Copy Cat Savior Theory
I am sure you have heard the rumor that all the stories about Jesus are just copied myths. As the theory goes, because there are so many similarities to mythical dying and rising gods before Jesus birth. If you have or have not, this page will be dedicated to exposing the errors in the "Copy Cat Savior Theory."
Dr. Tryggve Mettinger
(retired Professor emeritus, Lund University).
Professor of Hebrew Bible, Lund University, 1978–2003.
Visiting professor with various teaching assignments in the U.S., Israel, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
Has given major papers at a number of conferences for OT studies and Comparative Religion and guest lectures at a number of universities.
Was awarded the Thuréus prize (humanities) 2008 by the Kungl. Vetenskaps-Societeten i Uppsala.
Bill Maher, the comedian, political commentator, and television host known for the talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher" and the late-night show "Politically Incorrect" did his best to promote the Copy Cat Theory in his 2008 documentary film "Religulous."
Bill Maher wrote and starred in this film, and if you have seen him before, you know how sarcastic and unfriendly he is towards Christianity and religion in general. Hence; "Religulous" is two combined words - Religion and Ridiculous. This documentary's sole purpose is to make religion look ridiculous and is out to examine and challenge religion and religious belief.
Does it do a good job?
Can it stand up to a critical examination?
We must keep in mind that Bill Maher is a comedian, so can his claim that Jesus is just a copy cat stand up to a test with a quick historical investigation of six myths that Jesus supposivley were borrowed from?
Watch how easy this theory is debunked one by one, but first, a word from two scholars...
"The dying and rising gods were closely related to the seasonal cycle. Their death and return were seen as reflected in the changes of plant life. The death and resurrection of Jesus is a one-time event, not repeated, and unrelated to seasonal changes. . . . There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world. While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique character in the history of religions.”
- Tryggve N. D. Mettinger -The riddle remains (Ibid., p. 221).
"I try to draw a line between what I believe I know as a scholar and what I know I believe as a Christian."
Dr. William Lane Craig
(needs no list of credentials, his name, and work speaks volumes)
Q&A #90 January 05, 2009 From reasonablefaith.org
Question submitted by “Kevin”
“Is Jesus a copied myth because there are similarities from Christ to other mythological gods?”
After a detailed response, WLC closed with:
“Remember: anyone pressing this objection has a burden of proof to bear. He needs to show that the narratives are parallel and, moreover, that they are causally connected. Insist that they bear that burden if you are to take their objection seriously.”
-William Lane Craig
These are some very good thoughts to consider, and now let's do some "debunking" one by one...
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was conceived by a virgin mother named Meri, had a stepfather named Seb (Joseph), and three wise men were in the story.
Debunked: Horus was not conceived of a virgin. Mural and textual evidence from Egypt indicates Isis (there is no evidence that “Meri” was ever part of her name) hovered over the erect penis (she created) of Osiris to conceive Horus. While she may have been a virgin before the conception, she utilized Osiris’ penis to conceive. She later had another son with Osiris as well. There is no evidence of three wise men as part of the Horus story. Seb was actually the “earth god”; He was not Horus’ earthly father. Seb is not the equivalent of Joseph and, in most cases, Seb is described as Osiris’ father.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was born in a cave, his birth announced by an angel, heralded by a star, and attended by shepherds.
Debunked: There is no reference to a cave or manger in the Egyptian birth story of Horus. In fact, none of these details are present in the ancient Egyptian stories of Horus. Horus was born in a swamp. His birth was not heralded by an angel. There was no star.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus attended a special rite of passage at the age of twelve and there is no data on the child from the age of 12 to 30.
Debunked: There is no continuous effort in the Horus mythology to account for all these years, so there are no real gaps in the chronology. Horus never taught in any temple at twelve (as did Jesus).
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was baptized in a river at the age of 30, and his baptizer was later beheaded.
Debunked: Horus was never baptized. While conspiracy theorists often point to “Anup the Baptizer” (claiming he was later beheaded), there is no such person in Horus’ story.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus had 12 disciples.
Debunked: Horus had only four disciples (called ‘Heru-Shemsu’), but at some point in his story there is reference to sixteen followers and a group of unnumbered followers who join Horus in battle (called ‘mesnui’).
Copy Cat Claim: Horus performed miracles, exorcized demons, raised someone from the dead, and walked on water.
Debunked: Horus certainly performed miracles (he was, after all, described as a god). But there was no mention of exorcizing demons, raising people from the dead, or walking on water.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was called “Iusa”, the “ever-becoming son” and the “Holy Child”.
Debunked: No one in Egyptian history was ever called “Iusa” (the word does not exist) nor was anyone called “Holy Child”.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus delivered a “Sermon on the Mount”, and his followers recounted his sayings. He was transfigured on the Mount.
Debunked: Horus never delivered a “Sermon on the Mount”, nor was he transfigured.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and was resurrected.
Debunked: Horus is not reported to have died at all in the vast majority of Egyptian narratives. There is also no crucifixion story. Instead, Horus is usually described as eventually merging with Re (the Sun god) after which he “dies” and is “reborn” every day as the sun rises. There is a parallel account describing Horus’ death and detailing how he was cast in pieces into the water, later fished out by a crocodile at Isis’ request.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was called “Way”, “the Truth the Light”, “Messiah”, “God’s Anointed Son”, “Son of Man”, “Good Shepherd”, “Lamb of God”, “Word made flesh”, “Word of Truth”, “the KRST” or “Anointed One”.
Debunked: None of these titles are in Egyptian history, but Horus is called by several names you might expect for any god in mythology: “Great God”, “Chief of the Powers”, “Master of Heaven”, and “Avenger of His Father”. Horus was not called “the Krst”. This word in Egyptian means “burial” (it wasn’t a title at all).
Copy Cat Claim: Horus was “the Fisher” and was associated with the Fish, Lamb, and Lion.
Debunked: Some of conspiracy theorists associate Horus with fish (by virtue of the fact that Horus was a fish in some portion of the ancient narrative), but there is no evidence Horus was ever called a “fisher” or was ever associated with the Lion or the Lamb.
Copy Cat Claim: Horus came to fulfill the Law, and was supposed to reign one thousand years.
Debunked: There was no Egyptian “law” for Horus to fulfill, and there is no mention of a thousand year reign in Egyptian mythology.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras was born of a virgin on December 25th, in a cave, and was attended by shepherds.
Debunked: Mithras was actually born out of solid rock, leaving a hole in the side of a mountain (presumably described as a “cave”). He was not born of a virgin (unless you consider the rock mountain to have been a virgin). His birth was celebrated on December 25th, but the first Christians knew this was not the true date of Christ’s birth anyway, and both Mithraic worshippers and the early Roman Church borrowed this celebration from earlier winter solstice celebrations. Shepherds are part of Mithraism, witnessing his birth and helping Mithras emerge from the rock, but interestingly, the shepherds exist in the birth chronology at a time when humans are not supposed to have been yet born. This, coupled with the fact the earliest version of this part of the Mithraic mythology emerges one hundred years after the appearance of the New Testament, infers it is far more likely this portion of Mithraism was borrowed from Christianity rather than the other way around.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras was considered a great traveling teacher and master
Debunked: There is nothing in the Mithraic tradition indicating he was a teacher of any kind, but he could have been considered a master of sorts. This would not be unexpected of any deity; however, most mythologies describe their gods in this way.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras had 12 companions or disciples
Debunked: There is no evidence for any of this in the traditions of Iran or Rome. It is possible the idea Mithras had 12 disciples is simply derived from murals in which Mithras is surrounded by twelve signs and personages of the Zodiac (two of whom are the moon and the sun). Even this imagery is post Christian, and, therefore, did not contribute to the imagery of Christianity (although it could certainly have borrowed from Christianity).
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras promised his followers immortality
Debunked: While there is little evidence for this, it is certainly reasonable to think Mithras might have offered immortality, as this is not uncommon for any god of mythology.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras performed miracles
Debunked: Of course this is true, as this too was not uncommon for mythological characters.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras sacrificed himself for world peace
Debunked: There is little or no evidence this is true, although there is a story about Mithras slaying a threatening bull in a heroic deed. But that’s about as close as it gets.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again, and Mithras was celebrated each year at the time of His resurrection (later to become Easter)
Debunked: There is nothing in the Mithraic tradition indicating he ever even died, let alone resurrected. Tertullian did write about Mithraic believers re-enacting resurrection scenes, but he wrote about this occurring well after New Testament times. Christianity could not, therefore, have borrowed from Mithraic traditions, but the opposite could certainly be true.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras was called “the Good Shepherd”, and was identified with both the Lamb and the Lion
Debunked: There is no evidence that Mithras was ever called “the Good Shepherd” or identified with a lamb, but since Mithras was a sun-god, there was an association with Leo (the House of the Sun in Babylonian astrology), so one might say he was associated with a Lion. But once again, all of this evidence is actually post New Testament; Mithraic believers may once again have borrowed this attribute from Christianity.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithras was considered to be the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” and the “Logos,” “Redeemer,” “Savior” and “Messiah.”
Debunked: Based on the researched and known historic record of the Mithraic traditions, none of these terms has ever been applied to Mithras with the exception of “mediator," but this term was used very different from how Christians used it. Mithras was not the mediator between God and man but the mediator between the good and evil gods of Zoroaster.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithraic believers celebrated Sunday as Mithras’ sacred day (also known as the “Lord’s Day”)
Debunked: This tradition of celebrating Sunday is only true of Mithraic believers in Rome and it is a tradition that dates to post Christian times. Once again, it is more likely to have been borrowed from Christianity than the other way around.
Copy Cat Claim: Mithraic believers celebrated a Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper”
Debunked: Followers of Mithras did not celebrate a Eucharist, but they did celebrate a fellowship meal regularly, just as did many other groups in the Roman world.
Osiris (the mythological father of Horus)
Copy Cat Claim: Osiris was called “Lord of Lords”, “King of Kings”, “God of Gods”, “Resurrection and the Life”, “Good Shepherd”, “Eternity and Everlastingness”, and the god who “made men and women to be “born again”
Debunked: These names for Jesus were not used by Osiris, who was called, “Lord of All”, the “Good Being”, “Lord of the Underworld”, “Lord (King) of Eternity”, “Ruler of the Dead”, “Lord of the West”, “Great One”, “He who takes seat,” “the Begetter”, “the Ram”, “Great Word”, “Chief of the Spirits”, “Ruler of Everlastingness”, “Living God,” “God above the gods.” These rather general names were not uncommon for many other deities as well.
Copy Cat Claim: Osiris’ birth was announced by Three Wise Men: the three stars Mintaka, Anilam, and Alnitak in the belt of Orion, and Osiris had a star in the east (Sirius) that signified his birth
Debunked: It is true that some scholars connect Osiris with Orion, but they don’t stretch the imagination to call the three stars of the belt “wise men”, and there is no mention of an eastern star in the Osiris mythology.
Copy Cat Claim: Osiris had a Eucharist ceremony of sorts, in which his flesh was eaten in the form of communion cakes of wheat
Debunked: I have not found any evidence of this claim, nor there is no evidence for this in the research of scholars that I am aware of.
Copy Cat Claim: Osiris taught much of the same material as Jesus; many teachings are identically the same, word for word
Debunked: There is absolutely no evidence of any of this, and the “wisdom” of Osiris is still available for review.
Copy Cat Claim: Osiris was killed and later resurrected, providing hope every believer might also be resurrected into eternal life
Debunked: Osiris was murdered and his body was then dismembered and scattered. Later, his body pieces were recovered and rejoined, and he was rejuvenated. Osiris then journeyed to the underworld, where he became the lord of the dead. He did not resurrect with a glorified body and walk with men on earth, as did Jesus. He was not alive again, as was Jesus, but was instead a “dead” god who never returned among the living.
Copy Cat Claim: Krishna and Jesus were both born in a cave.
Debunked: Krishna was not born in a caves. Krishna was born in a prison cell and the only reference to Jesus being born in a cave is in non-canonical writings.
Copy Cat Claim: Krishna and Jesus both lived sinless lives.
Debunked: The Bible does make it clear that Jesus committed no sin during His lifetime; as for the Hindu texts, they admit to Krishna's promiscuity and numerous sexual affairs.
Copy Cat Claim: Krishna was born on December 25th.
Debunked: Krishna's birthday celebration, known as the Krishna Janmaashtami, is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhadrapadha which corresponds to the month of August. It is also unlikely Jesus was born on this date. Christmas is only celebrated on this date due to tradition.
Copy Cat Claim: Krishna moved a small mountain to protect a village from disaster, which Jesus states “if you had faith as a mustard seed you would say to the mountain uproot yourself and be cast into the ocean.”
Debunked: Other than the concept of “moving mountains”, anyone can see that these two statements have nothing essential in common. One describes a physical feat while the other uses moving a mountain as a metaphor to the power of faith. The Hindu texts have admittedly been altered and added to over the centuries. Many comparisons of the newer and older texts regarding the story of Krishna reveal many tales being added in later texts known as the Puranas (400-1000 A.D.), Bhagavata (400-1000 A.D.), and the Harivamsa, (100-1000 A.D.). These texts have been proven by scholars to have been written after the life of Jesus.
Copy Cat Claim: Attis was born of a virgin like Jesus.
Debunked: According to the legend, Agdistis, a hermaphroditic monster, arises from the earth as a descendant of Zeus. Agdistis gives birth to the Sangarius river which brings forth the nymph, Nana, who either holds an almond to her breast and becomes impregnated by the almond or sits beneath a tree where an almond falls into her lap and impregnates her. Nana later abandons the child who is raised by a goat. We are left to assume Attis was conceived from an almond seed which fell from a tree as a result of Zeus' spilled semen.
Copy Cat Claim: Attis was crucified like Jesus.
Debunked: Attis castrates himself beneath a pine tree after he is made to go insane before his wedding by Agdistis when the "he-she" or "shim", whichever you prefer, becomes enamored with him. His blood flows onto the ground from his severed organ and brings forth a patch of violets. Critics try to associate Attis' death beneath a tree with Jesus' death on a "tree." They also try to connect Jesus' blood pouring from his wounds with Attis' blood flow caused by his auto-castration.
Copy Cat Claim: Dionysus was a virgin birth like Jesus.
Debunked: There are two birth accounts concerning Dionysus:
* Zeus impregnates a mortal woman, Semele, much to the jealously of Hera. Hera convinces Semele to ask Zeus to reveal his glory to her but because no mortal can look upon the gods and live, Semele is instantly incinerated. Zeus then takes the fetal Dionysus and sews him into his own thigh until his birth.
* Dionysus is the product of Zeus and Persephone. Hera becomes insanely jealous and tries to destroy the infant by sending the Titans to kill him. Zeus comes to the rescue but it's too late- the Titans had eaten everything but Dionysus' heart. Zeus then takes the heart and implants it into the womb of Semele.
This is how Dionysus is said to have become a rebirth deity as he is twice born in the womb, but it clearly is not a “virgin birth.”
Copy Cat Claim: Followers of Dionysus celebrated a Eucharist like early Christian followers.
Debunked: To celebrate Dionysus' rebirth after being devoured by the Titans, followers would take either a live human or animal, tear the victim apart limb by limb, and eat the flesh raw. The sacrifice would be eaten in a cannibalistic manner so the followers could pay homage to their god. However this story relates more to the myths surrounding Tantalus than the Christian communion.
Copy Cat Claim: Dionysus had a triumphant entry similar to Jesus.
Debunked: Dionysus is often pictured as riding a donkey amid crowds waving branches of ivy; however, this is only a description of his regular entourage who traveled with him (not a specific pre-passion entry). These individuals were maenads and satyrs who would follow Dionysus with branches entwined with ivy and grapes- cult symbols representative of the wine god. Jesus had a specific triumphant entry upon entering Jerusalem while human crowds waved palm branches (Jewish symbols).
Copy Cat Claim: Dionysus turned water into wine like Jesus.
Debunked: Dionysus was the god of mythology who gave King Midas the power to turn whatever he touched into gold. Likewise, he gave the daughters of King Anius the power to turn whatever they touched into wine, corn, or oil. Considering Dionysus was the god of wine, this should come as no surprise; regardless though, there are tales where Dionysus supernaturally fills empty vessels with wine, the act of turning water into wine does not occur.
Copy Cat Claim: Dionysus experienced a resurrection from the dead similar to Jesus
Debunked: The "resurrection" account of Dionysus stems from the tale of him being reborn after his attack by the Titans. This has nothing to do with the resurrection story of Jesus. We also are told after Dionysus completes teaching his followers his religious rites, he ascends to Mount Olympus to be with the other deities- alive and well. His infant rebirth, like Attis, is symbolic of the vegetation cycle- not the atoning of sin.
Copy Cat Claim: Dionysus had similar titles to Jesus - King of Kings, Only Begotten Son, Alpha and Omega, and Lamb of God.
Debunked: (King of Kings) Dionysus was only a semi-deity; Zeus was the head god according to the mythology, (Only Begotten Son) Zeus had many relationships with women where he fathered several other children, (Alpha and Omega) Dionysus had a distinct beginning to his existence, and (Lamb of God) Dionysus is associated with a bull, serpent, wine, and ivy, but never as a lamb. Some of Dionysus’ titles are The Bull, The Goat Shooter, The Torch, Dionysus of the Knoll, Meat-Eater, Dionysus of the Vine, and Savior (though the term savior was attributed later to Dionysus for promising carnal pleasure in the afterlife. The only person he saved from Hades was his mother, Semele.)
* If you would like me to add more "Copy Cat Savior Theories" to "debunk," please contact me with which mythical god and copy cat claim that seems to be troubling. There are many out there, but these are the ones that most skeptics bring up.
As you can see, Jesus stands alone, and often these claims are borrowed from Christianity.