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Linkage between Jesus and various Pagan saviors:

A comparison of beliefs about Jesus'
life events by Christians and others

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Quotations, mostly from ancient theologians and modern skeptics:

bullet"The devil, whose business is to pervert the truth, mimics the exact circumstances of the Divine Sacraments...Thus he celebrates the oblation of bread, and brings in the symbol of the resurrection. Let us therefore acknowledge the craftiness of the devil, who copies certain things of those that be Divine." Tertullian, late 2nd century CE, commenting on the many similarities between Mithraism and Christianity.
 
bullet"...are our..[beliefs] to be accounted myths and theirs [the Christians'] believed? What reasons do the Christians give for the distinctiveness of their beliefs? In truth, there is nothing at all unusual about what the Christians believe..." Celsus, late 2nd century CE, commenting on the similarities between the beliefs of Christians and followers of other religions.
 
bullet"He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made one with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation." An inscription to Mithras which parallels John 6:53-54.
 
bullet"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" A quote attributed to, but apparently not made by, Pope Leo X
 
bullet"Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it."  C. Dennis McKinsey, author of "The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy"
 
bullet"There is not a conception associated with Christ that is not common to some or all of the Savior cults of antiquity." J.M. Robertson (1856-1933)

Overview:

There are not many religious topics that are more controversial than whether some of the life events of Jesus were not historically accurate but were derived from myths about saviors, heroes, and god-men from nearby Pagan religions.

bulletTo many conservative Christians, the question is ridiculous; it is not even worth investigating. Even this essay's title would probably be considered to be blasphemy. They view the gospels, and the rest of the Bible, as very different from ordinary books. They believe that the gospels are the inerrant, inspired Word of God. Thus, nothing in the gospels could have originated in myths from Pagan and other religions.  The gospels describe Jesus' life, from his conception to ascension to Heaven, precisely as it unfolded circa 5 BCE to circa 30 CE. There certainly were beliefs about Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other Pagan heroes, saviors and god-men circulating in 1st century CE Palestine. However, material in the gospels could not have come from those sources. God inspired Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and others in their writing, preventing them from making any errors. The incorporation of legends from Pagan and other religions would not have been possible. 
 
bulletTo many very liberal, progressive, and post Christians, the question is definitely worth studying.

If one places the four Gospels in chronological order (Mark, circa 79 CE) Matthew, Luke, John circa 100 CE) and read them with no preconceived beliefs about the nature of Jesus, it is obvious to many persons that the story of Jesus evolved from that of an itinerant teacher-healer to a man-god.

Many non-Christian religions -- Pagan and others -- permeated the Mediterranean region during the 1st century CE. There were numerous male heroes, saviors and god-men within Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Hindu, and other pantheons of Gods whose lives had many points of similarities to Jesus. Of these, the Egyptian God Horus probably had life events attributed to him which were closest match to those of Jesus. Yet, Horus was worshipped in Egypt thousands of years before the first century CE when Jesus is believed to have been conducting his ministry in Palestine.

In order to compete with those religions, early Christianity had no choice but to  describe Jesus in terms that matched or surpassed the competing local religious myths, stories and legends. The authors of the gospels may well have picked up themes from other sources and added them to their writings in order to make Christianity more credible to a largely Greek/Pagan world.

By peeling away such foreign material, historians believe that they might be able to get a clearer picture of what Jesus taught and how he lived. By stripping away these accretions that have become attached to the life, story and teachings of Jesus, they might get closer to the historical Jesus. They can better understand his mission, and learn from his teachings.

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In short, each group sincerely and thoughtfully believe that the other group has a distorted picture of the historical Jesus:

bulletMany fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians believe that when a person is saved by repenting of their sin and trusting Jesus as Lord and savior, that the Holy Spirit enters into their body and possesses them. One result is that the Spirit guides the Christian into a proper understanding of the Bible and its inerrancy.
 
bulletThe Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Church is given responsibility, authority, and competence by God to interpret the Bible for its members. Their beliefs about Jesus thus cannot be in error.
 
bulletMany religious liberals and religious historians believe that the only way to understand the Bible is to interpret it like any other religious text. This leads to the assumptions that:
bulletThe messages of its authors evolved over time;
bulletThe morality and ethics in the Hebrew Scriptures reflect that of a bronze-age culture and are not valid today;
bulletTheir beliefs about the origin of the universe, cosmology, geology, astronomy, etc. are pre-scientific and inaccurate;
bulletMany of the heroes and events portrayed in the Bible are mythical; and
bulletSome Biblical passages are copied from or inspired by Pagan writings from adjacent cultures,

Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian personalities > Jesus > Pagan link > here

or Home > Religious information > God > Jesus > Pagan link > here

or Home page > Spirituality > God > Jesus > Pagan link > here

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