CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

"The sacred books which contain the prayers recited or chanted during the [Mithraic] survives, the ritual on the initiates, and the ceremonials of the feasts, have vanished and left scarce a trace behind...[we] know the esoteric disciplines of the Mysteries only from a few indiscretions." (Cumont, Franz. The Mysteries of Mithra. New York: Dover, 1950.152)

( Roman Cult began after Jesus life

Our earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the first century B.C.: the historian Plutarch says that in 67 B.C. a large band of pirates based in Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing "secret rites" of Mithras. The earliest physical remains of the cult date from around the end of the first century A.D., and Mithraism reached its height of popularity in the third century.(Ulansey, David. Cosmoic Mysteries of Mithras (website)




No Continuity between Ancient Persian past and Roman Cult

Throughout most of the twentieth century Franz Cumont so influenced scholarship that the entire discipline followed in the wake of his assumption that the Roman cult was spread by the Persian cult. In the early 70's David Ulansey did for Mithric scholarship what Noan Chomsky did for linguistics, he totally redefined the coordinates by which the discipline moved. Ulansey showed that the Roman cult was not the continuance of the Persian cult, that there was no real evidence of a Persian cult. He showed that the killing of the great comic bull which latter became the major event in Mithraism, and the parallel from which Jesus Mythers get the shedding of blood and sacrifice, was not known in the Persian era. This was be like showing that the story of the Cross was not known to Christians in the first century. The major likeness to Christianity and the central point of the cult of Mithraism was not known in the time of Christ, in the time Paul, or for at least two centuries after:

"There were, however, a number of serious problems with Cumont's assumption that the Mithraic mysteries derived from ancient Iranian religion. Most significant among these is that there is no parallel in ancient Iran to the iconography which is the primary fact of the Roman Mithraic cult. For example, as already mentioned, by far the most important icon in the Roman cult was the tauroctony. This scene shows Mithras in the act of killing a bull, accompanied by a dog, a snake, a raven, and a scorpion; the scene is depicted as taking place inside a cave like the mithraeum itself. This icon was located in the most important place in every mithraeum, and therefore must have been an expression of the central myth of the Roman cult. Thus, if the god Mithras of the Roman religion was actually the Iranian god Mithra, we should expect to find in Iranian mythology a story in which Mithra kills a bull. However, the fact is that no such Iranian myth exists: in no known Iranian text does Mithra have anything to do with killing a bull." (David Ulansey Mithras Mysteries).


Mithraism Emerged in the west only after Jesus' day.

Mithraism could not have become an influence upon the origins of the first century, for the simple reason that Mithraism did not emerge from its pastoral setting in rural Persia until after the close of the New Testament canon. (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra (Chicago: Open Court, 1903), 87ff.)

We Don't know what any of it means.

"No one can be sure that the meaning of the meals and the ablutions are the same between Christianity and Mithraism. Just because the two had them is no indication that they come to the same thing. These are entirely superficial and circumstantial arguments." (Nash, Christian Research Journal winter 94, p.8)

Mithraism was influenced by Christianity

a) Roman Soldiers Spread the cult.


Roman soldiers probably encountered Mithraism first as part of Zoroastrians when they while on duty in Persia. The Cult spread through the Roman legion, was most popular in the West, and ha little chance to spread through or influence upon Palestine. It's presence in Palestine was mainly confined to the Romans who were there to oppress the Jews. Kane tries to imply that these mystery cults were all indigenous to the Palestinian area, that they grew up alongside Judaism, and that the adherents to these religions all traded ideas as they happily ate together and practiced good neighborship.

b) Mithric Roman Soldiers Influenced by Christians in Palestine

But Mithraism was confined to the Roman Legion primarily, those who were stationed in Palestine to subdue the Jewish Revolt of A.D. 66-70. In fact strong evidence indicates that in this way Christianity influenced Mithraism. First, because Romans stationed in the West were sent on short tours of duty to fight the Parthians in the East, and to put down the Jewish revolt. This is where they would have encountered a Christianity whose major texts were already written, and whose major story (that of the life of Christ) was already formed.

There is no real evidence for a Persian Cult of Mithras. The cultic and mystery aspect did not exist until after the Roman period, second century to fourth. This means that any similarities to Christianity probably come from Christianity as the Soldiers learned of it during their tours in Palestine. The Great historian of religions, Franz Cumont was able to prove that the earliest datable evidence for the cult came from the Military Garrison at Carnuntum, on the Danube River (modern Hungary). The largest Cache of Mithric artifacts comes form the area between the Danube and Ostia in Italy." (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra (Chicago: Open Court, 1903), 87ff.)

3) Mithraism was not Christianity's Major Rival
Mithraism, The Ecole Initiative, http://cedar.evansville.edu/~ecoleweb/articles/mithraism.html

Mithraism had a wide following from the middle of the second century to the late fourth century CE, but the common belief that Mithraism was the prime competitor of Christianity, promulgated by Ernst Renan (Renan 1882 579), is blatantly false. Mithraism was at a serious disadvantage right from the start because it allowed only male initiates. What is more, Mithraism was, as mentioned above, only one of several cults imported from the eastern empire that enjoyed a large membership in Rome and elsewhere. The major competitor to Christianity was thus not Mithraism but the combined group of imported cults and official Roman cults subsumed under the rubric "paganism." Finally, part of Renan's claim rested on an equally common, but almost equally mistaken, belief that Mithraism was officially accepted because it had Roman emperors among its adherents (Nero, Commodus, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and the Tetrarchs are most commonly cited). Close examination of the evidence for the participation of emperors reveals that some comes from literary sources of dubious quality and that the rest is rather circumstantial. The cult of Magna Mater, the first imported cult to arrive in Rome (204 BCE) was the only one ever officially recognized as a Roman cult. The others, including Mithraism, were never officially accepted, and some, particularly the Egyptian cult of Isis, were periodically outlawed and their adherents persecuted.

8 comments:

J.L. Hinman wrote:
"Roman Cult began after Jesus life... Our earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the first century B.C."

B.C. stands for "Before Christ".


J.L. Hinman wrote:
"the historian Plutarch says that in 67 B.C. a large band of pirates based in Cilicia"

Mithraism is first mentioned to appear in Cilicia which is the closest Mediterrain area to Persia. And of course Paul of Tarsus who started to popularise Christianity was from Cilicia. Later Justin Martyr observered similarities between them. But all this is just a coincidence...


J.L. Hinman wrote:
"Mithrism Barrowed from Christianity"

In the previous post your fellow CADRE member argued that there are no parallels between Christianity and Mithraism. Can you please explain what exactly Mithraism borrowed from Christianity and please provide some reference.

Peter,

It is simple really. Not all Christians are required to agree with each other. It is perfectly possible Meta thinks there are some similarities and they are best explained by Mithraic copying of Christianity.

I tend to think there are no significant parallels (except perhaps in some artwork in the late third or fourth centuries) but that if there are then they are best explained by Mithraic copying of Christianity.

As for the pirates, as I explained, you have no evidence what they believed. It is generally agreed that the early form of Mithra in Persia had very few similarities with the Western Mithra Mystery religion. It seems more likely to me that the pirates who practiced some form of Mithra likely practiced something more akin to the Persians.

And remind me, what happened to those Pirates?

J.L. Hinman wrote:
"Roman Cult began after Jesus life... Our earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the first century B.C."

B.C. stands for "Before Christ".


we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Pual. That's the ponit. all the imagined paraells come from after that.

Christianity was a sect of Judaism until about 90's AD. so it's origins are in Judism and thus much older than Western Mithrism in Rome.



J.L. Hinman wrote:
"the historian Plutarch says that in 67 B.C. a large band of pirates based in Cilicia"

Mithraism is first mentioned to appear in Cilicia which is the closest Mediterrain area to Persia. And of course Paul of Tarsus who started to popularise Christianity was from Cilicia. Later Justin Martyr observered similarities between them. But all this is just a coincidence...

I will have to look up if Tarsus was in Cilicia. But if you are trying to stick Paul with inventing Christaintiyi or Jesus that's stupid. that' just laughable and so easily disproved. only a Jesus myther would take that kind of causestry seriously.

Cumont says the stronghold of Western style Mithrism was Ostia, Nothern Italy.

Delancy tells us the Western style was not even connected to the Persian, wasn't even about the same guy.



J.L. Hinman wrote:
"Mithrism Barrowed from Christianity"

In the previous post your fellow CADRE member argued that there are no parallels between Christianity and Mithraism. Can you please explain what exactly Mithraism borrowed from Christianity and please provide some reference.

When I say it barrowed I'm speaking conditionally. If you think ther are parallels that are meaningful then if they had to come one way or the other the most likely is from Chrsitainity to Mithrism.

even Cumont says the soldiers from Ostia were stationed in Jerusalem and that's where they heard of Christiantiy.

J.L. Hinman said...
"we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Pual. That's the ponit. all the imagined paraells come from after that."

I think your logic fails you. It would be logical to say that we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Paul. So we don't know when the paralles come


J.L. Hinman said...
"Christianity was a sect of Judaism until about 90's AD. so it's origins are in Judism and thus much older than Western Mithrism in Rome."

This is a red herring. Jewish roots have nothing to do with possible Christian adoptation of Mithraistic rituals.


J.L. Hinman said...
"I will have to look up if Tarsus was in Cilicia."

Just google "Tarsus Cilicia". I'm surprised CADRE members are not aware of Mithraistic writings and it's connections with Christianity, but still keep on writing about it and arguing it copied from Christianity.


J.L. Hinman said...
"if you are trying to stick Paul with inventing Christaintiyi or Jesus that's stupid. that' just laughable and so easily disproved"

That would be a different discussion, I'm looking forward to that CADRE post. I just pointed out the Paul was from the known center of Mithraism. I did not even claim that Paul was not so Jewish like some scholars have.


J.L. Hinman said...
"Cumont says the stronghold of Western style Mithrism was Ostia, Nothern Italy."

Another red herring. That fact that city eventually become a stronghold is irrelevant to the discussion. Discussion was if Mithraism predated Christianity.



J.L. Hinman said...
"When I say it barrowed I'm speaking conditionally.

Then your header "Mithrism Barrowed from Christianity" is misleading and maybe even dishonest. Is this the state of Christians apologism?


J.L. Hinman said...
If you think ther are parallels that are meaningful then if they had to come one way or the other the most likely is from Chrsitainity to Mithrism."


You wrote earlier "we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Pual." After that statement the honest way to address this is to say we just don't know who borrowed and what.

Blogger Peter said...

J.L. Hinman said...
"we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Pual. That's the ponit. all the imagined paraells come from after that."

I think your logic fails you. It would be logical to say that we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Paul. So we don't know when the paralles come

Perhaps I should re word my argument, that doesn't help your case any. Its' not a problem of logic either.Doesn't' change my arugment in substance at all.


J.L. Hinman said...
"Christianity was a sect of Judaism until about 90's AD. so it's origins are in Judism and thus much older than Western Mithrism in Rome."

This is a red herring. Jewish roots have nothing to do with possible Christian adoptation of Mithraistic rituals.


Sure do. That's where the church got the emblems that you that to be parallels with Mithrism; bread, wine, blood.


J.L. Hinman said...
"I will have to look up if Tarsus was in Cilicia."

Just google "Tarsus Cilicia". I'm surprised CADRE members are not aware of Mithraistic writings and it's connections with Christianity, but still keep on writing about it and arguing it copied from Christianity.

NONONONN you have not paid attention! There are no wittings! they have none! we don't have a book, we don't have a text, no writings. that is well documented. that is common knowledge and it's not a bit hard to find the docs no that.

Obviously we are well versed in the aspects that you think are borrowings. But clearly we are arguing that they are not barowed form mithrism, but I argue the barrowing, if any, goes the other way. You can't really prove there is any barrowing.

All your statement amounts to is "you don't buy hook line and sinker the standard Myther BS that everyone talks about." You tink that's somekind of credible position but clearly you don't demonstrate it.



J.L. Hinman said...
"if you are trying to stick Paul with inventing Christaintiyi or Jesus that's stupid. that' just laughable and so easily disproved"

That would be a different discussion, I'm looking forward to that CADRE post. I just pointed out the Paul was from the known center of Mithraism. I did not even claim that Paul was not so Jewish like some scholars have.


You need to study more about Jews in Asia minor. He was also fromt he knonw center of Amazonian culture, the known center of angel worship, the knkown center of Dianna worhsip, the known center of Asian Gnosticism. But it is well documented that Asia Minor had a large population of cosmpolitan Jews who were faithful to Judaism. So being from that region is not proof that he embraced any of htose ideas. It's clearly from his writings that he was not embracing any of the mystery cults but putting them down!


J.L. Hinman said...
"Cumont says the stronghold of Western style Mithrism was Ostia, Nothern Italy."

Another red herring. That fact that city eventually become a stronghold is irrelevant to the discussion. Discussion was if Mithraism predated Christianity.

Since Cumont says the troops in Ostia were the major stronghold of the Mithrists and he says they went on short tours in AD 66 to Jerusalem and that's where they came in contact with Christianity for the first time, and no alledged paralells show up in Mithrism unitl after the time of Pual (who died in 64, just two years before) it stands to reason the logic supports barrowing from Christianity rather than Christianity barrowing from Mithrism.

It also means Ostia was the stronghold in AD 66 not latter! Becasue that's when he says they went from Ostia.
Now think about it.

(1) no such signs in mithrism before Paul's death. AD 64

(2) But thsoe signs taken to be copies (daying rising savior, blood being shed, bread and wine as emblems of sacrafice) were all present in Christianity long before AD 64. They were persent in the Gospels, they are present in the proto Gospels, they are present in Judiasm before the first centruy.

(3) the only link we have that we know of when Mithrism first met Christianity was in AD 66 when thsoe soldiers form Ostia went to Jerusalem.

Clearly the evidence indicates the mithrism barrowed from the Christians!


J.L. Hinman said...
"When I say it barrowed I'm speaking conditionally.

Then your header "Mithrism Barrowed from Christianity" is misleading and maybe even dishonest. Is this the state of Christians apologism?


No, Cumont thought there was barrowing, but from Christainity by Mithrism. still your burden of proof to prove anything was barrowed.


J.L. Hinman said...
If you think ther are parallels that are meaningful then if they had to come one way or the other the most likely is from Chrsitainity to Mithrism."


You wrote earlier "we dont' know much about its content until after the time of Pual." After that statement the honest way to address this is to say we just don't know who borrowed and what.

NONONNON NO N NO! I jsut showed you the evidence strongly indicates that if any barrowing happened it would be mroe logical to think it went from Christianity to mithrism.

but I don't see why yout think this is a big deal. its' a prefectly valid conditional argument:

(1) if barrowing is proven, the evidence indicates it went in this direction (from Christianity to Mithrism)

(2) it has still not been proven conclusevley that any barrowing happened, (but if it did this it woudl be be mithrism barrowing from christianity).

Now may I should have said that up front but I was cutting and pasiting from something I wrote years ago.

Now I am willing to accept that some barrowign hapened. but it is not barrowing from mithrism.

This is a red herring. Jewish roots have nothing to do with possible Christian adoptation of Mithraistic rituals.

Nothing?

If we have good evidence that the Jewish teacher John the Baptist was teaching and baptising at the time of Jesus and Christianity claims a connection with John and his baptism, you think it just as or more likely that Christians stole the ritual from a "baptism" of blood from a gutted bull?

Doesn't the Jewish parallel here tell us that even if we were tempted to find some connection between baptism in water and walking under a gutted bull that there is no need to do so?

Then your header "Mithrism Barrowed from Christianity" is misleading and maybe even dishonest. Is this the state of Christians apologism?

Meta is not a dishonest fellow. This is a very unbecoming comment.

That would be a different discussion, I'm looking forward to that CADRE post. I just pointed out the Paul was from the known center of Mithraism.

There is no evidence that Cilicia was a "known center of Mithraism" during the time of Paul or at anytime. There were pirates based there, some of whom practiced some form of Mithraism. They were swept from the seas, crushed in their strongholds, taken prisoner, and dispersed.

What was it you were saying about honesty?

I did not even claim that Paul was not so Jewish like some scholars have.

Then why bring it up? More of you being forthright about your beliefs?

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