A couple more things I want to mention. Although I haven’t finished my response, I quote all the relevant sections of St. Justin Martyr referring to Dionysos and Mithras, among others.
“And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter [or Zeus].” (First Apology, chapter 21 “Analogies to the history of Christ”)
Commentary: Justin appeals to the pagans, and is saying hey, you guys already believe much of this stuff. While he includes virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension among these, Justin realizes neither Dionysos nor Mithras (nor any Greek/Roman god) was crucified; he also recognizes Mithras was “born from a rock” not virgin born (see below).
“And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter [Zeus], it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods.” (First Apology, chapter 21)
Commentary: Justin notes the stories of the gods were written to encourage the youth, for everyone knows it is honorable to imitate the gods. As St. Paul said, “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1; cf. 1 Cor 4:16; 1 Thess 1:6; 2:14; 2 Thess 3:7ff; Phil 3:17).
First Apology, chapter 22 covers “Analogies to the sonship of Christ”; chapter 23 presents “The argument”; chapter 24 “The varieties of heathen worship”; chapter 25 “False gods abandoned by Christians”; chapters 31-53 many predictions/prophecies; chapter 54 “Origin of heathen mythology.”
“But those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race. For having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ was to come, and that the ungodly among men were to be punished by fire, they put forward many to be called sons of Jupiter *, under the impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the things which were said with regard to Christ were mere marvellous tales, like the things which were said by the poets. And these things were said both among the Greeks and among all nations where they [the demons] heard the prophets foretelling that Christ would specially be believed in; but that in hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error, we will make plain.” (First Apology, chapter 54)
Commentary: Again, Justin is claiming the Hebrew prophets were first with their prophecies on Christ, the Greeks copied from them, inspired by the devil/demons. Justin also notes no “proof” is offered for the Greek gods, because they were not historical but myth. By contrast, Christianity is a historical religion with a historical Christ and Hebrew prophecies.
“But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter [Zeus], did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically. And this, as the prophet foretold, is the greatest symbol of His power and role; as is also proved by the things which fall under our observation.” (First Apology, chapter 55)
Commentary: Here Justin notes none of the sons of Zeus (which includes Dionysos/Bacchus) were crucified. Dionysos was ripped apart by the Titans, not crucified:
“For when they tell that Bacchus [or Dionysos], son of Jupiter [or Zeus], was begotten by [Jupiter’s] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses?” (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 69)
Commentary: Justin notes Dionysos was not virgin born (Zeus had intercourse with Semele, etc) and was “torn to pieces” (by the Titans), not crucified. He also notes it was the O.T. prophecies recorded by Moses that the Greeks were “imitating.” BTW, the quote above is found in Flemming’s “God Who Wasn’t There” DVD but he leaves out (without ellipses) the phrases in bold above. I wonder why? :rolleyes:
As for whether Dionysos was “resurrected” he was basically put back together from his “heart” and/or re-born from the “thigh” of Zeus. See my section on Dionysos and the meaning of his “dismemberment.”
Justin notes that Mithras (Persian, then Roman god) was not virgin born: “And when those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave, do I not perceive here that the utterance of Daniel, that a stone without hands was cut out of a great mountain, has been imitated by them, and that they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah’s words?” (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 70)
Commentary: Mithras was begotten of a rock, and his myth imitates the stories found in Daniel and Isaiah. Again, Justin is saying these Old Testament prophecies came first, and were then copied by the Greeks/Romans. That’s how “the devil imitated the prophecy.”