Pa­gan par­al­lels of Je­sus Christ

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - LIFESTYLE - The new edi­tion of my best­selling book, “Soul­mates, Karma, and Rein­car­na­tion,” is now avail­able in all branches of Na­tional Book Store. E-mail jaimetli­[email protected] ya­hoo.com; tel. 09886292 or 8107245. IN­NER AWARE­NESS JAIME LICAUCO

Most Chris­tians do not bother to trace the ori­gins of their re­li­gion, much less their be­liefs and ri­tu­als. If they do, they might be in for the shock of their lives.

This col­umn is not for peo­ple who are sat­is­fied with what Church of­fi­cials tell them. As the say­ing goes, “Let sleep­ing dogs lie.” Rather, this is for those who are in­tel­lec­tu­ally cu­ri­ous and dis­con­tented.

The cen­tral event in the cel­e­bra­tion of Christ­mas is, of course, the birth and life of Je­sus Christ, con­sid­ered a great prophet by Mus­lims, but as God by his fol­low­ers.

Chris­tians, es­pe­cially Catholics, per­haps, have been led to be­lieve that the story of Je­sus, his birth, death and res­ur­rec­tion is unique, and that there is no other like him. I be­lieved so my­self, since I grew up in a Catholic fam­ily and stud­ied in a Catholic school from ele­men­tary to col­lege.

I read only books with the im­pri­matur or ap­proval of the church, un­til my hunger for knowl­edge em­bold­ened me to ven­ture out­side my in­tel­lec­tual com­fort zone, and dis­cover how short­sighted my re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion had been.

One of the things I dis­cov­ered is that the story of Je­sus Christ is not at all unique, that it could have been copied from some much older ac­counts of dy­ing and res­ur­rec­tion of gods in an­cient pa­gan re­li­gions. In fact, there are more than a dozen pa­gan gods whose sto­ries seem to par­al­lel Je­sus’ life and death, al­though they pre­ceded Christ by hun­dreds, or even thou­sands, of years.

Myths

At the heart of these teach­ings were myths con­cern­ing a dy­ing and res­ur­rect­ing god-man or demigod, who was known by many dif­fer­ent names. In Egypt he was Osiris; in Greece, Diony­sus; in Asia Mi­nor, At­tis; in Syria, Ado­nis; in Italy, Bac­chus; in Per­sia, Mithras.

Let us take a closer look at the par­al­lelisms.

1) Tam­muz (2,000 B.C.) was a Me­sopotamian god of fer­til­ity. His fa­ther was the Sume­rian God Enki and his con­sort the god­dess Inanna (Ishtar).

March and April mark the death of Tam­muz. Tam­muz died at the hands of Inanna, but she even­tu­ally brought him back to life. He died to save peo­ple from star­va­tion and death. Like Je­sus, Tam­muz was called a shep­herd. He died dur­ing the sum­mer sol­stice but lived again in win­ter. He spent half a year in the un­der­world and the other half among the liv­ing.

2) Osiris (2,500 B.C.) was the most im­por­tant god of an­cient Egypt. His fa­ther was God and his mother a mor­tal vir­gin. He was born in a cave on Dec. 25, be­fore three shep­herds. He died at Easter time for the sins of the world. He de­scended into the un­der­world, and on the third day rose from the dead. His fol­low­ers await his re­turn as judge dur­ing the Last Days.

Ac­cord­ing to noted Egyp­tol­o­gist E.A. Wal­lis Budge in “Osiris and the Egyp­tian Res­ur­rec­tion”: “The cen­tral fig­ure of the an­cient Egyp­tian re­li­gion was Osiris, and the chief fun­da­men­tals of his cult is the be­lief in his di­vin­ity, death, res­ur­rec­tion and ab­so­lute con­trol of the bod­ies and souls of men.”

3) At­tis (1,200 B.C.) was born on Dec. 25. His mother was the vir­gin Nana. He was slain by a boar, but other sto­ries say he was cru­ci­fied on a tree from which his blood ran down “to re­deem the earth.” His grave was found empty. He res­ur­rected on March 25.

4) Mithra (or Mithras, 1,200 B.C.) was born of a vir­gin on Dec. 25, had 12 dis­ci­ples and per­formed mir­a­cles. He died and then res­ur­rected af­ter three days. His day of wor­ship is Sun­day. The cult held many se­cret ri­tu­als. The cult of Mithra was wide­spread in an­cient times.

God and man

5) Je­sus Christ (325 A.D., the date of the First Coun­cil of Nicea, where the Chris­tian church de­clared him to be both God and man). Je­sus’ fa­ther was God and his mother a mor­tal vir­gin. He was born on Dec. 25 in a cow­shed be­fore three shep­herds. He per­formed mir­a­cles and was cru­ci­fied, and then de­scended into the un­der­world. On the third day he rose from the dead. His death and res­ur­rec­tion are cel­e­brated by bread and wine. His fol­low­ers await his promised re­turn.

When the early Church fa­thers learned of the much ear­lier sto­ries of the pa­gan dy­ing and res­ur­rect­ing gods, which were sim­i­lar to that of Je­sus Christ, they blamed the devil for the “de­cep­tion.” Ter­tul­lian, a prom­i­nent Chris­tian his­to­rian and apol­o­gist, de­clared that “the devil had pla­gia­rized Chris­tian­ity by an­tic­i­pa­tion in or­der to lead peo­ple astray.” The devil sim­ply copied his life in ad­vance and cre­ated the myth of Osiris, Mithras, etc. What could be more ab­surd than that?

Present-day Chris­tian apol­o­gists ar­gue that the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the story of Je­sus Christ and the pa­gan gods are su­per­fi­cial. They main­tain the unique­ness of the story of the Christ, so the con­tro­versy con­tin­ues to this day.

The con­tro­versy has re­vived the old ques­tion of whether Je­sus re­ally lived on earth, or was merely a myth, be­cause there is hardly any men­tion of his ex­is­tence out­side the four canon­i­cal gospels.

An­other view is that Je­sus was re­ally just a cre­ation of the Fla­vian Em­per­ors Ti­tus Ves­pasian and Domi­tian to counter Jewish mil­i­tarism. How could such a man of mir­a­cles be ig­nored by an­cient con­tem­po­rary his­to­ri­ans?

In con­trast, Bud­dha, who lived some 500 years be­fore Je­sus, had a com­plete per­sonal bi­og­ra­phy at­tested to by his­to­ri­ans.

Was Je­sus just a myth cre­ated by early Chris­tian gospel writ­ers, or was he a real his­tor­i­cal in­di­vid­ual who lived among us 2,000 years ago?

I be­lieve what the spirit en­tity called Seth, whom Jane Roberts chan­neled in the ’70s, said: “Je­sus was re­ally a myth who be­came a re­al­ity in your world.”

Egyp­tian god Osiris was born in a cave on Dec. 25, be­fore three shep­herds

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