Today, my history professor told us that Christians borrowed the Eucharist from pagans. I don’t believe this one bit, but is there even any historical evidence to even suggest that?
I mean if he is associating us with the pagan cannibals, then I can see how he got the comparison. The problem with that is that we are not cannibals because we are not eating dead flesh, or even killing the person we are eating.
Cannibalism only counts with if the flesh is dead or the host will die in the process of being eaten. However, Christ is not dying from us partaking in His flesh and we are not eating dead flesh because Christ is Alive.
Praise be Jesus Christ (respond: now and forever :D)
The history professor should stick to history and not religion.
Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist is what he needs to read. The author is a PhD, Dr. Brant Pitre.
What proof did he give of this? That is what I’d respond with when someone makes such a statement about the Eucharist.
She mentioned no specific religion/sect. She simply said that the Eucharist has pagan origins. We were discussing a reading in which St Justin Martyr was describing the Eucharist.
An excellent read.
Maybe your professor had something like this in mind (see below), a snippet from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The modern science of comparative religion is striving, wherever it can, to discover in pagan religions “religio-historical parallels”, corresponding to the theoretical and practical elements of Christianity, and thus by means of the former to give a natural explanation of the latter. Even were an analogy discernible between the Eucharistic repast and the ambrosia and nectar of the ancient Greek gods, or the haoma of the Iranians, or the soma of the ancient Hindus, we should nevertheless be very cautious not to stretch a mere analogy to a parallelism strictly so called, since the Christian Eucharist has nothing at all in common with these pagan foods, whose origin is to be found in the crassest idol- and nature-worship. What we do particularly discover is a new proof of the reasonableness of the Catholic religion, from the circumstance that Jesus Christ in a wonderfully condescending manner responds to the natural craving of the human heart after a food which nourishes unto immortality, a craving expressed in many pagan religions, by dispensing to mankind His own Flesh and Blood. All that is beautiful, all that is true in the religions of nature, Christianity has appropriated to itself, and like a concave mirror has collected the dispersed and not infrequently distorted rays of truth into their common focus and again sent them forth resplendently in perfect beams of light.
Apparently your history professor missed his philosophy classes.
This is a classic logical fallacy called post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this). It is an example of group of fallacies called questionable cause.
The fallacy is that similarities (or correlation) between two things necessarily proves a consequence (that one thing caused the other). The fallacy can be simplified as follows:
*]A occurred, then B occurred.
*]Therefore, A caused B.
Similarities between Eucharist and rites of other religions does not demonstrate that one caused the other, regardless of which came first.
This is a pretty basic error of logic for an educated professor to make (regardless of his field of study). I’m surprised that an educated person would not immediately recognize the faulty nature of this reasoning.
This is true. What is does show, however, is that the idea of the Eucharist isn’t a particularly unique or unthinkable idea and it isn’t limited to Christianity. Human nature is too predictable, we all think alike.
Or that sharing meals is universal among mankind. As is making sacrifices.
I’d be curious why this professor thought it was borrowed from pagans. Why not one of the other religions? Where is her evidence?
And why would she assume it was pagans, since Justin Martyr is writing to pagans to explain the Mass and the Eucharist. If he has to explain it to them, then it doesn’t seem like they understand the concept much.
But that’s not what the OPs professor claimed. Had the professor merely claimed that Eucharist shared some superficial resemblances with other religious rites, you would not find any Catholics here who would care to disagree.
The Church has never claimed that Eucharist is unique in every respect, or that it was ever unthinkable (we think about it now, so it is clearly not unthinkable, which means it never was).
More than three centuries before Christ, Aristotle (a Greek pagan) described a philosophical framework (substance/accidents) which can be (and often is) directly applied to the doctrine of Transubstantiation. This does nothing to “disprove” Transubstantiation or demonstrate that the Church could not have arrived at this teaching without Aristotle’s prior art (after all, where then did Aristotle get it from? and so on).
The professor’s logical fallacy was saying that correlation demonstrates causation. Actually, I’m quite sure the professor was fully aware of the logical fallacy of his position, but he was hoping his students wouldn’t spot his obviously anti-Catholic bias showing through his misleading logic.
In Karl Keating’s Catholicism and Fundamentalism, there is a great chapter (Ch. 12, Fanciful Histories of Catholicism) that makes wonderful points explaining/debunking what your professor said.
In the last two paragraphs, he states, “…we should expect the true religion to be a fulfillment of, but not a complete contradiction of, mankind’s earlier stabs at religious truth. After all, each ancient religion had something true in it, even if what was true was buried under much that was false and even pernicious. On a positive side, ancient religions were remote preparations for Christ’s coming, which occurred in the ‘fullness of time’, when mankind had taken itself about as far as it could go on its own. (next paragraph) We should expect that the religion that is the fullness of truth, coming in the ‘fullness of time’, would incorporate the good points of earlier religions while rejecting their errors.”
An excellent point. We inherited many aspects of Pagan religion because they are the truth. I also agree with the comments about remote preparations for Christ’s coming, elements of which can even be seen in Norse mythology. Of course, thinkers and scholars always take the limited view that Christianity simply copied these things. They cannot see the bigger picture. There seems to be an ancient truth which the Supreme Being wished to be passed down from the mystery sun religions to the present day, and as Catholicism is still technically a sun religion (we worship on a Sunday) then this truth is alive and well. The Pagan truth helps to distinguish Catholicism (and other sun religions) from religions which identify themselves with celestial bodies more associated with the evening.
For myself, why this bigger picture is hard to see, is that it comes off as mental gymnastics. There is no proof that earlier religions were preparations for Christ’s coming. Secondly, if there are many similarities in Christianity to various mythologies, that is a disturbing thought.
This claim that earlier religions were preparing the way for Christ, reminds me of the Creationist claim that “Satan put dinosaur fossils in the earth to distract you from the truth.” There is no proof for that claim and it is a convenient statement that suits their purposes.
It’s not comparing the mythologies, but more of recognizing the truths that are proclaimed in those prior religions. There are things proclaimed by many religions that proclaimed them long before Christianity arrived (things like not to murder, no lying, no theft, etc). There are other things like recognizing there is a higher power than mankind, or that there is more to existence than just this material world.
Recognizing that these religions proclaimed some things that are true doesn’t mean that Christianity stole from them and is therefore false.
As noted above, in virtually all religions, there is an aspect of their religion that incorporates a shared meal to symbolize unity with someone/something. Does that mean they all borrowed from each other? Of course not. It just means that shared meals to symbolize unity is inherent to mankind. It also shows that the claim about the Eucharist being pagan are false.
And FYI, do some research into those claiming that Christianity borrowed from other pagan gods or mythologies. It’s laughable how false those claims truly are.
I’d give you that and concede this point if the other similarities in other religions and mythologies were that vague. As it turns out, many of the beliefs in other systems are very specific and very similar. Off the top of my head: The 42 Laws of Maat = The 10 Commandments, Krishna = Jesus, Reborn through water in Norse mythology = Baptism in Christianity, Tree of Life and Death in Norse mythology = Forbidden Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.
Those beliefs are just too specific to be mere coincidences or primitive versions of what Christianity evolved into.
If the beliefs were extremely broad, then I’d give that to you, but they’re very specific. I don’t believe that is merely a coincidence.
Some of them were not on point or compelling, like the Horus/Jesus comparisons, however those other off the top of my head are too precise.
If you really look at most of the pagan comparisons, you will find that the comparisons are pretty darned vague.
“Krishna = Jesus”, for example.
Jesus did not spend a lot of his time herding cows and chasing skirts, like Krishna.
Nor (on a more serious front) did he teach moral lessons by riding on the back of some guy’s chariot, telling him that he has to go to battle because it’s his duty.
So how are they alike? They’re both male? (Except when Krishna is taking on a female form?)
Krishna was born to Devaki and her husband, Vasudeva, When Mother Earth became upset by the sin being committed on Earth, she thought of seeking help from Lord Vishnu. She went in the form of a cow to visit Lord Vishnu and ask for help. Lord Vishnu agreed to help her and promised her that he would be born on Earth. On Earth in the Yadava clan, he was yadav according to his birth, a prince named Kansa sent his father Ugrasena (King of Mathura) to prison and became the King himself. One day a loud voice from the sky (Akash Vani in Hindi) prophesied that the 8th son of Kansa’s sister (Devaki) would kill Kansa. Thus, Kansa sent his sister and her husband (Vasudeva) to prison. Lord Vishnu himself later appeared to Devaki and Vasudeva and told them that he himself would be their eighth son and kill Kansa and destroy sin in the world. In the story of Krishna the deity is the agent of conception and also the offspring. Because of his sympathy for the earth, the divine Vishnu himself descended into the womb of Devaki and was born as her son, Vaasudeva (i.e., Krishna).
Incredibly similar to the concept of Original Sin, God incarnating himself in Mary’s womb, so that he may save thr world from sin. Very specific and not vague at all.
According to Mahabharata, the Kurukshetra war resulted in the death of all 100 sons of Gandhari. On the night before Duryodhana’s death, Lord Krishna visited Gandhari to offer his condolences. Gandhari felt that Krishna knowingly did not put an end to the war, and in a fit of rage and sorrow, **Gandhari cursed that Krishna, along with everyone else from the Yadu dynasty, would perish after 36 years. Krishna himself knew and wanted this to happen as he felt that the Yadavas had become very haughty and arrogant (adharmi), so he ended Gandhari’s speech by saying “tathastu” (so be it).**80]
After 36 years passed, a fight broke out between the Yadavas, at a festival, who killed each other. His elder brother, Balarama, then gave up his body using Yoga. Krishna retired into the forest and started meditating under a tree. The Mahabharata also narrates the story of a hunter who becomes an instrument for Krishna’s departure from the world. The hunter Jara, mistook Krishna’s partly visible left foot for that of a deer, and shot an arrow, wounding him mortally. After he realised the mistake, While still bleeding, Krishna told Jara, “O Jara, you were Bali in your previous birth, killed by myself as Rama in Tretayuga. Here you had a chance to even it and since all acts in this world are done as desired by me, you need not worry for this”. Then Krishna, with his physical body ascended back to his eternal abode, Goloka vrindavan and this event marks departure of Krishna from the earth. The news was conveyed to Hastinapur and Dwaraka by eyewitnesses to this event.
Once again, amazingly similar to Jesus’ agony in the garden and his trips to the mountains to meditate and fast, his betrayal by Judas, the willing acceptance of his own death, and his resurrection, the spread of the news by eyewitnesses of the event, the age at which Krishna died is very similar to Jesus’ 33 years on earth, and the arrogant and haughtiness of the Yadavas aka the Pharisees.
I don’t think these are just mere coincidences, as they are just too many, and I find them to be spot-on. These are just 2 quick examples off the top of my head. There are several others that are just as specific, if not moreso.
She is incredibly misinformed. Did she get her academic credentials on-line?
I don’t know. I read those quotes - and the surounding context that wasn’t highlighted - and it didn’t sound very similar to me…
But even if it was, Catholics believe that God had been trying to speak to us in “many and partial ways” prior to Christ. The similarities - like the epic of Gilgamesh that one of my professors used to shake my Catholic faith when I was in college - COULD mean there is a collective memory of the revelation. Some warped it.
A great read for you would be the 1st Chapter of Fulton Sheen’s “Life of Christ”. The chapter is called “The only one pre-announced”. Christ is the only religious leader who’s birth was pre-announced: the place, the timing, details about His mother, etc. No other religious leader can say that.
Fulton Sheen details it out as only he can… it’s a great read.
God Bless, :signofcross:
Poor Knight for Christ and His Church