Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Christianity and the Charge of Pagan, Hellenistic, and Gnostic Syncretism
http://wbx.me/l/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.christianshelpingourworld.org%2F1%2Fpost%2F2010%2F02%2Fchristianity-and-the-charge-of-pagan-hellenistic-and-gnostic-syncretism.html ^

Posted on 04/06/2010 7:07:19 AM PDT by truthfinder9

The internet and popular literature are awash in false charges that Christianity is the result of pagan, Hellenistic, and/or Gnostic syncretism.

A simple internet search and cursory perusal of public sharing sites yield manifold examples of profound error and many are being misled today as a result. A growing body of atheists and people adhering to neopaganism or false religious systems are propagating this information usually due to their own misunderstanding and deception but some are propigating the error knowingly on purpose.

During a period roughly spanning 1890 to 1940, scholars often alleged that New Testament Christianity was heavily influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan mystery religions, and other movements in the Hellenistic world. Other scholars carefully qualified these assertions and, as a result of their careful research, a large body of scholarly books and articles were written firmly rebutting these allegations as false assertions. It is understood among the world’s theologians and scholars that Christianity was not influenced by these other worldviews. Yet even though it is commonly understood in Biblical and classical studies how weak the old case for Christian dependence is upon Greco-Roman paganism, Hellenism, and gnosticism, some modern revisionists and a host of misinformed and deceived people, for reasons other than truth seeking, continue to circulate the false assertions.

Examples include information based on texts such as the late E. A. Burtt’s argument that the theology of Paul was dependent on ideas borrowed from the Hellenistic world, Thomas W. Mrica’s work, and W. T. Jones’s textbook ‘The Medieval Mind’ in which Jones spends the first two chapters reiterating many of the old arguments about Christian dependence on the pagan mystery religions or on Hellenistic philosophy in a one sided discussion which completely ignores the fact that 19th and 20th century scholars already settled the discussion against assertions of Christian syncretism.

Because of this and the large accumulating body of popular literature asserting inaccurate information on the internet, both the public at large and the contemporary student need to be reminded of the older debate and the conclusion reached by almost all scholars, past and present, that these assertions are patently false.

Nash (2003) points out that while Christianity and Greek philosophies, as systems; have no elements in common, the Christians, as people, often held pagan ideas. Being converted from paganism it took time for them to shed their previous thinking styles. So it is no surprise that some engaged in apologetics making use of the Platonism or Stoicism they had been raised with. However, this they did accomplish and a purely Christian Nicene Creed came into being.

That creed has been consistently reinforced by subsequent creeds right up to the present. When revisionist scholars looking to undermine Christianity or make a name for themselves come along and assert gross untruths based on supposed parallels, they do a disservice to authentic history. When untrained people perpetuate the false assertions, they do as well.

As Gordon Clark (1940) explains:

"Since the New Testament was written in Greek, it uses words found in pagan writings .... But the point in question is not the use of words but the occurrence of ideas. ... One cannot forbid Christian writers to use common words on pain of becoming pagans."

He points out that when revisionist scholars assert that because a New Testament writer used terminology prominent in some pagan philosophy or religion this somehow proves his dependence on the pagan usage they are setting up a straw man argument that is simply incorrect. Even the presence of real parallels between the New Testament and pagan literature never proves dependence. From an authentic systematic theological examination perspective, these assertions of pagan influence are patently false.

Nash (2003) shows that Christians assert instead that God dictated His revelation to human authors whose writings merely reflect their distinctive backgrounds and education stating:

“It is one thing to discover that a New Testament writer like the anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews was familiar with Hellenistic philosophy. But this interesting bit of biographical information does not prove that the writer was actually influenced by some alien system or terminology.” (p. 7).

Furthermore, it is important to discern between different senses of the vocabulary influence and dependence. As Nash states, “A casual disregard of these distinctions is responsible for much of the misinformation and faulty reasoning present in many discussions of the alleged Christian dependence on pagan sources” (p. 8).

He explains one tactic revisionists use when they take B is dependent on A so therefore A is a necessary condition for B meaning that if a writer had not first known or believed A, he would never have come to know or believe B. Completely disregarding everything that doesn’t support their error they then use this theory of dependence to extrapolate that Paul would never have thought of making up a dying and rising savior-god such as Jesus had he not first become aware of similar thought in pagan religion.

This sort of faulty reasoning combines with a bias that Geisler (2003) describes as follows to perpetuate the false view that New Testament revelation could not have come from God and must have derived from other sources:

“Unmistakably, however, is the commonality of a consistent and persistent anti-supernaturalism that attacks orthodox Christianity at its core. If miracles do not occur, then the Bible is unreliable and historic Christianity is not credible. On this unjustified premise modern liberalism is based. Its view of Scripture, then, is as faulty as its view of miracles. Of course, the Bible cannot be a supernatural revelation of God if there are no supernatural events. Some form of negative biblical criticism thus becomes necessary” (p. 348).

The Greco-Roman culture was mostly Hellenistic at the time of Christ and peoples and nations of the Mediterranean world were united by a common government, law, language (e.g. Greek) and an increasingly common culture enabling trade, travel, and communication. But individualism was present in ways it had not been prior to Alexander. While it is true that a trait of the Hellenistic world was syncretism, it is not true that Christianity was a result of it (Nash, 2003).

Nash (2003) points out that:

“Christianity began in a world in which the spirit of syncretism was king. Students of the history of philosophy know that gradually, during the Hellenistic age, most of the walls between the major philosophical systems began to break down. This is especially true in the case of Platonism and Stoicism from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 100. There was little to prevent an especially religious person from worshiping any number of gods that belonged to an equally large number of religions” (p. 12).

The problem arises when some revisionists uncritically assert the general eclecticism of the age is proof that early Christianity was a syncretistic faith. Christianity was exclusive teaching only one true God with all others false and those who worship them lost. It taught there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ God’s son whom any seeking to approach God must go through with all other ways closed and those who attempt any other way lost. Christianity was an exception to the syncretism and inclusiveness of the Hellenistic age.

Nash (2003) notes that:

“Christ appeared at the time when all the striving and hopes of all peoples were converging to a focus, when the vast majority of mankind were hungering for religious support, when East and West had been wedded, when men were expecting a new era, when the philosophy of Greece and the religious consciousness of the Hebrew were pointing toward a new revelation. Christ came at the one time in history when all civilized nations lived, as it were, under one roof, when the happiness of mankind depended on the will of one, when all were able to communicate in one language, when men were unanimous as to the perils and needs of the world, when there was peace on earth” (p. 12).

Christianity was exclusive offering one way of salvation and it is irresponsible for proponents of an early Christian syncretism to dismiss disliked portions of the Gospels on the grounds that they result from a Hellenistic influence on the Gospel writer. For example, if one approaches the New Testament with a worldview of atheism, the presence of a miracle in the text then is easily dismissed as Hellenistic myth; if they dislike the Christian exclusiveness regarding atonement, they write it off to an intrusion of Hellenism into the text; and so on and so forth recklessly mistreating every aspect of the text that offends them.

The author has personally had these types explain to him that Paul must have been a homosexual struggling with a homosexual “thorn in the flesh”, using similar reasoning, and all sorts of nonsense erroneously impressing their own prejudices and biases onto the text. The author recommends reading Samples (2007) ‘A World of Difference: Putting Christian truth-claims to the worldview test’ paying attention to part one for more information on how formal reasoning is used amongst scholars to derive accurate and proper conclusions.

Philosophy immediately preceding the life and death of Jesus was transitional. Platonism and stoicism, for example, of this period are just a transition from a more important past to a more important future. Aristotelianism, Epicureanism, and even Pythagoreanism had relatively minor followings. These systems are all very different from Christianity and alleged parallels are easily explained (Nash, 2003).

For example, it is often claimed that the writings of the apostle Paul show Platonic dualism. They do not. The scholars that asserted Pauline dependence on Platonism all claim this. Paul never taught that his body was evil or the source of his sinning claiming instead that people are born with a sinful nature in need of redemption and bodily resurrection to glory in an environment where all matter is not inherently evil and all spirits are not inherently good. This has no parallel in pagan usage being derived from Hebrew scripture (Nash, 2003).

The same goes for Stoic influence. Though only late stoic manuscripts remain, the stoics were pantheists who believed God has no personality, free-will does not exist, the world keeps repeating itself (a cosmological error similar to that in Hinduism), etc… It is important to note that phrases such as "the will of God" meant something very different to a pantheistic Stoic than it does in the context of New Testament theism (Nash, 2003).

While Paul quoted from Stoic writers in his famous sermon on Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17) in attempting to communicate to them, using language they understood something of the one true God, it is an exaggeration to assert anything more. Seneca’s ethic is repulsive to Pauline Christianity as it is totally devoid of genuine human emotion and compassion and there is no place for love or pity or contrition lacking repentance, conversion, and faith in God. When Stoic writers use phrases like "imitation of God" they have nothing in mind resembling the New Testament God and the New Testament, and when viewed properly do not appropriate any Stoic ideas.

A number of scholars have claimed that the New Testament concept of Logos, prominent in the Fourth Gospel and other Johannine literature, was borrowed from either Philo or Alexandrian Judaism. They mistake its usage in the New Testament.

As the Original Catholic Encyclopedia states:

"The word Logos is the term by which Christian theology in the Greek language designates the Word of God, or Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Before St. John had consecrated this term by adopting it, the Greeks and the Jews had used it to express religious conceptions. The Logos has not for him the Stoic meaning that it so often had for Philo: it is not the impersonal power that sustains the world, nor the law that regulates it; neither do we find in St. John the Platonistic concept of the Logos as the ideal model of the world; the Word is for him the Word of God, and thereby he holds with Jewish tradition, the theology of the Book of Wisdom, of the Psalms, of the Prophetical Books, and of Genesis; he perfects the idea and transforms it by showing that this creative Word, which from all eternity was in God and was God, took flesh and dwelt among men. This difference is not the only one which distinguishes the Johannine theology of the Logos from the concept of Philo, to which not a few have sought to liken it. The Logos of Philo is impersonal, it is an idea, a power, a law; at most it may be likened to those half-abstract, half-concrete entities, to which the Stoic mythology had lent a certain personal form" (para. 1, 11, and 12).

Regarding the mystery religions themselves, comparative mythology which finds casual connections between everything while tearing down solid barriers, bridging unbridgeable chasms, making spurious claims from disparate combinations, etc…. are simply bad scholarship that must be rejected.

As Nash (2003) states:

“By such methods one can turn Christ into a sun god in the twinkling of an eye, or one can bring up the legends attending the birth of every conceivable god, or one can catch all sorts of mythological doves to keep company with the baptismal dove; and find any number of celebrated asses to follow the ass on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem; [etc… etc… etc…]” (p. 108).

The magic wand of comparative religion wielded by revisionist atheists triumphantly eliminates every spontaneous trait in any religion while scholars who understand them far better asserting the mystery religions exercised little if any substantive influences on early Christianity are simply ignored. For authentic modern scholars, the subject was settled in the 19th century and considered a dead issue. Despite the issue being settled in the favor of authentic Christianity, deceived modern atheists and neo-pagans today are attempting any length to revive a discussion that was long since settled posting erroneous information and making spurious claims in popular, not to be confused with scholarly, publications and all over the internet deceiving many.

The worst simply run false assertions out of context together in a linear timeline presenting a completely false presentation of both history and Christianity claiming Christianity is, in fact, simply another mystery religion built from pieces of other mystery religions which amounts to nothing more than a fanciful invention. Other’s then repeat them and as a final act of reckless madness they cosign each other’s falsehoods. Unscholarly people deceived by their own or other’s misinformation and their own prejudice are completely out of step with the tide of relevant contemporary scholarship. As Nash (2003) states:

“We must analyze the biblical writing to see if the author's Christian beliefs have been shaped by, or derived from, the non-Christian parallel. Hugo Rahner declares that even if early Christians like Paul did borrow ''words, images, and gestures from the mysteries, they did so not as seekers but as possessors of a religious substance; what they borrowed was not the substance but a dress wherein to display it. Commitment to a high view of Scripture is not at all inconsistent with saying that biblical writers could have adapted language and ideas from their culture for the specific purpose of explaining and communicating the Christian message. Contemporary missionaries do this all the time” (p. 112).

Although Roman gods like Jupiter and Vesta drew many followers, it was the mystery religions (like those of Bacchus and Isis which originated with wine making, involved plays, and phallic processions) with all their darkness and perversion that captivated the empire. The mystery religions themselves were distinct religions in the first century which often included drunkenness and orgies seeking deep symbolic significance in the natural process of growth, death, decay, and rebirth. They stressed a "higher knowledge" associated with their secret ceremonies. The mysteries had little if any use for doctrine or correct belief. They were primarily concerned with the emotional state of their followers (Nash, 2003).

Many of the publications that purport to find signs of an early Christian dependence on the mystery religions repeat a number of fundamental errors. In many cases they ignore important differences between different cults or between different stages of the same religion so as to suggest too great an agreement among the mysteries. Sometimes they go so far as to imply that the Hellenistic world contained but one basic mystery religion. They often misinterpret accurate archaeology. Often they use careless language first using Christian terminology to describe pagan beliefs and practices and then marveling at the awesome parallels that they think they have discovered. Oversimplifications and exaggerations (especially regarding the notion of rebirth in certain mysteries) in this literature are in error.

For example, we never find Christianity borrowing from a mystery religion but we find the opposite sometimes is true. This cannot be used to show Christianity was influenced by the mystey religions. The chief rival of Christianity in the second century AD, the pagan mystery cult Mithras in Rome, copied sacred Christian rites and perverted them. Martin, Rische, and Van Gordon (2008) quote Justin Martyr in 150 AD stating:

“For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He ahad given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn” (P. 107).

Consider the myth of the Isis cult concerning Osiris where Osiris was murdered by his brother Seth who then sank the coffin containing Osiris's body in the Nile. Isis discovers the body and returns it to Egypt. But Seth gains access to the body of Osiris dismembering it into fourteen pieces which he scatters widely. Following a long search, Isis recovers each part of the body and Osiris comes back to life. That’s the myth in a nutshell. But along comes the revisionist and begins projecting their bias into the story choosing words than never existed in the original story calling it a “resurrection “even rewriting the myth to incorporate a “resurrection” after a “baptism” in the Nile and then hijacking history to attempt to tie it to Christianity.

The early Christian church met and skillfully refuted these “rising savior myths” arguing that they had no relation to Jesus Christ, even as an archtype, since most of them died and did not rise again. They are from multiple cultures and seldom have much at all in common. Unfortunately, Christians today regularly encounter a resurrected form of this argument without any primary sources to support their claim. The eyewitness testimony of the apostles to the person and teaching of Jesus Christ provide a rock solid foundation for the defense of the Christian faith in the face of rampant pagan license. It is important to first separate the historical Jesus from the pagan saviors. Jesus is a historical person whose life is detailed in authentic accounts such as the gospel of John whereas the pagan saviors are myths.

It’s grievous scholarship to fabricate falsehood and then propagate it and that’s exactly what we see these revisionists engaging in as they actively seek parallels that don’t exist in the cult of Cybele and Attis, The cult of Mithra, etc… As the author has shown, the mere fact that Christianity has a sacred meal (or baptism) is no proof of pagan dependence whatsoever. Ceremonial washings that antedate the New Testament have a different meaning from New Testament baptism. Etc… Martin, Rische, and Van Gordon (2008) do an excellent job of refuting any Christian dependence on pagan mystery religions chapter four titled ‘Ancient Paganism.”

Early Christianity is an exclusive historical monotheistic religion (deriving from an earlier Hebrew belief system) with a definitive body of doctrine asserting that the death and resurrection of Christ happened to a historical person at a particular time and has absolutely no parallel in any of the pagan mystery religions. Alleged parallels between Christianity and the mysteries are imaginary or exaggerated and the genuine parallels that remain are not synergetic except as the Christian influences later pagan systems. Trendy fads among atheists, neo-pagans, and revisionist scholars regarding supposed New Testament dependence on mystery religions are patently false with the issue being settled amongst 19th century scholars. As that issue was settled, certain scholars shifted their attention to a supposed New Testament dependence on Gnosticism erring again in the process. The cycle repeated with the consensus of relevant scholars concluding Gnosticism was never a dependency for Christianity.

Geisler (2002) concludes his discussion noting:

“A survey of the history of the Christian church from the Reformation to recent times reveals that there is virtually unanimous consent that the Bible is the divinely inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. This follows the basic view of the early church and deviations from this view were extremely rare before the late nineteenth century, when liberalism and neo-orthodoxy challenged the longstanding position of the Christian church, both East and west, Catholic and Protestant” (p. 500).

Nash (2003) encourages each person to ask the following when confronted with dependency theories and claims regarding the New Testament:

1. What is the evidence for the claim? Even recognized authorities have made unsupported and ill supported claims. Ask for exact specifics and qualify them.

2. What are the dates for the evidence?

3. What literature pro and con has already been published about this theory? Usually, new claims and theories are discussed in journals first.

4. Is the language used to describe the evidence faithful to the original source material, or does it include interpretive material such as Christian language, themes, or imagery? As we have seen, it is a lot easier to surmise the dependence of some Christian belief on a Hellenistic source if the pagan practice or belief is incorrectly described in Christian language.

5. Are the alleged parallels really similar, or are the likenesses a result of either exaggeration, oversimplification, inattention to detail, or-once again-the use of Christian language in the description?

6. In the case of any genuine parallel, is the point of analogy significant? Does it relate to an essential Christian belief or practice? Or does it refer to something incidental, such as the late Christian adoption of December 25 as the date of Christ's birth?

7. Is the parallel the sort of thing that could have arisen independently in several different movements? For example, could it have arisen from common language?

8. Is the claim consistent with the historical information we have about the first-century church?

9. Even if you discover something prior to, or contemporaneous with, early Christianity with a significant parallel to an essential Christian belief does the fact that some New Testament writer knew of a pagan belief or term prove that what he knew had a formative or genetic influence on his own essential beliefs? We’ve already discussed how early Christianity was exclusive and not syncretistic borrowing from Greco-Roman mystery religions, Hellenism, or Gnosticism.

Christianity, Christian revelation, Christian doctrine, and the New Testament is a unique revelation from God, not a product of nor in any way dependent on mystery pagan religions, Hellenism, or Gnosticism. Martin, Rische, and Van Gordon's 'The Kingdom of the Occult" is an excellent resource for further information on this topic and the topic of ancient paganism.

In a future article we will examine a completely separate issue of how pagan practices affected the organizational structure of the church after the church was legitimized by the pagan Greco-Roman empire from Constantine in the fourth century onwards. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola is an excellent introduction to that topic. But understand that the early Christians were all Jewish converts and Christian revelation/doctrine is a unique revelation from God given from Him and is completely separate from the worldviews of paganism, Hellenism, and Gnosticism.

References

Bradshaw, Paul F. (1992). The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship. New York: Oxford University Press.

Clark, Gordon H. (1940). Hellenistic Philosophy. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Geisler, Norman. (2002). Systematic Theology, Vol. 1: Introduction/Bible. Michigan: Bethany House

Gonzalez, J. L. (1999). The Story of Christianity. Peabody, MA: Prince Press.

Nash, Ronald H. (2003). The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament borrow from pagan thought? Michigan: Zondervan.

Samples, K.R. (2007). A World of Difference: Putting Christian truth-claims to the worldview test. Michigan: Baker Books.

Stark, R. (2003). For the Glory of God, How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

The Catholic Encyclopedia (2010). Logos. M Div quick retrieval. Retrieved on January 24, 2010 from http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Logos

Martin W., Rische J. M., & Van Gordon K. (2008). The Kingdom of the Occult. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Wikipedia. (2005). Greco-Roman Mysteries. M.Div quick retrieval. Retrieved on February 1, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_religion


TOPICS: Apologetics; History; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology
KEYWORDS: bible; gnostics; lostgospels; pagans
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200 ... 351-353 next last

1 posted on 04/06/2010 7:07:20 AM PDT by truthfinder9
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9

I think it highly likely that most Christians will tell you the move from polytheism to monotheism was a good thing, atheists go one step further and toss out all gods, yet this is considered a bad thing, why?


2 posted on 04/06/2010 7:25:52 AM PDT by world weary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: world weary

It’s a myth that atheists throw out all gods. They adhere to one ism or another like materialism, naturalism, etc. They like to pretend religion necesitates a diety. It does not.


3 posted on 04/06/2010 7:47:28 AM PDT by truthfinder9
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: world weary
"..atheists go one step further and toss out all gods, yet this is considered a bad thing, why?"

Because it is a lile. It contradicts human experience and the natural revelation of the creation itself.

4 posted on 04/06/2010 7:56:06 AM PDT by circlecity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9
They like to pretend religion necesitates a diety. It does not.

I think that takes a little more explanation, how does religion not need a deity, or at the least, something to have Faith in?

5 posted on 04/06/2010 8:13:33 AM PDT by world weary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: world weary

Stoicism proposed the kind of monotheism that atheists reduce to nullity. It reduces the gods to impersonal forces, where the ordinary pagan believed in gods with personalities. Stoics were a kind of pantheist. Atheists simply disregard the idea of any sort of universal order.


6 posted on 04/06/2010 8:14:19 AM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: world weary
Evolutionist sometimes speak of Evolution as a kind of demiurge, as if the process were somehow a whole thing,coterminante with the universe.
7 posted on 04/06/2010 8:19:02 AM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: world weary

I did explain it. They replace the diety with some “non-diety” object of worship, whether it be scientism, materialism, naturalism, etc. Not every religion has a supernatural being at its center. But atheists like to redefine things to help themselves rationalize.


8 posted on 04/06/2010 8:30:16 AM PDT by truthfinder9
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9
Religion is by definition “a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny”.

Atheists don't “throw out all gods”, they replace them. They believe that ultimately they themselves are what controls their own destiny and the only thing worth worshiping. In that manner, they can justify anything they do as “moral” because their “god” told them it was alright.

9 posted on 04/06/2010 9:03:58 AM PDT by wbarmy (I decided to be a sheepdog when I saw what happens to sheep.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9
Another Evangelical Christian futile obsessive article on how "naughty" scholars and atheists "distorted" everything. Facts speak for themselves, and of course the article leaves out undesirable facts. Example: Philo. Philo had so much influence on the early Christian thinking that Eusebius (3rd century), the first Church historian, refers to him as "St. Philo."

Christianity is a mix of Jewish spiritualism and pagan Platonism, later embellished by pagan Aristotelianism in the West. Trough Judaism, Christianity shares many mythological beliefs that are common to other cultures and religions.

Biblical stories of creation and the flood bear striking similarities to Sumarian and Baylonian myths. The waters, the firmament, the successive acts of creation, the Garden of Eden, the flood and the ark, the birth of Moses, etc. all parallel each other.

The story of the origins of the Garden of Eden have fascinating similarities with the Sumerian (oldest epical writing) paradise-like Garden story, with forbidden fruit, the making of a woman from the rib, and the curse...The idea of forbidden fruit is also found in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000 BC)

The Gilgamesh story of the Flood has god Ea directing Utnapishim that a ship be built:

And then Utnapishim, relating many passages that are mimicked by the story of Noah (including the ship's dimensions,and all that), says:

The similarities of the whole story are striking when compared to the OT account: a God destroying the world, sparing certain individuals, commanding that a ship be built, that all species of animals be brought into it, the ship comers to rest on a mountain after the flood, both ships have windows which they open after the rain stops, a bird is released from the ships once the ships have come to rest on mountains, etc.

Then there is the legend of the founder of the Semitic dynasty of Akkad, King Sargon, c. 2000 BC, which bears striking resemblance to the later story of Moses' birth:

Christianity had to be hellenized in order to become acceptable to the Greeks. Otherwise it was an alien even silly to them. This compromise is made evident when Paul realized that only by dispensing with circumcision and dietary laws, in fact with the Law itself, could he have any success in preaching the new faith to them.

The whole idea of a God-man was necessary for Greeks to accept Christianity because their gods were anthropomorphic, and they could relate to it better that way. This is where john's Gospel comes in (at the very end of the century), which was made possible by the fact that by the end of the first century, the Jews have rejected Christianity and the movement was now free to shape its own religious beliefs, tailored for the new "Israel" and its cultural and religious concepts.

To deny any influence on Christianity and to claim some ready-made God product is simply denying historical, even biblical evidence to the contrary. In the first three hundred years of Christianity, there was no uniform belief or doctrine taught, and the Bible contained many books that are no longer used or were used in conjunction with books Christians would consider unacceptable today.

So, the only Evangelical argument that none of this it true is pathetically reduced to a fiat which must be believed and not an objective proof, namely that Christianity, Christian revelation, Christian doctrine, and the New Testament is a unique revelation from God, not a product of nor in any way influenced by mystery pagan religions, Hellenism, or Gnosticism

Every so-called "revealed" religion in the world makes the same pathetic claim, which simply must be accepted on an a priori basis, without offering a single ounce of proof that this "revelation" was from God, whatever he may be.

Well, if it is all "revealed" by God to the believers, then why write silly articles like this one? They already "know."

10 posted on 04/06/2010 10:10:57 AM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
I have never researched the Jesus Horus connection but it seems plauseable.

http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com/comparsison_horus_jesus_chart.htm

11 posted on 04/06/2010 10:29:11 AM PDT by blasater1960 ( Dt 30, Ps 111, The Torah is perfect, attainable, now and forever)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: blasater1960

Long time lurker but I couldn’t let this stupidity go unanswered.

“I have never researched the Jesus Horus connection but it seems plauseable.”

Only to the uninformed who do very little research for themselves and rely on unsourced websites for information.

http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com/comparsison_horus_jesus_chart.htm";

Easily refuted here :
http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/osy.html

With references. Imagine that.


12 posted on 04/06/2010 12:06:17 PM PDT by epicfail
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: epicfail; blasater1960
Easily refuted here : http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/osy.html

Sure, if you look at the fine detail, every story can be refuted. But it is the general theme and ideas that are the same or similar. Obviously, the mythological ideas were being passed on from culture to culture, and this is where we see thing in common with all of them.

Christians see references to "Jesus" all over the OT, but the Jews don't. The NT could have been written with the express intention to show these OT "prophesies" (after the fact) as announcing Christ. But even here, again, we see that one can "refute" them by sticking to the details (i.e. virgin, versus young woman; Emanuel vs Yeshua; the suffering servant being Israel vs man; the messiah riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, a self fulfilling "prophesy," etc.). The meaning of the words such as "son of God," or "the anointed one," Satan, the "world to come," or the "Kingdom of God," etc. all have different meanings in Judaism as opposed to Christianity.

But nonetheless, just as there is a common thread in the mythical stories, there is a common (borrowed) thread in the details. of course, each mythical religion claims to be the true one and all others are naturally "false."

13 posted on 04/06/2010 1:34:38 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
The story of the origins of the Garden of Eden have fascinating similarities with the Sumerian (oldest epical writing) paradise-like Garden story, with forbidden fruit, the making of a woman from the rib, and the curse...The idea of forbidden fruit is also found in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000 BC)

Similar yes but you left out the part that the god in the Sumerian rendition of the story is a snake.

14 posted on 04/06/2010 6:51:47 PM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: kosta50

Thanks for all your talking points that intelligent people have answered over and over again. Good luck.


15 posted on 04/08/2010 8:03:17 PM PDT by truthfinder9
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: world weary
this is considered a bad thing, why?

Polytheism to Monotheism is a stage closer to truth. Atheism a leap away from truth.

Truth is Good.

16 posted on 04/08/2010 11:10:34 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: kosta50

Myths can be seen as models - a model of something larger incapable of being fully understood, but capable of an abstraction of a part, conceptualizing.

As scientist say: All models are false, some are useful.


17 posted on 04/08/2010 11:12:56 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
"Akkad, King Sargon, c. 2000 BC, which bears striking resemblance to the later story of Moses' birth: "

That story dates to hte 7th century, not 2k BC. See WIKI.

18 posted on 04/09/2010 12:07:30 AM PDT by spunkets
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: spunkets
That story dates to hte 7th century [BC], not 2k BC. See WIKI

That's older than any copy of the Bible.

19 posted on 04/09/2010 7:40:31 AM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
Myths can be seen as models - a model of something larger incapable of being fully understood, but capable of an abstraction of a part, conceptualizing...As scientist say: All models are false, some are useful.

If biblical myths are models, then by definition they are false, even if they are useful to some.

20 posted on 04/09/2010 7:44:20 AM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9
Thanks for all your talking points that intelligent people have answered over and over again. Good luck

Intelligent people have for centuries professed false beliefs. Repeating something that is false does not make it true.

21 posted on 04/09/2010 7:46:06 AM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9
“Unmistakably, however, is the commonality of a consistent and persistent anti-supernaturalism that attacks orthodox Christianity at its core. If miracles do not occur, then the Bible is unreliable and historic Christianity is not credible. On this unjustified premise modern liberalism is based. Its view of Scripture, then, is as faulty as its view of miracles. Of course, the Bible cannot be a supernatural revelation of God if there are no supernatural events. Some form of negative biblical criticism thus becomes necessary” (p. 348).

Of course, scientists and liberals don't spend a great deal of time denying the reality of the supernatural beliefs of the "indigenous pipples" who, as part of the "thesis" of the historical dialectic, are above all critique.

22 posted on 04/09/2010 7:56:43 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Vatetze' 'esh millifney HaShem votokhal `al-hamizbeach 'et-ha`olah ve'et-hachalavim . . .)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
If biblical myths are models, then by definition they are false

I think there can be a difference between facts and truth. I also think that there are objective or non-conditional truths - myths can be true in this sense though not factual. I believe, I'm almost certain, we disagree on both statements.

even if they are useful to some.

We might agree that myths are useful to some.

23 posted on 04/09/2010 8:31:32 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
I think there can be a difference between facts and truth

One of the problems I find on the FR, especially on the Religion Forum, is that people make up word meanings the way they make up their beliefs. It is no wonder that we tend to talk past each other.

The agreed upon meaning of the word truth is synonymous with fact, which can be verified by a simple reference to any dictionary.

Now, if we are going to make up our own meanings then the whole point of any discussion meaningless, which is becoming apparent more and more every day on these threads.

I also think that there are objective or non-conditional truths - myths can be true in this sense though not factual

And how do you prove what is not factual? You don't.

24 posted on 04/09/2010 9:08:37 AM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
The agreed upon meaning of the word truth is synonymous with fact

They are often used as synonyms but they are different words with different meanings also.

And how do you prove what is not factual? You don't.

Some facts can be proved. It's also proven that all that is true is not provable - Gödel. I.e., the sets of "true" and "provable" are not identities.

And since this has been proven, you'd have to agree that it is "fact."

25 posted on 04/09/2010 9:55:16 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
"That's older than any copy of the Bible."

Moses wrote the Torah around 1425 BC on "paper". That story about Sargon didn't appear until 800yrs later and was written on clay.

26 posted on 04/09/2010 10:34:24 AM PDT by spunkets
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: spunkets
Moses wrote the Torah around 1425 BC on "paper".

According to the myth. Evidence suggests 6th century BC.

27 posted on 04/09/2010 1:03:25 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
Some facts can be proved. It's also proven that all that is true is not provable

Like what?

Gödel

Who's that?

28 posted on 04/09/2010 1:05:28 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
Gödel

One quote from your hero: "I like Islam: it is a consistent [or consequential] idea of religion and open-minded."[Hao Wang (1997), A logical journey: from Gödel to philosophy, The MIT Press, p. 148]

29 posted on 04/09/2010 1:14:33 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: kosta50

That would be a textbook ad hominem argument.

Godel was a brilliant mathematician. His views on Islam are as relevant to his mathematic proof that I referred to as Max Planck’s religion are to Quantum Theory.

If you have disproved either, please post.


30 posted on 04/09/2010 1:46:18 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Like what?

Hilbert's tenth problem is a famous example.

Who's that?

Kurt Godel (1906-1978) logician, mathematician. Emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton.

Brilliant mathematician and all around weird guy.

31 posted on 04/09/2010 1:54:52 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Here's a classic, secular, book that if you haven't already read, I think you would really like:

Godel, Escher, Bach

32 posted on 04/09/2010 2:05:17 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
Hilbert's tenth problem is a famous example

Synopsis please.

33 posted on 04/09/2010 6:16:33 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
That would be a textbook ad hominem argument. Godel was a brilliant mathematician. His views on Islam are as relevant to his mathematic proof that I referred to as Max Planck’s religion are to Quantum Theory.

It shows that brilliance in one field is insanity in another, all in one person. Unlike Einstein he believed in a personal deity, just because. It shows that a perfectly logical and consistent person is capable of superstitious beliefs divorced of all reason.

34 posted on 04/09/2010 6:19:05 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
It shows that a perfectly logical and consistent person is capable of superstitious beliefs divorced of all reason.

Mathematics doesn't care who discovered the proof. It's irrelevant.

35 posted on 04/09/2010 7:14:47 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Synopsis please.

HIlbert's tenth problem involves Diophantine equations. It involves an obvious truth and asks for a proof - an algorithm. Matiyasevich, among others, proved that it was unprovable. It's an example, or perhaps corollary to the Incompleteness Theorem.

36 posted on 04/09/2010 7:20:37 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: truthfinder9
I think the article is correct in it's premise that the bible itself teaches pure Christianinty...i.e. that it doesn't teach syncretism. But I think the evidence is crystal clear that shortly after biblical times Christianity took a turn and began to teach unbiblical concepts that were borrowed from pagan cultures. This was warned about in the pages of scripture:

2Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

This "lawlessness", iniquity, is violation of God's laws, God's commandments and statutes. The most visible of these is the overthrow of the Lord's Jesus Christ's sabbath and the institution of man's sabbath. Ditto with the overthrow of the Lord's other holy days and the subsitition of man made syncrenistic "holidays" such as Easter, Christmas and the whole liturgical calendar of the modern church.

37 posted on 04/09/2010 7:30:35 PM PDT by DouglasKC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Unlike Einstein he believed in a personal deity, just because.

Yet Einstein was wrong about Quantum Theory and a hindu-istic theorist was correct.

Pythagoras founded the religion Pythagoreanism which I doubt you adhere to, though no one quarrels with his work with squares. Kepler also followed Pythagoras in the "music of the spheres, yet his laws of planetary motion corrected centuries old errors.

Newton was deep into Alchemy, yet his work on Optics, among other things, was revolutionary.

Godel and Einstein were great friends at Princeton - despite their differences in religious views. Einstein said his "own work no longer meant much, that he came to the Institute merely…to have the privilege of walking home with Gödel". Godel eventually starved himself to death.

Science and math are strewn with wild and crazy, unstable and weirdly religious characters. They make interesting biographies. However, their accomplishments in their fields are judged on their own merits. No one would rationally decide whether science or math proof is true based on the life of the practitioner.

38 posted on 04/09/2010 7:39:59 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
HIlbert's tenth problem involves Diophantine equations

I suspect it involves 'axiomatic' truth, which is theoretical. I further suspect that maybe it is akin to uncertainty principle, which is a limit imposed by the model and not the true nature of the energy 'particle.'

I am asking for an example of something that is true but cannot be proven in the real world, not in a mathematical model.

39 posted on 04/09/2010 9:28:15 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
I suspect it involves 'axiomatic' truth,

Nope. That's a completely different discussion.

This is just math. Diophantine equations are equations of a particular form.

40 posted on 04/09/2010 9:33:51 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: kosta50

I probably should have added that the variables in the equation, the Xs, can represent “real world” things.


41 posted on 04/09/2010 9:36:23 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Matiyasevich's work is available online:

Hilbert's tenth problem

42 posted on 04/09/2010 9:38:47 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

Comment #43 Removed by Moderator

To: D-fendr
I probably should have added that the variables in the equation, the Xs, can represent “real world” things

Not real "things" but real numbers i.e. 1,2,3,4, etc. and not theoretical integers, i.e. x,,y,z, etc. That doesn;t make them "real."

44 posted on 04/09/2010 9:47:42 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: D-fendr
The example you gave me does not prove that something is true but cannot be proven. Just because someone writes p(x1,x2,...xn) = 0 does not mean the equation is true. Researchers were able to show that no such equation is theopretically possible, not that the equation is true but cannot be proven.

Such mathematical arguments are equivalent to theoretical discussions how many angels we can fit ona pin of a needle. I am quite familiar with such polynomials with respect to aspheric surfaces.

They have no bearing on the real world beyond the 5th order simply because production and shop testing techniques can be carried out only to finite precision; the rest is simply theoretical.

Give me a real life example of something that is true but not provable.

45 posted on 04/09/2010 9:51:09 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Give me a real life example of something that is true but not provable

Pi? At least not yet.

BTW, I really find your posts interesting. It's particularly fascinating to read you shred the "inerrancy" of Scripture while knowing that you are a faithful Orthodox. It's an excellent reminder that the Church and Christianity are not book bound, so to speak, content to experience the Divine in print and paper only but to undergo, endure, contemplate divinization or theosis. Tahnks.

46 posted on 04/09/2010 10:34:59 PM PDT by conservonator (Former government employee - USMC)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: conservonator
Pi? At least not yet

Why is Pi not provable?

It's particularly fascinating to read you shred the "inerrancy" of Scripture while knowing that you are a faithful Orthodox

Well, I have had a change of heart.

47 posted on 04/09/2010 11:04:39 PM PDT by kosta50 (The world is the way it is even if YOU don't understand it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Not real "things" but real numbers i.e. 1,2,3,4, etc. and not theoretical integers, i.e. x,,y,z, etc. That doesn;t make them "real."

So 2+2=4 isn't "real" and C2= A2+ B2 is not a "real world" proof?

You don't get a tighter real world proof than mathematics.

48 posted on 04/10/2010 6:11:45 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Just because someone writes p(x1,x2,...xn) = 0 does not mean the equation is true. Researchers were able to show that no such equation is theopretically possible, not that the equation is true but cannot be proven.

Huh? Diophantine equations are definitely possible. Hilbert's tenth problem is about whether such forms are solvable in a finite number of steps.

49 posted on 04/10/2010 6:19:52 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: kosta50
Sorry:

C2= A2+ B2 is not a "real world proof" ? should be

Proof of C2= A2+ B2 is not a "real world proof"?

50 posted on 04/10/2010 6:52:02 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200 ... 351-353 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson