A Pre-Christian 'God' on a Cross?
I am working on a lengthy review and commentary on Francesco Carotta's paper on the Orpheos Bakkikos gemstone
popularized on the cover of Freke and Gandy's Jesus Mysteries
. In brief, Carotta demonstrates that the artifact likely is pre-Christian and has nothing to do with Jesus (except, we maintain, as representing an archetype used in the gospel story and Christian iconography).
In this study, I'm including the original line drawing of the artifact by August Becker, as found in Robert Eisler's Orpheus
The engraving shows the crucified Christ hanging on a cross, the astro-mystical interpretation of which is made evident by the superposition of the crescent and the seven stars; most probably the Pleiads or "Lyre of Orpheus," are meant. Then the cross itself is probably to be identified with the [cruciform stars], the main stars of Orion, whom the ancients...sometimes held to be the constellation of Dionysos. The inscription "Orpheus Bakkikos" is intended to identify the crucified Messiah with the "Orpheus" of the Bacchic mysteries. The ring-stone, which certainly belonged to an Orphic initiate, who had turned Christian without giving up completely his old religious beliefs, is attributed to the 3rd or 4th century A.D. It cannot be much earlier in any case considering the late introduction of the crucifixus type into Christian art.
Note that Eisler was a defender of historical Christianity and that, again and contra
his opinion here, the artifact is probably reflective of the Orphic cult, before
Christ allegedly existed. Note also the important discussion by Eisler of the "astro-mysticism" or "astro-mythology" - basically the same as astrolatry, astral religion, stellar theology or astrotheology
- which gives reason for the existence of the artifact without need for a Christian explanation or context.
I should be done with my review/commentary shortly. My conclusion is that Carotta is correct about the pre-Christian and non-Christian nature of this artifact, which he shows may have been created in commemoration of the death of Julius Caesar. Even if Eisler is correct and the artifact in reality represents a ringstone of an Orphic initiate, it could still belong to Julius, who was the "New Dionysus" and likely an initiate into the famous Eleusinian mysteries
, which revolved significantly around Demeter, Persephone and their grandson/son Dionysus/Bacchus, the highly important and very ancient god of the vine and wine.
As we know, the legendary Orpheus was depicted as a proselytizer of the Dionysian religion, traveling the same basic "brotherhood" route as Paul of Tarsus was portrayed to have taken in his journeys around the eastern Mediterranean. Hence, this artifact incorporates both Orpheus and Dionysus/Bacchus or, in the misspelling on the ornament, Bakkikos.
Why suffer from Egyptoparallelophobia, when you can read Christ in Egypt
? Try it - you'll like it: