Paul & Mithras Worship

Bruce Michael

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Shalom Friends,

Review of Paul and Hellenism by Hyam Maccoby, SCM 1991
-Argues that Paul was more influenced by the Mystery religions than Judaism.

"We learn that Tarsus, which Acts identifies as Paul's birthplace, was the center of Mithras worship, whose initiates "either drank the blood of the sacred bull or drank a chalice of wine as a symbolic representation of that blood" (p.25). Later, Wilson does not hesitate to see Paul's understanding of the sacrificial nature of Christ's death as being "in the same light that the followers of Mithras saw the death of the sacrificial bull" (p.166); or to link Paul's very un-Jewish concept of the sacramental Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23f) with Greek cultic precedents; its very name, kuriakon deipnon, was "borrowed from the Mithraic mysteries" (p.165). He observes
that "there is not the slightest suggestion by Paul that this tradition derives from anyone who was actually with Jesus on the night before he died." That Jesus, a pious Jew, could have asked his disciples "to drink a cup of blood, even symbolically, is unthinkable" (p.25), since the drinking of blood was one of the most fundamental taboos in Jewish life. Rather, Wilson concludes that "Paul believed he had received instruction from Jesus himself about the institution of this great Christian sacrament."​

The Roman version of the Mithraic Mysteries appeared in Rome in the latter part of 100AD. That is when it takes a foothold in the west. Probably it was in existence in Tarsus, Turkey, well before that.

Eduoard Shuré has Pilate knowing something about the mysteries of Mithra in his "The Great Initiates".

From my encyclopaedia:
According to Plutarch the rites of Mithra were first brought to the attention of the west by Circilian pirates captured in 67 B.C.

Paul appears to be as much a follower of Mithras as a Jew.

From Rudolf Steiner:

"From what he has previously learned Paul knew that the spirit first sought by Zarathustra in the sun as Ahura Mazdao, the spirit later beheld by Moses in the burning bush and in the fire on Sinai, had gradually been approaching the Earth. He also knew the spirit would have to enter a human body.What Paul could not grasp, however, while he was still Saul, was that the man destined to be the Christ bearer should have to suffer the disgrace of death on the cross."
-The Gospel of John and its relation to the other gospels lecture 8

Paul's initiation on the road to Damascus was the first Christian initiation to take place in the open air.

Br. Bruce