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  #1  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:30 PM
Raider Duck Raider Duck is offline
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Jesus Copied from Horus?

Column: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...tian-god-horus

As a former Christian who is now going from Deist to Atheist, I thought it was a good read on the subject, and one of the most objective treatments I've seen.

Hopefully, a future column can feature a more comprehensive comparison of the Jesus myth to the earlier myths of Osiris, Dionysus and Mithra. IIRC, there are a lot of similarities, but most of the material available online is either Atheists saying "Jesus was a complete rip-off of earlier pagan gods" or fundamentalist Christians saying "The Jesus story is completely 100% factual and not 'ripped off' from anything."
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:59 PM
bup bup is online now
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Best line in the column: "Browsing through the stelae..."
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:33 PM
Wakinyan Wakinyan is online now
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I agree with the OP. My conclusion is that Jesus existed and then legends were written and told about him, and those took ideas from other religions. Perhaps one could say, that "The image of Jesus" assimilated material from earlier archetypal images, like Horus, Dionysos and so forth and so on, which at the time had lost its appeal, until there's an "archetype of Jesus", a more (at the time) modern symbol which people could relate to, but which has lost its appeal to the contemporary man, to whom this god image seems pointless.
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:52 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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Contrary to the article, the notion that the Jesus myth borrows from the Egyptian mythology (or other mythologies) isn't the invention of Tom Harpur. It was a commonplace at least as far back as the 1930s, where it was made fun of in Bugalikov's sarcastic comic masterpiece The Master and Margarita (where a Soviet cultural commissar-slash-editor making that very point is personally murdered by Satan, to teach him a lesson!).

Quote:
It was hard to say exactly what had made Bezdomny write as he had whether it was his great talent for graphic description or complete ignorance of the subject he was writing on, but his Jesus had come out, well, completely alive, a Jesus who had really existed, although admittedly a Jesus who had every possible fault.

Berlioz however wanted to prove to the poet that the main object was not who Jesus was, whether he was bad or good, but that as a person Jesus had never existed at all and that all the stories about him were mere invention, pure myth.

The editor was a well-read man and able to make skilful reference to the ancient historians, such as the famous Philo of Alexandria and the brilliantly educated Josephus Flavius, neither of whom mentioned a word of Jesus' existence. With a display of solid erudition, Mikhail Alexandrovich informed the poet that incidentally, the passage in Chapter 44 of the fifteenth book of Tacitus' Annals, where he describes the execution of Jesus, was nothing but a later forgery.

The poet, for whom everything the editor was saying was a novelty, listened attentively to Mikhail Alexandrovich, fixing him with his bold green eyes, occasionally hiccuping and cursing the apricot juice under his breath.

'There is not one oriental religion,' said Berlioz, ' in which an immaculate virgin does not bring a god into the world. And the Christians, lacking any originality, invented their Jesus in exactly the same way. In fact he never lived at all. That's where the stress has got to lie.

Berlioz's high tenor resounded along the empty avenue and as Mikhail Alexandrovich picked his way round the sort of historical pitfalls that can only be negotiated safely by a highly educated man, the poet learned more and more useful and instructive facts about the Egyptian god Osiris, son of Earth and Heaven, about the Phoenician god Thammuz, about Marduk and even about the fierce little-known god Vitzli-Putzli, who had once been held in great veneration by the Aztecs of Mexico. At the very moment when Mikhail Alexandrovich was telling the poet how the Aztecs used to model figurines of Vitzli-Putzli out of dough the first man appeared in the avenue.

Afterwards, when it was frankly too late, various bodies collected their data and issued descriptions of this man.
Personally, I think it is impossible to say whether there was some borrowings from other mythology, or whether there are certain aspects to religion that are simply universaly common such that people independently invent the same patterns again and again. Probably a bit of both. (For example, Bugalikov's mention of the Aztec god is probably an example of him taking a sarcastic shot at diffusionism, since it is of course impossible, or at least extremely unlikely, that Jesus was inspired by the Aztecs!)
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:04 PM
LawMonkey LawMonkey is offline
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Former OTO member (and current atheist, and, I suppose, incredibly lax quasi-Buddhist) checking in here. It goes back earlier than the 1930s; the Osiris-as-Jesus thing was part of the Golden Dawn system and carried on, naturally, through Crowley. The Golden Dawn set in the late 1800s, as I recall, rising again briefly around the turn of the century when Regardie was involved.
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:08 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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Originally Posted by LawMonkey View Post
Former OTO member (and current atheist, and, I suppose, incredibly lax quasi-Buddhist) checking in here. It goes back earlier than the 1930s; the Osiris-as-Jesus thing was part of the Golden Dawn system and carried on, naturally, through Crowley. The Golden Dawn set in the late 1800s, as I recall, rising again briefly around the turn of the century when Regardie was involved.
Absolutely it must have, and not just by guys like Crowley. The point is that by the 1930s, the view was commonplace enough to be the subject of satire. That means it must go back considerably earlier than the 30s.
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:18 PM
Raider Duck Raider Duck is offline
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According to the film The God Who Wasn't There, an official Christian response (from either Catholics, Lutherans or Baptists -- can't remember which) was that Satan knew beforehand how the Jesus story would unfold and so influenced the pagan writers to create their deity stories similarly so Jesus wouldn't seem special.

The fact that someone went to the time and trouble to craft this ludicrous response and put it in the official text of a major Christian denomination shows that these parallels are hardly new.
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  #8  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:33 PM
Captain Lance Murdoch Captain Lance Murdoch is offline
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It's not like Horus was the only god around in antiquity. Even Augustus Caesar was supposed to be the son of Apollo. I don't see the Jesus story as being copied from any particular source, but it seems like there were certain expectations of gods and so forth in those days and the gospels conformed to them.
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  #9  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:41 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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This guy seems to be a leading source for the Jesus-Horus claim (he died in 1907):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Massey
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  #10  
Old 05-25-2012, 05:05 PM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Certainly one of the critical notions of any religion has been the question of death, and whether there is life after death. It's thus not surprising to find resurrection stories in most religions, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, or Aztec. thus, it can easily seem that the later religions are "borrowing" from the earlier ones, where in fact they're both commenting on a universal human concern.

Actually sort of amazing to me is that there are no such stories in the Pentateuch, we don't get them until the book of Kings in the Old Testament.

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 05-25-2012 at 05:05 PM..
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  #11  
Old 05-25-2012, 06:05 PM
cuervo13 cuervo13 is offline
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An alternate view of this topic should be considered. If you do believe in Christianity, and the divine communication skills of the prophets, then it is fairly common knowledge that information about Christ has been present since the first man talked with God. Abraham knew about Him, Isaiah knew about Him, and I don't think it's too far of a stretch to say that all of the Old Testament prophets knew about Him. I could list off all the OT prophecies about Christ, but it would just take up space, and can be easily looked up on a myriad of other websites.

Now, consider that Abraham spent some time in Egypt (Gen 12); we know that he deceived the Pharaoh about his relationship with Sarai and was asked to leave, but was still richly rewarded when he first arrived. Riches usually equal influence. Also, consider that Joseph, after being in slavery in Egypt, rose to be the second most powerful person in the land. Then his father and his brothers and all their families came to Egypt to live. Also, a massive amount of influence.

Did these men of God share their beliefs of Christ with the pagans surrounding them? Did they share their prophecies about a virgin birth, and a God dying for the sins of the world? If so, then the question should be "Was Horus copied from Jesus?" Even if you don't believe that Jesus was an actual person, but a myth created by the children of Israel and subsequently the early Christians, the prophecies have been around for a long time. So which came first, the Egyptian chicken or the Christian egg?
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Old 05-25-2012, 06:47 PM
Raider Duck Raider Duck is offline
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Originally Posted by cuervo13 View Post
Even if you don't believe that Jesus was an actual person, but a myth created by the children of Israel and subsequently the early Christians, the prophecies have been around for a long time. So which came first, the Egyptian chicken or the Christian egg?
There is possibly precedent for this. I've read where the likely lifetime of Moses may have not occurred during the reign of Ramses II (as is often thought), but instead during the reign of Amenhotep IV, aka Akhenaten. Akhenaten (King Tut's dad), of course, is known for ditching the Egyptian gods and instead basing the entire Egyptian kingdom around the worship of one god, which was considered radical for its time. Is it possible that the Pharaoh Akhenaten and the Egyptian prince Moses influenced each other, and were possibly even siblings?
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:59 PM
monavis monavis is offline
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Originally Posted by Raider Duck View Post
Column: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...tian-god-horus

As a former Christian who is now going from Deist to Atheist, I thought it was a good read on the subject, and one of the most objective treatments I've seen.

Hopefully, a future column can feature a more comprehensive comparison of the Jesus myth to the earlier myths of Osiris, Dionysus and Mithra. IIRC, there are a lot of similarities, but most of the material available online is either Atheists saying "Jesus was a complete rip-off of earlier pagan gods" or fundamentalist Christians saying "The Jesus story is completely 100% factual and not 'ripped off' from anything."
If you read the 2 books 'Osiris And The Egyptian Rsssurection" you will note that there are many things written about Jesus that was very simular to many things said about Jesus, Osiris was called God, son of God, the Good shepard etc. Weither the writers of the New Testemant knew the stories and used them, is something to think about.There was even a Bread and Wine celebtation.
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:04 PM
monavis monavis is offline
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Originally Posted by cuervo13 View Post
An alternate view of this topic should be considered. If you do believe in Christianity, and the divine communication skills of the prophets, then it is fairly common knowledge that information about Christ has been present since the first man talked with God. Abraham knew about Him, Isaiah knew about Him, and I don't think it's too far of a stretch to say that all of the Old Testament prophets knew about Him. I could list off all the OT prophecies about Christ, but it would just take up space, and can be easily looked up on a myriad of other websites.

Now, consider that Abraham spent some time in Egypt (Gen 12); we know that he deceived the Pharaoh about his relationship with Sarai and was asked to leave, but was still richly rewarded when he first arrived. Riches usually equal influence. Also, consider that Joseph, after being in slavery in Egypt, rose to be the second most powerful person in the land. Then his father and his brothers and all their families came to Egypt to live. Also, a massive amount of influence.

Did these men of God share their beliefs of Christ with the pagans surrounding them? Did they share their prophecies about a virgin birth, and a God dying for the sins of the world? If so, then the question should be "Was Horus copied from Jesus?" Even if you don't believe that Jesus was an actual person, but a myth created by the children of Israel and subsequently the early Christians, the prophecies have been around for a long time. So which came first, the Egyptian chicken or the Christian egg?
The story of Horus who was the son conceived by Isis after her husband Osiris had been ressurected by Isis help. Osiris was cut to pieces and Isis found all his parts except his penis, then she turned into a dove and hovered over Osiris and conceived Horus!So the story goes!
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:07 PM
monavis monavis is offline
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Originally Posted by Raider Duck View Post
There is possibly precedent for this. I've read where the likely lifetime of Moses may have not occurred during the reign of Ramses II (as is often thought), but instead during the reign of Amenhotep IV, aka Akhenaten. Akhenaten (King Tut's dad), of course, is known for ditching the Egyptian gods and instead basing the entire Egyptian kingdom around the worship of one god, which was considered radical for its time. Is it possible that the Pharaoh Akhenaten and the Egyptian prince Moses influenced each other, and were possibly even siblings?
There is no historical proof of Moses being a real person, there is no mention of him except in the OT. Some think the Word Moses comes from the Egyptian name Tutmoses.
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:13 PM
Raider Duck Raider Duck is offline
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There is no historical proof of Moses being a real person, there is no mention of him except in the OT. Some think the Word Moses comes from the Egyptian name Tutmoses.
True enough, but many historical legends have some basis in fact. "Moses" is an Egyptian name, and it's not hard to imagine a renegade Egyptian prince rebelling, leading an ad hoc army of formerly enslaved Hebrews, leaving/being driven out of Egypt, and losing his pursuers in a marsh or somesuch.
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:20 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven View Post
Certainly one of the critical notions of any religion has been the question of death, and whether there is life after death. It's thus not surprising to find resurrection stories in most religions, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, or Aztec. thus, it can easily seem that the later religions are "borrowing" from the earlier ones, where in fact they're both commenting on a universal human concern. . . .
Exactly. Superman came back from the dead. Do we say that DC comics "stole the idea from Jesus?" No: the idea is universal. You might just as well say that DC comics "stole the idea from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle," who brought Sherlock Holmes back from the dead. There is no possible way of tracing a "genealogy" of who "stole the idea" from whom.

(C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, pretty much did steal the resurrection of Aslan from the gospels... But he knew what he was doing...)
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:31 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
This guy seems to be a leading source for the Jesus-Horus claim (he died in 1907):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Massey
That's in the column.
Quote:
Harpur in turns cites earlier authors, the most relevant of whom for our purposes is Gerald Massey, a poet and self-taught Egyptologist who published a massive work entitled Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World shortly before his death in 1907.
Did you not read the column yet?

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  #19  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:48 PM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Originally Posted by Raider Duck View Post
True enough, but many historical legends have some basis in fact. "Moses" is an Egyptian name, and it's not hard to imagine a renegade Egyptian prince rebelling, leading an ad hoc army of formerly enslaved Hebrews, leaving/being driven out of Egypt, and losing his pursuers in a marsh or somesuch.
As at most of the time period where the exodus is supposed to have occurred the Egyptians ruled Cannan,, unlikely.
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Old 05-26-2012, 06:35 AM
monavis monavis is offline
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Originally Posted by Raider Duck View Post
True enough, but many historical legends have some basis in fact. "Moses" is an Egyptian name, and it's not hard to imagine a renegade Egyptian prince rebelling, leading an ad hoc army of formerly enslaved Hebrews, leaving/being driven out of Egypt, and losing his pursuers in a marsh or somesuch.
The archologists I have read (and heard on TV) have found the houses( one could say almost a village) where the so called slaves lived and the writings on the pieces of clay(or stone) showed that the people were well paid, and were not slaves. Also one historian found that there were Israelites fighting in another country at the time.

It was also shown that it would have been impossible for any human to withstand the strength of the winds that were said to be used to blow the waters open, so the Israelites could cross. Even a very heavy man could not withstand the pressure and would not have been able to walk across. It would have meant many people crossing would have taken some time, so the winds that separated the waters would have had to keep blowing.

Why a large group of people would spend 40 years in a desert wouldn't make sense, they could have left the desert long before that! There is also no evidence of a large group of people having lived that long in the desert, but there were many places where a few nomadic people once stayed during those years.
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  #21  
Old 05-26-2012, 07:27 AM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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It's not like Horus was the only god around in antiquity. Even Augustus Caesar was supposed to be the son of Apollo. I don't see the Jesus story as being copied from any particular source, but it seems like there were certain expectations of gods and so forth in those days and the gospels conformed to them.
Joseph Campbell lives, in other words.
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  #22  
Old 05-26-2012, 09:17 AM
baronsabato baronsabato is offline
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Anyone read Bart Ehrman's new book on this subject? He does a pretty good job of showing why pretty much no historical scholars in relevant fields agree with the mythicist position.
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  #23  
Old 05-26-2012, 09:24 AM
DRomm DRomm is offline
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Ankh/Crucifix

Whether Jesus (or the various ancillary legends that have sprung up after his death) are derived from Horus or any other source, it does seem to me that people are missing one of the most obvious comparisons: How the Christian Cross is basically the male answer to the female Egyptian Ankh.

Huxley makes sport of this in "Brave New World", where the new religious symbol is a "T", after Ford's assembly line car, easily made by lopping off the top of a cross.

Religions evolve from other forms of spirituality and religious practices. That doesn't make them less than their predecessors. But I do think it's useful to trace the memes from one culture to another.
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:31 AM
Raider Duck Raider Duck is offline
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As at most of the time period where the exodus is supposed to have occurred the Egyptians ruled Cannan,, unlikely.
Not if the Moses thing took place during Akhenaten's reign, which was 1,000 years before. In Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud speculated that Moses might have been a high priest for Aknenaten before leaving or being thrown out.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:56 PM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Moderator interjection: Let's please keep this thread on Jesus/Horus. The historicity (or not) of Moses is discussed in many other threads, or you could start another one.

Now, dropping the Moderator role and just being an ordinary poster:
cuervo13: welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, glad to have you here. An interesting thought, that Abraham may have influenced Egyptian mythology, but hardly likely. Horus was worshipped by the Egyptians in what is called "late PreDynastic period", roughly 3000 BC. Dating Abraham is more problematic, but different guesses have ranged from about 2000 - 1800 BC; the text of Genesis was written much later. In any cases, Horus clearly pre-dates Abraham.

The question of biblical "prophecies" or "predictions" is a whole different issue. Most of them aren't, in fact, anything of the sort. The sayings of Isaiah are the most often distorted to imply pre-cognition, but Isaiah is roughly 800 BC. So, again, these "prophecies" were NOT "around for a long time" in comparison to the Horus myths.

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 05-26-2012 at 12:57 PM..
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  #26  
Old 05-26-2012, 06:31 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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This has been a commonplace since at least 1829 and probably before. The 1829 date refers to the publication of the The Diegesis: Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity by the renegade Church of England priest Robert Taylor, known as the Devil's Chaplain. The work resulted in his imprisonment by his bishop (the preface to the book is written from Bristol Gaol).

Taylor subsequently left the Church of England and set up his own Temple in the heart of London where, dressed in eccentric robes, he gave weekly sermons.

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  #27  
Old 05-27-2012, 12:50 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Originally Posted by Raider Duck View Post
Not if the Moses thing took place during Akhenaten's reign, which was 1,000 years before. In Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud speculated that Moses might have been a high priest for Aknenaten before leaving or being thrown out.
Seen the mod order and will obey, with just one observation, that the above is wrong, Akhenaten live about 100 years before the supposed time not 1000 years.

Now back to Jesus and Horus.
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Old 05-27-2012, 01:39 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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The twelve disciples is one of the most spurious claims. It's from a text that mentions twelve nocturnal gods (associated with the hours of the night) who aid Horus (and Isis and Osiris). That's not even remotely like the actual named mortal men who were foremost among Jesus's followers.

I definitely believe in Jesus being a historical figure whose real story became wrapped mythological motifs (ala Alexander the Great, who was undoubtedly real but it's not so likely he was a son of Zeus or descendant of Heracles or that he was lifted into the sky by eagles or that he went to the bottom of the ocean in a bell or that his horse had the feet of beasts or other legends that grew up around him), but I don't think he has any more in common with Horus than he does with most other deities. A freshman English student could probably compare and contrast him just as much with most other ancient gods and demigods.
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:25 AM
SpyOne SpyOne is offline
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Contrary to the article, the notion that the Jesus myth borrows from the Egyptian mythology (or other mythologies) isn't the invention of Tom Harpur. It was a commonplace at least as far back as the 1930s, (snip)
That isn't "contrary to the article". The very next sentence after the one suggesting that Bill Maher may have taken that notion from Tom Harpur says,
Quote:
Harpur in turns cites earlier authors, the most relevant of whom for our purposes is Gerald Massey, a poet and self-taught Egyptologist who published a massive work entitled Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World shortly before his death in 1907.

I, too, would like to see some investigation of similarities between the stories of in the bible and those in other religions by someone without an axe to grind, or at least with a smaller axe to grind.
To suggest that Matthew, for example, may have been making some stuff up in his account of the birth of Jesus that is corroborated by none of the other apostles, seems to contradict historical fact, and conveniently fits into prophecies about the coming of the messiah is NOT to deny the existence of God.
Similarly, to suggest that there may have been an actual teaching philosopher whose teachings became the foundation of Christianity is NOT to insist upon the existence of God.

I realize that the biased jerks trying to use this issue to club people with their agenda probably aren't readers here at The Straight Dope, but I'd like to address them anyway, via sort of an open-letter:
If you have to fabricate evidence to prove your point, then you have already lost. If there is real evidence that proves your point, your lying damages its credibility. Search instead for the Truth, whatever it may be.
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:32 AM
SpyOne SpyOne is offline
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Exactly. Superman came back from the dead. Do we say that DC comics "stole the idea from Jesus?" No: the idea is universal.
Actually, yes.
Not that so much, but folks often say that Superman's origin was clearly lifted from Moses.
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  #31  
Old 05-27-2012, 08:39 AM
SpyOne SpyOne is offline
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Not sure the relevance of all this, but ....
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Originally Posted by monavis View Post
It was also shown that it would have been impossible for any human to withstand the strength of the winds that were said to be used to blow the waters open, so the Israelites could cross.
So we assume that any reference to wind is just how people at the time thought it was done.
The description seems to match a tsunami pretty well. The water went away, allowing the Israelites time to cross, and returned violently, thwarting their pursuers.
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Why a large group of people would spend 40 years in a desert wouldn't make sense,
Well, Exodus in particular seems to have some translation issues around the word "year".
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:52 AM
SpyOne SpyOne is offline
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Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven View Post
cuervo13: welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, glad to have you here. An interesting thought, that Abraham may have influenced Egyptian mythology, but hardly likely. Horus was worshipped by the Egyptians in what is called "late PreDynastic period", roughly 3000 BC. Dating Abraham is more problematic, but different guesses have ranged from about 2000 - 1800 BC; the text of Genesis was written much later. In any cases, Horus clearly pre-dates Abraham.
Ah, but how much do we know about what was believed about Horus in 3000BC?
Stories change all the time.
Just as an example, let's just say I write a story about King Arthur in which I say Excalibur was a glowing blue sword made of energy, and that Mordred had one just like it but red. This story becomes so popular that 500 years from now everyone just includes it as part of the King Arthur tales. 1000 years after that, some scholar wonders aloud "do you think maybe they lifted that from Star Wars?"
When his colleague points out that the King Arthur myths predate Star Wars by at least a millennium, that's not relevant. Especially if the only copies of the Arthurian Legends they have were written after 2600AD. They'd show the energy swords, but not the fact that they got added long after the stories were written.

Put another way: we're willing to consider that the Disciples, or people who came after them, may have changed the story of Jesus to include elements of another popular religion, but we are dismissing the idea that the Egyptians did the same to Horus?
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Old 05-27-2012, 09:06 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Well, Exodus in particular seems to have some translation issues around the word "year".
Such as?
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Old 05-27-2012, 09:24 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Mod Comment: Please, gang, I've already asked that Exodus and Moses be kept OUT of this thread, let's stick to Jesus and Horus...

Poster comment: It's not "years" that's in doubt, it's that the number 40 in the bible (including New Testament) is a number that means Change (Capital C) -- change in the world, change in history, generational change. Thus, 40 days of Flood, Moses is on Mountain for 40 days (and comes back with Laws that change the course of history), Israelites wander in desert for 40 years and it's a new generation, most of the judges are 40-years-later, Jesus goes into the wilderness for 40 days, etc. Thus, the appearance of 40 in the bible may not mean literal time elapse, it's more allegoric/metaphoric. (What's a meta for?)

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Old 05-27-2012, 09:58 AM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
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There are some striking resemblances between the characteristics of many savior gods.
Horus and Jesus do have some correspondences, but so do Jesus and Tammuz as well as Jesus and Osiris.
We do know that there were many 'mystery' religions in circulation at the time traditionally associated with the life of Jesus. It is entirely possible that one or more elements of one or more of these religions could have been used to construct the religion that eventually grew into Christianity.
It is not surprising that most Christians tend to ignore the roots of their religion. It is much easier to pretend that the other religions were something qualitatively different from their own chosen faith. As in, those pagans sure were crazy with all of their fertility rites and symbolic resurrections.
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Old 05-27-2012, 06:28 PM
wendolynne1 wendolynne1 is offline
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What Bart Ehrman proves in his book "Did Jesus Exist?"

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Originally Posted by baronsabato View Post
Anyone read Bart Ehrman's new book on this subject? He does a pretty good job of showing why pretty much no historical scholars in relevant fields agree with the mythicist position.
I read it - he pretty much tediously proved (in his own mind at least) that there must have been a person named Jesus of Nazereth, who forsaw and preached about the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God, by which he meant that, within a few years, decades at most, the Jews of Palestine would administer their own affairs according to their religious principles, rather than being dominated and oppressed by Roman occupiers. For this Jesus was considered by some Jewish people to be a savior or "Christ", and also for this he was killed by the Romans.

Ehrman did not prove any of the more fantastic things that are attributed to Jesus Christ - i.e. the miracles.

In his earlier works Bart Ehrman does point out that some of the things written in the scriptures were probably concocted to "prove" that Jesus fulfilled prophesy - for example the story of Mary and Joseph having to travel to Bethlehem because they had to be counted in a census - Such a census almost certainly did not happen. The author of the gospel made it up because he felt it was important that Jesus fulfill the prophesy that the messiah be born in Bethlehem, even though Jesus was known to be from Nazareth.

Many of the miracles attributed to Jesus were standard fare for divine beings in the legends of the time, so of course when Jesus was promoted from mere human to Son of God, he must have done them too. Remember there were no cameras, no tape recorders, no printing presses, and most people could not write or read. When you are out proselytizing under such circumstances, you might just stretch the truth a bit to get your point across.
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Old 05-27-2012, 06:46 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Originally Posted by wendolynne1 View Post
Many of the miracles attributed to Jesus were standard fare for divine beings in the legends of the time, so of course when Jesus was promoted from mere human to Son of God, he must have done them too. Remember there were no cameras, no tape recorders, no printing presses, and most people could not write or read. When you are out proselytizing under such circumstances, you might just stretch the truth a bit to get your point across.
And a few simple card tricks would have entertained and impressed the multitudes something fierce.
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Old 05-27-2012, 07:00 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Originally Posted by Raider Duck View Post
True enough, but many historical legends have some basis in fact. "Moses" is an Egyptian name, and it's not hard to imagine a renegade Egyptian prince rebelling, leading an ad hoc army of formerly enslaved Hebrews, leaving/being driven out of Egypt, and losing his pursuers in a marsh or somesuch.
The Pseudepigrapha has at least 3 books credited to Moses. I'm not claiming any degree of accuracy to the historic events portrayed therein, however, it appears there was at the least a strong oral tradition with respect to Moses. Typically, that much smoke means there was some fire somewhere.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:03 AM
monavis monavis is offline
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Not sure the relevance of all this, but ....
So we assume that any reference to wind is just how people at the time thought it was done.
The description seems to match a tsunami pretty well. The water went away, allowing the Israelites time to cross, and returned violently, thwarting their pursuers.

Well, Exodus in particular seems to have some translation issues around the word "year".

A tsunami doesn't separate the waters, it covers all areas of land. The OT suggests(at least) that the waters parted and made like a wall.

The people who did the experiment Just used a huge fan that created a hundred a mile or so wind. It did part the waters, but the wind would have to remain steady for quite some time. Now, of course if God could do all things, then of course he could have parted the waters with out wind.

Why God chose to kill a lot of people who were also his children has me baffled. And knew ahead of time that his people were going to be slaves etc. just doesn't ring true to me that the Abrahamic God was a good father or a loving being!
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Old 05-28-2012, 07:06 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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A tsunami doesn't separate the waters, it covers all areas of land. The OT suggests(at least) that the waters parted and made like a wall.
Just before the first big wave of a tsunami, if you are near the shore, the water recedes, which tends to mislead those who are about to become victims. If we allow a little artistic license with the biblical account, this receding might have allowed the first party to cross over now dry land, but the second party to be inundated. Certainly the deluge could be described as an advancing wall of water.

Not that that's what I think happened. It's more likely a total myth.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:16 PM
SpyOne SpyOne is offline
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Um, ignore this.

Last edited by SpyOne; 05-28-2012 at 09:17 PM.. Reason: too far off topic.
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  #42  
Old 05-29-2012, 07:08 AM
monavis monavis is offline
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Just before the first big wave of a tsunami, if you are near the shore, the water recedes, which tends to mislead those who are about to become victims. If we allow a little artistic license with the biblical account, this receding might have allowed the first party to cross over now dry land, but the second party to be inundated. Certainly the deluge could be described as an advancing wall of water.

Not that that's what I think happened. It's more likely a total myth.
The waters would have had to be parted for a long time for that many people to cross. And why a loving God would kill all the Egyptian soldiers, horses etc. doesn't add up ,when one considers that God could have just struck down all the Egyptians that were enemies of the Israelites with a wave of it's hand, doesn't make sense to me. The OT doesn't seem to think of other people as the Children of God,which is so different that Christianity or even Islam think of them to be. A good father doesn't have one of his children's family go and kill the other of his children's families, innocent babies, little children etc..

If this same God knew all things ahead of time he could just have had the Pharoh not be born, I find it hard to swallow that such a God would go to such extremes, then have his people live for 40 years in a desert,feed them with manna etc. when he could just have had his people go to a differnt place, and why he hardened the heart of the Pharoh makes no sense to me either.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:09 AM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
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According to the film The God Who Wasn't There, an official Christian response (from either Catholics, Lutherans or Baptists -- can't remember which) was that Satan knew beforehand how the Jesus story would unfold and so influenced the pagan writers to create their deity stories similarly so Jesus wouldn't seem special.

The fact that someone went to the time and trouble to craft this ludicrous response and put it in the official text of a major Christian denomination shows that these parallels are hardly new.
If so, then whoever made The God Who Wasn't There is wrong. There has never been an official response the copycat thesis from any major Christian denomination (nor any minor one was far as I know).
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:43 AM
MacLir MacLir is offline
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"The Golden Bough" by Sir James George Frazer deals with these parallels (and a host of others.)

It is considered one of the authoritative texts on myth and magic. It tends to be be a bit repetitive in places, as it shows "variations on a theme" of many superstitions of related cultures, but it is worth reading. It WILL take you a while.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:07 PM
jakebean jakebean is offline
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Jesus and Horus and your thinking

One can tell you don't like Bill Maher. Many don't. I take exception to your comment "The real difference between Egyptian mythology and the story of Jesus is that the former is clearly a fable full of beings with super powers, whereas the latter is told in realistic terms....."
From my study and readings I've learned that the bible is the vocation and avocation of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people over hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, altered, amended, changed to reflect their thinking, their beliefs, and the thinking of the times. There may be Egyptian mythology. There is religious mythology, all religions have their own myths. For christians it's the mythology of the bible. Religions look to a mythical being or thing to provide succor or sustenance and something after death. Wishful thinking, fear of the unknown, the need for something beyond the present world.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:44 PM
picker picker is offline
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What about the need for coherent and cogent arguements?

Last edited by picker; 05-29-2012 at 08:45 PM..
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  #47  
Old 05-30-2012, 06:07 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, jakebean, we're glad to have you with us.

For the sake of consistency, I've merged your post with an earlier thread on the same topic. No biggie, just helps keep like-discussions together.
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  #48  
Old 05-30-2012, 10:34 AM
lanthanein lanthanein is offline
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I've read that the early origins of Communion, particularly transubstantiation, was a deliberate ploy to convert adherents of Mithra. Also that Mithra died, stayed in a cave for a bit, and then came back out.

Osiris seems like a bit of a stretch, but I personally do not doubt Egyptian religion and Judaism influenced one another. Jewish, and by extension Christian, eschatology was borrowed almost entirely from Zoroastrianism.

The violent history of ancient Mesopotamia makes it impossible that any religion originating in or near there developed in isolation. There was a lot of cultural exchange as people fought, conquered, overthrew, and migrated. It's a "chicken or egg" situation, however, as written records "proving" which came first don't exist -- we have to draw conclusions from iconography and texts by self-interested historians and prophets as to the provenance of their mythology.

Last edited by lanthanein; 05-30-2012 at 10:34 AM..
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:17 PM
Skammer Skammer is online now
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C.S. Lewis has an essay in his book God in the Dock called wherein he addresses the pre-Christian myths of dying Gods and virgin births and the like. He calls them pre-echoes of Christ; myths conceived by men who were inspired by God before the 'real' events actually happened. Here's a brief quote:
Quote:
The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle.
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:51 PM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
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It is easy for some Christians to believe that their deity was preordained from the beginning of time and therefore all other deities with similarities were merely copies of the 'real' deity regardless of whether the other deity was extant before or after the birth of the Christian deity.

Similarly, I think it is much more difficult for some Christians to accept the more likely conclusion that Christianity is the result of religious syncretism. This is especially true in those denominations that strongly believe in scriptural inerrancy.
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