Christianity was thought to be, and is still considered by many to have been a radical progression away from the perceived backward and simplistic pagan spiritual practices, of worshipping multiple deities. Yet, as we are about to see, this radical religion was not entirely independent of the ways of its heathen forerunners.
Let’s take a look at some examples of basic religious concepts which existed prior to and were also borrowed during the rise of the Christian religion. We can start at the beginning literally, with the concept of creation
In the Beginning Was the Word
The very concept of creation as explained in Christianity, seems to have sourced its mythological allegory from ancient Egypt. In the Egyptian story, the creator first creates itself and then the rest of creation through the utterance of its name. similarly in John chapter 1 verse 1 of the New Testament of the Christian bible it states; “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”.
Then the Son of a Virgin
One of Christianity’s underpinning concepts is that Jesus Christ is gods only divine son, born of a virgin Mary. A son who had come to bring mankind’s salvation from sin. Yet up to 3000 years earlier in several north African and Middle Eastern societies, you find saviors who had come to help mankind. In Ancient Egypt we find probably the earliest Heru/Horus born of the virgin Auset/Isis. Christianity in its early days was in competition with several rival religions, all of which share particular concepts.
To Die and be Reborn
Baptism was a major event in the life of many Christians, as it marks the rebirth of a person into a new life of Christianity. Yet, the ritual of Baptism originated long before in ancient Egypt, where the deity Anubis baptized the deity Heru into new life, with the water which ran under the temple. Egyptian kings were baptized as representatives of God on earth during their coronation.
The concept of baptizing or being immersed in holy water, is symbolic of entering the meditative state, where one’s consciousness joins or is immersed in the greater universal consciousness. A person joining the universal consciousness would lead a new spiritual life.
The Holy Communion
The religion of the savior Mithra originated in Persia, and was later popular amongst the Roman military. Again, a competitor with the young Christian movement, it held a practice of drinking wine as the blood of a bull slaughtered by Mithra at his birth, along with bread eaten as a symbol of the bulls’ flesh, this was part of its ritual communion ceremony. Remember that this religion preceded Christianity by at least 1500 years.
Miracles, Proof of Divinity
For a follower of a religious faith, the miracles practiced by the spiritual leader are the proof that their path is true, and their God is real.
Krishna 3000 years before Jesus is said to have performed the miracles of raising the dead, healing the hunched back woman and lifting mount Govardhan. In the Gospel of John, Jesus also supposedly raised the dead and healed the lame amongst other feats, such as the feeding of the 5000.
Pagan Astrology at Work
Pagan astrology also played a significant role in the chronology of events relating to the birth and resurrection of Jesus. The 25th of December winter solstice was first celebrated in Egypt then adopted by Rome. From there it spread throughout Europe. The Roman emperor Constantine established it as the date of Jesus’s birth to coincide with the pagan Saturnalia festival during the Christian Council of Nicea in 325AD.
The next chronological date is the 21st-25th of march, it is the time of the crucifixion. In approximately 400 BCE, of the Greek shepherd god Attis (also born of a virgin) was crucified and resurrected on the 25th of March. Easter was originally a festival to celebrate rebirth on the first Sunday after the full-moon which falls on or after the passing of the sun over the equator or spring equinox (day of equal day and night length).
In ancient Egypt it was known as the shemu festival, also celebrated in the middle East and even as far as Japan and South America, long before being adopted by Christianity as the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
These are just some of the similarities between the ‘backward’ religious practices and the Christian faith. Christianity’s rise came as a result of the adoption of its competitors’ concepts in order to appeal to and convert followers of other religions, therefore swelling its numbers.