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Willie Maartens

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Mithras And Jesus: Is This The Same Old Story Over-And-Over Again?‎
By Willie Maartens   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, December 29, 2008
Posted: Monday, December 29, 2008

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Here is something to ponder over the Festive Season.‎

We are in the holiday season again. I know this because of the music in the stores and malls and the seasonal trimmings, plus all the Merry Christmas cards I keep on receiving. This is the biggest religious holiday of the year for Christians, and so of course, whether you are Christian or not, we all get subjected to it.

 

However, here is something to ponder over the Festive Season.

 

The Vatican was built upon the grounds previously devoted to the worship of Mithras. The Orthodox Christian hierarchy is nearly identical to the Mithraic version. Virtually all of the elements of Orthodox Christian rituals, from mitre, wafer, water baptism, alter, and doxology, were adopted from the Mithras and earlier pagan mystery religions. The religion of Mithras preceded Christianity by roughly six hundred years. Mithraic worship at one time covered a large portion of the ancient world. It flourished as late as the second century. The Messianic idea originated in ancient Persia and this is where the Jewish and Christian concepts of a Saviour came from.

 

Before Zoroaster (circa 628-551 BCE) the Iranians had a polytheistic religion and Mithras was the most important of their gods. In a cuneiform tablet of the 15th century BCE that contains a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Mithras is invoked as the god of oath. Furthermore, in some Hindu Vedic texts the god Mithras appears both as ‘friend’ and as ‘contract’.

 

The word Mithras may be translated in either way, because contracts and mutual obligation make friends. In short, Mithras may signify any kind of communication between men – and whatever establishes good relations between them.

 

Mithras, Mithra, or in Sanskrit,  Mitra, in ancient Indo-Iranian mythology, was the god of light, whose cult spread from India in the east to as far west as Spain, Great Britain, and Germany. The first written mention of the Vedic Mitra dates to 1400 BCE. His worship spread to Persia and, after the defeat of the Persians by Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), throughout the Hellenic world.

 

In the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, the cult of Mithras, carried and supported by the soldiers of the Roman Empire, was the chief rival to the newly developing religion of Christianity. The Roman emperors Commodus (161-192 CE) and Julian (331/332-363 CE) were initiates of Mithraism, and in 307 CE Diocletian (245-316 CE) consecrated a temple on the Danube River to Mithras, ‘Protector of the Empire’.

 

Worship of the sun (Sol) did exist within the indigenous Roman pantheon, as a minor part, and always as a pairing with the moon. However, in the East, there were many solar deities, including the Greek Helios, who was largely displaced by Apollo.

 

By the 3rd century, the popular cults of Apollo and Mithras had started to merge into the syncretic cult known as Sol Invictus, and in 274 CE the emperor Aurelian (215-275 CE) – whose mother had been a priestess of the sun – made worship of Sol Invictus official. Subsequently Aurelian built a splendid new temple in Rome, and created a new body of priests to support it (pontifex solis invicti), attributing his victories in the East to Sol Invictus. But none of this affected the existing cult of Mithras, which remained a non-official cult. Some Roman senators held positions in both cults.

 

However, this period was also the beginning of the decline of Mithraism, as the Roman province Dacia was lost to the empire, and invasions of the northern peoples resulted in the destruction of temples (i.e. Mithraea) along a great stretch of frontier, the main stronghold of the cult.

 

The spread of Christianity through the Empire, boosted by Constantine’s (?-411 CE) tolerance of it from around 310 CE, also took its toll – particularly as Christianity admitted women while Mithraism supposedly did not, which obviously would have limited its potential for rapid growth.

 

Mithraism was an initiatory order, passed from initiate to initiate, like the Eleusinian mysteries. It was not based on a body of scripture, and hence very little written documentary evidence survives. Roman soldiers and the lower nobility appeared to be the most plentiful followers of Mithraism.

 

Until recently, women were generally thought not to have been allowed to join, but it has now been suggested that women were involved with Mithraic groups in at least some locations of the empire. Recently revealed discrepancies such as these suggest that Mithraic beliefs were (contra to the older conjecture) not internally consistent and monolithic, but rather, varied from location to location.

 

The reign of Julian, who attempted to restore the faith in Mithras, and suppress Christianity, and the usurpation of Eugenius renewed the hopes of its devotees, but the decree secured by Emperor Flavius Theodosius (347-395 CE) in 394 CE, totally forbidding non-Christian worship, may be considered the end of Mithraism’s formal public existence.

 

Mithraism still survived in certain cantons of the Alps into the 5th century, and clung to life with more tenacity in its Eastern homelands. Its eventual successor, as the carrier of Persian religion to the West, was Manichaeism, which competed strenuously with Christianity for the status of world-religion.

 

There is much speculation that Christian beliefs were influenced by Mithraic belief. Mithraism was the prime competitor to Christianity in the 2nd through the 4th century CE.

 

Mithraic bull and cave themes are found in Christian shrines dedicated to the archangel Michael, who, after the endorsement of Christianity, became the patron Saint of Roman soldiers. Many of those shrines were converted Mithraea (i.e. churches), for instance the sacred cavern at Monte Gargano in Apulia, re-established in 493 CE. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Mithras cult was transferred to the previously non-revered archangel.

 

The bull and crypt are linked in the Christian saint Saturnin (frequently ‘Sernin’ or ‘Saturninus’) of Toulouse, France. The Mithraeum is retained as a crypt under his earliest church, evocatively named ‘Notre-Dame du Taur’.

 

It has also been speculated that the ancient Orobouros of Mithraism (the encircling serpent about to bite its own tail) was adapted for a Christian symbol of the limited confines of time and space.

 

Mithraism, an established but exclusive sect devoted to social justice, was assimilated by state-sponsored Christianity before being disposed of in name.

Though no texts of Mithraism survive, various fragments, inscriptions and critical commentaries show that Mithraism and early Christianity both possess similar religious doctrines. The resemblances between the two churches were so striking as to impress even the minds of antiquity.

 

Among the recorded similarities between Christianity and Mithraism are the following, namely:

 

·         Virgin birth

·         Twelve followers

·         Killing and resurrection

·         Miracles

·         Birthdates on December 25

·         Morality

·         Mankind’s saviour

·         Known as the Light of the world

 

Both Christianity and Mithraism prided themselves in brotherhood and organised their members as church congregations. Both religions purified themselves through baptism, and each participated in the same type of sacrament, bread and wine.

 

Mithras was born in a cave; a cave is likewise the setting for the nativity of Jesus in the widely-read and influential Gospel of James, which though not canonical is the earliest surviving document attesting the veneration of Mary and claiming her continuing virginity. Both nativities were celebrated on December 25, and each saviour was visited by shepherds with gifts. Both Mithraism and Christianity considered Sunday their holy day, despite early Christianity observing the Jewish Sabbath for centuries. Many have noted that the title of Pope is found in Mithraic doctrine and originally seemingly prohibited in Christian doctrine. The words Peter (rock) and mass (sacrament) have original significance in Mithraism.

 

Nevertheless, many Christians acknowledge that no one knows the exact day Jesus was born.

 

In Luke 1:5-8 we read that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was serving in the course of Abijah in the temple. In 1 Chronicles 24:7-19 it is indicated that there were 24 courses. The assumption is that the eighth course was the course of Abijah and that this period of service started in early June.

 

Assuming this conclusion to be accurate, some believe that we can count forward to discover the dates of birth for John the Baptist, and then by deduction, Jesus (born about six months after John, see Luke 1:24-36).

 

John the Baptist is thought to have been born in March. According to this calculation, Jesus might have been born in the month of September. For some, the fact that the autumn festivals of the Old Testament begin at this time adds credibility to these calculations.

 

Both Mithraism and early Christianity considered abstinence, celibacy, and self-control to be among their highest virtues. Both had similar beliefs about the world, destiny, heaven and hell, and the immortality of the soul. Their conceptions of the battles between good and evil were almost identical, with Christianity adopting millennial epochs that were integral to Mithraism from Zoroastrianism. They both admitted to the existence of a heaven inhabited by beautiful ones and a hell peopled by demons situate in the bowels of earth.

 

Both religions placed a flood at the beginning of history, and both believed in revelation as key to their doctrine. Both awaited the last judgment and resurrection of the dead after the final conflagration of the universe. Christ and Mithras were both referred to directly as the ‘Logos’.

 

It is probable that Christianity emphasised common features that attracted Mithras followers, perhaps the crucifix appealed to those Mithras followers who had crosses already branded on their foreheads. In art, the halo was a well-known depiction of Mithras, a true sun god, but which also depicts Christ in the same way. However, the similarities were also an embarrassment, and differences such as stargazing were persecuted as heresy.

 

However, it is more interesting still if we consider that even before Mithras there was Krishna in India, circa 1200 BCE. Krishna is one of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities, worshipped as the eighth incarnation (avatar) of the Hindu god Vishnu and also as a supreme god in his own right.

 

Krishna was born of the Virgin Mother Devaki after being visited by spirits to announce the impending birth of an immaculately conceived child who is the ‘son of God’. His birth was attended by wise men, as well as shepherds. Krishna was presented at birth with frankincense, myrrh, and gold.

 

Krishna worked miracles, restored sight, cast out devils, and raised the dead.

 

Many hundreds of years before both Mithras and Jesus, Krishna was baptised in the River Ganges, crucified between two thieves, died, buried, and resurrected in three days and worshipped as the ‘saviour of men’. He proclaimed himself the ‘Resurrection’ and the ‘only way to the Father’.

 

He was said to be without sin, of royal descent, and raised by a human father that was . . . a carpenter. He preached of a great and final day of judgment and used parables to teach the people about charity and love. In death he stood transfigured in front of his disciples. Krishna was called the ‘Shepherd God’, ‘Lord of lords’, ‘the Redeemer’, and the ‘Universal Word’. He was considered, the ‘Alpha and Omega’ as well as being omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.

 

He was prophesised to return to battle evil forces in a second coming. His disciples bestowed on him the word Jezeus that means ‘pure essence’.

 

However, thousands of years before Krishna, Mithras, and Jesus is the Egyptian sun god Horus.

 

Horus dates back to circa 3000 BCE. Horus was born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25 in a cave/manger with his birth being announced by a star in the East and attended by three wise men.

 

In the catacombs at Rome are pictures of the baby Horus being held by the virgin mother Isis. Horus taught in the temple when he was a child. He was baptised when he was 30 years old by ‘Anup the Baptiser’. Horus performed miracles and raised a man named El-Azar-us, from the dead. Not only did Horus walk on water, he was also crucified, buried in a tomb, and then resurrected.

 

Horus was known as ‘the Way’, ‘the Fisher’, ‘the Truth’, ‘the Light’, ‘God’s Anointed Son’, ‘the Son of Man’, ‘the Good Shepherd’, ‘the Lamb of God’, and ‘the Word’.

 

He was also called ‘the KRST’, or ‘Anointed One’. There was an Egyptian trinity with Horus the Son, Atum the Father, and Ra the Holy Spirit. In the later years of Horus he had 12 disciples known as Har-Khuttie. Horus had an enemy (originally this was also the dark side of Horus, or his other face). This evil enemy was ‘Set’ or ‘Sata’. Horus struggled with Sata for 40 days in the wilderness. Some claim that this myth represents the triumph of light over dark. This triumph is most noted on December 25.

 

The Greek god Attis, born of the Virgin Nana, (or sometimes Cybelem) on December 25 and was reborn and rose from the dead on the third day. Attis was both the Father and the Divine Son. His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection were celebrated annually, with ritual communions of bread and wine. The wine represented the God’s blood; the bread became the body of the saviour.

 

The Greek god Adonis was born on December 25 and was the son of the virgin Myrha.

 

Another Greek god Hermes was born on December 25 was the son of the virgin Maia, as well as a member of a holy trinity Hermes Trismegistus.

 

The god Dionysus was born on December 25 and turned water into wine.

 

Bacchus was born on December 25 and was crucified in 200 BCE.

 

Prometheus was born on December 25 and descended from heaven as God incarnate as man, to save mankind, and was crucified, suffered, and rose from the dead.

 

Nimrod was represented in a dual role of God the Father and Ninus, the son of Semiramis. The olive branch of Semiramis was symbolic of this offspring produced through a ‘virgin birth’. Ninus was also known as Tammuz who was said to have been crucified with a lamb at his feet and placed in a cave. When a rock was rolled away from tile cave’s entrance three days later, his body had disappeared. Nimrod was symbolised by a fish and the origins of the Pope’s mitre shaped like a fish head. Nimrod was the son of Cush. Nimrod was a Mason. The Tower of Babel was one of the most ancient traditions of Masonry.

 

The original Christmas festival originated in Babylon founded by Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah. Nimrod originated the Babylonian system of organised competition, man-ruled governments and empires based upon the competitive and profit-making economic system. Nimrod who built the original tower of Babel, the first city of Babylon, Nineveh (the capital of Assyria) and many other commercial and pagan-religious centres.

 

Nimrod married his own mother, Semiramis. Legend has it, after his untimely death, she claimed that a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolised the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod.

 

On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts under it. December 25 was the birthday of Nimrod. It is from this myth, created by a woman living in an incestual relationship, that we get the original Christmas tree.

 

How could this be? Why are all these mythological ancient predecessors to Jesus Christ born on December 25? And why do all the other similarities transpire?

 

Well, ‘nothing is new under the sun’ and the answer is found in the Son . . . or, rather, the SUN – more correctly the ancient veneration of the Sun.

 

I wish you all a very, very happy day ‘under’ the Sun.


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Reviewed by Eugene Williams 11/22/2009
Excellent read historically correct and a philosophical master piece I thought it was one of the most informative writes on the subject I have read in years...
Reviewed by Tuly Fodo 9/29/2009
I love your articles. Haven't finished them all but will in the next few days. For me the question of our journey here is "Are we doing anything emotionally different than the beginning of time?" I say, no-we are expressing linear thinking and emotional patterns passed from generation to generation.That is why killing, rape, poverty, poor self-image, separation among cultures, race,religion and socio-economic levels exist today, the same as yesterday. Religion is passed down myths- which has lost it purpose of assistance in our journey here on Earth. It happens all the time
Very much enjoyed your article on the "Holographic Universe." Is Consciousness trying to evolve from expressing a separation perspective to one of wholeness and what is the purpose of being in the illusion of physical form?? For me, doing emotional energy work is to resolve all those patterns -maybe the hologram has both conscious and unconscious aspect trying to experience itself-which we are all part of? Well, thank again for wonderful articles. We are here on Earth, it is my feeling to take full advantage to break the illusion, lose our attachments so we can float among the what, who knows.
Tuly Fodo
Reviewed by Leland Waldrip 1/2/2009
Hi Willie:
Great job of laying this out in a very scholarly way. It's interesting that all these points overlay so neatly, isn't it? Several authors have done work in this area. One of the best I've read was "The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Acharya S". BTW, BCE and CE are perfectly adequate acronyms. As you point out, the exact birth date of Jesus has not been reliably established by either Biblical or non-Biblical documentation.
Best regards and a Happy New Year!
Leland
Reviewed by John Martin 12/30/2008
Well researched and written. It seems obvious that the Mithras and others were aware of the future coming of the son of God among men...Hence their whorship rituals fit. P.S. Willie, BCE is extremely insulting and offsensive to most Christians. For two thousand years it has been BC and AD... that is because the world was changed by coming of Christ. Hence BC-Before Christ. BCE refers to BAD Common Error. History is written BC AD. Only people who wish to alter history use BCE. That aside well done.
Reviewed by Keith Rowley 12/30/2008
Concise and scholarly as always, Willie. I love your work. I would add to this one that Odin, the Norse God also carries a strong resemblance to JC in the threefold death, return from death and much else. In fact, as much as the recurring mythological events you identify in your article, the threefold death is a constant feature of the God-Man myth.

Happy solstice!

Keith