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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 9:15AM #1
Ed2
Posts: 3,322

I have a similar thread posted over at the Discuss Jehovah's Witnesses forum, but I decided to post this thread here also.


Also, I know that this question may offend conservative Christians, however, I had to ask the question.


But before I ask my question, I would like to say that the website that I obtained my source material from is Religioustolerance.org, a website which seems to present things in an unbiased fashion, and a website that I happen to trust.


 


Also, to get this thread started, I would like to copy and paste one of the Overviews for this topic from this site:


Overview:


 


There are not many religious topics that are more controversial than whether some of the life events of Jesus were not historically accurate but were derived from myths about saviors, heroes, and god-men from nearby Pagan religions.


 


~To many conservative Christians, the question is ridiculous; it is not even worth investigating. Even this essay's title would probably be considered to be blasphemy. They view the gospels, and the rest of the Bible, as very different from ordinary books. They believe that the gospels are the inerrant, inspired Word of God. Thus, nothing in the gospels could have originated in myths from Pagan and other religions.  The gospels describe Jesus' life, from his conception to ascension to Heaven, precisely as it unfolded circa 5 BCE to circa 30 CE. There certainly were beliefs about Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other Pagan heroes, saviors and god-men circulating in 1st century CE Palestine. However, material in the gospels could not have come from those sources. God inspired Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and others in their writing, preventing them from making any errors. The incorporation of legends from Pagan and other religions would not have been possible.


 


~To many very liberal, progressive, and post Christians, the question is definitely worth studying.

If one places the four Gospels in chronological order (Mark, circa 79 CE) Matthew, Luke, John circa 100 CE) and read them with no preconceived beliefs about the nature of Jesus, it is obvious to many persons that the story of Jesus evolved from that of an itinerant teacher-healer to a man-god.

Many non-Christian religions -- Pagan and others -- permeated the Mediterranean region during the 1st century CE. There were numerous male heroes, saviors and god-men within Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Hindu, and other pantheons of Gods whose lives had many points of similarities to Jesus. Of these, the Egyptian God Horus probably had life events attributed to him which were closest match to those of Jesus. Yet, Horus was worshipped in Egypt thousands of years before the first century CE when Jesus is believed to have been conducting his ministry in Palestine.

In order to compete with those religions, early Christianity had no choice but to  describe Jesus in terms that matched or surpassed the competing local religious myths, stories and legends. The authors of the gospels may well have picked up themes from other sources and added them to their writings in order to make Christianity more credible to a largely Greek/Pagan world.

By peeling away such foreign material, historians believe that they might be able to get a clearer picture of what Jesus taught and how he lived. By stripping away these accretions that have become attached to the life, story and teachings of Jesus, they might get closer to the historical Jesus. They can better understand his mission, and learn from his teachings.



www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa6.htm


 


Therefore, my question for the Christians on this board is: How do you know for sure that Jesus' life events were not derived from other ancient god-men heroes and myths?


 


Another example of a ancient god-man hero whose life accounts were very similar to the life account of Jesus, which are found in the four Gospel of the Bible, is India's Krishna.


 


And to better elaborate on this, below is another quote from the Religioustolerance.org site:


Are Jesus and Krishna the same individual?


 


For reasons noted above in the Overview, that is impossible. But many individuals raise the possibility that the Gospels' description of Jesus' life was derived, at least in part, from Krishna's life story, and from the myths of other god-men. 8,9


 


Stephen Van Eck writes:


"Then there is the Hindu epic, the Bhagavad-Gita, a story of the second person of the Hindu Trinity, who took human form as Krishna. Some have considered him a model for the Christ, and it's hard to argue against that when he says things like:



~'I am the beginning, the middle, and the end' (BG 10:20 vs. Rev. 1:8 ).


 


~His advent was heralded by a pious old man named Asita, who could die happy knowing of his arrival, a story paralleling that of Simeon in Luke 2:25 .


 


~Krishna's mission was to give directions to 'the kingdom of God' (BG 2:72), and he warned of 'stumbling blocks' along the way (BG 3:34; 1 Cor. 1:23 ; Rev. 2:14).


 


The essential thrust of Krishna's sayings, uttered to a beloved disciple, sometimes seems to coincide with Jesus or the Bible. Compare:


 


~'those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead' (BG 2:11) with the sense of Jesus' advice to 'let the dead bury their own dead' (Matt. 8:22 ).


 


~Krishna's saying, 'I envy no man, nor am I partial to anyone; I am equal to all' (BG 9:29) is a lot like the idea that God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11 ).


 


~And 'one who is equal to friends and enemies... is very dear to me' (BG 12:18) is reminiscent of 'love your enemies' (Matt. 5:44 ).


 


~Krishna also said that 'by human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day' (BG 8:17), which is very similar to 2 Peter 3:8."




www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jckr.htm


 


Also, here is the link to the page at Religioustolerance.org which covers this topic and which has all the other links pertaining to this topic:


 


www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa.htm 


 


 Also, thank you in advance for your feeback.

I think that it's pretty sad and pretty unbelievable that there are so many healthy, powerful, and healing foods that I have learned about from watching "The Doctor Oz Show"...but unfortunately, most Americans from their childhood on up, have only learned how to eat what is essentially equivalent to 'garbage'...and are basically in a 'slumber' when it comes to not having a clue as to what that kind of food is doing to their bodies and to their health. It's really sad.

~Ed2

"Hmmm. So you're saying that for Jesus' followers(throughout the centuries) to truly live a 'godly' life, they had to believe that the end of the world was just around the corner?"

~Ed2(See post #53)

"Although, I think that I'll change that to: Also...I liked the way that you dodged what I had said about being 'concerned that the Bible had to use subterfuge as a means to an end' in my post #137."

~Ed2(See post #145)

"It's utterly beyond belief, that the wealthiest country in the history of the world, fails to care for all it's people."

~Dr. Patrick Dowling, MD(From The Doctor Oz Show, which aired on 11/23/11.)

"If I could prescribe any drug on the planet, it would be food [be]cause it works better, faster, and cheaper than any medication. Food is the most powerful medicine we have...to treat chronic disease like diabetes."

~Dr. Mark Hyman, MD(From The Doctor Oz Show, which aired on 01/13/12. Also, go to www.doctoroz.com for more information.)
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 9:38AM #2
Ed2
Posts: 3,322

Also, if anyone has not seen this, there are two charts in the links below that compare some of the life events of the Egyptian god Horus and Jesus:


 


www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5b.ht...


 


www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5d.ht...


 


Actually, I had no idea that there were so many similarities between ancient pagan gods and Jesus Christ.


 


Also, I know that the argument has been made that these retroactive similarities could have been a preemptive strike against God and Jesus Christ by Satan, however, from what I've heard some Christians say, Satan wasn't suppose to have real enlightenment or understanding of Bible prophecies:


 


www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa2.htm  

I think that it's pretty sad and pretty unbelievable that there are so many healthy, powerful, and healing foods that I have learned about from watching "The Doctor Oz Show"...but unfortunately, most Americans from their childhood on up, have only learned how to eat what is essentially equivalent to 'garbage'...and are basically in a 'slumber' when it comes to not having a clue as to what that kind of food is doing to their bodies and to their health. It's really sad.

~Ed2

"Hmmm. So you're saying that for Jesus' followers(throughout the centuries) to truly live a 'godly' life, they had to believe that the end of the world was just around the corner?"

~Ed2(See post #53)

"Although, I think that I'll change that to: Also...I liked the way that you dodged what I had said about being 'concerned that the Bible had to use subterfuge as a means to an end' in my post #137."

~Ed2(See post #145)

"It's utterly beyond belief, that the wealthiest country in the history of the world, fails to care for all it's people."

~Dr. Patrick Dowling, MD(From The Doctor Oz Show, which aired on 11/23/11.)

"If I could prescribe any drug on the planet, it would be food [be]cause it works better, faster, and cheaper than any medication. Food is the most powerful medicine we have...to treat chronic disease like diabetes."

~Dr. Mark Hyman, MD(From The Doctor Oz Show, which aired on 01/13/12. Also, go to www.doctoroz.com for more information.)
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 10:24AM #3
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

With the disclaimer that I'm not a conservative, and that my tradition (Lutheran) has been at the forefront of the historical-critical method of interpreting the Bible -- in answer to your question "how do you know for sure..." I don't. No one knows for sure. Faith is about not knowing for sure, but believing.  Many Christians, from Aquinas to C.S. Lewis, saw in the ancient stories of deities become incarnate a kind of divine blueprint for God's saving action in history that was imprinted in the collective human consciousness and ultimately made real in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Or you can see some of the pagan/Christian parallels as the Gospels writers' way to underscore, in a way that resonated with their audience, the idea that Jesus was "Son of God" in a way that Caesar, self-appointed Son of God, was not, setting up a stark contrast between the Reign of God and the reign of the Empire. There are faithful Christians who lean toward one explanation or the other, but in the final analysis our faith is based, not on how we understand the Gospel birth narratives, but on Christ.

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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 10:48AM #4
smcisaac
Posts: 8,062

Dec 14, 2009 -- 9:15AM, Ed2 wrote:

Therefore, my question for the Christians on this board is: How do you know for sure that Jesus' life events were not derived from other ancient god-men heroes and myths?




It is said that myths describe truths that never were but always are.  Any truth that is indeed true is true universally, and it is not unreasonable that different cultures would find different cultural idioms to express the same universal truths.


As to Krishna in particular, compare the similarity of


"I am the generating seed of all existences. There is nothing, animate or inanimate, that can exist without me."  Bhagavad Gita 10:39


and


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."  John 1:1-3


Many Vaisnava Hindus believe Jesus, like Krishna, to have been an incarnation of the supreme god Vishnu.  If you replace the name "Vishnu" with "YHWH",* the similarity is obvious.  The question then becomes not whether one religious tradition's mythology derives inauthentically from another,**  but whether God can be incarnate in human form, and if so, whether he has incarnated himself only one time in only one culture.*** 


"There is no end to my divine manifestations, O Arjuna."  Bhagavad Gita 10:40


--------------------------


*Which is really no different from what the author of John did when he drew an identity between the names "Logos" ("Word") and "Theos" ("YHWH").


**We know for certain that Christianity in its formative stages did draw heavily not only on Judaism, but also Hellenic philosophy and Zoroastrian dualism.  We also know that it grew so rapidly in part by co-opting other pagan apprehensions and observances among the peoples it encountered.  None of that necessarily invalidates the truth of Christianity, however, because all truth is universally true, and ultimately depends for its authority on God rather than on the validity of the cultural tradition that first apprehended it.


***or if not, whether the figurative representation of a deity who assumes a human form has the same validity in different cultures as a means of mediation between human and divine existence:


"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."  I Timothy 2:5

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 11:36AM #5
Want to know
Posts: 1,673

I hope this doesn't get pulled from this board! I refer to Religious Tolerance. Org frequently and have it on "my favorites" for easy access. I am very much interested in hearing this discussed. My only input is that some things I learn may sometimes make me question certain things about Christianity, but I continue to trust and hope it is the right way and ask for help in my unbelief.  

"Now we see as through a glass, darkly but then face to face:  now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known."  I Corinthians 13:12
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 11:59AM #6
SeraphimR
Posts: 10,103

I think if you were to seriously study the myths, you would find many more differences between Krishna and Jesus than similarities.


Also, if you were to study the oldest versions of the Isis, Osirus, Horus myths they would be very different than the ones that were circulating in the first century AD, and these are the ones used to highlight similarities.


The pagan myths were not static, and paganism is highly syncretic.  My admittedly limited study indicates that similarities between paganism and Christianity can often be explained by paganism adopting Christianity rather than the other way around.


This is most obvious in Buddhism where Pure Land Buddhism looks alot like Christianity with some residual Buddhism tacked on, and it was developed in the first few centuries AD.

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 12:33PM #7
smcisaac
Posts: 8,062

Of course there are significant differences among religions.  If there were not, there would be only one religion.  However, there are also many similar or shared apprehensions of truths among otherwise different religions. 


That does not necessarily make one religion more authentic or original than another.  Christianity may draw on prior apprehensions from Judaism, or Hellenic philosophy, or Zoroastrianism, and may share similar traditions or mythical themes with Mithraism or Vaisnava Hinduism or Buddhism (we haven't yet mentioned some of the similar birth legends concerning Gautama, which would be timely in this Advent season), but that does not make Christianity inferior to them.  Christianity is a younger religion, but not an inferior one.  In fact, if we didn't think the revelation of truth offered through the Christian lens was clearer rather than more obscure or corrupted, we wouldn't choose to be Christians.  And yet, as St. Paul reminds us at 1 Corinthians 13, lest we become too self-assured, even we Christians can see truth only in part, "as through a glass darkly".

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 5:14PM #8
Ed2
Posts: 3,322

Thank you all for your interesting answers, and thanks, tawonda, for your straight-forward answer to my original question of "I don't."

I think that it's pretty sad and pretty unbelievable that there are so many healthy, powerful, and healing foods that I have learned about from watching "The Doctor Oz Show"...but unfortunately, most Americans from their childhood on up, have only learned how to eat what is essentially equivalent to 'garbage'...and are basically in a 'slumber' when it comes to not having a clue as to what that kind of food is doing to their bodies and to their health. It's really sad.

~Ed2

"Hmmm. So you're saying that for Jesus' followers(throughout the centuries) to truly live a 'godly' life, they had to believe that the end of the world was just around the corner?"

~Ed2(See post #53)

"Although, I think that I'll change that to: Also...I liked the way that you dodged what I had said about being 'concerned that the Bible had to use subterfuge as a means to an end' in my post #137."

~Ed2(See post #145)

"It's utterly beyond belief, that the wealthiest country in the history of the world, fails to care for all it's people."

~Dr. Patrick Dowling, MD(From The Doctor Oz Show, which aired on 11/23/11.)

"If I could prescribe any drug on the planet, it would be food [be]cause it works better, faster, and cheaper than any medication. Food is the most powerful medicine we have...to treat chronic disease like diabetes."

~Dr. Mark Hyman, MD(From The Doctor Oz Show, which aired on 01/13/12. Also, go to www.doctoroz.com for more information.)
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 5:32PM #9
Roodog
Posts: 10,168

Let me ask a question;


Which of these other gods and demigods died for your sins and was raised back to life for your justification so that you would be saved from your sin and its consequences?


This is what sets Jesus Christ apart from the rest.

For those who have faith, no explanation is neccessary.
For those who have no faith, no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

If one turns his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2009 - 7:08PM #10
smcisaac
Posts: 8,062

Dec 14, 2009 -- 5:32PM, Roodog wrote:


Let me ask a question;


Which of these other gods and demigods died for your sins and was raised back to life for your justification so that you would be saved from your sin and its consequences?


This is what sets Jesus Christ apart from the rest.





That is, assuming he is not one with the rest, a different manifestation or apprehension of the same divine essence, as many Vaisnavas would propose.  See, e. g., Bhagavad Gita chapter 11.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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