MITHRAS = CHRISTIANITY?
This religion, cloaked in mystery and secrecy, has captivated the imaginations of scholars for generations. Many facts discovered sheds vital light on the cultural dynamics that led to the rise of Christianity. The National Geographic Society’s book “Great Religions of the World,” page 309 writes; “By Jesus’ time, East and West had mingled here for three centuries. Down columns of boulevards walked Roman soldiers loyal to the Persian god Mithras.” Mithras was a Persian deity. He was also the most widely venerated god in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. The Catholic Encyclopedia as well as the early Church Fathers found this religion of Mithras very disturbing, as there are so many similarities between the two religions, as follows:
1) Hundreds of years before Jesus, according to the Mithraic religion, three Wise Men of Persia came to visit the baby savior-god Mithra, bring him gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense.
2) Mithra was born on December 25 as told in the “Great Religions of the World”, page 330; “…it was the winter solstice celebrated by ancients as the birthday of Mithraism’s sun god”.
3) According to Mithraism, before Mithra died on a cross, he celebrated a “Last Supper with his twelve disciples, who represented the twelve signs of the zodiac.
4) After the death of Mithra, his body was laid to rest in a rock tomb.
5) Mithra had a celibate priesthood.
6) Mithra ascended into heaven during the spring (Passover) equinox (the time when the sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length).
As you can now see, Christianity derived many of its essential elements from the ancient religion of Mithraism. Mithraism became intertwined with the cult of Jesus to form what is known today as “Christianity.” Although literary sources on this religion are sparse, an abundance of material evidence exists in the many Mithraic temples and artifacts that archaeologists have found scattered throughout the Roman Empire, from England in the north and west to Palestine in the south and east. The temples were usually built underground in caves, which are filled with an extremely elaborate iconography (illustrating by pictures, figures and images). There were many hundreds of Mithraic temples in the Roman Empire, the greatest concentrations have been found in the city of Rome itself.
We often hear about how many of the traditions, rites and symbols of modern day “Christian” holidays have their roots in paganism. Have you ever wondered why December 25th was chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Could it only be a consequence that ancient paganism and the story of Mithras’ birth coincides with the Yule/Christmas season? If the accounts in the Bible are correct, the time of Jesus birth would have been closer to mid-summer, for this is when shepherds would have been “tending their flocks in the field ” and the new lambs were born. Strange enough, the ancient pagan religion, Mithraism, which dates back over 4,000 years, also celebrated the birth of their “saviour” on December 25th. Franz Cumont, who is consider by many to be the leading research authority on Roman Paganism, explained the ancient religion called Mithraism.
Then Mithras returned to the earth to teach humanity His commandments and begin Mysteries and Rites which would help humans remember His acts on our behalf. Because of His actions, we can choose good without the overwhelming power of evil, even though evil’s influence can still seem powerful because our minds believe it is. Because of His teachings, we know that the purpose of our lives is to serve others in the name of Mithras. The followers refer to Him as the “Light of the World” a phrase often used also in Christian faith when referring to Jesus.
This son of a god born of a virgin, was so commonly spread in those days that Philo of Alexandria (30 BCE – 45 CE), warned against this widespread superstitious belief in unions between male gods and human females. The offspring’s are known as demigods.
Tammuz, who was incorporated also into Attis and Mithras, and they stood model for the story in the NT, because they were deities who all are supposed to have died and resurrected. Tammuz was always called Adon, meaning Lord. (the Greek Adonis, was based on him). Actually all these deities were based on the first deity to have died and resurrected, the Egyptian deity Osiris. So there is absolutely nothing unique about Jesus. In fact he is copyright due to Osiris.
Of the following (semi) deities, legends went around that they were born of a virgin:
Augustus (his father was the god Apollo)
Romulus and Remus
So basically, all the pagan religions were alike, including Christianity. It just happens that one of them got the ascendancy, and became the most powerful, and did its best to wipe out all the others. In addition to a lack of historical support, many characteristics of Jesus, which Christians today believe in, are undeniably similar or identical to religious trends and beliefs that preceded Christianity. There are tens of accounts of pagan gods of many different cultures who were said to have the same attributes as those that Christians claim Jesus had. A brief review of some of these may lead to some interesting questions concerning the originality of the Christian claim:
ATTIS – Phrygia: Born of the virgin Nana on December 25. He was both the Father and the Divine Son. He was a savior crucified on a tree for the salvation of mankind. He was buried but on the third day the priests found the tomb empty — He had arisen from the dead (on March 25th). He followers were baptized in blood, thereby washing away their sins — after which they declared themselves “born again.” His followers ate a sacred meal of bread, which they believed became the body of the savoir.
BUDDIAH – INDIA: Born of the Virgin Maya on December 25th. He was announced by a star and attended by wise men presenting costly gifts. At birth angles sing heavenly songs. He taught in temple at age 12. Tempted by Mara, the Evil One (Satan), while fasting. He was baptized in water with the Spirit of God present. Buddiah healed the sick and fed 500 from a small basket of cakes and even walked on water. He came to fulfill the law and preached the establishment of a kingdom of righteousness and obliged followers to poverty and to renounce the world. He transfigured on a mount. Died (on a cross, in some traditions), buried but arose again after tomb opened by supernatural powers. Ascended into heaven (Nirvana). Will return in later days to judge the dead. Buddiah was called: “Good Shepherd,” “Carpenter,” “Alpha and Omega,” “Sin Bearer,” “Master,” “Light of the World,” “Redeemer,” etc.
DIONYSUS – GREECE: Born of a Virgin on December 25th, placed in a manger. He was a traveling teacher who performed many miracles. Turned water into wine. Followers ate sacred meal that became the body of the god. He rose from the dead March 25th. Identified with the ram and lamb’s and was called “King of Kings,” “Only Begotten Son,” “Savior,” “Redeemer,” “Sin bearer,” “Anointed One,” the “Alpha and Omega.”
HERACLES – GREECE: Born at the winter equinox of a virgin who refrained from sex with her until her god-begotten child was born and was sacrificed at the spring equinox. He too, was called “Savior,” “Only begotten,” “Prince of Peace,” “Son of Righteousness.”
KRISHNA – INDIA: Krishna was born while his foster-father Nanda was in the city to pay his tax to the king. His nativity heralded by a star, Krishna was born of the virginDevaki in a cave, which at the time of his birth was miraculously illuminated. The cow-herds adored his birth. King Kansa sought the life of the Indian Christ by ordering the massacre of all male children born during the same night at He. Krishna traveled widely, performing miracles — raising the dead, healing lepers, the deaf and the blind. The crucified Krishna is pictured on the cross with arms extended. Pierced by an arrow while hanging on the cross, Krishna died, but descended into Hell from which He rose again on the third day and ascended into Heaven. (The Gospel of Nicodemus tell of Jesus’ descent into Hell.) He will return on the last day to judge the quick and the dead. Krishna is the second person of the Hindu trinity.
OSIRIS – EGYPT: He came to fulfill the law. Called “KRST,” the “Anointed One.” Born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th in a cave / manger, with his birth announced by a star and attended by three wise men. Earthly father named “Seb” (translates to “Joseph.”) At age 12 he was a child teacher in the Temple and at 30 he was baptized, having disappeared for 18 years. Osiris was baptized in the river Iarutana — the river Jordan — by “Anup the Baptizer,” who was beheaded. (Anup translates to John.) He performed miracles, exorcised demons, raised El-Osiris from the dead. Walked on water and was betrayed by Typhon, crucified between two thieves on the 17th day of the month of Athyr. Buried in a tomb from which he arose on the third day (19th Athyr) and was resurrected. His suffering, death, and resurrection celebrated each year by His disciples on the Vernal Equinox — Easter. Called “The Way, the Truth, the Light,” “Messiah,” “god’s Anointed Son,’ the “Son of Man,” the “Word made Flesh,” the “word of truth.” Expected to reign a thousand years.
NOTE 1: Persian legends of Mithras says that He was born of the Sun God and a virgin mother, called “the Mother of God”, on December 25th. They saw him as a symbol of justice, truth, and loyalty. He was considered the saviour of humankind, and stories abound of His healing the sick, raising the dead, and performing miracles (making the blind see and the lame walk). Throughout His lifetime, He was seen as a protector of human souls, a mediator between “heaven” and “earth” and was even associated with a “holy trinity”. He remained celibate, until the ripe old age of 64, throughout his life and preached the virtues of ethics, moral behavior, and good will. Does this sound familiar? Sure sounds like Jesus.
NOTE 2: Ancient Persians believed in a “celestial heaven” and hell. They believed that they would be judged by their god and granted justice of” eternal salvation. On judgement day, the faithful dead would be resurrected and light would triumph over darkness.
NOTE 3: They took part in ritual purification or baptism, held Sundays sacred, drank wine and ate bread as a symbol of the body and blood and even took part in ritualistic purging (purification rites such as flagellation).
NOTE 4: In their legends, Mithras had an “earthly mission’ to accomplish. He then was put to death on a cross and buried in a cave (some legends have Him held in a cave to be reborn once a year).
NOTE 5: He then “rose from the dead” and took part in a last supper with his 12 disciples (often associated with the 12 signs of the zodiac) and then ascended to the heavens to watch over His “flock” from above.
As a footnote to all this: The World Book Encyclopedia tells that Mithras was an angel of light who fought on the side against the forces of evil. In the Zoroastrian religion of ancient Persia Mithras was called “the Heavenly Light.” This belief carried to Assyria and Asia Minor where many people identified him with the sun. Mithraism came into the ancient Roman world about 75 BCE., and ranked as a principal competitor of Christianity for 200 years. In addition to a lack of historical support, many characteristics of Jesus, which Christians today believe in, are undeniably similar or identical to religious trends and beliefs that preceded Christianity. There are tens of accounts of pagan gods of many different cultures who were said to have the same attributes as those that Christians claim Jesus had.
Trinity―Trinities were popular in pagan sects before Christianity was introduced to the world. Some of the more well known trinity gods included Mithra-VohuMana-Rashnu, Amen-Mut-Khonsu, and Osiris-Isis-Horus.
Virgin Birth―Among the pagan cultures that preceded Christianity, virgin birth stories abounded. The long list of pagan gods born of virgins includes: Romulus andRemus, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mithras, Chrishna, Osiris-Aion, Agdistis, Attis, Tammuz, Adonis, Korybas, Perseus, and Dionysus.
Disciples―In the following ‘saviors’ cases, a grouping of disciples was present, just as they were present in Jesus’ story: Horus, Buddha, Chrishna, Dionysus, Mithra. Interestingly enough, in the case of Dionysus, his disciple Acoetes was a boatman, just as Jesus’ disciple Peter. And just as Peter was freed from jail when the doors miraculously flew open, so was Dionysus’ disciple Acoetes. In Budda’s case, he, like Jesus, demanded that his disciples renounce all worldly possessions. Yet another instance of similarity is that the disciples of both Jesus and Buddha were said to have been arrested for preaching, as well as witnessed to have “walked on water.”
Miracles―Among those ‘saviors’ who, like Jesus, performed countless miracles include: Horus, Chrishna, Buddha, Dionysus, Mithra, Osirus, and Adonis. Horus was said to have walked on water, just as Jesus did. In addition, Horus raised one man, El-Azarus, from the dead in front of countless witnesses. In the case of Buddha, it was told that he fed five hundred men with one loaf of bread, that he cured lepers, and that he caused the blind to see. Dionysus rescued a person from dying when the person was utterly desolate and placed them among the stars. And he gave food and drink, herbs and berries, to the starving people — not to mention turning water into wine.
The Sun―Here is another common theory, quoted from S. Acharya’s “The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus:” “The reason why all these pagan narratives are so similar to a “god-man” is that these stories were based on the movements of the sun through the heavens, an astrotheological development that can be found throughout the planet because the sun and the 12 zodiac signs can be observed around the globe.
Paul was supposedly born and raised in the city of Tarsus, a region in SE Asia-Minor (now called Turkey) where Mithras was well known. Biblical scholars are now saying that Paul, the alleged author of 13 out of the 27 (maybe more) books of the New Testament, may have been influenced in his writings by this strong religion of Mithraism. We can see a profound kinship between Mithraism and Christianity.
In-as-much as Mithraism was so popular in Rome, it is no wonder why the pagan Emperor Constantine, who believed in the sun god, Mithras, designated a certain day of the week to him, Sunday, which means, “the day of the sun.”
The original “Christian” faith became a mix of pagan, Mithramic, Jeudeo/Christian teaching. This lead to the confusing mix of theology that we have today within the “Christian” community. This apostacy from the original simple and plain teachings of Christ was accelerated by the persecutions and killings of any who tried to support the “old” ways. Maybe this solves the mystery of the “ungodly” marriage between Mithraism and the cult of Jesus. As it turns out, it was all for political convenience! But, Christians think they are better than that today. In short: The “Christianity” they have today has almost no relationship, in doctrine or in way of life, to the “the original teachings of Jesus.”
In my mind, there are two Jesus’ teachings. Jesus the Jew and Jesus the Gentile, which by the way is really Paul’s Jesus. And guess which one Christians follow? The ex-pagan Constantine liked Paul’s Jesus over Jesus the Jew. Jesus and all the others upon whom this character is predicated are personifications of the sun, and the Gospel fable is merely a rehash of a mythological formula revolving around the movements of the sun through the heavens.
For instance, many of the world’s crucified “god-men” have their traditional birthday on December 25. This is because the ancients recognized that (from an earth-centric perspective) the sun makes an annual descent southward until December 21 or 22, the winter solstice, when it stops moving southerly for three days and then starts to move northward again.
During this time, the ancients declared that “God’s sun” had “died” for three days and was “born again” on December 25. The ancients realized quite abundantly that they needed the sun to return every day and that they would be in big trouble if the sun continued to move southward and did not stop and reverse its direction. Thus, these many different cultures celebrated the “sun of God’s” birthday on December 25th. The following are the characteristics of the “sun” of God:
a. The sun “dies” for three days on December 22, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25, it resumes its movement north.
b. In some areas, the calendar originally began in the constellation of Virgo, and the sun would therefore be “born of a Virgin.”
c. The sun is the “Light of the World.”
d. The sun “cometh on clouds, and every eye shall see him.”
e. The sun rising in the morning is the “Savior of mankind.”
f. The sun wears a corona (“crown of thorns”) or a halo.
g. The sun “walks on water.”
h. The sun’s “followers” or “disciples” are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the Zodiac, through which the sun must pass.
i. The sun is “crucified,” which represents it’s passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected.
In addition, all over the world are sites where this “god” or that allegedly was born, walked, suffered, died, etc., a common occurrence that is not monopolized by, and did not originate with, Christianity. An early Christian Syrian writer (quoted in Credner’s “De Natalitorium Christi Origine”) wrote the following concerning the December 25 hoax: “The reason why the Church fathers transferred the celebration from January 6 to December 25, was that it was the custom of the pagans to celebrate on the same December 25 the birthday of the sun, at which time they lit lights in token of festivity, and in these rites and festivals the Christians also took part. Accordingly, when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a liking for this festival, they resolved that the true nativity should be commemorated on that day.“
When the Christ myth was new Mithras and Mithraism were already ancient. Worshiped for centuries as God’s Messenger of Truth, Mithras was long revered by the Persians and the Indians (Zoroastrianism) before his faith found it’s way to Rome where His mysteries flourished in the second century AD. Every year in Rome, in the middle of winter, the Son of God was born one more, putting an end to darkness. Every year at first minute of December 25th the temple of Mithras was lit with candles, priests in in white garments celebrated the birth of the Son of God and boys burned incense. Mithras was born in a cave, on December 25th, of a virgin mother. He came from heaven to be born as a man, to redeem men from their sin. He was know as “Savior,” “Son of God,” “Redeemer,” and “Lamb of God.” With twelve disciples he traveled far and wide as a teacher and illuminator of men. He was buried in a tomb from which he rose again from the dead — an event celebrated yearly with much rejoicing. His followers kept the Sabbath holy, holding sacramental feasts in remembrance of Him. The sacred meal of bread and water, or bread and wine, was symbolic of the body and blood of the sacred bull.
Baptism in the blood of the bull (taurobolum) – early Baptism “washed in the blood of the Lamb” – late Baptism by water [recorded by the Christian author TertullianMithraic rituals brought about the transformation and Salvation of His adherents –an ascent of the soul of the adherent into the realm of the divine.
All over the world are sites where this “god” or that allegedly was born, walked, suffered, died, etc., a common occurrence that is not monopolized by, and did not originate with, Christianity. At the time of Jesus, as for centuries before, the Mediterranean world roiled with a wide diversity of mythical creeds and rituals. Details varied according to location and culture, but the general outlines of these faiths were astonishingly similar. Simply put, the ancients’ gods:
a. Were born on or very near our Christmas Day
b. Were born of a Virgin-Mother
c. Were born in a Cave or Underground Chamber.
d. Led a life of toil for Mankind.
e. Were called by the names of Light-bringer, Healer, Mediator, Savior, Deliverer.
f. Were however vanquished by the Powers of Darkness.
g. And descended into Hell or the Underworld.
h. Rose again from the dead, and became the pioneers of mankind to the Heavenly world.
i. Founded Communions of Saints, and Churches into which disciples were received by Baptism.
j. Were commemorated by Eucharistic meals.
Many professors of modern and past times cannot help but conclude that Jesus is based on mythical deities of old. Among these scholars number individuals such asPorphry (3rd Century), Max Muller, Ernest de Bunsen, Joseph Wheless, Albert Churchward (all of the 19th Century), and T.W. Doane (20th Century). Even Pope Leo X, privy to the truth because of his high rank, made this curious declaration, “It was well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us” (“The Diegesis” by Rev. Robert Taylor, footnote, p. 35).
To conclude, in light of the tremendous volume of evidence that is there for anyone interesting in taking the time to study, the underlying question of whether or not Christianity is simply the heir of mythical beliefs prevalent at the time of its development, is not a question that can simply be ignored by any Christian when pondering the origins of his/her faith.
References were taken from:
The World Book Encyclopedia; Library of the World’s Myths and Legends (Persian Mythology); Stories of the Bible on TV – Historians; J.M.Robertson, T.W.Doane,F.Cument, J.G.Frazer; The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries by David Ulansey