Things borrowed

For those of you who have never visited http://www.pocm.info/gettingstartedpocm.html  ,  here is an informative section about how religions have borrowed from others.

Jesus, third century AD
We’ll start thinking about Christian borrowing by asking a simple question:
By what criteria can we decide what ancient godman stories were new and original, and what ancient godman stories were myths built up from the religious ideas of their day?

Here’s what I mean..

Athens, sixth century BC
 Don’t believe Greg. Click the thumbnails to see the ancient evidence.
<< When Osiris is said to bring his believers eternal life in Egyptian Heaven, contemplating the unutterable, indescribable glory of God, we understand that as a myth.

When the sacred rites of Demeter at Eleusis are described as bringing believers happiness in their eternal life, we understand that as a myth. >>

<< In fact, when ancient writers tell us that in general ancient people believed in eternal life, with the good going to the Elysian Fields and the not so good going to Hades, we understand that as a myth.

<< When Vespatian’s spittle healed a blind man, we understand that as a myth.

When Apollonius of Tyana raised a girl from death, we understand that as a myth. >>

<< When the Pythia , the priestess at the Oracle at Delphi, in Greece, prophesied, and over and over again for a thousand years, the prophecies came true, we understand that as a myth.

When Dionysus turned water into wine, we understand that as a myth. When Dionysus believers are filled with atay, the Spirit of God,we understand that as a myth. >>

<< When Romulus is described as the Son of God, born of a virgin, we understand that as a myth.

When Alexander the Great is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth. >>

.

Mr. A. Great

<< When Augustus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal , we understand that as a myth.

When Dionysus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman,we understand that as a myth. >>

<< When Scipio Africanus (Scipio Africanus, for Christ’s sake) is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.

Jesus in the 3d century, healing the sick by touching them with a magic wand!

So how come when Jesus is described as
the Son of God,
born of a mortal woman,
according to prophecy,
turning water into wine,
raising girls from the dead, and
<——– healing blind men with his spittle,
and setting it up so His believers got eternal life in Heaven contemplating the unutterable, indescribable glory of God, and off to Hades—er, I mean Hell—for the bad folks…
how come that’s not a myth?

And how come, in a culture with all those Sons of God, where miracles were science, where Heaven and Hell and God and eternal life and salvation were in the temples, in the philosophies, in the books, were dancing and howling in street festivals, how come we imagine Jesus and the stories about him developed all on their own, all by themselves, without picking up any of their stuff from the culture they sprang from, the culture full of the same sort of stuff?

  POCM answers these questions by looking at what ancient people wrote about ancient religion. What the ancient evidence will show you is that ancient western culture had conventional ideas about Gods and their powers and place in the universe. Christianity adoptedthose ideas.

Ancient Pagans believed in various levels of divinity, with miraculous powers, coming down and going up to its home in the sky. Divine beings cared about people, listened to and answered their prayers. Gave them the power to prophesy. Even gave them a better deal in the eternal life that comes after death.

Christianity is a product of it’s time and place. Christianityis an ancient Pagan religion.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Things borrowed

  1. Dionysus and this Atay sounds interesting. Do you know any more about that? Quick Google search doesn’t reveal anything.

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  2. Another excellent post.

    While you may be aware I have shied off arguing with dickheads over their religion I thoroughly respect folks like you, Ken, and your efforts to demonstrate the enormous fraud that is Christianity, which is so blatantly obvious a constructed religion.
    If this were no so there would be no need whatsoever for believers to go to such extraordinary lengths we have all seen to not only attempt to prove this religion is genuine but the attempts to prove every other religion is false.

    I have been doing more reading of late trying to focus on how valid are the claims that a miracle performing god-man would have gone unnoticed, and more to the point completely unrecorded by any contemporary witness other than one or two ”supposed” followers. The more I read, the more this becomes such a preposterous claim that leads to only one conclusion. This is a fabrication from start to finish. And likely a Roman fabrication to boot.

    The feeding of the five k and the four k are prime examples.

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Ark. As you are already aware, I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian Religion from the day I took my first breath. My Mother and Father took me from the hospital directly to their Pentecostal Preacher to be prayed for.

      I have much respect for my Parents. I know they too were victims because of their lack of education and the circumstances surrounding their conversions.

      My Father has passed but my 96 yr old Mother continues her unwavering faith. Though I gently challenge her to think about some aspects of her religion, I would in no way try and take away her desire to see friends and family in an “Afterlife”.

      I do share your concerns of what should and should not be taught to young children. I see an evolutionary process that will take care of this in time. (I hope)

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      • I too have accepted the evolutionary process regarding kids and religion.
        This acceptance is why I have given up arguing with these religious people. We must all come to ”enlightenment” via our own route; and if it is meant that some have to go through indoctrination then so be it.
        It galls me like you cannot imagine, but we are an evolving species, so maybe this is just another hurdle we have to surmount – and I genuinely believe we will.
        That said, it doesn’t stop us from continuing to investigate, now does it? 😉

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    • “That said, it doesn’t stop us from continuing to investigate, now does it?”

      I never assume the knowledge I possess today will be sufficient for the remainder of my life. Those who do will remain the “controlled masses”

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  3. I’d be careful with some of these examples. Things that immediately stood out to me: Romulus is NOT born of a virgin, there is no myth that I know of in which Dionysus transforms water into wine, some of the references to pagan myths are post-Gospel or co-extensive, some of these seem to be general features of religion rather than actual direct borrowings (like prophecy), etc.

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  4. Hello, consoledreader. Thank you for commenting here. I always try to be careful when posting something from someone else’s website. If you clicked onto any of the Icons next to each myth, it takes you to the actual site where you will find listed references for their statements.

    This does NOT mean what they say is factual. But at least they use references they feel help to support their statements. If you don’t agree with them, feel free to use references too.

    consoledreader says, “Things that immediately stood out to me: Romulus is NOT born of a virgin”

    Perhaps you should write to Encyclopedia Britannica and ask them to correct the following :

    “Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. Traditionally, they were the sons of Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Numitor had been deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become one of the Vestal Virgins (and thereby vow chastity) in order to prevent her from giving birth to potential claimants to the throne. Nevertheless, Rhea bore the twins Romulus and Remus, fathered by the war god Mars.” (Courtesy of the Encyclopedia Britannica)

    consoledreader says, “there is no myth that I know of in which Dionysus transforms water into wine”

    Craig M Lyons who has his Doctorate in Divinity talks about Dionysus at his website, Bet Emet Ministries (http://jesusastrotheology.com/turn_water_into_wine.htm) “This story is really the Christian counterpart to the pagan legends of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, who at his annual festival in his temple of Elis filled three empty kettles with wine-no water needed! And on the fifth of January wine instead of water gushed from his temple at Andros. If we believe Jesus’ miracle, why should we not believe Dionysus’s?” (Tim Leedom, The Book Your Church Does Not Want You To Read, 1993, p. 125.

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    • I don’t need to contact Britannica because their information is accurate. Your reading of it is not though. Vestal Virgins was a particular order of priestesses. They were supposed to remain virgins as part of their rites. The point is that it’s the name of an Order. To quote Livy which is also quoted on the first website:

      [1.4] But the Fates had, I believe, already decreed the origin of this great city and the foundation of the mightiest empire under heaven. The Vestal was forcibly violated and gave birth to twins. She named Mars as their father, either because she really believed it, or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it. (emphasis mine)

      It pretty much states outright that Mars produced the child through the normal means of reproduction.

      As far as Dionysus, I don’t disagree Dionysus is portrayed as having power over wine. He is a god of wine after all! Neptune is a god of the sea, so we would expect him to have power over the sea. Zeus is a god of the sky, so we would expect him to control lightning. Jesus is supposedly the son and incarnation of an all-powerful monotheistic deity, so we would expect him to have power over everything (wine, the sea, the sky, etc.). Wine, the sea, the sky, etc. are quotidian parts of any ancient person’s life. So it’s not surprising that stories about this Jesus fellow have him performing miracles and magic and such with these elements. That’s a far cry from establishing Dionysus transforms water into wine, and therefore tales about mythical character Jesus copied said story.

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      • It pretty much states outright that Mars produced the child through the normal means of reproduction.

        I mean through intercourse. I don’t want to imply that forcible violation is normal!!! I

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  5. I think you could also misunderstand what Livy was meaning. He says as you have correctly stated, “The Vestal was forcibly violated and gave birth to twins.”

    No argument here. But listen to the excuse she uses for her pregnancy which you again correctly state, “She named Mars as their father, either because she really believed it, or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it. ”

    Just like the Jesus story, both Virgins really become pregnant but both blame their pregnancies on a “Deity”.

    Sounds like a Virgin Birth Story to me in both cases. If you grant Aeiparthenos to Mary you also have to grant it to Rhea Silvia.

    Your 2nd remark, “As far as Dionysus, I don’t disagree Dionysus is portrayed as having power over wine. He is a god of wine after all!”

    And yet you say, ” That’s a far cry from establishing Dionysus transforms water into wine,”

    Not sure I follow your logic here.

    There are many websites including Christian sites who refer to the Feast of Dionysus. Here is just another one:

    The date the Church celebrates the feast of the miracle of Cana is 6 January, the feast of the Epiphany. Epiphania means “appearance” in Greek and refers to the revelation of the Lord’s power. In pagan antiquity 6 January was the day celebrating the revelation of a different divine power and wine miracles performed by a different god: It was the feast of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine: In fact the motif of the story, the transformation of water into wine, is a typical motif of the Dionysus legend, in which this miracle serves to highlight the god’s epiphany. And hence it is timed to coincide with the date of the feast of Dionysus, from January 5 th to 6 th. (http://www.dhushara.com/book/diochris/dio1.htm)

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    • I’m having trouble following your logic now. Rhea’s excuses for her pregnancy isn’t that she is a virgin impregnated by Mars. The excuses she offers are in line with Mars actually engaging in physical love-making.

      “She named Mars as their father, either because she really believed it” – In other words, she really believed Mars actually engaged in coitus with her

      “or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it. ” – Some normal everyday human engaged in coitus with her and she didn’t want to get in trouble for breaking her vows so she named Mars as a father so it would appear less immoral.

      This comes out even more in a different translation:

      “The Vestal Rea was ravished by force, and having brought forth twins, declared Mars to be the father of her illegitimate offspring, either because she really imagined it to be the case, or because it was less discreditable to have committed such an offence with a god.” (trans. John Henry Freese, Alfred John Church, and William Jackson Brodribb)

      This fits well with the rest of Greco-Roman Mythology in which gods often come down to earth in disguised form and make love to women, often by force. These are generally understood as physical acts of coitus or physical acts that are symbolic of coitus. You’re conflating “miraculous birth stories” with “virgin birth story.” I would contend if you had never heard of the Virgin Birth story of Mary, you would not read any of these stories as Virgin Birth Stories. In other words, you’re reading backwards from one story (the virgin birth story) and reading those other stories in light of it.

      My point was a monotheistic God is going to have all the same powers combined of various polytheistic gods and aspects that they controlled: the sea, wine, lightning, etc. Exploring these things would’ve been of equal interest to a monotheist writer as a polytheist writer. Pointing to God controlling lightning and thunder (Ps. 77:18) is not good evidence that the Psalmist must have copied the idea from a pagan writing about Zeus controlling lightning and thunder.

      The most parsimonious explanation is that people in general believed gods of various sorts can control lightning and that people of various sorts have experienced lightning. Not that one copied or borrowed the idea from the other necessarily. Since wine was a common feature of the Mediterranean, it seems equally strange to assume that Jesus turning water into wine to keep the party going necessarily means he is copying Dionysus who is a god of wine and is naturally depicted as controlling wine. Now if there was an actual myth in which Dionysus shows up at some ancient Greek king’s wedding festival and transforms all the water into wine, then yes, there would be a case for borrowing.

      There were multiple feasts of Dionysus. The more important one was known as Anthesteria, which occurred somewhere between February – March, while the other festival, Lenaia, does occur in January, but I found nothing that specifically said January 6th. In all fairness, it is possible that Christians placed their holiday to correspond to the pagan holidays, possibly to encourage proselytizing efforts or as something that naturally happened as they gained more converts. Borrowing a date for a Holiday and borrowing a story are not exactly the same thing. Also, considering you claimed that you vet your sources, you’ve just sent me links to two poor websites to support your claims.

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  6. “some of the references to pagan myths are post-Gospel or co-extensive, some of these seem to be general features of religion rather than actual direct borrowings (like prophecy)”

    Are there any myths in your opinion that pre-date christianity which could be considered as borrowed by christianity ?

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    • Plato’s version of Elysian fields and Tartarus (as eluded to above in your post) as described in The Republic are definitely similar to Christian heaven and hell. Although there are differences as well (i. e. Plato’s myth has rebirth for the average person, if I remember correctly). It’s possible they borrowed the ideas when Hellenism came in contact with Judaism via Alexander’s conquests. The Vespasian spittle example in the OP above could be genuinely a tale that Christians took and incorporated into John, although both stories do very different things from a literary perspective.

      Many of the holidays seem to correspond to former pagan holidays, some of the rituals practiced during said holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) may have been borrowed from paganism,

      I suppose it depends on what level of influence one is suggesting. There are stories in the Bible that are obviously borrowed, such as Noah and the flood, there are stories such as Genesis 1 that show influence from the Enuma Elish (but in many ways are very different stories) or Genesis 3 with other Babylonian myths of Gardens and Creation of Humans (but also different in many ways too).

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      • Thank you for your input. I gathered from your own Blog that you appear to have studied Greek mythology to a much great extent than I.

        “There are stories in the Bible that are obviously borrowed,” I realized this first hand when I traveled to Egypt in 2008. If not all borrowed, there was obvious sharing going on.

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  7. “Also, considering you claimed that you vet your sources, you’ve just sent me links to two poor websites to support your claims.”

    Where do I claim this ???

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  8. “This fits well with the rest of Greco-Roman Mythology in which gods often come down to earth in disguised form and make love to women, often by force. These are generally understood as physical acts of coitus or physical acts that are symbolic of coitus. You’re conflating “miraculous birth stories” with “virgin birth story.”

    I guess Justin Martyr got confused too when he said, “And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound NOTHING DIFFERENT from WHAT YOU BELIEVE regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.” (Justin Martyr, The First Apology)

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