Myth vs. Reality

Whereas mythical gods are depicted as superheroes living out human fantasies and lusts, the Gospels portray Jesus as a man of humility, compassion and impeccable moral character. His followers present him as a real person for whom they willingly gave their lives.

The non-Christian scientist Albert Einstein stated, “No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.… No man can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful.”[43]

Is it possible Jesus’ death and resurrection was plagiarised from these myths? Their case against Jesus was presented in the YouTube movie, Zeitgeist, where author Peter Joseph boldly claims,

The reality is, Jesus was…a mythical figure….Christianity, along with all other theistic belief systems, is the fraud of the age.[44]

As one compares the Jesus of the Gospels with the gods of mythology, a distinction becomes obvious. In contrast to the reality of Jesus revealed in the Gospels, accounts of mythological gods depict unrealistic gods with elements of fantasy:

  • Mithra was supposedly born out of a rock.[45]
  • Horus is depicted with the head of a falcon.[46]
  • Bacchus, Hercules, and others were flown to heaven on the horse Pegasus.[47]
  • Osiris was killed, chopped into 14 pieces, and reassembled by his wife, Isis, and brought back to life.[48]

But could Christianity have copied Jesus’ death and resurrection from these myths?

His followers certainly didn’t think so; they willingly gave their lives proclaiming that the account of Jesus’ resurrection was true. [See “Did Jesus rise from the dead?”]

Furthermore, “accounts of a dying and rising god that somewhat parallel the story of Jesus’ resurrection appeared at least 100 years after the reports of Jesus’ resurrection.”[49]

In other words, accounts of Horus, Osiris, and Mithra dying and rising from the dead were not in their original mythologies, but were added after the Gospel accounts of Jesus were written.

T. N. D. Mettinger, professor at Lund University, writes, “The consensus among modern scholars — nearly universal — is that there were no dying and rising gods that preceded Christianity. They all post-dated the first century.”[50] [See note 50]

According to most historians there really are no true parallels between any of these mythological gods and Jesus Christ. However, as C. S. Lewis observes, there are some common themes that speak to mans’ desire for immortality.

Lewis recounts a conversation he had with J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. “The story of Christ,” said Tolkien, “is simply a true myth: a myth…with this tremendous difference that it really happened.”[51]

New Testament scholar F. F. Bruce concludes, “Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ-myth,’ but they do not do so on the grounds of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories.”[52]

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