The story of Jesus is that he was born of a virgin to save the oppressed and was put to death only to be raised from the dead.Is this an original story or did earlier similar myths contribute to this Biblical tale?
There’s a book called The Dead Sea Scroll Deception, by Michael Baigent and others. Baigent et al are BBC reporters who published The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, a masterpiece of historical conspiracy theory. While they’re pretty fringe, The Dead Sea Scroll Deception seems to have been written with more attention to hard, investigative journalism, rather than conspiracy speculation.
The point of the book is that the Catholic Church has been suppressing the publication of parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls that relate a picture of a tribe called the Essenes, living on the shores of the Dead Sea. They have a messiah prophecy that quite strongly matches the biblical story of Jesus, but it dates earlier than Jesus’ life (forgive me if I’m wrong about that: it’s been ten years since I read it). The point is that separate cultures had the same story going on, so Jesus as messiah is not the culmination of a particular prophecy, just someone who fits a common idea around that time. Since this dethrones Jesus as the answer to a particular prophecy, the scholars of the Catholic Church studying these parts refused to publish them, even the originals in facsimile, for forty years and more.
Again, this is by the authors of a book claiming that the bloodline of Jesus survived into a popular monarchy in France, and that the templars and their descendants, the masons, have preserved that bloodline and continually tried to restore it to power. Take The Dead Sea Scroll Deception with a grain of salt unless you can corroborate the reporting in it.
IIRC, the whole “resurrected God” schtick was fairly common – especially among the adherents of ancient mystery cults. I’m posting this from my brother’s house, without access to my library, but I know that reading about the similarities between the mystery cult myths and Christianity put some of the first nails in the coffin of my religiosity.
Full of 'satiable curtiosity
Resurrection is fairly common in agrarian cultures as it follows a known cycle in nature: birth, growth, death, rebirth. Which is not to say Jesus is a grain god, but rebirth is a very old idea.
The books of the New Testament, most notably the Gospels and Acts, were written with specific audiences in mind at different points in history. The resurrection doesn’t appear in Matthew or (I think) in Mark, but takes on more importance in Luke, John & Acts.
Resurrection as the “Defeat of Death” as well as the promise of a wonderful afterlife became wildly popular among the slaves of the Roman Empire, which helped spread the faith.
Yes, it is definitely a common mythological idea. Sun gods are commonly born at winter soltice (thus the choice for the date of Christmas), and Sun gods often die (sometimes sacrificing themselves) in Autumn.
Egospark, take a look at:
Trust me… the Resurrection occurs in each of the canonical Gospels.
“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”
“The story of Jesus is that he was born of a virgin to save the oppressed and was put to death only to be raised from the dead.Is this an original story or did earlier similar myths contribute to this Biblical tale?”
It's been a while since I've read the myths, so I might have some minor errors, but: Unusual births/infancies: Athena, Aphrodite, Perseus, Archilles, Oedipus. Returning from the underworld: Ulysseus (sp?), the daughter of Ceres, Orpheus and his wife.
The whole “save the oppressed” part was almost certainly inspired by the Maccabees. Other people to help the oppressed: Prometheus (who suffered after bringing fire to humans, but otherwise is a similar myth), Zeus, who saved his siblings from the belly of his father, Oedipus again, who defeated the Spinx (and took the place of his father… inspiration for the claim that Jesus and his father were one?) and Perseus again, who saved a woman from sacrifice to Poseiden, and saved the world from the Gorgon.
While the exact selection of details may be unique to the Jesus story, most of the major elements can be found in GrecoRoman myths (perhaps explaining Christianity’s success in the Roman empire), and pretty much everything else can be found in Jewish tradition
BTW, other than perhaps in a spiritual sense, Jesus certainly did not "save the oppressed". The whole "spiritual sense" excuse seems like a cop-out to me.
" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *
You can pretty well drop the rest of the sentence after the first phrase. These guys are loons. Thanks to a couple of techs who got fed up with the bureaucracy involved with “signing out” pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls for review, the entire collection has been published (through Stamford?) for several years. The commission that had held the Scrolls back included a couple of Catholics, but it was hardly dominated by the RCC. The reason for holding back parts of the Scrolls was that they were not completely re-created. The commission did not want to release anything that had not been authenticated as belonging to the same document. The rebels who had photos of all the pieces felt that the fragments would be better deciphered if the whole world had access to them. No conspiracy–just a difference of opinion among scholars of the arcane–and no involvement by the RCC, itself. Basically, their piffle is of the same value as that of the woman who claimed that the NT Apocrypha was being “suppressed” when most of it is available (in translation to English, German, French, etc.) to anyone who bothers to look for it.
As to the OP: there are, indeed, many legends of the virgin (or miraculous) births of gods and demi-gods and of resurrections, as well.
The reason for holding back parts of the Scrolls was that they were not completely re-created. The commission did not want to release anything that had not been authenticated as belonging to the same document.
Actually, the reason why the DSS were held back was for a totally mundane reason – the scholars wanted to retain a lock on the scrolls so as to preserve their standing in the academic community. They wanted to control the release and continue to increase their own reputations.
Both Tom and ear are correct in their reasons the Dead Sea Scrolls were held back from the public for so long.
Tom says: << The reason for holding back parts of the Scrolls was that they were not completely re-created. The commission did not want to release anything that had not been authenticated as belonging to the same document. The rebels who had photos of all the pieces felt that the fragments would be better deciphered if the whole world had access to them. >>
This is the argument that was used by those who had control of the Scrolls and didn’t release the information.
ear says: << the scholars wanted to retain a lock on the scrolls so as to preserve their standing in the academic community. They wanted to control the release and continue to increase their own reputations. >>
This was the argument used by those who did NOT have control of the Scroll, to explain why they had not been released.
It all depends on where you stand. I suppose that both sides are valid.