David, Carrier and Murdock have been at it recently about the role of Egypt as concerns Christian origins, the Luxor Nativity and things of that nature. I just wanted to post her recent response here for you to evaluate for yourself since she cites many well qualified scholarly sources. What do you think of her sources? Go ahead and check them out and get back to us on their credibility:
What Egyptologists (and other scholars) say about Egypt's role in Christian origins
In this contentious field, there are those who - apparently absent of serious study of the subject - continue to insist unscientifically that Egypt, the massive culture that essentially dominated the Mediterranean for centuries, had little to no influence on Christianity.
As we know from the enormous amount of evidence I collected in my book Christ in Egypt
, there are many parallels between the Egyptian religion and Christianity - some of them quite stunning. Those who have read my work also know that many Egyptologists themselves have noted these correspondences, and some of them were so certain of a relationship that they tried to prove the Egyptians had anticipated Christianity.
To argue against this idea - especially if one is supposedly a mythicist who contends that Jesus Christ is a mythical figure - represents ignorance of the subject matter, including the numerous opinions of these Egyptologists about supposed "Christian" ideas appearing in the Egyptian religion and mythology.
Here I will present a sampling of commentary by a number of well-known and respected Egyptologists
(and others) dating back a couple of hundred years to the present.
Let me begin:
"...it is not improbable that even early Christian texts were influenced by ideas and images from the New Kingdom religious books." Dr. Erik Hornung
--Renowned Egyptologist Dr. Erik Hornung, The Valley of the Kings
, a professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel from 1967 to 1998, has been called "the world's leading authority
" on the ancient Egyptian religious texts.
At this point, need I really say more? Nevertheless, I will...
Another Egyptologist Dr. Siegfried Morenz, a director of the Institute of Egyptology at the University of Leipzig, is likewise to the point (Egyptian Religion
"The influence of Egyptian religion on posterity is mainly felt through Christianity and its antecedents."
Furthermore, in his book The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West
(73), Dr. Hornung summarizes:
Notwithstanding its superficial rejection of everything pagan, early Christianity was deeply indebted to ancient Egypt
. In particular, the lively picture of the ancient Egyptian afterlife left traces in Christian texts; thus, among the Copts, and later in Islam, we encounter a fiery hell quite like that of the Egyptians… The descensus [descent] of Jesus, which played no role in the early church, was adopted into the official Credo after 359, thanks to apocryphal legends that again involved Egypt. Christ became the sun in the realm of the dead, for his descent into the netherworld had its ultimate precursor in the nightly journey of the ancient Egyptian sun god Re
I cited this book in CIE over 40 times - there's much more there about the relationship between Christianity and the Egyptian religion. Notice the subtitle: "Its Impact on the West" - the entire book
is designed to demonstrate how Egypt influenced "the West," i.e., Christendom
As part of this impact on the West, which includes Rome, Hornung (SLE, 70) discusses the Egyptian religion's inroads into the highest strata of Roman society during the time of the Christian effort:
Claudius 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 Suetonius, Otho (69 C.E.) was the first Roman emperor to participate publicly in the cult of Isis. Notwithstanding his well-known stinginess, Vespasian 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.
There is much more about the Egyptian influence throughout the Roman Empire during the period in question, a substantial amount of which I provide in Christ in Egypt
In Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt
(115-6), respected German Egyptologist Dr. Jan Assman
- a professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg from 1976 to 2003, currently at the University of Konstanz - remarks:
"Salvation" and "eternal life" are Christian concepts, and we might think that the Egyptian myth can all too easily be viewed through the lens of Christian tradition. On the contrary, in my opinion, Christian myth is itself thoroughly stamped by Egyptian tradition, by the myth of Isis and Osiris, which from the very beginning had to do with salvation and eternal life. It thus seems legitimate to me to reconstruct the Egyptian symbolism with the help of Christian concepts. As with Orpheus and Eurydice, the constellation of Isis and Osiris can also be compared with Mary and Jesus. The scene of the Pieta, in which Mary holds the corpse of the crucified Jesus on her lap and mourns, is a comparable depiction of the body-centered intensity of female grief, in which Mary is assisted by Mary Magdalene, just as Isis is assisted by Nephthys. Jesus also descended into the realm of death, though he did not remain there... Osiris remained in the netherworld, but he was resurrected and alive...
Note the phrase "Christian myth
" here. Dr. Assman appears to know what he is looking at. But, how dare he engage in such comparative-religion speculation! Let us excoriate him and sully Assman's good name! How sloppy! What method is he using?! [/sarc]
Regarding the title of his article "The Baptism of the Pharaoh," Sir Dr. Alan H. Gardiner
, one of the "premier" British Egyptologists of his day, remarks:
The analogy of our rite to that of Christian baptism is close enough to justify the title given to this article. In both cases a symbolic cleansing by means of water serves as initiation into a properly legitimated religious life.
Let us castigate this esteemed Egyptologist for making such a comparative-religion analogy! Quel parallelomaniaque
! (Note the apologetic tone, however, that even this highly regarded Egyptologist must make to NT scholars and theologians, so as not to offend the sensibilities of the faithful.)
To insist that such a correlation in important doctrine between these highly intertwined religious cults is either non-existent or unimportant ranks as unscientific.
In his book Akhenaten and the Religion of Light
(13-14), in discussing earlier renowned Egyptologist Dr. James H. Breasted and amateur Egyptologist Sir Arthur Weigall, Hornung remarks:
...[Breasted] noted the modernity of Akhenaten's teaching and its anticipation of Christian attitudes and beliefs...
Arthur Weigall, the first biographer of this religious innovator, [said of Akhenaten] he established a "religion so pure that we must compare it to Christianity in order to discover its faults"... Weigall otherwise stresses that no other religion so closely resembles Christianity, and he compares the icon of the sun disk with its rays to the Christian cross and the Great Hymn to the Aten to Psalm 104...
...Thomas Mann...succumbed to the parallels with Christianity and attempted to categorize Akhenaten as an early Christ figure.
(Note that Hornung's comment about Mann "succumbing" to Christian parallels concerns only the biographical material about Akhenaten, not the whole field of Christian origins vis-a-vis Egyptian religion, as his numerous other comments concerning associations demonstrate).
On p. 15, Hornung discusses Sigmund Freud:
...In his late work Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud characterized Moses as an Egyptian who transmitted Akhenaten's religion to the tribes of Israel, and even in Islam there are voices that lay claim to Akhenaten as a precursor.
As we can see, there is abundant precedent from numerous quarters suggesting Egyptian influence on Christianity (and its precursor Judaism). What's this? Egyptologist Dr. Assman evidently concurs!
Assman suggests that the ancient Egyptian religion had a more significant influence on Judaism than is generally acknowledged.
We see what happens to those who do
acknowledge a more significant influence - the ranks close and the insults are hurled.
As concerns an earlier generation, Sir Dr. E.A. Wallis Budge was a well-respected Egyptologist who ran the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum. Some of his work is naturally outdated, as much has happened since his time. This outdated material largely revolves around dictionaries and discoveries that have occurred in the past century. Budge's work was voluminous, and his tackling of the Egyptian religion remains quite valuable. He is one of the scholars who was so astonished by the Egypto-Christian parallels that he thought the Christian religion was the fulfillment of the Egyptian promise.
Here is just one quote out of many that Budge made concerning the blatantly obvious correspondences between the Egyptian religion and Christianity (Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life
In Osiris the Christian Egyptians found the prototype of Christ, and in the pictures and statues of Isis suckling her son Horus, they perceived the prototype of the Virgin Mary and her Child. Never did Christianity find elsewhere in the world a people whose minds were so thoroughly well prepared to receive its doctrines as the Egyptians.
Here's another quote by Egyptologist Budge (Egyptian Tales and Romances
The Christian Trinity ousted the old triads of gods, Osiris and Horus were represented by our Lord Jesus Christ, Isis by the Virgin Mary, Set the god of evil by Diabolus [Satan]…and the various Companies of the Gods by the Archangels, and so on.
And again, we hear from Budge (The Gods of Egypt
, I, xv-xvi):
...at the last, when [Osiris's] cult disappeared before the religion of the Man Christ, the Egyptians who embraced Christianity found that the moral system of the old cult and that of the new religion were so similar, and the promises of resurrection and immortality in each so much alike, that they transferred their allegiance from Osiris to Jesus of Nazareth without difficulty. Moreover, Isis and the child Horus were straightway identified with Mary the Virgin and her Son, and in the apocryphal literature of the first few centuries which followed the evangelization of Egypt, several of the legends about Isis and her sorrowful wanderings were made to centre round the Mother of Christ. Certain of the attributes of the sister goddesses of Isis were also ascribed to her, and, like the goddess Neith of Sais, she was declared to possess perpetual virginity. Certain of the Egyptian Christian Fathers gave to the Virgin the title 'Theotokos,' or ‘Mother of God,’ forgetting, apparently, that it was an exact translation of neter mut, a very old and common title of Isis.
Budge's Egyptoparallelomania continues ("The Cult of Isis and the Worship of the Virgin Mary compared,” Legends of Our Lady Mary
It has been well said that the Egyptians were better prepared to receive and accept Christianity than any of the nations round about them. For thousands of years before St. Mark came to Alexandria to preach the Gospel of his Master Christ, the Egyptians believed in Osiris the Man-god who raised himself from the dead. He was held to possess the power of bestowing immortality upon his followers because he had triumphed over Death, and had vanquished the Powers of Darkness. He was the Judge of souls and the supreme lord of the Judgment of the Dead; he was all-wise, all-knowing, all-just, and his decrees were final and absolute. No man could hope to dwell with him in his kingdom unless he had lived a life of moral excellence upon earth, and the only passports to his favour were truth-speaking, honest intent, and the observation of the commands of the Law (Maat), coupled with charity, alms-giving and humane actions...,
Here is yet another Egyptologist who points out Egyptian
priority of "Judeo-Christian" concepts: Dr. Ogden Goelet, a professor of Egyptian language and culture at New York and Columbia Universities. In his well-known edition of (The Egyptian Book of the Dead
, 18), Goelet states:
"The Book of the Dead promised resurrection to all mankind, as a reward for righteous living, long before Judaism and Christianity embraced that concept."
To assert that Judaism and Christianity "embraced" the notion indicates Goelet believes the idea was passed along from the Egyptian religion to Judaism and Christianity.
In this same regard, Dr. James S. Curl, a professor emeritus at the Queen's University of Belfast, remarks (The Egyptian Revival
The Christian religion, it might be proposed, owes as much to the Nile as it does to the Jordan, and for the Church Alexandria should be at least as important as Jerusalem (whereas Rome absorbed influences from both cities). In both Western and Eastern iconography the attributes of Isis survived. Coptic stelai show the Mother and Child, identified as Christian by the Greek crosses on either side of the head, but the basic iconography of the image is that of Isis and Horus, translated into Mary and Jesus....
(Curl is not an Egyptologist, but since he has a PhD he must be right, according to the "logic" of credentialists.)
In this same regard, another professional scholar, Dr. Richard A. Gabriel, concludes (Jesus the Egyptian
...the principles and precepts of the Osiran theology of Egypt are virtually identical in content and application to the principles and precepts of Christianity as they present themselves in the Jesus saga.
(Gabriel is a historian, so also by credentialist "logic," we must believe him uncritically.)
Egyptologist Dr. Bojana Mosjov summarizes the Christian effort nicely, bringing it all back to Alexandria, which is, I contend, the crucible of Christianity (Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God
It was in Roman Alexandria (30 BC-AD 394) that the new Christian religion blossomed, inspired by the writings of the Egyptian, Greek and Jewish philosophers.
As we can see, there is quite a bit of opinion by Egyptologists that Christianity was significantly influenced by the Egyptian religion.
To insist there is no such influence and to single me out with bilious anti-Egypt attacks - as if I just made it all up - represents not scholarship but petulance.
As another example, on p. 75
, Hornung writes:
...The Christian slayer of the dragon had its model in the triumph of Horus over Seth, and there was a smooth transition from the image of the nursing Isis, Isis lactans, to that of Maria lactans. The miraculous birth of Jesus could be viewed as analogous to that of Horus, whom Isis conceived posthumously from Osiris, and Mary was closely connected with Isis by many other share characteristics....
On p. 60, Hornung states:
There was an obvious analogy between the Horus child and the baby Jesus and the care they received from their sacred mothers; long before Christianity, Isis had borne the epithet "mother of the god."
On p. 76, Hornung comments:
Devotion to the folk god Bes was especially tenacious. Amulets bearing his image have been found in Christian graves, and Bes and Christ are equated in a Coptic magical papyrus...
On another amulet, one side depicts the head of Christ and scenes from the New Testament, and the other a winged, youthful god (Horus-Shed)... There was also an association of the passion of Jesus with traditions regarding Osiris, especially in the Gospel of Nicodemus, with its detailed description of a descent into Hades.
Many legends grew up around the sojourn of Jesus and his parents in Egypt... He was greeted by dragons and lindworms, whom He affectionately caressed. He causes His mother to wade through a stream without getting her feet wet, commanded a salted fish to leap back into the water, healed the sick with the touch of his diaper, bade graven images to fall from their columns, and so forth. Entirely "ancient Egyptian" was the miracle of the tree, in which a palm bowed down before Mary and her child, so that they might conveniently eat of its fruits, just as the goddess in tombs of the New Kingdom had offered her gifts to the deceased. These legends lie outside of the "canonical" gospels, but they were often illustrated in Christian art of the late Middle Ages...
Naturally enough, Coptic Christians had many legends about Jesus' stay in their land....
As early as Origen's Contra Celsus (I, 28), we encounter the claim that it was in Egypt, and specifically as an adult laborer, that Jesus had learned all the magical arts with which he worked miracles and on which he based his divinity. This tradition also occurred in early rabbinic literature, but it was of course suppressed in official Christianity, and it was Morton Smith who did the service of shedding fresh light on this "Egyptian" background of Jesus' deeds through his careful research. In his book Jesus the Magician (1978), he demonstrated how motifs from Graeco-Egyptian...
So, why are the Coptic Christian legends of Jesus in Egypt "natural enough?" Could it be because there is so much correspondence between Christianity and the Egyptian religion?
Notice how Hornung considers Smith's research to be "careful" - will we hear shrieks and rants about how sloppy the scholarship of these various scholars is, or is that irrational and false smear strictly reserved for me, because I dare follow up on these scholars' leads and dig even deeper?
(Funny how people who make egregious errors turn around and attack the individuals who discover their errors, calling them
"sloppy!" Note also how meticulously I cite my research, with numerous sources, including primary sources as well as a variety of translations - apparently that's considered "sloppy," but making erroneous contentions about subjects one could find even on Wikipedia, that's not "sloppy!" You know the old adage about the three fingers pointing back at you when you are pointing at someone else?
Here's another opinion: "D.M. Murdock is a genius. Her scholarship on this subject is impeccable and has conducted the most thorough research I've ever read." --David Kim. Note the phrase "I've ever read" - he's actually read
my work before pretending to be an expert on it.)
Tying this all into my next project - an almost-finished lengthy review/summary of Buddhist scholar Dr. Michael Lockwood's anthology Buddhism's Relation to Christianity
- in SLE (3), Hornung states:
To be sure, even in antiquity, India also served as a model of the esoteric…Neith-Isis's perpetual virginity and the Sais inscription
And here we go again with all the fracas over the pre-Christian virgin birth - seems to be a difficult concept to comprehend. I would highly recommend the fantastic scholarly study by Dr. Marguerite Rigoglioso entitled, Virgin Mothers of Antiquity
, in which she discusses the virgin-mother status of the goddess Neith, whose temple of Sais has been discussed many times here and elsewhere. In any case, Budge is an Egyptologist
who likewise perceived the Neith-Isis temple inscription at Sais to reflect the perpetual virginity
of that goddess. Highlighting a Budge quote provided above:
Certain of the attributes of the sister goddesses of Isis were also ascribed to [Mary], and, like the goddess Neith of Sais, she was declared to possess perpetual virginity.
(This subject is Comparative Religion 101, folks)
Here's a great quote from Jan Assman, concerning the story by Diodorus and Plutarch of Isis inseminating herself with Osiris's replaced phallus. In Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt
(25), Assman says:
The Egyptian texts, which seldom mention this scene, know nothing of this detail.
And then there's this old standby, from Egyptologist Dr. Reginald E. Witt, a professor at the University of London (Isis in the Ancient World
The Egyptian goddess who was equally 'the Great Virgin' (hwnt) and 'Mother of the God' was the object of the very same praise bestowed upon her successor [Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus].
Again, I provide much more information on the VIRGIN-MOTHERHOOD OF ISIS
, for those who care to follow up on this subject. This beaten horse is already long dead, however.
Elsewhere, Dr. Witt dares to make many other comparisons - horrors! - as I relate in Christ in Egypt
...concerning Isis and Mary, in Isis in the Ancient World
, Witt states:
In Hopfner's invaluable collection of the literary sources, Isis needs more pages of the Index than any other name. A brief glance at her attributes as there listed reveals her sharing titles with the Blessed Virgin whom Catholic Christianity has ever revered as Mother of God. Some of these resemblances may be set aside as [sic] once as commonplace. Yet so many are the parallels that an unprejudiced mind must be struck with the thought that cumulatively the portraits are alike. Indeed, one of the standard encyclopedias of classical mythology specifically deals with "Isis identified with the Virgin Mary."
Let us observe a few of the resemblances. Isis and Osiris, as we have so often seen, are mythologically interfused. In the language of the Roman Church the Blessed Virgin Mary is "sister and spouse of God: sister of Christ." Christian writers identify Sarapis with Joseph and then make Isis "wife of Joseph." Like her heathen forebear the Catholic Madonna wears a diadem. She too is linked with agricultural fertility...
Witt continues with a long list of comparisons between Mary and not only Isis but also other goddesses, such as Juno and Minerva. The list of parallels, in fact, goes on for several pages and includes both the Christian and Egyptian figures being at once "the Great Virgin" and "Mother of God." Witt further remarks:
Convincing examples can be found of the influence on Christian iconography of the figure of Horus/Harpocrates, both in his mother’s company and on his own. The most obvious parallels appear when we compare the ways in which the sacred Mother and Child of Egypt are portrayed and the types of the Theotokos/Madonna together with the infant Jesus in Byzantine and Italian ecclesiastical art...
Witt proceeds to name several pieces of art demonstrating the obvious link between the earlier Egyptian gods and the later Christian characters.
[To be continued - as anyone who has read CIE knows, there is much more of the same... I can go on all day like this - it's like eating peanuts!]