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Jesus and other figures

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
What do Christians (and anyone else, really) make of the similiarities between Jesus and other mythical figures, such as Horas, Mithras, Osiris-Dionysus, etc.?

It was brought up yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner and I'm interested in what other people think about it.
post #2 of 56
Subbing. I am a non-Christian and find it all extremely fascinating. I see all the stories (including Jesus, Moses, Noah) as mythological and archetypal.
post #3 of 56
This was the reason the young C.S Lewis became an atheist. The reason the older C.S. Lewis converted back to Christianity was that his friend J.R.R. Tolkien told him that Christianity was indeed a a myth like all the others but with the one difference, that it really happened.
post #4 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post
This was the reason the young C.S Lewis became an atheist. The reason the older C.S. Lewis converted back to Christianity was that his friend J.R.R. Tolkien told him that Christianity was indeed a a myth like all the others but with the one difference, that it really happened.

were's your proof ?

What do Christians (and anyone else, really) make of the similiarities between Jesus and other mythical figures, such as Horas, Mithras, Osiris-Dionysis, etc.?



What similarities?
I have not heard of any of these except Jesus.
Yes I am a Christian and I don't need proof that Jesus is not a myth.
post #5 of 56
[QUOTE=graymom;12697967]were's your proof ?

My proof? That they said these things? Well, the anecdote is in A. N. Wilson's biography of C.S. Lewis, I believe.

"Myth" is this sense is not the opposite of fact, but rather a story that seeks to explain the nature of things, such as the universe, humanity, etc. A myth could therefore also be something that really happened. The word "myth" has several definitions and can be confusing.
post #6 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by graymom View Post
were's your proof ?

What do Christians (and anyone else, really) make of the similiarities between Jesus and other mythical figures, such as Horas, Mithras, Osiris-Dionysis, etc.?



What similarities?
I have not heard of any of these except Jesus.
Yes I am a Christian and I don't need proof that Jesus is not a myth.
There is interesting information regarding similarities between Jesus and Pagan myths, Jesus and Mithra, and the Jesus Myth hypothesis.
post #7 of 56
I'm a Christian and an Ancient History buff and I find it all fascinating. The story of Noah and the Ark is so similar to the story of Utnapishtim in the Gilgamesh Epic. The relationship/story of Mary and Jesus is very much like Isis in Egypt.

Personally, I think there is much to be said for familiarity. As new ideas and religions spread from place to place the stories and ideas that were, even vaguely similar, would be assimilated so as to build bridges between two cultures.

I believe that the stories, from the Bible or other texts, are reflective of the time and culture that they were written in, and the authors weren't living solitary lives. They had many influences on them that influenced the tone of their writing.

(not very cohesive and certainly won't earn me a masters, but I hope it got my ideas out there!)
post #8 of 56
In my church we believe that all religions have at least some portion of what we believe to be the truth, iykwim. So I guess that's why similarities don't bother me. :
post #9 of 56
[QUOTE=Murihiku;12698065]
Quote:
Originally Posted by graymom View Post
were's your proof ?

My proof? That they said these things? Well, the anecdote is in A. N. Wilson's biography of C.S. Lewis, I believe.

.
thanks I was curious were you heard this. Sorry if I sounded argumentative.
post #10 of 56
Thread Starter 
Just for the record:

myth   /mɪθ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [mith] Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun 1. a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
2. stories or matter of this kind: realm of myth.
3. any invented story, idea, or concept: His account of the event is pure myth.
4. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.
5. an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.
post #11 of 56
I'm not Christian (atheist), but I was raised Roman Catholic.

I'm fascinated by these same thoughts! I love to study different cultures, religions, and philosophies. I'm also fascinated by what draws people to one religion over another.

I, too, see it all as various myths in various cultures. I remember when I first read about the pagan goddess, and the cycle in terms of the goddess giving birth to the god, him growing up, becoming her lover, dying, but the goddess is already pregnant with him again. I found that utterly fascinating, because I immediately thought of Mary and Jesus.

I think that was when I was in high school, and I just thought, "wow, it's all the same." Which started my research, and my interest in seeing all the parallels and similarities in various religions.

Anyway, I digress. In short, I'm also interested in the OP's question. I've always wondered how believers felt about it. My perspective has always been too "outside" ... even being raised Catholic, I just never really believed. Even as a kid.
post #12 of 56
i think it has at least a little bit to do with the powerful people throughout history (constantine for instance) tweaking (or completely fabricating) dates, times, events, etc. to make Christianity resemble other dominant religions of that time period (paganism anyone?) so that it is easier to mush them all together under one religion. If Jesus is more like their primary male god and the holidays just happen to fall around the same time as other religions it is far easier to convert people.

thats not so much my opinion as it is just kind of the way they did things then.. dont know if that answers your question at all though lol

ETA- sailor i think the reason Mary was played up so much was just for that reason..they needed a prominent important female that resembled the pagan goddess.
post #13 of 56
[QUOTE=graymom;12698243]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post

thanks I was curious were you heard this. Sorry if I sounded argumentative.
No worries! My fault for assuming everyone is familiar with the life story of C. S. Lewis! I brought up Lewis and Tolkien since they both believed in Jesus as Christians and as scholars and inventors of mythology.
post #14 of 56
Whatever the similarities, most mythical figures were not meant to be taken as actual, literal beings, existing in time and space, not even by devotees.

The most important quality Jesus possessed, in the eyes of his followers, was reality: he was an actual human being who lived at a particular point in history, in a specific place. That is one reason accounts of his life contain references to historical events taking place at the same time, like "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea."

I think some similarities exist because mythology deals with issues that are most significant to human beings, in ways that resolve or explain them. Others are coincidental. I do not find them as overwhelmingly important as some people do, because I don't think the similarities tell us all that much, and because there are always people who will find similarities if they look for them. Two equally intelligent people can look at a series of myths or mythic figures, and one of them can conclude, "It's all the same!" and the other conclude, "They are so completely different!" Both may be right; it is a very subjective thing.

I think the finding of elements of other mythic figures in Jesus, or of other belief systems in Christianity, is often done in a rather arbitrary way. Finding elements of Jesus/Christianity in Paganism is not the same as comparing, for example, Jesus with Buddha. "Paganism" is actually a general term for some thousands of different religions from every region of the world. If you find even one element of Christianity in pagan religion #10,497, another element in pagan religion #8,966, and yet another in pagan religion #11,022, and so forth, you will eventually be able to say, "Look at all the similarities between Christianity and Paganism!" It is a completely misleading conclusion.
post #15 of 56
From the "what similarities?" perspective: Was the NT Influenced by Pagan Religions? (very theologically and socially conservative evangelical site --you have been warned )
From the article:
Quote:
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.13

(2) Only Jesus died for sin. As Gnter Wagner observes, 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.).14

(3) Jesus died once and for all (Heb. 7:27; 9:25-28; 10:10-14). In contrast, the mystery gods were vegetation deities whose repeated deaths and resuscitations depict the annual cycle of nature.

(4) Jesus death was an actual event in history. The death of the mystery god appears in 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 in an actual historical event makes absurd any attempt to derive this belief from the mythical, nonhistorical stories of the pagan cults.15

(5) Unlike the mystery gods, Jesus died voluntarily. Nothing like this appears even implicitly in the mysteries.

(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 Testaments mood of exultation contrasts sharply with that of the mystery religions, whose followers wept and mourned for the terrible fate that overtook their gods.16
post #16 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
From the "what similarities?" perspective: Was the NT Influenced by Pagan Religions? (very theologically and socially conservative evangelical site --you have been warned )
From the article:
Interesting, although, number 4 is debatable.
post #17 of 56
I think that Christianity is just another version of the myths that have been around all along. The only difference is that people are convinced that it's literally true. I think that makes for a loss of appreciation for the metaphors and meaning of the story in many ways, and the most obvious destructive element is the division it creates. I think if people could realize that the Jesus story and the biblical stories are myths like all the rest with great meaning, significance and insight, the world would be far more unified and understanding of one another. I think it's sad that the true meaning of myth has been lost to misunderstanding and that so many people need something to be literally and historically true in order to have any significance. I think the loss of understanding of myth is one of the most significant losses of humankind...my heart truly aches at the thought.

And I agree that number 4 is quite debatable. IMO, it'd be just too much of a coincidence that these stories (of his birth, life, death and resurrection) were being told for so many centuries and then all the sudden it magically actually happened....

I'd also like to hear if there are arguments against the other items in that post, although I don't have the information myself. I do, however, have a hunch they're not altogether completely true. For instance, the general archetype of the Horned God (meaning the general figure and not a specific one from a specific branch of Paganism) died exactly so that life may go on. His sacrifice was a death to nurture the life cycle and so that a new cycle could begin--be reborn....think of the harvest for example. The crops are cut to feed/nurture/sustain life, and new crops are then planted only to be sacrificed again at maturity to repeat the cycle. That is the Horned God/Christ figure.
post #18 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
The most important quality Jesus possessed, in the eyes of his followers, was reality:
I don't think the story needs to be literally true to be significant and meaningful. I think that requirement takes away from the purpose of the story itself. What if it were proved untrue? Just humor me here. Does that then mean that all the messages of the story mean nothing and should be just tossed out with yesterday's celebrity rumors? The meaning is in the story, IMO, not in it's literal occurance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
I think some similarities exist because mythology deals with issues that are most significant to human beings, in ways that resolve or explain them. Others are coincidental. I do not find them as overwhelmingly important as some people do, because I don't think the similarities tell us all that much, and because there are always people who will find similarities if they look for them. Two equally intelligent people can look at a series of myths or mythic figures, and one of them can conclude, "It's all the same!" and the other conclude, "They are so completely different!" Both may be right; it is a very subjective thing.
It's not just about the similarities of details, but overall sameness of the themes and how they're expressed through story. Sure you can pick apart how the Christ figure was born to a virgin Mary in a different location or some other detail, but the fact remains that that virgin birth (and all the rest) is a recurring theme and had been for a LONG time across the world. The framework is the same, the intentions are the same, the messages are the same--at least extremely close to sameness. The details vary from culture to culture, but that is just it--those are the cultures' different ways of expressing the same ideas and ideals from their specific perspective.

In the same way you can always find similarities if you look for them, you can always find differences if you look for those as well--especially if you talking about different cultures and different times in history. But IMO, it's the jist of the story that matters.
post #19 of 56
not gonna go there
post #20 of 56
there is no record of jesus's execution... and they keep pretty good execution records at that time.
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