The Persian influence of Zoraster and Mithra
No understanding of the Mithraic myth would be possible without first understanding Persian Zorastrianism. According to E. W. West's translation of the "Gathas" (psalms), Zoraster lived from 660-583 BCE, although this is uncertain. The earliest scriptures are known as the "Avesta", which consists of the "Gathas" (psalms), Venidad (laws), and the "Yasts" (liturgies). During the Arsacid and Sassanian dynasties another literature emerged known simply as the "Pahlavi Texts."
Much like Jesus, Zoraster began his active ministry at the age of 30 with a sacred baptism. John the Baptist's claim that he baptized with water, but the one who came after him would baptize with the Holy Ghost came straight from Zorastrianism. Like Judaism and Brahmanism, Zorastrianism was a form of priest state. Like Judaism and Christianity, the religion was monotheistic. However, unlike Christianity there was no soter.
Zorastrian theology was totally based on the dualist cosmology of the Good Creator Ahura Mazda, who created all that is good and the Evil Creator Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, who created all that is either evil or unuseful to humans, which included all of the physical world. The basic human conflict exists between the good spirit which is trapped throughout life in the evil body. This duality was carried over into Christianity mostly in the Epistles of Paul, but it does not exist in either Judaism or Buddhism.
Worship of the Persian god Mithra, one of the pantheon of Zorastrian gods, actually originated among the Tamil people of Southeast India. Mithraism, always associated with the sun and the bull, began sometime in the 3rd century BCE. It grew out of its Zorastrian roots and absorbed a number of Chaldean traits including zodiacal and astrological symbolism. After the advent of Christianity it became Christianities most fierce competitor for converts. It was particularly popular among the Romans especially those in the military. The Roman Emperor Constantine was a worshipper of Mithra before his miraculous conversion to Christianity. However, Mithraism never became popular among the Greeks. It evolved out of the mysteries and contained many characteristics which were popular among religious followers including the sacrament of wine and bread and baptism not with water, but with fire much in the manner that John the Baptist claimed his successor would do. Central to the religion was the slaying of the bull which was done above a grating, much like in the worship of Cybele, where initiates were placed under a grating to be drenched by the blood of the bull which brought them salvation. However, its biggest shortcoming was its lack of a soter, savior figure, like Osiris or Jesus Christ. Mithraism retained the same dualistic world view as Zorastrianism, with the material world controlled by Ahriman (the devil) which Mithra had entered to try and reclaim for Ormazd (Persian god Ahura Mazda). Tarsus the reported home of Paul was a hotbed of Mithraism.
In the Zorastrian myth Shemig-abu, who although she had never known a man would become pregnant with the first reincarnation of the Zorastrian Messiah Hushedar, at the age of 15. At the age of 30 in the Zorastrian 10,001 year of time, which corresponds to 371 CE, the sun was to stand still for 10 days and Hushedar was to ascend into the eternal light to confer with the archangels. So, the religion did envision a Messianic figure who much like Jesus was to be born of a virgin when she was 15 years old.
Due to its intense nationalism, Zorastrianism could never be accepted by any people other than the Iranians. However, the Gospel Jesus borrowed much from this religion. Concepts like heaven and hell are not Jewish, but Zorastrian as are the savior born of a virgin mother, the belief in demons, the Messiah of moral justice based on the concepts of good and evil, and the vision of the final apocalypse are all Zorastrian.
Persian Influence on both Judaism and Christianity
Around the year 598 BCE, or according to some accounts 587 BCE the Babylonian King Nebuchadrezzar or Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Jews destroying Jerusalem and taking the survivors back with him to Babylon. The exile lasted 70 years or until the Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. These events are covered in the Book of Lamentations.
Although the dates are not fully established the events are well covered in the Old Testament in the Book of Ezra sometimes called Edsra: "This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him".--Ezra 7:6
"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments."--Ezra 7:10
"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up."--2Chronicles 36:23
"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah."--Ezra 1:2
"In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits;"--Ezra 6:3
"And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia."--Ezra 6:14
"And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus."--Daniel 1:21
"I am Zarthustra, Zerdusht, or Zoroaster, the Daniel of the Jewish Scriptures. I lived in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius Hydaspes and Cyrus."..."The Jewish book of Daniel, was stolen bodily from the books written by myself, or through me, concerning Ormuzd and Mithra."--"Antiquity Unveiled", Testimony of Zoroaster, J.M. Roberts "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?""--John 7:19
Modern Christians who erroneously believe that what is today called Christianity started with Jesus, will be unable to relate to the words of Eusebius that "our doctrines of religion... have been established by the natural understanding... and [is] the same religion as those divinely favored men of old". The early Gentile Christians knew this fact, and it was for this reason that a copy of Plato’s Republic and other such writings was contained among the writings preserved in the recently discovered Nag Hammadi Library of early Christian writings. St. Augustine wrote: "That, in our times, is the Christian religion, which to know and follow is the most sure and certain health, called according to that name, but not according to the thing itself, of which it is the name; for the thing itself which is now called the Christian religion, really was known to the ancients, nor was wanting at any time from the beginning of the human race, until the time when Christ came in the flesh, from whence the true religion, which had previously existed, began to be called Christian; and this in our days is the Christian religion, not as having been wanting in former times, but as having in later times received this name" (Opera Augustini, vol. i, p.12). What this means is that the Jesus in the existing Gospels was converted by the Church to support the tenets of Mithraism, which was the universal religion of the empire. The problem is that the original teachings of The Way had absolutely nothing in common with what came to be called Christianity under Pagan Rome.
When American historians write about George Washington they do not start by explaining the meaning of George and the meaning of Wahington. His name was George Washington because he was an actual person whose name was George Washington. However, this is not the case with Eusebius and Jesus Christ. Eusebius starts off his history of the church by first explaining where the name came from: "Moses was the first to make known the name of Christ as a name especially august and glorious. When he delivered types and symbols of heavenly things, and mysterious images, in accordance with the oracle which said to him, "Look that thou make all things according to the pattern which was shown thee in the mount," he consecrated a man high priest of God, in so far as that was possible, and him he called Christ. And thus to this dignity of the high priesthood, which in his opinion surpassed the most honorable position among men, he attached for the sake of honor and glory the name of Christ."
"He knew so well that in Christ was something divine. And the same one foreseeing, under the influence of the divine Spirit, the name Jesus, dignified it also with a certain distinguished privilege. For the name of Jesus, which had never been uttered among men before the time of Moses, he applied first and only to the one who he knew would receive after his death, again as a type and symbol, the supreme command."--Eusebius, "Church HIstory", Book 1, Chapter 1. By the way there is absolutely no evidence that there ever was a Moses and there is no mention of either Jesus or Christ in the Old Testament, but then again that is why Catholics were forbidden to read the bible under penalty of death.
Of course his name was not Jesus Christ nor was Eusebius talking about Jesus since there was no 'J' at that time. Prior to the Nicene Council there were a number of Christian sects who had adopted Hesus Christos as their Lord and Savior. The name Hesus comes from the third member of the Druid trinity. There had been a number of Christs prior to Jesus like the Black Christ, or the Christed One and of course, Christos from the Indian god Krishna who at that time was known as Christ or Christos. Also due to a poor translation in the Septuagint the term Christ became synonymous with the Jewish term Messiah. As a result it was not uncommon for the high priest of Israel to be known as the Christ. So, although Eusebius waxed on ad nauseam about Jesus Christ, it is clear that his Jesus was an ethereal or supernatural Christ and not one of the flesh.
The fact that the Christians had usurped the scriptures of Zoroaster from Persia did not go unnoticed. Just prior to the reign of Constantine there was a great Christian persectuion during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. It is an historically well chronicled event, but no one seemed to understand why it happened. So, here is the reason: "For all men of intelligence knew the story of Jesus Christ was nothing but the old story of Christos or Crishna of India revived. And when called upon to show what they believed they could show nothing but the writings of Marcion and Lucian, Romans who stole the writings of Apollonius of Tyana...."--J.M. Roberts, 'Antiquity Unvelied', Testimony of Caius Valerius Maximianus Galerius, Emperor of Rome
The testimony continues with: "In fighting a Persian general and capturing his camp, I captured the writings of Zoroaster, and Diocletian submitted them to a comparison with the writings of the Christians. The Christian writings were declared to be fraudulent, and therefore his bloody decree against them."--ibid. In other words the Emperor Diocletian had learned that the Christian religion was nothing other than the religion of Rome's arch enemy Persia which as you can guess angered him considerably.
"Diocletian was not anti-Christian during the first part of his reign, and historians have claimed that Galerius decided to prod him into persecuting them by secretly burning the Imperial Palace and blaming it on Christian saboteurs. Regardless of who was at fault for the fire, Diocletian's rage was aroused and he began one of the last and greatest Christian persecutions in the history of the Roman Empire."--Wikipedia
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