Jesus vs. Horus – Did the New Testament Copy the Ancient Egyptians?

If you've ever heard someone bring up this issue before and you didn't know the answer, it can be quite confusing!  And a challenge to Christian faith. So it's important that we study and be ready

If you’ve ever heard someone bring up this issue before and you didn’t know the answer, it can be quite confusing!  And a challenge to Christian faith.

So it’s important that we study and be ready to address these issues when they come up!

“Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope.”  1 Peter 3:15

Here’s how the conversation goes.  Someone (typically a Bill Maher type or College Professor Pinhead type) will say, “Don’t you know that the Resurrection Story was originally created by the ancient Egyptians?  Yes, they say!  Written in 1280 B.C., the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus. Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother. He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer who was later beheaded. Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert, healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water. He even raised Asar from the dead.  Oh, and “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.” And he also had twelve disciples. Horus was crucified first, and after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.

Wow!  What a claim that is!  And if it’s the first time you’re hearing someone make this claim, your head can start to spin!  Was Jesus just a clever copy of a story that actually existing 1200 years before he was born?  If so, it would be completely unreliable and have no business building faith upon it.

But what we find when we apply serious investigative principals and scholarly effort is that these statements are at best clever twists on little shreds of truth and in many cases outright lies.

Our friends over at StrangeNotions have put together an excellent analysis solidly debunking all of the claims.  Here’s a portion:

Written in 1280 BC, the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus.In fact, there are many “books of the dead.” But there is no single, official Book of the Dead. The books are collections of ancient Egyptian spells that were believed to help the deceased on their journey to the afterlife. The title Book of the Dead comes from an Arabic label referring to the fact that the books were mostly found with mummies (cf. The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Funerary Literature”). Some of these texts contain vignettes depicting the god Horus, but they don’t tell us much about him.

Our information about Horus comes from a variety of archaeological sources. What we do know from the most recent scholarship on the subject is that there were many variations of the story, each of them popularized at different times and places throughout the 5,000-year span of ancient Egyptian history. Egyptologists recognize the possibility that these differences may have been understood as aspects or facets of the same divine persona, but they nevertheless refer to them as distinct Horus-gods (cf. The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Horus”).

Part of the problem with the “Jesus is Horus” claim is that in order to find items that even partially fit the life story of Jesus, advocates of the view must cherry-pick bits of myth from different epochs of Egyptian history. This is possible today because modern archaeology has given us extensive knowledge of Egypt’s religious beliefs and how they changed over time, making it possible to cite one detail from this version of a story and another from that.

But the early Christians, even if they had wanted to base the Gospels on the Horus myths, would have had no way to do so. They might have known what was believed about Horus in the Egypt of their day, but they would have had no access to the endless variations of the stories that laid buried in the sands until archaeologists started digging them up in the 1800s.

Another part of the problem is that the claimed parallels between Jesus and Horus contain half-truths, distortions, and flat-out falsehoods. For example…

Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother.The mother of Horus was believed to be the goddess Isis. Her husband, the god Osiris, was killed by his enemy Seth, the god of the desert, and later dismembered. Isis managed to retrieve all of Osiris’s body parts except for his phallus, which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by catfish. (I’m not making this up). Isis used her goddess powers to temporarily resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus. She was then impregnated, and Horus was conceived. However this story may be classified, it is not a virgin birth.

He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer, who was later beheaded.There is no character named Anup the Baptizer in ancient Egyptian mythology. This is the concoction of a 19th-century English poet and amateur Egyptologist by the name of Gerald Massey (see sidebar 2 below). Massey is the author of several books on the subject of Egyptology; however, professional Egyptologists have largely ignored his work. In fact, his writing is held in such low regard in archaeological circles that it is difficult to find references to him in reputable modern publications.

In the book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (Stellar House Publishing, 2009), author D. M. Murdoch, drawing heavily from Gerald Massey, identifies “Anup the Baptizer” as the Egyptian god Anubis. Murdoch then attempts to illustrate parallels between Anubis and John the Baptist.

Some evidence exists in Egyptian tomb paintings and sculptures to support the idea that a ritual washing was done during the coronation of Pharaohs, but it is always depicted as having been done by the gods. This indicates that it may have been understood as a spiritual event that likely never happened in reality (cf. Alan Gardiner, “The Baptism of Pharaoh,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 36). This happened only to kings (if it happened to them at all), and one searches in vain to find depictions of Horus being ritually washed by Anubis.

Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert.The companion guide to the film Zeitgeist outlines the basis for this claim by explaining, “As does Satan with Jesus, Set (aka Seth) attempts to kill Horus. Set is the ‘god of the desert’ who battles Horus, while Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan” (p. 23).

Doing battle with the “god of the desert” is not the same as being tempted while alone in the desert; and according to the Gospel accounts, Satan did not attempt to kill Jesus there (cf. Matt. 4, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13).

The relationship between Horus and Seth in the ancient Egyptian religion was quite different than the relationship between Jesus and Satan. While Seth and Horus were often at odds with each other, it was believed that their reconciliation was what allowed the pharaohs to rule over a unified country. It was believed that the pharaoh was a “Horus reconciled to Seth, or a gentleman in whom the spirit of disorder had been integrated” (The Oxford Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Seth”). In stark contrast, there is never any reconciliation between Jesus and Satan in Scripture.

Healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water.The Metternich Stella, a monument from the 4th century B.C., tells a story in which Horus is poisoned by Seth and brought back to life by the god Thoth at the request of his mother, Isis. The ancient Egyptians used the spell described on this monument to cure people. It was believed that the spirit of Horus would dwell within the sick, and they would be cured the same way he was. This spiritual indwelling is a far cry from the physical healing ministry of Christ. Horus did not travel the countryside laying his hands on sick people and restoring them to health.

Read the full article here:  http://strangenotions.com/horus-manure/

Another excellent analysis comes from y-Jesus.com.  Here is a portion:

Zeitgeist claims that Christianity copied the death and resurrection of Jesus from the ancient deities Horus, Osiris, Attis, Adonis and Mithras. But are these mythological accounts really similar to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Furthermore, are they before or after Jesus’ death and resurrection?

Around 22 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote the following account to believers in the city of Corinth.

For I passed on to you Corinthians first of all the message I had myself received—that Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures said he would; that he was buried and rose again on the third day, again as the scriptures foretold. He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve, and subsequently he was seen simultaneously by over five hundred Christians, of whom the majority are still alive, though some have since died.¹

Paul is writing here that more than five hundred eyewitnesses had seen Jesus alive at one time. And he says that most were still alive at that time. However, Zeitgeist says Jesus’ death and resurrection was copied from earlier pagan religions.

Although some pagan religions have accounts of dying and rising gods, they are quite different than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The question we must ask is: do these accounts predate Christianity? Let’s take a closer look.

Dr. Norman Geisler answers the question.

The first real parallel of a dying and rising god does not appear until A.D. 150, more than a hundred years after the origin of Christianity. So if there was any influence of one on the other, it was the influence of the historical event of the New Testament [resurrection] on mythology, not the reverse.²

Leading scholars of ancient religions tell us that “the ancient Egyptian cult of Osiris is the onlyaccount of a god who survived death that predates Christianity.” Yet Geisler notes the vast distinction between Osiris’ and Jesus’ resurrection.

The only known account of a god surviving death that predates Christianity is the Egyptian cult god Osiris. In this myth, Osiris is cut into fourteen pieces, scattered around Egypt, then reassembled and brought back to life by the goddess Isis. However, Osiris does not actually come back to physical life but becomes a member of a shadowy underworld…This is far different than Jesus’ resurrection account.³

But what about Mithras, the Roman god who supposedly was the son of god who was born of a virgin, died for sins and rose again? Author Yousuf Saleem Chishti writes,

The Christian doctrine of atonement was greatly coloured by the influence of the mystery religions, especially Mithraism, which had its own son of God and virgin Mother, and crucifixion and resurrection after expiating for the sins of mankind and finally his ascension to the 7th heaven.4

Zeitgeist cites this as solid evidence that Christianity is truly a “copycat religion.”

However, no early account of Mithra speaks of his death or resurrection. Only after Christ did these elements appear. Professor Ronald Nash notes,

Allegations of an early Christian dependence on Mithraism have been rejected on many grounds. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth—at least during its early stages.5

Many scholars believe Mithraism, as well as some other ancient religions, actually copied elements of Christianity. Regarding Mithraism, Nash explains,

Mithraism flowered after Christianity, not before, so Christianity could not have copied from Mithraism. The timing is all wrong to have influenced the development of first-century Christianity.6

The same is true for Attis, Adonis, Horus, Osiris and other deities. Noted scholar A. T. Fear reveals that the Greek god Attis didn’t resemble Jesus at all originally. Any similarities between Jesus and Attis that came after Christ “seem to have been provoked by a need to respond to the challenge of Christianity.”7

Professor T. N. D. Mettinger of Lund University, a non-Christian, says that almost all scholars agree; there were no dying and rising gods before Christ.

The consensus among modern scholars — nearly universal — is that there were no dying and rising gods that preceded Christianity. They all post-dated the first century.8

Read the full article here:  http://y-jesus.com/jesus-death-resurrection-copied-other-deities/

Understanding these facts is CRITICAL to standing firm in our faith!

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