Every Who down in Who-ville...
Merry Mithras! Or, to be PC, Happy Holidays!
I read 2 e-books in the past week from the turn of the century- the 20th century. One written in 1918 was titled, Pagan and Christian Creeds: their origin and meaning by Edward Carpenter. Carpenter assumed that those who crafted the story of Jesus merely re-wrote the story of other sun gods popular at the time like Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Osirus or the Roman god Mithra. He wrote,
It is clear anyhow, that all these elements of the pagan religions—pouring down into the vast reservoir, or rather whirlpool, of the Roman Empire, and mixing among all these numerous brotherhoods, societies, collegia, mystery-clubs, and groups which were at that time looking out intently for some new revelation or inspiration—did more or less automatically act and react upon each other, and by the general conditions prevailing were modified, till they ultimately combined and took united shape in the movement which we call Christianity, but which only—as I have said—narrowly escaped being called Mithraism—so nearly related and closely allied were these cults with each other.
Most of the readers of this blog are familiar with Mithra; for a refresher, refer to this article. According to Carpenter, it was a close race between the two religions as to which one would win out. In fact, the first ‘fathers’ of the Christian church scrambled to denounce Mithra, charging that Satan invented Mithra to confuse Christians! The idiocy is amazing, but then, after all, we are discussing religion.
Sun gods. Or, the son of god/God. Winter solstice and all that stuff. Virgin [Virgo] mother, because of course, no mere woman could create or be worthy of producing the son of god. Twelve signs of the zodiac, 12 apostles. Death, resurrection…
Carpenter goes further, however, when he asks, What’s in a name?
At this point it will naturally be asked: “And where in this scheme of the Genesis of Christianity is the chief figure and accredited leader of the movement—namely Jesus Christ himself—for to all appearance in the account here given of the matter he is practically non-existent or a negligible quantity?” And the question is a very pertinent one, and very difficult to answer. “Where is the founder of the Religion?”—or to put it in another form: “Is it necessary to suppose a human and visible Founder at all?”
Does it matter whether one uses the word Mithra or Jesus? After all, there is no first-hand evidence of either god’s existence, only myth.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord [insert name] laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord [insert name], asleep on the hay.