Tell me the pros and cons about these thoughts of mine. Let me know if They are wrong. Expound on it please! I don't want to tell anything if it is wrong.

The bible was composed for governments. It was never intended to be a people's book. The council of Niccea composed this book as more of a constitution. A book to put fear into any nation who opposed them (like the Hebrews). Now you could only pray to God using the Christian method and our savior from our country. Only in the name of Jesus would God hear you from now on.

Thanks for any input.

Tags: Why, bible, history, written

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A small number of rational observations here, mixed with a large amount of misinformation. The amount of misinformation gets nauseating towards the end though...

"osiris is a better model for the christ than his son, horus. so is dionysus, especially the dionysus of the orpheic mysteries, which included a communion identical to the christian one where people could become one with the body of Dionysus."

Actually, neither of those comparisons works at all. Comparing Osiris to Jesus is bound to be a cluster of failures, and the same goes for Dionysus (unless we take the later Dionysus cults, but then, those are probably influenced by Christian and Jewish ideas themselves).

As for the "communion" being identical... ummmm, the ritual in the Dionysus cults consisted of getting shit-faced drunk and having sex orgies. I can't find many similarities there.

"The Orpheic mysteries taught that in the end Dionysus was going to replace Zeus as the Cosmic Ruler just as Zeus replaced his father, and Chronos had replaced Saturn, etc. Dionysus would reign 'at the right hand of his father Zeus' ..."

Ummmm, none of this is even vaguely similar to the Jesus story. The classic Greek theme of son-kills-father-to-take-over-the-world doesn't apply to the ideas of the Trinity, for obvious reasons. Not to mention that the ideas of the trinity are much later Christian developments.

"and his mortal mother Semele was also deified and 'ascended to heaven' just like the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin did with Jesus' mother."

? The legend of Dionysus goes that Semele was struck by Zeus' lightning during sex (don't ask me how that happened) and died on the spot. Dionysus was rescued by Zeus and implanted in his thigh.
In other words, your information is completely false.

"When Jesus said 'I am the vine' this does not make sense to us today but to an ancient Greek, they knew exactly who they were talking about: the god of the wine was Dionysus. To them, Jesus was stating his identity as one and the same with Dionysus. This was brilliant propaganda on the part of Christians, in a world dominated by these Greek ideas."

It's never been explained by anyone why on Earth a Jewish sect like Christianity, who were incredibly hostile to pagan ideas, would suddenly turn around and start incorporating elements of these much despised pagan cults into them.
Jesus' statement of "I am the vine" is part of a larger analogy ("You are the branches, etcetera"). It's no more significant than any of the other dozens of comparisons and parables he makes: he compares himself to the sea, to the sky, to the light, to a vineyard, to seeds, to a pearl, to a shepherd... the list goes on. Wine and other agricultural items often return in Jesus' stories because he was talking to farmers and lower-class citizens.
Any connection with Dionysus is speculation, and wild and contrived speculation at that.

"but on the fact that christianity was born as an egyptian sect, probably a proto-gnostic sect, of that there can be little doubt. in fact, there was a cup that was found under the waters in Alexandria recently which read 'jesus the mage'. the jesus the mage cup is remarkable, not so much because it says that jesus was wizard (and the cup is believed to have been used in oracles) but because it was dated to PRIOR to the Common Era, in other words Jesus was worshiped as a mage in Alexandria even BEFORE the Yeshua of history was even born."

Total bullshit. There's not a single true statement in this entire paragraph.

Seriously mate, you need to check your sources more carefully. For a rationalist, that really shouldn't be too hard.
As I said here before, you can certainly find lots of claimed parallels between Jesus and other mythic figures, but when you start investigating and try to find where the correspondent texts, you quickly find that you can't find them. That's because those parallels are made up.
In other cases, they are simply exaggerated.
In either case, by the end of any search for these supposed parallels you wind up with a list like "Well ummmm, mythic figure X and Jesus both had kinda miraculous births and they had kinda miraculous lives... so there." Big deal. That's how humans tell story.
It was originally remarked that .....

in fact, there was a cup that was found under the waters in Alexandria recently which read 'jesus the mage'. the jesus the mage cup is remarkable, not so much because it says that jesus was wizard (and the cup is believed to have been used in oracles) but because it was dated to PRIOR to the Common Era, in other words Jesus was worshiped as a mage in Alexandria even BEFORE the Yeshua of history was even born."

to which the response was given:

@MATT wrote .... Total bullshit. There's not a single true statement in this entire paragraph. Seriously mate, you need to check your sources more carefully

@MATT - it is now up to you to provide a novel explanation of this archaeological find -- or to retract your statement. Here is a SOURCE about this "bowl" and its implications from the Discovery Channel

Earliest Reference Describes Christ as 'Magician' 'By Christ the Magician' | Video: Discovery Archaeology .Oct. 1, 2008 --
A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that, according to an expert epigrapher, could be engraved with the world's first known reference to Christ.

If the word "Christ" refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ, as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world.

The full engraving on the bowl reads, "DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS," which has been interpreted by French epigrapher and professor emeritus Andre Bernand as meaning either, "by Christ the magician" or "the magician by Christ."
Come come, Melody, let's be good rationalists and check our facts before we start awarding points, shall we? Then we'll say just how "nicely researched" all this is.

Hiram claimed that this cup was dated PRIOR to Jesus' birth. That was wrong: the cup is dated to 200 BC - 50 AD. Even if I accepted the cup to be a reference to Jesus (which would be awesome, since it would give me a killer argument for Jesus' historicity), the carbon dating leaves plenty of room for it to be influenced by a historical Jesus.

He also claimed that the cup reads "Jesus the mage". That was wrong too: for one, and to be pedantic, even the believers only say it says "Christ the mage", which is a lot more vague since "Christ" is simply a nickname which means "the Anointed".
But the problems stretch far beyond that. First of all, the proposed translation "Christ the mage" can't work (apart from the fact that "mage" would hardly be the word to characterise Jesus with): goistais (coming from goes: magician) is not genitive singular (which it would have to be if it referred to "Crestou", since that would be genitive singular), it is in fact dative plural, which means it translates as "to the magicians". That alone kicks that contrived translation down the drain.
But, as coup de grace, it's very likely that the word inscribed isn't actually "Christus" at all. That's because even a cursory glance at the cup shows you that there's a H (the Greek capital èta) between the P and the C. That means the word inscribed (in lexical Greek) is not "Chr[i]stus" but "Chrèstou" coming from the word "Chrestos" which means kindness. Chrestou then means, in conjunction with the first word "dia": "through the kindness of" and was often used when giving presents (as in: "[Given] through the kindness of Matt", or something like that.
The cup would then read: "[Given] Through kindness to the magicians" indicating that it's a gift to some set of magicians. That's a much less contrived and fanciful translation, and is ultimately much more reasonable given the alternative.

And then Hiram also made grand claims like that "it is pretty much certain that Christianity was born out of an Egyptian sect etcetera", and that was again, pure bullshit and wishful thinking on his part.

So no, not point and match. What we have here is wild speculation and guesswork. As usual. We have a bunch of archaelogists forcing a fanciful and contrived translation (probably in order to get media attention) and sensationalist news sources (Discovery Channel, msnbc) running with the story, creating even with more speculation and conjecture in the process. And fooling a lot of people.

So, do I get a "point and match" too, Melody? I know I'm a party pooper because I do my research and check my facts and all that hard stuff, but hey, history isn't usually as simple as certain sources would like you to believe. It often requires doing a bit of work, looking through sensationalist garbage and not simply believing whatever you want because it appeals to your biases.

I expect nothing less of a rationalist.
"You made it sound like he made the whole thing up and you didn't even bother to present any of your "research" on this cup then, did you?"

I never said that it was made up, I said that it was bullshit. Which it is. His information is totally wrong. It doesn't matter where he got it from: it was bullshit.
- He said that the cup said "Jesus the mage". Which it doesn't say.
- He also says that it was dated to before Jesus was born. That was false too.
- He also said that this was evidence that Jesus was worshipped as a mage in Alexandria prior to 0 AD, which by extension is false too.

So in other words, all he got right was "There was a cup that was found in Alexandria". Well, congratulations.
Oh, he also got right that there's a city in Egypt called Alexandria. Maybe I should give him credit there too?

"There was a cup. That was true."

Wow. Yes, indeed, there was. Next time I see such profound wisdom I will surely praise the bringer of it.

"When do you suppose that the Christ Jesus icon was supposed to have been born? Surely not before 200 B.C.E.?"

I can't make sense out of that sentence. The cup was made anywhere from 200 B.C.E. to 50 AD. So the statement that the cup was dated to before Jesus' birth is false whichever way you look at it.

"The thing that I was referring to that I thought was amusing, that you found so offensive was that you seemed to dismiss even the existence of such a cup altogether so easily."

Oh for fuck's sake: that's because it doesn't in fact exist. Did you even read my post?

What happened was:

- Himar said that there was a cup that said "Jesus the Mage"
- I said that that was bullshit and that there was nothing of the sort
- Jack shows me a (non-peerreviewed sensationalist) article that makes roughly the same statement as Himar
- I debunk that and show that it's bullshit

So my statement stands: there's no such cup. And the idea that it does or that it implies anything is bullshit.

What you did, on the other hand, was simply assume that the cup Jack showed served as sufficient justification for Himar's "Jesus the Mage" cup and that the information contained therein was correct. And now you're getting mad when I point out that you jumped to a conclusion.

"I thought you were wrong to dismiss it bullshit without addressing his point first and I thought Jack was on point for showing the actual article with the cup and the information that Hiram was talking about, so that we could all get some back ground information, instead of just, "this is all just bullshit". (The cornerstone of any "rationalist" argument.)"

It was bullshit. I'm very sorry if I don't take the time to neatly debunk every tiny aspect of false information that someone got from a documentary. I focused on the big picture: showing that his pagan analogies were false. His "Jesus the mage" cup was a side-step and so I dismissed it. Justly.

"Sorry, no points for either jumping to conclusions if you didn't know about the cup, or not bothering to explain and give him credit if you did."

I explained it in detail the moment somebody challenged me on it. Again, if you expect me to debunk in detail why the "Christ the mage" translation doesn't work (which anybody with 5 minutes time can find on the internet anyway) every time somebody even vaguely mentions that idea, then you might want to alter those expectations: I simply don't have the time for that, but I'm more than happy to spend some time debunking it when it becomes important.

That fair enough for you?
I'm with you Melody, MattVDB is simply swearing, stomping his feet, and yelling. If his arguments have any credibility with readers (IMO), he quickly flushes that down the toilet with sweeping statements and temper tantrums.

Saying something is "wrong" or "bullshit" is pointless. An intelligent response never begins with "bullshit", it begins with a well cited counterpoint, or better yet, questions asking for further explanation.

So, from reading Matt's various rants here, it appears he is strongly biased towards the existence of christ, the accuracy and validity of the gospels (IE he appears certain Christ was literally born at 0 CE.) and would vigorously defend that faith and confidence in the holy scriptures starting with some evidence and when that ceases to work, resort to name calling and swearing.

I am highly suspicious that Matt is a sock puppet for Peter Hitchens or school of, but who knows.
I'm giving Melody points on this one. :) It's nice to find the truth in things, but dude (Matt), you're starting to look like an insecure child trying to prove that you are smart. If it weren't for the lashing out at seemingly everyone, we would all appreciate your input.
I'm still confused how this thread suddenly turned into long distance psycho-analysis into my character. And in reading these last pages again, I'm only getting more confused. Either I'm getting delusional, or this is what happened:

- Hiram made a post in which he raised several points, with the crux of his thesis being the similarities of pagan deities with Jesus
- I then responded in detail to five of his examples and arguments in detail, and dismissed one (the weakest one, in my opinion)
- Jack challenged me on the point that I had dismissed, and said (quite reasonably) that he thought the point was important and that I had to offer an explanation or retract my statements
- I then offered a detailed explanation why it was wrong

Now, I can't help but notice that nobody has bothered to actually challenge that explanation, but instead you've all been engaging in ad-hominems, saying that I am:
- swearing and stomping my feet (?)
- pretending that I hadn't actually answered all the points raised
- lashing out at everyone (and here I was thinking that I was uncharacteristically gentle)
- looking like an insecure child
- ...

So RayRay and others, please show me where and how I was lashing out, and how I can do better. Because the way I see it, even when I'm uncharacteristically gentle and patiently point out flaws (like how I did with Hiram), I get called a bully.
Even when I justly dismiss one point out of a total of six, that's enough for ad-hominem after ad-hominem to be thrown my way.
I couldn't care less about the ad-hominems, to be perfectly honest, but maybe I'm not the one getting too emotional here?

Oh, and since ryan went so low as to suggest that I'm an undercover religious apologist (very mature of you, ryan): that's very amusing, especially since I often get accused of being such an anti-Christian bigot on other forums. That's because I regularly debate key points of Christian doctrine, or evolution, or science. And I'm always firmly against the religious perspective.
On AtheistNexus, there is no religious perspective. So instead of participating in the collective (often irrational) bash-Christianity fest, I'd rather bring some of my fellow atheists that are making exaggerated and false claims back down to Earth.

Not something that makes me popular, apparently.
I read people were posting arguments, and right or wrong, instead of meeting them I saw Matts response was various expletives. Now he posts something without any expletives and is acting like the previous discussions were all somehow forgotten. Ray Ray pointed out the issues, I agreed, and added a hypothesis (albeit a stretch) that is perhaps totally out of line but was offered somewhat tongue in cheek.

Matt, your last response was reasonable and fair. And you may have had some good points, but like the arguments you criticized, they lacked references and cites as far as I could tell, and where cites should have been, were expletives. of course, none of this is personal, its entirely based on what was stated in the course of the discussion. There is only analysis of the statements, not your "psyche".

As to the arguments, I find that while you may have intel on the finer points re historical exegesis, but seriously, you are going to claim that 12 disciples, 12 tribes of israel, dying and resurrecting after 3 days and the "cross" have absolutely no connection or relationship to the sun and 12 symbols of the zodiac, and 12 months of the Julian calendar? Really? Its just a weird coincidence?
"Now he posts something without any expletives and is acting like the previous discussions were all somehow forgotten."

Don't worry ryan, I'll use expletives again soon enough. There's a time and place for them, and that time and place is, for example, when somebody refuses to acknowledge a point and has to check their facts.
When we're not at that point, I'm quite happy to be perfectly civil.

"As to the arguments, I find that while you may have intel on the finer points re historical exegesis, but seriously, you are going to claim that 12 disciples, 12 tribes of israel, dying and resurrecting after 3 days and the "cross" have absolutely no connection or relationship to the sun and 12 symbols of the zodiac, and 12 months of the Julian calendar? Really? Its just a weird coincidence?"

I never said they were all a coincidence. I said there were valid explanations other than the conspiracist "OMG sun worship".

- The cross is a coincidence, yes. Unless we're seriously going to claim that every Roman crucifixion was a reference to sun worship. The association with Christianity and the cross was clearly because of the crucifixion, and there's hardly any connection with sun worship there.
Besides, the cross was never much of a symbol for early Christianity anyway: they were too ashamed of the humiliating death their Messiah had suffered. It took them as much as 300 years to get over themselves and depict the crucifixion. Our first mentions of the cross and depictions of the crucifixion actually come from anti-Christian sources that are mocking Christians for worshipping "a crucified animal".
The Jesus fish was much more popular.

- the 3 days of resurrection is not a coincidence, it's a reflection of all the other times the number 3 is used. Three kings, three gifts, three sons of Noah,... Humanity loves the number three. But why would you latch on to the 3 days of the resurrection and claim that this is evidence of sun worship or something like that? 3 isn't even really astronomically significant anyway.

- 12 disciples and 12 tribes of Israel is of course not a coincidence, just lke 12 months of the calender is not a coincidence: it's because we like the number 12; for some reason that's always been significant in religious circles. But this is no connection to sun worship: the only reason there are 12 months and 12 signs of the zodiac is because we like the number 12 so much. The movement of the sun has no intrinsic connection to the number 12: we've pushed that number onto its movement.
In other words, looking at all the 12's in religion and claiming a connection with sun worship, is circular reasoning.

So no, it's not all coincidence. It's usually a case of farfetched parallels and badly constructed arguments. And some coincidence.
well there you make some fair points. It seems reasonable that the number 12 influenced all these various religions and traditions rather than the particular view of astronomy affecting Christianity in particular. However, it does seem also reasonable to state that sun worship was one of the earliest forms of religion in general, as the sun is the actual source of life, not some invented abstract god concept that seems to me like something that evolved from a sun worship tradition - likely too complex for our earliest ancestors compared to obvious sun worship. The bible was clearly not literally handed down from god or even inspired by the "divine" so it is reasonable to point to sun worship as a possible evolutionary "ancestor" in the family tree of religious behaviors, particularly if one assumes astrology to pre-date Judaism and Christianity, which is likely.

My issue from before is not that the arguments contained expletives, rather, they seemed to be entirely comprised of expletives, IE your counter point was "bullshit" instead of an articulate, precise point for point argument. So, I just pointed out that kind of communication undermined your credibility with me, one member of the reading audience.

Hey, no argument there. Obviously sun worship and other pagan elements were one of the earliest forms of religion, and maybe even the very earliest form. And it's very likely that some of the elements of these traditions have remained in the human consciousness ever since then. For example (and I'm engaging in wild speculation here, but it's for the sake of argument), it is possible that our fascination with certain numbers (3, 7, 12) was one of the characteristics of these very earliest rites, and they have remained with humanity for all this time, and so have influenced much of our thinking (12 months for the solar system, 2x12 hours a day) and much of our religious doctrines (3, 7, 12 as holy numbers in many religions).

I don't think this is very likely, but even if it were true: so what? It's not a big deal, and saying "The reason the number 12 returns so much in Christianity is because we've been fascinated with that number since the first pagan rites" is something entirely different from saying "Christianity is just revised pagan worship".

It's just an entirely different point. Many writers are guilty of overstating parallels in this way: "Christianity used the word 12, ergo Christianity is pagan worship!". We could just as easily say "Our calender uses the word 12, ergo our calender is pagan worship!".

The fact is that humanity is not as creative when creating religions as we might think them to be: we recycle various elements, symbols and numbers all the time. But to jump from that to wild conclusions (let alone sensationalist ones like Zeitgeist) is silly, and it's just bad thinking, really.

As for the previous issue: I acknowledge it. Since I've now given a more precise articulation of the points involved, I think we can say that we're even.


Errmmm, if you're trying to say that Jesus is the sun God because there's such a similarity between "Son" and "Sun"... then you haven't thought that one through very far.
Christianity originated in Palestine. People didn't speak English in Palestine, they speak Hebrew/Aramaic. And in that language, there is no semantic similarity between "Sun" and "Son of God".
The fact that there is a semantic similarity in the English language is pure coincidence.
Kookabura Jack, thanks for sharing the Jesus bowl. I did not have the link at hand, which explains why i thought it said 'jesus the mage' and not 'christ the mage'.

Matt, you claim that worshipers of Dionysus only got wasted in the forest and had orgies: yes the Maenads did that. But they were only one of the groups of mystics of Dionysus.

The other group, the celebrants of the Orpheic mysteries, were vegetarians and concerned with purity and virtue, plus they did not eat meat (and hence could not partake of the goat sacrifices of the Maenads and replaced these rituals with offering bread).

Please look it up and confirm facts before you lash out like Glenn Beck again.

Oh, and quit including yourself among us rationalists. Rationalists don't have to insult people to get points across. They remain, by definition, cool and rational.


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