The Mithras/Eucharist connection in Justin Martyr


#1

In Justin Martyr’s First Apology to the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, Justin gives a very detailed account of the Eucharist. I personally believe that Martyr’s description is the clearest early proof of the Real Presence (The gospels, Paul and Ignatius clearly demonstrate the Real Presence in their writings–but they don’t address it as directly as does Justin.)

The disturbing part of Martyr’s description of the Eucharist comes in the last two lines. He mentions in these two lines Mithraism and how its adherents are stealing the idea of the Eucharist and using it in their own ceremonies. While I believe that it is more likely that the Mithraists are indeed stealing (or perhaps only coincidentally share) a Euchuaristic-like ceremony, there is also the possibility that early Christianity merged with Mithraism to create the concept of the Eucharist.

How do we know that the early Christians received their Eucharist from the apostles and from Jesus and not from some Mithraic religion? Better yet, why did the Mithraic adherents have a ceremony similiar to the Christian Eucharist?

The following is a quote from Martyr’s First Apology and is to be found at www.newadvent.org:

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. *


#2

St. Paul discusses the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, 11:17-29:
Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
. . .
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.


#3

Does it seem logical to you that the early Christians would have mingled their beliefs with paganism, and then allowed themselves to undergo the most cruel of torments and be martyred for refusing to offer just a pinch of incense to Ceaser, or to otherwise adopt paganism?

The reason Catholic Christianity was able to be singled out by the Imperial authorities for extermination was *how different it was * from the surrounding paganism.

Think about it . . .


#4

Actually Justin Martyr points to the fact that our communion rituals predated Mithra. Nothing to fear remeber Justin was an apologist he was arguing agiant paganism and Rabinnical Judaism so of course he;s going to compare his relgion with theirs. He is not saying we got stuff from the pagans he is saying the pagans got it from us. That is in our favor no matter how a fundamentilist wants to spin it. Just like catholcism existed before protestantism one ripped another off. Guess in what order?


#5

Does it seem logical to you that the early Christians would have mingled their beliefs with paganism, and then allowed themselves to undergo the most cruel of torments and be martyred for refusing to offer just a pinch of incense to Ceaser, or to otherwise adopt paganism?

The reason Catholic Christianity was able to be singled out by the Imperial authorities for extermination was *how different it was *from the surrounding paganism.

Think about it . . .

Yes, that does make a lot of sense. I know that the Roman Authorities persecuted the Christians because they thought them cannibals. I just wonder how and why Mithraism borrowed the Eucharistic feast from Christians.
The quotations from Paul definitely point to Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Unfortunately many Protestants butcher it up so that everything becomes “spirit” and “faith.” In other words, eating the body to them is having faith in Christ. Whatever. Sounds like Mannicheism to me. I just don’t really understand how Protestants can bypass the fact that the Eucharist is more than just a social meal–that it is a sacrafice and that the Eucharist, once blessed, becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. I have extremely intelligent Protestant friends, too, which makes me wonder how they believe what they do.

Thanks for your help.


#6

Through tradition and scripture there have been much associated, common, shared knowledge like Jacob’s ladder and the Mithraic Ladder. The Chosen People also have much shared knowledge. It is no surprise the Eucharist is "connected"with their hisstory. IHS Daryl


#7

Most of the stuff going around about Mithras on the internet is totally bogus. It is quite possible that Justin tried to make the Mystery rituals seem too much like the Eucharist for the sake of argument. Mithraism did not have a “sacrament” in which you ate and drank Mithra. They did have a fellowship meal, but that’s all it probably was.
It is also possible that Mithraism did rip-off some stuff from Christianity just like some other groups have and still do, like alien worshipping people.


#8

You should also think about the fact that Jesus himself began the practice of the Eucharist. In John 6, right after feeding the 5000, he addresses the subject of eating His Body and drinking His Blood. Here was the first time that the Apostles were really forced to believe on Faith and not just witnessing miracles performed by Jesus. When the others left they were faced with having to leave or stay. Through Faith they knew that even though they did not fully understand what was said they knew that Jesus would provide the answers. Oh, how that kind of Faith is needed now.

MikeB.


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