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The Birth Of A Myth

Posted by Joe Bloe , 05 April 2010 · 259 views

For a shorter version of this story check out "The Birth Of A Myth - Summary"

Five thousand years ago the Egyptians first heard the story of Osiris, whom they believed to be the son of god. In the very early days he was a god of vegetation and his skin was green, but the story was refined over the centuries and eventually he became known as the saviour of all mankind.

He was depicted as a preacher with the ability to heal the sick and perform miracles. The first miracle of Osiris occurred when he changed water into wine at a wedding feast, and on another occasion he helped his followers to “miraculously” catch 153 fish in a net. He was executed by his enemies but came back to life and then went off to live with his father, promising that he would one day return and judge all mankind according to their deeds.

But things were not always that clear cut. Two thousand years ago the cult of Osiris was as fragmented as the Christian church is today. Most of the Egyptians worshipped the Osiris described above, but new sects were appearing all over the place and it was hard to know exactly what was going on. One sect, for example, had given Osiris a son named Horus and taught that it was Horus, not Osiris, who had died, resurrected, and promised to return to save all mankind. At exactly the same time, however, there was another sect of fundamentalists who had gone back to the original story and now worshipped an Osiris with green skin, just as their ancestors had done thousands of years earlier.

For those in the mainstream church, though, the biggest event on the Egyptian religious calendar was the celebration of the birth of Osiris on December 25th. A small tree was taken inside the house and decorated with baubles and candles. Gifts for Osiris were left under the tree while his followers enjoyed a huge feast with plenty of food and wine.

As the centuries went by, the Osiris myth spread all over Europe and the Middle East. In Greece, for example, the local wine god, Dionysus, was transformed into a Greek version of Osiris and similar transformations occurred in other countries...

- In Asia Minor, Osiris became Attis
- In Babylon, he became Tammuz
- In Persia, Mithra
- In Syria, Adonis
- In Italy, Bacchus (another wine god)

But not in Judah. The Jews had only one god; there was no minor deity who could be transformed into a Jewish version of Osiris.

Many Jews, however, were attracted to the legend and, despite complaints from the temple priests, they began to worship the pagan “son of god”. For example, in Ezekiel (8:14) we are told of the women who sat at the north gate of the temple “weeping for Tammuz”, And Jeremiah (10:3,4) bemoans the practice of taking a tree into the house, nailing it to the floor, and decorating it with silver and gold - a clear reference to the birthday celebrations of December 25th.

In 167 BC the Jews revolted against their Greek overlords and eventually defeated them. Daniel (of Lion's Den fame) wrote a book about the war and surprisingly included within it several ideas from the pagan myth. In chapter twelve he refers to the resurrection of the dead, and also to a final judgment “at the end of time” when all mankind will be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. For the first time we find paganistic teachings creeping into the Jewish religion.

The Jews enjoyed self-rule for about 100 years, but once again came under foreign domination when they were conquered by the Romans in 63 BC. Many prayed that god would send a “messiah” to lead them to freedom.

Among those praying for the messiah was a group of Jews known as the Theraputae who were famous for their ability to heal the sick. They were familiar with the book of Daniel and they knew that some of his ideas came from the pagans; and that got them wondering…

Maybe the Jewish messiah was similar to the pagan “sons of god”. Maybe he had appeared in the holy land way back in the dim, distant past. Maybe he had died. Maybe he had come back to life. Maybe he had ascended into heaven. And maybe he was preparing to return to earth to judge all mankind (after first delivering them from the Romans on the battlefield). Naturally, the temple priests did not agree, but the Theraputae used the book of Daniel to “prove” that such things could happen, and who was to say they were wrong?

Convinced that they had found the truth, the Theraputae did what so many ancients had done before them; they transformed their messiah into a Jewish version of the pagan Osiris. And they didn't mess around...

- Osiris was the Son of God – so was the messiah
- The first miracle of Osiris was to change water into wine – so too with the messiah.
- Osiris caused the miraculous catch of 153 fish – so did the messiah.

And so it went, story after story, “fact” after “fact”. The myths were identical in almost every detail. For some reason, though, the Theraputae made no mention of the day on which their (mythical) messiah was born - and they changed his name to Joshuah; “Joshuah the Messiah”. They then sat back to await his “return”. It was just a matter of time - hadn't Daniel said so?

[As a matter of interest, 300 years later, one of Christianity's most famous historians, Eusebius, read about the Theraputae in Philo's book, “On the Contemplative Life”. In his own “History Of The Church” Eusebius declared that “no one can fail to see in these men the first Christians”. Hardly surprising, since the story told by the Theraputae was pretty much the same as that which Eusebius was reading in his own “New Testament”. And even less surprising when it is realised that “Joshua the Messiah” translates from Hebrew to Greek as “Jesus Christ”. Eusebius, however, would have been mortified had he known that Philo wrote about those “first Christians” in the year 10 AD, long before Jesus was said to have had begun his ministry.]

We know from Ezekiel and Jeremiah that many Jews were already worshipping pagan gods, so they had no trouble accepting the Jewish version of the myth as taught by the Theraputae. Within just a few short years the Joshua-Jesus myth had spread into Jewish communities all over the Roman Empire - and somewhere along the way its followers became known as “Gnostics”. They were prolific writers, and much of what they recorded about their religion can still be seen in books like The Apocalypse of Peter, The Wisdom of Jesus Christ, The Acts of John, The Gospel of the Hebrews, and dozens of others that were written decades before the better known books of the New Testament

Gnostic churches were appearing in cities all over the Roman Empire and its members had no trouble blending in with the locals, because all of them worshipped the same entity - the “Son of God” based on the myth of Osiris. Only his name had been changed.

No such luck in Jerusalem, however. That city was controlled by the temple priests, and no way were they going to let a bunch of Gnostics start up a new religion in their jurisdiction.

It was about 30 AD when James, John, Peter and Stephen opened a Gnostic Church in Jerusalem, and right away the temple priests went on the attack. They hired a gang of thugs to get rid of them. One of these bruisers was Saul of Tarsus (later known as Paul) and he boasts, in Acts 7:54-60, that he was there when Stephen was stoned to death.

Ten years later Paul was converted to Gnosticism, and set out to preach his new religion to anyone who would listen - but nobody listened! The Jews knew that he was a bit of a bully-boy and wanted nothing to do with him. Not finding acceptance among his own people, Paul decided to go and preach to the Gentiles, which he did with great success.

Those gentiles who accepted Paul's message eventually became known as Christians, and considered themselves apart from the Jewish Gnostics, even though both groups worshipped the same “messiah”.

In 66 AD the Jews went to war against Rome and they were defeated in 70 AD, but the Gnostics loudly declared that the war was not yet over. They said the messiah was about to return and destroy the Roman Empire and even wrote a book about it. A book called The Revelation.

Such talk didn’t go down too well with the Roman authorities who wasted no time in rounding up the Jewish Gnostics and Gentile Christians where-ever they found them. It was an act of self-preservation therefore, when the Gentile Christians decided to distance themselves from the loud-mouthed Gnostics. They declared that the two sects were not at all related. The Gnostics, they said, were worshipping a supernatural warrior messiah, while they were worshipping a sweet and gentle messiah who had actually lived on earth just a few short years ago. No way would he (or they) try to overthrow the Roman Government. Had he not taught them to, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

The plan worked, the heat was off, and the Gentile Christians ran with the idea that their literal interpretation of the pagan myth as actually true. When they wrote their gospels, Matthew and Luke deliberately included details to support the idea that Jesus was a non-threatening human who had lived just a few years previously. Unfortunately for them it was not a collaborative effort and that is why we have so many contradictions in the New Testament.

To further distance themselves from the Gnostics and simultaneously remain sweet with the Romans, the Christian gospellers cast the Jews in the role of the bogey-men who had killed their beloved Jesus while the Romans were depicted as the “good guys”. Thus in Matthew (chapter 27) the Roman Governor, Pilate, is made to say that he can find no fault with Jesus, and if the Jews want him dead they will have to do it themselves. The Jews are made to answer, “Kill him...Let the punishment for his death fall on us and our children”. Then, when Jesus dies on the cross, Matthew makes sure that it is a Roman who first recognises that “Truly, this was the Son of God”.

But how did the Christians explain the obviously Gnostic message contained in the letters that Paul had written to his churches in the 40's and 50's? They were too well known to be altered or ignored because any such interference would be immediately recognised and arguments would ensue. To overcome this problem, the Christians started writing new letters in Paul’s name, including within them a much more “Christian” flavour. Among these forgeries we have Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, Timothy 1 & 2, and Thessalonians 2

Despite this sleight of hand, however, the Christians were unable to deny that their religion was firmly rooted in Gnosticism and paganism. In fact they were eventually forced to include the Gnostic gospel of John in the New Testament because too much of their religion would be lost without it. After all, it is John (and only John) who described the first miracle of Jesus when water was changed into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). And it is John alone who mentions the miraculous catch of 153 fish in a net (John 21:1-11).

Until 312 AD, Christianity remained as little more than a minor offshoot of the pagan religion. In that year, however, they managed to convert Emperor Constantine, and Christianity eventually became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

With the force of law behind them, the Christians set about destroying every other religion that existed at that time. Any pagan or gnostic who refused to become a Christian faced exile or death. Not surprisingly, Christianity emerged victorious, and every other religion disappeared virtually overnight. There was just one problem. The ex-pagans (now forcibly converted to Christianity) had such fond memories of the birthday celebration on December 25th that they simply refused to give it up. Despite threats from the Church hierarchy they continued decorating trees, exchanging gifts, and throwing parties in honour of the Son of God on December 25th.

This was a battle the priests could not win and, one by one, they were forced to give in. Through gritted teeth they eventually agreed that Christians could have a party on December 25th, but only if they promised to honour the birth of their own Jesus Christ and not one of those nasty pagans. It took a long time, though; the changes were not made until 375 AD in Antioch, 430 AD in Alexandria, and 549 AD in Jerusalem.

So there we have it. Christmas is a pagan festival, stolen by the Christians and given to Jesus, who is a mythical character with no more substance than Osiris, Horus, Dionysus, Tammuz, Adonis or Mithra.

[And what happened when the Christian religion, with its god of love and compassion, gained total power? A period of enlightenment perhaps? Not quite! Instead, we got 600 years of Dark Ages, followed by 200 years of Crusades, followed by 600 years of Inquisitions. Enlightenment, in the form of scientific development, did not get off the ground until the Church lost its political power in the 1850’s]

--- --- ---

How did the early Christians explain the similarities between Jesus and the pagan Son of God? Simple: Plagiarism By Anticipation – Diabolical Mimicry! They claimed that the devil knew in advance that Jesus was coming, so he sent all the other “sons of god” (Osiris, Horus, Mithra, etc) to confuse the Christians and test their faith. To quote just three of these apologists...

“Having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ was to come and that the ungodly among men were to be punished by fire, the wicked spirits put forward many to be called Sons of God, under the impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the things that were said with regard to Christ were merely marvellous tales, like the things that were said by poets.” Justin Martyr (100 - 165 AD)

“The devil, whose business is to pervert the truth, mimics the exact circumstances of the Divine Sacraments. He baptises his believers and promises forgiveness of sins and thereby initiates them into the religion of Mithra. Thus he celebrates the oblation of bread, and brings in the symbol of the resurrection. Let us therefore acknowledge the craftiness of the devil, who copies certain things of those that be Divine.” Tertullian (160 - 220 AD)

“The resurrection of Dionysus is an attempt by the devil to ridicule the true faith.” Firmicus Matemur (? - 360 AD)

The mere fact that devout Christians came up with such ludicrous apologies should be enough to convince us they were only too well aware that Jesus was nothing more than a pale imitation of the many other pagan sons of god from earlier times. After all, why bother to explain away the similarities if the similarities did not exist?

Modern Christians take a much more hardline approach. They simply deny the similarities. When referring to the rituals of Attis and Mithra, for example, where the believers were washed in the blood of a slain bull, they argue that such barbarous rituals have no place in the Christian religion. Oh sure, the Christian faithful sing songs like “Power In The Blood,” and they use phrases like “washed in the blood of the lamb,” but that’s lamb’s blood isn’t it? Not bull’s blood – and it’s not even lamb’s blood really because, according to Revelation 1:5, Jesus “washed us from our sins with his own blood.” Despite their inability to see the bleeding obvious, it is clear to almost everyone else that pagan barbarism lurks not too far below the surface of the sanitised version of Christianity practised by the modern believer.

Modern Christians also fail to see any similarity between Horus and Jesus because Horus is an obviously mythical character with a human body and the head of a hawk; nothing at all like Jesus. They’re right, of course. Horus is often depicted in that fashion, but that is not the end of the story. He is just as often depicted as a baby cradled in the arms of his mother (Isis) and looking for all the world like baby Jesus in the arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary – only a desperate apologist will deny it.

I could go on...