Saviours who pre-date Jesus?

Eman333
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Saviours who pre-date Jesus?

Hello, nice to meet you all. I am a fellow atheist who just signed up today.

 

My question is regarding the story of Jesus being the saviour of mankind and whether or not there have been previous "savious" which predate Christianity?

I am aware of Horus, Mithras and Osirus, but the evidence of them being saviours is a bit dubious.

Does anyone have any solid information about these or any others who were "savious of mankind"?

 

Thanks again, This seems like a great forum Smiling


Hambydammit
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Thanks for the question. 

Thanks for the question.  I'm going to let the mythology experts deal with the specifics, but I want to caution you against falling into a trap.  Many Christians, when they defend the Jesus myth as unique, will look at Horus and Mythras, et al, and retort with, "Well, yeah, they were saviors, but not of all mankind in exactly the way that Jesus was."

In other words, they will discount any previous myth that isn't just like the Jesus myth.  This is obviously a bad argument, for if there was such a myth, it would be Jesus, wouldn't it?  They would then use the existence of such a myth to prove god -- calling it foreshadowing, or maybe even saying that it was the true Jesus.  Whatever.  The point is, a myth doesn't have to be exactly like Jesus to be a savior myth.

In Greek mythology, humans used to be two sided, with faces, arms, legs, and genitalia, in pairs.  They were immensely happy, and were capable of incredible acts of sexual prowess.  They became proud and haughty, and Zeus was angry with them for their sin of believing themselves to be godlike.  As punishment, he split people down the middle, exposing their spines, and severing them, so that they were now imperfect.  They were clumsy and could no longer maintain their balance.  They couldn't see behind themselves.  Worst, they could not experience the kind of sexual joy they once knew.  

After mankind had suffered long enough, Apollo took on the task of giving them relief from their punishment.  He took their skin and stretched it around them, covering their spines.  He tied it in a knot at their navel.  He moved their genitalia to the familiar spot.  Though humanity was not perfect, they now looked better.  They were no longer hideous.  Finally, Apollo gave them the ability to find their other half.  Before the punishment, there had been three types of people -- men, women, and men/women.  Some had both male halves, some both female, and others were half man and half woman.  After Apollo's reconstruction, man had an innate desire to find his other half.  Sometimes, he longed for a man.  Sometimes, a woman.  And sometimes women longed to find their lost female half.  Though most people never find their true mate, some do, and they are happy for their entire lives.

********* 

It's not even remotely like the Jesus myth, but it is a myth about a savior.  Instead of saving us from eternal damnation, Apollo saved us from intense earthly loneliness and sexual unfulfillment.  In many ways, I'd say the Greek myth is far better than the Christian myth, for it gives meaning to our lives, and acceptance to our sexuality.  It gives us purpose in this life, not just the desire to get it over with so we can go to heaven, where none of this matters anyway.

The point is this:  There are many savior myths, all over the world, and many of them predate Jesus.  To say that there's only one kind of savior myth -- saving people from eternal damnation -- is incredibly myopic, and damn ethnocentric.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Rook_Hawkins
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Try a more familiar

Try a more familiar story.  Prometheus.

Aeschylus writes in his play, Prometheus Bound, that Zeus, angry with mankind, saught to destroy them completely and start over with creation.  Prometheus, pitying mankind, came down to earth and gave man fire.  Fire brought man light in the darkness, allowed them to gain knowledge of the stars, and brought on them wisdom.  Zeus was no longer able to destroy man because of their ability to craft weapons and armor.  Prometheus had saved man from total destruction, and because of that Prometheus was crucified (stauros) to a rock, by Hepheastus, for which Zeus condemned him.   

A problem we run into with comparative religion is that people often forget that corellation does not equal causation.  Many early saviors were probably not known to Jews on a scale which would reach those scribes or poets to write about or reinterpret.  You need to establish, first and foremost, a strong background of socio-cultural interaction between Jews and whatever culture spawned the savior myth in question. 

In terms of Apollo, in Hamby's example, it is certainly possible that the Jews would have had some knowledge of Apollo, but do we have evidence of that interaction?  Not as much as would be necessary to prove it without some doubt.  In the question of my example, we have much more evidence.  What we have is the so-called 3rd Maccabees where the name Aeschylus appears frequently, we also have metric and grammatical references in the text of this Jewish work, which was written in Greek.  And when it comes to Orpheus we have even more evidence then that, including mosaics in synagogues, and dedications in inscriptions, just to name a few. 

These saviors certainly existed.  The question of their existence is no more disputable than Caesar's.  Instead, the more helpful question is why were these specific saviors so interesting to the Jews in the Diaspora and in the homeland?  Why did Jews connect more with Orpheus and Prometheus and Dionysus, than say other Greek or Egyptian gods?  Why did Jews choose these stories to reinterpret and reinvent?  These are the questions that are more important and more lasting, and more beneficial to scholarship in the long run.

 

 

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Rook wrote: A problem we

Rook wrote:
A problem we run into with comparative religion is that people often forget that corellation does not equal causation.

 I didn't get causation from the question.  I thought he was just asking if Jesus was the first genuine savior myth.  If that's the case, then clearly the answer is hundreds of previous myths existed.  I was trying to think of one that was particularly far away from the Jesus myth literally as well as figuratively to demonstrate just how mundane the idea of a savior myth was.

Quote:
You need to establish, first and foremost, a strong background of socio-cultural interaction between Jews and whatever culture spawned the savior myth in question.

While I don't think it's possible to draw a straight line correlation between a particular Greek myth and Pauline Christianity, I think it's beyond debate that the pre-Christian Jews were culturally influenced by the Greek and Persian cultures, namely in their inheritance of the Male dominated negative theology of human nature, and I think, by their concept that humanity needed to be saved from something.

Whether the exact nature of the salvation can be considered a descendant of a specific myth, I would think the degree of cultural interaction was sufficient to establish a chain of continuity, at least in the overall conception of the cosmos and the corrupt nature of man.

 

Quote:
In terms of Apollo, in Hamby's example, it is certainly possible that the Jews would have had some knowledge of Apollo, but do we have evidence of that interaction?  Not as much as would be necessary to prove it without some doubt.  In the question of my example, we have much more evidence.

Agreed.  Yours is later than mine, if I remember correctly, and would have been much more familiar to Jews.  As I said, I was going for more ancient.

 

Quote:
Why did Jews connect more with Orpheus and Prometheus and Dionysus, than say other Greek or Egyptian gods?

A great question.  I'd love to hear your theories.

 

Quote:
These are the questions that are more important and more lasting, and more beneficial to scholarship in the long run.

Indeed, I think the very question of correlation and causation between Jesus and previous savior myths betrays a hidden agenda (Not necessarily in the OP's question -- but by theists in general) and is not productive to answering questions as it is in furthering the so-called debate between mythicists and apologists.

 

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Eman333
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Excellent, thanks a lot for

Excellent, thanks a lot for that, both of you.

 

I appreciate your time to respond. 


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There was a podcast of Bob

There was a podcast of Bob Price (possibly a Bible Geek episode) in which he mentioned a guy roughly at the time of Jesus who was declared a God, claimed to be a God and did miracles. I think his name started with an "s" and about 5-6 letters long (if memory serves).

 

Does anyone know what I'm talking about?  Often Xian's will make the case that a myth can't grow out of a true story so quickly - this contradicts it but its hard to find and source.

Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
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I want to say I have seen

I want to say I have seen this video you're talking about. I believe he mentions Apollonious of Tyrnae but I may be wrong.

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You're referring to

You're referring to Serapis.  But he was not a savior god.  It was a combination of Egyptian and Greek religions, that one of the Ptolemy's created to united both cultures. 

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The Doomed Soul
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Rook_Hawkins wrote:You're

Rook_Hawkins wrote:

You're referring to Serapis.  But he was not a savior god.  It was a combination of Egyptian and Greek religions, that one of the Ptolemy's created to united both cultures. 

 

Thus SAVING both cultures from immediate conflict? eh? eh? ;-p

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Human beings compete in all

Human beings compete in all aspects of their lives. They compete for jobs, they compete for love, be it from a parent, sibling or mate. Business and RELIGION do the same thing. If religion never took a motif or idea from another religion, there would never be any splitting or changing.

There are lots of ideas that filter down through time through multiple cultures and religions. It is like when you tell a story in a circle and by the time the story gets back to you it seemingly sounds completely different.

Religion is like Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi comes out with a cherry soda, Coke looks at that and says, I like that idea, I'll come up with my own flavor, call it something else and give it a different color can. Saying that any religion is original is like saying Coke was the first beverage because it's can was red.

The core motif, even with the polytheists, is the same as the modern monotheists. The god(s) will look after the "chosen people". Creation stories predate the bible. Flood stories exist prior to the OT. Miracles like curing blindness were done by Horus long before the myth of Jesus was ever thought of.  The "Eye for an eye" also exists in the Code of Hammerabbi(sp).

The only thing that Christianity did was to popularize, by effective marketing, the idea that "sacrifice" was supernatural. But, sacrifice exists in humans without magic. Humans have always done things like sacrifice food for their children. They have always sacrificed their lives for a buddy in war. We have evolved to know without magic, that being kind to one's neighbor is a mutual benefit. No magic is needed to explain natural human behavior nor is it given by a magical law giver.

In "God" "The Failed Hypothesis" by Victor Stenger gives several examples of motifs claimed to be original by Christians that are provably much older. Paperback edition page 197- 209 are chalk full of ideas claimed to have been authored by the god of Jesus, but are pre-dated by prior religious writings and or cultural claims.

Getting stuck on detail does not change that the core motif is still the same in each of these different stories and hardly original other than adding new twists, the ideas are still the same.

Deity believers throughout human history have not only falsely guessed at causes to things like volcanos and earthquakes, just like they falsely claim that an angrey god caused tsunamis today, people also falsely claim that a magical law giver is needed to do what humans have always done.

 

 

 

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 Zoroaster was a prophet

 Zoroaster was a prophet that claimed much the same things Jesus did, but he did it naked and a few hundred years earlier.  (If memory serves).

 

What about ...  I can't think of it to save my life.  I think the myth is Babylonian, and there is possible mention of the character in Exodus.  It's one of the oldest myths we have and it ends with the hero swimming to the bottom of what is probably the red sea and gathering a plant that is the secret to everlasting life..  or something like that?  

 

Anyone have any idea what I'm rambling about?

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Balrogoz
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 Gilgamesh!!! I almost

 Gilgamesh!!!

 

I almost fried myself trying to remember that, thanks, wikipedia.