I couldn’t understand where to put this but i’d thought here would be the best.
After a recent class I took on Greek Religion, I have been wondering about the validity of Jesus. Now I understand there is some historical evidence for His existence, however I wonder if that the Gospels were written as a mixture of various religious traditions ranging from Dionysos, to Krishna, to Mirthrais,and then combining Jewish tradition into it.
My faith has been strong up till this class. As I understand it depends on whether or not Jesus existed. Or He was part of the ancient hasidism in Roman Judea, in other words, a random holy man/magician.
Could have Jesus just been one of the few “prophets” who just got lucky and having people follow Him?
First off, the Gospels are certainly not pagan in nature. Pagans complained loudly and long about how the Gospels were strange and non-pagan. You can read the nasty comments of the 2nd century philosopher Celsus, in Origen’s refutation of his quotes. Emperor Julian the Apostate also goes into great detail about the weird non-paganness of Christianity.
That is why pagans called Christians “atheists” – because they didn’t recognize the Christian God as being anything like a pagan god.
(The Jewish religion also seemed very weird to Roman and Greek pagans, but they cut Jews slack for having a very ancient religion, since old=good. Since Christianity was “new” and even more different, they thought Christianity was much weirder.)
We know a lot about what ordinary Romans and Greeks thought about religions not their own, because it was a big topic. They were used to weird foreign religions from around the world setting up in the temple district or in a clubhouse. They were used to mix-and-match fashionable religions, like the Roman Mithras or the Roman Isis. Christianity struck them as not like a religion at all.
If Celsus and Julian and the pagans don’t do it for you, read about why Marcion, the Christian heretic, wanted to get rid of most of the Gospels and all of the Old Testament – because they were totally icky and Old Testament Jewish. He even wanted to cut huge amounts of Jewish stuff out of Luke.
Most of Gnosticism was also an attempt to make Christianity more like pagan religion or pagan philosophy, and to get rid of all that weird Jewish monotheism and love for humans and for human bodies.
When you look at a brief summary of pagan beliefs, you can be misled into thinking there are similarities. And to be fair, this is also mentioned by some early Christians, like St. Justin Martyr in his Apologia, and in a few chapters in St. Augustine’s City of God.
But the more you read deeply about paganism and about Judaism, the more you will see that any similarities are very shallow ones. It’s like saying there are similarities between Jesus and Cinderella, because some icons show Baby Jesus having lost his shoe.
A lot of the arguments you heard in class are based on 19th century books like The Golden Bough. The writers often weren’t doing research and examining the evidence fairly, and they didn’t have a lot of the texts and archaeological information we have today.
For example, many of these 19th century books said that Christmas was based on a Roman sun god holiday for the god Sol Invictus. Modern historians found out that Christmas was already popular when one of the later emperors decided to start worshipping Sol Invictus, and that he picked the date of Christmas for his brand new holiday to try to “win back” Christmastime for paganism.
Sometimes, these sources are just pretty much lying, or stretching a point verrrry far.
I’m not as much up on Indian gods, but Krishna is basically the kind of guy who chases milkmaids, even though he turns up as a moral figure in the Bhagavad-Gita. You get the same thing in Celtic and Homeric stories, frankly; even a womanizing crazy berzerker like Cu Chulainn or Achilles gets to hand down wise moral sayings. (And I’m Irish, so I can say that.) You might also remember that Apollo was a similarly flawed god, chasing after Daphne and giving people oracular pronouncements and such. Late paganism tried to be a little more dignified about it because it didn’t go well with philosophy; but most pagan people in most pagan cultures thought the sex and craziness was the fun part of religion, and most of its point.
As for Jesus just being a random Jewish prophet or magician or holy man, I think you’ll find that ancient Jewish sources are significantly angrier at Jesus than any of the false prophets, failed Messiah claimants, or Jewish occultists. Obviously they felt there was something different about Him.
PS - Sometimes people claim that the story of Jesus is a lot like the story of the birth of Attis. These people can only say this because they know nothing about Attis, who has maybe the most disgusting origin story of any god I’ve ever read about, in any pantheon. You will be happier if you never research Attis in detail. It is brain bleach stuff, if you get the real primary sources. (Which aren’t easy to get. For very good reason. Ewwwwww. But they’re on Roger Pearse’s site, if you really have to see them.)
PPS. Why, yes, I have read a lot of mythology. As long as I don’t have to worship these guys, I’m totally okay with learning the stories. Except Attis.
Today, pretty much everybody in Greece is Christian (Orthodox Eastern). So I guess this course was on ancient Greek religion then.
The pagan religions freely borrowed from each other people’s Gods. When you dig into the claims that say Christianity borrowed everything from pagans, you find that it was the other way around. Pagans adopted the Christian and Jewish stories into their own and over time, since Christianity and Judaism are based on truth, they became dominant over the made-up stuff. Hence, we have now today that Greek religion is Orthodox Eastern Christianity.
As one who loved the Greeks (and the Romans even more) from an early age.& seriously plunged into studying Judaism before entering the Church a quarter century ago, I would say that the neo-pagans in both the Renaissance, the 18th century and the 19th always recognized a quite unheroic, un-hellenic spirit in the gospels. The suffering servant in Isaiah as a prophecy of Jesus is about as direct as a contradiction possible to any of the divinities, apart from Haephaestus, proposed by the Greeks. Orpheus descending into the underworld to retrieve Eurydice is a far cry from Christ’s descent to the netherworld. The Father Jesus speaks of is not like any mountain or cloud-dweller from the pantheon or from any other range of divinities.
One of the best antidotes to this trick perspective is St. Augustine’s ‘City of God’ where he dwells at length on what Roman divinities and heroes are compared to the prophets and Christ. The pagans who had been safe from the sack of Rome by hiding in churches emerged to accuse Christians of abandoning the city’s gods; when we read Augustine we know from his own mouth what paganism was like.
Gee, hon, I’m sorry you appear to think the two are incompatible.
Or it is totally impossible for you to imagine that the facts searched for and found by the OP in his investigation now would **end up supporting **his faith? That the so-called -facts that he was presented with earlier might not be facts at all, and that what he does find in looking to either confirm or refute those will support his faith?
zz912, the class is taking is alright. What Molotov is hearing is normal and a good education. There were many parallels to the Christian religion amongst the numerous pagan religions. Like Dionysius being raised from the dead and other such things throughout the pagan world.
Socrates said, “Concept precedes knowledge”. To make Christianity easier to receive, it was God’s plan to allow very similar looking things to predominate in order to accustom people to a newer religion. What the pagan religions did was lay the concepts down so that when the Christians came by to preach they found ready ground for evangelization.
The many parallels amongst the pagan religions does not undermine the Truths and Teachings of Christianity. They were their to prepare the people to accept Christianity. Christianity is a Greek/European religion; it is supposed to be “pagan”.
I find that a read of Acts of the Apostles helps to dispel a lot of doubt.
Read what the apostles went through. Ask yourself, if they didn’t really see, hear, and feel Jesus; if they didn’t hear His words and see his miracle; if they didn’t really see Him crucified, and then experience Him in His glorified body, risen from the dead; if they didn’t really have personal first hand knowledge of all of this, would they have ever endured what they endured? Who suffers torture, humiliation, and even death to stick to a lie or a fantasy?
No, it appears the class is spouting debunked claims similar to the lies told in the movie Zeitgeist. Most of the similarities that actually are there (as opposed to all the made up ones) are so weak and tangential that it’s laughable to claim the stories are related at all. Dionysius was eaten by the titans, and was brought back to life by Zeus planting his heart back in his mother (which is one of several different stories of him dying and coming back to life). The similarity to Jesus is paper thin.
I second SMOM’s knowledge. The apostles lived with Jesus Christ, saw his miracles of healing, resurrection and then witnessed Christ’s own resurrection. St. John the author of the First Gospel, a couple of letters and the Book of Revelation, did NOT have to make anything up–he witnessed it all first hand. The Blessed Virgin Mary lived in Ephesus, anybody at that time that had any questions could go to her. St. Luke transcribed events from eye-witnesses.
The Christian Faith is based on real Historical events, physical events that happened IN reality. Many people at the time could visit a number of apostles, other witnesses and the BVM. St. Peter and St. Paul died in Rome; they lived there for quite some time and probably together to speak about what they witnessed.
What Christianity is, is a company of witnesses. I, SMOM, along with every other Catholic/Orthodox Christian are witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ. It is a Line of Witnesses of an Historical Event and events that occurred. We, Christians, are Living testimonies to that.
Ask yourself, Why didn’t the Jews believe in Christ but the Greeks did?
Better yet, the verb needs to be changed to “Why COULDN’T the Jews believe in Christ?”
Because in the Jewish mindset, there is a gulf, an abyss, a Grand Canyon between God and Man. Remember the Burning Bush? The Semitic mind there are only absolutes. There is no mixture. They can not conceive of Christ as being God and man and most assuredly NOT a God. It is nowhere in the culture!!! When Christ said He was God, when Christ said, “I am”, the Jews had a hissy fit. No God can become man. That is just the Jewish mindset.
In my Nestle-Aland NT, at John 12:20, a new chapter begins with this heading “Some Greeks Seek Jesus”. Some Greeks came to see Jesus. Immediately, Jesus launches into “His hour has come”. The very next chapter is titled “The Unbelief of the Jews”. Jesus then quotes Isaiah saying “He has blinded their eyes not to believe”.
Why did the Greeks believe in Jesus easily? Why did they come to him? In Greek culture, in the Greek religion there were tens of examples of “God/Man” types; you had Herecules, Achilles, Theseus. These were all God-men who had one parent who was divine. Greek culture was infused with this idea. Also, the Gods could take human form and walk among them. To the Greek, that the Gods could visit them was natural—it happened all the time! The story of Jesus made sense, common-sense.
When Jesus insinuated that he was God, the Greeks readily believed. The Greeks, said, “Oh, yah!” The concept was already of a “god/man” being was readily believable. When Jesus was later resurrected, the Gentiles could believe because they knew it could happen!!!
When Christ said He was God, the Jews rolled their eyes because they never heard that before; it was unheard of. The Greeks and the Romans heard that, and said yes, that was possible and believable because they had a pantheon of half god, half man beings along with gods that resurrected.
To the Jews, Christ is nonsense; to the Greek, Jesus makes all the sense in the world!
I came here in order to get information from those who are probably better informed than me, even after my own research into everything.
The class itself is over Ancient Greek Rituals and Belief. Last class my professor strictly said that the Christians did not steal anything from anyone, but it was just common language as the Christians were part of it.
As for Truth and what was discovered, I thank all of you for your contributions and support. After the past few days I have never felt better than i do at this moment after yesterday’s (Holy Thursday) mass. :knight1:
My faith has been re-strengthened and I feel so much better. This is part of my education as I am specializing in Christian History and Theology, which includes the world the Faith came from. Again, I thank all of you and Christ Bless all of you for your wonderful help!
God sends a teacher to earth approximately every 2160 years (according to the precession of the equinoxes). It is not surprising that these teachers or Avatars have a lot in common. Just for your information the last few Avatars were:
10000-8000 BC Age of Leo - Hermes (Egypt)
8000-6000 BC Age of Cancer- Hercules (Greece)
6000-4000 BC Age of Gemini - Rama (India)
4000-2000 BC Age of Taurus - Mithra (Europe)
2000 - 0 BC Age of Aries - Krishna (India)
0 - 2000 AD Age of Pisces - Jesus (Middle-east)
These avatars are not exactly God , but you call them all divine or ‘Sons of God’.
Openmind77 - Your chronology of mythological figures is way way off.
First, Hermes is not an Egyptian god. Hermes is a Greek god, and some bits of his story are Asian (Asia Minor/Turkey) or Eastern European or Cretan. But none of his story comes from Egypt.
There is a later mythological figure known as Hermes Trismegistos, who was basically depicted as being a philosopher-magician. Since it was trendy in Roman times for Greek philosophers to claim Egyptian magic, the story mentioned it too.
Secondly, 10000 BC was the Mesolithic period. Egypt and Mesopotamia didn’t even have agriculture yet. By 9300 BC, the Mideast was just figuring out that you could plant an orchard of fig trees instead of just gathering from trees that Nature planted. You would need to introduce a Southwest Asian mythological figure, or a hunter/gatherer.
The rest of your proposed chronology is also way, way off.
Clinias - Actually, the line from 1 Corinthians 1:23 is:
“…but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks…”
Again, if you read pagan sources, you will see just how weird and offensive and stupid that pagan or philosophical Greeks found the idea of Christ, and how much Christianity relied on Jewish concepts and Jewish Scripture.
It was a bunch of hard sayings, wherever the believer was coming from.