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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Did the idea of Jesus come from Mithra?

Here's what the Encarta online research source says about Mithra:
"Mithraism, one of the major religions of the Roman Empire, the cult of Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and wisdom. In the Avesta, the sacred Zoroastrian writings (see Zoroastrianism) of the ancient Persians, Mithra appears as the chief yazata (Avestan, 'beneficent one'), or good spirit, and ruler of the world. He was supposed to have slain the divine bull, from whose dying body sprang all plants and animals beneficial to humanity. After the conquest of Assyria in the 7th century BC and of Babylonia in the 6th century BC, Mithra became the god of the sun, which was worshipped in his name (see Sun Worship). The Greeks of Asia Minor, by identifying Mithra with Helios, the Greek god of the sun, helped to spread the cult. It was brought to Rome about 68 BC by Cilician pirates whom the Roman general Pompey the Great had captured, and during the early empire it spread rapidly throughout Italy and the Roman provinces. It was a rival to Christianity in the Roman world."

"Mithraism was similar to Christianity in many respects, for example, in the ideals of humility and brotherly love, baptism, the rite of communion, the use of holy water, the adoration of the shepherds at Mithra's birth, the adoption of Sundays and of December 25 (Mithra's birthday) as holy days, and the belief in the immortality of the soul, the last judgment, and the resurrection. Mithraism differed from Christianity in the exclusion of women from its ceremonies and in its willingness to compromise with polytheism. The similarities, however, made possible the easy conversion of its followers to Christian
doctrine." (End quote)

Also, from a web site which examines Mithraism:
"Plainly, the worship of Mithras was well ahead of the worship of Jesus. In any case there is a dated pre-Christian Mithraic inscription of Antiochus I of Commagene (69-34 BC) in eastern Asia Minor. Mithras shakes hands with the King, he wears the Phrygian cap, the Persian trousers, and a cape. His hat is star speckled and rays of light emerge from his head like a halo. His torq is a serpent. This is the image of the Roman Mithras in a scene taking place 100 years before the crucifixion."

"There were worshippers of Mithras in Rome in Pompey's time (67 BC)."
"Christians are more defensive about Mithras than perhaps any other pre-Christian Roman god. The two religions had so much in common, it can hardly be denied although Christians will try to deny it as a first shot. Their second shot is that the followers of Mithras copied the Christians! Christians feel obliged to take silly positions on these issues because they seek to defend Christianity as a revealed religion, not one which evolved in a certain milieu and therefore has common features with contemporary religions. So, no religious practices that seem in any way to be like any Christian ones could have been original--they must have been taken from Christianity!"
(end quotes, ref Dr M. D. Magee AskWhy! Publications Website,

It seems rather clear that Mithra was introduced to Rome around 68 B.C. and existed in some form as a worshipped deity long before Jesus or the New Testament.

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