• April 21, 2024

Bart Ehrman errs again – this time about virgin births

Photo of Bart D. Ehrman taken following the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. (Photo: R. Baley)In a blog from December 2014, New Testament scholar and ex-evangelical Christian Bart Ehrman tries his hand at comparative religion and mythology, which is clearly not his forté. Indeed, Ehrman demonstrates abundantly his non-expertise in the subject by making blatantly false claims, so we must wonder why he is pretending to be an expert?

After a few paragraphs purporting to be pertinent to the subject of ancient “virgin births,” Ehrman forces the reader to join his blog through payment, so I can only comment on the public excerpts below, including in the comments section. However, even this selection will suffice to demonstrate his blunders.

Miraculous (Not Virgin) Births in Ancient Pagan Texts

In my previous post I pointed out that there do not appear to be any instances in the other religions of antiquity of a virgin birth – where a woman gives birth without having sex. In this post I’ll lay out the more typical view of how a “son of God” came into the world. It very much does involve sex. Most of the post will deal with one (very funn [sic]) story in particular which is emblematic of the rest. For this post I will quote a section from my recent book, How Jesus Became God.

Ehrman’s previous post is apparently one in which he discusses the Greek figures of Dionysus, Hercules and Asclepius, but, of course, the article is for members only, so I can only comment that, if he didn’t find Dionysus’s virgin-mother myth, he is revealing once again his non-expertise. Using his typical methods as demonstrated in his libelous book Did Jesus Exist?, Ehrman apparently could not even be bothered to do a search of the internet, where he would have encountered my article with the citations concerning the Dionysian virgin birth.

Zeus the Virgin

Ehrman goes on to relate a largely irrelevant story about the ancient sage Apollonius of Tyana and to discuss the Greek god Zeus, obviously to focus on the sexual nature of the latter’s dalliances and assorted tales of impregnation of mortal women. He then emphasizes the tale of Alexander the Great’s miraculous birth, again misdirecting the conversation towards stories that include what seems to be sexual activity. His conclusion, therefore, is that all such stories involve sex and, while miraculous, cannot be deemed “virgin births.”

Here Ehrman reveals a near-total lack of comprehension of ancient myth, in which gods and goddesses were considered “virgin” – or parthenos in the Greek – regardless of various sex acts or manner of impregnation. Even the randy Zeus himself – about whom Ehrman makes much – is deemed parthenos or “virgin!”

“Even the randy Zeus himself – about whom Ehrman makes much – is deemed parthenos or ‘virgin!'”

As mythologist Robert Graves says, “Thus the Orphic hymn celebrates Zeus as both Father and Eternal Virgin.” (Graves, The White Goddess, 361) Virgin-mother/birth expert Dr. Marguerite Rigoglioso also discusses Zeus as virgin creator, as in Orphic fragment 167:

Zeus’s parthenogenetic capacity is expressed here in the idea that all existence was “created anew” in the moment of his ingesting of the older god [Phanes]. (Rigoglioso, Virgin Mother Goddess of Antiquity, 46)

Because he is not an expert, Ehrman is oblivious to this parthenos genre, as he was ignorant of the phallic priapus gallinaceus genre I briefly discussed in my book The Christ Conspiracy, which Ehrman pretended to review but did not even read.

Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity

Ehrman is oblivious also to the in-depth studies of the pre-Christian virgin birth by scholars such as Dr. Rigoglioso. Further illustrating this fact, in the comments section of Ehrman’s article, a reader asks:

Your point that that there do not appear to be any instances in the other religions of antiquity of a virgin birth and that many people have claimed the opposite is born out by a tract from the FFRF [Freedom from Religion Foundation] (which I generally support), written by Kenneth F. Taubert, Sr. The tract, called a non-tract by FFRF, includes the following examples of gods claimed to be born of a virgin: Mithra, Attis, Buddha, Krishna, Quexalcote, Horus, Adonis, Quirinus, and Indra.

Can you comment on any of these?

Again, not knowing ancient mythology to any significant degree, Ehrman simply and erroneously answers:

None of these was born of a virgin.

Ehrman is ignorant of the Persian myth surrounding Mithra’s birth to the virgin goddess Anahita. He knows nothing of Attis’s virgin mother, Nana, or the Buddha’s birth through the side of his mother, explicitly called a “virgin” by Church father Jerome (Adversus Jovinianum 1.42):

Buddha born through the side of his virgin mother, MayaAmong the Gymnosophists of India, the belief has been handed down from generation to generation as authentic that a virgin gave birth to Buddha, the founder of their religion, out of her side.

Apud Gimnosophistas Indie, quasi per manus huius opinionis auctoritas traditur quod Buddam, principem dogmatis eorum, e latere suo virgo generarit.

Ehrman also does not know the controversy concerning Krishna’s “chaste” mother, Devaki, and he likely didn’t know of the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, whose virgin mother was Coatlicue. Nor does he have any idea about the virgin-mother status of the mother of Horus, Isis:

Isis is the Great VirginThere are many  more pre-Christian virgin mothers, including the Canaanite goddess Anat, wife of El who gave birth to twin sons of God in myths dating back over 3,000 years.

God the Father, the Virgin Mother and Son of GodAs Rigoglioso thoroughly demonstrates in Virgin Mother Goddesses, other ancient parthenogenetic female creators include:

  • Chaos, Nyx and Ge/Gaia
  • Athena/Neith/Metis
  • Artemis
  • Hera
  • Demeter and Persephone/Kore
  • Gnostic Sophia

Parthenogenetic Creator Deity

This very common pre-Christian theme of a virgin mother/birth is based significantly on the idea of parthenogenesis or creation from a goddess without consort. As Rigoglioso (15) remarks:

…a Virgin Mother [is one] who produced life from within herself without a male consort.

In this regard, Rigoglioso (29-30) analyzes especially the role of the Egyptian goddess Neith, precursor of Isis:

Neith-Isis, Virgin MotherAs a divinity of the First Principle, Neith was an autogenetic goddess who, in the ultimate mystery, created herself out of her own being. Budge notes…that an inscription on a statue of Utchat-Heru, a high priest of Neith, relates that she “was the first to give birth to anything, and that she had done so when nothing else had been born, and that she had herself never been born.” We see her autogenetic aspect echoed in both Egyptian and Greek texts. Plutarch…refers to an inscription on her statue in Sais…: “I am everything that has been, and that is, and that shall be, and no one has ever lifted my garment (peplos).”… That in the above-noted Saitic inscription Neith’s “garment” remained perpetually “unlifted” is also a sexual reference… The inscription therefore communicates that Neith never engaged in any kind of sexual union; that is, she was eternally a virgin. Yet, as the primordial Being, she was also generative. Thus, in Neith we have one of the earliest appearances of the archetype of the Virgin Mother, the Holy Parthenos, in her original, unadulterated form.

“Neith never engaged in any kind of sexual union; that is, she was eternally a virgin. Yet, as the primordial Being, she was also generative. Thus, in Neith we have one of the earliest appearances of the archetype of the Virgin Mother, the Holy Parthenos, in her original, unadulterated form.”

The worship of Neith, a sometime mother of the solar deity Horus, is traceable to around 7,000 years ago, according to Dr. Wim van Binsbergen, chairman of the Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy at Erasmus University, who calls her an example of “female parthenogenetic cosmogenesis.” (van Binsbergen, 35)

Other reasons for this pre-Christian motif of the virgin mother include the daily “birth” of the sun from the dawn goddess, as found in Greek and Indian myth, for example. The constellation of Virgo was yet another source of virgin-mother myths.

As we can see, Ehrman’s statements are erroneous and reveal he is not an expert. It is unfortunate that he is misleading people who clearly trust his word without questioning and who also apparently do not know about the numerous fallacious and calumnious remarks he included in Did Jesus Exist?

Ancient Astral Religion

Further displaying his lack of knowledge about ancient mythology, Ehrman also says in the comments of his article:

[T]he Gospels show no interest in astrology. (Though some interpreters read astrology *into* the Gospels; they can’t, though, read it *from* the Gospels)…

This fallacious claim is based on a literal reading that refuses to acknowledge or is ignorant of the mythology behind the gospel story. Contrary to this contention, there is astrology, astral mythology or astrotheology in the New Testament, not the least of which can be discerned in various of Jesus’s supposed deeds and words. Christ’s solar nature is abundantly represented both within the gospel story and in commentary by ancient Christian authorities, as can be seen in my video below:

There is much more information regarding Christ’s solar nature in my ebook Jesus as the Sun throughout History. Another pertinent example occurs in the mysterious interaction in the New Testament between Christ and John the Baptist, explained in my articles “Christianity and the summer solstice” and “New research exposes hidden relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist,” which show that Jesus is the winter-summer solstice sun, while John is the summer-to-winter sun.

Jesus or ShamashThe bottom line is that Bart Ehrman is not a mythologist and not an expert on comparative religion or Jesus mythicism, and he should not be pretending to be one or promoted as one. Such perpetuation of ignorance is frankly an embarrassment to the freethought community.


Moreover, it is odd that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”) would host Ehrman, as in the video below, because his dismissals of the pre-Christian virgin-birth motif and solar Christ refute what they themselves have publicized in the past, as in this article (April 7, 2004):

Freedom from Religion FoundationNote also that when the FFRF says “Jesus Christ is a fable,” they are essentially relating Jesus mythicism or the idea that Jesus is a mythical figure, a field with a massive body of literature that Ehrman not only hasn’t studied but also disparages, remarking:

I think that atheists have done themselves a disservice by jumping on the bandwagon of mythicism because, frankly, it makes you look foolish to the outside world.

Hence, according to Ehrman, the FFRF is passing along false information and adheres to a foolish viewpoint; yet, they endorse his work and present him as a public speaker.

It would be refreshing if, instead of promoting people with erroneous information, organizations interested in religious origins and comparative mythology would publicize the fascinating material I bring to light, so that it, rather than the errors, would gain more currency. I have little doubt, however, that such errors will continue to be circulated simply because they come from a recognized “person of authority,” due to rampant and fallacious credentialism.

Bart Ehrman, clueless about virgin birthsFurther Reading

Virgin Mother Goddess of Antiquity
Neith, Virgin Mother of the World
Mithra’s Virgin Mother, Anahita
Isis, Virgin Mother of Horus
Dionysus Born of a Virgin on December 25th
Attis Born of a Virgin on December 25th
Was Krishna’s Mother a Virgin?
Star Worship of the Ancient Israelites
Mythicist book about Bart Ehrman and the Christ myth
What is the mythicist?
Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?
Bart Ehrman caught in lies and libel?

Did Bart Ehrman lie and libel?

Bart Ehrman's ignorance

49 thoughts on “Bart Ehrman errs again – this time about virgin births

  1. Thanks for pointing out the utter ignorance of Bart Ehrman once again, Acharya. I trusted him before probably due to his TV appearances which give the impression that he is a trustworthy scholar but, I will never trust him again. This blog really shows Bart’s true colors:

    Bart Ehrman caught in lies and libel?

    Bart Ehrman could not be any more hypocritical (at 1:55 in the short video and at 53:13 in the full video) one can hear Ehrman claim:

    “I think that atheists have done themselves a disservice by jumping on the bandwagon of mythicism because, frankly, it makes you look foolish to the outside world.”
    – Bart Ehrman

    Meanwhile, the bottom video he makes a good case for the non-historicity of Jesus that mythicists often discuss, so, what is his problem?

    “Writing Did Jesus Exist was an interesting task. For one thing, before writing the book, like most New Testament scholars, I knew almost nothing about the mythicist movement.”
    – Bart Ehrman

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    – Upton Sinclair


    Bart Ehrman has ruined his own credibility and has exposed the double-standards and dishonesty within academia on the subject of mythicism.

    Thanks for doing what you do, Acharya. If I could take a course with you as the professor I would take it asap.

  2. It’s frustrating that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) will invite Bart Ehrman for a lecture and even give him an award but, refuse to invite Acharya S/Murdock for a lecture or their radio show or anything. I have lost loads of confidence in the FFRF and other secular organizations who refuse to invite Murdock – THAT is the true “disservice” here. She should be invited to speak at every major freethought and mythicist lecture event like Skepticon for example. Supporters of Murdock’s work need to start putting in requests for her to speak at lectures.


    1. I’m beginning to be completely bored with atheist groups. Now, Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, Coyne are OK, but the run of the mill “atheist” just doesn’t do anything for me. The topics on so many atheist forums are, in my opinion, childish. The spend nearly all of their time bashing Christianity while never saying anything about Islam, which is currently ripping the throat out of Western Civilization.

      1. Try searching for the groups “Atheism” and “Thinkers” on Google+, try posting links that refutes Christianity like Barbara Walker’s “Bible: Morality or Depravity” and see the +1s and comments agreeing with you. But once you post Acharya S’s Twitter memes like this

        .@BruceLee667 Not just "It's not Islam" but also shouting of "racism" & "Islamophobia" at Islam critics. @patcondell pic.twitter.com/Fi4XgdcMkJ— Religion and History (@AcharyaS) January 18, 2015

        , notice the immediate backlash and calumny by wannabe atheists and Islamists who keep tabs on forum groups and social media posts.

    2. I don’t get your indignation over Bart Ehrman & the FFRF? Ehrman is a scholar and, whether you like what he says or not, you shouldn’t be denigrating his credentials over his position. It’s not like he’s advocating Creationism or something. Furthermore, I think his opinions come with much more weight than Ms. Murdoch’s and for obvious reasons. She is neither a founder of the mythicist idea,nor it’s most articulate or erudite proponent. The idea is over a hundred years old, and there is a growing number of scholars considering it and bringing the weight of their years & years of research, education, and contemplation to bear in order to resolve the issue. And there is much to clarify on this topic, to be sure, and there is scant evidence with which to do it. But all scholarship brings us slightly closer to an answer. There is no reason to disparage anyone simply because they don’t see things your way.

      1. Ace, you would understand the indignation clear as a bell had you read the blog before commenting. Bart Ehrman is SUPPOSE to be a scholar but what type of scholar goes around to maliciously smear, defame and libel others unprovoked? Acharya had never done anything to Bart Ehrman at all, She even cited his work favorably in her own book “Who Was Jesus.” Ehrman published the crap in his “Did Jesus Exist” book and she has the right to respond – Bart Ehrman owes her an apology and should be sued for defamation and libel.

        Read these and all the other links in the further reading and you’ll understand how Ehrman falsely accused her of making stuff up even when she properly cited her sources.

        Ace “There is no reason to disparage anyone simply because they don’t see things your way.”

        You need to esssplain that to Bart Ehrman for yourself:

        Bart Ehrman caught in lies and libel?

        Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History

        Over 80 Rebuttals to Bart Ehrman’s Anti-Mythicist Book ‘Did Jesus Exist?’

        Bart Ehrman: Gospels not written by eyewitnesses, no Jesus in historical record

        Scholars who’ve actually studied Acharya’s work tend to be supportive:

        “I find it undeniable that many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations.” “I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock”
        – Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D’s

        “Your scholarship is relentless! …the research conducted by D.M. Murdock concerning the myth of Jesus Christ is certainly both valuable and worthy of consideration.”
        – Dr. Ken Feder, Professor of Archaeology

        Earl Doherty defers to Acharya for the subject of astrotheology:

        “A heavenly location for the actions of the savior gods, including the death of Christ, would also have been influenced by most religions’ ultimate derivation from astrotheology, as in the worship of the sun and moon. For this dimension of more remote Christian roots, see the books of Acharya S”
        – Earl Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, (2009) page 153

        “…In recent months or over the last year or so I have interviewed Frank Zindler and Richard
        Carrier and David Fitzgerald and Robert Price all on the issue of mythicism … when I spoke to these people I asked for their expertise collectively and what I got, especially from Fitzgerald and Robert Price, was that we should be speaking to tonights guest D.M. Murdock,author of ‘Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver’.”
        – Aron Ra

        “I’ve known people with triple Ph.D’s who haven’t come close to the scholarship in Who Was Jesus?”
        – Pastor David Bruce, M.Div

        “…I have found her scholarship, research, knowledge of the original languages, and creative linkages to be breathtaking and highly stimulating.”
        – Rev. Dr. Jon Burnham, Pastor

        “I can recommend your work whole-heartedly!”
        – Dr. Robert Eisenman

        Please read the blog BEFORE commenting.

  3. Bart Ehrman seems to have forgotten the works of his own professor and one of the translators of the Revised Standard Version, Dr. Bruce Metzger; “That there are parallels between the Mysteries and Christianity has been observed since the early centuries of the Church, when both Christian and non-Christian alike commented upon certain similarities.” – Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish and Christian

    Ehrman also forgot the admission of the Early Church Fathers.

    “And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. -Justin Martyr, Analogies to the History of Christ

    1. And yet you felt the need to waste your time in commenting?

      This is not a “totally irrelevant issue,” as it involves the history of religious ideas and the lack of integrity by a known religious scholar – the latter an unfortunately common occurrence among academia. If you are not interested in comparative religion and mythology dating back thousands of years, that is your prerogative, but wasting our time responding to needless derogatory remarks is not very helpful.

      In the meantime, my work analyzing the origins of religious and mythological ideas going back millennia is very important in that it demonstrates a shared cultural heritage which helps unify the world beyond divisive religious beliefs that are wreaking havoc globally and leading to the torture, rape, enslavement and slaughter of thousands on a daily basis.

      Again, these studies are highly significant, and if people would actually learn about them, rather than allowing non-experts to stand in the way and suppress this fascinating information, the world would be much better off.

    2. A typically snippy, childish comment from, let me guess, a clueless little faux atheist wannabe. Have you read your first book yet?

  4. Ehrman? Meh. Maybe if he’d read Fraser and most of Campbell’s books as I have, he might begin to get a clue. Evangelical? That tells me all I need to know. Evangelicals are automatically experts on everything, aren’t they?

    Maybe he, Armstrong and Aslan can get together and form some sort of Holy Trinity of know-it-all’s.

  5. I have read a couple of Ehrman’s books and assumed that he is the expert he claims to be. After all, he is a professor of religion at UNC Chapel Hill. However, as I read “How Jesus Became God” and “Forged” I was struck by his comments that there are authentic writings by Paul in the New Testament. He seems to have failed to back up his statement with any evidence. This struck me because if there are authentic writings by first century Paul, it implies that Jesus was actually a historical character, regardless of claims of his divine nature. I have not yet read your book, but I am interested in your thoughts about Ehrman’s claim.

    1. Thanks. Many people assume Ehrman’s authority and expertise, but, as we can see, that would be a mistake when it comes to comparative religion and mythology. Being a professor at a university certainly does not change that fact, especially since many of them in this country were begun as Christian seminaries, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia.

      There are authentically early “Pauline” writings in the New Testament, such as the earliest layers of some of the epistles. But these show a Gnostic bent and, in fact, counter the notion of a historical Jesus.

      For an in-depth analysis of the Pauline epistles, see Earl Doherty’s work. Here’s my review of his earliest book, which truly sufficed in demonstrating what I’ve said:


      1. Thank you. I appreciate your response and I will check out the link you provided. I am at the moment reading “Who Was Jesus.” I have long thought that there must have been a central person responsible for the beginnings of Christianity, even though we probably have no way of knowing today whether there was or not. I am anxious to see if you address that specifically in your book. I also noted that you give a date of 93 CE for Josephus’ “history.” Many Evangelicals make a claim for the historical character of Jesus, but seem to ignore that the idea of history at the time was mainly the documentation of folk tales and legends and not real historical research. I was unaware of the late date of Josephus, so whether his skimpy remarks about Jesus were added much later or were actually his, sixty some years after the supposed life of Jesus they are hardly convincing. Also, I’d like to mention that I was reared in the Pentecostal church. After I was no longer under the influence of twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday night and every day of a revival, I began to read actual scholars about how the Bible came to be and the problems of the NT. This was 50-60 years ago. I also began to read the Bible with critical eyes. I soon became a non-believer and over the decades went from agnostic to atheist. Those who have never experienced the tyranny of fundamentalist Christianity may not realize just how hard it is to free yourself of the fear (and ecstasy) of fundamentalism. Once I overcame those and freed myself from those psychological chains, I have never felt more free and able to evaluate evidence as never before. Thank you for refreshing my memory of that process.

        1. Thank you for sharing your insights and for reading my book. In Who Was Jesus?, I do not discuss much of the pre-Christian mythology that the mythical figure of Jesus was drawn from, but I do show the cracks in the accepted history of Christian origins and its foundational texts. I do, however, address these pre-Christian myths extensively in other works, as here:


          Re Josephus, I have enough on that subject for a lengthy monograph, and recently I studied the conclusions by linguist Paul J. Hopper showing that the Jesus passage or Testimonium Flavianum is a forgery/interpolation in toto. I will be publishing my analysis of Hopper’s work shortly. Suffice it to say, it is yet another nail in the coffin of that fallacious “proof.”

          I’m glad that you have been able to free yourself from this archaic psychological chain. You seem to be a wise person.

          Re Doherty, I’m also happy that you enjoyed my review and his work’s implications.

      2. I want to ask, did the Pauline Epistles emerged at the same time as the canonical gospels in the last quarter of the 2nd century? Right now I’m reading Dr. Robert M. Prices The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul (Kindle Edition) and I’m not yet done with it but there are points Dr. Price raised that I want to ask if you concur:

        -The writings of the heretic “Marcion” influenced the Epistles
        -Luke’s Acts of the Apostles is a historical novel, which is written on 2nd century (Although he didn’t specified if early or late 2nd century).
        -The “Paul” archetype has some pagan parallels like that of Gautama Buddha, Dr. Price cited “Thomas, Edward J. The Life of Buddha as Legend and History. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1927.”
        -Dr. Price said “Luke’s picture of Paul receiving his gospel in one big gulp on the road to Damascus is the same sort of theological cameo as the story of Moses…This is narratized theology, not history.”
        -Luke’s Acts borrowed from Euriphides’s Bacchae and 2 Maccabees 3:24-26
        -Gnosticism also influenced the epistles
        -Origen of Alexandria understood that Paul is not the author of Epistle to the Hebrews
        -The places/churches Paul is addressing left no historical traces
        -Justin Martyr never mentioned or quoted from the Epistles

        1. As concerns the dating of the Pauline epistles, not all of them are traceable to the same hand, with the pastorals much later than the others. Hebrews also sticks out and cannot be ascribed to a historical Paul, as Bob Price acknowledges. The others have been interpolated and mutilated by later editors as well. Some of the earliest strata – the more “Gnostic” elements – seem to be traceable to the first century. These may have been standardized “introduction” letters use to communicate with ecclesia or collegia already in existence before Paul (and Jesus) supposedly lived. If “Paul” is a compilation of characters, possibly one of whom is Apollonius of Tyana (“Pol?”), the latter was known to have letters of his own, and these could have been his, used during the first century.

          It may be that Marcion found Apollonius’s letters at Antioch, along with the Gospel of the Lord, and incorporated them into his “New Covenant,” published around the middle of the second century at Rome, in both Latin and Greek. The Greek Gospel of the Lord appears to have been the basis of Ur-Lukas, the source of the canonical Luke. The Latin of Marcion may have been the basis of Ur-Markus, from which the canonical Mark and Matthew were created.

          Paul is based evidently also on Orpheus, the legendary proselytizer of Our Lord and Savior Dionysus who went to the same mystery schools locations that Paul is depicted as visiting and writing to. It seems to be a typical route taken by seekers and mystery school initiates.

          See my article:

          Apollonius, Jesus and Paul: Men or Myths?

          It is quite possible that Buddhistic attributes were used in the compilation of the “Paul” figure, especially if its historical basis was Apollonius, since the latter was said to be quite knowledgeable about Buddhism.

          I would love to see the data on Acts drawing from the Bacchae and 2 Mac – fascinating, especially because of the Dionysus connection! Since Price has been working with the late dating of the gospels, I’m sure he’s found the pieces of the puzzle fall into place more neatly, e.g., Marcion as the predecessor. I’m glad he jumped on board, because I was one of the only modern mythicists to assert that the canonical gospels as we have them do not emerge clearly in the historical record until the last quarter of the second century, when they suddenly burst onto the scene and are discussed obsessively by the church fathers at the time. Price being able to factor that analysis into his work clears the way nicely for more scientific examination of the milieu for the gospel compositions.

          “The places/churches Paul is addressing left no historical traces”

          These were sites of famous mystery schools, so perhaps we’re looking for the wrong thing. I discuss the pre-Christian collegia and ecclesia in my Christ in Egypt book in particular. It’s another fascinating subject that could be turned into an entire monograph.

          Since Justin Martyr wrote against Marcion, he may have discussed the Paulines at that point, but that work was lost. I’m guessing his earlier works preceded the publication of Marcon’s New Testament, which would explain the absence of the Paulines in Justin. What this fact demonstrates, however, is that the Paulines were not part of the Christian corpus until Marcion and probably were mutilated after that time in order to retrofit them with Christian doctrine. Previously, they would have been Gnostic and discussing a non-historical divine figure of the type abundant within mystery schools. This figure may have been called CHRESTOS, not Christos. We know that there was a Marcionite church in Egypt with the phrase “Jesus the Chrestos” over the doorway.

          We can see how nicely Price and my work dovetails together – we seem to be mostly on the same page.

  6. Thank you for your view of Chrest/Chresto/Chrestos. Two questions:
    1. To what religion did the original New Testament belong?
    2. Who where the first Christians?

    1. Hi John –

      Nice to see you have some of your work back up, at Google. We concur on significant issues, including somewhat on the Chrestos/Chrestiani subject. I appreciate your research in that regard and drew from it, with proper citation, although to your old site, so the links need to be changed.

      As concerns your question, the original Marcion “New Covenant,” the basis of the New Testament, would indicate that it belonged to Chrestiani, not Christiani, since we have that Marcionite church in Egypt dedicated to “Jesus the Chrestos.”

      The first “Christians” or “Chrestians?” As you know, we have indications of Chrestiani during the first century, but not Christiani. The “Christians” allegedly were first so-called at Antioch, according to Acts, but Acts is a late text, and as we know, the earlier extant manuscripts read “Chrestians.”

      If I had to point to a major single source of the Chrestian/Christian movement it would be the Therapeuts of Egypt, about whom I write somewhat extensively in my book Christ in Egypt.

  7. Sorry that my change of site causes you work, Acharya; I appreciate fully your links.

    Yes, our work has much in accord. (BTW the Marcionite ‘synagogue’ with “Isu Chrestos” is in Deir Ali, a little south of Damascus, Syria. I have an image here: https://sites.google.com/site/originsofchristianity/romanisation/archaeology-of-chrest/phrygian-chrestianity)

    Thank you for your answers.

    The New Testament does appear to be Chrestian, as you say. Let us put that in a historical context for a moment. We have Antonia Minor as a Chrestian in the early-1st century and she works (holding royal hostages) on the authority of Augustus; then the NT appears in the early-4th century as Constantine I associates himself publicly with the Ch-Rho. We therefore see Chrestianity as imperially-sanctioned and growing in strength from start to finish through this period. This is confirmed by the presence of the baptistery and fragment 24 in the Roman fortress-town of Dura Europos in Syria.

    I’m glad you did not answer my second question, because despite some years of endeavour to do so, I cannot, either. When the eta was changed to an iota (to make ‘Christ’) in the NT I do not know and further, I do not entirely trust the 6th-century dates for those anonymous works (described as copies) comprising beginning of the textual tradition. Maybe they are the work of Charlemagne’s monks as he recreated the Western Roman Empire.

    I therefore suggest that unless or until sacred texts are dated reliably, and further, we know who penned the purported ‘copies’ attributed to ghostly characters such as ‘Eusebius of Caesarea’, ‘Lactantius’, ‘Augustine of Hippo’ and others, we cannot know when Christianity began. Scholarship seems quite happy with this stalemate (leaving the pillars of the Church intact).

    I must congratulate you on your Therapeuts of Egypt suggestion – it is quite brilliant. Philo wrote, however, that although this cult was most numerous near Alexandria, it was across the Levant. The connection with Buddhism and thus with Bactria and Greco-India is intriguing and I must look again at the imperial diplomacy with those regions. And – of course – I will read your book.

    Kind regards,

    1. You’ve put together some very impressive stuff there, John. I think you will enjoy my information about the Therapeuts – I was able to trace them around the Mediterranean.

      Have you seen my ebook Buddhism’s Relation to Christianity? The Therapeuts as Buddhist “Theraputta” are discussed there as well.

      Speaking of Philo, he used some form of “Chrestos” many times throughout his writing – have you investigated his uses? I’m sensing it has to do with the ancient discussion of chrestos versus poneros. To wit:

      The word χρηστός or chrestos is contrasted by ancient authorities with the term πονηρός or poneros, which means “full of labours, annoyances, hardships,” as well as “bad, of a bad nature or condition” and “in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad.” This contrast is made even in the New Testament, which uses the word πονηρός/poneros some 76 times (Strong’s 4190) in describing “evil,” “wicked,” “wicked ones” and “evil things.” By comparison, the word chrestos, meaning “good,” “useful” and “easy,” is used seven times in the New Testament.

      Concerning the discussion of chrestos versus poneros in the writings of “The Old Oligarch” (fl. 446-424 BCE) and Greek playwright Aristophanes, James F. McGlew (71) relates:

      For those in democratic Athens who were invested in making such distinctions, chrestoi were citizens of high status with claims to special responsibilities and privileges; the poneroi (the wretched) provided the amorphous human backdrop against which the chrestoi stand out.

      It was thus reputed that the chrestoi and others were “citizens of high status,” while the gods, heroes, saints and others were likewise honored with this title.

      Chrestos in Philo

  8. GREAT article, it never ceases to amaze me what passes for ‘scholarship’ when it comes to Christianity; is Ehrman actually considered credible?

    I was hoping you might be able to enlighten me to some degree regarding the Star in the East: in Sarah Titcomb’s “Aryan Sun Myths,” Max Heindel’s “The Mystical Interpretation of Easter and Christmas,” and other, equally outdated works, it is claimed that Virgo is the Star of Bethlehem (House of Bread); purportedly the ‘rising sign’ around the time of Christ. Is this still believed to be the case? Is Virgo one with Anahita birthing Mithra, or Isis birthing Horus?

    Some time ago I had inferred that the Star (and Mary) was Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation; I found support in “The Wizard of Oz” (Good Witch of the East), and, later, A.E. Waite’s “A New Light of Mysticism: Azoth…”, in which he associated Mary with Aphrodite Urania as I had. I also inferred that the ‘journey westward’ was Venus in retrograde, is this in agreement with your understanding?

    Gerald Massey, however, asserts in “Natural Genesis” that it is rather Orion’s Belt – being both the Eastern Star and the “Three Magi.” Can this be reconciled with the fact that Sirius rose on Sept 20th beginning the Flood period?

    I’m somewhat at a loss, and am wondering what you find to be the most logical, consistent explanation; whether listed here or otherwise. I’m inclined to either Venus or Virgo, but would really appreciate your insights on the matter. Thank you in advance. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your kind regards and interest in my work. I’ve read Titcomb, but I don’t know Heindel’s “outdated work.”

      There is a star in Virgo called “spica” that many have pointed to as constituting the mythical motif of the “Star of Bethlehem.” It is quite possibly one of the meanings behind it. As you say, another is Sirius, the heliacal rising of which indicated the flooding of the Nile and, thus, the coming of the savior Osiris, personification of the Nile and life-giving water.

      Here’s an excerpted article about “The Star in the East and Three Kings”:


      Sirius’s appearance was not in September but in June, near the summer solstice, which is why the five epagomenal days added during that time represent the “birth” of Osiris (et al.), since Osiris and Sirius are one.

      The most blatantly obvious and easily comprehended correlation is the Sirius motif, held by millions of Egyptian devotees over a period of many thousands of years. This astronomical configuration marking the Nile flood was vital to life in Egypt, so we can see it was a very important and influential milestone and mythical motif.

      1. My pleasure, always glad to support a mythicist. Thank you for your prompt response, I only wish I was able to reciprocate. That’s understandable, it seems very few have heard of him: for lack of a better term I’d say he was a ‘pseudo-Rosicrucian’ mystic, he established the “Rosicrucian Fellowship” in the early 20th century.

        Both Spica and Sirius seem very logical explanations to me, but I’ve had no slight difficulty in determining the true star. Thank you very much for sharing this article, it’s incredibly interesting! My one difficulty in embracing the three stars of Orion as the “star in the east” is that these ‘magi’ are recorded to have ‘approached’ the star in question, which to me suggests that the Star of Bethlehem is separate.

        Regarding Sirius, though to my knowledge it was associated with Tammuz (June-July) in Babylon, I had read elsewhere that it rose in September for the Egyptians; I tried to find where I read this, here’s one of the sources (I had read this on more than one occasion): “The lunar calendar began with the heliacal rising of Sirius, which during the time of the ancient Egyptians occurred around September 20…” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season_of_the_Inundation Unfortunately this isn’t cited, so it’s hard to confirm or refute; by chance do you have a source pointing to the heliacal rising in June for the Egyptians?

        Referring to the birth of Osiris, did he not die in June? -According to Adele Nozedar (“The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols”), Osiris’ phallus was eaten by a crab when it fell in the Nile following his murder (when he was cut into 14 pieces); Cancer the Crab governs the summer solstice, would this not mean that Osiris died in midsummer to be reborn in midwinter (presumably as Horus)?

        Thank you for your time and your consideration, it is greatly appreciated.

        1. Thanks for your response. The gospel story is fictional, so it would be possible for the magi to “fly upon” the star, if necessary to the tale. In other words, the “approaching” of the star is not a historical detail. Together with the background of how important was this mythical motif to the Egyptians and how much Egyptian religion and myth were incorporated into the Christ myth, it is not difficult to accept that the Sirius mythos is the basis of the gospel motif.

          The lunar calendar began with the heliacal rising of Sirius, which during the time of the ancient Egyptians occurred around September 20

          If that’s really saying that the heliacal rise of Sirius and the flood occurred during what is our September, it is erroneous, to my understanding. The Nile flood begins during the time we call June and continues for months. From another Wiki article (“Flooding of the Nile“):

          The first indications of the rise of the river may be seen at the first of the cataracts of the Nile (at Aswan) as early as the beginning of June, and a steady increase goes on until the middle of July, when the increase of water becomes very great. The Nile continues to rise until the beginning of September, when the level that remains stationary for a period of about three weeks, sometimes a little less. In October it rises again, and reaches its highest level.

          At that point, Osiris – the Nile water – becomes lost, until Isis can find him again. That is but one of the interpretations of that particularly motif. As the night sun, Osiris dies and resurrects on a regular basis, but his death and resurrection were generally celebrated at the turn of the common era on November 13th and 15th, reflecting this aqueous element.

          Before the Greek mythographers such as Diodorus and Plutarch gathered the different components of Egyptian myths, traditions and rituals together, these were not composed in a single myth but were scattered throughout Egyptian literature. These later Greek writers incorporated Greek influence on the Osirian and other Egyptian myths; hence, some of their traditions are late, including the story of Osiris’s phallus. In the Egyptian texts, it is the “sharp Sirius” that penetrates Isis in order to create Horus: To wit, Sirius heralds the flood of the Nile and coming of the messiah, Osiris, who is the Nile’s water overflowing its banks (Isis) in order to produce life-giving foliage (renewed Osiris or Horus).

  9. No, I will have to get and study your ‘Buddhism’s Relation to Christianity’. It’s a subject my team has given some thought.

    The meanings of ‘Chrestos’: some of us – especially my Classical Greek linguist – have discussed this at some length, largely covering the ground you mention. (Though I think we weren’t able to find the earliest extant texts, in order to check how ‘good’ was always spelt.) As you say, the term is well-understood in some of the ways it was used, such as a kingly title and sociologically. In the latter usage, I eventually came to understand it as ‘the great and the good’ (not so different to “citizens of high status”). However, as I came to focus on Ptolemaic, religious syncretisms, I began to gain a different view.

    We see later, in the texts wrongly claimed as ‘early Christian’, the abbreviations known as nomina sacra alongside the title Chrestos, i.e. the ‘Christograms’ relate directly to Chrest (confirming [1] that these texts are Chrestian rather than Christian, and [2] Chi-Rho belongs to Chrest, not Christ.)

    I also now see the Chi-Rho as a Ptolemaic derivative of the Ankh (just another example of the syncretisms I mentioned above). This can change the meaning of Chrest; I therefore now think it possible that this term is close in meaning to the Ankh and thus concerning resurrection, probably in an astro-theological sense.

    Well, I have to admit that as a mere shovelbum and not a classicist in any sense, this is all above my head – I don’t really know very much at all, especially as regards either theology, or mythology. I know a bit of history, which helps.

    1. Well, you do very well with this material, which generally goes over the heads of most people. What we are both saying essentially is that there was a widespread and long-lived pre-Christian chrestos motif/movement that has been almost completely suppressed from our history books, because on Christian doctrine and censorial efforts.

      It’s a very scandalous proposition that leads to further suspicions concerning so-called historical Christianity.

  10. With all of that information mythicists are pouring, it is interesting to know that majority of Christians believe that we have the originals of the gospels and that they are originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. It means whether in Sunday School or in Catechism, church leaders are deliberately withholding to the lay Christians. Of course, when a Christians found out that the gospels are in Greek, the common apology is that Greek is the lingua franca of the Mediterranean and the Holy Spirit during Pentecost allowed them to speak in multiple languages, which is not said in Acts 2:7-8.

  11. You are very kind, Acharya.

    Regarding the chrestos movement, your post sums up the position very well. Yes, this was almost entirely suppressed. But further, the modern, academic consensus continues this suppression as it either ignores, or belittles and dismisses much reliable archaeology in the early centuries of the modern era.

    1. It’s pitiful! This issue of the pre-Christian Chrestos cultus is absolutely fascinating – and it explains so much.

      Here’s a little taste of my ebook Buddhism’s Relation to Christianity:

      Were the Therapeuts of Egypt Buddhists?

      …Lockwood (99ff) touches upon one of the more important discussions concerning the Buddhist presence in ancient Egypt: The mysterious Therapeuts at Lake Mareotis, near the city of Alexandria. Regarding the spread of Buddhism, after citing passages from Buddhist texts, Lockwood remarks:

      The Buddha’s knowledge, then, was to be passed down generation after generation of monks, under the guidance of leading Elders (“mahā-thēra-s”), who had attained a thorough knowledge of the doctrine. It is in this sense that the term “theraputta” came to be applied to Buddhist monks in a monastery under the leadership of a Mahā-Thēra (“Great Elder”). “Thēraputta” (Pāli) is a compound of the two words: thēra—elder, and putta = son(s). The fem. of the Pāli word thēra (“elder”) is thēri, from (Skt.) sthavirī or sthavirā, and “daughter,” (Skt.) putrī. Emperor Aśōka’s medical missionary monks who arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE and their followers and converts were to be known by this name, which, to the Greeks, would sound like “therapeutai.” These monks’ skill in healing the sick, both physically and spiritually, would enhance a medical connotation of the Greek term, “therapeutai,” and its later English offshoots, “therapy,” “therapeutics,” etc.

      Lockwood goes on to discuss the Therapeuts in greater depth, along with presenting views assigned to Christ in the New Testament that reflect Buddhist monasticism. Lockwood’s assessment of the Therapeuts as Theraputta appears to have been staring us in the face for quite some time, since it has been known for decades that there are figures in Buddhist lore called “Theraputta,” both as a name and as a title.

      In this regard, after raising up the subject of the Therapeuts and their Judean cousins the Essenes, the Indian sage Swami Abhedananda (158) states:

      It is interesting to note the similarities between the Essenes and the followers of Buddha. The Buddhists were also called Theraputta, a Pali form of the Sanskrit Sthiraputra, meaning the son of Sthira, or Thera: one who is serene…

      Indeed, we must keep in mind the Theravada school of Buddhism as well, the term “Theravada” meaning the “Teachings of the Elders,” a concept crystalized at Ashoka’s Great Council in 240 BCE. It has been suggested that the Theravadins may thus have been those sent out by Ashoka to “all points of the known world.” The word “Theraputta” appears to postdate this time….

    2. While looking for the emergence of Christiani, we should keep in mind that Christos was used in the pre-Christian Greek Old Testament, so it was definitely in currency for centuries.

      An interesting but peculiar situation exists with the facts that Acts uses Chrestiani but that Luke-Acts does not show up clearly in the historical record until the end of the second century, evidently addressed to the then-bishop of Antioch, Theophilus. It seems to be at this point that the words Chrēstiani and/or Christiani were applied to the followers of this new amalgamated cultus at Antioch. I include “Christians” in there, because Theophilus actually wrote a definition of the word as “anointed”; hence, he must have been specifying Christians, not Chrēstians.

      And about your laughing at me and calling me Christian, you know not what you are saying. First, because that which is anointed is sweet and serviceable, and far from contemptible. For what ship can be serviceable and seaworthy, unless it be first anointed? Or what castle or house is beautiful and serviceable when it has not been anointed? And what man, when he enters into this life or into the gymnasium, is not anointed with oil? And what work has either ornament or beauty unless it be anointed and burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God.

      — Theophilus, Apologia ad Autolycum, Book I, Chapter 12

      But what would be the need of such a definition at that time? If Christ had been real and had gone by that title, and his followers had been called after him by the end of the first century at the latest, according to the received timeline of when the New Testament texts were composed, why would the bishop of Antioch need to define the word “Christian” a century later?

      I see little reason to suggest that Theophilus’s definition is a later interpolation, especially in consideration of the fact that “Christos” was employed in some 43 verses in the Septuagint. If the term “Christians” thus is defined at the end of the second century, it may be that it was adopted at that time. Since Luke apparently addresses this Theophilus, it may be that Acts was composed before “Christians” was adopted and defined by Theophilus. It is possible that, after decades of Chrēstos and Chrēstiani, it took centuries for the switch to Christos and Christiani to be complete, including tampering with ancient texts.

      In any event, it appears there was a mythical/allegorical/non-historical “Jesus the Good” long before there was a falsely historicized “Jesus the Anointed.” Let us also remember that the Old Testament messiah who supposedly led the chosen people into the promise land likewise was called “Jesus,” as is the name “Joshua” rendered in the Septuagint. I discuss a pre-Christian Joshua/Jesus cult in my book Suns of God in particular, positing that it revolved around the OT figure as an ancient tribal solar deity, not a historical person. In the context of Hellenization, the revered Joshua could have become Jesus the Good in the decades to centuries prior to the common era.

    3. As concerns the suppression of this information, tell me about it! I’m glad I’m not the only who has noticed – the campaign against me and my work has extended to skeptics, who likewise fight tooth and nail against examining such fascinating material. A pity for them!

  12. I could not agree more “the pre-Christian Chrestos cultus is absolutely fascinating – and it explains so much.” Which is how my study has come to focus tightly on this.

    Many thanks for that extract. If I may, I would like to briefly expound my own thoughts on this subject.

    The history of Theraputta in India is, I think, post-Alexander; I suggest that it should be viewed in a Greco-Indian context. That could be important when one considers how when Buddha first appears in statuary, it is in Kushan Bactria in the late-1st or early-2nd century.

    In my view, this Buddha has been resurrected, somewhat in the manner of the Greek hero cult, though by this time, I would term the method chrestic; it is also similar to how Hadrian resurrected Antinous.

    I mention these things because Greek colonisers syncretised their faith with all the faiths they found in their colonies; Pythagorean magic (changing its name periodically) was used across the panhellenistic empire; the chrestic cult is one example of this – it is Greek, no matter how much it absorbed syncretically in Bactria, Mesopotamia, Syria and Eypyt.

    A number of cults took on a semblance of Judaism – even their followers appeared as Jews. I don’t think it coincidental that the procurator of the Chrestian Antonia Minor is Alexander Lysimachus:
    A Lysimachus was a general for Alexamder the Great and his daughter married the founder of the Ptolemy dynasty. I would think that the interest Philo had in Greek philosophy and religion is an indicator of a joint-Greek heritage, as well as Jewish. In short, I would not regard any of the ‘Jewish’ Chrestians as observant, let alone messianic.

    The principle parties in 1st-century Judea are: [1] messianic Jews led by the Righteous Teachers based at Qumran, [2] Herodian Jews (the monarchy, aristocracy and the urban elite) with their Roman supporters, and [3] imperial Romans with little attachment to the Herodians (they want peace and tax from trade). The last party disappeared with the death of Nero and the coming to power of the Flavians. So from mid-way through the First Jewish-Roman War, there were just two parties and they were deadly enemies; that second party is, I believe according to the evidence, the Chrestians.

    These Chrestians are the ‘great and the good’, though with a belief system based partly on the Ptolemaic and partly on Philo, so it was both a syncretic mix of Greek (basicially Pythagoreanism) and Egyptian magic, while recognising the primacy of the Jewish Patriarchs. I think this is how both Buddha and Antinous were resurrected.

    Sorry to take so long to get to the Therapeuts in the Levant. If they belong to any camp, it is the Greek, i.e the second party mentioned above, the Chrestians (as you suggested), even though they are not discernably ‘the great and the good’. (I say ‘discernably’ because later, when we can see who runs the monasteries, we also see how the abbots wield great power – and monasteries are economic power-houses.)

    That they are compared to the Essenes is interesting, because nobody can precisely locate and identify the Essenes, and if we say the Essenes are actually the people of the Qumran monastery, then the Therapeuts and Essenes each represent the religious party of the opposing groups – messianic Jews and Chrestians. I that is the case, then as Qumran is preparing for war (the War Scroll) and gathering strength through missionary diplomacy, where is such militaristic character in the Therapeuts? Perhaps Philo was hoodwinking us.

    I like very much your suggestion for Chrestian Therapeuts, though it seems we must think deep to work out their role alongside Antonia Minor, the Herodians and other ‘great and good’ of Roman citizenship.

    PS Yes, my linguist colleague proposed that Chrest derived from oracle/oracular; he suggested that Chrestians were trying to bypass the official oracles. However, I think this view derives from the (fake) textual tradition (which claims early Christianity was attractive to the poor – which I see as parody), so as I mentioned, I think that we should see the astro-theological Chi-Rho as the abbreviation for Chrest.

    1. That all sounds about right. I think you’ll enjoy my section on the Therapeuts in Christ in Egypt. It’s a shame so few are discussing this fascinating issue, but there was obviously a reason this history was hidden and suppressed, in order to fob “historical” Christianity off on the unsuspecting public.

      I promoted your “Phrygian Chrestianity” article on Facebook and G+ today, by the way. I’ve also put you into my new Josephus paper, which I’ll be uploading to Academia.edu shortly.

    2. Here are some more thoughts. The Therapeuts are rumored to have worshipped Isis, among others, which makes sense, if they were a cult of healers, since she was the great healer and savior:

      The therapeutae are found in the inscriptions in close relation to the eranoi and hetaerae, first worshipping the Isis [sic], and then among the oldest christian inscriptions. There is a passage to this effect in Eusebius. The important question which we are now endeavoring to solve is, if the therapeutae were the very early christians, whether they were among the trade and labor unions of the Solonic dispensation… (Ward, C. Osborne, The Ancient Lowly: A History of the Ancient Working People, Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago, 1900; 438)

      Elsewhere we discover that Isis was called – ta dah! – Chrēstē.

      Isis the Chrest

      This term could be the feminine of Chrēstos, or it could be chrēstēs, meaning “oracle.” Either way, we have an apparent link between the Therapeuts and the chrēstos/chrēstēs cultus.

      Furthermore, there was a Jewish synagogue and Therapeuts on Delos, where both Isis and Apollo were worshipped:

      Therapeutae, Philo’s term for a celibate monastic group of Egyptian Judeans, is elsewhere used to describe members of certain Graeco-Roman associations on Delos. (Hellerman, Joseph H., The Ancient Church As Family, Fortress Press, 2001; 233)

      There is evidence too that Apollo was a Chrest and that he went by the title “IE,” which would make him “IE the Chrest.” Perhaps that is what we are seeing on the Marcionite church in Syria? I don’t see the “Isu” moniker that you are averring – it looks like Ἰη.

  13. Your ‘Isis the Chrēst’ suggestion is very strong and I think that this probably solves the Chrest problem. (You really excel yourself with this.) Along with the Isis Myth (described by Plutarch) and Philo’s logos doctrine, we seem to have the theology of Chrestianity in place.

    Source Q: this needs just the reading of Philo, Josephus and Plutarch, with the addition of the Sacrificial King Myth and a strong motive.

    Is it coincidental, I wonder, how the name Isis is close to the IS used in the early texts as the divine man’s name (as in IS Chrest)?

    1. Thanks! You are one of the very few who can appreciate my hard work in this regard. I sense a collaborative monograph needs to be composed on this subject… Would that I had a clone.

      I think the Apollo as “IE the Chrest” is a strong element as well. The Chrestos epithet appears to have been commonly attributed to numerous deities – and that would be a major link of all these various cults, creating a sort of “Chrestianity” around the Mediterranean.

      I need to look again at the earliest chrestos versus poneros discussion, as that may be the germane for a terminus ad quo for this Chrestos/Chreste cultus.

      It should be kept in mind that the Egyptians already had been styling their gods Nefer or “good” for centuries. I assume you saw my discussion of the “House of Goodness” on my Isis article? Here’s more:

      Egyptian Houses of Goodness

    2. Is it coincidental, I wonder, how the name Isis is close to the IS used in the early texts as the divine man’s name (as in IS Chrest)?

      I confess that I must re-read and familiarize myself with your evidence of the “IS.” As previously noted, on the Marcionite church inscription, it appears to be “IE,” not “IS,” which could be a clipped inscription of “IESOUS” or could be “IE,” which appears to have been an epithet of Apollo, also possibly called Chrest.

      No doubt, however, that some of the very popular Isis’s attributes were incorporated into the Christ myth, such as “Healer” and “Savior,” as well as the “Great Virgin” mother of the messiah, Horus, the solar deity reborn daily and annually. It should be kept in mind that during this precise era, the Roman world – including many powerful elite – was fascinated by the Egyptian religion and myths, understandably.

      In this regard, Egyptologist Erik Hornung (SLE, 70) discusses the Egyptian religion’s inroads into the highest strata of Roman society during the alleged time of Christianity’s founding, influencing several Roman emperors such as Claudius, Nero, Otho, Vespasian and Titus:

      Claudius [10 BCE-54 AD/CE] was also positively disposed toward Egyptian religion, and Nero expressed interest in the sources of the Nile. Nero also had an Egyptian teacher, Chaeromon, who saw to the dissemination of Egyptian knowledge at Rome. According to [Roman historian] Suetonius, Otho (69 C.E.) was the first Roman emperor to participate publicly in the cult of Isis. Notwithstanding his well-known stinginess, Vespasian [9-79 AD/CE] dedicated a large statue of the Nile to Rome, after a Nile miracle occurred during his visit to Alexandria in the year 69. Together with his son Titus, he spent the night before their triumph over Judea (71 C.E.) in the temple of the Roman Isis, which was first depicted on Roman coins that year. Titus is probably the anonymous ‘pharaoh’ depicted in front of the Apis bull in the catacombs of Kom el-Shuqafa in Alexandria. From the reign of Domitian on, Apis was represented on imperial coins.

  14. Yes, I have much appreciation for your vast undertaking, much in the manner of Sir James George Frazer.

    Here is a Word doc on that inscription to Isis Chreste Epekoos:

    I think we need a dated chronology on this: Isis, Chrest, the Ptolemaic Chi-Rho, Isis Chreste, Cleopatra VII as Isis, the early-1st century Chrestiani, the appearance of IS Chrest in the early texts (Chrestian and Manichaean) then New Testament; Chrest altered to Christ. I think we see a development of the term Chrest (which ends up as Christ/messiah). That Chrest becomes associated with the Chi-Ro, which is a symbol for magical resurrection as per the Isis Myth, and is altered to a messiah who is resurrected, suggests to me that this term moves considerably away from Good.

Comments are closed.