Viewing the story of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels as heavily influenced mythology is, essentially, the only legitimate understanding thereof. The historicity of Jesus can be debated and will likely be debated for years, however, there is absolutely no evidence suggesting that the accounts of the life and times of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels is anything other than a parsed together story, heavily influenced by the common mythology of the time and written with a concerted effort to align the story with the “prophecies” of the old testament.
As I said in my last post, Jesus allegedly died around the year 33 CE and Mark wrote the first gospel no earlier than 65 CE which leaves a three decade gap, in which the only documents in existence pertaining to Christianity are Paul’s writings. It is a very striking fact that in not one of Paul’s epistles does he make any mention of what we would consider the story of Jesus save for the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven. Paul makes no mention of the virgin birth, Mary, Bethlehem, John the Baptist, any of the miracles of Jesus – you would think that Paul would have mentioned a few of these alleged miracles in his attempt to convert new Christians – Pontius Pilot, any Jewish mob or any trial. I concede that these omissions do not imply, implicitly, that Paul was unaware of the story of Jesus as later portrayed by the NT gospels. However, these facts are suggestive and must not be overlooked.
In the three decade gap between the alleged death of Jesus and Mark’s writing of the first gospel the story of Jesus was kept alive and spread through oral tradition, a method which is exceedingly susceptible to convolution. It is very likely that while the story of Jesus was spreading it began to accumulate the characteristics of the common mythologies of the time. It is very likely that Paul either came before such an evolution in the story or was simply unaware of it. One must keep in mind that we are considering the first century and the archaic communication which is inherent therein. It is not a stretch of the imagination to conclude that the oral tradition of Christianity gave birth to a greatly exaggerated, added upon and altered story – the gospels were written between thirty and fifty years after the alleged death of Jesus, plenty of time for the evolution thereof – it is really almost impossible to believe that the oral tradition kept perfectly intact the entire account of the stories later relayed in the gospels, which differ amongst even themselves.
As I mentioned in my last post it is a very striking fact that Jesus, as portrayed in the gospels, shares twenty or so characteristics with the common heroic figure, mythic figures such as: Oedipus, Theseus, Romulus, Hercules, Perseus, Zeus, Zoroaster, Thor, Tammuz, Orpheus, Mithras, Krishna, Horus, Hermes, Dionysis, Baal, Attis, Adonis, etc. I have already indexed the shared characteristics and will avoid redundancy here.
Having illustrated the shared mythological characteristics I will now endeavor to bring to the fore the theological and symbolic similarities.
Mithraism was a pagan religion which viewed the mythical Mithras as the mediator between humanity and the unknowable god who created all of existence. Mithraic communities expressed fraternal and communal spirit, their creed insisted on moral conduct, demanded abstinence and self control and postulated a heaven and hell; they sanctified Sunday and December the 25, Yule, this date was also a day referred to as Saturnalia – a dedication to Saturn’s temple – and it is widely believed that this date was chosen as the day to celebrate the birth of Christ, by Pope Julius I, in order to make it easier to convert the Roman pagans, Jesus was allegedly born in September. In any case many of the rites and sayings in Mithraism are similar if not identical to the sayings later attributed to Jesus. The Madonna and baby cults share their relation with both the Tammuz and the Egyptian Isis and Horus. The Christian celebration of easter also shares its origins with the Tammuz and their god Ishtar – pronounced “easter” – which is why easter is replete with fertility symbology.
With Apollonius Christ, the theological similarity is virtually identical. He preached “we cannot hate our fellow man” he created miracles, healed the sick, was accused of sedition in Rome and his followers, after his death, claimed that he had ascended to heaven and came to them in spiritual form afterwards. In fact the theology of Apollonius was so similar to that of Christianity there are records of early Church fathers mentioning and arguing against Apollonius’ divinity, again, using the argument that Satan used Apollonius as a way to deceive:
"How is it that the talismans of Apollonius have power over certain members of creation, for they prevent, as we see, the fury of the waves, the violence of the winds, and the attacks of wild beasts. And whilst Our Lord's miracles are preserved by tradition alone, those of Apollonius are most numerous, and actually manifested in present facts, so as to lead astray all beholders?" – Justin Martyr, early Church father
Apollonians, those who were followers of Apollonius, believed in the immortality of the soul and that upon death they would ascend to heaven. In fact, there is debate on whether or not Jesus had been conflated with Apollonius due to the similarities.
There are also striking similarities between Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the later predating the former. Many scholars credit Zoroastrianism with influencing the eschatology, angelology and demonology of Judaism. Judaism, of course, then influencing Christianity and Islam:
“it was from this very creed of Zoroaster that the Jews derived all the angelology of their religion... the belief in a future state; of rewards and punishments, ... the soul's immortality, and the Last Judgment - all of them essential parts of the Zoroastrian scheme.” – from The Gnostics and Their Remains (King and Moore, 1887).
Zoroastrianism had abstract concepts of heaven and of hell, personal and final judgment and even contains the concept of a coming messiah-like figure referred to as the “Peshotan.”
In light of all of this, viewing the story of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels as heavily influenced and convoluted by the common mythology of the time appears to be the only legitimate and firm contention. It seems abundantly clear that the gospel stories of Jesus have been parsed together, influenced and convoluted by various myths and written with a concerted effort to align the story with the “prophecies” of the old testament.