foundational beliefs of Biblical Christianity. Today, skeptics 9. continue their attempt to discredit Christianity by attacking the key facts that set Jesus apart from any other religion or “god” in the pagan world. What follows is a brief examination of these facts and a response to the claims of skeptics and critics who assert that Christianity borrowed these beliefs from ancient mystery religions:

FACT #1: THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF JESUS IS UNIQUE:

No other religion was founded by a virgin-born God as verified by eye-witness accounts that lived contemporaneously with the individual of whom the claim is made. Although spurious claims of miraculous births abound in ancient mythology, none of them have been verified by historical record, nor have any been substantiate by the fulfillment of historical prophecy written prior to the event. Thus, the story of Jesus stands unique in that the book of Isaiah, written between 701 and 681 B.C., prophesied concerning the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, stating: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Then, at Matthew 1:20-25, we read the fulfillment of the prophecy:

“But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD WITH US.’ And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

MITHRA: Mithra or Mithras was a sun god that grew out of the religion of Hinduism and the Zoroastrian religion of the 6th century B.C. It wasn’t until the Persians and Romans spread the religion of Mithraism throughout Asia Minor into Europe around 100 A.D. that it “ranked as a principal competing religion of Christianity until the 300’s.”10. Although critics of Christianity (especially on the Internet today), claim that Christianity adopted the idea of the virgin birth from the religion of Mithraism, such claims are completely unsubstantiated, especially in light of the fact that Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth predated the formation of Mithraism by a century.

Here are the facts concerning the birth of Mithras: “Mithra was supposedly born when he emerged from a rock.” 11. As we read in Mithraic Studies, “…the birth of Mithra…wearing his Phrygian cap, issues forth from the rocky mass. As yet only his bare torso is visible. …At the moment Mithra came into the world light immediately appeared, as at the birth of Orphic Phanes, to whom in terms of this motif he was closely assimilated.” 12. Thus, he is not virgin born.

HORUS: Some popular critics of Christianity claim that the Egyptian god Horus was born of a virgin, but this claim is completely false. Two views concerning the birth of Horus exist and neither of them contained a virgin birth.

The most popular view is that Horus was fathered posthumously by Isis, the widowed wife of Osiris. In her book, Gods of Ancient Egypt, Barbara Watterson states: “…Isis brought the body of her husband home to Egypt. She grieved that she had no son to inherit the throne of his father which would now fall to the murderer, Seth; and she determined that her husband, Osiris, should have a son to avenge him and claim his rightful inheritance. …she made Osiris’ … rise up from his inert body. She drew from him his essence and with this she made for him a son and heir whom she carried within her body. …Isis went on with her journey and eventually came to Khemmis in the Delta. There she gave birth to her son, Horus, whom she named Horus-Avenger-of-his-Father.”13. Thus, Horus was not virgin born, but rather conceived by the body fluids of the semi-resurrected Osiris.

The second and less popular view was that Horus, also called Haroeris, was the second son born to Geb and Nut who were the parents of Osiris and Isis.14. Since this second view claims that he was the second born son of Geb and Nut, there is no way to claim that this “god” was born of a virgin.

OTHER GODS: Still, critics of Christianity continue their attack on the virgin birth of Christ by attributing this claim to Buddha (Gautama) who lived between 563 – 483 B.C., Zoroaster (Zarathushtra), an Iranian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism from 660 – 583 B.C., Krishna who lived between 3227 – 3102 B.C., Attis cult in Asia Minor from 1250 BC, and Dionysus from 1500–1100 BC. Although both believers and skeptics declare miraculous conceptions for the births of these “gods” of antiquity, conflicting accounts exist which discredit their claims as follows:

Buddha (Gautama): He was born to Maya, the twenty year wife of Suddhodana by “falling from the host of beings in the Tushita heaven… and suddenly entered at a thought into her womb.”15. The fact that Buddha lived and taught mostly in eastern India sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C., and the fact that he lived nearly 200 years after the prophecy of Isaiah, discredits the claim that Christianity, founded in the Jewish religion of Israel, borrowed the virgin birth concept from the religion of Buddha in India.

Zoroaster (Zarathustra): The texts of the Zorastrian religion claim that he was born to the married parents of Dukdaub (or Dughdova) and Pourushasp.16. Although later accounts claim that he was: “said to have had a miraculous birth: his mother, Dughdova, was a virgin who conceived him after being visited by a shaft of light,”17. this seems to be an embellishment of the story by his followers since there are no religious texts from the generation of Zoroaster’s lifetime that assert this claim.18.

Krishna: According to the Hindu text of The Mahabharata, Book 12, Section XLVIII, he was born as the eighth son of Princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva and not the virgin, Maia. It reads:

“Thou art the creator of everything in the universe. Like a couple of sticks generating a blazing fire, thou hast been born of the divine Devaki and Vasudeva for the protection of Brahma on earth.”

Attis: Allegations linking the virgin birth of Jesus to the mythical stories of Attis are greatly exaggerated as the following accounts indicate. Both legends are recorded by the 2nd Century A.D. writer, Pausanias, in his book Description of Greece, Book 7 Achaea, translated by Johns, W. H. S. and Omerod, H. A. Loeb:

“[7.17.9] The people of Dyme have a temple of Athena with an extremely ancient image; they have as well a sanctuary built for the Dindymenian mother and Attis. As to Attis, I could learn no secret about him, but Hermesianax, the elegiac poet, says in a poem that he was the son of Galaus the Phrygian, and that he was a eunuch from birth. The account of Hermesianax goes on to say that, on growing up, Attis migrated to Lydia and celebrated for the Lydians the orgies of the Mother; that he rose to such honor with her that Zeus, being wroth at it, sent a boar to destroy the tillage of the Lydians.”

As you can see, there was no virgin birth in the above account, but next Pausanias goes on to describe another account of the birth of Attis that is very bizarre and also bears no resemblance to the Biblical account of the virgin birth of Christ:

“[7.17.10] But the current view about Attis is different, the local legend about him being this. Zeus, it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a demon, with two … organs, male and female. They call the demon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ.

“[7.17.11] There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Sangarius, they say, took of the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but was tended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis fell in love with him. When he had grown up, Attis was sent by his relatives to Pessinus, that he might wed the king’s daughter.” –Pausanias, Description of Greece, Classical Library Book 7, Translated by Jones, W. H. S. and Omerod, H. A. Loeb, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918), (http://www.theoi.com/Text/Pausanias7B.html).

How skeptics can link this 2nd Century myth surrounding Attis to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ that occurred a century prior to this myth being circulated is truly absurd.

Dionysus (Orpheus or Bacchus): The most popular legend concerning the birth of Dionysus is that his mother Semele was impregnated by a lightening bolt from the Greek god Zeus. When the jealous Hera convinces Semele to ask Zeus to reveal his glory to her, she was instantly burned to death, leaving the prenatal Dionysus behind to be sewed into the thigh of Zeus until he was born.19. Another account has Dionysus being born of Zeus and Persephone.20. Yet, even this other account of Zeus bears no resemblance to the Biblical account as Zeus and other pagan gods lusted after women,21. a trait foreign to the Biblical God who is not a man (Hosea 11:9).

VIRGIN BIRTH CONCLUSION: As can be seen above, none of the miraculous conception accounts for these pagan deities completely resemble the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and many are so bizarre that skeptics have to distort the facts or discount other contradicting accounts to try to draw a parallel between the conception of Jesus Christ and the conception of the pagan deities. Likewise, most these accounts were written several centuries after the lifetime of the individuals themselves, leaving room for embellishment by later followers without the eyewitness criticism of those who would have been able to correct these far-fetched claims. Such is not the case with the birth of Christ that was recorded by both Luke and Matthew who were direct eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and ministry. Thus, Luke was able to state in his letter to the ruler Theophilus that he: “…investigated everything carefully from the beginning…”22. Also, unlike the Biblical account in which Jesus existed as God beforeHis virgin birth as a human, none of the pagan legends asserted the pre-existence of their “gods.” Therefore, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ stands out as unique against the legends of miraculous births affirmed in mythical literature.

FACT #2: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS IS UNIQUE:

Just as in the case of the virgin birth, skeptics continue their attacks against Christianity by nonsensically trying to assert that the death and resurrection accounts of Jesus were derived from pagan legends of dying and rising gods. Nevertheless, when examined, these mythical accounts bear no resemblance to the Biblical narrative of Christ. To start with, in none of the pagan legends is the mythical deity said to have died in accordance with his own will in sacrificial love to atone for the sins of mankind, nor does the mythical deity resurrect to human life as attested by historical record.23. Rather, in most of the incidents, the pagan deity’s resurrection resembles more of a reincarnation than it does a resurrection as their resurrections were tied to the vegetation cycle. Regarding the most popular dying and rising god legends of antiquity: Tammuz, Adonis, Cybele, Attis and Osiris, Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D. 24. quoted in Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for the Real Jesus, stated:

All of these myths are repetitive, symbolic representations of the death and rebirth of vegetation. These are not historical figures, and none of their deaths were intended to provide salvation.” —The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 178

In addition to these facts, Jesus not only fulfilled numerous Old Testament prophecies concerning His death and resurrection, but also prior to the event itself, He foretold of His own death and resurrection after three days. Thus, the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection stands out as unique against the alleged resurrection claims of mythical deities who never foretold their own deaths, much less fulfilled any type of prophecy written prior to the event.

“The Jews then said to Him, ‘What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” –John 2:18-22

“But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ ”–Matthew 12:39-40

PROPHECY FULFILLED IN CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION

Event

Old Testament Prophecy

New Testament Prophecy

Sold for 30 Shekels Zechariah 11:12 -13 Matthew 26:15
Hands and feet are pierced, bones are not broken Psalm 22:14, 16 -17 John 20:25 ; 19:33-36
Crucified among thieves Isaiah 53: 12 Matthew 27:38
Gambling for his clothes Psalm 22:18 John 19:24 , Matthew 27:35
Thirsty and Vinegar offered Psalm 22:15; 69:21 John 19:28-30; Matt. 27:34
Buried in rich man’s tomb Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57 -60
Resurrection Psalm 16:10 Matthew 28:6
Ascension Psalm 68:18 Luke 24: 51

 

MITHRAISM AND OTHER ANCIENT MYSTERY RELIGIONS:

Although skeptics claim that Christianity adopted many of its rituals from mystery religions like Mithraism which predated the Christian era, Bruce M. Metzger25. noted in a footnote on page 8 of his book, Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian:

“According to the map prepared by Nicola Turchi (in his Le religioni misteriosofiche del mondo antico [Rome, 1923]), showing the diffusion of the Mysteries of Cybele, dea Syria, Isis, Mithra, Orpheus-Dionysius , and Samothrace in the Roman Empire, the only cult which penetrated Palestine proper was the Isiac cult. Evidence…for this cult was found at Aelia Capitolina, i.e., subsequent to Hadrian’s rebuilding of Jerusalem c. A.D.135. By this time the fundamental doctrines and sacraments of the Church had been fixed. Similar maps for the cults of Isis, Mithra, and Cybele, which Herbert Preisker includes in his Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte (Berlin, 1937), likewise indicate no archaeological remains of these cults within Palestine during the first century.”

The fact that there is no archeological evidence for these mystery religions being in Palestine prior to the formation of the New Testament Scripture reinforces our argument that Christianity was derived from Biblical, Jewish history and was not influenced by these pagan religions. Likewise, Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D., quoted in Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for the Real Jesus, asserts:

“The earliest mithraea are dated to the early second century. There are a handful of inscriptions that date to the early second century, but the vast majority of texts are dated after AD 140. Most of what we have as evidence of Mithraism comes in the second, third, and fourth centuries AD. That’s basically what’s wrong with the theories about Mithraism influencing the beginnings of Christianity.” —The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), page 169.

Not only does the evidence indicate that Christianity did not borrow from pagan mystery religions such as Mithraism, the evidence points in the opposite direction. Regarding this, the Ante-Nicene Church Father, Justin Martyr, claimed that Mithraism copied the Christian rite of Communion (the Eucharist) in its rituals. In The First Apology of Justin, Chapter LXVI. – Of the Eucharist, he stated:

“For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;’ and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, ‘This is My blood;’ and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.” –Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., ed.; James Donaldson, LL.D., ed., The Ante-Nicene FathersTranslation of The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, Vol. 1, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), page 185

Thus, it seems that Mithraism was syncretistic as it borrowed from Christianity as well as other religions and was not an exclusive religion as its initiates could also be found practicing other religions as well.26. However, some skeptics claim that Christ’s death and resurrection was derived from Mithras who they say died and resurrected as well. These assertions, however, are blatantly false because according to Mithraic literature, Mithras never died.27. Instead he ascended into heaven in a chariot.28.

So, how do most skeptics attempt to prove the Biblical account of Christ was derived from Mithraism?  They point to the Tauroctony icon of Mithras slaying a bull and draw parallels to crucifix displays and Christian teachings of salvation being found in the blood of Christ.  For example, in his book entitled, Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered, author D. Jason Cooper claims: “A graffito from the Santa Prisca Mithraeum tells us that, by shedding the blood of the bull, Mithras saved us: ‘And us have you saved by shedding the eternity-giving blood.’ ”29. But quoting texts like these is quite deceiving because what authors like Cooper fail to mention is that this “Mithraeum of Santa Prisca” is dated to about 202 A.D. which is long after the development of first-century Christian beliefs and practices. (See See CIMRM 476 – Mithraeum. Santa Prisca, Rome, Italy. – http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/mithras/display.php?page=cimrm476)  So we see that Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D. was correct when he noted: “The earliest mithraea are dated to the early second century,” –Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), page 169.   Thus,  Mithraic texts, such as this one, could not have had any bearing on Christianity.

Likewise, when we examine the Mithraic icon of the Tauroctony, we discover it falls significantly short of representing the Christian belief in the blood of Christ.  Although, “The bull-slaying scene is the center of the religion of Mithras”, writes D. Jason Cooper, “There is no writing as to what the symbol meant or even what the Mithrasians themselves called it. Modern scholars have simply called it the Tauroctony –which is Greek for ‘bull-slaying scene.’ ”30. Regardless of this, Cooper claims:

The main thrust of the icon and its meaning and development, however, remain clear. Mithras slays the bull so that we can be saved, as evidenced by the Milky Way and its ‘path of blood,’ the constellations that appear in the icon, and the correspondences between the signs of the zodiac and the celestial equator. These points in the sky showed a path by which the individual might join his god in the permanent communion of the Sacred Meal.” –D. Jason Cooper, Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered, (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc, 1996), page 76.

Then, at this point in his book, D. Jason Cooper attempts to draw a parallel between the Christian view of salvation by faith in the blood of Jesus and Mithraic belief in the blood of the bull. Yet, Cooper fails to mention a key difference between the Mithraic view of salvation and the Biblical view. Unlike Christianity that focuses on the blood of Jesus to cover mankind’s “sins,” nowhere in Mithraic literature are men said to be saved from their “sins” by believing in the blood of the bull. Rather, Mithraics believed in some type of a universal salvation that pointed the way to eternity and brought life and vegetation to the earth. Author Payam Nabarz, who is also no friend of Christianity, still admits that Mithraism teaches the salvation of the physical earth when he says:

“Mithras presides over the changing of the seasons and the movement of the heavens. Hence the tauroctony is said to demonstrate that Love literally moves the universe. … As Mithras kills the bull, from his blood come wine and all the plants that cover the earth. The tail becomes wheat, which gives us our bread. the seed and the genitals of the bull are taken to the Moon Goddess and purified, giving rise to all the animals. Hence by this slaying of the bull, life comes onto the earth.” –Payam Nabarz, The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief that Shaped the Christian World, (Rogester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2005), pages 24-25.

Thus, claims that Christianity borrowed its concept of the blood atonement of Christ from the slaying of a bull in Mithraism are blatantly false or greatly exaggerated at best.

“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” –Hebrews 10:4

HORUS / OSIRIS:

Puzzling are the claims of some skeptics who assert that Horus in Egyptian mythology died by crucifixion and was resurrected three days later. There is no account of Horus ever being crucified, let alone resurrecting three days later.31. The only account I could find of anything that somewhat resembled a death and resurrection for Horus is the story of a scorpion striking Horus when he was a baby. According to the legend, when Isis (his mother) found him, he had fallen into a coma. Barbara Watterson describes the incident:

“Isis did not know where to turn for help. …she appealed to the marsh-dwellers….None of them knew how to cure Horus, who lay rigid on the ground showing no signs of life. …Isis laid her nose to her child’s mouth and sniffed ‘to find out whether there was any smell in his skull’. There was and it told her that Horus had been poisoned by a scorpion. …the cries of anguish that she uttered when she found herself unable to heal her child brought Nephthys and Selkis to her side. Their combined voices reached Re in his Barque of Millions of Years and caused the boat to come to a standstill, whereat darkness descended on the earth. Thoth alighted from the boat and recited the spell by which Horus would be restored to health: ‘Come back, Oh Poison. You are exorcised by the spell of Re himself …darkness will cover everything…wells will be dry, crops will wither…until Horus recovers – to his mother’s delight.’ At last, the poison was overcome. Thoth…returned to the Barque of Re to report to the Sun God that Horus was alive and well….” —Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), pages 77-78

As can be seen even in this account, Horus never died, but was merely sick from the poison of the scorpion’s sting as revealed by the “smell in his skull.” Moreover, when he recovered, it is claimed that he was “restored to heath” when the “poison was overcome.” A resuscitation is a far cry from a resurrection! Thus, Horus never resurrected from the dead. Rather, it was Osiris, the father of Horus, that historically has been regarded as the “resurrected god”32. of pagan Egyptian religion. Yet, even this alleged “resurrection” resembled nothing of the true Biblical account. Robert Schroёder explains:

“According to the mythical traditions of ancient Egypt, the corn god, Osiris – who was both consort and brother to Isis – became the subject of a murderous assassination plot by his jealous brother, Set. Having failed to dispose of Osiris by incarcerating him alive in a coffin and sending him off to a watery grave in the Nile, Set found Osiris’s corpse and hacked the body into 14 pieces. Prior to his dismemberment, however, and through the magical arts of Isis, Osiris became the posthumous father of the Sun god Horus, who subsequently avenged his father’s death in a ferocious battle with Set. When Horus had won the day, the divine judges proclaimed him to be – in life – king of the two kingdoms of Egypt. His father, Osiris, took the new role of ruler and judge of dead souls in the Underworld, through which every Egyptian aspired to pass en route to the paradise land of Duat when his mortal span was at an end. Thus arose the curious Cult of the Dead, practised at many places in Egypt…. The rituals also involved burying an effigy of Osiris – made from cloth stuffed with corn – in a mulberry-wood coffin after first exhuming his effigy of the previous year, which by this time had sprouted shoots, symbolizing the god’s resurrection.” —Cults: Secret Sects and Radical Religions, (London, England: Carlton, 2007), pages 14-15.

Indeed, nothing in the Egyptian account of Osiris’ resurrection indicated a bodily resurrection. Rather, to the contrary, the body of Osiris still lies mummified in a grave, as Barbara Watterson explains:

“Isis changed herself into a kite and used her wings to fan the breath of life into Osiris. He was partially revived, but not enough to be able to take his place upon the throne of Egypt ever again. Instead, he was conveyed to the Underworld, a dark and menacing place. …Thus, reluctantly, did Osiris become King of the Underworld. …Through his resurrection, Osiris held out the hope of eternal life… for the Egyptians believed that if their friends acted towards them as the gods had acted towards Osiris, they, too, would achieve eternal life. Thus, when an Egyptian died, his body was mummified and wrapped in bandages in imitation of the body of the dead Osiris.” —Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), pages 63-64

“Whether this can be rightly called a resurrection is questionable,” asserts Bruce M. Metzger, “especially since, according to Plutarch, it was the pious desire of devotees to be buried in the same ground where, according to local tradition, the body of Osiris was still lying.”33.

OTHER GODS:

We will now examine the alleged death and resurrection accounts of other pagan deities: Dionysus, Tammuz, Attis, Adonis, and Krishna.

Dionysus (Orpheus or Bacchus): Known as the Greek “god” of wine, some skeptics have attempted to draw a parallel between this mythical deity and Jesus who turned water into wine at John 2:1-11. Yet, history proves that the followers of Dionysus (also called Bacchus) copied this idea from the story of Jesus as noted by 2nd century Church Father, Justin Martyr, who wrote in his First Apology, Chapter LIV – Origin of Heathen Mythology:

“The prophet Moses…thus predicted: ‘There shall not fail a prince from Judah…He shall be the desire of the Gentiles, binding His foal to the vine, washing His robe in the blood of the grape.’ The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and gave out that he was the discoverer of the vine, and they numbered wine … among his mysteries; and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, he ascended into heaven.” –Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., ed.; James Donaldson, LL.D., ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translation of The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, Vol. 1, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), page 181

Thus, it is evident that the followers of Dionysus (Bacchus) patterned their beliefs after Christianity, not the other way around. This too becomes even more clear when skeptics point to a third or fourth century icon featuring Dionysus in a crucified state to try to prove he was crucified. Yet, even Justin Martyr argued that Dionysus (also called a son of Jupiter) was not crucified when he went on to explain in his First Apology, Chapter LV – Symbols of the Cross:

But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically.” — The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translation of The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, Vol. 1, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), page 181

So, it wasn’t until the third or fourth century that we see the followers of Dionysus trying to replicate this aspect of the Christian story of Christ. This also explains why according to Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D. “there’s no resurrection of Marduk or Dionysus.” (Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D. quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, page 176)  So again, Bruce M. Metzger is proved correct when he said that there is no archeological evidence for the mystery of Dionysus being in Palestine prior to the formation of Christianity (Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, page 8). Therefore Christianity did not adopt pagan ideas from the religion of Dionysus, but rather, it was the pagan religion of Dionysus that adopted its ideas from Christianity.

Tammuz: His alleged resurrection is questionable, Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D. clarifies:

“There is a resurrection that had been alleged for Tammuz, a fertility god of Mesopotamia, known in Sumerian as Dumuzi, but it turns out there was no real resurrection. …His resurrection by the goddess Inanna-Ishtar had been assumed even though the end of the texts about the myth were missing. Then in 1960, S.N. Kramer published a newly discovered poem that proves that Inanna didn’t rescue Damuzi from the underworld but sent him there as her substitute. There’s also an obscure and fragmentary text indicating Dumuzi might have had his sister take his place in the underworld for six months of the year. Again, this is tied to the seasons and the vegetation cycles. It’s not a resurrection.” –Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), page 176.

Attis: The husband of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology, “was unfaithful,” explains Yamauchi, “so Cybele drove him mad; he castrated himself and died. That’s why the priests of Cybele were eunuchs.”34. Regarding his resurrection, Bruce M. Metzger declares:

“The devotees of Attis commemorated his death on March 22, the Day of Blood, and his coming to life four days later, March 25, the Feast of Joy or Hilaria. In the case of Attis, the evidence for the commemoration of the Hilaria dates from the latter part of the second Christian century. There are, in fact, no literary or epigraphical texts prior to the time of Antonius Pius (A.D. 138-161) which refer to Attis as the divine consort of Cybele, much less any that speak of his resurrection. With good grounds, therefore, it has been argued that the festival of the Hilaria was not introduced into the cultus of Cybele until the latter part of the second Christian century or even later.” —Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1968), pages 19-20.

So, again, Christianity could not have borrowed the idea of Christ’s resurrection from Attis and the celebration of Hilaria because the Church’s rituals and celebrations were well-established by this point in history.

Adonis: Again, this is another case of no evidence of an alleged resurrection prior to the formation of Christianity. Bruce M. Metzger explains:

In the case of Adonis, there is no trace of a resurrection in pictorial representations or in any texts prior to the beginning of the Christian era. In fact, the only four witnesses that refer to the resurrection of Adonis date from the second to the fourth century (Lucian, Origen, Jerome (who depends upon Origen), and Cyril of Alexandria) and none of these mentions the triduum.” —Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1968), page 21.

Krishna: Aside from the fact that Krishna lived, taught and died in India which is geographically too far from Palestine to have any influence upon first century Christianity, skeptics continue to draw parallels between this Hindu god and Jesus Christ. From the story of his death through a hunter’s arrow that impaled his heel, come claims that he was crucified, but such assertions are simply ridiculous. As you can see in the following account given in the Hindu text, no such resemblance exists between Krishna’s death and immediate ascension to heaven and Christ’s death and resurrection three days later:

“A fierce hunter of the name of Jara then came there, desirous of deer. The hunter, mistaking Keshava [Krishna], who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey. Coming up, Jara beheld a man dressed in yellow robes, rapt in Yoga and endued with many arms. Regarding himself an offender, and filled with fear, he touched the feet of Keshava. The high-souled one comforted him and then ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour. When he reached Heaven, …many foremost ones …advanced to receive him. Then, O king, the illustrious Narayana of fierce energy, the Creator and Destroyer of all, that preceptor of Yoga, filling Heaven with his splendour, reached his own inconceivable region.” —Mahabharata, Book 16, Section 4

CONCLUSION:

As we have seen in the accounts above, there are many factors to consider that prove that the unique teachings of the New Testament concerning Christ (that of His virgin birth, His death by crucifixion for the sins of mankind, and His resurrection three days later) are derived from a historical, Jewish, and Biblical context and did not originate in the tales of mythical deities found in pagan religion. Thus, even where parallels can be made between the events described in the life of Jesus and mythical stories, such as Dionysus miraculously filling empty vessels with wine and Jesus turning water-filled vessels into wine at a marriage feast, these types of parallels are shown to be mere coincidences and do not support the claims of skeptics who assert that Christianity borrowed its concepts from paganism.

In summary, the following facts prove that pagan religions had no bearing on the development of the New Testament Scripture and early Christian beliefs because:

  1. Geographical and Archeological discoveries have proved that most of these pagan myths did not exist in Palestine during the first century development of Christianity.
  1. Many of the artifacts from these mythical religions that skeptics use to draw parallels to the virgin birth, death and resurrection story of Christ are from the second century A.D. and following, supporting speculations that these myths copied from Christianity and not the other way around.
  1. Most of the accounts of pagan deities were written several hundred years after the lifetime of the individual, allowing further embellishment by subsequent followers, as indicated by numerous contradictory accounts found in mythical literature. Such is not the case with the New Testament in which most, if not all, of the records were completed within one generation of the lifetime of Christ, allowing eyewitness verification.

Indeed, as the evidence indicates, there were no pagan stories circulating during the formation of New Testament Christianity that truly resembled the Biblical account of Jesus. Thus, we can understand why the Greeks of Athens, who prided themselves in the knowledge of the pagan religions of their day (Acts 17:21), reacted with astonishment to the teachings of the Apostle Paul by exclaiming:

“ ‘What would this idle babbler wish to say?’ Others, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,’—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.’ ” –Acts 17:18-20

If Paul was simply rehashing the stories of ancient, pagan legends, they clearly would have seen the resemblance and dismissed his message altogether by saying that he was simply espousing the stories of Attis, Dyonases, Mithras, or Osiris, but such was clearly not the case.

 

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1. Richard H. Wilkenson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson Inc., 2003), 18

2. See John 2:18-22; Luke 24:37-39; Romans 8:11; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:5; Matthew 26:64; Acts 17:31

3. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 9, p. 91

4. Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 11

5. The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987, vol. 15, pp. 143-144

6. The World Book Encyclopedia, 1994, vol. 20, p. 42

7. The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987, vol. 15, p. 144

8. The World Book Encyclopedia, 1968, vol. 19, p. 20

9. Many skeptics from a century ago promulgated these views as mentioned in Bruce M. Metzger’s Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1968), 2-4. Some popular critics today are Payam Nabarz, author of the book, The Mysteries of Mithras, Peter Joseph, director of the 2007 film entitled, Zeitgeist who got his information from The Christ Conspiracy book by Acharya S (also called, D.M. Murdoch). Some of the sources that Acharya S used for her book are Gerald Massey, a writer for Lucifer magazine, and Madame H.P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society which is part of the New Age Movement and whose writings greatly influenced Adolf Hitler’s views on the Swastika and the alleged superiority of the Aryan race. (See the article: “Was Jesus a Copy of Horus, Mithras, Krishna, Dionysus and Other Pagan Gods?” from http://beginningandend.com/jesus-copy-horus-mithras-dionysis-pagan-gods/). Payam “Nabarz is a practicing Dervish and Druid who’s a member of the Golden Dawn Occult Society,” notes Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ph.D., quoted on page 176 of Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for the Real Jesus. So, it is obvious that these authors are not credible sources to consult as they have an agenda of detaching Christianity from its Biblical roots by twisting information toward that goal.

10. The World Book Encyclopedia, 1994, vol. 20, pp. 42-43

Robert William Smith, The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, (Chicago, IL: World Book Inc., 2012), 678.

11. Ronald Nash, Christianity and the Helenistic World, 144 quoted in Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co, 1999), 492.

12. Franz Cumont, “The Dura Mithraeum” quoted in John R. Hinnells (ed.), Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, Vol. 1, (Manchester University Press, 1975), 173.

13. Barbara Watterson, Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), 76-77.

14. See Barbara Watterson, Gods of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Sutton Publishing, 1996), 30.

15. The Buddha-Karita of Asvaghosha, Book 1:18.

16. See Denkard, Book 5: Chapter 2:1-2.

17. Payam Nabarz, The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief that Shaped the Christian World, (Rochester: VT: Inner Traditions, 2005), 2.

18. See the website article, “The Divine Evidence: Alleged Similarities Between Jesus & Pagan Deities” from: http://thedevineevidence.com.

19. See Alain Danielou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus, (Inner Traditions, 1992), 65 and Jane Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, (Cambridge U. Press, 1922), 436.

20. See Alain Danielou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus, (Inner Traditions, 1992), 93 and Arthur Evans, The God of Ecstasy: Sex-Roles and the Madness of Dionysos,(New York: St. Martins’ Press, 1988), 153.

21. See Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 179

22. Luke 1:3

23. See Bruce M. Metzger, Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1968), 18

24. Edwin M. Yamauchi has a doctorate in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University.

25. Metzger who died in 2007 was a well-respected Greek Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and also a board member of the United Bible Societies and the American Bible Society.

26. See Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 49.

27. See Edwin M. Yamauchi, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 172.

28. See Payam Nabarz, The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief that Shaped the Christian World, (Rogester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2005), 27.

29. D. Jason Cooper, Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered, (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc, 1996), 71

30. D. Jason Cooper, Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered, (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc, 1996), 59

31. See S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions? – Bible Questions Answered – Answers to the Questions People Are Really Asking, (Enumclaw, WA : Pleasant Word, 2009), 48

32. Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson Inc, 2003), 119.

33. Bruce M. Metzger, Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1968), 21.

34. Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 177.

 

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