“Cockfighting as a religion.” – UNOFC
… in Borneo, Borneo: Ibans and Cockfighting and Gods.
“Cockfighting is the only universal sports.” – UNOFC
Be secular. Be a freethinker.
“Every gamecock sub-species, every weapon, and every cockfighter is to be respected by all cockfighters from all over the world.” – Gameness til the End
Thus, we as cockfighters have to open our minds and think.
Now, let us read more below about virgin births from all over the world since the start of time.
- Gautama Buddha
- Aion (Sabazios)
- Baal Hadad
- Somona Codom
“Respect comes with understanding. Understanding comes with learning. Learning comes with respect.” – Gameness til the End
– Gameness til the End
A lot of us like to think that the Bible is the original, absolute, inviolate word of God. But that comes into question when we realize that many of the biblical stories occur in other, older religions.
According to academia, there are at least 32 stories of other virgin births in ancient cultures of bygone eras. The legends of the surrounding pagan cultures were so influential in the first century that the Early Church was forced to imitate and incorporate them to have their ‘new’ Christian religion accepted.
What does this have to do with law of attraction? Any time we can stretch our minds about what we think is the ‘truth’, we expand our allowing and our beliefs in possibilities. It makes using law of attraction easier when we know how malleable our beliefs are; how flexible our rituals, and even how ancient and diverse are our gods.
Here are just a few of the parallels between Horus, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and 27 more (and this is a long article)
The Legend of Horus is one of the most ancient myths in Egypt, and it was central to the ancient Egyptian state religion. He was worshipped three thousand years before Jesus and his worship lasted into the common era. The followers of Horus invaded Egypt in pre-dynastic history (before 3000 B.C.E.).
He is often shown as an infant cradled by his mother Isis. He avenged his father’s murder, and became recognized as the God of civil order and justice.
Both were conceived of a virgin.
- Both were the “only begotten son” of a god (either Osiris or Yahweh)
- Horus’s mother was Meri, Jesus’s mother was Mary.
- Horus’s foster father was called Jo-Seph, and Jesus’s foster father was Joseph.
- Both foster fathers were of royal descent.
- Both were born in a cave (although sometimes Jesus is said to have been born in a stable).
- Both had their coming announced to their mother by an angel.
- Horus; birth was heralded by the star Sirius (the morning star). Jesus had his birth heralded by a star in the East (the sun rises in the East).
- Ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus on December 21 (the Winter Solstice). Modern Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25.
- Both births were announced by angels (this is not the same as number 7).
- Both had shepherds witnessing the birth.
- Horus was visited at birth by “three solar deities” and Jesus was visited by “three wise men”.
- After the birth of Horus, Herut tried to have Horus murdered. After the birth of Jesus, Herod tried to have Jesus murdered.
- To hide from Herut, the god That tells Isis, “Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with thy child.” To hide from Herod, an angel tells Joseph to “arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt.”
- When Horus came of age, he had a special ritual where his eye was restored. When Jesus (and other Jews) come of age, they have a special ritual called a Bar Mitzvah.
- Both Horus and Jesus were 12 at this coming-of-age ritual.
- Neither have any official recorded life histories between the ages of 12 and 30.
- Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus. Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan.
- Both were baptized at age 30.
- Horus was baptized by Anup the Baptizer. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
- Both Anup and John were later beheaded.
- Horus was taken from the desert of Amenta up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Set. Jesus was taken from the desert in Palestine up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Satan.
- Both Horus and Jesus successfully resist this temptation.
- Both have 12 disciples.
- Both walked on water, cast out demons, healed the sick, and restored sight to the blind.
- Horus “stilled the sea by his power.” Jesus commanded the sea to be still by saying, “Peace, be still.”
- Horus raised his dead father (Osiris) from the grave. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. (Note the similarity in names when you say them out loud. Further, Osiris was also known as Asar, which is El-Asar in Hebrew, which is El-Asarus in Latin.)
- Osiris was raised in the town of Anu. Lazarus was raised in Bethanu (literally, “house of Anu”).
- Both gods delivered a Sermon on the Mount.
- Both were crucified.
- Both were crucified next to two thieves.
- Both were buried in a tomb.
- Horus was sent to Hell and resurrected in 3 days. Jesus was sent to Hell and came back “three days” later (although Friday night to Sunday morning is hardly three days).
- Both had their resurrection announced by women.
- Both are supposed to return for a 1000-year reign.
- Horus is known as KRST, the anointed one. Jesus was known as the Christ (which means “anointed one”).
- Both Jesus and Horus have been called the good shepherd, the lamb of God, the bread of life, the son of man, the Word, the fisher, and the winnower.
- Both are associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces (the fish).
- Both are associated with the symbols of the fish, the beetle, the vine, and the shepherd’s crook.
- Horus was born in Anu (“the place of bread”) and Jesus was born in Bethlehem (“the house of bread”).
- “The infant Horus was carried out of Egypt to escape the wrath of Typhon. The infant Jesus was carried into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Concerning the infant Jesus, the New Testament states the following prophecy: ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son.’”
- Both were transfigured on the mount.
- The catacombs of Rome have pictures of the infant Horus being held by his mother, not unlike the modern-day images of “Madonna and Child.”
- Noted English author C. W. King says that both Isis and Mary are called “Immaculate”.
- Horus says: “Osiris, I am your son, come to glorify your soul, and to give you even more power.” And Jesus says: “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.”
- Horus was identified with the Tau (cross).
Another great pagan christ was Krishna of India. In the sacred books of India it is recorded that Krishna was born of the virgin Devaki, that his nativity was heralded by a star, and that though of royal lineage, he was born in a cave. (According to the apocryphal gospel of Protevagelion, a work attributed to James, the brother of Jesus, the Christian savior was born in a cave.) At the time of Krishna’s birth, the cave was mysteriously illuminated. (At the birth of Jesus, “there was a great light in the cave, so that the eyes of Joseph and the Midwife could not bear it.”) The infant Krishna spoke to his mother soon after his birth. (“Jesus spoke even when he was in the cradle, and said to his mother: ‘Mary I am Jesus the Son of God, that Word which thou did bring forth according to the declaration of the Angel Gabriel unto thee, and my Father hath sent me for the salvation of the world’ ” according to the apocryphal gospels of 1 and 2 Infancy. )
Krishna was born while his foster-father Nanda was in the city to pay his tax to the king. (Jesus was born while his foster-father Joseph was in the city to pay his tax to the govenor.) The babe Krishna was adored by cowherds. (The infant Jesus was adored by shepherds.) King Kansa sought the life of the Indian Christ by ordering the massacre of all male children born during the same night as was Krishna. (This is almost identical with the story of the slaughter of the innocents, ordered by Herod.) Nanda was warned by a heavenly voice to flee with the infant Krishna across the Jumna River, to Gakul, to escape King Kansa. (Joseph was warned by a voice in a dream to flee into Egypt with the Christ-child to escape the wrath of Herod.) Krishna performed many miracles in the city of Mathura. (Jesus, while in Egypt, lived in a town named Matarea, where he performed many miracles.)
Krishna was a crucified christ. He is pictured in Indian art as hanging on a cross with arms extended. (Dr. Thomas Inman, a celebrated authority on pagan and Christian symbolism, states that: “Christna, whose history so closely resembles our Lord’s, was also like him in his being crucified.”) Krishna was pierced by an arrow while hanging on the cross. (Jesus was pierced by a spear during his crucifixion.) The light of the sun was blotted out at noon on the day of Krishna’s death. (The sun was darkened from the sixth to the ninth hour on the day of the crucifixion of Christ.) Krishna descended into hell to raise the dead before returning to the abode of the gods. (We read of Jesus Christ that: “He descended into hell, and on the third day rose again from the dead.” The Descent into Hell of Jesus is described in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus.) Krishna rose from the grave, and finally ascended bodily to heaven in the presence of a multitude of spectators. (A similar story is related of Jesus Christ.) In Indian art Krishna literally means “The Black.” (In early Christian art Jesus is almost invariably represented as a Black man.)
Buddha was born of a virgin name Maya, or Mary. His birthday was celebrated on December 25. He was visited by wise men who acknowledged his divinity. The life of Buddha was sought by King Bimbasara, who feared that some day the child would endanger his throne. At the age of twelve, Buddha excelled the learned men of the temple in knowledge and wisdom. His ancestry was traced back to Maha Sammata, the first monarch in the world. (Jesus’ ancestry is traced back to Adam, the first man in the world.) Buddha was transfigured on a mountain top. His form was illumined by as aura of bright light. (Jesus was likewise transfigured on a mountain top. “And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” After the completion of his earthly mission, Buddha ascended bodily to the celestial realms.
Osiris, the father of Horus
Osiris was another virgin-born god of ancient Egypt. His Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection were celebrated in an annual mystery-play at Abydos, on about March 25, an approximation of the Vernal Equinox, i.e. Easter. The Pharaoh Amenhotep III, of the seventeenth dynasty, was hailed as the son of the virgin Mutemua. His birth is pictured on the inner walls of the Temple of Amen in Thebes.
Mithra, a Persian sun-god
Mithra was virgin-born, in a cave, on December 25. His earliest worshippers were shepherds, and he was accompanied in his travels by twelve companions. The Mithraists kept the sabbath day holy and celebrated the Eucharist by eating wafers embellished with a cross. The great Mithraic festivals were the Birth (Christmas) and the Resurrection (Easter).
The Spaniards, on arriving in Mexico, were surprised to find the Aztecs had a story of virgin birth, too. See Kingsborough’s Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi, p. 176, where it is said “an ambassador was sent from heaven on an embassy to a Virgin of Tulan, called Chimalman . . . announcing that it was the will of the God that she should conceive a son; and having delivered her the message he rose and left the house; and as soon as he had left it she conceived a son, without connection with man, who was called Quetzalcoatl, who they say is the god of air.” Also, like Jesus, he was tempted and fasted for forty days. He is shown in the Borgian Ms., on a cross, with nail marks on his hands and feet. He is depicted as a man of sable hue. After being crucified, he rose from the dead and went into the East. The word Quetzalcoatlotopitzin means “our well-beloved son.” The Mexicans were expecting his Second Coming when the Spaniards invaded the country in the sixteenth century.
Other examples of virgin born Gods:
Krishna was born of the virgin Devaki
Savior Dionysus was born of the virgin Semele.
The old Teutonic goddess Hertha was a virgin impregnated by the heavenly Spirit and bore a son.
Scandinavian Frigga was impregnated by the All-Father Odin and bore Balder, the healer and savior of mankind.
Baal was born of Ashtaroth – Israel (Judges 2:13)
Before her, Neith, the Virgin of the World, whose figure bends from the sky over the earthly plains and the children of men, was acclaimed as mother of the great god Osiris.
Jupiter was born to Venus in Roman mythology
Tammuz was born to Semiramis in Babylon
Examples of mother and child worship:
The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshiped a Goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms. From Babylon, this worship of the Mother and the Child spread to the ends of the earth.
In Egypt, the Mother and the Child were worshiped under the names of Isis and Osiris.
In India, even to this day, as Isi and Iswara.
In Asia, as Cybele and Deoius.
In Pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer, or Jupiter, the boy.
In Greece, as Ceres, the Great Mother, with the babe at her breast, or as Irene, the goddess of Peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms.
And even in Tibet, in China, and Japan, the Jesuit missionaries were astonished to find the counterpart of the Madonna and her child as devoutly worshiped as in Papal Rome itself; Shing Moo, the Holy Mother in China, being represented with a child in her arms, and a glory around her, exactly as if a Roman Catholic artist had been employed to set her up.
by wirinet(m): 3:13pm On Nov 09, 2008
The Virgin birth of Christ, along with the Resurrection form the bedrock, upon which the Christian faith was founded and I want to share some of the research I conducted more than 30 years ago when i was still researching christianity. I will start with the virgin birth of Christ.
The major problem with Christianity and many other religions is the absolute lack of independent confirmation of the stories, if independent accounts exists, believers are asked to disregard any story in conflict with the story presented within the holy book, so the holy book, becomes the source and proof of itself, an authority unto itself.
Now lets go back to the Virgin Birth. First of all I want Christians to understand that virgin birth is not unique and exclusive to Christianity, in fact among ancient religions virgin birth was relatively new to the Christian faith. Among the religions of the orient, virgin birth and spiritual birth of their Guru or Saviour was not only accepted as a possibility but as a fact natural to all Gurus.
It is a fact that divine births were so commonly accepted among ancient people that whenever they hear of one who has greatly distinguish himself, they immediately classify such a person as having been born of a supernatural lineage. The learned Thomas Maurice in his book called Indian Antiquities, goes far as to state that “in every age and in almost every religion of the Asiatic world, there seems uniformly to have flourished an immemorial tradition that one god had from all eternity begotten another god”
Now lets look at other examples of Virgin Births.
India has a number of messengers who were divinely conceived and two of them bore the name “Chrishna” or “Chrishna the Saviour” (note the similarity with Christ). Now Chrishna was born of a chaste virgin called Devaki, Who on account of her purity was selected to become the mother of God.
Buddha was considered and believed by his followers to have been begotten of God and born of a virgin whose name was Maya. Long before the Christian era, we read of how the divine power called the” Holy Ghost” descended upon virgin Maya. In ancient Chinese version of the story, the holy ghost is called Shing-Shin.
The Siamese (Taiwan), had a God and saviour who was Virgin Born whom they called Codom. In this very ancient story, the beautiful Virgin had been informed in advance that she was to become the mother of a great messenger of God, and one day while in her usual period of meditation and prayer, she was impregnated by divine sun beams. When the boy was born, he grew up in a remarkable manner, became a protégé of wisdom and performed miracles.
When the first Jesuit priest visited china, they wrote in their reports at finding a heathen religion of that country, of a story of a redeeming saviour who was born of a Virgin and divinely conceived. The God was said to have been born 3468 B.C (before Christ), his name was Lao-Tsze and was said to have been born of a virgin black in complexion and as beautiful as a Jasper.
In Egypt, long before the Christian era, and before any of its doctrine was conceived, the Egyptian people had several messengers of God, who were conceived through Immaculate Conception. Horus was known to all of ancient Egypt as having been born of the virgin Isis and his conception and birth was considered one of the three great mysteries or mystical doctrines of the Egyptian religion. To then every incident in connection with the conception and birth of Horus was pictured, sculptured, adored and worshiped as the incidents of the conception and birth of Jesus is among the Christians today. Another Egyptian God called Ra was also conceived by a Virgin.
I think I should stop here, because if I decide to go on the examples would be too many. But I want to add that even, Plato who was born in Athens in 429 B.C. was believed by the populace to be a divine son of a pure virgin called Perictione.
It is recorded in the ancient record that the father of Plato who was known as Aris had been admonished in a spiritual dream to hold pure and sacred the person of his wife, until after the divine conception and birth of the child that is to come and that this child would be conceived by divine means.
by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S
The Greek god of wine, Dionysus or Bacchus, also called Iacchus, has been depicted as having been born of a virgin mother on December 25th; performing miracles such as changing water into wine; appearing surrounded by or one of 12 figures; bearing epithets such as “Only Begotten Son” and “Savior”; dying; resurrecting after three days; and ascending into heaven.
In studying religion and mythology, it is wise at to keep in mind that in the ancient world many gods were confounded and compounded, deliberately or otherwise. Some were even considered interchangeable, such as the Egyptian gods Osiris, Horus and Ra. In this regard, ancient Greek historian Plutarch (35, 364E) states, “Osiris is identical with Dionysus,” the Greek son of God. Dionysus, also known as Bacchus or Iacchus, is likewise identified with the god Aion and referred to as “Zeus Sabazius” in other traditions. (Graves, 335) Hence, we would expect him to share at least some of all these gods’ attributes, including being born of a virgin at the winter solstice (Aion), and dying and rising from the dead (Osiris).
“Bacchus, Apollo, the Sun, are one deity.”
Moreover, in Seven Books Against the Heathen (3.33), early Christian writer Arnobius (284-305) remarks that the Pagans “maintain that Bacchus, Apollo, the Sun, are one deity” and “the sun is also Bacchus and Apollo.” (Roberts, VI, 472-3) We would expect, therefore, Dionysus’s attributes to reflect solar mythology as well
December 25th/Winter Solstice
As with Jesus, December 25th and January 6th are both traditional birth dates in the Dionysian myth and simply represent the period of the winter solstice. Indeed, the winter-solstice date of the Greek sun and wine god Dionysus was originally recognized in early January but was eventually placed on December 25th, as related by ancient Latin writer Macrobius (c. 400 AD/CE). Regardless, the effect is the same: The winter sun god is born around this time, when the shortest day of the year begins to become longer.
“Macrobius transfers this feast to the day of the winter solstice, December 25.”
The ancient Church father Epiphanius (4th cent. ) discussed the birth of the god Aion, son of the Greek goddess Persephone or Kore (“Maiden”), at the time of the winter solstice. In this regard, Christian theologian Rev. Dr. Hugh Rahner (139-140) remarks:
We know that Aion was at this time beginning to be regarded as identical with Helios and Helios with Dionysus…because [according to Macrobius] Dionysus was the symbol of the sun… He is made to appear small at the time of the winter solstice, when upon a certain day the Egyptians take him out of the crypt, because on this the shortest day of the year it is as though he were a little child…. Macrobius transfers [this feast] to the day of the winter solstice, December 25.
Dionysus is thus equivalent to Aion and was also said to have been born of Persephone, the virgin maiden. Esteemed mythologist Joseph Campbell (MI, 34) confirms this “celebration of the birth of the year-god Aion to the virgin Goddess Kore,” the latter of whom he calls “a Hellenized transformation of Isis,” the Egyptian mother goddess who was likewise called the “Great Virgin” in inscriptions predating the Christian era by centuries.
According to the most common tradition, Dionysus was the son of the god Zeus and the mortal woman Semele. In the Cretan version of the same story, which the pre-Christian Greek historian Diodorus Siculus follows, Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Persephone, the daughter of Demeter also called Kore, who is styled a “virgin goddess.”
In the common myth about the birth of Dionysus/Bacchus, Semele is mysteriously impregnated by one of Zeus’s bolts of lightning–an obvious miraculous/virgin conception.
Concerning Dionysus’s epithet “twice begotten,” in the third century Church father Minucius Felix (Commodius, XII) remarked to his Pagan audience:
Ye yourselves say that Father Liber was assuredly twice begotten. First of all he was born in India of Proserphine [Persephone] and Jupiter [Zeus]… Again, restored from his death, in another womb Semele conceived him again of Jupiter… (Roberts, IV, 205)
“The virgin conceived the ever-dying, ever-living god of bread and wine, Dionysus.”
In another account, Jupiter/Zeus gives Dionysus’s torn-up heart in a drink to Semele, who becomes pregnant with the “twice born” god this way, again a miraculous or “virgin” birth. Indeed, Joseph Campbell explicitly calls Semele a “virgin”:
While the maiden goddess sat there, peacefully weaving a mantle on which there was to be a representation of the universe, her mother contrived that Zeus should learn of her presence; he approached her in the form of an immense snake. And the virgin conceived the ever-dying, ever-living god of bread and wine, Dionysus, who was born and nurtured in that cave, torn to death as a babe and resurrected… (Campbell, MG, 4.27)
This same direct appellation is used by Cambridge professor and anthropologist Sir Dr. Edmund Ronald Leach:
Dionysus, son of Zeus, is born of a mortal virgin, Semele, who later became immortalized through the intervention of her divine son; Jesus, son of God, is born of a mortal virgin, Mary… such stories can be duplicated over and over again. (Hugh-Jones, 108)
Using the scholarly Greek term parthenos, meaning “virgin,” in The Cult of the Divine Birth in Ancient Greece (95) Dr. Marguerite Rigoglioso concludes: “Semele was also likely a holyparthenos by virtue of the fact that she gave birth to Dionysus via her union with Zeus (Hesiod, Theogony 940).”
These learned individuals had reason to consider Dionysus’s mother a virgin, as, again, he was also said to have been born of Persephone/Kore, whom, once more from Epiphanius, was herself deemed a “virgin,” or parthenos. In this regard, professor emeritus of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Donald White (183) says, “As a title ‘Parthenos’ was appropriate to both Demeter and Persephone…”
The fact that Persephone is associated with parthenogenesis, the scholarly term for “virgin birth,” lends credence to the notion that Dionysus was virgin-born. As related further by Rigoglioso inVirgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity (111):
Persephone’s connection with the parthenogenetic pomegranate is attested in text and iconography. In speaking directly about the Eleusinian Mysteries, Clement of Alexandria (Exhortation to the Greeks 2:16) informs us that the pomegranate tree was believed to have sprung from the drops of the blood of Dionysus…
Although Dionysus is depicted as being the product of a “rape” by Zeus, the story is little different from the impregnation of the Virgin Mary by Yahweh without her consent, especially in consideration of the identification of Dionysus’s very blood with parthenogenesis. In this regard, Rigoglioso also states, “I contend that Persephone’s eating of the pomegranate was the magical action that instigated her ability to conceive parthenogenetically.
Also, in the museum in Naples has been kept an ancient marble urn showing the birth/nativity of Dionysus, with two groups of three figures on either side of the god Mercury, who is holding the divine baby, and a female figure who is receiving him.
This depiction resembles the gospel story of “wise men” or dignitaries, traditionally held to number three, approaching Joseph, the divine child and Mary.
The miracles of Dionysus are legendary, as is his role as the god of wine, echoed in the later Christian story of Jesus multiplying the jars of wine at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2:1-9). Concerning this miracle, biblical scholar Dr. A.J. Mattill remarks:
This story is really the Christian counterpart to the pagan legends of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, who at his annual festival in his temple of Elis filled three empty kettles with wine-no water needed! And on the fifth of January wine instead of water gushed from his temple at Andros. If we believe Jesus’ miracle, why should we not believe Dionysus’s?(Leedom, 125)
Dionysus’s miracle of changing water to wine is recounted in pre-Christian times by Diodorus (Library of History, 3.66.3). As the god of the vine, Dionysus is depicted in ancient texts as traveling around teaching agriculture, as well as doing various other miracles, such as in Homer’s The Iliad, dating to the 9th century BCE, and in The Bacchae of Euripides, the famous Greek playwright who lived around 480 to 406 BCE.
“Dionysus’s blood is the wine of the sacrifice.”
It is further interesting that the Communion as practiced today within Catholicism also had a place within the cult of Dionysus, as Campbell points out:
Dionysus-Bacchus-Zagreus-or, in the older, Sumero-Babylonian myths, Dumuzi-absu, Tammuz-…whose blood, in this chalice to be drunk, is the pagan prototype of the wine of the sacrifice of the Mass, which is transubstantiated by the words of consecration into the blood of the Son of the Virgin. (Campbell, MG, 4.23)
In an Orphic hymn, Phanes-Dionysus is styled by the Greek title Protogonos or “first-born” of Zeus, also translated at times as “only-begotten son,” although the term Monogenes would be more appropriately rendered as the latter. He is also called “Soter” or “Savior” in various inscriptions, including a bronze coin from the Thracian city of Maroneia dating to circa 400-350 BCE. Like Jesus in his aspect as the Father, Dionysus is called Pater, or “father” in Greek.
“Dionysus is ‘first-born,’ ‘Savior’ and ‘Father.'”
The title “King of Kings” and other epithets may reflect Dionysus’s kinship with Osiris: During the late 18th to early 19th dynasties (c. 1300 BCE), Osiris’s epithets included, “the king of eternity, the lord of everlastingness, who traverseth millions of years in the duration of his life, the firstborn son of the womb of Nut, begotten of Seb, the prince of gods and men, the god of gods, the king of kings, the lord of lords, the prince of princes, the governor of the world whose existence is for everlasting.” (Budge, liii)
Dionysus’s death and resurrection were famous in ancient times, so much so that Christian father Origen (c. 184-c. 254) felt the need to address them in his Contra Celsus (IV, XVI-XVII), comparing them unfavorably, of course, to those of Christ. By Origen’s time, these Dionysian mysteries had already been celebrated for centuries. Dionysus/Bacchus’s resurrection or revival after having been torn to pieces or otherwise killed earned him the epithet of “twice born.”
Moreover, it was said that Dionysus/Bacchus “slept three nights with Proserpine [Persephone],” evidently referring to the god’s journey into the underworld to visit his mother. Like Jesus, the god is claimed also to have “ascended to heaven,” such as by Church father Justin Martyr (First Apology, 21; Roberts I, 170). Note that Dionysus is depicted here as an adult, rising out of the underworld after death, with a horse-driven chariot so typical of a sun god. One major astrotheological meaning of this motif is the sun’s entrance into and exit from the cave (womb) of the world at the winter solstice.
Hence, in Dionysus we have yet another solar hero, born of a virgin on “December 25th” or the winter solstice, performing miracles and receiving divine epithets, being killed, giving his blood as a sacrifice, resurrecting from the dead after three days in Hades/Hell, and ascending into heaven. These motifs have all been claimed of the gospel figure of Jesus Christ since antiquity and have to do not with the adventures of a “historical” Jewish savior but with the ubiquitous solar mythos and ritual.
Biblical scholars have long ago dismissed the literal interpretation of the miraculous virgin-birth of Jesus. Also, many liberal Christian denominations have either quietly purged the curious piece of teaching from their body of philosophy, or conveniently ignore the issue altogether. Despite this, the allure of such an intriguing concept is still very powerful and Jesus’ virgin birth continues to enjoy the unquestioning belief of millions of people. The purpose of this essay is to explore the mythological connections between prodigal children in history with an emphasis on the meaning and symbology of virgin birth as it particularly relates to Jesus. In this way Jesus’ virgin birth and the mysteries surrounding it will be fully explored in the mythological context from which it derives.
We know very little about the desert nomads and goddess worshippers who settled the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley. Mesopotamia, situated as it was between the ancient lands of Ur and Sumer, was almost constantly at war in the three millennia preceding the Common Era. What we do know comes down to us through the Ashurbanipal library. King Ashurbanipal (fl. 620 BCE) of Nineveh ruled the Assyrian empire just prior to its decline. His brutal accomplishments on the battlefield were tempered only by a driving passion for letters and learning so that, over time his spoils included the religious texts and history books of all of his conquered neighbors including the Mesopotamians. After his death, his empire collapsed and in a few short years Nineveh itself was utterly destroyed by Persian invaders. The invaders were only interested in destroying Nineveh’s military might; they ruined the city’s walls, but completely ignored the Ashurbanipal’s library, perhaps considering it a mere whimsical endeavor. The library was soon swallowed up by the shifting sands of the desert. Finally in 1845 British archaeologists rediscovered Nineveh and the wealth of books which lay buried there.
The pre-civilized world of ancient Mesopotamia, consisted of small farming settlements whose people worshipped Ishtar, a fertile, mother goddess. Ishtar caused the rains to fall and the crops to grow in a continuous cycle of birth, life, and death. Over time, Ishtar-worship began to wane as the warlike male gods of neighboring tribes emerged in positions of prominence. The warrior-kings of neighboring desert tribes continually invaded the fertile lands of Mesopotamia, eventually seizing the land and incorporating it into their own rising and falling empires. One of the first warrior-kings to rise up among these early peoples was Sargon of Akkad, who established his kingdom in 2200 BCE. Ishtar was by now fully absorbed into the stronger cults of the patriarchal deities and she became a lesser deity who was subservient to the new male gods of the warrior-kings.
Sargon is perhaps the first Babylonian king who was said to have a larger-than-life birth and childhood. He was born in secret to a mother of lowly birth and a father who was a mountain god. In a motif which would later be borrowed and attributed to Horus and Moses, Sargon’s mother placed the child in a basket of rushes and sent him down a river to protect him from the god’s enemies. The babe was rescued downstream by simple folk and the goddess Ishtar loved and guided Sargon through his early childhood and to his final destiny: the ascension of the throne. Sargon’s biography started a “tall tale” tradition that subsequent kings felt the need to match. The attribute of divine birth and predestination became an important vehicle whereby a mortal king was said to be god-favored; gaining recognition and power during his life which often continued into posterity long after death.
By 1000 BCE, we find this tradition improved upon so that the biography of kings and important men insist that they were not only divinely born, but said to have transcended death to become gods themselves. Zoroaster, the Persian prophet and patriarch who lived and preached in ancient Babylon, was said to have been God-begotten and virgin born. Virgin-birth was the responsibility of the Ishtar priestesses, who conducted fertility rites, prophesied and performed elaborate rituals in the temples throughout Babylon. The priestesses who administered the temples also managed a lucrative prostitution business that provided a steady stream of financial support for temple activities. Upon their return to Palestine, Hebrews of the Babylonian captivity brought back to the Mediterranean peoples wondrous tales of the priestesses and their blasphemous sexual ministries to the men who visited them. The role of the Ishtar priestess was to act as both mother to the prospective man’s child and minister to the child’s divine needs:
“Holy Virgin” was the title of harlot-priestesses of Ishtar (and) Asherah. The title didn’t mean physical virginity; it meant simply “unmarried.” The function of such “holy virgins” was to dispense the Mother’s grace through sexual worship; to heal; to prophesy; to perform sacred dances; to wail for the dead; and to become Brides of God.”
The Hebrews called the children of these priestesses bathur, which meant literally “virgin-born” as in those children who were born of the holy harlot-priestesses of the temple. The Hellenic world had no equivalent to the bizarre rituals of Ishtar, and mistranslated and misunderstood the literal Hebrew’s bathur as parthenioi, also “virgin-born” but in the sense of physical, not spiritual, virginity.
The Zoroastrian cosmology told of the world lasting for twelve thousand years in four, three-thousand year blocks of time. The last block of time began with the divine birth of the prophet and would end by ushering in the apocalyptic end of the world and the restoration of good over evil:
[Zoraster’s] birth and teaching in the world marked the opening of the final three thousand of the world span of twelve thousand years–at the end of which term his spritual sons Saoshyant, “the Coming Savior,” the World Messiah, would appear, to culminate the victory of Truth over the Lie and establish forever the restoration of the pristine creation of God. As the legend tells, the birthplace of Zoroaster . . . was beside the river Daiti, in the central land of the seven lands of the earth, Eran Vej. . . . Angra Mainyu [Demon of the Lie] rushed from the regions of the north, crying to his horde, “Annihilate him!” But the holy babe chanted aloud . . . and the demons were dispersed.
In the Hellenic empire carved out by Alexander the Great during the third century BCE, these eastern beliefs and myths mingled with those of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Semitic peoples. Alexander was anxious to connect the Mediterranean world with the strange ways and customs of the Orient and sought to connect his two empires culturally as well as politically. The Greeks had already devised well-developed concepts of divine impregnation. The savior-god Dionysus was said to have been born after Zeus visited Persephone in the form of a serpent. The Persian contribution to these Hellenic myths was to bring the fascinating idea of the virgin (parthenioi) birth to the old Dionysus and Herakles stories. Eventually the pagan mysteries had fully incorporated the virgin-birth ceremonies of the Ishtar priestesses into their own beliefs and religions as each savior- god took on the divine attribute themselves.
The Greeks related that Persephone was hidden in a cave by her mother, the goddess Demeter. While there, Persephone began weaving a great tapestry of the universe out of aweb of wool. Zeus learned of her presence and approached Persephone in the guise of a serpent. She conceived a son for Zeus and named him Dionysus, whom she cared for and nurtured in the cave to protect the young child from other jealous wives of Zeus. Eventually Herakles, whom the Romans would rename to Hercules, was said to have been born of a god as well. In due time Perseus, Minos, Asclepius, Miletus, and many others, were all reputably born of a specially selected mortal woman and a god in the manner of the Ishtar virgin priestesses. Often the god would impregnate the woman as a spirit in special ceremonies. Zeus was said to have impregnated Danae by visiting her as a ray of sunlight and the dove, sacred to Ishtar, manifests itself as a Holy Ghost to impregnate Mary and announce Jesus as the son of God.
One result of the Persian-Hellenic blend of myths was Mithras.Mithras was a Persian deity, but other than his name used” to give itself an exotic oriental flavor,” Hellenic Mithraism wasdistinctly pagan. Mithraism began and flourished at the same timeas did Christianity. The cult gained enormous popularity and bythe third century hundreds of mithraeum–underground temples whereMithras was worshipped–were spread out across Asia Minor, Africa,Italy, Greece, and the German and Scottish frontiers where Romansoldiers were stationed. Mithras is the most recognizable of theMediterranean gods that was said to have been physically virgin-born; a flattering imitation of the Ishtar priestesses ofBabylon. Mithras was depicted as a” bull-slayer” and stone-carved reliefs display a tauroctony where Mithras plunges a knife into the neck of a great bull, while the blood spills down to the ground. The bull-slaying scene always takes place inside of a cave, symbolically represented by the mithraeum’s locations in caves and underground grottos. To understand this symbolic bull- slaying, we must first look briefly at the Greco-Roman world’s understanding of the universe.
The ancients believed that the sun, the moon, “wandering” stars (planets), comets, and other celestial bodies were heavenly gods who were in motion about a stationary earth. Since the sun (Sol invictus) seemed to be the most influential of the celestial gods, it was especially worshipped and regarded as annually “reborn” at its lowest point in the sky during the winter solstice of December 25th. Since the plane of the ecliptic–the path that the sun travels in the sky–traces out the band of the twelve star-patterns that make up the zodiac, the sun was considered a god that gave “birth” to, or was a father of, the twelve zodiacal gods. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus made the astounding discovery in 128 BCE that the zodiac of constellations slowly drifted backward over time so that they appeared, with respect to the suns position at winter solstice, in a new location in the heavens. Every 25 thousand years these constellations slowly moved; a phenomenon we know today to be the precession of the equinoxes which is caused by the “wobble” of the earth on its axis. To the ancients, it was a frightening and astounding event:
Hipparchus, who assumed that the earth was immovable and at the center of the cosmos, could only understand the precession as a movement of the entire cosmic sphere. In other words, Hipparchus’s discovery amounted to the revelation that the entire universe was moving in a way that no one had ever been aware of before. . . . [The precession] had profound religious implications. A new force had been detected capable of shifting the cosmic sphere: Was it not likely that this new force was a sign of the activity of a new god, a god so powerful that he was capable of moving the entire universe?
At the time Hipparchus made his discovery, the spring equinox, which signaled the resurrection of the sun-god, appeared in the constellation of Aries the Ram. Before Aries, it was seen that the equinox fell on Taurus the Bull. This celestial movement taking place among the heavenly gods and the “death” of Taurus the Bull made a tremendous impact. Mithras became that celestial force who was strong enough to slay the bull and was able to command the very heavens to do his bidding.
In Mithraism, just as in Christianity and Zoroastrianism before them, the world was a constant battleground of good and evil; a bitter dualistic struggle between the hosts of demons and the elect who serve God. Spirituality warred against the physical, and darkness imperiled the good fortune of light. Mithras represented the divine son of the sun-god and the savior of good against darkness in the universe who battled against the minions of evil to save mankind.
Because Mithras could move the celestial sphere at will, he was seen as outside of the universe. Carvings of Mithras reflect his birth as a naked child bursting from an egg-shaped petra genetrix, or “Generative Rock.” The rock caves where the mithraeum were located symbolize the “womb” from which Mithras emerged. His escape from the confines of the rock, attest to his extra-universal power to escape the celestial sphere and command the heavens:
Mithras was born on December 25th, the eve of the winter solstice when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. With the dawn of light on Mithras’ birth “the priest emerged from the temple to announce triumphantly: The God is born!”
When Christianity gained power in the fifth century, Mithraism was declared heretical and ruthlessly scourged. Before that time, Christianity and Mithraism coexisted and were undoubtedly influencial upon each other. This mingling and influence are apparent in the manner with which Christianity overtook Mithraism. The former had no trouble incorporating Mithraism’s followers into its own ranks and many former mithraeums were converted to churches. Many Roman churches today, the Church of San Clemente in Rome most notably, still contain well-preserved mithraeums in their vaulted burial crypts. The lines that divided Mithraism from Christianity were understandably blurred due to this slow and steady absorption of Mithraism by Christianity during the centuries that the two existed side-by-side. This process led to the similarities that we now see shared between the two religions:
[Mithras] was said to have been sent by a father-god to vanquish darkness and evil in the world. Born of a virgin (a birth witnessed only by shepherds), Mithras was described variously as the Way, the Truth, the Light, the Word, the Son of God, and the Good Shepherd and was often depicted carrying a lamb upon his shoulders. Followers of Mithras celebrated December 25th (the winter solstice) by ringing bells, singing hymns, lighting candles, giving gifts, and administering a sacrament of bread and water. Between December 25th and the spring equinox (Easter, from the Latin for earth goddess) came the 40 days’ search for Osiris, a god of justice and love. The cult also observed Black Friday, commemorating Mithras’ sacrificial bull-slaying which fructified the earth. Worn out by the battle, Mithras is symbolically represented as a corpse and is placed in a sacred rock tomb from which he is removed after three days in a festival of rejoicing.
Jesus’ virgin-birth was probably attributed to him during this time. Matthew and Luke write that Jesus was born of a virgin in 1:18-25, and 1:26-35, respectively. Mark, the earliest of the synoptics, makes no such claim and the Gospel of John would never think of reducing Jesus, the divine Logos, to mere flesh and blood. The Gospel of Mark aligns itself closely with the earlier Q–the forty or so oral tradition sayings that are believed to be derived from Jesus’ teachings directly–and does not think to concern itself with the biography of Jesus prior to his baptism by John. To early Christians, the childhood or place and manner of the birth of Jesus was irrelevant. The Kingdom of God was at hand and Jesus the messenger had warned them of that fact and that they should prepare for the new heaven and earth that was to come in their lifetimes. Given Jesus’ apoclyptic message and instructions to repent and prepare for the Lord, a posterity-driven biography would seem absurd. If the Kingdom of God was at hand, as Jesus taught, then there would be no future generations to read anything that was codified in the present. Thus, the oral tradition preserved Jesus’ teachings in short, concise pericopes (short sayings) and Jesus’ followers gave little thought to writing them down at first because of the very nature of the apocalyptic movement that had sprung up around them.
As time went by it could be seen that the Kingdom of God was delayed. Among the Hellenized Jews and the Greek pagans who were considering conversion to Christianity, this delay posed more questions than answers. Additionally, Greek pagans, from which Christianity was to draw its converts and eventually thrive, were naturally skeptical of any new savior and the heavenly rewards they might promise. These Greeks had to pick and choose among the dozens of mystery cults and gods that had sprung up, each promising riches and eternal bliss in a heavenly afterlife. Jesus had little to offer these Greeks. He was, by all accounts, a mortal Jewish messiah, speaking only to the sons of Abraham and telling them to prepare the way of the Lord who would build a new Jerusalem especially for his chosen people. The Marcan Jesus that was known to his followers during the middle-to-late first-century (before the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John) shared none of the attributes of the time-honored moral-savior deities of Dionysus or Herakles. Jesus’ later-added attribute of virgin-birth necessary if Jesus was to be made acceptable to the pagans of the Hellenized world.
Hebrew teachings do not specify that the Messiah would be born of a virgin; the very idea is alien to Jewish expectations of who the Messiah would be. Quite contrary to the Hellenized Jesus “there is nothing in the Jewish sacred books to suggest that the Messiah or anyone else was, or was to be, born of a virgin.” Jesus had been thoroughly rejected by the Jews who had decided that he was not the messiah that would usher in the new Kingdom. Early Christians had no choice but to turn away from Palestine and introduce Jesus to the Gentiles.
The Gospel of Mark begins with the Baptist in the River Jordan and the baptism of Jesus there. Early versions of Matthew and Luke, which were circulated among Greek Christians, began with the Baptist as well. At some point, these Christians felt the need to tailor their savior after the Greek savior-gods that they were familiar with and felt that it would be necessary to write a biography of Jesus to fill that need and make him as powerful and honorable as the pagan gods. The Gospel of Mark (70 CE) was already too well known and circulated, but the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were perfect for inserting the childhood biography of Jesus:
The first two chapters of Matthew and the first three chapters of Luke were added in the second century by Hellenizers who would accept only a divinely born savior-god like those of the pagan mystery-cults. . . .”
By the close of the first century it became necessary to codify the origins of Jesus so as to defend him from the pagan critics who hesitated at following a new god when their current ones, like Herakles and Perseus, were well known to have been born by the union of a god and a virgin mother. Writing independently of each other, the authors or interpolators of Matthew and Luke proceeded to elevate Jesus to the status of the Greek savior-gods by inserting at the front of their gospels, the birth narrative of Jesus. The end result however created another problem:
Although Matthew and Luke, who deal with the Virgin Birth story, are considered “inspired” writers . . . they yet disagree on minor details. It was to Joseph that the angel appeared to according to Matthew; it was to Mary according to Luke. And the Annunciation (the angel Gabriel’s announcement of the Incarnation) took place before Mary’s conception, if Luke is the authority; and after, if Matthew is the authority.
At the time of Matthew and Luke’s interpolation, Christianity deeply rooted itself in the Graeco-Roman world and had completely separated itself from its mother religion Judaism. Former pagans were converting en masse and brought their religious beliefs with them to the new religion.
Even the Hebrew’s Tanakh was forgotten, having been replaced by the Greek Septuagint which translated the Old Testament books into Greek terms and concepts that often were misleading, innacurate, or mistranslated from the Hebrew texts. The Greek- speaking author of Matthew, relying on the faulty translation of the Septuagint, rendered the Hebrew word almah (young woman) into Greek parthenos (virgin) when he wrote:
The Septuagint had retained the Ishtar-worshipping virgin-temple practices in part by insisting on the physical virgin-birth of Isaiah’s prophetic Emmanuel in verses 7:14. The later writers of Matthew and Luke relied on the Septuagint for their references. After reading this passage in Isaiah, Matthew sought to find a way to fit Jesus into the virgin-birth role that Isaiah spoke of, thus achieving a prophecy in Jesus’ own birth. The impetus for the idea and the motivation which would eventually permanently seal it into the canon, came from the huge numbers of pagan converts. These converts didn’t want to leave behind Mithras and Perseus, who were both virgin-born, in exchange for a Jewish Messiah who was not.
The text in Isaiah 7:14, properly translated from the Hebrew Nevi’im reads:
Assuredly, my Lord will give you a sign of His own accord! Look, the young woman is with child and about to give birth to a son. Let her name him Immanuel.
This “young woman” may perhaps be unmarried or a physical virgin, but she should not be confused with the role of the Holy Virgins of the pagan temples of Ishtar whose job it was to bear savior- gods. This passage could not refer to anything other than a direct sign of Yahweh concerning the events of Isaiah’s time. Isaiah specifically refers to the time and place in which the prophet is speaking to King Ahaz and reassuring him that Syria and Ephraim will not go to war with Judah. Isaiah “is simply saying to Ahaz that a lady who is now a virgin will shortly fall pregnant and bear a son, and that by the time this has happened the political dangers will have been averted.” Matthew, straining to provide some kind of scriptural basis for the virgin- birth of Jesus, takes Isaiah out of context in order to support a prophecy fulfillment through Jesus’ virgin birth. We see the context-dropping in 8:3-4 where Isaiah’s prophecy is said to have come true in that “the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria” shall be plundered by Assyria while the child is yet an infant. These invasions and the resultant booty did occur in the seventh century BCE. How did such a doctrine ever become promulgated?
What actually happened is obvious enough: at an early date, Judaizers interpolated passages designed to make Jesus the Messiah who would establish a Jewish empire at His Parousia; but then, about 115-125 (CE), since it had become impossible to remove these interpolations, certain Hellenizers simply superimposed Matt. 1:18-25 and Luke 1 upon them, which provided Jesus with a Virgin Birth and made of Him a savior generically similar to Dionysus and therefore acceptable in the pagan world.
By the time pagan philosophers like Celsus (fl. 180 CE) were denouncing the virgin-birth mythology, it was too late. The doctrine was already imbedded in the collective minds and manuscripts of the early Christians. Celsus anticipated the motive behind the virgin birth narrative and accused Christians of attributing the virgin birth to Jesus in order to imitate the pagan savior-gods:
Many of the nations of the world hold doctrines similar to those espoused by the Christians…. The Galactophagi of Homer, the Druids of Gaul, and even the Getae (for example) believe doctrines very close to (the historicity of Christianity and Judaism) … Linus, Musaeus, Orpheus, Pherecydes, Zoroaster the Persian, and Pythagoras understood these doctrines …. What absurdity! Clearly the Christians have used the myths of the Danae and the Melanippe, or of the Auge and the Antiope in fabricating the story of Jesus’ virgin birth.
Celsus’ bitter criticism necessitated a Christian apology that never quite overcame the defensive posture that it was forced to take. Early Church fathers like Eusebius and Augustine compare and contrast Jesus heavily against his pagan contemporaries, claiming that if Jesus is false, then so is Mithras and Herakles. During this period, the early Christians were still tied to their pagan roots and had not yet stated a clear case for why their god should not be considered an equal of Mithras, Dionysus, and other Greek and Roman gods. Roman critics and neoplatonic philosophers who argued against Christianity from a conservative status quo position, couldn’t understand why Christians would want to so closely fashion their god after those of the standard repertoire of state-endorsed gods.
The pagan idea of a savior-god being virgin-born was very persistent:
a…factor making for the survival of such tales (virgin birth) in religious cults is stressed by Gilbert Murray. He notes that it is the saviour gods of paganism who are often reputed virgin-born. The father-god supplies the human race with a saviour, his son, by impregnating a goddess or a mortal. He must, however, not be regarded as actuated by lust. His purpose is the birth of a great saviour of mankind, and so the impregnation has to be effected without carnal intercourse. Hence Io was made pregnant by the laying on of the divine hand, Danae by the golden sunlight.
Nowhere is virgin birth so stressed as in the Graeco-Roman world where the synoptic interpolators were deeply rooted:
[T]he doctrine of the Virgin Birth, without which no prophet or savior-god could be a divine incarnation, was so common among ancient cults that it was impossible for any religious founder to achieve acceptance without it.
The virgin-birth story which is attributed to Jesus, is a later pagan addition interpolated for the sole purpose of adding support for the Christian savior. Not having been based upon a solid textual foundation like the Jews, early Christians needed to attribute the characteristics and events of existing gods to their savior in order to legitimize him as a god worthy of worship. Jesus represents a crossover from Messianic Judaism and Graeco-Roman paganism; an embodiment of the best of both worlds.
Clues from the apocryphal–texts not included in the canon–that account for the persistence of Jesus’ virgin-birth may be from the Gospel of Thomas, which dates to perhaps 50 CE. Jesus is preaching in the desert using parables and saying that “he who has ears, let him hear.” A woman calls out saying “[b]lessed are the womb which bore you and the breasts which nourished you” to which Jesus replies:
Blessed are those who have heard the word of the father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, `Blessed are the womb which has not conceived and the breasts which have not given milk.’
Jesus is referring to the hard times that may befall those who choose to serve God for the path to the Kingdom of God is narrow indeed. Often Jesus is depicted in the gospels as being taken literally (e.g., Nicodemus’ “born from above” narrative) when he meant to use figurative speech, so this may be just such a case. Also, in the same gospel Jesus tells his disciples that when they “go into any land” and “see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him.” Thomas’ Jesus constantly plays on words and tells his disciples that only by searching for the beginning will they find the end of their journey. Aside from the Buddhist overtones of this statement, it is possible that later Christians decided that the “beginning” (Jesus) must have been one not born of woman since no mention is made of such beings after the disciples traveled and preached.
The Gospel of Mark, the earliest of the gospels, relates that Jesus is a Jewish Messiah, and so born quite naturally in the manner expected of the Davidic Messiah. The Jewish ascetic sects who were expecting a son of David to arrive who would invoke the Parousia and regain the throne, said that he would be born in Bethlehem. The earliest references, upon which Mark’s gospel is based, insist that Jesus was instead born in Galilee at Nazareth. The last two synoptics, Matthew and Luke, attempt to correct Mark’s error by again placing Jesus’ birth back in Bethlehem. The Gospel of John, which is totally unconcerned with any notion of Jewish expectations of the Messiah, places Jesus back at Nazareth merely for the sake of argument ascribing the conflict as a “division among the people over him” (Jn. 7:43). The conflict would be a minor one if it were not for the fact that there was no such town in Galilee named Nazareth during Jesus’ birth. In a humorous self-fulfilling prophecy, the Galilean town was established in the third century after news of Jesus’ birthplace had become famous. This curious insistence on associating Jesus with Nazareth may predate the Christian oral traditions and told among apocalyptic groups like the Essenes, who practiced a form of sun worship. Early Christians may have considered Jesus a sun-god. Nazareth is very closely worded to Nazaroth which in Hebrew is “the twelve signs (of the zodiac).” The root verb nazar means to “surround” as in the twelve constellations of the zodiac which pass overhead each night, thus surrounding the earth. Job is reminded of his human limitations and the celestial astrological power of Yahweh, when the latter speaks to him from a raging desert whirlwind:
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Nazaroth in his season?
This theory is supported by the evidence that the inhabitants of Qumran by the Dead Sea, who Pliny referred to as Essenes, used a solar-based calendar, rather than the traditional lunar-based Judaic calendar. Pliny the Younger reported in a letter to the emperor Trajan in 112 CE that “Christians appear to be harmless people who meet at daybreak and sign hymns to the honor of the Christo quasi deo (the Christ as if he were a god).”
Matthew and Luke sought to fill in the missing genealogy for Jesus. Jewish Messiah’s were considered important only in the capacity that they fulfilled the role of a “Son of man” and told their people the message of God who had appointed them. The Messiah himself was unimportant compared to the mission which he was elected to perform. But when Matthew and Luke wrote, Jesus had taken on a greater meaning to the Christians than just a fulfiller of Messianic duties. Understandably, many early Christians wanted to know more about Jesus than the earlier texts and the Sayings Sources had shown. Writing independently of each other, Matthew and Luke wrote conflicting genealogies based on OT scripture and numerology.
Matthew’s genealogy is an attempt to invoke credibility through powerful numerological magic. He bases Jesus’ lineage on watershed events in history in three sets of fourteen:
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.”
Since “seven” is the Hebrew magical number we find a strong desire to tailor Jesus’ genealogy in groups that are divisible by seven, and in groupings that denote historical events of which Jesus’ birth is as important as the “carrying away into Babylon” and King David himself:
Here are the six sets of seven names each that Matthew derives:
Abraham Aminadab | Solomon Joatham | Jechonias Achim Isaac Naasson | Roboam Achaz | Salathiel Eliud Jacob Salmon | Abia Ezekias | Zorobabel Eleazar Judas Booz | Asa Manasses | Abiud Matthan Phares Obed | Josaphat Amon | Eliakim Jacob Esrom Jesse | Joram Josias | Azor Joseph Aram David | Ozias Jechonias | Sadoc Jesus -------------------+---------------------+-------------------- Formation of | Babylonian | Jesus as Messiah Israel | Captivity |
Matthew omits Joash, Amaziah, and Azoriah from the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3 and mistakenly counts Jechonias twice in order to achieve the perfect three sets of fourteen which when halved invoke the magical properties of the number seven. Jesus can be said according to Matthew’s genealogy as being the “seventh son thrice and one” of King David himself. An impressive lineage indeed and one which testifies to the powerful influences astrology and numerology had on the ancient world and the early Christians in particular. Pagan critics accused Christians of practicing chicanery and magic learned from the Masters in Egypt. Matthew and Luke’s birth narratives also show astrological magic in practice by having Jesus born when the stars are correct in the heavens. These myth-making elements liven up the gospels, but should not be taken literally. Again, we can safely assume that these accretions which attach magical properties and visiting magicians to Jesus’ birth are stories designed to Hellenize Jesus for the pagan converts sake.