I have been involved in conversations with a striking, new but regular commenter on both of my blogs. He goes by JoeG and he has raised some interesting questions at another blog he and I both patronize. I have promised to begin some threads here to talk about some of these issues and this is the first in what I hope to be a series of installments about what we have been talking about, "supposed" pagan origins of Christianity. I have been exploring this issue for a while and hope to speak with some coherence. In my digging I have found several similarities between Mithras and Christ, and notably, the Mithras story predates the birth of Christ. We here at The RP will kick off our discussion by simply noting those similarities.
- Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
- He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
- He had 12 companions or disciples.
- Mithra's followers were promised immortality.
- He performed miracles.
- As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
- He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
- His resurrection was celebrated every year.
- He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
- He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
- His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
- Mithra had his principal festival of what was later to become Easter.
- His religion had a eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."
My initial contention would be that any similarities between the two don’t necessarily mean that one borrowed from the other. Moreover, does Christianity need any outside influence to develop its doctrines? All of the teachings of Christ have significant foundation in the Old Testament. These initial observations do not reconcile the similarities, but it gives us a place to begin.