Jesus: not an original
October 31, 2010 by Bill
Many organizations in this country, ranging from People for the American Way to the National Educational Association, have issued a document that informs parents and teachers that public schools can be a proper place to teach Comparative Religions as an academic discipline. Such a course of study could make a major contribution toward erasing much of the religious illiteracy in this nation. It could also make a major dent in the bigotry, prejudice and religious superstitions that exist everywhere. But now, when this issue is proposed, some will say, “Oh, but we do not need or want our young people to be exposed to the other religious traditions. All they need is Jesus Christ; that’s where truth is, for it was Jesus who said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Light.’ That’s all our young people need.” What people taking this position do not know, revealing their own religious illiteracy, is that practically every religious “leader” or hero, has said exactly the same thing. Zoroaster used exactly the same words, saying, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light.” The Buddha used the same language, as did Lao Tzu of Taoism. The vast majority of the mythological formulas attached to Jesus were borrowed from Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Egypt, Babylon and the Greek Mystery religions.
A perfect example of which I am speaking is Mithraism (Sixth century B.C., Persia and India). Mithras was born of a virgin, with only a small number of shepherds present. Mithras was known as “the Way,” “the Truth,” “the Light,” “the Life,” “the Word,” “the Son of God” and “the Good Shepherd.” He was pictured carrying a lamb on his shoulders. Sunday was sacred and known as “the Lord’s Day” centuries before Jesus. On December 25 there were magnificent celebrations with bells, candles, gifts, and hymns. And “communion” was observed by the followers. From December 25 until the spring equinox (Estra, or Easter) were the “40 days,” which later became Christian Lent. Mithras was placed in a rock tomb called “Petra.” After three days he was removed with great celebrations, festival and joy. Centuries later, Petra the sacred rock would become Peter, the mythological foundations of the Christian church. (“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Matthew 16:18.) Christian mythology is quite obviously saturated with Mithraism.
The followers of Mithras also believed that there would be a “day of judgment” when non-believers would perish and believers would live in a heaven or “paradise” (a Persian word) forever and ever. All of these mythological formulas were absorbed centuries later by the Christian cult into their rituals. Paul, who never even knew Jesus, took all of these mythological themes and attached them to Jesus, building his “Christ” mythology. He took Jesus out of Judaism and borrowed the Mithraic Sunday instead of the Hebrew Sabbath. All of the Mithraic holy days were used to fill in this mythological construct. Christmas, Easter, Lent and the spring resurrection festival. The Christian “Mass” was, and is, basically the old sacrament of the Mithraic taurobolia (a symbol of divine sacrifice and of the saving effect of blood).
Well, enough of an illustrating example. My thesis stands: the study of Comparative Religions in high school could make an enormous contribution toward erasing religious illiteracy which in turn would be a giant step forward in reducing religious bigotry, prejudice and the superstitions that so cripple the human spirit.
For further information on this subject, here is a list of books you may find helpful:
Man’s Religions, John Noss, Macmillan; Ancient Religions, Vergilius Ferm, Philosophy Library; The Masks of God, Joseph Campbell, Viking Press; Biography of the Gods, Eustace Haydon, University of Chicago.