Dying and Rising Gods? Scholars are Divided

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by Neil Godfrey

Some argue….

Some argue that it is misleading to speak of “dying and rising gods.”65 Greece (Eleusis) and the East did know of dying gods; there were always two, usually an older female goddess and a younger male partner who dies. The older female mourns, and death is partially abolished, but Gerd Theissen argues that there is never a real resurrection.66 Osiris is killed violently, struck or drowned by his brother Set, then cut to pieces. The overcoming of death is not resurrection: Osiris rules as king of the underworld. The ritual around the fate of dying deities is lamentation: cult members join the female deity in mourning the loss of the partner deity. Cult members do not experience the death themselves but lament it. Other scholars argue that . . . .

Balch, David L. “The Suffering of Isis/Io and Paul’s Portrait of Christ Crucified (Gal. 3:1): Frescoes in Pompeian and Roman Houses and in the Temple of Isis in Pompeii.” The Journal of Religion 83, no. 1 (2003): 49.

So what do the #65 and #66 cited sources say?

65 Gerd Theissen, The Religion of the Earliest Churches: Creating a Symbolic World (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), pp. 58-59.

It is certainly true that in antiquity we find belief in dying gods. Here there are always two gods: an older female deity and a younger partner deity, usually a male partner. The younger partner deity suffers death. The older one mourns this. In the conflict between life and death, death is partly abolished – but there is never a real resurrection.19

The following survey shows that most of these deities come from the East.20 Only in Eleusis do we find a genuinely Greek cult:

Original area of dissemination Older female deity Younger partner deity
Eleusis Demeter Persephone
Mesopotamia Ishtar Tammuz
Ugarit Anath Baal
Phoenicia Cybele Attis
Phrygia Cybele Attis
Egypt Isis Osiris

In the Greek view the gods are really immortal. They live at a distance from death. But the myth which underlies the Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries shows that even the world of the gods is not spared the intervention of death. That is even more true of the Eastern gods. The intervention of death is described in different ways. In the first three cases, with Persephone, Tammuz and Baal, the young partner deity is carried off into the underworld and kept there. In the last three cases the deity is killed violently: Osiris is struck or drowned by his brother Seth and then cut in pieces. Attis castrates himself and dies. Adonis is killed by a wild boar. The overcoming of death is not resurrection. Osiris rules as king of the world of the dead. Persephone has to spend four months of the year in the underworld. The corpse of Attis does not decay. Flowers rise from the blood of Adonis. It is therefore misleading to talk of ‘dying and rising gods’. There are dying gods who wrest some ‘life’ from death by compromises.

Only some of these deities were worshipped in mystery cults, i.e. in cults which were not celebrated in public but into which individuals had to be initiated. Thus there were mysteries of Demeter, Cybele and Isis. At best one could see an analogy to Christian baptism as a dying with Christ in these initiation rites. But that would be to overlook an important difference: the festivals (whether public festivals or ‘private’ mysteries) in which the fate of the dying deities is celebrated are all associated with rites of lamentation; the adherents of the deity join the older female deity in mourning the loss of the partner deity. The adherents thus do not experience the death themselves, but lament it. They identify more with the older, mourning, deity than with the younger, dying, deity, even if there are also the beginnings of the latter identification.

19. For the following remarks cf. above all Dieter Zeller, ‘Die Mysterienkulte und die paulinische Soteriologie (Rom 6, 1-11). Eine Fallstudie zum Synkretismus im Neuen Testament’, in Hermann P. Siler (ed.), Suchhewegungen. Synkretismus kulturelle Identität und kirchliches Bekenntnis, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1991, 42-6.

20. The table of different partner deities reproduced below comes from Dieter Zeller, Christus unter den Göttern. Zum antiken Umfeld des Christusglaubens, Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk 1993, 42. There is more information about the individual cults in Hans-Josef Klauck, Die religiose Umwelt des Urchristentums I. Stadt- und Hausreligion, Mysterienkulte, Volksglaube, Stuttgart, Berlin, Cologne: Kohlhammer 1995, 77-128.

(Theissen 58f)

66 Theissen, p. 58, citing Dieter Zeller . . . . See also A. J. M. Wedderburn, Baptism and Resurrection: Studies in Pauline Theology against Its Graeco-Roman Background (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1987); Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987), pp. 23, 27, 87, 99-101. See Frederick Brenk, review of Ancient Mystery Cults, by Walter Burkert, Gnomon 61 (1989): 289-92.

The question with which we started out, the possibility of influence of the ideas of the mysteries upon Christian ideas about resurrection led us to steer a hazardous course between the Scylla of so tight a definition of ‘resurrection’ that some Christian accounts of the phenomenon of Christ’s resurrection would be excluded, and the Charybdis of overlooking fundamental differences of substance between various myths and the Christian story. . . .

But once a deity is seen as a symbol of, for instance, the natural cycle of vegetation, or perhaps even came into being as a symbol of that cycle, then it would seem appropriate to speak of that deity’s death and resurrection. But is it? A number of scholars have insisted that it is far more appropriate to speak of the deity’s return. That point may be granted; the vegetation deity returns only to die again; it does not effect any final victory over death, at least not qua vegetation deity, although it may as a god of the dead or a solar deity. Nor, in the Graeco-Roman world, did its devotees see their own destinies in terms of resurrection. . . .

It is when Christians came to express in their own terms the beliefs of non-Christians that we find the tendency to describe those beliefs as including the resurrection of the deity or of his devotees. Now it is true that this means that they saw in those beliefs at least a superficial similarity to their own. But that need not mean that the similarity was anything more than superficial. It is quite another thing to suggest that those beliefs somehow generated the Christian ones. Had the dominant Christian claim been, for instance, one to the effect that Jesus had ascended, had been snatched up to heaven, either pagan (or indeed Jewish) beliefs could have been adduced as possibly influential in the formation of the Christian belief, but ‘resurrection’ is another matter and it is this that is the dominant expression of Christian beliefs about Jesus and also of Christians’ beliefs about their own destiny.

(Wedderburn, 208, 209, 210)


. . . . the pagan evidence for resurrection symbolism is uncompelling at best.

To sum up, there is a dynamic paradox of death and life in all the mysteries associated with the opposites of night and day, darkness and light, below and above, but there is nothing as explicit and resounding as the passages in the New Testament, especially in Saint Paul and in the Gospel of John, concerning dying with Christ and spiritual rebirth. There is as yet no philosophical-historical proof that such passages are directly derived from pagan mysteries; nor should they be used as the exclusive key to the procedures and ideology of mysteries.

(Burkert, 23, 101)

Other scholars argue that . . . .

….. Other scholars argue that Osiris is indeed raised from the dead.67

(Balch, 49)

And where does that citation lead us?

67 R. E. Witt, Isis in the Graeco-Roman World (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1971), pp. 139, 162-63, 256; Merkelbach, Isis regina, (n. 8 above), pp. 19, 178, 232-35, who cites Diodorus Siculus 1.25.6 and the Paris immortality liturgy (the Mithras liturgy). Diodorus is striking: Isis not only “discovered the drug which gives immortality (αθανασιας φαρμακον), by means of which she raised from the dead (αναστησαι) her son Horus … giving him his soul again, but also made him immortal” (αθανασιδς; trans. C. H. Oldfather, Loeb Classical Library [1946]).

The Egyptians again differed from the Greeks in that they were interested less in the immortality of the soul than in the resurrection of the body. . . . 

From the account given us by Plutarch it is dear that the ‘Seeking and Finding’ (zetesis and heuresis) of the body of Osiris, annually commemorated for a week at the end of October and beginning of November, was in his day not so much a hidden mystery as a public performance. Certainly the priests carried out certain gloomy ceremonies, such as shrouding a golden calf with a black linen veil as an emblem of mourning Isis. But they went out of the temple and down to the sea on the final night. It was a public occasion, marked in the Roman calendar with the name Hilaria. ‘Osiris has been found’ – so the crowd shouted for joy, while various ministers brought forth the god’s sacred ark. Another variation of the formula was ‘We have found, and rejoice’. Even though the ceremony did not take place in daytime it was open to view, just as when a show was arranged on the night before the death of the Emperor Caligula and in it Egyptians and Ethiopians gave a quasi-Isiac representation of the Underworld. We may plausibly believe that the ritual of the ‘Seeking and Finding’ was elaborated in the Ptolemaic age in conformity with the closer associations between Isis and Demeter. We must remember, however, that it was not conducted in strict secrecy, for it was an undisguised pageant of the resurrection of Osiris performed by Isis, a drama out of doors. . . . .

Like every other religious leader in history Paul was a child of his times, ‘a complete member of the Greek world’s where his preaching tours took him. Nobody now doubts his familiarity with the terminology and perhaps the actual practices of the mystery faiths. Like the Founder of the religion he proclaims, Paul uses mystery both singular and plural whenever it suits his purpose: in connection with knowledge (gnosis) and wisdom (sophia) with the Christian revelation and resurrection and once along with the technical name for stewards at the Sarapeum. He boasts that he has been ‘initiated in every possible thing – the full and the empty stomach, having more than enough and being without. Through him who gives me the power (i.e. dynamis) I can do all things.’ Not only could Paul do all things: he could also become all things to all men, a description which to the eye of the vigilant reader in the Graeco-Roman world would invite comparison with the power attributed to Isis Myrionymus, a title she bore in Cilicia, the province of Paul’s birth. He could introduce Greeks into the Jewish temple and call himself (in the passage already cited from his Epistle to the Romans) a borrower both from them and from ‘the barbarians’. To the Greeks (as to his own fellow Jews) he could preach the gospel that Christ was the Power (dynamis) and Wisdom (sophia) of God.

(Witt, 139, 162-63, 256)

And Merkelbach (translation):

Isis Heals Her Sick Child

§32 The child Horus fell ill multiple times; however, Isis knew all the medicines and spells and healed the illnesses. We know of these events from inscriptions and papyri, which we refer to as  “magical.” For example, it is told: Horus had been burned; Isis then prepared a healing ointment (with its ingredients specified precisely), dressed the wound, and spoke: “The fire shall retreat.” If a human child is burned, its mother should follow the example of Isis, prepare the same ointment, apply it, and say a blessing. Thus, this is not a myth told for its own sake—as a beautiful story—but rather the myth is told to share the ointment’s ingredients, to instill confidence that the ointment will work, and to validate the wound treatment through the mythical example. There were corresponding mythical stories not only for burns and fevers, but also for scorpion and snake bites, headaches, stomachaches, and for the use of various medicines.

§33 According to Diodorus, Isis discovered the means to immortality (αθανασίας φάρμακον); for once the Titans, followers of Seth-Typhon, had ambushed Horus, killed him, and thrown him into the Nile. Isis found him floating in the water; she restored his breath of life (ψυχή), resurrected him (άναστήσαι), and made him partaker of immortality.8

8 Diodor I 25,6 εύρειν αυτήν και το της αθανασίας φάρμακον, δι’ ου τόν υίόν ‘Ωρον, υπό των Τιτάνων έπιβουλευθέντα και νεκρόν ευρεθέντα καθ’ ύδατος, μή μόνον άναστήσαι, δουσαν την ψυχήν, άλλα και της άθανασίας ποιήσαι μεταλαβειν. [= She discovered the medicine of immortality, through which she not only resurrected her son Horus, who had been ambushed by the Titans and found dead in the water, giving him back his breath of life, but also made him partake of immortality.]


The Parisian Immortality Liturgy

§341 A second priestly initiation, which refers more to Greek-philosophical concepts, is preserved in a Parisian papyrus. The god in whose service the ceremonies were performed is called Aion. In Alexandria, Aion was another name for Serapis (see § 136). 

The ceremony takes place in a temple that represents a model of the universe. It is called “Immortalization” (άπαθανατισμός), and here Aion-Serapis is the lord over fate and makes the spiritual (“pneumatic”) part of the initiate immortal. 

The model of the cosmos is the Ptolemaic one: in the center rests the Earth, surrounded by the spheres of the seven planets; above these is the eighth sphere, the firmament of fixed stars. At the north and south poles, as celestial mechanics were conceived, there were two holes; in these holes rested the pivots of the world axis, which rotates the universe. This rotating movement is always the same and occurs with necessity; and likewise, everything that happens within the hollow sphere enclosed by the firmament of fixed stars is necessary. A different situation prevails beyond the shell of the fixed star firmament: there is freedom from the compulsion of the stars.

First, the candidate for initiation sheds all that is corporeal, everything composed of the four elements (earth, water, air, fire), and retains only the fifth element, the spirit (πνεύμα). The spirit ascends through the spheres of the seven planets to the firmament of fixed stars and breaks through the firmament at that hole located at the north pole. There, he is supposed to see the supreme god, Aion, be reborn in spirit (πνεύμα), and receive a new birth constellation (γένεσις). 

In this ceremony, a priest was introduced to a higher rank; he was now a new man in spirit; his spiritual part had overcome fate and had become immortal.

§342 This priestly initiation was performed as a grand sacred theater, using theatrical machines to present lightning and thunder, shooting stars, earthquakes, a flight through the air, and various appearances of gods. The latter were likely depicted through mirror effects or puppets. Alexandria was, in Hellenistic and Roman times, the center for all practical sciences; in particular, mechanics was highly advanced.

§343 The sequence of the initiation will be summarized. 

The ceremony takes place at night in a dark room; a light shines at one point, representing the sun disk. The candidate sits on a pedestal, which is raised during the ceremony. He recites a prayer: 

“First birth constellation (γένεσις) of my birth” and states the positions of the seven planets at his birth; then he continues: 

“First beginning of my beginning.”

and then utters “P” and “Sch” three times, that is, he invokes the god Pschai-Agathos Daimon, the dispenser of fate. Then he calls upon the four elements from which his body is formed: air, fire, water, earth, and prays:

“You have decided to grant me that birth constellation which is immortal. After the pressing tribulation I am about to endure, I will behold that beginning which leads to immortality, in immortal breath (πνευμα), in immortal water, in an air that is entirely firm. I will be born again in spirit in a new form; the sacred breath of life will blow within me; I will marvel at the holy fire; I will observe the dreadful primordial waters in the East; the ether, which engenders all life and encompasses us all, will hear me. Today, I, a mortal born from a mortal mother’s womb, will be elevated to a higher rank through the powerful force and the imperishable right hand (of God). With immortal eyes and in immortal breath, I will behold the immortal Aion, the lord of the fiery crowns. At that moment, the power of the human soul will leave me briefly. But after the bitter compulsion I now face, I will receive it back again according to the unalterable decree of God, and then I will no longer be burdened by necessity. Remain behind, mortal human nature, and then receive me back whole after the unavoidable, greatly burdensome tribulation.” . . . . 


The Afterlife according to Diodorus 

§415 Diodorus (I 96-97) follows Egyptian priests and says that Orpheus brought the mystical initiations and myths about things in the underworld from Egypt; for what he tells about Dionysus and Demeter is the same as what the Egyptians reported about Osiris and Demeter. He introduced the punishments of the impious, the fields of the blessed, and the widely circulated stories about apparitions in imitation of Egyptian burial rites.

§416 At the burial of the Apis bull in Egypt, according to ancient custom, the soul guide Hermes leads the body of the bull to a certain point and then hands it over to the one (priest) who wears the mask of Kerberos (Anubis). After Orpheus introduced this among the Greeks, Homer described in the last book of the Odyssey how Hermes led the dead suitors to Hades (24 1-2, 11-14):

Hermes the Cyllenian was calling out the souls
of the suitors, and he held a rod in his hands …
And they went beside the streams of Ocean and the White Rock,
and past the gates of the Sun and the land of Dreams.
They swiftly came to the asphodel meadow,
where the souls, the phantoms of the dead, dwell. . . . .

All this, say the Egyptian priests, is full of reminiscences of things that actually exist in Egypt: 

(a) The river Oceanus is, for the Egyptians, the primordial waters Nun, which is identical with the Nile; thus, it refers to a crossing over the Nile; 

(b) the gates of Helios refer to the city of Heliopolis; 

(c) the meadow where the souls of the dead dwell is the area around the “Acherusian Lake,” which is near Memphis, where there are wonderfully beautiful meadows, swamps, lotus flowers, and reeds; and it is quite right that the dead dwell there, for there are the most beautiful burial places of the Egyptians, and the dead are ferried there over the river and the Acherusian Lake.

§417 The dead are still actually ferried across the Nile in a boat by the Egyptians today, whereas the crossing is only mythology for the Greeks; the boat is called “baris” in Egyptian, a coin is given to the ferryman as payment, and the ferryman is called “Charon” in the Egyptian language.

§418 In the region of Memphis, there are also the gates of Cocytus (the river of lamentation) and Lethe (the river of forgetfulness).

§419 In “Akanthon Polis” (Acacia City), located 120 stadia (approximately 25 km) west of Memphis, there is a barrel with holes, to which the Egyptian priests bring water from the Nile every day: this is the reality behind the Greek myth of the Danaids, the maidens from Egypt, who, according to the Greek story, must perpetually draw water into a barrel with holes in the afterlife.

§420 The story of Oknos, the rope-braider, is also Egyptian. According to the Greek story, the unfortunate old man must eternally braid a rope, which a donkey standing behind him constantly eats. In Egypt, the reality is found: at a great festival near Akanthon Polis, a man must braid a rope, and many men standing behind him continuously unravel the rope.

A Tomb Monument from Abydos

§ 421 The notion that Greek underworld myths should be located in Egypt is also found in a Greek grave epitaph from Abydos. A 16-year-old man from Lykopolis named Apollos died in Alexandria. His parents buried him in Abydos and erected his grave stele there. In Abydos, the sacred head of Osiris was also buried, and a burial at this place meant that the deceased continued to live in the splendid fields reserved for those pious individuals who had been acquitted before the judgment of the dead. 

On the stele (Fig. 193), Anubis is depicted leading the not yet fully grown Apollos before Osiris; in the pediment of the stele, a winged sun disk and two sacred snakes are depicted, both symbols of rebirth. Under the figures, it says:

My homeland is the city of the Lycans, and I am Apollos,
In the land of Egypt, I perished
as a child. I was snatched away in the sixteenth year
of my untimely youth, as the month was passing by.
Now I attend the throne of Abydene Osiris,
and I did not tread the house of the dead,
the destiny assigned to me has brought me to the Elysian Field of the blessed,
where Hermes the Cyllenian, carrying me among the children of the gods,
established me, and I did not drink the stream of Lethe. . . . .

The remarkable thing about this monument is that the Greek soul guide, Hermes of Mount Cyllene, in the epitaph, and the Egyptian soul guide Anubis on the accompanying relief, are considered identical. The Elysian fields of the Greeks are also equated with the blessed regions of the Egyptian underworld; it is located here in the necropolis of Abydos. There, the two springs of Orphic afterlife teachings, the spring of memory (Mnemosyne) and of forgetfulness (Lethe), are also situated.

The Egyptian priests truly claimed that the Greek concepts of the afterlife originated from Egypt and that the places themselves could be identified in Egypt, and people believed them.

(Merkelbach, 19, 178, 232-35)

Of course, another very plausible origin for the concept of Christ’s resurrection is the notion of being rescued from the grave that we find both explicitly and implicitly in Isaiah, Ezekiel, the Psalms and Daniel.

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10 thoughts on “Dying and Rising Gods? Scholars are Divided”

  1. From Goldsworthy’s life of Augustus, p.99: “During the games a comet appeared in the skies. Such ‘long-haired’ stars were seen as dreadful omens of impending disaster. Caesar or one of his supporters came up with a better interpretation, claiming that the bright light was Julius Caesar ascending to heaven to join the gods. . . ” . I think we can see how readily the ancient mind slipped in and out of mythical thought in the absence of such things as, say, a theory of gravity or a heliocentric solar system.

    1. What I find of interest is the emphasis the discussion has placed on the nature of the resurrection appearances in Matthew, Luke and John — as if the Gospel of Mark’s narrative doesn’t really count. But Mark’s gospel points to a “resurrection” that fits very comfortably with the deaths/disappearances/ascensions of a raft of mythical figures – Romulus and Heracles being the better known. The later gospels work at “fleshing out” the resurrection appearances in a way that conforms with the I Corinthians 15 list of appearances (with that passage being of debated authenticity). And those Corinthian appearances (and the notes of Justin Martyr) do not necessarily point to physical body resurrection as we read in Luke and John.

      On first impressions it looks like the aspects of the Christian version of the resurrection developed relatively late, with the earliest accounts not being very distinguishable from several of the “pagan” versions.

      1. For what it is worth – which other people may think to be very little – I have been and am of the opinion that the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of Osiris differ only in degree and not in kind. Both gods, having been killed, were restored to life and upon the earth performed functions which only living beings can perform. For Jesus, these functions were walking and talking to disciples. For Osiris, these functions were becoming sexually aroused and impregnating Isis.

        Both gods, having performed functions which the dead cannot perform, then went to the afterlife in order to become ruler and judge over the dead, guaranteeing to other people a happier afterlife.

        I think that the desire to exclude Jesus from the category of dying and rising gods arises from pro-Christian biases among scholars, who want to make Jesus and Christianity seem to be more unique than they are.

  2. Following this line of argument we could ask “Was Jesus actually resurrected?” Sure he made a cameo appearance on the Earth, if the gospels are to be believed, but that was but a quick pitstop on his way to heaven where he rules? How is this different from Osiris, or Persephone? This would not qualify as a resurrection either, and so the Jesus pattern would still fit the patterns of other “dying and rising” gods. In Jesus’s case he died and then rose to Heaven (bodily I am told).

    It seems that instead of arguing how many angles could fit on the head of a pin, we are now arguing what qualifies as a True Resurrection(tm).

    1. I hope that this partial reposting is not violating any rules.

      You raise a good point, Mr. Ruis.

      I think that the desire to exclude Jesus from the category of dying and rising gods arises from pro-Christian biases among scholars, who want to make Jesus and Christianity seem to be more unique than they are.

  3. Corinthians 15 seems to suggest metaphorical resurrection; where death equals sin and resurrection equals cleansing from sin. It could also be literal, but not egocentric, thus all the discussion of animals and spiritual bodies. The modern Christian version of resurrection is personal; it is egocentric. The Christian believes he or she will live eternally in their present ego. These versions of resurrection are not consistent. I can’t see clear distinctions between Christian resurrection and pagan resurrections when there is no consistent form of Christian resurrection, or when I don’t have clear definitions of each.

    1. My secret suspicion is that the idea of “suffering servant”, “son of man”, “Davidic persona” … being resurrected originated as a metaphor and came to be taught as a literal act while maintaining the original meaning of a new life as a new Israel, new servant, etc. This notion was part of the evolving understandings of Isaiah and related passages but after the destruction of the Jewish nation we have a new metaphor introduced, the physical Jesus as the personification of the “ideal Israel” — which likewise came to be understood not as a metaphor but also literally.

      1. Yes, this makes the most sense to me.

        I can’t help but also think: you all do a good job of praising Christianity for its virtues, rather than dismissing it, as some do, as a “copycat” religion, and this actually helps any theory being presented regarding Jesus as a metaphor or symbol.

        What I mean is: when people say “Oh, pish posh. Christianity just copied from all the other cults of the day!”, it does not help the case.

        But if one says “The gospels were very much a product of their literary situation in the 1st century Greco-Roman milieu, AND, they assimilated and synthesized some of the best offerings of Hellenized Judaism, Stoicism, Cynicism, and the systematized structuring of the most successful mystery cults.”

        This is why I appreciate Neil’s rhetorical style and insights on this website: he seems to appreciate truth as it comes without bias. Such a rare thing!

  4. As a Christian, I am surprised to hear that other Christians deny the historical precedent of virgin births, miracles, and resurrected deities in religions older than Judaism. The idea of an immortal soul is older than Judaism — as are heaven, hell, even the End Times and a Last Judgment. I’m convinced that Judaism derived those beliefs from Persia after the Babylonian Exile.

    I’m not scandalized by the existence of religious beliefs *very close* to Christian beliefs in the centuries and millennia before Jesus Christ. It tells me that the Divine Creator has loved all nations — perhaps not equally, but nevertheless the love is real.

    The promise of immortality in heaven is older than the Egyptian pyramids and the Sumerian ziggurats. I have no doubt that these beliefs elevated the believers in their worship of the Divine Creator. Christianity is only slightly unique; it was never alone.

  5. What if, instead of trying to trace an influence from pagan to Christian, we did the reverse? What if we looked at the way Christians think today, and traced the pattern of how it influences our thinking about the ancient cultures and their mythologies? We would then see how we apply Christian anthropomorphism to the ancients. The loving Father god is imposed on the Greeks and the Egyptians, etc. It doesn’t work so well, does it? Christianity placed humanity at the center of its ideology; a Man-God who was (at least since 325 C.E.) equal to God the Creator. What gets displaced? Nature. “Resurrection” is not quite the right word to describe a vegetation god, but we can see that a vegetation god is a metaphor for nature, for the seasons. In some ways, pagan religion was closer to reality than Christian religion is, but that goes against the prejudice we have learned in western, Christianized culture, which buys into the idea of progress.

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