Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Mithras Mythology? Part 2
The Truth About Mithras
(Continued) There are two distinct and non-continuous traditions related to Mithras, one coming out of the areas of India and Iran, and another more recently developed (in Roman times). Many experts have struggled to try to connect these as one continuous tradition, and in so doing, have distorted or misinterpreted the basic elements of the tradition and mythology. Much of what is known about Mithras comes from pictures and murals that have NO CAPTIONS, so the vast majority of scholarly work on this character is pure speculation. Let’s take a look at the claims we have already described and separate truth from fiction, and then try to understand the underlying hope of the people who invented the god called Mithras:
(6) Claim: Mithras sacrificed himself for world peace
Truth: There is little or no evidence that any of this is true, although there is a story about Mithras slaying a threatening bull in a heroic deed. But that’s about as close as it gets.
The Reasoning Behind the Mithras Mythology: It is reasonable to view God as wanting to save his children enough to come to their rescue, particularly if they are facing an eternal threat.
(7) Claim: Mithras was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again, and Mithras was celebrated each year at the time of His resurrection (later to become Easter)
Truth: There is nothing in the Mithras tradition that indicates he ever even died, let alone was buried or resurrected! Now, Tertullian did write about Mithras believers re-enacting resurrection scenes, but he wrote about this occurring well after New Testament times. Christianity could NOT have borrowed from Mithras traditions, but the opposite could certainly be true.
The Reasoning Behind the Mithras Mythology: It is reasonable to assume that, if there is a God, he would be powerful enough to defeat death.
(8) Claim: Mithras was called “the Good Shepherd”, and was identified with both the Lamb and the Lion
Truth: There is NO evidence that Mithras was ever called “the Good Shepherd” or identified with a lamb, but Since Mithras was a sun-god, there was an association with Leo (the House of the Sun in Babylonian astrology), so one might say that he was associated with a Lion. But once again, all of this evidence is actually POST New Testament, and cannot therefore be borrowed by Christianity.
The Reasoning Behind the Mithras Mythology: If God was to be associated in our minds with a symbol from animal life, we would expect him to have a strong representation, such as a lion.
(9) Claim: Mithras was considered to be the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” and the “Logos,” “Redeemer,” “Savior” and “Messiah.”
Truth: Based on the researched and known historic record of the Mithraic tradition, none of these terms has ever been applied to Mithras deity with the exception of “mediator”. But this term is very different from the way that it is used in the Christian tradition. Mithras is not the mediator between God and man but the mediator between the good and evil Gods of Zoroaster.
The Reasoning Behind the Mithras Mythology: If there is a God, we would expect him to provide us with some way to know him, perhaps in the form of a mediator.
(10) Claim: Mithras celebrated Sunday as His sacred day (also known as the “Lord’s Day,”)
Truth: This tradition of celebrating Sunday is only true of Mithras followers in Rome and it is a tradition that dates to POST Christian times. Once again, it is more likely to have been borrowed from Christianity than the other way around.
The Reasoning Behind the Mithras Mythology: Any true worship of God should and would involve a desire on the part of the believer to honor this God regularly.
(11) Claim:Mithras celebrated a Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper”
Truth: Followers of Mithras did NOT celebrate a Eucharist, but they did celebrate a fellowship meal regularly, just as did many other groups in the Roman world.
The Reasoning Behind the Mithras Mythology: Believers of God would reasonably want to come together to celebrate their faith and unite under the same belief system.
COMING NEXT: Part 3 So What is Left?, How Could They Have Imagined That?, So What was in the Heart of Those who Created Mithras?
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