Why the Christ Story is Not a Copycat of Ancient Religious Myths by Rocket Kirchner

Ladenburg ist einen Umweg wert, Mithras

Image by dierk schaefer via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
Originally posted March 6, 2011 and reposted June 19, 2013
March 25, 2016

Every time I hear someone say that the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is nothing more than recycled ideas from mystery religious cults and myths, it just reminds of me of that famous line by British playwright George Bernard Shaw, “People would rather die than think.” The standard line goes something like this, “Well, you do know that there really is nothing Jesus either said or did that is laid out in the gospels that cannot be found in the pagan mystery rites and stories of Mithras, Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Osiris, and many many others.” To which I respond, “Oh, really?”

French scholar Andre Boulanger said, “The conception that the god dies and is resurrected in order to lead his faithful to eternal life is represented in no Hellenistic mystery religion.” Now, if Boulanger’s statement is historically accurate than why do most people today think and state the contrary? A) They just heard it somewhere as a pop culture catch-all phrase and don’t really study in-depth the ancient world. Or B) They are reading revisionist historians like Freke, Gandy, Harpur, Graves, and many others that blur the lines between the utter uniqueness of the Christ story with pagan religions. Many like to start with the Persian myth of Mithras, claiming virgin birth and sacrificial death. But legend tells us that Mithras was born out of a rock fully formed, and his sacrifice to the gods was not Himself but rather a bull. There is no virgin birth in the stories of Persus or Dionysus, Greek mythology is clear about that. So then, what about the story of Adonis’ resurrection many would ask. There is a lot of truth to that but along with the resurrections of Murduk and Attis, these are all post-dated some 150 to 350 years after Christ. And the word in Greek for Christ’s resurrection is not the same as the Greek word for the others. One was a literal bodily resurrection and the others were just resuscitations.

Now, a favorite to bring up in this area of discussion for many is the intriguing myth of Osiris. Here we have a clear cut resurrection, but he never gets up from underground. The Roman historian Plutarch writes about this 200 years after Christ. So, how could all of these myths that post-date the era of the Christian martyrs of the early church have any influence on them? The fact is, they didn’t. Those who are not thinking this through have their chronology all backwards. All today’s revisionists have are sweeping generalizations based on questionable evidence that could never stand up under the scrutiny of careful investigation. World renowned historian of religion Mircea Eliade in his three-volume definitive set on the history of religion from the pre-stone age until the late 20th century said,”There is no reason to suppose that primitive Christianity was influenced by the Hellenistic mysteries.” This does not account for the later post-Constantinian church 300 years later that incorporated some of the myths. Eliade was referring to the early church that died specifically for what they believed in full public view, the early first century text of the writings of the New Testament and the early Roman historians that wrote about them of the late first and early second centuries.

So, why is this so important to try and set the record straight on this comment misconception? Because it is just another excuse for people to not look seriously into the absolute uniqueness of the Christ story. It is just another excuse to punt the issue. But when all of the excuses have run out it will take honest intellectual and personal fortitude to embrace Christ as not just another fable, but rather to face Him and his claims head on. And it will take that to dispel self deception and the deception around us in order to get to the root of the problems that can bring the antidote to a sick world that is reeling out of control on the edge of vertigo.

References and more info at these links:

Was Christianity plagiarized from pagan myths?

God and Comparative Religion by G. K. Chesterton

Was Jesus A Copycat Savior?

from the archives:

The Crossing: The Event That Changed My Life by Rocket Kirchner

New Age Christianity: The Crossless Gospel of Deception by Rocket Kirchner

The Jewish Roots of Christianity

The Evidence for the Existence of Jesus

The Jewish Foundation of Christianity

Zeitgeist Refuted Final Cut

Debunked: Zeitgeist – Parts I, II and III

21 responses to “Why the Christ Story is Not a Copycat of Ancient Religious Myths by Rocket Kirchner

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  4. I judiciously refrained from posting a comment about this topic, because it is an almost endless contradictory discourse, that even to trace back only to the the development of what is known as the German Higher Criticism, requires scholarly acumen of an almost limitless capacity.

    I have changed my mind, because I think there are a couple of important perspectives that should be included. Rocket knows my views well, so I do not need to enter into an elaborate discussion with him about the finer points.

    We can approach religion (once we’ve decided what we mean by religion) in two ways ~ either skeptically and empirically. These are not mutually exclusive nor definitive starting points, but they can serve as reasonable ground from whence to appraise the landscape before us.

    Now skeptical (in English usage, sceptic) should not infer cynicism. In fact quite the contrary, as it is a rational methodology that invokes scientific reasoning. By empiricism, I mean that which can be shown to be either effective in the broader sense, or true in a subjective, more personal context.

    I do not think it can be denied, that religious empiricism in this subjective, personal sense, can be a vehicle for the exercise of morality as an expression of ethical conscience. How that morality is expressed however must be contained. Blowing up children in a playground can scarcely be construed as an act of moral rectitude, although to the sick fanatic who perpetrates such a horrific travesty, it clearly is.

    Belief in one’s subjectively defined deity is a relatively harmless thing, until it becomes an exercise in metaphysical tyranny, that demands we all conform to the same literal belief. Then it becomes toxic, unreligious and dogmatic. History is replete with examples of such tyranny in the form of theological doctrines that have eviscerated, oppressed, corrupted and undermined whole cultures. It is widespread, and still regrettably current everywhere.

    To dismiss religious skepticism as vacuous and unfounded is of course plain wrong. There are libraries of evidence to prove the contrary. To suggest that syncretism has not been in evidence throughout history is equally false. To reduce all skeptical arguments about christian or christist origins to copycat sophism, is also to misrepresent the facts and indulge in simplistic straw-man controversies.

    So this is not the place to make the case for a Jesus or a Christ one way or the other. What we should do here, is defer to those ethical fora that deal with these deeply learned and esoteric existential questions and topics with inclusive intellectual thoroughness, spiritual insight and meticulous scholarly propriety. Where such propriety does not (yet) exist or is not respected as it should be, then we have an intellectual duty and a moral responsibility to demand that it should be so; and also to exemplify those standards in our own discourses and opinions.

    • David , the repost of this piece is not one of moralism or of any attempt to seek to prove historically that the gospel of Christ is true . Any attempt to seek to prove it on that ground removes Christ from being Object of Faith .

      It is however a challenge to get people to rethink that which our culture ingrains in the vox populi which is that it is just another fable taken from a synthesis of myths . Syncretism is very real no doubt . But the contrast in the Christ story taken at face value as I have shown time after time clearly shows us there is enough of the unique in it that at least would compel any serious thinker and seeker to at least take a good look at it .

      • Thanks Rocket for this cogent summary. I can’t disagree with you. Truth is, there are no easy short cuts, and one has to look hard and long, not only into the cumulative mythos and its relational contextual continuum, but also into our own capacity for understanding, tolerance and spiritual intelligence.

        One day I’d like to hear your thoughts on Richard Carrier’s most recent conclusions. Personally, I’m not convinced that we’ll get very far by means of rational inference or exegetic logic alone; there are clearly metaphysical and esoteric planes of “supra” reasonable, imaginal experience that must be interrogated very thoroughly, and respected for what they are; when approached in a spirit of existential generosity, that is prepared to embrace both uniqueness and subtle difference.

        • David , Reason must yield to Paradox . Logic is helpless in these matters ultimately .

          Clarity of thought is simply in being willing to reject sloppy thinking and notice that there are more differences and uniqueness in the Christ of the gospels than in other mythos .

          If everything is sort of willy Nilly lumped into together in the name of archetypes ….much is lost and is an actual insult to the pagan myths themselves .

  5. Well said – one thing I’d point out is that the idea of vicarious atonement is also alien to all other religions and all the myths that I have been able to study up on.

    Someone mentioned Horus – who was conceived when his folks did the nasty… and didn’t die on anyone’s behalf, or willingly. So no virgin birth, no atoning sacrifice.

    Someone once tried to say that Krishna was an example of a chief god giving his life for others – but that’s totally inaccurate. The most common account I could find was that he was meditating under a tree and accidentally got shot in the foot by an arrow, and decided not to stick around. Hardly anything like Jesus, who knowing He would be betrayed and handed over, set His face towards Jerusalem, Who came to serve and give His life a ransom for many.

    Osiris was cut up into 14 pieces and reassembled (or he lost a canoe race to his brother, depending on which account you read), except for the phallus which was fashioned from bronze by his sister-wife. Is that anything like the Passion of Jesus?

    And again – these are just a few examples, there are many more – none of the gods came to die to save anyone. And that in itself would set Christianity apart from all other religions and myths.
    Never mind that under scrutiny the parallels prove to be hardly similar at all.

    To be consistent, the copycatters would need to say that the accounts of Jesus throw doubt on the existence of Gandhi. Does that sound ridiculous? Well that’s how far-off the “similarities” between Jesus and the other gods are.

    • Laim , Bulls Eye ! people knew in the Ancient world why the early Christians did not put Jesus in the Pantheon of 30 thousand gods nor worship Caesar.

      they knew becuase they never heard anything like it . A man condemned in disgrace and ignominity on a cross is given the title of Caesar -SON OF GOD . That world knew it was unique and many called it madness.
      but at least they knew it was like nothing they every could conceive of .

      there was no precedence .

  6. Facebook Comment 1

    Facebook Comment #1:

    “Below is the takeaway from the unnamed author’s blog post. It seems to me the greatest problems arise when human beings assign absolute values to spiritual mysteries.

    “…why is this so important to try and set the record straight on this comment misconception? Because it is just another excuse for people to not look seriously into the absolute uniqueness of the Christ story.””

    • that is true . it is just another excuse . that is why whenever this article is posted and reposted and reposted i never hear scholarly rebuttal but emotional and ad hominum . Why ? because as long as one can lump the gospel in with everything else , one can keep it at arms length and remain in charge and not dethroned . The self rules .

      whatever reason would there be for blaming me for writing this article ?

  7. The funny thing about this article is that
    1. It doesn’t talk about any facts/similarities or anything to dispel your claim that the Horus/Jesus stories are in no way similar.
    2. It insults those of us who find Christianity laughable. People would rather die than think.
    And with that I quote the article again saying Oh really? So bc I don’t believe in YOUR Jesus, I don’t think? Why do you think so many are turned off by your Religion? It is bc of that kind of attitude by its followers.
    Hmmm. Funny considering my hobby is studying religion, my specific favorite ancient religion. AND I typically know more about the Bible than the so called Christians these days. Now in no way am I saying that I’m a bible expert. I’m not. I find it unappealing as I do the entire Christian religion. But I don’t discriminate when studying religion.
    Religion shouldn’t be something that is indoctrinated into a person. It should be something one seeks out, discovers & finds speaks to their soul. And that’s one of my issues with Christianity. People say they are when they really have no clue what that means & have the audacity to call those us who don’t believe ignorant, refusing to think, as the author so eloquently did. Which takes me back to the saying you’ll catch more Flies with honey than vinegar. If you don’t want people to be turned off by your stance, especially those who may disagree with you, don’t insult the reader in any of the article, let alone the 1st few sentences.

    You provide zero facts, evidence or even theories as why you believe Christianity isn’t a copy cat. And it’s not an exact copy cat. It has plucked stories from nearly every religion that came before it. One example would be Adam & Eve which is nearly an exact copy from Ancient Samaria. Another, using a tree on Christmas, the day Christmas is on which is most certainly not Christ’s birthday.

    When you say things like “sweeping generalizations based on questionable evidence”, I say to you, where is YOUR evidence? There are no dates, events, quotes, nothing to prove YOUR point. All you do is criticize other writers based on nothing more than your opinion.

    With all the insults & criticism & with nothing to back yourself up, I ask, HOW CHRISTIAN LIKE IS THAT?

    • Hope , sorry , you failed to make your case . Your approach is emotional . Mine is not .

      This article I wrote has been reposted three times on this blog with every objection imaginable and I have answered everyone . See for yourself .

      This does not prove the Christ story to be true , but it proves that it is unique . It is a popular fallacy to think that it borrowed from traditions . Did I say I was a Christian ? No . You assumed it . This is a reaction on your part from living in a phony Christian country . There can be no assumptions here .

      These are the facts : the Christ story is in a category of its own . I have not insulted anyone . If someone has had a bad experience around Christians they may project in their mind an insult . But this is only in their mind . Of course if one does not want it to be unique because it threatens ones selfish life then they will object emotionally . If the shoe fits , take it off . It’s about time .

      • It’s emotional bc I call you out on providing no evidence? You don’t even use evidence as part of your argument! You cite nothing! All you do is say these people are wrong & are distorting what really happened! Sorry but you can’t write an article, use zero evidence, then call ME emotional bc I call you out on it. And no, I shouldn’t have to look at prior comments section to find what evidence you cite. Put it in the article where it belongs!
        And you want to say I assume that you Christian while you assume I don’t believe that Jesus existed! I actually do believe Jesus was a flesh & blood man that walked this Earth. I believe in his teachings. I don’t believe he was the son of God or our Savior. I just believe he was one extraordinary man. And I also believe that his followers were so adamant abiut believing he was the Son of God & the Savior that they did whatever they could to push it into the arena of Big Religions. They plucked bits & pieces from other religions to tell a story all in hopes of getting those people to fall in line behind them. When Jesus suddenly is born on the same day as Horus, his followers will believe that Jesus was an incarnation of Horus. When you add the Pagan Christmas tree (among among a lot of other pagan traditions) into the Christians religion, it’s easier to drag them in.
        Maybe instead of attacking your readers in the first few sentences, as you most certainly did & then attacking them in the comments, hold a civil & intelligent conversation. I’m a very open minded person & quite enjoy talking Religion. I never know when I’ll learn something new. However, when that person resorts to attacks, they attacks & insults, I’m not going to take them or what they have to say seriously.
        Your article is a joke. It’s an opinion piece. You don’t cite any facts, any evidence. You didn’t put in the work to research what you are even saying. I’m just supposed to believe you bc you said it? Ha.
        With that, I am done, I won’t be back bc it’s now clear that not only you but this site is a JOKE.

        • Hope , if you just believe that Jesus was a great man and stop short of falling on your knees to worship him as the Son of God to save you , i have some news for you : Jesus does not need your patronizing him . to patronize is an insult .

          Better that you just hate him. It is obvious that he has not revealed himself to you as the Resurrect Lord of all . He did it to me 41 years ago . what am i supposed to do deny it and blame Christians for worshiping and making his divinity all up ? I did that before my supernatural conversion . i hated him . but he loved me and proved it . this can happen to you too .

          As i said before and left links below my article , the Christ story is not a copy cat xerox of world mythology . No one knows when and where Christ was born . your position on Horus and Christ is redacted because of that fact alone . but why go on and try and convince you . Believe or be offended .

  8. Interesting piece. While I know for a fact that the meme going around seeking to show how Horus and Jesus are similar – is total bunk, it is the case that there are certain similarities between parts of the mythology about Jesus with that of certain other prior ancient demi-gods. It is also the case that those who tacked on certain myths about Jesus (virgin birth, etc) didn’t do so as a diminishment of Christianity. Syncretism is an affirmation and elevation of it’s Truth. That said, the idea that Jesus “spent time in India” when he was young, is baseless and seems to me to be a modern fabrication of certain people who need Jesus to have not been solely a product of his rich Jewish lineage. He was more influenced by rabbi Hillel than anything east of Israel.

    Roger Wolsey, author, “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity”

    • Thanks for posting this on your Facebook Page, Roger. Now to get some of those comments here for the author to respond.

    • Roger , thanks for the reply . The fact that the early church were the only ones that refused to put who they worshiped in the Pantheon is such a glaring contrast to any given notion of syncretism that it goes without saying .

      Also in the Epistle of Peter , the writer speaks of being eye witnesses of His Majesty and not believing in fables . These fables were mythology in general . I think that that reference had to do with the fact that Osiris was raised from the dead but never got up from the underworld , but rather Jesus did and they saw him .

      One will in the Jungian sense always find certain similarities , however the differences are so huge that they far outweigh the few similarities . Hence my article for clarification .

  9. 1st. Today we are celebrating the death of Jesus. Put to death by Rome for committing a crime. The crime, his anger over the slaughter of animals. 2nd. Seems to me if God rested on the seventh day to enjoy His creation he was an environmentalist. 3rd Thou shalt not kill. There is no definition or exclusion. The hypocrisy over these three points has caused the world to fall into despair.

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