Pagan gods and the Christmas narrative
In the beginning was . . . Horus of Egypt, Dionysus of Greece and Mithra of Persia.
Horus was born of a virgin and adorned by three kings who followed a star in the east. He was found teaching at age 12 and was baptized at age 30. He had twelve disciples. One of these disciples betrayed him and had him crucified. After being dead for three days, Horus resurrected.
Dionysus was also born of a virgin. He was born on December 25 and, as he grew older, performed miracles—such as turning water to wine. “Alpha and Omega” and “King of kings” were a few of his names. When he died, he resurrected.
Mithra was, you guessed it, born of a virgin on December 25. He roamed around with his twelve disciples performing miracles. The tomb only held him in for three days before he resurrected.
These are only three of the many stories that sound dangerously similar to the narrative of Jesus Christ—you know, the Christmas story where virgin Mary was impregnated by God and a baby is born. Upon His birth, he was welcomed by three kings and wise men who followed a star in the east. At age 12, He was found teaching in the temple and at age 30, He was baptized. After His baptism, He roamed Palestine and the surrounding region with his 12 disciples. One of His disciples betrayed Him, and Jesus was crucified. Spoiler alert: Jesus, too, was resurrected after only 3 days.
Jesus came after Horus, Mithra and Dionysus, and the others. Most likely, the early Christians stole these ancient stories to begin a movement of their own.
Something to notice is that Jesus was a real person, at a real time, in a real place. Whether you believe He was God on earth or not, a man named Jesus undoubtedly walked on this planet, was crucified, laid dead in a tomb for three days. Whether you believe He physically resurrected or not is for you to decide.
Jesus is, by default, separated from these other myths because He is real. Those stories, as far as historians know, have no credibility to them. Dionysus, Horus, and Mithra were all believed to be true religiously, but they have never been considered true historically or literally. Additionally, people died for believing in the resurrection and life of Jesus. If the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection was a myth, it would be nonsensical for any early-church Christian to die for such a cause. Martyrs would not have died for a myth, only for a true story.
Now, what do we do with the reality that the Christmas story appears to be hijacked? The Christmas story has lost its uniqueness because it was not the original story. It’s a copycat—a replica.
Viewing reality through the lens of the great controversy between a loving God and a selfish Satan helps us grasp the concept of truth versus counterfeits. Paul wrote, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Satan, being known for darkness and evil, clothes himself with godlikeness. Satan is fake—he’s into counterfeits. Jesus said, “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan is all about being deceptive; lying and defrauding are in his DNA.
Therefore, looking into the other myths of ancient times, it is safe to say that they are counterfeits of a true story. Dionysus, Horus, Mithra and other myths lose credibility in light of history. The fact that there are other stories aside from the biblical narrative affirm that there is a true story.
Whether you’ve questioned the story of Christmas and Jesus or not, know that there is credibility behind a virgin birth, miracles and disciples, death, and resurrection.
Abner is a sophomore studying theology.