Did Christianity Borrow From Other Religions?


jesus mythThis is not an original question. As a matter of fact, it was first asked by French Enlightenment thinkers, Constantine Francois Volney (1757-1820) and Charles Dupuis (1742-1809).  Then the first academic advocate was 19th century historian and theologian Bruno Bauer (1809-1882). [i]

These men suggested a theory that the story of Jesus, as found in the Bible, was not original. They theorized that various aspects of Jesus’ life-story had actually been borrowed from earlier pagan myths.  This challenge is often called the “Jesus-Myth Theory, or the “Christ-Myth Theory.”

When the theory was first raised, scholars quickly challenged and successfully silenced it.  They were able to do this because the academic world researched the pagan myth stories and discovered that they did not parallel the Biblical accounts of Jesus.   They were able to demonstrate that the New Testament writers had not plagiarized the ancient accounts.

One would think that the Jesus-Myth challenge would have died off.  In fact, it did die off for a period of time. However, with the advent of social media (namely Youtube), a new wave of Jesus-Myth challengers arose.  This time, they gained incredible notoriety; not because they had better evidence, but because Youtube could be watched by millions of uninformed people who would not think to investigate the claims being made and assume everything on the Internet was true.  They would not return to the original sources as did the 19th century scholars who had first handled these whimsical claims.

For the purpose of this short article, let me examine just one account that that the Jesus-Myth proponents like to suggest mimics the story of Jesus. This is of the Egyptian myth god, Horus.  The information below is taken from the wildly popular Youtube movie, “ZeitGeist.”  It is claimed in the ZeitGeist movie that Horus:

  1. was born on Dec 25
  2. was born of a virgin
  3. birth was accompanied by a star in the East
  4. was adored by three kings upon his birth
  5. became a child-teacher at age 12
  6. was baptized at age 30 by Anup the Baptizer
  7. had 12 disciples
  8. performed miracles like walking on the water
  9. was called “the truth,” and “the light”
  10. crucified, and resurrected three days later

This is an impressive list.  Those of us who are Christian will quickly recognize many aspects of Jesus’ life mirrored in Horus’ list.  As a matter of fact, this list is so impressive that we might be led to believe that perhaps the Gospel writers ashamedly borrowed aspects from the life of Horus to include in Jesus’ account.  This, of course, would suggest that the life as Jesus, as told by the Biblical writers, is fabricated and unreliable.  If this list is true, then we should have little confidence in the story of Jesus as found in the New Testament.

But the question must first be asked: is the list from the life of Horus an accurate list?  The Youtube video “ZeitGeist” claims with authority that it is.  The problem, however, is that ZeitGeist does not do well when held up against the light of reality.

In the same order as above, let me comment on the comparisons of Horus and Jesus:

  1. Whether or not Horus was born on Dec 25 is of no significance. The Bible nowhere makes the claim that Dec 25 is Jesus’ birthday. It was not celebrated as Jesus’ birthday until around the fourth century.  Therefore, this point is moot.
  2. According to the myth, Horus was born of Isis, who had been married to Osiris before his birth. Therefore, having been married she would not likely have been a virgin.  According to the original myth, Osiris was killed and hacked into pieces, except for his penis.  Isis fashioned a substitute penis and had intercourse with it, making her pregnant with Horus. Obviously, Horus’ birth was not a virgin birth since it involved a sexual act.  Therefore, his myth does not in any way parallel the birth account of Jesus.
  3. A star in the East: there are no ancient sources that support that there was a star in the East when Horus was born.  None. The ZeitGeist folks just made this story up out of thin air.
  4. Adored by three kings: this may or may not be true for Horus. However, the Bible does not claim Jesus was adored by three kings. Instead, the Bible reports that “magi ” or “wise men” from the east came and worshiped Him.  Their number is not reported and they were not kings.  We do not have a parallel.
  5. Both were child teachers: Jesus was found in the temple teaching at age 12. However, no known original source record makes the same claim about Horus.  Another fabrication.
  6. Baptized: the Bible claims Jesus was baptize by John at around the age of 30.  There is no character named “Anup the Baptizer” in the original Horus story.  There is an Anubis. However, there is no record of Anubis baptizing Horus.
  7. 12 Disciples: Source accounts indicate that Horus had followers. However, no original source account numbers them at 12.  The twelve houses of the Zodiac were associated with Horus, but they were not his disciples.
  8. Walk on water: no original source account depicts Horus walking on water.  Another fabrication.
  9. Known as the truth and light: no source record describes these names attributed to Horus.  ZeitGeist people simply made this up and published it (note: they never provide sources).
  10. Crucified and resurrected: According to the Metternich Stela, Horus had been bitten by a poisonous scorpion.  Obviously, this is not crucifixion.  After being poisoned, he was restored by Thoth.  However, not all sources agree if Horus had actually died because some suggest that Thoth came to “heal the child.”  One does not heal a corpse.  In any event, even if he had died from a snake bite, his story does not mirror the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Remarkably, once the source material is examined, one can see how easily the Jesus-myth story begins to unravel. Granted, I only examined the suggested parallels between Horus and Jesus.  However, if we find this one lacking so much in the area of truth and reliability, one should be very suspect about anything else put out by the Jesus-myth people.

If there is any mimicking going on, it is easy to see that the Jesus-Myth people are taking the life account of Jesus and rewriting the tales of mythical gods to include information not contained in the originals.

It is interesting to note that when modern Jesus-Myth proponents make their claims, they do not quote from the original source stories of the myth gods. Rather, they quote from more recent authors whose own research is very questionable.  The critical thinker who is concerned about ultimate truth will take the time to carefully investigate these claims.

The next time you hear someone suggest that Christianity borrowed from pagan myths, ask them if they are citing from original sources or from a video someone put together on Youtube.  Remind them that you once read on the Internet a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet.”

peace,

dane

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us

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[i] Steve Gregg, The Narrow Path video Zeitgeist: the Movie Refuted

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