Thank you Leolaia. As she notes, Tony Bushby, S Archaya and Zeitgeist etc are mostly just nonsense.
Notverylikely - The 'point' in my other thread that I referenced was made in the first few posts on that thread, long before made my jerky comment to a certain poster on that thread. I have no idea why you need to constantly hark on about that anyway, other than to use it as a reason for evading the academic research I posted in that thread. Why don't you try backing up your comments with some independent scholarly research instead of just cutting and pasting everyone elses comments and responding in a tit-for-tat manner? Engaging in petty armchair polemics is just annoying.
Here is the research I posted from that said thread anyway:
It is a fallacy that the early Christians weaved the tale of a dying and rising God-man on the loom of mystery religions.
The idea of the dying-rising god as a parallel to the Christian concept of the death and resurrection of Christ was popularized by James Frazer in ‘The Golden Bough’, first published in 1906. Scholar Edwin Yamauchi (1974; “Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History?”) has observed that, although Frazer marshaled many parallels, the foundation was very fragile and has been discredited by a host of scholars since Frazer’s ideas were at the height of their popularity in the 1960’s.
To take just one example, on the Osiris myth, Bruce Metzger (1968; “Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish and Christian") observes, “Whether this can rightly be called a resurrection is questionable, especially since, according to Plutarch, it was the pious desire of devotees to be buried in the same ground where, according to local tradition, the body of Osiris was still lying.”
Yamauchi agrees: “It is a cardinal misconception to equate the Egyptian view of the afterlife with the “resurrection” of Hebrew-Christian traditions. In order to achieve immortality the Egyptian had to fulfill three conditions: (1) His body had to be preserved, hence mummification. (2) Nourishment had to be provided either by the actual offering of daily bread and beer, or by the magical depiction of food on the walls of the tomb. (3) Magical spells had to be interred with the dead – Pyramid Texts in the Old Kingdom, Coffin Texts in the Middle Kingdom, and the Book of the Dead in the New Kingdom. Moreover, the Egyptian did not rise from the dead; separate entities of his personality such as his Ba and his Ka continued to hover about his body.”
A little research will likewise prove that any alleged parallels between Jesus resurrection and Tammuz (Adonis), and Cybele and Attis, are tenuous and weak.
In fact, that the mystery religions prior to Christianity even had the tale of a dying and rising god-man is it itself a myth. Ronald Nash (2003; ‘The Gospel and the Greeks’) sums up the evidence about all these gods of the mystery religions and their alleged resurrections”
“ Which mystery gods actually experienced a resurrection from the dead? Certainly no early texts refer to any resurrection of Attis. Attempts to link the worship of Adonis to a resurrection are equally weak. Nor is the case for a resurrection of Osiris any stronger. After Isis gathered together the pieces of Osiris’s dismembered body, he became “Lord of the Underworld.” As Metzger comments, “Whether this can be rightly called a resurrection is questionable, especially since according to Plutarch, it was the pious desire of devotees to be buried in the same ground where, according to local tradition, the body of Osiris was still lying.” One can speak, then, of a “resurrection” in the stories of Osiris, Attis, and Adnonis only in the most extended of senses. And of course no claim can be made that Mithras was a dying and rising god. French scholar Andrew Boulanger concludes: “The conception that the god dies and is resurrection in order to lead his faithful to eternal life is represented in no Hellenistic mystery religion.”
<br><br>Nash’s study on the mystery religions shows the contrast between them and Christianity. He notes six points of contrast between the death and resurrection of the savior-gods of the mysteries and the resurrection of Christ:
1 “None of the so-called savior-gods died for someone else. The notion of the Son of God dying in place of His creatures is unique to Christianity.”
2 “Only Jesus died for sin. As Wagner observed, to none of the pagan gods ‘has the intention of helping men been attributed. The sort of death that they died is quite different (hunting accident, self-emasculation, etc.)’ “
3 “Jesus died once and for all (Heb 7:27; 9:25-28). In contrast, the mystery gods were vegetation deities who repeated death and resuscitation depict the annual cycle of nature.”
4 “Jesus’ death was an actual event in history. The death of the god described in the pagan cults is a mythical drama with no historical ties; its continued rehearsal celebrates the recurring death and rebirth of nature. The incontestable fact that the early church believed that its proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection was grounded upon what actually happened in history makes absurd any attempt to derive this belief from the mythical, nonhistorical stories of the pagan cults.”
5 “Unlike the mystery gods, Jesus died voluntarily. Nothing like the voluntary death of Jesus can be found in the mystery cults.”
6 And finally, Jesus’ death was not a defeat but a triumph. Christianity stands entirely apart from the pagan mysteries in that its report of Jesus’ death is a message of triumph. Even as Jesus was experiencing the pain and humiliation of the cross, He was the victor. The New Testament’s mood of exultation contrasts sharply with that of the mystery religions, whose followers wept and mourned for the terrible fate that overtook their gods.”
Walter Kunneth (1965; "The Theology of the Resurrection") sums it up: “It is superficial and unfounded to say that the study of the history of religion has shown the dependence of the resurrection of Jesus on mythology. On the contrary, it is precisely the comparison with the history that gives rise to the strongest objections to any kind of mythifying of the resurrection of Jesus.” Even the premier liberal German historian of early Christianity during the first three decades of the twentieth century, Adolf von Harnack (1911), admitted:
“We must reject the comparative mythology which finds a causal between everything and everything else…By such methods one can turn Christ into a sun god in the twinkling of an eye, or one can bring up the legends attending the birth of every conceivable god, or one can catch all sorts of mythological doves to keep company with the baptismal dove…the wand of “comparative religion” triumphantly eliminate(s) every spontaneous trait in religion.”
All religions must appeal to universal human needs and desires. It’s no surprise that Christianity and other religions have some similarities of language and codes of conduct. But it can hardly be maintained that parallels indicate dependence. Walter Kunneth (1965) argues it this way: “The fact that the theme of the dying and returning deity is a general one in the history of religion, and that a transference of this them is possible, must not be made the occasion for speaking at once of dependence, of influence, or indeed of identify of content. Rather, the scientific task is not to overlook the essential differences in form, content and ultimate tendency, and even in cases of apparent formal analogy to work out the decisive difference of content.”
Those who see parallels every which way between the NT and other religions fall into the ‘terminological fallacy’. Nash puts it this way: “one frequently encounters scholars who first use Christian terminology to describe pagan beliefs and practices and then marvel at the awesome parallels they think they have discovered.”
Metzger summarizes any claimed parallels as follows: “It goes without saying that alleged parallels which are discovered by pursuing such methodology evaporate when they are confronted with the original texts. In a word, one must beware of what have been called, ‘parallels made plausible by selective description’ .”
According to Komoszewski, Sawyer and Wallace (2005), “Oxford University historian Robin Lane Fox asserts that nearly all the supposed parallels between pagan practices and Christianity are spurious. Fox challenges the thesis that Christianity was “not so very novel in the pagan world.” His research led him to conclude that there is, in Leon McKenzie’s words, only “a marginal and weak connection between paganism and Christianity.” “
“ One has to take into account the accommodating language of the early Christians. This seems to take at least two forms, language articulated by "a missionary motive" and language motivated by a desire to be accepted by the culture at large. The apostle Paul fits the first model; the second century-writer Justin Martyr, the second.
Paul told the Corinthians, "I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some" (1 Cor. 9:22) Paul knew how to speak the language that would best communicate to his particular audience. He did this when he addressed the philosophers in Athens (Acts 17) and the recently converted Christians in Thessalonica. The real question is, "Does the fact that some New Testament writer knew of a pagan belief or term prove that wheat he knew had a formative or genetic influence onhis own essential beliefs?" The language Paul used is meant to be a point of departure - to show that Christianity is not in any of its essentials like the pagan religions.
Justin Martyr (c.100-165) was motivated by impulses that find their antecedents in Philo of Alexandria (c.20 B.C.-A.D. 50), the Jewish writer who packaged Judaism in Greek philosophical terms. Does this mean that Judaism was indebted to Greek philosophy? Hardly. But it does show the lengths to which an ancient writer might go to make his religion winsome, understandable, and palatable to outsiders.
Similarly, Justin Martyr came from a pagan home and was weaned on Greek philosophy. “Justin was forced by his conversion to Christianity to seek connection between his pagan, philosophical past and his Christian, theological present. This biographical quest would come to expression as he sought to mediate between the worlds of Greek and Christian thought.” For example, Justin defends the virgin birth as follows “And if we even affirm that He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus.” Obviously, there is a sense in which Justin wants to find commonality with other religions – in part, to lessen the attacks on Christianity (since it was an illegal religion at this time) and, in part, to present the gospel in a winsome manner, to show that it is not really unreasonable to embrace it.
It is true that Justin claimed that Satan had inspired the pagan religions to imitate some aspects of Christianity, but even this is a far cry from claiming that he saw the essential Christian proclamation duplicated in any other religion. As J.Gresham Machen argued, “We should never forget that the appeal of Justin Martyr and Origen to the pagan stories of divine begetting is an argumentum ad hominem, ‘YOU hold,’ Justic and Origen say in effect to their pagan opponents, ‘that the virgin birth of Christ is unbelievable; well, is it any more unbelievable than the stories that you yourselves believe?’ “
Whether this kind of accommodation was the best approach in spreading the gospel is a matter of debate. Tertullian (c.160-c.225), the North African defender of orthodoxy, felt that it was inappropriate. “Justin’s view that philosophy is continuous with Christianity was emphatically not shared by “ Tertullian, who “regarded philosophy as folly and the source of heresy.”.
At the same time, a careful reading of Justin shows that at every turn he sees the gospels as ultimately unique and thus superior to pagan religions. “
Komoszewski, James Sawyer, Wallace (2005; ‘Reinventing Jesus – what The Da Vinci Code and other novel speculations don’t tell you’)
Furthermore, there is no evidence of syncretism in apostolic Christianity. The first century Jewish mind-set loathed syncretism and refused to blend their religion with other religions. Judaism was strictly monotheistic, as was Christianity.
There is no archaelogical evidence today of mystery religions in Palestine in the early part of the first century. Norman Anderson (1984): “If borrowing there was by one religion from another, it seems clear which way it went. There is no evidence whatever, that I know of, that the mystery religions had any influence in Palestine in the early decades of the first century”.
Nash (2003) states: “The uncompromising monotheism and the exclusiveness that the early church preached and practiced make the possibility of any pagan inroads…unlikely, if not impossible.”
Metzger (1968) makes the same point: “Another methodological consideration, often overlooked by scholars who are better acquainted with Hellenistic culture than with Jewish, is involved in the circumstance that the early Palestinian Church was composed of Christians from a Jewish background, whose generally strict monotheism and traditional intolerance of syncretism must have militated against wholesale borrowing from pagan cults.
If there is any dependant relationship between the mysteries and Christianity, as some liberal scholars contend, it is for the most part a REVERSED dependency. The mystery religions from their very beginning displayed syncretistic tendencies. So it was Christianity, beginning in the first century, that influenced the mysteries, not the other way round. The mysteries that became more eclectic, softening their approach, and adapted to compete with Christianity. But any evidence that these same cults had all these features prior to the rise of the Christian faith is nonexistent. On this Nash states:
“Far too many writers on this subject use the available sources to form the plausible reconstructions of the third-century mystery experience and then uncritically reason back to what they think must have been the earlier nature of the cults. We have plenty of information about the mystery religions of the third century. But important differences exist between these religions and earlier expressions of the mystery experience (for which adequate information is extremely slim.).”
The sources skeptics typically cite as evidence that pagan religions influenced early Christian beliefs postdate the writings of the New Testament. It was only in later centuries that Christianity borrowed from the mystery religions.