Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Mithras the Messiah

I've been off work today so that Miche & I can have some time together sans kids. It's a rare treat for us to be adults together.

We've been hiking around the moors with the dog, exploring Hadrian's Wall. I was delighted when we came across this Roman Mithraic Temple, as I'd been wanting to post about the Greco-Roman god Mithras for some time now.

Here's a Google map of exacly where we were. Have a scoot about east and west and you'll see loads of un-excavated Roman ruins. It's really quite fascinating if you're that way inclined.

View Larger Map

Mithras, according to many sources, has remarkable similarities to Jesus;

  • Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
  • He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
  • He had 12 companions or disciples.
  • Mithra's followers were promised immortality.
  • He performed miracles.
  • As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
  • He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
  • His resurrection was celebrated every year.
  • He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
  • He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
  • His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
  • Mithra had his principal festival of what was later to become Easter.
  • His religion had a eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia is quoted as saying that Mithraic services were conduced by "fathers" and that the "chief of the fathers, a sort of pope, who always lived at Rome, was called 'Pater Patratus.'"
You can imagine how attractive these ideas are to the sceptic. However, what sounds too good to be true, probably is. So tomorrow night, I'll share what little I've learned myself about Mithras.

After all, Bertrand Russel once said that "if a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way."

1 comment:

Christy Lenzi said...

This is really interesting. DH just talked about Mithras in class.

I envy you guys living so close to all those ruins. Over here, a place is considered really old if it's been around for a century or two!