The Big Question 48: Was Christianity Based On Other Ancient Religions?
Mar 18, 2019 1982
Was Christianity based on other ancient religions?
This is one of those myths that gets peddled around, usually by unqualified people who actually know little about ancient religions or about the origins of Christianity.
What they say is that the accounts of Jesus recorded in the Bible are just borrowed and adapted from ancient pagan religions, such as the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, and Mithras, and others.
This idea comes from some writers in the nineteenth century, when it was popular in some minority circles to claim that the story of Jesus was just a myth. The reality is that none of those books were taken seriously by the scholars back then, and they’re not taken seriously today, because their claims are completely baseless.
It’s only in the recent decade or so that these ideas have been resurrected again, and that’s mainly due to wrong information from internet sources that can’t be held to account. And these ideas also get a platform through fiction books and movies that don’t claim to be factual. But you know how it goes… anyone wanting to trash Christianity takes them as having some kind of a basis in history.
There’s certainly some fascinating claims out there, and if you don’t have the facts, it can all look very impressive. I could pick any among dozens of examples, but I’ll just pick the Zeitgeist Movie, released in 2007.
There, you’ll find that the Egyptian God Horus,
– was born on December 25 of a virgin
– had his birth proclaimed by a star in the East
– was adored as a saviour by three kings when he was newly born
– was baptised at age 30 and began his ministry
– had 12 disciples
– was betrayed, crucified, then buried for three days
– and he was then resurrected after three days
It all sounds very impressive. If you’re a Christian it might make you wonder what’s going on. If you have a bias against Christianity, you might be tempted to uncritically swallow all of this: hook, line, and sinker.
But then, if you actually bothered to find out what the ancient Egyptian myths about the god Horus actually said, you’d find that every one of those impressive parallels is actually false. He was never born of a virgin, was never crucified, never rose again, and so on. Every one of them is wrong.
That’s just Horus. People have attempted to find parallels between other ancient gods, like Mithras, Attis, Dionysus, and Zoroaster. And they all end up being the same thing. They’re all mainly based on false parallels. Jesus Christ is unique.
And just in case you were to find any parallels, you’d still have the question of, “Who copied whom?” Because the writings of Christianity already existed and were widely known two or three hundred years before the majority of most of the other religious texts in which we find these ancient myths.
So, a bit of common sense is a good thing.
In my view, you can trust the Bible. And you can trust Jesus Christ.
He really is unique.