Sunday, November 1, 2015
Pagan Christs, article in the Open Court 1905
PAGAN CHRISTS, article in the Open Court 1905
See also: The Pagan Christ, Over 200 Books on DVDrom (Christ Myth) Mithras, Buddha etc
J.M. ROBERTSON has written a book with the attractive title "Pagan Christs," in which he deals with one of the burning questions of comparative religion, the origin and history of the Godman, the incarnate deity that sacrifices itself, accomplishing an atonement for sin through the highest offer imaginable the blood of a dying God.
Mr. Robertson discusses: the naturalness of all belief; the idea of the taboo as a significant stage in the development of religion, magic and also magic in the Old Testament, for Elijah figures as a magician; the interweaving of cosmology and ethics into religion, ancestor worship, and kindred subjects.
An analysis of the report of the crucifixion of Jesus and a comparison with anthropological reports concerning the sacrifice of deified victims, especially among the Khonds, the ancient Mexicans, and other nations, leads our author to the following conclusions:
“On what data, then, did the different evangelists proceed? What had they under notice? Not an original narrative: their dissidence is almost complete. Not a known official practice in Roman crucifixions; for the third Gospel treats as an act of mockery what the first and second do not so regard; and the fourth describes the act of limb-breaking as done to meet a Jewish demand, which in the synoptic narrative could not arise. Mere breaking of the legs, besides, would be at once a laborious and an inadequate way of making sure that the victims were dead; the spear-thrust would be the natural and sufficient act; yet only one victim is speared. Only one hypothesis will meet the whole case. The different narratives testify to the existence of a ritual or rituals of crucifixion or quasicrucifixion, in variance of which there had figured the two procedures of breaking the legs of the victim and giving him a narcotic. Of these procedures neither is understood by the evangelists, though by some of them the latter is partly comprehended; and they accordingly proceed to turn both, in different fashions, to dogmatic account. Their conflict is thus insoluble, and their testimony alike unhistorical. But we find the psychological clue in the hypothesis of a known ritual of a crucified Savior-God, who had for universally-recognised reasons to appear to suffer as a willing victim. Being crucified—that is, hung by the hands or wrists to a tree or post, and supported not by his feet but by a bar between his thighs—he would tend to struggle (unlike the Khond victim, whose arms were free) chiefly with his legs; and if he were to be prevented from struggling, it would have to be either by breaking the legs or stupefying him with a drug. The Khonds, we have seen, used anciently the former horrible method, but learned to use the latter also. Finally, the detail of the spear-thrust in the side, bestowed only on the ostensibly divine victim, suggests that in some ritual that may have been the mode of ceremonial slaying. We have but to recognise that among some of the more civilised peoples of the Mediterranean similar processes had been sometimes gone through about two thousand years ago, and we have the conditions which may account for the varying Gospel narratives.”
The Eucharist of the God-eating is a ceremony which is by no means limited to Christianity. Mr. Robertson says:
“That there was a weekly eucharist among the Mithracists is practically certain: the Fathers who mention the Mithraic breadand-wine or bread-and-water sacrament never speak of it as less frequent than the Christian; and the Pauline allusion to the table of daimons, with its 'cup' implies that was as habitual as the Christian rite, which was certainly solemnized weekly in the early Church. And this weekly rite, again, is not originally Mithraic, but one of the ancient Asiatic usages which could reach the Jews either by way of Babylon or before the Captivity.”
“That there were both orthodox and heterodox forms of a quasi-Mithraic bread-and-wine ritual among the Jews is to be gathered even from the sacred books. In the legend of the Exodus, Aaron and the elders of Israel eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God’—that is, twelve elders and the Annointed One eat a bread sacrifice with a presumptive ancient deity, Moses himself being such. And wine would not be wanting. In the so-called Song of Moses, which repudiates a hostile God, their Rock in which they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink-offering, Yahweh also is called “our rock'; and in an obscure passage his wine seems to be extolled. Even if the Rock in such allusions were originally the actual tombstone or altar on which sacrifices were laid and libations poured, there would be no difficulty about making it unto a God with whom the worshipper ate and drank; and such an adaptation was as natural for Semites as for Aryans.
“But there are clearer clues. Of the legend of Melchizedek, who gave to Abraham a sacramental meal of bread and wine, and who was 'King of Peace' and priest of El Elyon, we know that it was a subject of both canonical and extra-canonical tradition. He was fabled to have been without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God. As the name meant King of Righteousness, and El Elyon was a Phoenician deity, the legend that Abraham paid him tithes tells simply of one more extra-Yahwistic cult among the Israelites; and the description cited must originally have applied to the Most High God himself. ‘Self-made' was a title of the Sun-Gods, and King of Righteousness a title of many Gods (not to mention Buddha) as well as of Yahweh and Jesus. It is vain to ask whether the bread-and-wine ritual was connected directly with the solar worship, or with that of a King of Peace who stood for the moon, or both moon and sun; but it suffices that an extra-Israelitish myth connected with such a ritual was cherished among the dispersed Jews of the Hellenistic period. And the use made of the story of Melchizedek by Justin Martyr and Tertullian, as proving that a man could be a priest of the true God without being circumcised or observing the Jewish law, would certainly be made of it by earlier Jews of the more cosmopolitan sort.
“Further, the denunciations of the prophets against the drinkofferings to other Gods did not veto a eucharist eaten and drunk in the name of Yahweh. Those denunciations to start with are a proof of the commonness of eucharists among the Jews about the exilic period. Jeremiah tells of a usage, specially popular with women, of incense-burnings and drink-offerings to the Queen of Heaven. This, as a nocturnal rite, would be a “Holy Supper.' And in the last chapters of the Deutero-Isaiah we have first a combined charge of child-sacrifice and of unlawful drink-offerings against the polytheistic Israelites, and again a denunciation of those who prepare a table for Gad, and that fill up mingled wine unto Meni. Now, Meni, translated ‘Destiny, is in all likelihood simply Men the Asiatic Moon-God, who is virtually identified with Selene-Mene the Moon-Goddess in the Orphic Hymns, and like her was held to be twy-sexed. In that case Meni is only another aspect of the Queen of Heaven, the wine-eucharist being, as before remarked, a lunar rite. Whether or not this Deus Lunus was then, as later, identified with Mithra, we cannot divine. It suffices that the sacrament in question was extremely widespread.”
Similar parallels as those concerning the Eucharist can be traced between the Gospel accounts of the miracles of Jesus and other saviors, not only Mithras and the demigods of mythology, but also to an historical personality, Apollonius of Tyana, whose life as told by Philostratus has been embellished with many legends. Mr. Robertson says:
“A close comparison of the story of the raising of Jarius' daughter with the story in Philostratus, to which it is so closely parallel, gives rather reason to believe that the Gospels copied the pagan narrative, the Gospel story being left unmentioned by Arnobius and Lactantius in lists in which they ought to have given it had they known and accepted it. The story, however, was probably told of other thaumaturgs before Apollonius; and in regard to the series of often strained parallels drawn by Baur, as by Huet, it may confidently be said that, instead of their exhibiting any calculated attempt to outdo or cap the Gospel narratives, they stand for the general taste of the time in thaumaturgy. Apollonius, like Jesus, casts out devils and heals the sick; and if the Life were a parody of the Gospel we should expect Him to give sight to the blind. This, however, is not the case; and on the other hand, the Gospel story of the healing of two blind men is certainly a duplicate of a pagan record.”
See also: The Pagan Christ, Over 200 Books on DVDrom (Christ Myth) Mithras, Buddha etc
For a list of all of my disks, with links, go to https://sites.google.com/site/gdixierose/ or click here