In the previous blog, I highlighted some very important worldview differences between the pagan myths and Christianity. There’s definitely more to be said. In the book Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture, authors Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyerand and Daniel B. Wallace devote three chapters to debunking the idea that Christianity is the recapitulation of a bunch of Greco-Roman pagan myths. I found one chapter titled “Osiris, Frankenstein and Jesus Christ” to be excellent and quite thought-provoking. The authors dispute the scholarship involved in the “pagan-Christianity” hypothesis by showing the prejudices and assumptions of their methodology. There are five basic assumptions behind all of the alleged parallels between the pagan myths and Christianity.
The claim: Parallels between Jesus Christ and pagan deities can be found in any and all mystery religion.
- Composite fallacy-No one example of the cultic religions even comes close to the Gospels’ depiction of Christ or Paul’s words about him. Various religions quite possibly could have some kernel of similarity between them and Christianity. But only if all of the cultic religions are mixed together and made into a smorgasbord of eisegeted religions can there be any claim that there are meaningful parallels. This is the equivalent of someone taking about 100 various puzzles and dumping the pieces onto the floor. After the pieces are all in one pile, the artist forces and crams a mixture of pieces from the different puzzles into one picture that appearskind of sort of like the Grand Canyon when all is said and done. Anyone with eyes will see that there’s quite a difference between the Grand Canyon and the finished puzzle.
The claim: Terms used in the Christian message just as naturally fit pagan religions.
- Terminological fallacy-The terminology being used when combining the parallels is anachronistic. “Christian” terminology is manipulated and employed to describe an aspect of a pagan religion even though it has little or nothing in common with the original meaning of the Christian term. Zeus having sex with a human is not like the Christian doctrine of the virgin birth. The story of Dionysus or Bacchus who was torn to pieces by the Titans and then patched together by his grandmother much like Frankenstein is not the same as the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection.
The claim: Parallels indicate wholesale dependency.
- Dependency fallacy-The use of common words does not logically infer the same worldview or meaning. Words do not have meaning but have multiple usages in any given context. You cannot naturally assume that because a word or phrase appears in one pericope that it means the same in all others. A semantic parallel does not imply a literary parallel. This is known as Parallelomania (the practice of overdoing supposed similarities between texts). There’s quite a difference between Freddie Mercury singing “we will rock you” and what your grandmother does in her rocking chair.
The claim: Fully developed mystery religions existed before the rise of Christianity.
- Chronological fallacy-The mystery religions of latter history did not exist in Palestine in the first century. The authors note, “Only after the rise of Christianity did mystery religions begin to look suspiciously like the Christian faith.” This is like the Sunday school student who asked “Why did David not use a shotgun instead of a slingshot when battling Goliath?” Well…
The claim: The purpose and nature of key events are the same in each of these religions.
- Intentional fallacy-The purpose and nature of the mystery religions versus the purpose and nature of Christianity are vastly different.