Note the comment near the end of this page about the Hadrian quote: Serapis (Sarapis)
who were the Christians?
What I found even more interesting and also disturbing is the information regarding Easter 68 AD:
In 68 AD, a mob of pagans is said to have formed at the Serapis Temple in Alexandria, who then descended on the Christians who were celebrating Easter at Baucalis. There, they sized St. Mark, dragging him through the streets, before throwing him in prison.
Well that bit of pious tradition dates to the 4th century and is deeply colored with miraculous powers and angelic appearances. The Hadrian quote is of greatest interest, altho it might be significant that Eusebius says that Mark was dragged from his church on Easter and that this was the same day as the festival of Serapis. The connections between the two cults are provocative.
It would be interesting to dig deeper into the comparative literature on the Serapis cult. There may well be some critical analysis on the references to Serapis in ancient literature and epigraphic/archaeological finds that help clarify the relationships between the Serapis cult and Christianity. I checked my library holdings and found the following books and articles on the subject:
Behar, Caroline. (2002). "Les témoignages du culte de sérapis dans la Palestine Romaine et le traité Abodah Zarah." Revue des études juives 161 no 3-4 Jl-D 2002, p 567-571.
Ben Ze'ev, Maria Pucci. (1989). "Greek attacks against Alexandrian Jews during emperor Trajan's reign." Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period, 20 Je 1989, p 31-48.
Bricault, Laurent. (1996). Myrionymi : les épiclèses grecques et latines d'Isis, de Sarapis et d'Anubis. Stuttgart: B. G. Teubner.
Donfried, Karl P. (1985). "The cults of Thessalonica and the Thessalonian correspondence." New Testament Studies 31 Jl 1985, p 336-356.
Hull, Robert F. (1995). "A prayer to Sarapis." Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers, no 34 1995, p 213-215.
Lafaye, Georges. (1884). Histoire du culte des divinités d'Alexandrie. Sérapis, Isis, Harpocrate et Anubis, hors de l'Égypte depuis les origines jusqu'à la naissance, de l'école néo-platonicienne. Paris: E. Thorin.
Merkelbach, Reinhold. (1995). Isis regina, Zeus Sarapis : die griechisch-ägyptische Religion nach den Quellen dargestellt. Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner.
Pearson, Brook W. R. (1999). "Baptism and initiation in the cult of Isis and Sarapis". In Baptism, the New Testament and the Church, p 42-62. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
Takács, Sarolta A. (1995). Isis and Sarapis in the Roman world. New York: E.J. Brill.
Taylor, Rabun. (2004). "Hadrian's Serapeum in Rome". American Journal of Archaeology 108 no 2 Ap 2004, p 223-266.
Totti, Maria. (1985). Ausgewählte Texte der Isis- und Sarapis-Religion. New York: G. Olms.
Tran, V. Tam Tinh. (1983). Sérapis debout : corpus des monuments de Sérapis debout et étude iconographique. Leiden: E.J. Brill.