Jesus vs Other gods (rising and dying)
Tuesday = Truth-day – Many college students are taught that many of the themes in the life of Jesus are just echoes of ancient “mystery religions”, most are stories about gods dying and rising, rituals of baptism and communion. What about these similarities?
This was a popular argument in the early 1900’s but has died off because it is so discredited. First, looking at the time frames, any borrowing of themes would be from Christianity to the other religions, not the other way around. Also, the other religions were a do-your-own-thing practice and borrowed ideas from various places. Jews, however, carefully guarded their beliefs from any outside influence.
It’s true that some mystery religions have stories of gods dying and rising but were always told in a legendary form. With the account of Jesus Christ in the gospels, they talk about someone who actually lived and name other names – crucified under Pontius Pilate, when Caiaphas was high priest, and the father of Alexander and Rufus carried his cross. This is historical data that could be verified by the first readers. This has nothing in common with the telling of legends.
Any suggestion that baptism or communion came from these other religions, the evidence comes from the 2nd century. These come a century after Christianity had established them. Looking carefully, there are no similarities. In a Mithra cult, followers had to stand under a bull while it was killed, so they could bathe in the blood. Then they’d join together to eat the bull. No Jew would find anything attractive about this to model baptism or communion, which is why most scholars don’t believe it’s true.