Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Pagan Resurrection



I take issue with the "fact" that the pyramids were built 10,500 years before Christ. Modern scholarship puts the pyramid age at 4,600 years old. About 2,600 BC. And I'm not convinced of all the parallels in the video. But there are far too many for there to not have been borrowings. In fact borrowings were common in Egypt.

As the Egyptians conquered tribes they incorporated the tribal gods of the conquered tribes into their gods. So you didn't have to give up the worship you were comfortable with to become an Egyptian. Sound familiar? Well Christianity (a Jewish sect) conquered Rome. What would you expect? Passover? (A celebration of God leading the Jews from political persecution - I doubt if the Roman Government would have been happy with that) became the Resurrection. A myth more suitable to pagans. And the governance of Rome.

The Jews do have resurrection of course. But only in the very end times when God rules the world. And it was not just for one. It was for all. But the Jews were borrowers too. When they were in Babylonian captivity they adopted the Zoroastrian idea of Satan. Which is a pretty good pre-psychology representation of the reptile brain. I once went hungry for about a month and my reptile brain took over for the most part. It was rather ugly. There was nothing I wouldn't do to survive. Lie, cheat, steal, murder even. Fortunately I had enough self control to prevail to some extent over my reptile brain and I never got to the murder stage. Thank the Maker.

But I think it does point out how fragile civilization really is. Cut the rations enough and almost all of us will return to barbarism. It is built in. The idea of fasting for 40 days to face the Devil is more than myth. But the Devil is not some creature outside you. He is built in. We can all be devils without any effort at all if we get hungry enough.

But I digress. The Jews have very strict laws about human and animal representations. Now those rules are mostly limited to the design and decoration of synagogues these days. But the rules are there for a good reason. Once you start down the path of representation you start getting mixed up with the pagans. The golden calf story is emblematic of that path. In that respect the Jews are more like the Taoists. God is formless in the Jewish religion.

Which brings to another point. A significant number of early Christians did not believe Jesus was God. More like a prophet. And a "mere" prophet is nothing to sneeze at. They bring reformation. Which is a good thing.

Once the Church became the official Church of Rome it didn't have to merely shun those with alternate beliefs (Jesus was not God, but a creation of God). It got the power to persecute them.

During those first three centuries, Christianity was effectively outlawed by requirements to venerate the Roman emperor and Roman gods. Consequently, when the Church labeled its enemies as heretics and cast them out of its congregations or severed ties with dissident churches, it remained without the power to persecute them.

Before 313 AD, the "heretical" nature of some beliefs was a matter of much debate within the churches, and there was no true mechanism in place to resolve the various differences of beliefs. It was only after the legalisation of Christianity, which began under Constantine I in 313 AD that the various beliefs of the Church began to be made uniform and formulated as dogma through the canons promulgated by the General Councils. Each phrase in the Nicene Creed, which was hammered out at the Council of Nicaea, addresses some aspect that had been under passionate discussion prior to Constantine I, and closes the books on the argument, with the weight of the agreement of the over 300 bishops, as well as Constantine I in attendance. [Constantine had invited all 1800 bishops of the Christian church (about 1000 in the east and 800 in the west). The number of participating bishops cannot be accurately stated; Socrates Scholasticus and Epiphanius of Salamis counted 318; Eusebius of Caesarea, only 250.] In spite of the agreement reached at the council of 325, the Arians, who had been defeated, dominated most of the church for the greater part of the fourth century, often with the aid of Roman emperors who favored them.
Instead of the believers getting to decide which beliefs are true the Church decided. And often the decision against a particular belief was a murder sentence for those believers. Unless of course they recanted and adhered to the "true" belief. Once you have the power why not use it? "Love thy neighbor..." be damned.

Well enough of that. I want to look in more detail at the Resurrection Myth of Osiris.
The resurrection of the god symbolized the rebirth of the grain." (Larson 17) The annual festival involved the construction of "Osiris Beds" formed in shape of Osiris, filled with soil and sown with seed.[20] The germinating seed symbolized Osiris rising from the dead. An almost pristine example was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter.[21] Osiris "The God Of The Resurrection", rising from his beir.[22]

The first phase of the festival was a public drama depicting the murder and dismemberment of Osiris, the search of his body by Isis, his triumphal return as the resurrected god, and the battle in which Horus defeated Set. This was all presented by skilled actors as a literary history, and was the main method of recruiting cult membership. According to Julius Firmicus Maternus of the fourth century, this play was re-enacted each year by worshippers who "beat their breasts and gashed their shoulders.... When they pretend that the mutilated remains of the god have been found and rejoined...they turn from mourning to rejoicing." (De Errore Profanorum).

The passion of Osiris is reflected in his name 'Wenennefer" ("the one who continues to be perfect"), which also alludes to his post mortem power.[13]

Parts of this Osirian mythology have prompted comparisons with later Christian beliefs and practices.
They certainly aren't Jewish practices - for sure. We often speak of the Judeo Christian culture of the West. The truth is more like Judeo Christian Pagan culture. With the worst excesses of pagan culture like ritual sacrifice (unless it is a competing sect) eradicated. Mostly. Humans are still human.
Egyptologist Erik Hornung observes that Egyptian Christians continued to mummify corpses (an integral part of the Osirian beliefs) until it finally came to an end with the arrival of Islam and argues for an association between the passion of Jesus and Osirian traditions, particularly in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus and Christ's descent into Hades. He concludes that whilst Christianity rejected anything "pagan" it did so only at a superficial level and that early Christianity was "deeply indebted" to Ancient Egypt."[25]
I'm inclined to agree.

So what is the moral of this story? I thought you would never ask. I'm pretty much against blind obedience to revealed doctrine. It is a doctrine of modern Judaism that Jews are not bound by any of the revealed laws. Oh we are bound by law all right. Lots of them. But we can reinterpret the laws based on our own understanding. Mostly we leave the interpretation to the Rabbis. Guys who spend their life studying law. But that is not an absolute rule. What is the absolute rule? Let your conscience be your guide. Which is how we end up with a Jewish atheist like Maimonidies. You see Jews are not required to believe in doctrine, miracles, or even God. The only fundamental requirement is to Love thy neighbor as thyself. A motto on the front of Temple Beth Israel in Omaha when it was at 52nd and Charles St. when I was growing up.

I believe that makes for a much sounder "faith" than a slavish adherence to any revealed doctrine. You see I don't have to persecute gays or anyone else just because it is written in some old book. I can love all my neighbors as long as they are at peace with me. Which makes libertarianism the perfect politics for me. Not the wimpy kind of libertarianism espoused by the Libertarian Party but the more muscular kind of the libertarian Republicans.

Don't Tread On Me


Cross Posted at Classical Values


Update: This book might be of interest if you want to further explore the subject:

Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices

6 comments:

klatu said...

What science and religion thought impossible has happened. Hisory now has it's first fully demonstrable proof for faith and it's called the Resurrection! Quoting from a forum review:

"Using a synthesis of scriptural material drawn from the Old and New Testaments, the Apocrypha , The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi Library, and some of the world's great poetry, as in the beginning, it describes and teaches a single moral Law, a single moral principle, a single test of faith, and delivers on the Promise of its own proof; one in which the reality and will of God responds directly to an act of perfect faith with a demonstration of his omnipotence, an individual intervention into the natural world, 'raising' up the man, correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries. Intended to be understood metaphorically, where 'death' and darkness are ignorance and 'Life' and light are knowledge,  this personal experience of omnipotent transcendent power and moral purpose is our 'Resurrection', and justification for faith. From here, on a perfectly objective foundation of moral principle, conduct and virtue, true morality and 'Life' begins."

Revolutionary stuff for those able to get their head around it? More info at http://www.energon.org.uk

RavingDave said...

Just so you know, the Catholics regard this sort of stuff as Anti-Catholic. A lot of protestant denominations used to accuse the Catholics of pagan practices, and so they are somewhat sensitive to accusations of this sort.


David

M. Simon said...

TS about Catholics. But since Protestants celebrate Christmas/Saturnalia and pass over Passover they are party to the same heresies.

This review of the book at the bottom of the article pretty well sums up my view. Not exact of course. But pretty close.

Pagan Christianity? - a review

BTW the reviewer says the Reormation reformed nothing.

I did meet some Christians once who celebrated Passover. We had marvelous discussions. It was a father/son and they were both EEs where I worked. Microwave experts back in '78 when such experts were rare birds.

==============

Klaty,

I got results by studying Aleister Crowley.

M. Simon said...

The Protestant Reformation was about reforming the corruption of the CC. It did nothing about the corruption of core doctrine.

Another case where keeping adherents was more comfortable than keeping to truth.

And you know the Reformation was started by a Jew hater. Not exactly Love thy neighbor stuff. "By their fruits...."

Of course Jews have their own problems. Too many socialists.

M. Simon said...

The comment section at Classical Values is quite interesting and has more of my thoughts on the subject.

M. Simon said...

My view? Far too many Evangelicals don't see themselves the way outsiders do.

Formalistic. Legalistic. No love in their hearts. You know - kinda like the people Jesus was complaining about in his time.

A lot of Evangelicals? A few? I can't say. I don't know the territory. They are certainly the loudest. Or maybe they are just the ones I notice.

But a lot of the general population has my view. Which is why they get called The American Taliban.