Recently, I have posted a defence of the partial authenticity of Josephus’ Testimonium Flavianum and the complete authenticity of the so-called “James passage.” — Even though, at least to my knowledge, I dealt with the relevant objections to their authenticity there is at least one more objection which I decided to cover here. — It has to do with the James passage.
It is an indesputable fact that the majority of scholarly opinion supports the authenticity of the clause “Jesus, who was called Christ” in the James passage. But there is one more objection that, all though I have never taken it seriously except for this blog post, should be cleared up.
Kenneth Humphreys, while mentioning this passage, mentions in passing that in the same paragraph there is another man named Jesus, the son of Damneus and then indicates that this man is James’ brother, not the Jesus of the Bible. (Antiquities 20: 200) Though Humphreys does not go into much detail on this, one other Atheist I communicated with did.
Metro State Atheist, an Atheist blog I occasionally visit, refers to this objection and makes some points that should be answered. — After quoting the entire paragraph in which James and the two Jesuses are mentioned Joel Guttormson the webmaster of the blog goes on to say,
James mentioned in the line in question, which is italicized and underlined in the text above, is the bother of the Jesus mentioned in the bolded line. Context dictates this since they are not separated explicitly (ie Josephus didn’t say that Jesus, the son of Damneus is not the same as Jesus brother of James who they called Christ). Also, there exists no break in the story such that anyone could assert they are different people in the context.
The argument of context needs to be addressed. He saying that because there is “no break in the story” that the brother of James and the son of Damneus are therefore likely the same person. This is not necessarily true. Jesus was an extremely common name, so common that in order to prevent confusion for the readers of his history it would only be logical to identify two different men with the same name with differing means of Identification. This would only become all the more necessary if these two men were mentioned within only a few sentences of eachother and if the context did not change.
The reason why there is no break in the context is that the execution of James lead to all the events that followed in the paragraph (i.e., the deposition of the High Priest Ananus and his replacement by “the son of Damneus.”) This does not prove or even indicate that the brother of James and the son of Damneus are the same person.
Also, even though Joel is correct that Josephus does not say point blank that Jesus and James were not Damnes’ sons, Josephus’ own writing style dictates that they be positively identified as such. Usually, when Josephus first introduced a historical person he gave him the proper introduction the first time that he is mentioned by naming the person’s father (or known relative), hometown or their office.
Here are some examples of Josephus’ first time introductions:
- Antiquities 17: 271: “There was also Judas, the son of that Ezekias who had been head of the robbers.”
- Antiquities 17: 273: “There was also Simon, who had been a slave of Herod the king.”
- Antiquities 18: 4: “Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala.”
- Wars 5: 335: “They intended to have Zacharias the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain.”
The list of examples of Josephus’ goes on. When he first names a new person, this is how he he introduced them, the first time he mentions them. This isn’t to say that he never re-introduces anyone in the same manner a second time, but it is characteristic for him to do it the first time as did many other ancient writers. Normally Josephus would not have procrastinated only to give the customary introduction later on.
Assuming that James’ brother and the son of Damneus are the same person, and taking into account Josephus’ normal writing style, by all rights the James passage should say “James, brother of Jesus, the son of Damneus.”But this is not the case. — Josephus usually gave this identification without delay, and yet he does not follow up in this passage. If Josephus indeed meant that James’ brother and the son of Damneus were the same person, then it’s pretty odd that he didn’t follow the norm of identification. That he did not certainly makes sense if they are not the same person.
Another argument that Joe makes that I think deserves to be examined is his claim that the son of Damneus can also be called “Christ,”
Furthermore, Christ is Greek means nothing more than “the anointed one”. Literally, this means that one would be blessed with or covered in [holy] oil. It wouldn’t be out of the question, as far I know, that a “high priest” such as “Jesus, the son Damneus” was, would be called a Christ, an anointed one.
Actually, it would be out of the question because “Christ” had huge political implications, and it is unlikely the Romans would have allowed him to have been seated as high preist if he bore such a title. But let’s not even consider that fact as part of the evidence. — It is accurate to say that the Greek word “Χριστος” is translated as “anointed.” And considering that the son of Damneus would have been “annointed” when he was appointed as High Priest, Joe’s argument does seem plausable. But there is one major problem with this assumption:
Josephus indicates that Jesus already was known as “Christ” during the early High Priesthood of Ananus, that is to say before the anointment of the son of Damneus to be the next High Priest. Because every High Priest was logically “anointed” at his appointment to the High-Priesthood, it is highly unlikely that the son of Damneus would have been known as the “anointed anything” until after Ananus’ term.
Furthermore, as mentioned in my previous post on this subject, the Greek term “λεγόμενος” which Josephus uses for the clause “Was called Christ” is being used neutrally by neither affirming or denying Jesus’ Messiaship, which is a reason why it is widely accepted as authentic.
This neutrality would be understandable if Josephus wanted to at least avoid bashing Christianity. However, if he indeed has the son of Damneus in mind then it would have definitely been pretty odd and un-called-for because the appointment (or anointment) of the son of Damnues was not in doubt at all. It would have been like saying “Some people call him the high priest, but I don’t want to take sides.” Such reasoning, however, would have been considered absurd by a dedicated Jew like Josephus.
– So as it turns out, a major basis for accepting the authenticity of the “James Passage” (i.e., the neutrality of Josephus’ terminology) can also be used to argue against the identification of Jesus, James’ brother with the son of Damneus.
After this, Joe seems to imply that Josephus was probably the source used by Christians to determine that Jesus had a brother named James. But to be fair, probably means that this could have been Mark’s own personal knowledge of Jesus son of Demneus. — He then goes on to say,
Although the earliest possible date for the first Gospel, of what would become the New Testament, is 70ad; the earliest, physical, dated Gospel of Mark dates, approximately, to around the year 90ad. This would give ample time to the author of the Gospel of Mark to construct his Jesus character based on the high priest, Jesus, the son of Damneus.
I’m bringing this up because Mark, the first Gospel which mentions James, is usually dated in the 70s AD which is contemperary with Josephus’ Wars of the Jews and also pre-dates his Antiquities of the Jews by around twenty to thirty years. But Joe places it in a date which apparently is to make all of Josephus’ works pre-date Mark, thus making it unusable to show as a pre-Josephus. – This part Joe’s argument here, like the rest of the Jesus-Damneus argument only presupposes what it sets out to prove. There is no evidence given that Mark should be dated later than the usual date it is thought to be written.
As a matter of fact, most scholarship disagrees with dating Mark so late in 90 AD. — What my impartial sources show is that,
“Most scholars [ . . . ] would be hesitant to assign a date later than 70-73 CE, the latter being when Jerusalem was finally and fully sacked.”
So the fact is that the latest accepted date for Mark is much earlier than the date that Joe is proposing. — Now here is the interesting detail: Even if he were right that Mark should be dated to 90 AD, this would still pre-date the completion of Josephus’ twentieth (and last book) which mentions James and the son of Damneus. Josephus completed his twenty books of the Antiquities in 93 AD, after the alleged late date of Mark. (Source)
– This is enough to refute the implication that Josephus was probably what Christians used Josephus to conclude Jesus had a brother named James because, apparently which ever composition date you prefer for Mark’s gospel, Mark’s mention of James still came first (Mark 6: 3 )
The bottom line is that even though I have known about the skeptic argument that Jesus, the brother of James is the same as the other Jesus who was the son of Damneus, with the exception of this blog response to the argument, I don’t take it seriously. My problem with it is that it starts with a foregone conclusion and then works off of it assuring that the desired conclusion will be reached. It then presupposes that because Josephus mentions a Jesus a few sentences before another that they therefore have to be the same person even though they are identified by different means.
As said before, to assume that the brother of James is the same as the son of Damneus is to assume that Josephus broke with the methodology of identifying a person by his father, relative, hometown, or position the first timehe introduced them, not waiting until later which is what would have to be assumed if the two Jesuses are the same person. – The suggestion that Josephus called the son of Damneus “Christ” because of his “anointment” to the office of High Priest doesn’t work when one realizes that Josephus indicates that this was Jesus’ title during the High Priesthood of Ananus because the son of Damneus wasn’t anointed until after Ananus’ term in office.
Also, Josephus’ usage of the clause “Was called Christ” is agreed to be a completely neutral way of using the title “Christ” without either confirming or denying Jesus’ messiaship. — As said before, this wold make complete sense if Josephus wanted to avoid Christian-bashing while at the same time not accept Jesus as the Messiah. But it certainly wouldn’t make sense to use such a neutral clause with the High Priest. Using this neutral clause with Jesus, son of Damnues would make no sense, unless Josephus neither wanted to confirm or deny his priesthood because it was never in doubt from anyone.
In conclusion, to make a long story short, there is no credible evidence to conclusively say that the “Christ” mentioned by Josephus is the same as Jesus-Damneus, and there are enough arguments to the contrary because it opens the door to inconsistencies.
Joseph ben Matthias, better known as Flavius Josephus, was the son of a priest born in the year 37 AD. — During the first part of the Jewish revolt he was a reluctant military commander that fought the Romans. Later in 67 AD, when many of his allies had committed suicide rather than surrender he surrendered to the Romans for uncertain reasons and provided them with information and then was released two years later in 69 AD. As a result, he has been called a traitor and a pro-Roman propagandist, though he tried to fix the Jewish image in Rome’s point of view.
The works of Flavius Josephus are an important compilation of history that, in many cases, would be otherwise unknown to us had he not written it. He is the basic source from which we learn about many important historical figures and events. He wrote extensively about King Herod the Great, the Jewish revolt of 66 AD which lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and about the census of Quirinius of 6 AD which caused the rebellion of Judas of Galilee. — These are all mentioned in the New Testament, but not to the great detail that Josephus had described them.
Many Christians have appealed to this Jewish historian for confirmation of several biblical events and personalities such as the existence of the historical Jesus. One of the most secular historical references is known as the Testimonium Flavianum which is attributed to him. The other is usually called “the James Passage” which only mentions Jesus in passing.
This passage known as the Testimonium Flavianum occurs when Josephus is giving a historical account of the Roman Prefect of Judea Pontius Pilate,
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (Antiquities 18: 63-64)
The passage not only acknowledges that Jesus had indeed existed, it also affirms that “he was the Christ” and was resurrected after the third day of his death, there in lies the problem. Josephus was a devout Jew, not a Christian. It is practically impossible that Josephus had acknowledged Jesus as the true Messiah (or Christ). Therefore he would not have believed that Jesus was resurrected after being crucified.
Not surprisingly the “Jesus Myth” crowd calls the authenticity of the Josephus passages into question calling the passage into question, Acharya S (a.k.a. Dorthy M. Murdock), being very prominent among them.
Ms. Murdock, in her statements about the Testimonium, in an attempt to prove that it is a forgery mentions that early Christians such as Justin Martyr and Theophilus don’t cite it and therefore this silence indicates that they did not know anything about it. The problem with her argument is that her logic only leads her to a conclusion that was already presupposed.
– She is assuming that early Christian apologists, to defend their faith, would have cited theTestimonium to show that Jesus existed if indeed they knew about it. The fact is that citing the Testimonium would have been practically pointless because it only would have only served to confirm Jesus’ existence which was actually never questioned by early skeptics of Christianity.
Another argument that Ms. Murdock uses is that if Josephus truly knew about Jesus he would have written more about him,
Josephus goes into long detail about the lives of numerous personages of relatively little import, including several Jesuses. It is inconceivable that he would devote only a few sentences to someone even remotely resembling the character found in the New Testament. If the gospel tale constituted “history.” [ . . . ] Moreover, the TF refers to Jesus as a “wise man”–this phrase is used by Josephus in regard to only two other people, out of hundreds, i.e., the patriarchs Joseph and Solomon. If Josephus had thought so highly of an historical Jesus, he surely would have written more extensively about him. Yet, he does not.
This argument proves nothing except that Acharya S has likely not read a lot of Josephus’ works. Josephus mentions others that were well-known in first century Judea and yet wrote little about them. His mention of John the Baptist is only a paragraph long. Josephus calls him “a good man” who taught righteousness (Antiquities 18: 116) — Also, there was another holy man which he mentions (again in only a single paragraph) called Zacharias, son of Baruch who was murdered without just cause. (Wars of the Jews 4: 334-344)
These two men were well known at the time of Josephus and yet he only dedicates a single paragraph to each. So in my opinion this refutes the assumption that just because Josephus didn’t write more extensively about Jesus that therefore he wasn’t known to him.
Also, as mentioned, Josephus speaks in high regard about John the Baptist and Zacharias but does not go into greater detail about them. — This in itself can be used to show that Ms. Murdock’s argument that if Josephus thought highly of Jesus then he would necessarily have written a longer history about Jesus is incorrect. As a matter of fact, her two arguments here can be turned around to argue for the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum because it follows the pattern of the one paragraph accounts of well-known good (or holy) men that Josephus both wrote about and respected.
Ms. Murdock complains that the Testimonium “interrupts the flow of the primary material” meaning that it is out of context. Even if it was out of context this wouldn’t indicate it is an interpolation because such digressions were much more common in Greek and Roman writings than in modern literature. Today, we would place such breaks in footnotes which wasn’t done 2,000 years ago. (Greek and Roman Historians, page 53)
She makes the claim that the consensus among scholars is that the passage is a complete forgery. To back her up she quotes several writters from the 19th century. — Interestingly enough, one of her experts that she cites is Gordon Stein who she quotes as saying that most scholars since the late 1800′s believe the Testimonium to be a forgery. However, on his paper (which is found here) which she cites there is a disclaimer inserted by an editor before the text which says that things have changed since Stein wrote his essay in 1982,
While there is no doubt among the majority of scholars that the Testimonium has been tampered with (and thus the entire passage cannot be authentic), a decent number of scholars believe the Testimonium is based upon an authentic core. In other words, on their view, Josephus really did write a passage referring to Jesus. (Italics mine)
I do not know if this disclaimer was already added to Gordon Stein’s paper by Infidels.org by the time Acharya S decided to use it as a source, but it certainly is enough to refute her claim that the Testimonium is seen as a fake by the scholarly community.
The indication (from the disclaimer) is that even though it is true that at one point (at least until 1982) the Testimonium was seen as a forgery, this is no longer the case. — The vast majority of Acharya S’ sources come from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. These facts mean that she is using outdated sources to prove her case because the scholarly opinion has shifted.
The late David Flusser, Professor of early Christianity and Judaism and Orthodox Jew, while commenting on the Testimonium says,
Although it is generally recognized that the passage concerning Jesus in the extant Greek manuscripts of his Jewish Antiquities (18:63-64) was distorted by later Christian hands “the most probable view seems to be that our text represents substantially what Josephus wrote,but that some alterations have been made by a Christian interpolator.” (The Sage from Galilee – Rediscovering Jesus Genius, page 12)
So basically, Ms. Murdock’s claims that the vast majority of scholars believe the Testimonium is a Christian forgery is not only out dated. It is completely wrong. It is true that there are certain statements in it that more than likely were not written by Josephus such as “if it be lawful to call him a man” and “he was the Christ,” but that doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is a complete forgery “in toto” as Murdock puts it.
The second Josephus passage that mentions Jesus is not quite as lengthy as the Testimonium. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even about Jesus,
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still upon the road. So Ananus assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of that Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some of his companions. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (Antiquities 20, 200)
The basic objection that the “Jesus Myth” crowd brings up is that Josephus uses the term “was called Christ” in association with Jesus. — Ms. Murdock on her page only mentions this passage in passing and doesn’t go into detail about it. One of her listed sources on her page is the 19th century Christ-Myther John E. Remsberg who claims,
This passage is probably genuine with the exception of the clause, “who was called Christ,” which is undoubtedly an interpolation, and is generally regarded as such.
He goes on to claim that believing that the James mentioned in the passage is in fact Jesus Christ’s brother “accepted history of the primitive church” which says he was killed in 69 AD, not in 62 AD. To this point all I can say is that one should not confuse folklorewith true history.
As for his claim that the entire passage except for the clause “was called Christ” is authentic — Considering that the names Jesus and James were very common in the first century AD, if the means of identification were to be erased, as Remsberg apparently believed should be done, then the passage would become pretty unclear and ambiguous. It would simply be a mention of a “Jesus, brother of James.” Anyone reading the passage in the first century would likely have thought “Ok. Which ones? I know a million of them.”
Also, near the end of the paragraph, Josephus mentions another Jesus called the son of Damneus who became the high priest. (Antiquities 20: 203) This is all the more reason for Josephus to identify Jesus Christ in order to distinguish the two to avoid confusion.
Also, it is not true that the clause “was called Christ” is “generally regarded” as an interpolation. — Leading Josephus Scholar Louis Feldman says,
That, indeed, Josephus did say something about Jesus is indicated, above all, by the passage — the authenticity of which has been almost universally acknowledged — about James, who is termed (A XX, 200) the brother of the “aforementioned Christ.” (Josephus, Judaism and Christianity, page 56)
Feldman on the same page goes on to answer a charge that the passage was interpolated because of an apparent contradiction between this passage and another mention of the priest Ananus in Wars of the Jews,
As to the recent suggestion Tessa Rajak that the passage about James is a Christian interpolation because it has a derogatory view of Ananus the high priest (Josephus elsewhere praises him), we may remark that there are a number of instances in the Antiquities where Josephus contradicts what he says in the War. In any case, it would seem more likely that a forger would have been more careful than to contradict outright what Josephus says elsewhere.
Other scholars point out that the “James Passage” fits the context and that a Christian interpolator would have used “laudatory language” different than what Josephus used to describe James and especially Jesus. -A Christian would have called James ”the brother of the Lord” much like the Apostle Paul does.
They also point out that the term “λεγόμενος” (pronounced as “legomenos”) used by Josephus for the clause “was called Christ” is way too neutral for any Christian interpolator to have inserted. A Christian would have used the term in a more absolute way leaving no room for doubt that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Josephus’ language, however, neither denies or affirms Jesus’ Messiaship. (Jesus Outside the New Testament, pages 83, 84)
Finally, Ms. Murdock claims that,
Even if the Josephus passage were authentic [ . . . ], it nevertheless would represent not an eyewitness account but rather a tradition passed along for at least six decades, long after the purported events. Hence, the TF would possess little if any value in establishing an “historical” Jesus.
She claims, basically, that even if the Testimonium were indeed authentic it would not prove anything because it is not a first hand account due to the fact that Josephus was born a few short years after the death of Jesus. — This is a popular argument among the “Jesus-Myth” crowd, but it is one that makes absolutely no sense.
Josephus wrote about many people decades and even centuries after they existed. — He wrote extensively on the life of King Herod the Great, the Deposition of Archelaus from Judea, and even on the Census of 6 AD. He even wrote about the invasion of of Jerusalem by the Roman General Pompey over a century after the fact. The fact is that Josephus’ life was much further removed from these historical accounts he wrote about then he was from the life of Jesus. So if these “Jesus-Mythers” were to hold these historical accounts to the same standard that they do with the Testimonium then we would end up throwing out most of Josephus’ valuable works. But no prominent scholar or historian would ever even consider such a thing.
The same goes for several other historians such as Tacitus, Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, and others who wrote several decades or centuries after the events the report on and are still believed useful by modern historians and scholars. So the fact is that a historian writing about an event decades after the fact does not invalidate the historicity of what he reports. It does not have to be a first hand eyewitness account to be historically relevant.
Another fact is that though Josephus was born in 37 AD, about six years after the death of Jesus, he was alive when the event he covers in his ”James passage” was happening. He was writing about the stoning of James which historians believe happened in 62 AD, when Josephus would have been twenty-five years of age. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, page 53) There is therefore no reason why Josephus wouldn’t have had good first hand information about this event about a man known as the brother of Jesus. – If the name and family of the man was known, then almost certainly so was the man himself.
Before I conclude, a word should be said about Ms. Murdock’s sources. — As mentioned before, most of her sources which she uses to back up the claim that the Testimonium Flavianum is a complete forgery come from the late 19th century and considering that the scholarly opinion has completely shifted since then they are therefore outdated and irrelevant.
Also, several of her listed sources who she doesn’t necessarily quote outright are early “Jesus-Mythers” such as Hayyim ben Yehoshua and John Remsburg. Neither of these 19th century “Jesus-Mythers” even had the qualifications of a scholar in the necessary field. Ms. Murdock also lists a paper among her sources from Infidels.org contributed by Scott Orser. But a quick look at his bio once again shows that he is not an expert in this particular field either.
It really strikes me as odd that someone who claims to be an expert in the fields of history, religion and archaeology like Ms. Murdock would resort to citing non-experts in order to prove her point. If I may say so, many amateurs have been known to use much better tactics than her in their own personal research. – I’m not trying to demean her, but honestly –
In conclusion, the arguments that D.M. Murdock uses to prove her case for the Testimonium Flavianum being a complete forgery are mostly al moot. Many scholars, despite her claims to the contrary, do in fact believe that the Testimonium is partially authentic, though not entirely. Her claims that Josephus would have written much more of Jesus if he in fact knew about him are also irrelevant because there are other well-known men that he writes about and yet only gives them a paragraph each. Also the claim that the Testimonium is out of context is irrelevant because, even if true, it was common practice to insert such digressions 2,000 years ago. – It does not help matters for Ms. Murdock that her many of her authorities are outdated and, in many cases, not even authorities at all.
The James Passage is almost universally considered authentic so even if it were true the Testimonium was thought by experts to be a complete forgery, it would still be believed that Josephus indeed gives secular first century proof of Jesus’ existence. — Also, as for claims that he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Jesus and therefore his short mentions of him are not relevant, this is to undermine Josephus’ known accuracy as a capable historian because it is unlikely that Josephus would have been fooled into writing about a man that was said to have lived so close to his time that did not exist.
Most probably, if you are familiar with the “Christ-Myth” hypothesis then you probably have heard of anti-Christian author Acharya S (whose real name is Dorthy M. Murdock.) She was one of the main sources for the first part of Zeitgeist, the Movie as can be seen by the sources in the film’s transcript. She is the author of many books entitles The Christ Conspiracy and Sons of God. Much of her arguments can be accessed on her website Truth Be Known.
In a YouTube Video she takes it upon herself to “respond” to the debunking of Zeitgeist. She then says that despite claims that Zeitgeist, Part one has been debunked “the facts continue to to demonstrate otherwise.” The then complains that many of the refutations of the film have been directed largely at her. I cannot speak for all the other debunkers of Zeitgeist, but my fourteen part refutation of Zeitgeist doesn’t mention her even once. Also, my personal investigation of the facts has lead me to the conclusion that Zeitgeist is rooted in false claims.
Next Ms. Murdock makes the claim that the “detractors” whether theist or atheist didn’t study her work. — This claim is false. — R. G. Price, an Atheist who read her book Suns of God is very critical of her works calling it ”bogus.” (See “Critical Reviewof Acharya S’ The Suns of God“). Also, Christian Apologist Mike Licona, who read her other book entitled The Christ Conspiracy effectively shows many flaws in her works. (Click here and here)
Ms. Murdock then makes the claim that her claims presented in Zeitgeist are not available to us because of the dangers in the past of losing their lives. She also claims that there is “deliberate censorship” of the facts by many encyclopedias. This is a quite an excuse she uses to inoculate herself against any independent research that refutes her. She is basically saying “Any investigation you do will not matter because I know more than you. So uncrittically take my word for it.” — If what she says were true, then at the very least there shouldn’t be any information in the sources that contradict her. But my investigation of Zeitgeist shows there are tons of contradictory evidences so her point is completely false.
To help make her point, she shows pictures of the inquisition while claiming that is why a lot of evidence has been silenced. The problem is that even if the inquisition silenced information about Pagan European gods, in her books she includes Oriental gods such as Krishna and Buddha on her list of Christ-like gods. — The truth is the inquisition didn’t reach all the way to India, China and Japan so according to her logic there should be an abundant amount of information which backs her up in this case, but there isn’t any.
Attis and Jesus
She then goes into certain paralels between Pagan gods and Jesus. As an example she mentions the god Attis. — To prove her point of a parallel she cites Professor A.T. Fear who contributed a chapter to the book entitled Attis and Related Cults. She claims that in the chapter entitled “Cybele and Christ“ Professor Fear claims that Attis was killed and resurrected after three days during a celebration that depicts his resurrection out of a tomb.
As far as her claim claim goes, it is true (page 39) however the problem here is that Professor A.T. Fear, in the long run, does not support what Ms. Murdock is claiming. The ceremony that Dr. Fear describes is from a major festival of the metroac cult. But later he points out that this very cult had gone through changes which could have been “a deliberate attempt to rival Christianity” to ensure the cult’s survival in the market. (Page 44)
As a matter of fact, about the resurrection of Attis he says,
Attis too with his strong emphasis on resurrection seems to be a late-comer to the cult, the stress on the Halaria as celebrating the resurrection of Attis also appears to increase at the beginning of the Fourth century AD. : the same time as in the taurobolium towards the rite of personal redemption.
While these changes could simply be a mutation of religion over time, and it is important to remember that here we are discussing a period of centuries not merely years, they do seem to have been provoked by a need to respond to the challenge of Christianity. (Attis and Related Cults, pages 41, 42)
Dr. Fear does question whether the process of changing the Attis cult was conscious, but he never even implies that Jesus was influenced by Attis. He says that the Attis cult either mutated or that it responded to Christianity. — This completely contradicts what Ms. Murdock claims that he wrote. She misrepresented his views. Dr. Fear is implying that Christianity may have influenced Attis, not the other way around, if indeed one influenced the other. — Why didn’t she mention this? Obviously because it would have demolished her point.
The Day of Halaria, the Day of Joy of the festival (on March 25th) mentioned by Ms. Murdock in relationship to Attis’ “resurrection” was actually a post-Christian addition which was added to the festival either during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius or even later. This means the earliest the “resurrection” day was added is the year 138 AD. Also, the “three days of mourning” of Attis’ death were added by the Emperor Claudius between who reigned between 41 and 54 AD. (Text link) All of these days of the festival being post-Christian, this fact refutes Ms. Murdock’s insinuation that the festival of Attis’ “resurrection” influenced Christianity.
Krishna born of a virgin?
Next, she mentions Krishna and repeats the claim that his mother, Devaki, was a virgin. She defends the claim saying that it is only not widely known and on that ground alone is considered to therefore be wrong. She then quotes Philo of Alexandria (a Jewish historian) to prove her point. Assuming that the reference attributed does exist (I cannot find it) I still do not buy into the idea that we should depend on him so heavily on a subject that, chances are, he would not have known so mush about.
Unlike Ms. Murdock’s claims, the idea of Devaki’s virginity at Krishna’s birth is not assumed false because it is mostly unknown. I call the claim false because it contradicts basic Hindu tradition! Krishna was the youngest of a total of eight children that his mother had. (click here) So the fact is that there is no chance his mother was a virgin.
Is December 25th relevant?
Ms. Murdock goes on to mention that Christian apologists (like me) dismiss December 25th as being irrelevant to Christianity. But then she argues,
However, since the fourth century when this winter solstice celebration was designated as Christ’s birthday hundreds of millions of people have been taught that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. And hundreds of millions continue to celebrate that date every year. Indeed, Christian preachers today still insist that Jesus Christ is “the reason for the season.” Furthermore, in 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed house resolution 847 officially declaring December 25thto be the Birthday of Jesus Christ. Raising up this issue about the birthday of the Sun (S-U-N) is therefore entirely legitimate.
This argument is one that no intellectually honest person would ever give. Ms. Murdock apparently thinks that because Christians started to celebrate Christmas on December 25th in the 4th century AD and because the U.S. Congress officially declared it in 2007 that this makes the date relevant to the origins of Christianity. — The problem with her logic is obvious: If the practices indeed date so long after Christ, then they are irrelevant to Christ and Christianity, period!
The date of December 25thas Christ’s birthday is also completely contradictory of the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2: 8 says that during the night of Jesus’ birth shepherds were out in the fields. This would not be so if Jesus were born in the winter. This is proof beyond the shaddow of a doubt that the date hase no relevancy and later practices which Ms. Murdock appeals to cannot change this fact.
After this she says that when Christians say that this date is not Christ’s birthday that we prove her point that Jesus is not the reason for the season. — This shows that Murdock has no understanding of why Christians celebrate Christmas at all. It’s not the date that’s important, but the event.
The Three Kings
Ms. Murdock brings up the subject of the “three kings” in the Gospel of Matthew. In arguing against claims that they are not numbered as three she points out the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. She argues that since there are three kinds of gifts that therefore there must be “three kings.”
Just because there were three kinds of gifts, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there were only three gifts and therefore only three magi. — There could have been five magi which gave the same three gifts. Or there could have been six. There are many ways that this can work out. Three so therefore three is just an irrelevant oversimplification.
She then tries to connect the three stars in the belt of Orion with the “three” wise men. She says that “Christian tradition” calls the three stars “the magi.” — Notice she says that it is “Christian tradition.” In other words, later tradition which has no bearing on the origins of Christianity.
The truth is they are not called “kings” in Matthew, but rather “wise men” or “magi.” However, she misleadingly uses all three terms interchangeably to insinuate her point even though they cannot be used as such. (For a good discussion, click here)
Basically, her defence of Zeitgeist is just a rehashing of refuted claims and, in many ways, is a defence of herself (which I do not see the point in answering.) Even though she claims that the facts have not refuted Zeitgeist, there is no reason to accept her claim. The fact is that most of the claimed parallels between Jesus and other gods are superficial or false.
Her claims that many of her critics have not studies her writtings are also wrong, as earlier I have linked crituiques of skeptics of her books, both a theist and and atheist.
Her further claims that the information that backs her up is hidden and censured seems like an attempt to neutralize any research by both real experts and laymen which falsifies her far-fetched claims. When I hear her say that, what I really hear is “Don’t ask questions or worry about the facts. Just believe me.” And unfortunately, that’s what her gullible disciples do.
As pointed out before, Zeitgeist makes several claims that Jesus is both an imitation of Pagan gods and a solar deity. These claims are easily refuted. However the film then ties the Old Testament story of Joseph to Jesus claiming that the former was a “prototype” for the latter,
In the Old Testament there’s the story of Joseph. Joseph was a prototype for Jesus. Joseph was born of a miracle birth, Jesus was born of a miracle birth. Joseph was of 12 brothers, Jesus had 12 disciples. Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver, Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver. Brother “Judah” suggests the sale of Joseph, disciple “Judas” suggests the sale of Jesus. Joseph began his work at the age of 30, Jesus began his work at the age of 30. The parallels go on and on.
The first problem here is the association of Joseph’s birth with Jesus’. They cannot be placed on par with each other even though Joseph’s birth could be seen as a miracle because at first she had trouble conceiving. But that is debatable. — His mother Rachel was not a virgin at the time of his birth.
In the comparing the 12 brothers to the 12 disciples, Zeitgeist uses tricky logic to fool the viewers. The distinction here is that Joseph is included among the twelve brothers, meaning he had 11. — Applying the same tricky (but faulty) logic, Zeitgeist should therefore include Jesus among his disciples (as it does with Joseph) therefore making 13. I’ll give you three guesses as to why Zeitgeist doesn’t apply the same standard in both cases.
Even if someone wanted to see the 12 brothers/disciples as a relevant parallel between Jesus and Joseph, there is still one fact that doesn’t help Zeitgeist’s case: The twelve brothers became the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus seems to have taken this into account when he chose his disciples though he doesn’t say it point blank. (Matthew 19: 28 ) — If Jesus deliberately chose twelve to correlate to the twelve tribes then this should not be surprising.
It is true that Judah suggested selling Joseph, but most of Joseph’s brothers were also in on it, with the exception of Ruben who wanted to save him and Benjamin who wasn’t present (Genesis 37: 29, 30). In the New Testament Judas Iscariot was the only betrayer of Jesus. Also there is no indication that Judas Iscariot ”suggested” the transaction. — It’s more like he was bribed into it.
It is true that Jesus was thirty years old when he began his ministry (Luke 3: 23). But the biggest and most obvious mistake that Zeitgeist makes is saying that Joseph “began his work at the age of 30″ like Jesus. All the Bible says was that he entered the Pharaoh’s service at age thirty (Genesis 41: 46) but as for his “work,” he was more known as an interpreter of dreams which started at age 17.
Also, apparently in his twenties he was put in charge of running a prison (Genesis 39: 22) and before that he ran Potiphar’s house hold (Genesis 39: 6). – The bottom line is that there was a lot of “work” that Joseph did before he was 30 years old that it cannot be rightfully said that that was when he started.
As for the claims that the parallels between Joseph and Jesus go on and on, they do not! — What are being shown as parallels are based on either faulty or ticky logic. The fact is that even non-Christians do not buy into Zeitgeist’s parallels between Jesus and Joseph (Click here and here).
After making several assertions that Christianity is a plagiarization of pagan gods, myths and religions, Zeitgeist then makes the claim that the earliest Christian apologists were aware of the similarities and that they apparently tried to explain them away,
Justin Martyr, one of the first Christian historians and defenders, wrote: “When we say that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those who you esteem Sons of Jupiter.” In a different writing, Justin Martyr said “He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus.”
Justin Martyr was a second century Christian apologist that wrote extensively to defend Christianity from popular demonizing myths. To defend Christianity to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Justin wrote the the First Apology in which he refuted the myth that Christianity was atheistic and also argued in favor of its superiority to Pagan religions. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, Page 140)
The first quote that is cited which comes from Justin Martyr is taken from First Apology 21, though I use a different translation than Zeitgeist,
In saying that the Word, who is the first offspring of God, was born for us without sexual union, as Jesus Christ our Teacher, and that he was crucified and died and after rising again ascended into heaven we introduce nothing new beyond [what you say of] those whom you call sons of Zeus.
Justin later lists the sons of Zeus as Hermes, Asclepius (or Asclepios) and Dionysus — There are several problems with his examples, the most prominent one being that none of them were were born without sexual union.
According to Greek Mythology, the mother of Hermes, Maia “went up into his [Zeus'] holy bed” and afterwards she bore her son. — As for the second example, the mother of Asclepius, who was named Kronis, was “loved by the god Apollon” and she got pregnant with her child. Asclepius’ birth was just as sexual as yours and mine. He was also the son of Apollon, not of Zeus as seems to be indicated by Justin Martyr. — And as for Dionysis, in my fourth post I have already disputed the false claim that he was born of a virgin. Zeus has sexual relations in secret with Semele, Dionysus’ mother and that was how he was born.
Interestingly enough, in this particular quote stops right there and ignores what Justin continues to say. He mentions how these Greco-Roman gods are said to have died,
You know how many sons of Zeus the writers whom you honor speak of—Hermes, the hermeneutic Word and teacher of all; Asclepius, who was also a healer and after being struck by lightning ascended into heaven—as did Dionysus who was torn in pieces; Heracles, who to escape his torments threw himself into the fire; the Dioscuri born of Leda and Perseus of Danae; and Bellerophon who, though of human origin, rode on the [divine] horse Pegasus.
This is actually different than what Zeitgeist would have you believe. What the film is doing is giving the impression that Justin was admitting that other Pagan gods were crucified like Jesus. He is clearly saying that they did indeed die, but he gives different details which are unlike the Passion of Jesus. — If Zeitgeist had included this in its quotation of Justin Martyr then it would have demolished its point.
Also, in Chapter 22 of First Apology, Justin makes certain similar statements comparing Jesus to the same Greek gods,
If somebody objects that he was crucified, this is in common with the sons of Zeus, as you call them, who suffered, as previously listed. Since their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different, so his unique passion should not seem to be any worse—indeed I will, as I have undertaken, show, as the argument proceeds, that he was better; for he [Jesus] is shown to be better by his actions.
When one begins to read this, the first part seems to confirm Zeitgeist’s claims that Pagan deities were crucified. However when you read on Justin says that “their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different.” — He goes on to call Jesus’ passion “unique.” In fact, Justin is saying through chapters 21 through 29 that Jesus is superior to the others. The reasons why Zeitgeist didn’t include this quote in the film is obvious: They would have demolished their own case.
– Also, to make matters worse for Zeitgeist’s claims, Justin says point blank (in First Apology 55) that none of these gods was crucified like Jesus.
As for the second quote that Zeitgeist gives (which is from First Apology 22) the film quotes a comparison of Jesus with Perseus,
If we declare that he [Jesus] was born of a virgin, you should consider this something in common with Perseus.
This quote, like the other, is a favorite of the “Jesus-Myth” crowd. But unfortunately for them, this statement does not hold water when one researches Perseus. — The second century BC Greek historian Apollodorus describes the birth of Perseus (The Library 2,4,1) as such,
However, she [Danae, Perseus' mother] was seduced, as some say, by Proetus, whence arose the quarrel between them; but some say that Zeus had intercourse with her in the shape of a stream of gold which poured through the roof into Danae’s lap. When Acrisius afterwards learned that she had got a child Perseus, he would not believe that she had been seduced by Zeus.
The Primary Greek sources clearly say that Danae gave birth to her son, Perseus, through sexual relations. The description of sex may be odd to us, but according to the story it is still sexual.
So basically, when Justin Martyr claims that Perseus was born of a virgin like Jesus himself as he implies is the case with other gods, he is actually exaggerating the whole thing. The primary Greek sources actually say the opposite. — So much for Jesus-Mythers that use these passages by Justin to show that he knew Christianity to be basically the same as paganism.
The film Zeitgeist continues to say,
It’s obvious that Justin and other early Christians knew how similar Christianity was to the Pagan religions. However, Justin had a solution. As far as he was concerned, the Devil did it. The Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.
I think I’ve already adequately shown that Justin Martyr had exaggerated similarities between Jesus and the other religions (i.e., the virgin birth) so that point is moot.
The claim that Zeitgeist makes that Justin claimed that the Devil pre-Copied Christianity and the New Testament is completely false. He never said that. — What he didsay was that when the the Hebrew prophets wrote down their prophesies about the Christ, the demons immitated them and got them all wrong,
When they [wicked demons] heard it predicted through the prophets that Christ was to come, and that impious men would be punished by fire, they put forward a number of so-called sons of Zeus, thinking that they could thus make men suppose that what was said about Christ was a mere tale of wonders like the stories told by the poets. [ . . . ] But, as I will make clear, though they heard the words of the prophets they did not understand them accurately, but made mistakes in imitating what was told about our Christ. (First Apology 54)
From here it can be seen that Justin Martyr never claimed that “the Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.” — Rather, he is saying that the devil tried to imitate the prophesies of him but basically screwed up. In other words, he’s saying demons tried and failed to copy the Old Testament, not the devil copied Christianity before it even existed.
So, in conclusion, it appears that Zeitgeist, in using the favorite Justin Martyr references, makes the same mistake that other Jesus-Mythers make: Abusing them, taking them out of context, and leaving out relevant details that are capable of defeating their case.
It is true that Justin Martyr seems to say that the sons of Zeus were born of virgins, however a simple investigation into the mythological literature disproves him pretty handily. His statements in this case go outside the evidence. However the claim that he confirms Greco-Roman gods were crucified like Jesus is completely false and disproved by any complete reading of his writings in their proper context.
After Zeitgeist makes the claim that the childhood story of Moses is a plagiarized piece of pagan lit (a claim refuted here) it goes on to make further accusations of plagiarism about Moses attacking the Biblical account of the Ten Commandments as an imitation of other similar stories in ancient paganism. — It claims,
Moses is known as the Law Giver, the giver of the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic Law. However, the idea of a Law being passed from God to a prophet on a mountain is also a very old motif. Moses is just a law giver in a long line of law givers in mythological history. In India, Manou was the great law giver. In Crete, Minos ascended Mount Dicta, where Zeus gave him the sacred laws. While in Egypt there was Mises, who carried stone tablets and upon them the laws of god were written.
After saying this, Zeitgeist lists the names of the lawgivers to create the impression that they were all copied from each other:“Manou, Minos, Mises, Moses.”– It places Mises right before Moses for obvious reasons: They sound pretty similar.
Beginning with the first law giver listed, Manou — It seems to me that Zeitgeist is giving an alternative spelling for Manu, the Hindu law giver to whom the Laws of Manu are ascribed to traditionally.
However, one need not look far to find how any case of Moses copying the story of Manu comes crashing down.
According to the Columbia Encyclopedia,
They [the Laws of Manu] were compiled, probably between 200 BC and AD 200, from diverse ancient sources and provide detailed rules, presumably directed to Brahman priests, governing ritual and daily life. In particular they seek to validate and preserve the high caste position of the Brahmans. (Emphasis Mine)
The irrelevancy of this is obvious. Manu’s laws were compiled much too late to have any influence on Moses’ ten commandments. Moses wrote in the 15th century BC. — To be honest, there is scholarly debate as to when the Manu laws were published, but 200 BC is the date referred to the most. (Text Link)
As for the second law giver, Minos, the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus (who wrote in the first century BC) describes the event of Minos receiving laws as when he conversed with Zeus in a cave. It so happens that the cave was on the slopes of Mount Ida. But that is where the similarities end.
According to Greek Mythology, Minos would go to the cave on Mount Ida every nine years so that his father, Zeus, would help him to draw up new laws. (Text Link) After his death, because he received laws from Zeus, he became a judge in the realm of Hades along with his brother. (Gods and Mortals in Classical Mythology, Page 281) — See the differences yet?
The problem with Zeitgeist’s connecting Minos and Moses is that gods and law giving are only expected in religions. The slightest similarity, despite the differences, does not indicate that one copied off the other. It’s actually expected and can easily be explained away as a coincidence. — Zeitgeist also got the name of the mountain wrong. It mistakenly calls the mountain that Minos received laws from Mount Dicta.
As for the third law giver mentioned by Zeitgeist, Mises — I have not been able to find any reference to any Egyptian law giver with such a name. Every single search I made to a single reference to him has come up empty. Curiously, this is the man whose name Zeitgeist emphasised as being most like Moses.
Zeitgeist uses logical fallacy to attempt to tie Moses with these three law givers. The argument is “They received laws from gods . So did Moses. These religions pre-date Moses so this must mean Moses copied them.”— This fallacy is shown with the first law giver they mention. Manu was a Hindu law giver. Hinduism pre-dates Moses but apparently his laws post-date the Hebrew Bible and possibly the New Testament.
The last claim that Zeitgeist makes about Moses and the Ten Commandments is that they were taken from the book of the dead. It lists them and attempts to make te connection.
The film comments,
And as far as the Ten Commandments, they are taken outright from Spell 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. What the Book of the Dead phrased “I have not stolen” became “Thou shall not steal,” “I have not killed” became “Thou shall not kill,” “I have not told lies” became “Thou shall not bare false witness” and so forth.
The passage in the Book of the Dead that Zeitgeist is referring to is called “the Declaration of Innocence.” As far as the quotes from the Book go, they are accurate. But the film is making a huge logical fallacy. It is arguing that because killing and stealing are both condemned in both the Book of the Dead and in the Ten Commandments that therefore Moses must have copied it. But any civilization would prohibit anything as basic as murder and theft.
On top of this, there are several declarations on innocence in this passage that have no resemblance to the Ten Commandments,
I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth, I have not driven small cattle from their herbage, I have not snared birds for the gods’ harpoon barbs, I have not caught fish of their lagoons, I have not stopped the flow of water in its seasons. I have not built a dam against flowing water, I have not quenched a fire in its time. I have not failed to observe the days for haunches of meat. I have not kept cattle away from the God’s property, I have not blocked the God at his processions.
Get my drift? — If this was Moses’ source for the Ten Commandments, we would expect to see something similar to what is listed here. Why didn’t Zeitgeist list any of these other sayings? Because it would have destroyed its case because there are a lot more differences than similarities between the Declaration of Innocence and the Ten Commandments.
In conclusion, the basis for Zeitgeist’s conclusions are based on logical fallacies as well as over simplifications. Apparently in its attempts to tie Moses’ law giving to Manu and Minos, the film makers never considered the fact that gods giving laws to their followers is really not so unusual. And it doesn’t help their case that the Laws of Manu are of very young origin when compared to the Bible.
The attempt to tie the Ten Commandments to the Book of the Dead, at least to me, comes across as a desperate try to link the Bible to Paganism. But its links are based on morality that is so basic that it really has no case.
A major point in Zeitgeist the Movie is its claim that Christianity is no different from pagan religions. It then claims that several passages and Biblical stories had been plagiarized from ancient pagan mythology. — After the film makes the all time favorite claim that the Genesis account of the flood was copied from the Epic of Gilgamesh (which is refuted here), it goes on to make similar claims about the story of Moses,
There is the plagiarized story of Moses. Upon Moses’ birth, it is said that he was placed in a reed basket and set adrift in a river in order to avoid infanticide. He was later rescued by a daughter of royalty and raised by her as a Prince. This baby in a basket story was lifted directly from the myth of Sargon of Akkad of around 2250 b.c. Sargon was born, placed in a reed basket in order to avoid infanticide, and set adrift in a river. He was in turn rescued and raised by Akki, a royal mid-wife.
Zeitgeist makes the claim that the ancient king Sargon was placed in a basket to “avoid infanticide” and is later found by a royal mid-wife. The claim then becomes that since Sargon lived before Moses then therefore Moses must have plagiarized the story.
There is indeed a famous story of Sargon being left in a basket on the Euphrates river preserved in cuneiform tablets of Ancient Assyria. The cuneiform tablet says,
Sargon, mighty king, king of Agade, am I. My mother was a high priestess, my father I knew not; My father’s brothers live in the mountains; My city is Azupiranu, situated on the banks of the Euphrates My mother, the high priestess, conceived me, in secret she bore me; She placed me in a basket of rushes, she sealed the lid with bitumen; She cast me into the river which did not rise over me; The river bore me up and carried me to Aqqi, the water-drawer. Aqqi, the water-drawer, lifted me out as he dipped his bucket; Aqqi, the water-drawer, adopted me, brought me up; Aqqi, the water-drawer, set me up as his gardener. As a gardener, Ishtar, loved me; For 55 years I ruled as king.
The similarity to Moses is obvious to anyone who has read both the story of Moses and the legend of Sargon. But a carefull reading shows that the film, Zeitgeist, in its description of the similarities between the two stories is actually exagerated.
The claim that Sargon’s mother placed him in the basket and set him adrift to save him from infanticide is actually unsubstantiated. Nowhere in the inscription does it say that she did it to save him from anything or anyone. It just simply says she set him adrift. And the way that the tablet says “she [his mother] cast me into the river” kind of gives the impression that this is a case of child abandonment rather than to save his life.
James Holding in his essay gives background information of the importance of Sargon’s mother being a high priestess. He points out that in order to maintain her position she had to avoid pregnancy. This therefore would account for her giving birth in secrecy and would indicate that she was just disposing of her unwanted newborn child.
The fact that the story says she set him adrift also indicates she didn’t care whether or not he survived. This is a major difference between the two stories. — Contrary to what Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments shows, even though Moses was placed in a basket on the Nile river, he was not set adrift. Exodus 2: 3, 4 says that he was placed at the edge of the river among the reeds and his sister “stood” at a distance to watch him. The reeds would have kept the basket from drifting away. He was meant to survive which is not seemingly the case with Sargon.
The claim that Zeitgeist makes that Sargon was adopted by a royal mid-wife is also a mistake. The tablet says that 1) his rescuer was a “he.” And 2) he was a water drawer, not a royal mid-wife. These errors in the description of the story leads me to the conclusion that the film makers did not do independent research in this particular area.
There is one fact about the “Baby in a basket” story of Sargon that many skeptics either do not know, or just do not mention. The Historical website People and Places in the Ancient World (click here) points out,
The reputation of Sargon cast a long shadow. A scribe in 7th century Assyria left this account of Sargon’s origin, supposedly based on a first person account. [ . . . ] It is of course, impossible to know if this Moses like story circulated during Sargon’s lifetime but his humble origins are attested to by his lack of a name.
Also is should be mentioned that the Encyclopedia Britannica points out that what we know about Sargon of Akkad (who reigned from 2334 to 2279 BC) is all based on legends that were written after his lifetime.
– So the evidence is that 1) it looks as if it is impossible to date this particular story of King Sargon I and that 2) the earliest evidence we have of the story we have comes from as late as the seventh century BC. In contrast, the Book of Exodus was written between 1437 and 1397 BC. So plagiarism on the part of Moses is not necessarily what happened.
After Zeitgeist finishes its claims that Jesus and the Bible are based on astrology, it then makes the favorite argument that many skeptics and Jesus-Mythers make frequently: It accuses the Bible of plagiarizing from the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The story of Noah and Noah’s Ark is taken directly from tradition. The concept of a Great Flood is ubiquitous throughout the ancient world, with over 200 different cited claims in different periods and times. However, one need look no further for a pre-Christian source than the Epic of Gilgamesh, written in 2600 b.c. This story talks of a Great Flood commanded by God, an Ark with saved animals upon it, and even the release and return of a dove, all held in common with the biblical story, among many other similarities.
It is not my purpose to claim that the flood accounts in both the Book of Genesis and tablet eleven of the Epic of Gilgamesh aren’t similar because they are. With the undeniable similarities betwen Noah and Gilgamesh, there are at least three possibilities to draw up on: 1) The writter of Genesis copied Gilgamesh. 2) Gilgamesh copies Genesis. And 3) The two flood accounts describe the same event from different viewpoints and share a common source.
Needless to say, most Christ-Mythers will accept the first option without the slightest doubt. The second option is pretty unlikely because the Sumarian sources of the Gilgamesh account were written at about 1647 to 1626 BC while Genesis was written between 1437 to 1397 BC. — Personally I subscribe to the third option.
The similarities should not really come as a shock. Biblically, the area where the Gilgamesh tablets of the flood were found is where the first decendents of Noah came to live. It is not unlogical for the early Sumarians to have a very vivid memory of the flood. — But there are also some important differences that the film predictable does not mention while only emphasizing the similarities.
A major difference between the Genesis story and the Gilgamesh epic is that God decided to send a flood to destroy most of humanity because of continual evil. The Gilgamesh epic actually does not specify why the flood was sent other than to say that “the hearts of the Great Gods moved then to inflict the flood.”
A reason for the flood of Gilgamesh, however, can be found by looking at the older source for the Gilgamesh Epic. The tablets of the Gilgamesh epic are actually from the seventh century BC, but the story is older and most likely is taken from the older text from the mid-to-late 17th century BC called “The Epic of Atrahasis.” — Even though the section of the older tablet has been lost, it is known that the it said that humanity was too noisy so the gods decided to destroy all humanity in order to have some peace. — It can be established that the Gilgamesh Epic did source that of Atrahasis because in one line the hero of the Gilgamesh flood is called by Atrahasis’ name (apparently by an accidental slip).
The gods took an oath of secrecy uttered by Annu obviously to keep their plans a secret from everyone else. — Ea, the one god that didn’t wish for humanity to be destroyed, found a loophole from the oath by not warning the hero of the flood story directly, but by making it appear to him in a dream.
Another difference between the two accounts is that Noah is warned by God because he alone was righteous (Genesis 6: 7, 9). — As for Utanapishtim, the hero of the Gilgamesh flood, there is no indication that he was particularly righteous. As a matter of fact, it appears the god Ea encouraged him to lie to anyone asking him about his boat, though for understandable reasons,
I [Utanapishtim] understood and spoke to my lord, Ea:
‘My lord, thus is the command which you have uttered
I will heed and will do it.
But what shall I answer the city, the populace, and the
Ea spoke, commanding me, his servant:
‘You, well then, this is what you must say to them:
“It appears that Enlil is rejecting me
so I cannot reside in your city (?),
nor set foot on Enlil’s earth.
I will go down to the Apsu to live with my lord, Ea,
and upon you he will rain down abundance,
a profusion of fowl, myriad(!) fishes.
He will bring to you a harvest of wealth,
in the morning he will let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat!”‘
Basically, Ea is telling Utanapishishtim to tell the elders (if they ask him what he’s up to) that the god Enlil will not bless them until he leaves the city of Shuruppak. He is told to lie, seemingly, because the flood is still a “secret of the gods,” besides it being a give-away to the other gods bent on the destruction of mankind that somebody was warned of what they planned on doing.
Even though Zeitgeist points out gleefully that both stories have the hero sending out a dove to support the idea that Genesis copied even the most minute detail, a carefull readingof bothflood accounts shows that Genesis actually comes out with the upper hand. — In Genesis 8: 8, 11, Noah sent the dove twice to see if it could find land because the earth was still covered, except for a couple of mountain peaks. The first time it could find none, but did on the second try.
However, the Gilgamesh Epic does not give a reason for Utanapishishtim to send out any birds. — It cannot be to find land like Noah because before he sent out the dove he himself already caught a good view of land himself,
I looked around for coastlines in the expanse of the sea,
and at twelve leagues there emerged a region (of land).
It should be emphasized that this was before the Gilgamesh epic says he sent the dove. So basically, there is really no point to Utanapishishtim sending out the dove, or any of the others (a swollow and a raven.) The truth is it just doesn’t fit in the story.
What happens to both heroes at the end of their stories is also very different despite the similarities in the sacrifices offered after the food. — According to Genesis, God blessed Noah and promised never again to wipe out mankind with a flood. According to the Gilgamesh epic, the god Enlil is angered when he finds out that there were human survivors of the flood. Ea finally admits to him that he warned the hero in advanced without breaking the oath of silence.
As for Utanapishishtim like Noah, it is actually a pretty mixed bag,
He [Enlil] touched our forehead and, standing between us, he
’Previously Utanapishtimwas a human being.
But now let Utanapishtim and his wife become like us,
Let Utanapishtim reside far away, at the Mouth of the Rivers.’
They took us far away and settled us at the Mouth of the Rivers.”
“Now then, who will convene the gods on your behalf,
that you may find the life that you are seeking!
Wait! You must not lie down for six days and seven nights.”
soon as he sat down (with his head) between his legs
sleep, like a fog, blew upon him.
He and his wife are granted godhood. However they are also banished far awar so nobody can convene to the gods for their sakes and they are also sleep deprived for a week. The “blessing” is different from that of Noah, and I would actually call it a curse as well.
A very important difference are the structures of the two arks. The description of the ark as described in Genesis 6: 16, 17 was for it to be 300 cubits long (450 feet), 50 cubits wide (75 feet), 30 cubits high (45 feet) and a window a cubit high (of 18 inches).
When Ea tells Utanapishishtim about the dimensions of the boat that he must build, Ea says,
The boat which you are to build,
its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
its length must correspond to its width.
Roof it over like the Apsu.
So basically he is told to construct a cube shape whose walls were all 10 times 12 cubits high and wide with the top and bottom being of equal size, making it about fifteen times larger than Noah’s Ark. — Also Utanapishishtim’s ark is described as having six levels while Noah’s ark has three.
The shapes of the two arks may seem like only a minor difference among many similarities. But the fact is that this difference is very important because it comes down to how would these two different arks would fair under a cataclysmic flood.
In an analysis (Text Link) it turns out that Utanapishishtim’s ark would not be in so much danger in capsizing. This seems okay until one looks at what else would happen with it,
Looking more like on oversize buoy than any ship known to man, the Gilgamesh ark has the potential to survive waves from any direction. The big loser is seakeeping. Passengers will get no relief from the vigorous accelerations – roll, pitch, yaw, heave, surge and sway. In a gentle sea, these motions would be uncomfortable but when it gets rough these accelerations could be lethal [. . . ] Accelerations are high in hull #5 which means the passengers get knocked over or seasick. On the Gilgamesh ark they will be lucky to stay in one piece. A few waves would make the upper decks un-inhabitable. No solutions are apparent for ventilation and lighting.
Basically, the ark, as described in the Gilgamesh Epic would have been uninhabitable and the passengers would have gotten knocked all over the place and probably killed.
In contrast, according to a study done by Dr. Seon Won Hong (who holds a BS in Naval Architecture), Noah’s Ark would be capable of a lot more punishment and able to navigate with sea conditions with waves higher than 30 meters (or 98.43 feet) high. (Text Link)
Now what does this difference prove? — I say this actually refutes the popular idea that the writer of Genesis copied off the Gilgamesh epic. Had it been plagiarized, it is more than likely that the plagiarist would have also copied the poor dimensions of the ark of Utanapishishtim, or even would have given it even worse structure. It should be pointed out that the Hebrews were not known as skillful ship builders, or even as sailors for that matter.
Since Noah’s Ark is by far superior in structure and stability to the other this shows that, even though Genesis was written later, it has an important mark of authenticity that the Gilgamesh epic does not have. — This is why I subscribe to the idea that both flood accounts share a common source, instead of one copying the other.
On top of that fact, as I read the flood according to the Gilgamesh epic and the Genesis flood account were quite different in the literary sense — That is one does not show literary dependence on the other. This is not not consistent with the idea that Jewish scribes copied the Babylonian tablets. Glenn Miller of Christian Thinktank did a very detailed study on the literary differences between the Babylonian and Sumarian tablets of the flood accounts and the comparison with the Biblical account as well as other differences there are between then. If you are interested in reading it then click here to see it. — Also, the Associates for Biblical Research did a survey on the similarities and differences of the two flood accounts that can be found here and here.
Even though it is perfectly understandable for Zeitgeist, the Movie to make the over simplified claim that since the Gilgamesh epic was written down first that Noah must be a copy, this assumption does not take into account the superiority of the Genesis version found in certain detailes such as the sending of the dove and especially the superior stucture to Noah’s Ark itself to the Gilgamesh ark. Also, the fact that the two stories do not show literary dependence to eachother also helps to refute the charge of plagiarism.
Zeitgeist, the Movie is heavily dependent on the idea that the Bible and Christianity have their roots in astrology and the Zodiac. — In “The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 6,” I debunked such claims that Jesus’ birth sequence was astrological and that the 12 disciples are representative of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac. Both claims are completely reliant on the “in-English-only” play on words that Jesus is a solar deity or sun god, in that “Son” of God it equivalent to “Sun” of God. The problem is that this doesn’t work in the Biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew so therefore is superficial.
Before actually attempting to further tie Jesus with the Zodiac, Zeitgeist claims,
The ancient Egyptians along with cultures long before them recognized that approximately every 2150 years the sunrise on the morning of the spring equinox would occur at a different sign of the Zodiac. This has to do with a slow angular wobble that the Earth maintains as it rotates on it’s axis. It is called a precession because the constellations go backwards, rather than through the normal yearly cycle.
The major problem here is that Zeitgeist gives the false impression that the ancient Egyptians long understood the precession of the equinoxes. The truth is that the the Greek astronomer Hipparchus is credited as being the discoverer of the precession of the equinoxes around the years 146 to 130 BC. (text link) — Also, the Zodiac in Egypt is not particularly ancient when compared to the civilization itself. The truth is that is was introduced from both Babylon and Greece as late as the Greco-Roman period! (click here) From these facts it is obvious that the film makers didn’t do enough research.
The film next goes on to talk about other ”astrological-astronomical metaphors” which it alleges are in the Bible. These metaphors are about the references to the “age” that are made in the Bible. To elaborate on this claim, Zeitgeist explains about the Zodiac ages,
The amount of time that it takes for the precession to go through all 12 signs is roughly 25,765 years. This is also called the “Great Year,” and ancient societies were very aware of this. They referred to each 2150 year period as an “age.” From 4300 b.c. to 2150 b.c., it was the Age of Taurus, the Bull. From 2150 b.c. to 1 a.d., it was the Age of Aries, the Ram, and from 1 a.d. to 2150 a.d. it is the Age of Pisces, the age we are still in to this day, and in and around 2150, we will enter the new age: the Age of Aquarius.
Since this particular claim itself is not wrong, so far there is no refutation needed. From this Zeitgeist simplifies how it interprets the Bible in order to make it fit into the Zodiac ages. The problem, however becomes that these interpretations are ludicrous.
Zeitgeist claims that the Bible shows symbolic movement through 3 ages and foreshadowsa fourth age. It then begins with an interpretation of Moses,
In the Old Testament when Moses comes down Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments, he is very upset to see his people worshiping a golden bull calf. In fact, he shattered the stone tablets and instructed his people to kill each other in order to purify themselves. Most Biblical scholars would attribute this anger to the fact that the Israelites were worshiping a false idol, or something to that effect. The reality is that the golden bull is Taurus the Bull, and Moses represents the new Age of Aries the Ram. This is why Jews even today still blow the Ram’s horn. Moses represents the new Age of Aries, and upon the new age, everyone must shed the old age.
The claim Zeitgeist makes that the Golden Calf was Taurus the Bull has no support from the context in Exodus chapter 32. There is a much more plausible explanation as to what the Golden Calf represented. We have to take into account that at this point in time the Hebrews had just escaped Egyptian slavery. The Golden Calf is most likely the Egyptian god, Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis which is an incarnation of either Osiris or Ptah. (Source) — It goes without saying that an explanation from history is much more believable than a suggestion that has no support from the context.
The film claims that Moses was not truly angered at the fact that his people were worshiping a false god, but rather because he represents the Aries. — The fact is that this claim has absolutely no textual support. I would question if the film makers have even read the Biblical story because the context completely supports the idea that Moses’ anger was kindled by false worship. There is nothing in the entire story that suggests that Moses represents the Age of Aries or that he is the reason why Jews blow the rams horns. And if anyone would like to argue with me on this then I would tell them to read the Bible and see for themselves. Zeitgeist is simply inserting details in the text that just aren’t there.
It should be noted, as the film points out, that the Age of Aries had begun in 2150 BC. — According to Biblical dating, the Exodus happened in 1437 BC. It was 713 years way too late for Moses to get angry that his people had not caught onto the “new age.”
Next, Zeitgeist attempts to connect the symbol of the Christian fish to the Zodiac,
Now Jesus is the figure who ushers in the age following Aries, the Age of Pisces the Two Fish. Fish symbolism is very abundant in the New Testament. Jesus feeds 5000 people with bread and “2 fish.” When he begins his ministry walking along Galilee, he befriends 2 fisherman, who follow him. And I think we’ve all seen the Jesus-fish on the backs of people’s cars. Little do they know what it actually means. It is a Pagan astrological symbolism for the Sun’s Kingdom during the Age of Pisces. Also, Jesus’ assumed birth date is essentially the start of this age.
The claim now is that the Christian fish is a symbol for the Age of Pisces which Zeitgeist is careful to mention is represented by “two fish.” — It then points out the miracle of Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000 with bread and “two fish.” (Luke 9: 13, 14) — It’s careful to mention the number of fish but yet it neglects to mention the number of five loaves of bread because it has no parallel with the zodiac and throws off the symbolism.
The next alleged “parallel” with the Age of Pisces is that Jesus befriended “two fisherman,” — again, the reference to two fish. However this is faulty as well because even though it is true that Jesus befriended some fishermen, there weren’t just two. As a matter of fact there were a total of four fishermen listed among Jesus’ disciples, not two. (Mark 1: 16, 20). This difference in number is enough to refute the connection between them and Pisces.
Even though Zeitgeist implies that Christians lifted the fish from paganism, there are more internal reasons for the Christians to have adopted it. According to Mark 1: 17, Jesus commissioned his followers as “fishers of men.” — Also, in Greek, the word for fish (ΙΧΘΥΣ) is also an acronym for “Ιησους Χριστος Θεου Υιος Σωτηρ.” — In English this translates as “Jesus Christ, God’s Son is Savior.” – The symbol of the fish was used during the first centuries when Christians were being persecuted by the Romans. It is said that it was used by Christians in secret to identify other Christians. (Text Link) So the fact is that Christians had enough reasons to use a fish without any pagan influences, much less influence from the Zodiac.
Also, the attempt made by Zeitgeist to date Jesus’ birth to 1 AD (the first year of the Age of Pisces) is misguided. It is more likely that Jesus was born between 7 to 2 BC. So, close but no cigar. Jesus’ birth doesn’t mark be beginning of the new age.
Next, Zeitgeist tries to link a certain statement Jesus made in Luke 22: 10 to a fourth age of the Zodiac,
At Luke 22:10 when Jesus is asked by his disciples where the next passover will be after he is gone, Jesus replied: “Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water… follow him into the house where he entereth in.” This scripture is by far one of the most revealing of all the astrological references. The man bearing a pitcher of water is Aquarius, the water-bearer, who is always pictured as a man pouring out a pitcher of water. He represents the age after Pisces, and when the Sun (God’s Sun) leaves the Age of Pisces (Jesus), it will go into the House of Aquarius, as Aquarius follows Pisces in the precession of the equinoxes. Also Jesus is saying is that after the Age of Pisces will come the Age of Aquarius.
To anyone who has actually read the passage that Zeitgeist cites here to support a parallel between the New Testament and the Zodiac, it is clearly obvious that the film takes the Biblical passage completely out of context.
Zeitgeist claims that in this passage Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus where they will celebrate the Passover “after he is gone.” – Even though the words “after he is gone” do not appear in the transcript of Zeitgeist, they are added in the film itself and therefore warrant a refutation. — The truth is that nowhere in the context (Luke 22: 7, 12) do the disciples ask about the next Passover “after he (Jesus) is gone.” As a matter of fact, they didn’t ask him anything. However in the separate account in Mark 14: 12, 15 the disciples do ask him where he wants to celebrate the Passover, but nothing is mentioned about the next Passover after Jesus’ death. Zeitgeist is inserting details in the Biblical text that are not there.
As for the claim that the man with a pitcher of water is representative of the coming Age of Aquarius — This is completely taken out of context. Also, the suggestion that “Jesus is saying is that after the Age of Pisces will come the Age of Aquarius” is way off the charts of what the New Testament says. — Remember, Mark says that Jesus’ disciples asked him where he wanted to celebrate the Passover. If Jesus replied to their question in such a manner that Zeitgeist claims then that would have given his disciples lots of reason to say “Huh? We didn’t ask that.”
Also a man carrying a pitcher of water 2,000 years ago is way to generic to automatically assume a parallel with Aquarius. Before indoor plumbing, carrying water in pitchers was not unusual at all. Does it make sense to apply Zeitgeist’s logic to these cases and assume everyone who fetches water in a pitcher represents Aquarius? — No, I didn’t think so.
The last attempt that Zeitgeist tries to tie the New Testament to the Zodiac are the references it makes to “the age.”
Now, we have all heard about the end times and the end of the world. Apart from the cartoonish depictions in the Book of Revelation, the main source of this idea comes from Matthew 28:20, where Jesus says “I will be with you even to the end of the world.” However, in King James Version, “world” is a mistranslation, among many mistranslations. The actual word being used is “aeon”, which means “age.” “I will be with you even to the end of the age.” Which is true, as Jesus’ Solar Piscean personification will end when the Sun enters the Age of Aquarius. The entire concept of end times and the end of the world is a misinterpreted astrological allegory.
Zeitgeist claims that the King James Version of the Bible mistranslated Matthew 28: 20 the term “aeon” the Greek word for age as “world.” The film implies that Jesus is saying Jesus’ Age of Pisces ends as the Age of Aquarius begins and that therefore the idea of the “end of the world” is a “misinterpreted astrological allegory.”
– Actually, the term used is “αιων” which is pronounced “aion.” (Text Link) — It is true that the term means “age.” But contrary to the claims made by Zeitgeist, the term used in the passage also means forever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, universe and even the worlds. So the fact is Matthew 28: 20 can be translated as “I am with you always, even to the end of the universe.” (Text Link)
– So much for the claim that Jesus was not talking about the actual end of the world. It is clear that just because the term “age” is used in the New Testament, that does not indicate that it is therefore referencing the Ages of the Zodiac. As a matter of fact, the Greek word for “age” is used in several contexts in the Bible where it would be ridiculous to suggest that the Zodiac is being referenced. (For example, Luke 1: 70 and 1 Corinthians 2: 6)
It is pretty obvious that the Film, Zeitgeist, as well as many other “Jesus-Mythers” are willing to tie any reference in the Bible of fish to Pisces, any Bull or calf to Taurus, or water to Aquarius no matter how ludicrous these “connections” are. No reputable scholar would ever make such weak connections between the Zodiac and the Bible.
Despite the fact that Zeitgeist makes the claim that the Bible “has more to do with astrology than anything else” — The Bible actually discredits Astrology and Stargazing as acts of Divination,
Surely they [astrologers and stargazers] are like stubble; the fire will burn them up.They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. (Isaiah 47: 14 NIV)
Also the claim that Jesus is a Sun god is also can be dismissed due to the Judeo-Christian opposition of the worship of both the Sun and the constellation which is shown in the Bible. — 2 Kings 23: 5 talks approvingly about Josiah, the King of Judah, who abolished such practices during his reign,
[Josiah] did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.
Such passages are not what one would expect to find in a book that promoted astrology. Considering the fact that Judaism opposes Sun worship, it is not likely for the first Christians (who were Jews themselves) to consider Jesus a god of the sun. Such a thing was against their religion. As I have mentioned before, the claims made by Zeitgeist that Jesus is the “Sun” of God which is a play on words with “son,” are moot because this only works in English. And the Bible was not written in English.
There is no evidence that Jesus was ever considered a solar deity or that Christianity is based on the worship of the sun. Likewise, the connections that Zeitgeist attempts to make between the Bible and the constellations of the Zodiac have no basis in what the Biblical passages it refers to actually say. Every single case is taken out of context to support a view that no competent historian or scholar would ever endorse.
After Zeitgeist, the movie makes several easily disputed claims (which I have refuted) about how similar pagan gods are to Jesus the film then goes on to list attributes to Jesus and then attempts to show that he is astrological. The point of listing them is to show further on that Jesus is no different than Horus, Dionysus or Mithras.
As attributes of Jesus, Zeitgeist lists that he was born of the virgin Mary on December 25 in Bethlehem which event was announced by a star in the east. He was then visited by three kings who adored him, was a teacher at twelve years of age, baptized at thirty years, traveled and performed miracles, was betrayed by Judas for 30 silver pieces, was crucified, placed in a tomb tor three days and then resurrected.
The film also mentions he was called “Alpha and Omega,” “King of Kings,” and the “Lamb of God.
A lot of what is listed here is true, but several of the assumptions made in the film are based on popular assumptions that have no basis in fact. The movie then also makes the claim that Jesus’ birth is astrological.
After showing the alleged “similarities” between Jesus and pagan mythological deities the film then poses a question: “Why these attributes? Why the virgin birth on December 25th? Why dead for three days and the inevitable resurrection? Why twelve disciples or followers?”
Several of these questions in previous posts have already been shown to be moot since there is no evidence found that any of them were born on December 25th, were dead for three days nor even had twelve disciples. However it is necessary to point out that a lot of what Zeitgeist, the Movie says depends heavily on Jesus being born on December 25th. — If it can be shown that he was not, then a good 50% of its claims are irrelevant, though I still plan on going into them. The truth is the Gospel of Luke indicates that Jesus was born during any season but winter (much less December 25). Luke 2:8 mentions that the same night he was born shepherds were out in the fields caring for their flocks. If this were winter they would have been sheltered away from the elements.
However, not taking this fact into account, the film claims,
The birth sequence is completely astrological. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which, on December 24th, aligns with the 3 brightest stars in Orion’s Belt. These 3 bright stars are called today what they were called in ancient times: The Three Kings. The Three Kings and the brightest star, Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the Three Kings “follow” the star in the east, in order to locate the sunrise — the birth of the sun.
As I have just shown, Jesus was not born on December 25th, but there are details in this statement that have to be addressed. — It is true that Sirius is called the “star in the east” and that three stars in Orion’s belt are the “Three kings.” However it is not true that that’s what they were known as in ancient times. The earliest information available in which they are called the “Three Kings” is from the 17th century AD and is therefore about 1,700 years to late to be of any relevance. (Click here)
Even if they were known as such in ancient times it would still be irrelevant for two reasons: 1) They are called “magi,” not kings. And 2) Matthew (the Gospel that tells the story) never specifies their number. Also, it is untrue that Orion’s Belt and Sirius point to the sun’s travel route (Click here).
However it doesn’t stop here. Zeitgeist then claims that for three days when the sun reaches its lowest possible position in the sky it then stops moving or “at least perceivably so.” These three days are December 22, 23, and 24. Then on the 25th it apparently begins to rise again. Therefore it becomes the death of the “Sun” for three days and resurrection. The film then tries to tie this in withJesus’ death for three days and resurrection. However, there are problems with this: The earth always follows the elliptical orbit and therefore the sun doesn’t stop moving in the sky. (Click here)
Next, it claims,
During this three day pause, the sun resides in the vicinity of the Southern Cross, or Crux, constellation.
This claim which is to legitimize the Date of December 25th as Jesus’ day of birth is completely unfounded and its use of the southern cross to link it to Jesus’ death by placing the “Sun” in the vicinity of the constellation of the Southern Cross is factually inacurate. The fact of the matter is that the sun is in the vicinity of Saggitarius which has no significance at all to Christianity. For it to reside in the southern cross, our planet Earth would have to turn over by 40 degrees. (Click here)
There’s another fact that damages Zeitgeist’s case for linking the “Southern Cross” constellation (or the “Crux”) to the birth and death sequence of Jesus. Academics show that the connection is impossible (click here),
Because it is not visible from most latitudes in the Northern hemisphere, Crux is a modern constellation and has no Greek or Roman myths associated with it. Crux was used by explorers of the southern hemisphere to point south since, unlike the north celestial pole, the south celestial pole is not marked by any bright star.
The “Southern Cross” constellation is a new discovery made in the 16th century AD and therefore cannot have anything to do with Jesus. — Zeitgeist gives the impression that the Southern Cross was well known in ancient times but that is known not to be the case.
Another claim the film makes is about the virgin Mary and the Constellation of Virgo,
The Virgin Mary is the constellation Virgo, also known as Virgo the Virgin. Virgo in Latin means virgin. The ancient glyph for Virgo is the altered “m”. This is why Mary along with other virgin mothers, such as Adonis’s mother Myrrha, or Buddha’s mother Maya begin with an M. Virgo is also referred to as the House of Bread, and the representation of Virgo is a virgin holding a sheaf of wheat. This House of Bread and its symbol of wheat represents August and September, the time of harvest. In turn, Bethlehem, in fact, literally translates to “house of bread”. Bethlehem is thus a reference to the constellation Virgo, a place in the sky, not on Earth.
It claims that Mary represents the constellation of Virgo because Virgo is Latin for virgin. It is true that Virgo means virgin, but it also means a maiden or a young girl. (Source) Also, it is far more likely that Virgo stands for Astraea, Zeus’ young virgin daughter who was chased away by the what she was offended by in the Bronze Age (Source) According to Greek Mythology, Zeus placed her among the stars and she became Virgo and, except for being a young virgin, has absolutely nothing in common with Mary.
The film here also indicates that Myrrha (Adonis’ mother) and Maya (Buddha’s mother) were virgins when their children were born and also ties them to Virgo. The problem is that this is not true. — Myrrha committed incest with her father and that her son was “conceived in sin.” (Text link) — Also as for Maya, she and her husband, King Suddhodhana, were married for twenty years when the soon-to-be Buddha was born so it is not likely for her to have been a virgin at his birth. (Source)
Also, the argument that the “M” like symbol for Virgo stands for Mary, Maya and Myrrha as virgins because their names start with M is moot because the film doesn’t take into account that Hebrew, Hindi and Greek do not use our Alphabet, though Greek is the closest.
Next, the film tries to tie Virgo to Bethlehem where Jesus was born saying that they both indicate “house of bread.” It is true that Bethlehem, in fact, does mean “house of bread,” (Bible Dictionary Vol. 8 Commentary Reference Series page 136) however there is no evidence that “Virgo” has any such meaning.
As for Jesus’ twelve disciples, Zeitgeist claims,
Now, probably the most obvious of all the astrological symbolism around Jesus regards the 12 disciples. They are simply the 12 constellations of the Zodiac, which Jesus, being the Sun, travels about with. In fact, the number 12 is replete throughout the Bible. This text has more to do with astrology than anything else.
The claim is that Jesus’ twelve disciples are the same at the twelve constellations of the Zodiac. — All through the film Zeitgeist uses a play on words to connect Jesus to the Zodiac by saying that “‘Sun’ of God” is the same as “‘Son’ of God.” This is an attempt to show that Jesus is a solar deity (i.e., a Sun god.) Of course the hardest piece of evidence is this particular play on words which only works in English.
The trouble is that “SUN” and “SON” cannot be equated. In Hebrew “Son” is pronounced as ben and “sun” is shemesh. In Greek “son” is huios and “sun” is pronounced as helios. (Bible Dictionary Vol. 8 pgs. 1033-50) — Given that the two terms are only similar in English but not in the original Biblical languages, the most important piece of evidence that supposedly identifies Jesus as a Sun god and as the center of the Zodiac is superficial.
With these facts taken into account, it turns out that the number twelve is only a coincidence. The most likely reason why Jesus would have 12 disciples is because of the twelve tribes of Israel. — Also, as the film says, it is true that the number twelve is “replete throughout the Bible.” But so are many other numbers such as 3, 7, 30, and 40. There is no indication that 12 is any more sacred than the others.
Not satisfied with its distortions, the film mentions the cross and tries to link it to the Zodiac,
This is not a symbol of Christianity. It is a Pagan adaptation of the cross of the Zodiac. This is why Jesus in early occult art is always shown with his head on the cross, for Jesus is the Sun, the Sun of God, the Light of the World, the Risen Savior, who will “come again,” as it does every morning, the Glory of God who defends against the works of darkness, as he is “born again” every morning, and can be seen “coming in the clouds”, “up in Heaven”, with his “Crown of Thorns,” or, sun rays.
This claim is just as dependent on the falty assumption that “Sun = Son” as the last, so that detail needs no further refutation.
It is true that the cross is also a pagan symbol, but apparently what the film maker doesn’t know is that “all the historical examples of actual “Celtic Crosses” are from indisputably Christian contexts.” (Link) — Also, as pointed out by Steven Walker, a Celt,
Ironically, the Pagan Roots of the Celtic Cross is essentially a Christian legend in its development. It is only in the last quarter of the 20th century that the “Christians stole it” spin of the story has become widespread, promoted mainly by those who make no secret of their distrust of Christianity. But there is more irony yet. The negative version of the story is also spread by some Christians, who unaware of the Celtic Revival version, believe the Neo-Pagan version of the story as true and feel compelled to spread the alarm, lest their fellow Christians unwittingly offend God by use of a pagan symbol.
The film claims that because of the Zodiac, Jesus’ head in art depictions (like the one above) is on the cross with the sun in the back. — It is true that this circular shape was used by pagans before the Christians adopted it. For example, the Greeks used it to portray their gods (especially the Sun-god). After then, the Romans adopted it.
Besides the fact that this symbol of the Halo has nothing to do with the origins of Christianity, the first Christians found the symbol unattractive because of its pagan origins and therefore they did not use it. However they started to use it in art by the sixth century AD to depict, not just Jesus, but the virgin Mary and other saints. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, pg. 297)
Not only is the adoption of the halo in the 6th century too late to bear any relevancy to Christianity, I cannot find any reference that ties it to the Zodiac. Also, the claim that Zeitgeist makes that Jesus’ crown of thorns is a representation of “sun rays” has no real basis and hangs on a very thin thread.
To make a long story short, the supposed “evidence” that Zeitgeist, the Movie gives to show that Jesus is a solar Sun god that is based on the Zodiac is either superficial or completely incorrect. Since his evidence of Jesus representing the Zodiac is based of the superficial coincidence that “sun” and “son” are pronounced the same in English (but not in the original Biblical languages) there is no reason to believe that his 12 disciples are to be equated to the 12 constellations.
The claim that that Jesus’ birth sequence is only astrological is based on falty claims that any investigation can refute. Since Jesus was not born on December 25, a lot of the arguments presented in Zeigeist (which are dependent on that date) are worthless. — The attempts to tie the Virgin Mary to the constellation Virgo are also flimsy at best. The film maker shows a lot of ignorance of the facts, too much to make a movie that supposedly refutes the origins of Christianity.
The fifth pagan deity that Zeitgeist points out as a god much like Jesus was a very interesting one to look into, mostly because I ran into a brick wall while researching him. Unlike Horus, Dionysus, or even Krishna, there isn’t much information about Mithras. What information we do have about him is very imperfect and is based largely on educated guess work rather than on hard fact. However, it is not uncommon to find claims made about him on unreliable, unacademic conspiracy websites.
As for the claims made by Peter Joseph in Zeitgeist are,
Mithra, of Persia, born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for 3 days and thus resurrected, he was also referred to as “The Truth,” “The Light,” and many others. Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithra was Sunday.
Mithraism began to be practiced by Romans in the late first century A.D., but it didn’t enjoy widespread membership until the mid-second century A.D. — On the internet, I ran across claims about the existence of “mithraic scriptures,” but, in reality, there are no such known writtings. Being a “mystery religion,” there are no sacred writings of the cult like there are in other ancient religions such as Christianity, Hunduism and Buddhism. It is also doubtful that any such sacred texts ever existed.
There exists the popular misconception that Christianity and Mithraism were in bitter competition for the heat and soul of the Roman empire. — This is not true! The truth is that the Roman cult of Mithraism only allowed men to join while excluding women. Christianity, being much more open to membership, was therefore at an advantage. Also, despite the fact that several Roman emperors were initiates in the cult of Mithras it was never instated as the official Roman religion.
The claim that Mithras was born on December 25th seems to be relevant, however as pointed out in previous posts, this date has no relevance to the origins of Christianity since it was in the forth century in which it was instituted. The claim that he was born of a virgin is false since he was born by being forced out of a rock. I guess someone could make the argument that a rock is a virgin, but to argue that is relevant is absurd. As for claims that Mithras performed miracles, this is too generic to be of any relevance since miracles are to be expected in theistic and polytheistic religion. — There is no reference I could find that shows him having twelve disciples. It’s important to consider that Mithras didn’t travel, so he would have had no traveling companions.
Zeitgeist’s claim that Mithras was dead for three days and then resurrected is demonstrably false. Mithras did not die, and therefore was not resurrected. He simply ascended to heaven in the Sun’s chariot after killing the bull. When in heaven, he has a meal with the Sun in which they eat the meat of the bull that he killed. — Since he was said to have killed the bull right before he ascended to heaven, there is therefore no time for him to have died and resurrected.
On the surface, the mithraic holy day being Sunday would seem relevant, but that goes without taking into account that Jesus and the first Christians were, in facts, Jews meaning they celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday rather than Sunday. To make matters worse, we really don’t know on what days Mithraic rituals took place, so this partucular claim really should not be made, despite its constant repetition. — Also, having been raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist, this objection is even less affective on me than on most other Christians.
In summary, the alleged similarities between Jesus and Mithras as mentioned by Zeitgeist are mostly false. But even if the parallels were real, they would still be fail to demonstrate causation . . . due to to the time when Mithraism appears in the Roman empire. The Encyclopedia Britannica says,
There is little notice of the Persian god in the Roman world until the beginning of the 2nd century, but, from the year AD 136 onward, there are hundreds of dedicatory inscriptions to Mithra. This renewal of interest is not easily explained. The most plausible hypothesis seems to be that Roman Mithraism was practically a new creation, wrought by a religious genius who may have lived as late as c. AD 100 and who gave the old traditional Persian ceremonies a new Platonic interpretation that enabled Mithraism to become acceptable to the Roman world.
And as a final word, it has been suggested from this that rather than Christianity borrowing from Mithraism, the borrowing may have been the reverse. However, others suppose that neither religion borrowed from the other, prefering the possibility that the similarities that do exist between Christianity and Mithraism may be explained as having their origins in the Greco-Oriental mindset of the time. Either hypothesis is prefered, Zeitgeist’s implication that Jesus was an imitation of Mithras is less supported then it supposes. One pagan researcher (not a Christian apologist) I’ve read on this subject concludes, “Did Christianity steal from Mithraism? Most definitely not.”
Epologetics: Debunking the Jesus-Mithra Myth
Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of the Persian deity Mithra?, by J.P. Holding
Mithras: Mithraism and Christianity from SkepticWiki
In this blog I have been investigating the claims made by the film Zeitgeist that Jesus Christ is mearly an imitation of several other pagan gods that pre-date Christianity. However, so far I have investigated the first three of the five deities listed such as Horus, Attis, and Krishna and so far these claims have turned out to be bogus. This shows that the claim the film makes about wanting to be academically correct is just empty words.
Next up, the film then goes into a description of the Greek God, Dionysus. First, the film claims that Dionysus was born of a virgin on December 25th, performed miracles, was known as the “King of kings,” and the “Alpha and Omega.” And it also says he was resurrected after his death.
Dionysus was God of wine and the fertility of nature. He was also the son of the the greek god Zeus and the mortal woman Semele. — He was also said to be “twice born” because after his mother had been destroyed by Zeus’ thunder and lightning, Zeus rescued him from his mother’s ashes and sewed him into his thigh until the time had come for him to be born.
According the the Encyclopedia of Mythica,
Because Zeus slept with Semele secretly, Hera [Zeus' wife] only found out about the affair after the girl was pregnant [with Dionysus]. (Brackets mine, Emphasise mine)
The bottom line: Semele was not a virgin when Dionysus was conceived, therefore showing yet more intellectual dishonesty on the part of the film makers. Also, I have found no evidence that December 25 is the date of Dionysus’ birth or that it had any importance to him. — Not that it matters because that date has no significance to Christianity.
As for miracles, I have found none. That’s not to say that there aren’t any cases. But even if there were it would not mattar because, as I have said before on another post, miracles are a given and are expected of any divine being.
There are those that attempt to tie Jesus’ miracle of turning water to wine to Dionysus because the latter was known as the god of wine to the Greeks. (John 2: 1, 11) However, as far as I can tell, Dionysus didn’t turn water into wine though he was a wine-maker. He was, however, the god that showed mortal man how to make wine among other things.
I cannot confirm or deny that Dionysus was called either “king of kings” or the “Alpha and the omega.” — Considering that Zeus, not Dionysus was the king of the gods, I imagine that Zeus would be more likely to have been called the former. (Text Link) However, I cannot even find that title of “king of kings” for Zeus either. But certainly if Dionysus had usurped such a title I would wonder why Zeus didn’t kill him off to protect his authority.
As for the death and resurrection of Dionysus (click here),
Hera had the newborn Dionysus killed by a couple of Titan assassins who tore him to bits, even though he kept trying to escape them by changing forms to hide from them. When he died a pomegranate tree began to grow where his blood had fallen. Disconcerted by this, the Titans decided to be on the safe side and boil the pieces of his body in a great cauldron.
Luckily he was resurrected by his grandmother (though in some accounts it was by his half sister, Athena) and was entrusted to the goddess Persephone for safekeeping.
So even though it is true that there is a death and resurrection, as usual the details are way to different for one to conclude that this had any influence on Christianity and the Passion of Christ. The Myth of Jesus, as proposed by Zeitgeist seems to be falling for the logical fallacy that since there is death and resurrection in both stories then therefore one had to have copied the other. However this is due to disregarding the vast differences between the two. — Dionysus was murdered when he was a newborn , his body was then dismembered and boiled — A very different story than that of Jesus.
The only other death and resurrection account is that “according to tradition, Dionysus died each winter and was reborn in the spring.” (Click here) From all this evidence it seems that all the claims that Jesus is a copycat of Dionysus is unfounded on the wishfull thinking of Athiests that are willing to go to any lenghths to prove that Christianity and the story of Jesus are not true. Unfortunately for them I actually check my facts.
The film Zeitgeist begins with list of pagan gods such Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus and Mithra. It goes through the list of details associated with Jesus Christ and then applies them to these pagan gods in order to create the impression that Christianity is only a copycat religion of paganism. — So far, the claims made by Peter Joseph (the film producer) have turned out to be wrong. The claims of parallels with the god Horus turned out to be completely wrong, and the claims made about Attis are only marginally better, but without convincing evidence of causation of Christianity. However, it should be kept in mind that just because the claims made about these two former alleged parallel gods have turned out to be false, that doesn’t necessarily falsify the rest of the claims that are made in Zeitgeist, so it is necessary to continue checking the facts.
The next pagan god that Zeitgeist focuses on is Krishna, a Hindu god. The film quickly summarizes his life:
Krishna, of India, born of the virgin Devaki with a star in the east signaling his coming, performed miracles with his disciples, and upon his death was resurrected.
According to the story of Krishna’s birth, the princess Devaki married Vasudev. Soon after the wedding, Kansa Devaki’s brother, heard a voice warn him that one of her children would eventually kill him. When he heard that, he imprisioned both his sister and her husband. Every time the two of them had a child in prision, Kansa had the newborn killed.
When the eighth child, Krishna, was born, Devaki and Vasudev prayed to Vishnu who had appeared to them in prision and freed Vasudev and the newborn Krishna from the prision. Vishnu instructed Vasudev to take Krishna across the river, exchange him for a newborn girl, and then come back with her before anyone knew that he had gone. He did as he was told, and the guards then realized the eighth child was born and informed Kansa about it. Kansa went personally to kill the child. Devaki begged him not to kill her because she was only a little girl, but Kansa payed no heed to her hurling the child against a wall but failed to kill her. She then appeared as a goddess to him saying that the one who would kill him was elsewhere.
Knowing this story of Krishna’s birth, the most obvious error Zeitgeist makes is the claim that Devaki was a virgin when he was born. She had seven children before him indicating that she had her “fun” several times before he was born. Besides, there is nothing apparently miraculous about Krishna’s birth at all. — Also, I can find no Hindu or encyclopedic reference to a “star in the east” which announced his birth, and apparently, no Hindu scholar knows about it.
It is true that Krishna performed miracles and even went on heroic exploits, but so what? — Miracles are very generic and are only to be expected in legends and religious literature of deities. This shows no relevant relationship with Jesus.
Also, as for the death and resurrection of Krishna, it would be a massive streatch to say that it is similar to that of Jesus. . . Krishna died of different causes than Jesus. According to the Hindu writings in the Mahabharata, he was accidentally shot and killed by a hunter that mistook him for a deer:
The hunter, mistaking Keshava [or Krishna], who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey. Coming up, Jara beheld a man dressed in yellow robes, rapt in Yoga and endued with many arms. Regarding himself an offender, and filled with fear, he touched the feet of Keshava. The high-souled one comforted him and then ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour. (Mahabharata 16: 4)
Krishna also was not resurrected in the sence that Jesus was, with a body of flesh and blood (Luke 24: 39). On the contrary, it is believed that Krishna left his body behind when he died and went to be with the gods.
A look at the facts shows that Krishna and Jesus are not similar enough to claim that one cause the other. The intentions of Peter Joseph, the maker of Zeitgeist, are now becoming clearer: “Academic correctness be damned! We have our agenda and we are going to advance it even if it means distorting the facts.”