Sunday, 12 June 2011

Mithra and Jesus

Having mentioned Mithra in the last post, I ought to say a little more. 

It is alleged that the Mithra character predated New Testament times by centuries, and yet has the following in common with the Jesus character:
  • Mithra was born on December 25th of the virgin Anahita.
  • The babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.
  • He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
  • He had 12 companions or "disciples."
  • He performed miracles.
  • As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
  • He ascended to heaven.
  • Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the "Way, the Truth and the Light," the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.
  • Mithra is omniscient, as he "hears all, sees all, knows all: none can deceive him."
  • He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
  • His sacred day was Sunday, "the Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
  • His religion had a eucharist or "Lord's Supper."
  • Mithra "sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers."
  • Mithraism emphasized baptism.
You can read a lot more at  I can't vouch for its veracity but I am certain that there are scholars who seriously assert the claims listed above and that this linked site addresses the topic in great detail.  

Maybe you know someone who can shed further light?

Then again, it is said that the Mithra story has a lot of parallels with even earlier beliefs about the Egyptian god Horus and the Indian Krishna.  More about them later and some comments about the pattern that is building up tomorrow.

Related post links, added later:


Anonymous said...

Interesting. Don't all these religion copy each other? Egypt etc.
I brevet heard a christian respond to this..would to hear their opinion actually

Plasma Engineer said...

I'm hoping that one of the christian readers of this blog will find time to address the issue. You might have noticed that this was only one of a series of posts today. I have now added links to the related posts so that you can read them easily. You might start to notice some similarity between the stories.

Anonymous said...

Some of this information comes from the church fathers. Justin Martyr and Tertullian both mention the Mithraic baptism and Lord's supper, and Tertullian mentions about setting a mark on the forehead of his soldiers. But where does the info on Mithra being born from a virgin come from? I don't know; I've never seen the source. I do know, however, that Justin Martyr thought Mithra was born from a rock. Some scholars also interpret Mithraic statuary as Mithra being born from a rock. Jesus, of course, was both born of a virgin and buried in a virgin tomb (where never a man was laid) from which he emerged. Could the double story of Mithra being born of a virgin and born from a rock be a confusion of his being born of a virgin and resurrected from a rock (exactly like Jesus)? Who knows.

Anonymous said...

That is, did both go from the virgin womb to the virgin tomb?

Plasma Engineer said...

Interesting question. Thanks for spending some time on it. I wonder where the virgin birth bit did come from. Someone else mention this last week and I found the account about him being born from a rock then. I think my skeptical skill must have failed me when I reproduced that erroneous fact.

However, the virgin birth story is common to Krishna, Horus, Dyonysius and others who pre-date Jesus - or so I believe.

Justin said...

You again cite December 21st, but as I pointed out on the Horus article, that is immaterial.

So is the virgin birth. The Isaiah passage (7.14) that is cited does not mean virgin, either in the Hebrew or the Greek translation of Isaiah (the Septuagint). There is no need in the Christ narrative for him to be born of a virgin. This interpretation come from later interpretations.

The "omni-" language you talk about in the Mithra article does not apply to Jesus, at least as he is talked about in the New Testament. The "omni-" language when applied to Jesus comes from the Church Fathers, who were influenced by Neo-paltonic philosophy.

Like with the Horus article: [citation needed]. Where in the Mithra texts are these supposed similarities found? I am not doubting that they may exist, yet I need to see where these similarities are in the original texts. Actually, based on the weakness of the Horus connection, I do doubt that they are there. (Looking at Acharya's biblography, she only has a few reputable sources, and even cites Zeitgeist, which a bunch of poorly cloaked anti-semitic drivel.)

The "shepherd" connection should come as no suprise considering the shared Anceint Near Eastern roots for Judaism and Zoroastrianism. This was common imagery for the ANE.

My final question that runs through all of these comnparison is "Where is Judaism?" Whether or not he existed, Jesus was (or was portrayed as) a Jew. It strikes me as odd that no one who is going around ranting about how Jesus IS Horus or Mithra or Krishnah says anything about Jesus the Jew. Judaism has many of these images as well (e.g. the Lion and the Lamb). The lack of treament of the connections between Jesus and Jewish myth strikes me as the continued anti-Judaism on the part of western culture. People seek to connect Jesus to distant (or not so distant in the case of Horus, but again, those connections are at best tenuous) cultures which have largely superficial parallels, but they spend no time seeking parallels from the culture Jesus (may have) lived in.

Anonymous said...

As to the virgin birth being irrelevant because its a misinterpretation of Isaiah 7 -- that's precisely what makes it relevant. Old Testament prophecies were twisted in order to make them support these Mithra-like qualities that were being put on Jesus in order to hide the Pagan origins of these concepts.

As to the question about Jesus the Jew. It could be that Jesus was a Jew who really live and Pagans just Mithraized him. Or it could be that he is a fictional Mithra-like character who was Judaized to hide the Pagan origin of the idea. The idea that he was a Jew who really lived is an assumption with no real evidence to support it.

Anonymous said...

As to anti-Judaism on the part of Western culture, it comes from and is sustained by Paul and the orthodox view of Jesus. The view that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews and that he replaced Judaism with Christianity is the origin of anti-Judaism. Those who doubt Jesus' existence actually might be more pro-Judaism since they won't be saying "Judaism sucked so God crucified Jesus to get rid of it".