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Old 03-01-2001, 12:36 PM   #11
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As to dying and resurrected pagan deities, there are several examples. And they die in lots of different ways. And these gods are associated with vegetation, which dies and gets reborn with the seasons.

* Adonis gets killed by a boar.

* Attis bleeds to death after castrating himself.

* Dionysus, god of wine. Doesn't die, but suffers a lot at others' hands -- and overcomes his various tormentors.

* Tammuz. Couldn't find out how he dies, however.

* Osiris. First shut up into a coffin by his wicked brother Set, then when that doesn't work, gets dismembered by Set.
 
Old 03-01-2001, 02:14 PM   #12
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:

I think that "miraculous conception" is a better term to use than "virgin birth", because it is more difficult to attack on crudely literalistic grounds. Thus, divine impregnations would not be disqualified as comparisons because that god had had sex with that woman.</font>
I actually don't have a problem with "miraculous conceptions" per se, only calling all of them parallels for the "virgin birth" narratives found in Matthew and Luke.

Personally, I think if we want to go there (comparisons of Jesus' birth with past legendary births) I think a richer territory to mine than pagan myths is Hebrew Scripture. Even in Midrashic documents we hear talk about the "miraculous" nature of Isaac's conception and birth (which certainly has parallels with the conception of John the Baptist as found in Luke, if not with Jesus Himself), not to mention Samuel and even Moses (at least regarding a belief in a prophesy for a deliverer/messiah like figure).

For the life of me I do not see the point in looking for tortured comparisons with pagan religions (especially in light of the clear and obvious contempt Jews had for pagan faiths) when a much better case can be made that the Gospel writers and Paul especially were using the Old Testament to help prove their theological points.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">However, some pagan miraculous conceptions do appear to nonsexual, such as Zeus turning himself into some gold dust and pouring himself onto Danae's lap, or Mithras being born from a rock.</font>
I think anyone that looks at these two examples (and especially the one of Mithras popping out of a rock) would be hard pressed to say that any kind of parallel can be drawn to the virgin birth stories found in Matt or Luke.

Nomad
 
Old 03-01-2001, 02:18 PM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
[B]As to dying and resurrected pagan deities, there are several examples. And they die in lots of different ways. And these gods are associated with vegetation, which dies and gets reborn with the seasons.

* Adonis gets killed by a boar.</font>
My understanding here is that Adonis gets resurrected 8 months of each year to keep his mother (the goddess of earth fertility or some such) from freaking out (and that's how we get the season of winter (when Adonis dies again each year), then spring summer and fall (when he comes back to life).

The problem here is that this doesn't look anything at all like how the Resurrection of Jesus is presented by Paul or the Gospels.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">* Attis bleeds to death after castrating himself.

* Dionysus, god of wine. Doesn't die, but suffers a lot at others' hands -- and overcomes his various tormentors.

* Tammuz. Couldn't find out how he dies, however.

* Osiris. First shut up into a coffin by his wicked brother Set, then when that doesn't work, gets dismembered by Set.</font>
And these examples look just as tenuous. Finally, since I don't even know who Tammuz is, could we have primary source documents on how the "resurrections" of these various gods was presented in their own day (more specifically, pre-Christian era of 50-100AD or so).

Thank you,

Nomad
 
Old 03-01-2001, 03:54 PM   #14
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[Nomad:]
For the life of me I do not see the point in looking for tortured comparisons with pagan religions (especially in light of the clear and obvious contempt Jews had for pagan faiths) ...

[Me:]
Don't be too sure; such hostility has not stopped shameless ripoffs from happening -- consider where the Pope had gotten his title of "Pontifex Maximus".

Also, Nomad seems to have mixed up Aphrodite/Adonis with Demeter/Kore -- which offers an interesting twist to dying/resurrection, that of visiting the realm of the dead while staying alive, which several pagan deities and heroes had done.

There are clearly several ways to die; I wish to add that in some versions of the Attis story, he bleeds to death after pricking himself with a pine needle. So being crucified would only be an additional one.

As to seeing primary documents, some of them may well be online, such as at the Perseus Project - www.perseus.tufts.edu IIRC.
 
Old 03-01-2001, 03:57 PM   #15
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Nomad, Tammuz or Dummuzi, was the fiance of Ishtar or Inanna depending on whose version you read, remember Ezekiel chastizing the Hebrew women who 'mourn for Tammuz' I forget how he died, it's in the poem 'Descent of Inanna into the Netherworld' ancient Sumer.
 
Old 03-01-2001, 09:08 PM   #16
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:

[Nomad:]
For the life of me I do not see the point in looking for tortured comparisons with pagan religions (especially in light of the clear and obvious contempt Jews had for pagan faiths) ...

[Me:]
Don't be too sure; such hostility has not stopped shameless ripoffs from happening -- consider where the Pope had gotten his title of "Pontifex Maximus".</font>
This analogy doesn't work, because by the time the Pope took this title (we have no record of Peter, or even Clement I of Rome using it), the Church was fully Hellenized. My point was the Jews would not want to borrow from pagan parallels, even if they existed because these relgions were so odious to Jewish sensibilities.

Note that all of the NT (excpet possibly Luke/Acts) was written by Jews, and all of Jesus first disciples and apostles were Jews. Finally, note the contempt that Paul had for such religions. None of these people were going to want to touch pagan gods with a 10' pole.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Also, Nomad seems to have mixed up Aphrodite/Adonis with Demeter/Kore -- which offers an interesting twist to dying/resurrection, that of visiting the realm of the dead while staying alive, which several pagan deities and heroes had done.</font>
Thanks for the correction. Homer was a long time ago for me, and I didn't really like him very much (I know, I guess that makes me a barbarian).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As to seeing primary documents, some of them may well be online, such as at the Perseus Project - www.perseus.tufts.edu IIRC.</font>
Thanks. I'll take a look.

Nomad
 
Old 03-05-2001, 12:31 PM   #17
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:


The website you offered, for example, is especially aweful in its research and theories. Just to give you a very quick example of how badly they do there, they quote from The Jesus Mysteries by Freke and Grady, and worst of all show the picture of the crucified Bacchus. Sadly,what they fail to mention (just as do Freke and Grady, go figure) is that the medallion they are showing is known to date from the late 2nd early 3rd Century AD, making it extremely likely that the image is being copied from Christianity (either to mimick or to mock the crucifixion of Jesus), and not the other way around.

The second problem with the site you have offered is that it contains absolutely zero primary source evidence of ANY of the major Christian traditions (i.e. the Eucharist, baptism, the virgin birth narratives, crucifixion, ect.), being borrowed from the Mystery cults. The only possible exception is that of dying and rising gods, but even here the evidence is far from convincing.

So all we really have here is the fertile imagination of 20th Century authors trying to dig up something that they think is cool linking Christians and Mythris/Isis/Osiris/whoever. Like popcorn, it is satisfying, but not very filling.

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited March 01, 2001).]
</font>
Well the above is kind of the stuff I was looking for. At least you pointed out a pretty strong error with respect to the medallion being dated to the 2nd or 3rd century. That's an important piece of evidence.

However, my main point in linking the site was to point you to the books listed on it that deal with the issue in far greater depth and refer to the original source. A. N. Wilson does go to many of the sources in his biography of Paul.

Layman states that "the proposition [is] rejected by most contemporary New Testament scholars (who you might try reading sometime). What I'm looking for Layman is perhaps a brief summary of these contemporary scholars argument that refute these contentions and either a link or reference to their work. All I have ever heard from xtians on the subject is that this is old stuff and long since refuted. Funny, I never hear how it is supposedly refuted. I'm honestly trying to keep an open mind about it, but with the exception of Nomad's post above about the medallion, I've yet to see much in the way of serious scholarly refutation of the linkage. Show us Layman.

SLD

 
Old 03-05-2001, 12:44 PM   #18
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If you do want to investigate this issue, especially as it relates to Paul, I recommend the following books:

"What Saint Paul Really Said" N.T. Wright
"The Paul Quest" Ben Witherington.
 
Old 03-06-2001, 03:08 PM   #19
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
If you do want to investigate this issue, especially as it relates to Paul, I recommend the following books:

"What Saint Paul Really Said" N.T. Wright
"The Paul Quest" Ben Witherington.
</font>
I have NT Wright's book. Frankly, I thought it pretty poor. He argues from the beginning that Paul was a member of the revolutionary movement in Judea with absolutely no basis for saying something of that nature. Tell me, why would anybody really believe that a Roman Citizen from the Tarsus area of Asia Minor (even though Jewish) ever get involved in the Jewish revolutionary movement of that time? Such a claim to me is patently ridiculous.

Thanks for the Witherington reference, I'll check it out.

SLD

 
Old 03-06-2001, 04:46 PM   #20
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SLD:
I have NT Wright's book. Frankly, I thought it pretty poor. He argues from the beginning that Paul was a member of the revolutionary movement in Judea with absolutely no basis for saying something of that nature. Tell me, why would anybody really believe that a Roman Citizen from the Tarsus area of Asia Minor (even though Jewish) ever get involved in the Jewish revolutionary movement of that time? Such a claim to me is patently ridiculous.

Thanks for the Witherington reference, I'll check it out.

SLD
</font>
Could you be more specific about your objections to Wright's hypothesis? Personally I find it much more incredible to believe that a dedicated Pharisee like Paul would then come to think that the Jewish Messiah had come in the form of Jesus, but then make a detour into paganism. That makes no sense to me.

We have the first hand accounts of Paul's own letters confirming that he was indeed a rather militant Pharisee. It also seems from Paul's letters that he didn't place much significance on the fact that he was a Roman citizen. Although he repeatedly mentions his Jewishness and ties to Judaism, he never directly references his Roman citizenship. All of these things point to Paul's previous dedication (to say the least) to his Pharisee background. Do you doubt the nondisputed Paulines?

We also know that during Second Temple Judaism, even Jews of the diaspora retained a rather nationalistic view of theology. Many made pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple there. In fact, even during the diaspora, no Jew ever offered a sacrifice ANYWHERE but at the temple.

And the existence for that particularly militant sect of Pharisees is pretty good. Do you doubt that militant Pharisees existed?

Even if Paul was not a memember of that particular sect, the evidence is overwhelming that he was a Pharisee. In which case it would be MUCH more bizarre for a Pharisee to convert to Christianity, accept Jesus as the messiah, and then invent another religion based on paganism.
 
 

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