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.
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.