Mithras and Christ

Discussion in 'Graeco-Roman' started by theocritus, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. theocritus

    theocritus New Member

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    I ran across Mithraism and found an interesting parallel between the birth and death of Christ and that of Mithras. Mithras’ birth and death happened about 2,000 years before Christ though.

    Two stories were found on Mithras’ birth and death though. There is the one similar to Christ’s that should need no explaining. The other is that we was born as an adult under a tree from a rock. The death again though was similar to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

    Does any one have any further information on the birth of Mithras and its possible connections to Christianity?

    I ran across Mithraism and found an interesting parallel between the birth and death of Christ and that of Mithras. Mithras’ birth and death happened about 2,000 years before Christ though.

    Two stories were found on Mithras’ birth and death though. There is the one similar to Christ’s that should need no explaining. The other is that we was born as an adult under a tree from a rock. The death again though was similar to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

    Does any one have any further information on the birth of Mithras and its possible connections to Christianity?
     
  2. Amica

    Amica Member

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    Hi!
    I have read a little about the ancient religions. Some speculate that the Christianity that we are familiar with today originated from St. Paul. Suposedly, St. Paul was a pagan convert to Christianity, who previously may have believed in Mithra.
    Others speculate that it was Constantine who created today's Christianity, diatized the person of Jesus Christ and associated Christianity with Mithraism.
    From what I read, Mithra died for humanity's sins. Part of the initiation in his sect was baptism. There is also a Blood Day that is celebrated as a sign of his death. Also, it was believed, that Mithra resurrected from death. He was believed to be a sun god. Some say that on the pictures where around Jesus' head is a ball of light it is representing the sun. Often, it is claimed, Mithra was portrayed in the same way.
    God knows best.
     
  3. florian

    florian New Member

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    According to 'the Mysteries of Mithra by F.Cumont p.130... 'the generative rock had given birth to Mithra on the banks of a river '..' a light burst from heaven (which was thought of as a solid vault )'they (some shepherds ) had seen him issue from the rocky mass his head adorned with a Phrygian cap, armed with a knife and carrying a torch that illuminated the depths below.' It seems that the texts of the legend are lost and that they are derived from images on a bas-relief . From what I read it seems very unlike the story of the birth of Christ apart from the shepherds .

     
  4. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    As this is essentially comparing two different religious ideologies, I'll move it to the comparative section. :)

    As for Mithras - as a quick crash course:

    1. Mithras is a figure from Zoroastrianism - Mithraism is like a subset of Zoroastrianism;
    2. Mithraism was popular in Roman legions, and joining involved standing underneath a bull and being baptised in its blood as it was slaughtered;
    3. Mithras is often depicted killing a bull: a triumph of light over evil.
    4. Mithraism is often argued to have been a formative influence on Christianity, especially via Saul of Tarsus
    5. I believe that little is known of actual Mithraic practices and belief - though my understanding is that there is some exaggeration and plain misinformation on the subject.

    Not much help, but hopefully a starter...
     
  5. florian

    florian New Member

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    By coincidence I was just reading how the Mithras myth was lost for centuries and scholars struggled to find a meaning for the sculptural images . Sculptures of the bull-slaying god were copied in the nmiddle ages . The phrygian cap was turned nto a turban and the god Mithras was turned into an old testanbet patriarch performing sacrifice .The very name of Mithras was lost to knowledge .In the renaissance a competent scholar claimed that it was an allegory of agriculture ,

    depicting a young farmer wrestling with a cow . According to Cumont Mithraic practices and beliefs were absorbed into Christianity ,especially ideas concerning hell ,the efficacy of sacraments and the resurrection of the flesh.
     
  6. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    The birth of the both Jesus and Mithra is solar. What we know about Mithraism was for the most part written after Christianity, although we have evidence the religion is older. I balk at the 2000 BCE date for the existance of this religion. Most likely it was developed about the same time as Christianity, since it bares the marks of identical Greek influence, and like Christianity has roots that are ancient.

    Taurus, the bull of Mithra is being slain. This would indicate a passage from the age of Taurus to the age of Aries. In the Bible this was displayed as a choice between the golden calf and the lamb. As you recall some of Moses' followers turned back. The change bewteen the world ages typically is given as 1900-2000BCE based on the first procession of Leo into Cancer.

    The actual Taurus to Aries procession came later for most civilizations, but earlier for the Hebrews since the Hebrews considered the Pleiades part of Aries and not Taurus as did the Persians.
     
  7. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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  8. florian

    florian New Member

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    Thanks for the link, it is very informative and detailed . I found an alternative interpretation of the Bull-slaying myth . It is recorded in Eliphas Levi's 'Histoire de la Magie' He says that the bull represents the angel with the fiery sword that guards the entrance to Paradise "the great magical work is the conquest and direction of the burning sword that the cherub [the bull-headed angel ] wields to prevent the return to Eden. In Mithraic symbolism the master of light is seen as vanquishing the bull of earth and plunging into his flank the sword that sets free the life ,represented by the drops of the bull's blood."

     
  9. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    The bull headed angel or Cherub are all a combination of the the four guardian angels of the heavens, They represent the four cardinal points, Regulus in Leo the Lion was the flaming sword at Eden. Being a flaming rotating sword in the east, it would also represent the rising sun (this really isn't that tough to figure out.) Taurus, Scorpio, and Aquarius are the other 3 points. Scorpio is sometimes represented by an eagle. These 4 cardinal points are the same as Ezekial's four faces, lion, eagle, bull, man. You can never have a cosmic bull without invoking Taurus. It is just never done, except for maybe Hathor. Taurus was a very early sign dating back 17,000 years according to European astronomers.
     
  10. florian

    florian New Member

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    Thanks for that , I never realised there were all these connections .I knew that some of the signs varied between ancient cultures but never realised that Taurus was such a widespread and enduring figure in the Zodiac .The bull seems to be a constant link between the various ancient religions .

    A.H Sayce in Encyc. of Religion confirms what you say.. ' The guardian bulls of Babylon were known as 'Kirubi'and corresponded with the Cherubim which stood at the entrance to the garden of Eden ." It was was derived from the bull-headed guardian statues of Assyria (which I have seen in the British Museum ).I never realised they had any connection with the Cherubim (how unlike the cherubs of Western painting !)

    He continues;

    "There also seems to be a parallel with the bull that Gilgamesh slew in the epic . Which is said to be really the constellation Taurus 'the bull of heaven' and goes back to a time when the vernal equinox coincided with the entrance of the sun into Taurus . A recollection of the bull as a malevolant storm-deity may survive in the Mithraic representation of the sun-god slaying a bull ."

    He says it is unclear whether the Golden Calf of Exodus was an Egyptian Apis or a Syrian image representing Jehovah identified with Baal in the form of a bull (the same also recorded in the myth of Zeus carrying of Europa in bull-form ). It seems particularly interesting because I was just reading about bull sacrifices and the strange ambivalence between which is the God and which is the victim .
     
  11. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    What is interesting in the Bull of the heavens in Gilgamish was that it was slayed by two people, Gilgamish and Enkidu, who was called his brother. This would be Gemini who is in a position above the Bull's horn/head. Now the interesting thing is that both Gilgamish and Enkidu are solar. This is incorrect cosmic myth. One should be lunar. The lunar god Sin or Nanna-Sin was deliberately dis in the text. Likewise Ishtar was deliberated omitted from the original text and was added to later texts.

    This was a political statement against Naram-Sin, who ruled circa 2200 BCE. He was a lover of both Sin and Ishtar and destroyed Enlil temples to promote Ishtar. The carpe diem philosophy given my the bar-maid was the same Naram-Sin wrote on a monument. (Also the same advice David gave Uriah.)

    This philosophy was made popular by the Great Famine of that era.
     
  12. florian

    florian New Member

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    As well as links between Christ and Mithras there are parallels with other pagan Deities , the most obvious being with Hercules and Osiris .I was also thinking about the spread of Christianity and the cult of Dionysus .

    Christians believe that the birth of Christ was the pivotal moment in history .Time (i.e. history )is reckoned forward from that moment ( A.D. )and backward from it (B.C.).It is the perfect moment of greatest divine order

    Boltzmann ,who defined modern ideas of entropy , suggested that civilisations who lived on either side of a moment of lowest entropy would regard that as being their past and time for them would flow away from that point .I.E. their time would flow in the opposite direction to ours .

    Artists who in the Pagan world depicted the dismemberment of Pentheus who had his limbs torn off for disrespect to Dionysus .Whereas in the Christian time-line this same figure was used to depict the reattachment of limbs in e.g. Donatello's 'Miraculous healing of the unfilial son' . Thus pagan imagery becomes Christain iconography with the arrow of time reversed as it would be in Boltzmann's scenario. So if Dionysus were a Christ in reverse , his cult would differ correspondingly .For example Dionysus' early female devotees (Maenads)became frenzied beasts and tore their opponents limb from limb .So the early followers of Christ , (Martyrs) conversly were taken by their opponents to betorn limb from limb by frenzied beasts .

     
  13. FriendRob

    FriendRob New Member

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    Yes, there's a lot of disinformation about Mithras, and some of it is on the linked page.
    ? Since there are no texts of Mithraism extant, how would anyone know this? Maybe it refers to the birth from the rock? Hardly a parallel.
    I'm not sure who the "followers" are suposed to be. There is a (probable) association of Mithras with the (12 signs of the) zodiac. Jesus's follwers are more reasonably related to the 12 tribes of Israel.

    ??? No data that I know of for this.
    Likewise.

    Yes, at least, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun was Dec 25 and Xmas may have been chosen to counter this. So what?
    Was there ever a religious figure that DIDN'T mention morality?
    But what KIND of saviour?
    Yes, as the Unconquered Sun. And Xians used solar symbolism too, which comes from Judaism, 100s of years before Mithraism.
    What, exactly IS the legend? No texts, so how do we know?
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I believe we know that Mithraism was a men-only cult?

    Thomas
     
  15. Obvious Child

    Obvious Child New Member

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    Paul was Jewish, not pagan. His letters are full of references to Jewish Law, no Mithraism at all.

    If you mean deified, I have never seen evidence that Constantine invented the Gospels or theology that imply this, though he may have chosen it out of preference for a clear, strong religion

    As for the history, neither have original sources earlier than the other one claims to start, as far as I know, so it's hard to know which came first.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A couple of points in support of the above post:

    St Paul was a Pharisee, and in the employ of the Jewish Temple authorities. He was a Jew, through and through.

    Constantine was no theologian. His choice of Christianity as the religion of state reflected his political determination to have the empire under one roof, as it were. The popular myth is that Christianity 'forced out' paganism, which is a bit of a fallacy, as up until then Christianity suffered frequent persecution. A more realistic picture is that popular polytheism had run its course, and no longer sufficed. Christianity was more popular by far. In Acts there are records of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus deserted, and the letters of the younger Pliny say the same. Simply put, Christianity made more sense.

    So Constantine had a state religion that was dying on its feet, and a new religion that was young, vigorous and spreading like wildfire ... like any politician, he backed the stronger lobby.

    The spread of Mithraism had much to do with its popularity among the soldierly class. It was a very macho cult, and thus with limited appeal. Christianity started at grass roots among the poor and dispossesed, and filtered up. Its high profile social programme of care and education for the poor, its strict and high-minded moral values, and remarkably its treatment of women as equal and not chattel (oh how that changed!) meant that many influential people had wives who were Christian, and servants/slaves who were able to read and write ... all this had a great appeal for an emperor who was trying to rescue an empire. The 'love thy neighbour' angle was a bit revolutionary, however ... some commanders doubted that Christian soldiers would have the spirit for a fight ... Constantine gambled on the fact that a man would fight for God, and picked the cross as his symbol.

    No theologian, but no fool, either.

    Thomas
     
  17. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    It's also worth pointing out that Christianity at the time of Constantine consisted of sometimes very different interpretations - you have the camps of Arius and Athanasius, and groups such as the Donatists and Gnostics, who were all essentially claiming to be the same faith.

    As a culture, the Roman's like to put things in a black and white perspective - they were founded on a system of law that made most issues of society plain and clear for everyone, and religion was no different - in fact, Roman religion before Christianity was essentially an extension of the principles of law, which is why Romans tended to be pee'd off when any group claimed to be above that.

    So Constantine could be argued as simply carrying on this tradition - determining what the plain and clear principles of Christianity were, codifying them, then ensuring that everyone read from the same book. Literally. But as a process of law.

    This short article may help make things clearer:
    http://www.comparative-religion.com/ancient/roman.php

    2c.
     
  18. bodhi_mindisfree

    bodhi_mindisfree New Member

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    This is one reason I converted tol Buddhism. Why did Magi visit Jesus when he was born? Magi are Zoroastrian priest/astronomers (hence they saw a star and followed it) who were looking for their Messiah, I suppose is Mithra.
     
  19. bodhi_mindisfree

    bodhi_mindisfree New Member

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    This is one reason I converted tol Buddhism. Why did Magi visit Jesus when he was born? Magi are Zoroastrian priest/astronomers (hence they saw a star and followed it) who were looking for their Messiah, I suppose is Mithra.
     
  20. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! which, why, how, what, general confusion. Is there something "Buddhist" going on here do you mean bodhi, (which I'm missing) or did you just not fancy getting drenched in bull's blood (as per the BBC drama Rome).:confused: :)

    s.
     

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