4/30/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Things are getting worse and worse!

That is one of the lines that I myself used as a dispensational fundamentalist. I was taught and believed that the world situation was getting worse than ever before in history in anticipation of the coming of the Lord. I would hear about the general moral decay in society, or the impending doom of nuclear holocaust, or about wars and rumors of wars, or the increase in famines, earthquakes, and so on. I am sure that any Christian, or Ex-Christian reading this knows exactly what I am talking about.

Is it true? Are things really getting worse and worse? If you say yes, what countries or time periods are you comparing to make that assessment?

For instance, compared to the world of the United States in 1930, people live longer, Polio is no longer a threat to health, Pneumonia has a cure, many types of penicillin are available to wipe out sickness now which led to innumerable fatalities in 1930. Food is plentiful in the US now compared to 1930. Unemployment is not even an issue today, compared to the problems in 1930. The prospect of another world war was on the horizon in 1930, and who would win was a definite mystery. We are much more secure in that regard today. People generally life longer healthier lives with the average life span greatly increased over the potential longevity in 1930.

In all fairness to the proponents of the idea that things are so much worse than they were in the past, perhaps they are not talking about the recent past. Perhaps they mean that things are so much worse than the were in 1300 A.D. The typical peasant family of the aptly-named Dark Ages lived in a one-room, dirt-floor hovel, with a hole in the thatched roof to let out the smoke of the central fire. The floor was strewn with hay or rushes, easy havens for lice and vermin. Garbage accumulated within. If they were lucky, the family had a chamber pot, though more likely they relieved themselves in the corner of the hovel or in the mire and muck outside.

Water was too precious to use for anything except drinking and cooking, so people rarely bathed. Heck, they barely changed clothes from one season to another, wearing the same set every day, perhaps piling on more rags for warmth.

These are the conditions which spawned the infamous Black Plague, killing an estimated one third of the European population.
The first of several waves hit England in 1348, caused by flea bites spread by lice that dwelled on host black rats. They, in turn, fed on the garbage and excrement of the masses. London became largely deserted. The King and Queen and other rich people fled to the countryside. The poor were the greatest sufferers.

Panic, death and despair followed the abandonment of farms and towns. Wrote William of Dene, a monk of Rochester in Kent, England, Men and women carried their own children on their shoulders to the church and threw them into a common pit. From these pits such an appalling stench was given off that scarcely anyone dared to walk beside the cemeteries, so marked a deficiency of labors and workmen that more than a third of the land in the whole realm was left to."

So bad was the "Black Death," the Great Fire of London in 1666 can be viewed as a blessing in disguise. Though it killed thousands of people, the holocaust also consumed garbage, muck and black rats, effectively ending the plague.

Wrote the eminent English historian, Charles Creighton: "The Crusaders of the 11th - 13th centuries were not defeated so much by the scimitars of the Saracens as by the hostile bacteria of dysentery and other epidemics. "

The summer of the first Crusade in 1090 was extraordinarily hot as the ill-prepared and rag-tag "army" of men and camp followers went to war with little more than the clothes on their backs-confident that the Lord would provide for their needs in such a holy cause. They denuded the land of trees and bushes in the quest for nourishment. Hampered by lack of fresh water and contaminated containers, they trudged along to their destiny, relieving themselves along the wayside or in the fields.

Dysentery hit the women and children first, and then the troops. More than 100,00 died plus almost 2,500 German reinforcements whose bodies remained unburied.

Typhus fever is another disease born of bad sanitation. It has come under many headings, including "jail fever" or "ship fever," because it is so common among men in pent-up, putrid surroundings. Transmitted by lice that dwell in human feces, the disease is highly contagious.

Napoleon lost thousands of his men to typhus in Russia - as did the Russians who caught it from the enemy. Many historians believe that Napoleon would have won were it not for the might of his opponents "General Winter, General Famine and General Typhus."
French ships were notorious for their filthy and fever-ridden sailors. One such French squadron left its soiled clothing and blankets behind near Halifax, Nova Scotia, when they returned to Europe in 1746, thinking they could dispel their own plague. Their infected blankets wiped out a nation of Indians.

Typhoid fever, a slightly different ailment than typhus, involves a Salmonella bacillus that is found in the feces and urine of man. The symptoms are so similar to typhus that the two were not differentiated until 1837. Prince Albert died from typhoid in 1861. His wife, Queen Victoria, had built-in in-immunity because of a previous siege. Good thing, because she is said to have prostrated herself in grief across the dead body of her beloved husband.

It has to be admitted by any thinking westerner that many diseases have been contained. While the struggle continues as new strains and scares develop, we have so much more hope of overcoming disease in our day than those of past generations could even dream of.

But what about crime? Crime is on the increase in direct proportion to our lack of morality and religious fervor as a society. Okay lets look at some more recent information: Click Here As can be seen from this chart, Florida is having a marked decrease in crime. The following chart shows the recent trends in the murder rate for New York can be viewedClick Here And one more study in the declining rate of murder in general: HERE.

Are things getting worse and worse? What do you think?

4/27/2003                                                                                       View Comments

The Uniqueness of Christianity

Heavenly HostWhen I was a Christian, I was constantly told that Christianity was unique and unlike any other religion. Although no other religion was every closely examined in any Church or Christian book recommended to me, still this was the message I was continually expected to accept.

Below is a prayer of praise written in 240 B.C to OSIRIS, god of the Egyptians. The prayer is presented here verbatim without any alterations to the original text. As you read the words, replace the various names of deity with Christian terms and see how unique Christianity really is when compared to the competing religions thriving 2000 years ago.

"Companies of the GODs" and the like could be "Heavenly Host" or "Angels". "Thou are the Soul of Ra" could be "Thou art the bright and morning star" or perhaps, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." You get the idea.

Is Christianity really all that unique? What do you think?

THE PAPYRUS OF ANI - 240 BC
(THE EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD)

Translated by E.A. Wallis Budge

HYMN TO OSIRIS

"Homage to thee, Osiris, Lord of eternity, King of the Gods, whose names are manifold, whose forms are holy, thou being of hidden form in the temples, whose Ka is holy. Thou art the governor of Tattu (Busiris), and also the mighty one in Sekhem (Letopolis). Thou art the Lord to whom praises are ascribed in the nome of Ati, thou art the Prince of divine food in Anu.

Thou art the Lord who is commemorated in Maati, the Hidden Soul, the Lord of Qerrt (Elephantine), the Ruler supreme in White Wall (Memphis). Thou art the Soul of Ra, his own body, and hast thy place of rest in Henensu (Herakleopolis). Thou art the beneficent one, and art praised in Nart. Thou makest thy soul to be raised up. Thou art the Lord of the Great House in Khemenu (Hermopolis). Thou art the mighty one of victories in Shas-hetep, the Lord of eternity, the Governor of Abydos. The path of his throne is in Ta-tcheser (a part of Abydos). Thy name is established in the mouths of men.

Thou art the substance of Two Lands (Egypt). Thou art Tem, the feeder of Kau (Doubles), the Governor of the Companies of the gods. Thou art the beneficent Spirit among the spirits. The god of the Celestial Ocean (Nu) draweth from thee his waters. Thou sendest forth the north wind at eventide, and breath from thy nostrils to the satisfaction of thy heart. Thy heart reneweth its youth, thou producest the.... The stars in the celestial heights are obedient unto thee, and the great doors of the sky open themselves before thee. Thou art he to whom praises are ascribed in the southern heaven, and thanks are given for thee in the northern heaven. The imperishable stars are under thy supervision, and the stars which never set are thy thrones. Offerings appear before thee at the decree of Keb.

The Companies of the Gods praise thee, and the gods of the Tuat (Other World) smell the earth in paying homage to thee. The uttermost parts of the earth bow before thee, and the limits of the skies entreat thee with supplications when they see thee. The holy ones are overcome before thee, and all Egypt offereth thanksgiving unto thee when it meeteth Thy Majesty.

Thou art a shining Spirit-Body, the governor of Spirit-Bodies; permanent is thy rank, established is thy rule. Thou art the well-doing Sekhem (Power) of the Company of the Gods, gracious is thy face, and beloved by him that seeth it. Thy fear is set in all the lands by reason of thy perfect love, and they cry out to thy name making it the first of names, and all people make offerings to thee. Thou art the lord who art commemorated in heaven and upon earth.

Many are the cries which are made to thee at the Uak festival, and with one heart and voice Egypt raiseth cries of joy to thee.

"Thou art the Great Chief, the first among thy brethren, the Prince of the Company of the Gods, the stablisher of Right and Truth throughout the World, the Son who was set on the great throne of his father Keb. Thou art the beloved of thy mother Nut, the mighty one of valour, who overthrew the Sebau-fiend. Thou didst stand up and smite thine enemy, and set thy fear in thine adversary. Thou dost bring the boundaries of the mountains. Thy heart is fixed, thy legs are set firm. Thou art the heir of Keb and of the sovereignty of the Two Lands (Egypt). He (Keb) hath seen his splendours, he hath decreed for him the guidance of the world by thy hand as long as times endure.

Thou hast made this earth with thy hand, and the waters, and the winds, and the vegetation, and all the cattle, and all the feathered fowl, and all the fish, and all the creeping things, and all the wild animals therof. The desert is the lawful possession of the son of Nut. The Two Lands (Egypt) are content to crown thee upon the throne of thy father, like Ra.

"Thou rollest up into the horizon, thou hast set light over the darkness, thou sendest forth air from thy plumes, and thou floodest the Two Lands like the Disk at daybreak. Thy crown penetrateth the height of heaven, thou art the companion of the stars, and the guide of every god. Thou art beneficent in decree and speech, the favoured one of the Great Company of the Gods, and the beloved of the Little Company of the Gods.

His sister [Isis] hath protected him, and hath repulsed the fiends, and turned aside calamities (of evil). She uttered the spell with the magical power of her mouth. Her tongue was perfect, and it never halted at a word. Beneficent in command and word was Isis, the woman of magical spells, the advocate of her brother. She sought him untiringly, she wandered round and round about this earth in sorrow, and she alighted not without finding him.

She made light with her feathers, she created air with her wings, and she uttered the death wail for her brother. She raised up the inactive members of whose heart was still, she drew from him his essence, she made an heir, she reared the child in loneliness, and the place where he was not known, and he grew in strength and stature, and his hand was mighty in the House of Keb. The Company of the Gods rejoiced, rejoiced, at the coming of Horus, the son of Osiris, whose heart was firm, the triumphant, the son of Isis, the heir of Osiris."

4/26/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Did Jesus Christ Really Live?

by Marshall Gauvin

Laugh it Up Scientific inquiry into the origins of Christianity begins to-day with the question: "Did Jesus Christ really live?" Was there a man named Jesus, who was called the Christ, living in Palestine nineteen centuries ago, of whose life and teachings we have a correct account in the New Testament? The orthodox idea that Christ was the son of God -- God himself in human form -- that he was the creator of the countless millions of glowing suns and wheeling worlds that strew the infinite expanse of the universe; that the forces of nature were the servants of his will and changed their courses at his command -- such an idea has been abandoned by every independent thinker in the world -- by every thinker who relies on reason and experience rather than mere faith -- by every man of science who places the integrity of nature above the challenge of ancient religious tales.

Not only has the divinity of Christ been given up, but his existence as a man is being more and more seriously questioned. Some of the ablest scholars of the world deny that he ever lived at all. A commanding literature dealing with the inquiry, intense in its seriousness and profound and thorough in its research, is growing up in all countries, and spreading the conviction that Christ is a myth. The question is one of tremendous importance. For the Freethinker, as well as for the Christian, it is of the weightiest significance. The Christian religion has been and is a mighty fact in the world. For good or for ill, it has absorbed for many centuries the best energies of mankind. It has stayed the march of civilization, and made martyrs of some of the noblest men and women of the race: and it is to-day the greatest enemy of knowledge, of freedom, of social and industrial improvement, and of the genuine brotherhood of mankind. The progressive forces of the world are at war with this Asiatic superstition, and this war will continue until the triumph of truth and freedom is complete. The question, "Did Jesus Christ Really Live?" goes to the very root of the conflict between reason and faith; and upon its determination depends, to some degree, the decision as to whether religion or humanity shall rule the world.

Whether Christ did, or did not live, has nothing at all to do with what the churches teach, or with what we believe, It is wholly a matter of evidence. It is a question of science. The question is -- what does history say? And that question must be settled in the court of historical criticism. If the thinking world is to hold to the position that Christ was a real character, there must be sufficient evidence to warrant that belief. If no evidence for his existence can be found; if history returns the verdict that his name is not inscribed upon her scroll, if it be found that his story was created by art and ingenuity, like the stories of fictitious heroes, he will have to take his place with the host of other demigods whose fancied lives and deeds make up the mythology of the world.

What, then, is the evidence that Jesus Christ lived in this world as a man? The authorities relied upon to prove the reality of Christ are the four Gospels of the New Testament -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These Gospels, and these alone, tell the story of his life. Now we know absolutely nothing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, apart from what is said of them in the Gospels. Moreover, the Gospels themselves do not claim to have been written by these men. They are not called "The Gospel of Matthew," or "The Gospel of Mark," but "The Gospel According to Matthew," "The Gospel According to Mark," "The Gospel According to Luke," and "The Gospel According to John." No human being knows who wrote a single line in one of these Gospels. No human being knows when they were written, or where. Biblical scholarship has established the fact that the Gospel of Mark is the oldest of the four. The chief reasons for this conclusion are that this Gospel is shorter, simpler, and more natural, than any of the other three. It is shown that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were enlarged from the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark knows nothing of the virgin birth, of the Sermon on the Mount, of the Lord's prayer, or of other important facts of the supposed life of Christ. These features were added by Matthew and Luke.

But the Gospel of Mark, as we have it, is not the original Mark. In the same way that the writers of Matthew and Luke copied and enlarged the Gospel of Mark, Mark copied and enlarged an earlier document which is called the "original Mark." This original source perished in the early age of the Church. What it was, who wrote it, where it was written, nobody knows. The Gospel of John is admitted by Christian scholars to be an unhistorical document. They acknowledge that it is not a life of Christ, but an interpretation of him; that it gives us an idealized and spiritualized picture of what Christ is supposed to have been, and that it is largely composed of the speculations of Greek philosophy. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are called the "Synoptic Gospels," on the one hand, and the Gospel of John, on the other, stand at opposite extremes of thought. So complete is the difference between the teaching of the first three Gospels and that of the fourth, that every critic admits that if Jesus taught as the Synoptics relate, he could not possibly have taught as John declares. Indeed, in the first three Gospels and in the fourth, we meet with two entirely different Christs. Did I say two? It should be three; for, according to Mark, Christ was a man; according to Matthew and Luke, he was a demigod; while John insists that he was God himself.

There is not the smallest fragment of trustworthy evidence to show that any of the Gospels were in existence, in their present form, earlier than a hundred years after the time at which Christ is supposed to have died. Christian scholars, having no reliable means by which to fix the date of their composition, assign them to as early an age as their calculations and their guesses will allow; but the dates thus arrived at are far removed from the age of Christ or his apostles. We are told that Mark was written some time after the year 70, Luke about 110, Matthew about 130, and John not earlier than 140 A.D. Let me impress upon you that these dates are conjectural, and that they are made as early as possible. The first historical mention of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, was made by the Christian Father, St. Irenaeus, about the year 190 A.D. The only earlier mention of any of the Gospels was made by Theopholis of Antioch, who mentioned the Gospel of John in 180 A.D.

There is absolutely nothing to show that these Gospels -- the only sources of authority as to the existence of Christ -- were written until a hundred and fifty years after the events they pretend to describe. Walter R. Cassels, the learned author of "Supernatural Religion," one of the greatest works ever written on the origins of Christianity, says: "After having exhausted the literature and the testimony bearing on the point, we have not found a single distinct trace of any of those Gospels during the first century and a half after the death of Christ." How can Gospels which were not written until a hundred and fifty years after Christ is supposed to have died, and which do not rest on any trustworthy testimony, have the slightest value as evidence that he really lived? History must be founded upon genuine documents or on living proof. Were a man of to-day to attempt to write the life of a supposed character of a hundred and fifty years ago, without any historical documents upon which to base his narrative, his work would not be a history, it would be a romance. Not a single statement in it could be relied upon.

Christ is supposed to have been a Jew, and his disciples are said to have been Jewish fishermen. His language, and the language of his followers must, therefore, have been Aramaic -- the popular language of Palestine in that age. But the Gospels are written in Greek -- every one of them. Nor were they translated from some other language. Every leading Christian scholar since Erasmus, four hundred years ago, has maintained that they were originally written in Greek. This proves that they were not written by Christ's disciples, or by any of the early Christians. Foreign Gospels, written by unknown men, in a foreign tongue, several generations after the death of those who are supposed to have known the facts -- such is the evidence relied upon to prove that Jesus lived.

But while the Gospels were written several generations too late to be of authority, the original documents, such as they were, were not preserved. The Gospels that were written in the second century no longer exist. They have been lost or destroyed. The oldest Gospels that we have are supposed to be copies of copies of copies that were made from those Gospels. We do not know who made these copies; we do not know when they were made; nor do we know whether they were honestly made. Between the earliest Gospels and the oldest existing manuscripts of the New Testament, there is a blank gulf of three hundred years. It is, therefore, impossible to say what the original Gospels contained.

There were many Gospels in circulation in the early centuries, and a large number of them were forgeries. Among these were the "Gospel of Paul," the Gospel of Bartholomew," the "Gospel of Judas Iscariot," the "Gospel of the Egyptians," the "Gospel or Recollections of Peter," the "Oracles or Sayings of Christ," and scores of other pious productions, a collection of which may still be read in "The Apocryphal New Testament." Obscure men wrote Gospels and attached the names of prominent Christian characters to them, to give them the appearance of importance. Works were forged in the names of the apostles, and even in the name of Christ. The greatest Christian teachers taught that it was a virtue to deceive and lie for the glory of the faith. Dean Milman, the standard Christian historian, says: "Pious fraud was admitted and avowed." The Rev. Dr. Giles writes: "There can be no doubt that great numbers of books were then written with no other view than to deceive." Professor Robertson Smith says: "There was an enormous floating mass of spurious literature created to suit party views." The early church was flooded with spurious religious writings. From this mass of literature, our Gospels were selected by priests and called the inspired word of God. Were these Gospels also forged? There is no certainty that they were not. But let me ask: If Christ was an historical character, why was it necessary to forge documents to prove his existence? Did anybody ever think of forging documents to prove the existence of any person who was really known to have lived? The early Christian forgeries are a tremendous testimony to the weakness of the Christian cause.

Spurious or genuine, let us see what the Gospels can tell us about the life of Jesus. Matthew and Luke give us the story of his genealogy. How do they agree? Matthew says there were forty-one generations from Abraham to Jesus. Luke says there were fifty-six. Yet both pretend to give the genealogy of Joseph, and both count the generations! Nor is this all. The Evangelists disagree on all but two names between David and Christ. These worthless genealogies show how much the New Testament writers knew about the ancestors of their hero.

If Jesus lived, he must have been born. When was he born? Matthew says he was born when Herod was King of Judea. Luke says he was born when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. He could not have been born during the administration of these tow rulers for Herod died in the year 4 B.C., and Cyrenius, who, in Roman history is Quirinius, did not become Governor of Syria until ten years later. Herod and Quirinius are separated by the whole reign of Archelaus, Herod's son. Between Matthew and Luke, there is, therefore, a contradiction of at least ten years, as to the time of Christ's birth. The fact is that the early Christians had absolutely no knowledge as to when Christ was born. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says: "Christians count one hundred and thirty-three contrary opinions of different authorities concerning the year the Messiah appeared on earth." Think of it -- one hundred and thirty-three different years, each one of which is held to be the year in which Christ came into the world. What magnificent certainty!

Towards the close of the eighteenth century, Antonmaria Lupi, a learned Jesuit, wrote a work to show that the nativity of Christ has been assigned to every month in the year, at one time or another.

Where was Christ born? According to the Gospels, he was habitually called "Jesus of Nazareth." The New Testament writers have endeavored to leave the impression that Nazareth of Galilee was his home town. The Synoptic Gospels represent that thirty years of his life were spent there. Notwithstanding this, Matthew declares that he was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of a prophecy in the Book of Micah. But the prophecy of Micah has nothing whatever to do with Jesus; it prophesies the coming of a military leader, not a divine teacher. Matthew's application of this prophecy to Christ strengthens the suspicion that his Gospel is not history, but romance. Luke has it that his birth occurred at Bethlehem, whither his mother had gone with her husband, to make the enrollment called for by Augustus Caesar. Of the general census mentioned by Luke, nothing is known in Roman history. But suppose such a census was taken. The Roman custom, when an enrollment was made, was that every man was to report at his place of residence. The head of the family alone made report. In no case was his wife, or any dependent, required to be with him. In the face of this established custom, Luke declares that Joseph left his home in Nazareth and crossed two provinces to go Bethlehem for the enrollment; and not only this, but that he had to be accompanied by his wife, Mary, who was on the very eve of becoming a mother. This surely is not history, but fable. The story that Christ was born at Bethlehem was a necessary part of the program which made him the Messiah, and the descendant of King David. The Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David; and by what Renan calls a roundabout way, his birth was made to take place there. The story of his birth in the royal city is plainly fictitious.

His home was Nazareth. He was called "Jesus of Nazareth"; and there he is said to have lived until the closing years of his life. Now comes the question -- Was there a city of Nazareth in that age? The Encyclopaedia Biblica, a work written by theologians, the greatest biblical reference work in the English language, says: "We cannot perhaps venture to assert positively that there was a city of Nazareth in Jesus' time." No certainty that there was a city of Nazareth! Not only are the supposed facts of the life of Christ imaginary, but the city of his birth and youth and manhood existed, so far as we know, only on the map of mythology. What amazing evidence to prove the reality of a Divine man! Absolute ignorance as to his ancestry; nothing whatever known of the time of his birth, and even the existence of the city where he is said to have been born, a matter of grave question!

After his birth, Christ, as it were, vanishes out of existence, and with the exception of a single incident recorded in Luke, we hear absolutely nothing of him until he has reached the age of thirty years. The account of his being found discussing with the doctors in the Temple at Jerusalem when he was but twelve years old, is told by Luke alone. The other Gospels are utterly ignorant of this discussion; and, this single incident excepted, the four Gospels maintain an unbroken silence with regard to thirty years of the life of their hero. What is the meaning of this silence? If the writers of the Gospels knew the facts of the life of Christ, why is it that they tell us absolutely nothing of thirty years of that life? What historical character can be named whose life for thirty years is an absolute blank to the world? If Christ was the incarnation of God, if he was the greatest teacher the world has known, if he came to cave mankind from everlasting pain -- was there nothing worth remembering in the first thirty years of his existence among men? The fact is that the Evangelists knew nothing of the life of Jesus, before his ministry; and they refrained from inventing a childhood, youth and early manhood for him because it was not necessary to their purpose.

Luke, however, deviated from the rule of silence long enough to write the Temple incident. The story of the discussion with the doctors in the Temple is proved to be mythical by all the circumstances that surround it. The statement that his mother and father left Jerusalem, believing that he was with them; that they went a day's journey before discovering that he was not in their company; and that after searching for three days, they found him in the Temple asking and answering questions of the learned Doctors, involves a series of tremendous improbabilities. Add to this the fact that the incident stands alone in Luke, surrounded by a period of silence covering thirty years; add further that none of the other writers have said a word of the child Jesus discussing with the scholars of their nation; and add again the unlikelihood that a child would appear before serious-minded men in the role of an intellectual champion and the fabulous character of the story becomes perfectly clear.

The Gospels know nothing of thirty years of Christ's life. What do they know of the last years of that life? How long did the ministry, the public career of Christ, continue? According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the public life of Christ lasted about a year. If John's Gospel is to be believed, his ministry covered about three years. The Synoptics teach that Christ's public work was confined almost entirely to Galilee, and that he went to Jerusalem only once, not long before his death. John is in hopeless disagreement with the other Evangelists as to the scene of Christ's labors. He maintains that most of the public life of Christ was spent in Judea, and that Christ was many times in Jerusalem. Now, between Galilee and Judea there was the province of Samaria. If all but the last few weeks of Christ's ministry was carried on in his native province of Galilee, it is certain that the greater part of that ministry was not spent in Judea, two provinces away.

John tells us that the driving of the money-changers from the Temple occurred at the beginning of Christ's ministry; and nothing is said of any serious consequences following it. But Matthew, Mark and Luke declare that the purification of the Temple took place at the close of his career, and that this act brought upon him the wrath of the priests, who sought to destroy him. Because of these facts, the Encyclopedia Biblica assures us that the order of events in the life of Christ, as given by the Evangelists, is contradictory and untrustworthy; that the chronological framework of the Gospels is worthless; and that the facts "show only too clearly with what lack of concern for historical precision the Evangelists write." In other words, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote, not what they knew, but what they imagined.

Christ is said to have been many times in Jerusalem. It is said that he preached daily in the Temple. He was followed by his twelve disciples, and by multitudes of enthusiastic men and women. On the one hand, the people shouted hosannas in his honor, and on the other, priests engaged him in discussion and sought to take his life. All this shows that he must have been well known to the authorities. Indeed, he must have been one of the best known men in Jerusalem. Why, then, was it necessary for the priests to bribe one of his disciples to betray him? Only an obscure man, whose identity was uncertain, or a man who was in hiding, would need to be betrayed. A man who appeared daily in the streets, who preached daily in the Temple, a man who was continually before the public eye, could have been arrested at any moment. The priests would not have bribed a man to betray a teacher whom everybody knew. If the accounts of Christ's betrayal are true, all the declarations about his public appearances in Jerusalem must be false.

Nothing could be more improbable than the story of Christ's crucifixion. The civilization of Rome was the highest in the world. The Romans were the greatest lawyers the world had ever known. Their courts were models of order and fairness. A man was not condemned without a trial; he was not handed to the executioner before being found guilty. And yet we are asked to believe that an innocent man was brought before a Roman court, where Pontius Pilate was Judge; that no charge of wrongdoing having been brought against him, the Judge declared that he found him innocent; that the mob shouted, "Crucify him; crucify him!" and that to please the rabble, Pilate commanded that the man who had done no wrong and whom he had found innocent, should be scourged, and then delivered him to the executioners to be crucified! Is it thinkable that the master of a Roman court in the days of Tiberius Caesar, having found a man innocent and declared him so, and having made efforts to save his life, tortured him of his own accord, and then handed him over to a howling mob to be nailed to a cross? A Roman court finding a man innocent and then crucifying him? Is that a picture of civilized Rome? Is that the Rome to which the world owes its laws? In reading the story of the Crucifixion, are we reading history or religious fiction? Surely not history.

On the theory that Christ was crucified, how shall we explain the fact that during the first eight centuries of the evolution of Christianity, Christian art represented a lamb, and not a man, as suffering on the cross for the salvation of the world? Neither the paintings in the Catacombs nor the sculptures on Christian tombs pictured a human figure on the cross. Everywhere a lamb was shown as the Christian symbol -- a lamb carrying a cross, a lamb at the foot of a cross, a lamb on a cross. Some figures showed the lamb with a human head, shoulders and arms, holding a cross in his hands -- the lamb of God in process of assuming the human form -- the crucifixion myth becoming realistic. At the close of the eighth century, Pope Hadrian I, confirming the decree of the sixth Synod of Constantinople, commanded that thereafter the figure of a man should take the place of a lamb on the cross. It took Christianity eight hundred years to develop the symbol of its suffering Savior. For eight hundred years, the Christ on the cross was a lamb. But if Christ was actually crucified, why was his place on the cross so long usurped by a lamb? In the light of history and reason, and in view of a lamb on the cross, why should we believe in the Crucifixion?

And let us ask, if Christ performed the miracles the New Testament describes, if he gave sight to blind men's eyes, if his magic touch brought youthful vigor to the palsied frame, if the putrefying dead at his command returned to life and love again -- why did the people want him crucified? Is it not amazing that a civilized people -- for the Jews of that age were civilized -- were so filled with murderous hate towards a kind and loving man who went about doing good, who preached forgiveness, cleansed the leprous, and raised the dead -- that they could not be appeased until they had crucified the noblest benefactor of mankind? Again I ask -- is this history, or is it fiction?

From the standpoint of the supposed facts, the account of the Crucifixion of Christ is as impossible as is the raising of Lazarus from the standpoint of nature. The simple truth is, that the four Gospels are historically worthless. They abound in contradictions, in the unreasonable, the miraculous and the monstrous. There is not a thing in them that can be depended upon as true, while there is much in them that we certainly know to be false.

The accounts of the virgin birth of Christ, of his feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes, of his cleansing the leprous, of his walking on the water, of his raising the dead, and of his own resurrection after his life had been destroyed, are as untrue as any stories that were ever told in this world. The miraculous element in the Gospels is proof that they were written by men, who did not know how to write history, or who were not particular as to the truth of what they wrote. The miracles of the Gospels were invented by credulity or cunning, and if the miracles were invented, how can we know that the whole history of Christ was not woven of the warp and woof of the imagination? Dr. Paul W. Schmiedel, Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Zurich, Switzerland, one of the foremost theologians of Europe, tells us in the Encyclopaedia Biblica, that there are only nine passages in the Gospels that we can depend upon as being the sayings of Jesus; and Professor Arthur Drews, Germany's greatest exponent of the doctrine that Christ is a myth, analyses these passages and shows that there is nothing in them that could not easily have been invented. That these passages are as unhistorical as the rest is also the contention of John M. Robertson, the eminent English scholar, who holds that Jesus never lived.

Let me make a startling disclosure. Let me tell you that the New Testament itself contains the strongest possible proof that the Christ of the Gospels was not a real character. The testimony of the Epistles of Paul demonstrates that the life story of Jesus is an invention. Of course, there is no certainty that Paul really lived. Let me quote a passage from the Encyclopaedia Biblica, relative to Paul: "It is true that the picture of Paul drawn by later times differs utterly in more or fewer of its details from the original. Legend has made itself master of his person. The simple truth has been mixed up with invention; Paul has become the hero of an admiring band of the more highly developed Christians." Thus Christian authority admits that invention has done its work in manufacturing at least in part, the life of Paul. In truth, the ablest Christian scholars reject all but our of the Pauline Epistles as spurious. Some maintain that Paul was not the author of any of them. The very existence of Paul is questionable.

But for the purpose of my argument, I am going to admit that Paul really lived; that he was a zealous apostle; and that all the Epistles are from his pen. There are thirteen of these Epistles. Some of them are lengthy; and they are acknowledged to be the oldest Christian writings. They were written long before the Gospels. If Paul really wrote them, they were written by a man who lived in Jerusalem when Christ is supposed to have been teaching there. Now, if the facts of the life of Christ were known in the first century of Christianity, Paul was one of the men who should have known them fully. Yet Paul acknowledges that he never saw Jesus; and his Epistles prove that he knew nothing about his life, his works, or his teachings.

In all the Epistles of Paul, there is not one word about Christ's virgin birth. The apostle is absolutely ignorant of the marvellous manner in which Jesus is said to have come into the world. For this silence, there can be only one honest explanation -- the story of the virgin birth had not yet been invented when Paul wrote. A large portion of the Gospels is devoted to accounts of the miracles Christ is said to have wrought. But you will look in vain through the thirteen Epistles of Paul for the slightest hint that Christ ever performed any miracles. Is it conceivable that Paul was acquainted with the miracles of Christ -- that he knew that Christ had cleansed the leprous, cast out devils that could talk, restored sight to the blind and speech to the dumb, and even raised the dead -- is it conceivable that Paul was aware of these wonderful things and yet failed to write a single line about them? Again, the only solution is that the accounts of the miracles wrought by Jesus had not yet been invented when Paul's Epistles were written.
Not only is Paul silent about the virgin birth and the miracles of Jesus, he is without the slightest knowledge of the teaching of Jesus. The Christ of the Gospels preached a famous sermon on a mountain: Paul knows nothing of it. Christ delivered a prayer now recited by the Christian world: Paul never heard of it. Christ taught in parables: Paul is utterly unacquainted with any of them. Is not this astonishing? Paul, the greatest writer of early Christianity, the man who did more than any other to establish the Christian religion in the world -- that is, if the Epistles may be trusted -- is absolutely ignorant of the teaching of Christ. In all of his thirteen Epistles he does not quote a single saying of Jesus.

Paul was a missionary. He was out for converts. Is it thinkable that if the teachings of Christ had been known to him, he would not have made use of them in his propaganda? Can you believe that a Christian missionary would go to China and labor for many years to win converts to the religion of Christ, and never once mention the Sermon on the Mount, never whisper a word about the Lord's Prayer, never tell the story of one of the parables, and remain as silent as the grave about the precepts of his master? What have the churches been teaching throughout the Christian centuries if not these very things? Are not the churches of to-day continually preaching about the virgin birth, the miracles, the parables, and the precepts of Jesus? And o not these features constitute Christianity? Is there any life of Christ, apart from these things? Why, then, does Paul know nothing of them? There is but one answer. The virgin-born, miracle-working, preaching Christ was unknown to the world in Paul's day. That is to say, he had not yet been invented!

The Christ of Paul and the Jesus of the Gospels are two entirely different beings. The Christ of Paul is little more than an idea. He has no life story. He was not followed by the multitude. He performed no miracles. He did no preaching. The Christ Paul knew was the Christ he was in a vision while on his way to Damascus -- an apparition, a phantom, not a living, human being, who preached and worked among men. This vision-Christ, this ghostly word, was afterwards brought to the earth by those who wrote the Gospels. He was given a Holy Ghost for a father and a virgin for a mother. He was made to preach, to perform astounding miracles, to die a violent death though innocent, and to rise in triumph from the grave and ascend again to heaven. Such is the Christ of the New Testament -- first a spirit, and later a miraculously born, miracle working man, who is master of death and whom death cannot subdue.

A large body of opinion in the early church denied the reality of Christ's physical existence. In his "History of Christianity," Dean Milman writes: "The Gnostic sects denied that Christ was born at all, or that he died," and Mosheim, Germany's great ecclesiastical historian, says: "The Christ of early Christianity was not a human being, but an "appearance," an illusion, a character in miracle, not in reality -- a myth.

Miracles do not happen. Stories of miracles are untrue. Therefore, documents in which miraculous accounts are interwoven with reputed facts, are untrustworthy, for those who invented the miraculous element might easily have invented the part that was natural. Men are common; Gods are rare; therefore, it is at least as easy to invent the biography of a man as the history of a God. For this reason, the whole story of Christ -- the human element as well as the divine -- is without valid claim to be regarded as true. If miracles are fictions, Christ is a myth. Said Dean Farrar: "If miracles be incredible, Christianity is false." Bishop Westcott wrote: "The essence of Christianity lies in a miracle; and if it can be shown that a miracle is either impossible or incredible, all further inquiry into the details of its history is superfluous." Not only are miracles incredible, but the uniformity of nature declares them to be impossible. Miracles have gone: the miraculous Christ cannot remain.

If Christ lived, if he was a reformer, if he performed wonderful works that attracted the attention of the multitude, if he came in conflict with the authorities and was crucified -- how shall we explain the fact that history has not even recorded his name? The age in which he is said to have lived was an age of scholars and thinkers. In Greece, Rome and Palestine, there were philosophers, historians, poets, orators, jurists and statesmen. Every fact of importance was noted by interested and inquiring minds. Some of the greatest writers the Jewish race has produced lived in that age. And yet, in all the writings of that period, there is not one line, not one word, not one letter, about Jesus. Great writers wrote extensively of events of minor importance, but not one of them wrote a word about the mightiest character who had ever appeared on earth -- a man at whose command the leprous were made clean, a man who fed five thousand people with a satchel full of bread, a man whose word defied the grave and gave life to the dead.

John E. Remsburg, in his scholarly work on "The Christ," has compiled a list of forty-two writers who lived and wrote during the time or within a century after the time, of Christ, not one of whom ever mentioned him.

Philo, one of the most renowned writers the Jewish race has produced, was born before the beginning of the Christian Era, and lived for many years after the time at which Jesus is supposed to have died. His home was in or near Jerusalem, where Jesus is said to have preached, to have performed miracles, to have been crucified, and to have risen from the dead. Had Jesus done these things, the writings of Philo would certainly contain some record of his life. Yet this philosopher, who must have been familiar with Herod's massacre of the innocents, and with the preaching, miracles and death of Jesus, had these things occurred; who wrote an account of the Jews, covering this period, and discussed the very questions that are said to have been near to Christ's heart, never once mentioned the name of, or any deed connected with, the reputed Savior of the world.

In the closing years of the first century, Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, wrote his famous work on "The Antiquities of the Jews." In this work, the historian made no mention of Christ, and for two hundred years after the death of Josephus, the name of Christ did not appear in his history. There were no printing presses in those days. Books were multiplied by being copied. It was, therefore, easy to add to or change what an author had written. The church felt that Josephus ought to recognize Christ, and the dead historian was made to do it. In the fourth century, a copy of "The Antiquities of the Jews" appeared, in which occurred this passage: "Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Such is the celebrated reference to Christ in Josephus. A more brazen forgery was never perpetrated. For more than two hundred years, the Christian Fathers who were familiar with the works of Josephus knew nothing of this passage. Had the passage been in the works of Josephus which they knew, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen an Clement of Alexandria would have been eager to hurl it at their Jewish opponents in their many controversies. But it did not exist. Indeed, Origen, who knew his Josephus well, expressly affirmed that that writer had not acknowledged Christ. This passage first appeared in the writings of the Christian Father Eusebius, the first historian of Christianity, early in the fourth century; and it is believed that he was its author. Eusebius, who not only advocated fraud in the interest of the faith, but who is know to have tampered with passages in the works of Josephus and several other writers, introduces this passage in his "Evangelical Demonstration," (Book III., p.124), in these words: "Certainly the attestations I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss, if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness."

Everything demonstrates the spurious character of the passage. It is written in the style of Eusebius, and not in the style of Josephus. Josephus was a voluminous writer. He wrote extensively about men of minor importance. The brevity of this reference to Christ is, therefore, a strong argument for its falsity. This passage interrupts the narrative. It has nothing to do with what precedes or what follows it; and its position clearly shows that the text of the historian has been separated by a later hand to give it room. Josephus was a Jew -- a priest of the religion of Moses. This passage makes him acknowledge the divinity, the miracles, and the resurrection of Christ -- that is to say, it makes an orthodox Jew talk like a believing Christian! Josephus could not possibly have written these words without being logically compelled to embrace Christianity. All the arguments of history and of reason unite in the conclusive proof that the passage is an unblushing forgery.

For these reasons every honest Christian scholar has abandoned it as an interpolation. Dean Milman says: "It is interpolated with many additional clauses." Dean Farrar, writing in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, says: "That Josephus wrote the whole passage as it now stands no sane critic can believe." Bishop Warburton denounced it as "a rank forgery and a very stupid one, too." Chambers' Encyclopaedia says: "The famous passage of Josephus is generally conceded to be an interpolation."
In the "Annals" of Tacitus, the Roman historian, there is another short passage which speaks of "Christus" as being the founder of a party called Christians -- a body of people "who were abhorred for their crimes." These words occur in Tacitus' account of the burning of Rome. The evidence for this passage is not much stronger than that for the passage in Josephus. It was not quoted by any writer before the fifteenth century; and when it was quoted, there was only one copy of the "Annals" in the world; and that copy was supposed to have been made in the eighth century -- six hundred years after Tacitus' death. The "Annals" were published between 115 and 117 A.D., nearly a century after Jesus' time -- so the passage, even if genuine, would not prove anything as to Jesus.

The name "Jesus" was as common among the Jews as is William or George with us. In the writings of Josephus, we find accounts of a number of Jesuses. One was Jesus, the son of Sapphias, the founder of a seditious band of mariners; another was Jesus, the captain of the robbers whose followers fled when they heard of his arrest; still another Jesus was a monomaniac who for seven years went about Jerusalem, crying, "Woe, woe, woe unto Jerusalem!" who was bruised and beaten many times, but offered no resistance; and who was finally killed with a stone at the siege of Jerusalem.

The word "Christ," the Greek equivalent of the Jewish word "Messiah," was not a personal name; it was a title; it meant "the Anointed One."

The Jews were looking for a Messiah, a successful political leader, who would restore the independence of their nation. Josephus tells us of many men who posed as Messiahs, who obtained a following among the people, and who were put to death by the Romans for political reasons. One of these Messiahs, or Christs, a Samaritan prophet, was executed under Pontius Pilate; and so great was the indignation of the Jews that Pilate had to be recalled by the Roman government.

These facts are of tremendous significance. While the Jesus Christ of Christianity is unknown to history, the age in which he is said to have lived was an age in which many men bore the name of "Jesus" and many political leaders assumed the title of "Christ." All the materials necessary for the manufacture of the story of Christ existed in that age. In all the ancient countries, divine Saviors were believed to have been born of virgins, to have preached a new religion, to have performed miracles, to have been crucified as atonements for the sins of mankind, and to have risen from the grave and ascended into heaven. All that Jesus is supposed to have taught was in the literature of the time. In the story of Christ there is not a new idea, as Joseph McCabe has shown in his "Sources of the Morality of the Gospels," and John M. Robertson in his "Pagan Christs."

"But," says the Christian, "Christ is so perfect a character that he could not have been invented." This is a mistake. The Gospels do not portray a perfect character. The Christ of the Gospels is shown to be artificial by the numerous contradictions in his character and teachings. He was in favor of the sword, and he was not; he told men to love their enemies, and advised them to hate their friends; he preached the doctrine of forgiveness, and called men a generation of vipers; he announced himself as the judge of the world, and declared that he would judge no man; he taught that he was possessed of all power, but was unable to work miracles where the people did not believe; he was represented as God and did not shrink from avowing, "I and my Father are one," but in the pain and gloom of the cross, he is made to cry out in his anguish: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" And how singular it is that these words, reputed as the dying utterance of the disillusioned Christ, should be not only contradicted by two Evangelists, but should be a quotation from the twenty-second Psalm!

If there is a moment when a man's speech is original, it is when, amid agony and despair, while his heart is breaking beneath its burden of defeat and disappointment, he utters a cry of grief from the depth of his wounded soul with the last breath that remains before the chill waves of death engulf his wasted life forever. But on the lips of the expiring Christ are placed, not the heart-felt words of a dying man, but a quotation from the literature of his race!

A being with these contradictions, these transparent unrealities in his character, could scarcely have been real.

And if Christ, with all that is miraculous and impossible in his nature, could not have been in vented, what shall we say of Othello, of Hamlet, of Romeo? Do not Shakespeare's wondrous characters live upon the stage? Does not their naturalness, their consistency, their human grandeur, challenge our admiration? And is it not with difficulty that we believe them to be children of the imagination? Laying aside the miraculous, in the story of the Jewish hero, is not the character of Jean Valjean as deep, as lofty, as broad, as rich in its humanity, as tender in its pathos, as sublime in its heroism, and as touchingly resigned to the cruelties of fate as the character of Jesus? Who has read the story of that marvelous man without being thrilled? And who has followed him through his last days with dry eyes? And yet Jean Valjean never lived and never died; he was not a real man, but the personification of suffering virtue born in the effulgent brain of Victor Hugo. Have you not wept when you have seen Sydney Carton disguise himself and lay his neck beneath the blood-stained knife of the guillotine, to save the life of Evremonde? But Sydney Carton was not an actual human being; he is the heroic, self-sacrificing spirit of humanity clothed in human form by the genius of Charles Dickens.

Yes, the character of Christ could have been invented! The literature of the world is filled with invented characters; and the imaginary lives of the splendid men and women of fiction will forever arrest the interest of the mind and hold the heart enthralled. But how account for Christianity if Christ did not live? Let me ask another question. How account for the Renaissance, for the Reformation, for the French Revolution, or for Socialism? Not one of these movements was created by an individual. They grew. Christianity grew. The Christian church is older than the oldest Christian writings. Christ did not produce the church. The church produced the story of Christ.

The Jesus Christ of the Gospels could not possibly have been a real person. He is a combination of impossible elements. There may have lived in Palestine, nineteen centuries ago, a man whose name was Jesus, who went about doing good, who was followed by admiring associates, and who in the end met a violent death. But of this possible person, not a line was written when he lived, and of his life and character the world of to-day knows absolutely nothing. This Jesus, if he lived, was a man; and if he was a reformer, he was but one of many that have lived and died in every age of the world. When the world shall have learned that the Christ of the Gospels is a myth, that Christianity is untrue, it will turn its attention from the religious fictions of the past to the vital problems of to-day, and endeavor to solve them for the improvement of the well-being of the real men and women whom we know, and whom we ought to help and love.

4/25/2003                                                                                       View Comments

The Treaty of Tripoli

Does the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli say that "The Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion?"

Yes, but separationists need to be careful in explaining the historical background of this treaty.

In 1797, six years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the United States government signed a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli that contained the following statement (numbered Article 11 in the treaty):

As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the states never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of harmony existing between the two countries.

So far as can be found, the inclusion of these words in the treaty had no negative political ramifications for the treaty whatsoever. On the contrary, the treaty was approved by President John Adams and his Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, and was then ratified by the Senate without objection.

According to an information sheet provided by Ed Buckner of the Atlanta Freethought Society:

The Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the United States Senate clearly specifies that the treaty was read aloud on the floor of the Senate and that copies of the treaty were printed "for the use of the Senate." Nor is it plausible to argue that perhaps Senators voted for the treaty without being aware of the famous words. The treaty was quite short, requiring only two or three pages to reprint in most treaty books today--and printed, in its entirely, on but one page (sometimes the front page) of U.S. newspapers of the day. The lack of any recorded argument about the wording, as well as the unanimous vote and the and the wide reprinting of the words in the press of 1797, suggests that the idea that the government was not a Christian one was widely and easily accepted at the time.

Accomodationists frequently note that Article 11 appeared only in the English version of the treaty; in the Arabic version a letter-like page of gibberish appears where Article 11 should be. The Arabic version was translated by Joel Barlow, the diplomatic representative that negotiated the treaty on behalf of the United States. Barlow was a good friend of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe, and was most likely a deist or atheist. It is almost certain that he authored Article 11 in the English version.

Many accomodationists seem to think that the absence of Article 11 in the Arabic version has something to do with Barlow, and that this absence should somehow blunt the separationist impact of the English Article 11.


In point of fact, we have no idea if Barlow is connected to the page of gibberish in the Arabic version. The "substitute" page was not discovered until 1930; what happened to the treaty before that time is unknown. The Article, if it was originally in the Arabic version, could have been lost at any time between 1797 and 1930. And there is certainly no reason to assume that Article 11 wasn't in the original Arabic version: A Muslim nation would surely have welcomed Article 11 as an assurance of American intentions with respect to religion.

More generally, we can't imagine how the absence of Article 11 in the Arabic version effects the separationist argument. It was the English version of the treaty that was approved by President Adams and Secretary Pickering, and this version unquestionably contained Article 11. Similarly, when the Senate ratified the treaty, they did so knowing full well that the English version declared that the United States was not a Christian nation. The separationist implications of the treaty can't be escaped by arguing that the Arabic version may not have contained Article 11; the President, Secretary of State, and Senate thought it did, but approved the treaty anyway.

The treaty of Tripoli remained on the books for eight years, at which time the treaty was renegotiated, and Article 11 was dropped.

Research and Writing by Tom Peters. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ed Buckner of the Atlanta Freethought Society for sharing with us his own research on this issue. This article was rewritten on 9/24/96 to incorporate a number of Mr. Buckner's conclusions. The original article is available here

4/24/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Is Christianity based on pagan roots?

Original Article URL Here

This is a question that scares the crud out of most Christians. I, too, would have been angered and chilled by such words. Obviously it is utter nonsense. On the contrary though, if you really look with unbiased eyes (a major key to true enlightenment), and take into account the issue we just discussed, the lack of evidence concerning a 'physical' Christ, you will find amazing parallels with many ancient traditions. While it is entirely possible that a historical Jesus actually lived, it is also possible that a mythology could have arrived totally out of these earlier mythologies. Although we have very little evidence for a historical Jesus, we certainly have many accounts for the mythologies of the Middle East and Egypt during the first century and before that appear similar to the Christ savior story.

Remember that just before and during the first century, the Jews were prophesying about an upcoming Messiah based on Jewish scripture. Their beliefs influenced many of their followers. We know that powerful beliefs can create self-fulfilling prophesies, and surely this was just as true in ancient times. It was a popular vision expressed in Hebrew Scripture for the promise of the 'end times' with a savior to lead them to the promised land. Indeed, Roman records show executions of several would-be Messiahs, (but not a single record mentions a Jesus). It was widely thought that there could come a final war against the 'Sons of Darkness'.

This then could very well have served as the ignition and flame for the future growth of Christianity. This coupled with the pagan myths of the time give sufficient information about how such a religion could have formed. Many of the Hellenistic and pagan myths parallel so closely to the alleged Jesus that to ignore its similarities is to show indoctrinated, and biased views .

There have been dozens of similar savior stories that propagated the minds of humans long before the alleged life of Jesus. Virtually nothing about Jesus "the Christ" is original or new.

For example, the religion of Zoroaster was founded circa 628-551 BCE in ancient Persia and roused mankind in the need for hating a devil, the belief of a paradise, last judgment and resurrection of the dead. Mithraism, an offshoot of Zoroastrianism probably influenced early Christianity with their beliefs the most. The Magi described in the New Testament appear to be Zoroastrian priests. Note the word "paradise" came from the Persian pairidaeza. Other similarities between the Jesus story and other godmen such as Horus, Krshna, Mithras, Dionysus and Osiris are clearly illustrated below:

Horus
Horus and the Father are one
*Horus is the Father seen in the Son
*Horus, light of the world, represented by the symbolical eye, the sign of salvation.
*Horus was the way, the truth, the life by name and in person
*Horus baptized with water by Anup (Jesus baptized with water by John)
*Horus the Good Shepherd
*Horus as the Lamb (Jesus as the Lamb)
*Horus as the Lion (Jesus as the Lion)
*Horus identified with the Tat Cross (Jesus with the cross)
*The trinity of Atum the Father, Horus the Son, Ra the Holy Spirit
*Horus the avenger (Jesus who brings the sword)
*Horus the afflicted one
*Horus as life eternal
*Twelve followers of Hours as Har-Khutti (Jesus' 12 disciples)

Osiris-Dionysus
Egyptian/Greek godman (combined merely for the similarities of the 3)
*Osiris-dionysus is god made flesh, the savior 'son of god'
*his father is god and his mother is a mortal virgin
*he is born in a cave or humble cowshed on December 25 before 3 shepherds
*he offers his followers a chance to be born again through the rites of baptism
*he miraculously turns water to win in a marriage ceremony
*he rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honor him
*he dies at eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world
*after his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in glory
*his followers await his return as the judge during the last days
*his death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolizes his body and blood

Krshna, an incarnation of the hindu deity Vishnu
*was killed to atone for the sins of mankind
* was also the "full measure of the god-head" according to the Ramayana, ~300 years BCE
* was born miraculously by a virgin, his birth attended by shepherds and angels, according to the Bhagavad Gita and in accord with prophecy
* at birth was presented with frankincense and myrrh
* survived a command by Cansa, who ordered all the first born children to be put to death
* wrought many astounding miracles, including healing the sick, restoring the sight of the blind, casting out devils, raising the dead to life
* was baptised (ablution) in the river Ganges
* enabled his disciples to net large amounts of fish
* "transfigured" at a place called Madura
* spoke in parables
* taught that you should forgive your enemies, avoid sexual thoughts, love your neighbor, and condemn material wealth
* ascended back to Heaven in the sight of all men

Mithras
According to the Book of Origins, the Canon of the Mithrasic faith, "the universe was created through Mithras, and Mithras was born into the world to save humanity from the attacks of the evil one, Ahriman, who was opposed to human beings. Mithras released the goodness Ahriman had stolen from humanity, and then died to the world, going to the underworld to destroy the servants of Ahriman and bind Ahriman there forever. Then He returned to the earth to teach humanity His commandments and begin Mysteries and Rites which would help humans remember His acts on our behalf. Because of His actions, we can choose good without the overwhelming power of evil, even though evil's influence can still seem powerful because our minds believe it is. Because of His teachings, we know that the purpose of our lives is to serve others in the name of Mithras."

He was:
* allegedly born on December 25th
* was born of the Sun God and a virgin mother
* created all life by slaying a bull, whose blood gave life to all useful things, hence the song, "Thou hast redeemed us by shedding the eternal blood." from an Avestan Hymn to Mithras
* considered the saviour of humankind, and stories abound of His healing the sick, raising the dead, and performing miracles (making the blind see and the lame walk)
* protector of human souls, a mediator between "heaven" and "earth" and was even associated with a "holy trinity"
* keeper of the covenant with mankind
* put to death on a cross and buried in a cave (some legends have Him held up in a cave to be reborn once a year)
* took part in a last supper with his 12 disciples (often associated with the 12 signs of the zodiac)
* ascended to the heavens to watch over His "flock" from above.
* was known as "The Way," "The Truth," "The Light," "The Life," "The Word," "The Son of God," and "The Good Shepherd"
* often pictured carrying a lamb on his shoulders
Mithraists believe:
* On judgement day, the faithful dead would be resurrected and light would triumph over darkness. They took part in ritual purification or baptism, held Sundays sacred, drank wine and ate bread as a symbol of the body and blood and even took part in ritualistic purging (purification rites such as flagellation).
* there is a "celestial heaven" and hell


Other interesting similarities to Christ in Pagan myth:

Quexalcote of Mexico:

He was:
* born of a spotless virgin
* retired to the wilderness and fasted for forty days
* was worshipped as a God
* crucified between two thieves
* was buried and descended into Hell
* rose the third day

Buddha, the 'Enlightened One' who spurred a new form of spirituality which is a tangent of Hindusim:

walked on water:

"He (Buddha) walks upon the water without parting it, as if it were solid ground."
~ Anguttara Nikaya 3.60 (see Mark 6:49 for parallel)

calmed a storm:

"Now at that time a great rain fell, and a great flood resulted. Then the Lord (Buddha) made the water recede all around, and he paced up and down in the middle on dust-covered ground."
~ Vinaya, Mahavagga I.20.16 (see Mark 4:39 for parallel)

walked through walls:

"He (Buddha) goes unhindered through a wall."
~ Angutta Nikaya 3.60 (see John 20:26 for parallel)

performed miracles:

"As soon as the Bodhisattva (Buddha)was born, the sick were cured, the hungry and thirsty were no longer oppressed by hunger and thirst. Those maddened by drink lost their obsession. The mad recovered their senses, the blind regained their sight, and the deaf once more could hear. The lame obtained perfect limbs, the poor gained riches, and prisoners were delivered of their own bonds."
~ Lilitavistra Sutra 7 (see Luke 7:22 for parallel)

Other 'mythologies' that compare in one form or another include Hercules, Mithra, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus and others compare to the Christian myth. According to Patrick Campbell of The Mythical Jesus, all are pre-Christian sun gods, yet all allegedly had gods for fathers, virgins for mothers; had their births announced by stars; were born on the solstice around December 25th; had tyrants who tried to kill them in their infancy; met violent deaths; rose from the dead; and nearly all were worshiped by "wise men" and were alleged to have fasted for forty days. [McKinsey, Chapter 5]

The pre-Christian cult of Mithra had a deity of light and truth, son of the Most High, fought against evil, presented the idea of the Logos (the 'Word'). Pagan Mithraism mysteries had the burial in a rock tomb, resurrection, sacrament of bread & water (Eucharist), the marking on the forehead with a mystic mark, the symbol of the Rock, the Seven Spirits and seven stars, all before the advent of Christianity.

Hermes the Good ShepherdEven Justin Martyr recognized the analogies between Christianity and Paganism. To the Pagans, he wrote: "When we say that the Word, who is first born 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 (Zeus)." [First Apology, ch. xxi]

Virtually all of the accounts of the savior Jesus Christ can be accounted for by past pagan mythologies which existed long before Christianity and from the Jewish scriptures that we now call the Old Testament. The accounts of these myths say nothing about historical reality, but they do say a lot about believers, how they believed, and how their beliefs spread.

"In saying that the Word was born for us without sexual union as Jesus Christ our teacher, we introduce nothing beyond what is said of those called the Sons of Zeus." Justin Martyr, Apology, 3

"The mystic child at Eleusis was born of a maiden; these ancients made for themselves the sacred dogma 'A virgin shall conceive and bear a son,' by night there was declared 'Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." Ibid, 48

The Christian Christmas song, "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him" was adapted from the Egyptian poem to Osiris:

"He is born! He is born! O come and adore Him!
Life-giving mothers, the mothers who bore Him,
Stars of the heavens the daybreak adorning.
Ancestors, ye, of the Star of Morning.
Women and Men, O come and adore Him,
Child who is born this night..." Murray, MA (1949) 68

References for these are as follows:Egyptian Religion by Wallis Budge (1899), The Bacchae by Euripedes lines 5, 723, 836, The Hermetica, The Ibid, F Cumont, 48 (1903), Cleanthes, from CH Kahn (1979), Concerning the Gods and the Universe 4 by S Angus (1925)

Hercules....Who was this guy?

If a person accepts hearsay and accounts from believers as historical evidence for Jesus, then should they not act consistently to other accounts based solely on hearsay and belief?

Take this one example for instance. Examine the evidence for the Hercules of Greek mythology and you will find it parallels the historicity of Jesus to such an amazing degree that for Christian apologists to deny Hercules as a historical person belies and contradicts the very same methodology used for a historical Jesus, making it hypocritical.

Note how Herculean myth resembles Jesus in many areas. Hercules was born from a God (Zeus) and a mortal virgin mother (Alcmene). Similar to Herod who wanted to kill Jesus, Hera wanted to kill Hercules. Like Jesus, Hercules traveled the earth as a mortal helping mankind and performed miraculous deeds. Like Jesus who died and rose to heaven, Hercules died, rose to Mt. Olympus and became a god. Hercules was perhaps the most popular hero in Ancient Greece and Rome. They believed that he actually lived, told stories about him, worshiped him, and dedicated temples to him.

Likewise the 'evidence' of Hercules closely parallels that of Jesus. We have historical people like Hesiod and Plato who mentions Hercules. Similar to the way the gospels tell a narrative story of Jesus, so do we have the epic stories of Homer who depict the life of Hercules. Aesop tells stories and quotes the words of Hercules. Just as we have mention of Jesus in Josephus' Antiquities, so Josephus mentions Hercules in his 'Antiquities' (see 1.15, 8.5.3, 10.11.1). Just as Tacitus mentions a Crestus, he also mentions Hercules many times in his Annals. And most importantly, just as we have no artifacts, writings or eyewitnesses about Hercules, we also have nothing about Jesus. All information about Hercules and Jesus comes from stories, beliefs, and hearsay. Should we then believe in a historical Hercules, simply because ancient historians mention him and that we have stories and beliefs about him?

People consider Hercules a myth because people no longer believe in the Greek and Roman stories. Christianity and its churches, on the other hand, still hold a powerful influence on governments, institutions, and colleges. Anyone doing research on Jesus, even skeptics, had better allude to his existence or else risk future funding and damage to their reputations. Christianity depends on establishing a historical Jesus and it will defend, at all costs, even the most unreliable sources. People want to believe in Jesus, and belief alone can create intellectual barriers that leak even into atheist and secular thought. We have so many Christian professors, theologians and historical 'experts' around the world that tell us we should accept a historical Jesus that if repeated often enough, it tends to convince even the most ardent skeptic. The establishment of history should never reside with the 'experts' words alone or simply because a scholar has a reputation as a historian. If a scholar makes a historical claim, his assertion should depend almost solely on the evidence itself and not just because he/she says so. Facts do not require belief. And whereas beliefs can live comfortably without evidence at all, facts depend on evidence. This being said, we have no solid evidence to call this...a fact. It will remain...a belief.

Quickie similarities:

Krshna, Mithra of Persia, Quexalcote of Mexico, the Chinese savior Xaca, Ya, the Chinese monarch, Plato, Pythagoras, Tamerlane, Gengis Khan, Apollonius of Tyana and Augustus Caesar, were all supposed to have been the product of immaculate conceptions.

Krshna, Mithra of Persia, Quexalcote of Mexico, Chris of Chaldea, Quirinus of Rome, Prometheus, Osiris of Egypt, Atys of Phrygia, all rose from the dead after three days.

At the birth of Confucius, five wise men from a distance came to the house, celestial music filled the air, and angels attended the scene.

The Sacrament or Eucharist was practiced by the Brahmins of India, and was introduced into the mysteries of Mithras, as well as among the Mexicans.

The concept of the 'Trinity' is Hindu. The Sanskrit term is 'Trimurti', meaning 'three bodies in one godhead'. In the Hindu trinity, it was Siva; the other members of the trinity being Brahma and Vishnu. [sidebar: In the Mexican trinity, Y Zona was the Father, Bascal the Word, and Echvah the Holy Ghost, by the last of whom Chimalman conceived and brought forth Quexalcote.]



"The sign of the fish is widely used today as a symbol of Christianity, but originated in Pagan sacred geometry. Two circles, symbolic of spirit and matter, are brought together in a sacred marriage. When the circumference of one touches the center of the other they combine to produce the fish shape known as the vesica piscis. The ratio of height to length of the shape is 153:265, a formula known to Archimedes in the third century BCE as the 'measure of the fish.' It is a powerful mathematical tool, being the nearest whole number approximation of the square root of three and the controlling ratio of the equilateral triangle." See also: Anti-Tract Archive. Once there, click on the tract "Something Fishy" in the drop down menu box.

4/20/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Easter is a Pagan Holiday

Note: May not be safely viewed at work.

Reading from Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia, 1948, Volume 4, page 140, we find that Easter is the Greatest Festival of the Christian Church, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ - which festival was named after the ancient Anglo Saxon Goddess of Spring!

EASTER.


The greatest festival of the Christian church commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a movable feast, that is, it is not always held on the same date. The church council of Nicea (a.d. 325) decided that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox (March 21). Easter can come as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.

The name Easter comes from the ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre or Ostara, in whose honor an annual spring festival was held. Some of our Easter customs have come from this and other pre-Christian spring festivals. Others come from the Passover feast of the Jews, observed in memory of their deliverance from Egypt (see Passover). The word ''paschal,'' meaning ''pertaining to Easter,'' like the French word for Easter, Pâques, comes through the Latin from the Hebrew name of the Passover.

Unger's Bible Dictionary, by Merrill F. Unger, 1957, page 283, goes on to corroborate this fact, saying:

Easter (Gr. pascha, from Heb. pesah), the Passover, and so translated in every passage excepting ''intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people'' (Acts 12:4). In the earlier English versions Easter had been frequently used as the translation of pascha. At the last revision Passover was substituted in all passages but this.

The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honor sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the 8th century Anglo-Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ's resurrection.

It is a fully documented historical fact that the day which was chosen by the Christian Church to celebrate this resurrection, was a day which had been celebrated by pagans from antiquity! Yes, the only difference between these two celebrations, is the fact that its name was changed to veneer it with Christian Respectability!

It is simply no secret that EASTER originated with the WORSHIP OF A PAGAN GODDESS! This fact is presented almost every time one researches the word Easter.

Compton's Encyclopedia, 1956, Volume 4, says this about Easter:

''Many Easter customs come from the Old World...colored eggs and rabbits have come from pagan antiquity as symbols of new life...our name 'Easter' comes from 'Eostre', an ancient Anglo Saxon goddess, originally of the dawn. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honor. Some Easter customs have come from this and other pre-christian spring festivals.''

Reading about this Pre-Christian spring festival from Funk & Wagnall's Standard Reference Encyclopedia, 1962, Volume 8, page 2940, we learn:

Although Easter is a Christian festival, it embodies traditions of an ancient time antedating the rise of Christianity. The origin of its name is lost in the dim past; some scholars believe it probably is derived from Eastre, Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated Eastre monath, corresponding to April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox, and traditions associated with the festival survive in the familiar Easter bunny, symbol of the fertile rabbit, and in the equally familiar colored Easter eggs originally painted with gay hues to represent the sunlight of spring.

Such festivals, and the myths and legends which explain their origin, abounded in ancient religions. The Greek myth of the return of the earth-goddess Demeter from the underworld to the light of day, symbolizing the resurrection of life in the spring after the long hibernation of winter, had its counterpart, among many others, in the Latin legend of Ceres and Persephone. The Phrygians believed that their all-powerful deity went to sleep at the time of the winter solstice, and they performed ceremonies at the spring equinox to awaken him with music and dancing. The universality of such festivals and myths among ancient peoples has led some scholars to interpret the resurrection of Christ as a mystical and exalted variant of fertility myths.

The Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore, and Symbols, Part 1, page 487 tells us more about this Spring Festival:

''It incorporates some of the ancient Spring Equinox ceremonies of sun worship in which there were phallic rites and spring fires, and in which the deity or offering to the deity was eaten...The festival is symbolized by an ascension Lily...a chick breaking its shell, the colors white and green, the egg, spring flowers, and the Rabbit. The name is related to Astarte, Ashtoreth, Eostre and Ishtar, goddess who visited and rose from the underworld. Easter yields 'Enduring Eos'... 'Enduring Dawn'.''

Part of this spring festival centered around Phallic Rites. Collier's Encyclopedia, 1980, Volume 9, page 622, tells us of the Babylonian Ishtar Festival Phallic Rites:

The Ishtar Festivals were symbolical of Ishtar as the goddess of love or generation. As the daughter of Sin, the moon god, she was the Mother Goddess who presided over child birth; and women, in her honor, sacrificed their virginity on the feast day or became temple prostitutes, their earnings being a source of revenue for the temple priests and servants.

We learn about these Temple Prostitutes from The Interpreter's Dictionary of The Bible, Volume 3, pages 933-934:

a. The roll of the sacred prostitute in the fertility cult. The prostitute who was an official of the cult in ancient Palestine and nearby lands of biblical times exercised an important function. This religion was predicated upon the belief that the processes of nature were controlled by the relations between gods and goddesses. Projecting their understanding of their own sexual activities, the worshipers of these deities, through the use of imitative magic, engaged in sexual intercourse with devotees of the shrine, in the belief that this would encourage the gods and goddesses to do likewise. Only by sexual relations among the deities could man's desire for increase in herds and fields, as well as in his own family, be realized. In Palestine the gods Baal and Asherah were especially prominent (see BAAL; ASHERAH; FERTILITY CULTS). These competed with Yahweh the God of Israel and, in some cases, may have produced hybrid Yahweh-Baal cults. Attached to the shrines of these cults were priests as well as prostitutes, both male and female. Their chief service was sexual in nature__the offering of their bodies for ritual purposes.

Sexual relations for ritual purposes was the ceremony for the Fertility Cults. The Interpreter's Dictionary, Volume 2, page 265 says:

FERTILITY CULTS.


The oldest common feature of the religions of the ancient Near East was the worship of a great mother-goddess, the personification of fertility. Associated with her, usually as a consort, was a young god who died and came to life again, like the vegetation which quickly withers but blooms again. The manner of the young god's demise was variously conceived in the myths: he was slain by another god, by wild animals, by reapers, by self-emasculation, by burning, by drowning. In some variations of the theme, he simply absconded. His absence produced infertility of the earth, of man, and of beast. His consort mourned and searched for him. His return brought renewed fertility and rejoicing.

In Mesopotamia the divine couple appear as Ishtar and Tammuz, in Egypt as Isis and Osiris. Later in Asia Minor, the Magna Mater is Cybele and her young lover is Attis. In Syria in the second millennium b.c., as seen in the Ugaritic myths, the dying and rising god is Baal-Hadad, who is slain by Mot (Death) and mourned and avenged by his sister/consort, the violent virgin Anath. In the Ugaritic myths there is some confusion in the roles of the goddesses. The great mother-goddess Asherah, the wife of the senescent chief god El, seems on the way to becoming the consort of the rising young god Baal, with whom we find her associated in the O.T.Ashtarte also appears in the Ugaritic myths, but she has a minor and undistinguished role.

The O.T. furnishes abundant evidence as to the character of the religion of the land into which the Israelites came. Fertility rites were practiced at the numerous shrines which dotted the land, as well as at the major sanctuaries. The Israelites absorbed the Canaanite ways and learned to identify their god with Baal, whose rains brought fertility to the land. A characteristic feature of the fertility cult was sacral sexual intercourse by priests and priestesses and other specially consecrated persons, sacred prostitutes of both sexes, intended to emulate and stimulate the deities who bestowed fertility. The agricultural cult stressed the sacrifice or common meal in which the gods, priests, and people partook. Wine was consumed in great quantity in thanksgiving to Baal for the fertility of the vineyards. The wine also helped induce ecstatic frenzy, which was climaxed by self-laceration, and sometimes even by self-emasculation. Child-sacrifice was also a feature of the rites. It was not simply a cult of wine, women, and song, but a matter of life and death in which the dearest things of life, and life itself, were offered to ensure the ongoing of life.

ISHTAR

(pronounced EASTER) of Assyria was worshiped in Pagan Antiquity during her spring festival! Collier's Encyclopedia, 1980, Volume 15, page 748, gives us this information:

Ishtar, goddess of love and war, the most important goddess of the Sumero-Akkadian pantheon. Her name in Sumerian is Inanna (lady of heaven). She was sister of the sun god Shamash and daughter of the moon god Sin. Ishtar was equated with the planet Venus. Her symbol was a star inscribed in a circle. As goddess of war, she was often represented sitting upon a lion. As goddess of physical love, she was patron of the temple prostitutes. She was also considered the merciful mother who intercedes with the gods on behalf of her worshipers. Throughout Mesopotamian history she was worshiped under various names in many cities; one of the chief centers of her cult was Uruk.

Astarte of Phoenicia was the offshoot of Ishtar of Assyria. To the Hebrews, this abomination was known as Ashtoreth__Ashtoroth. From Collier's Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 13, we read:

ASHTAROTH

[Æ(terath] the plural of the Hebrew 'Ashto-reth, the Phoenician-Canaanite goddess Astarte, deity of fertility, reproduction, and war
. The use of the plural form probably indicates a general designation for the collective female deities of the Canaanites, just as the plural Baalim refer to the male deities.

Watson's Biblical and Archaeological Dictionary, 1833, tells us more about this mother goddess, Ashtaroth:

ASHTAROTH, or ASTARTE, a goddess of the Zidonians. The word Ashtaroth properly signifies flocks of sheep, or goats; and sometimes the grove, or woods, because she was goddess of woods, and groves were her temples. In groves consecrated to her, such lasciviousness was committed as rendered her worship infamous. She was also called the queen of heaven; and sometimes her worship is said to be that of ''the host of heaven.'' She was certainly represented in the same manner as Isis, with cow's horns on her head, to denote the increase and decrease of the moon. Cicero calls her the fourth Venus of the Syrians. She is almost always joined with Baal, and is called a god, the scriptures having no particular word to express a goddess.

It is believed that the moon was adored in this idol. Her temples generally accompanied those of the sun; and while bloody sacrifices or human victims were offered to Baal, bread, liquors, and perfumes were presented to Astarte. For her, tables were prepared upon the flat terrace-roofs of houses, near gates, in porches, and at crossways, on the first day of every month; and this was called by the Greeks, Hecate's supper. Solomon, seduced by his foreign wives, introduced the worship of Ashtaroth into Israel; but Jezebel, daughter of the king of Tyre, and wife to Ahab, principally established her worship. She caused altars to be erected to this idol in
every part of Israel; and at one time four hundred priests attended the worship of Ashtaroth, I Kings xviii. 7.

The Interpreter's Dictionary, Volume 3, page 975, tells us of Ishtar's role as The Queen of Heaven:

Ishtar, the goddess of love and fertility, who was identified with the Venus Star and is actually entitled ''Mistress of Heaven'' in the Amarna tablets. The difficulty is that the Venus Star was regarded in Palestine as a male deity (see DAY STAR), though the cult of the goddess Ishtar may have been introduced from Mesopotamia under Manasseh. It is possible that Astarte, or ASHTORETH, the Canaanite fertility-goddess, whose cult was well established in Palestine, had preserved more traces of her astral character as the female counterpart of Athtar than the evidence of the O.T. or the Ras Shamra texts indicates. The title ''Queen of Heaven'' is applied in an Egyptian inscription from the Nineteenth Dynasty at Beth-shan to ''Antit,'' the Canaanite fertility-goddess Anat, who is termed ''Queen of Heaven and Mistress of the Gods.'' This is the most active goddess in the Ras Shamra Texts, but in Palestine her functions seem to have been taken over largely by Ashtoreth.

We find this information about Ashtoreth from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1979, Volume 1, pages 319-320:

ASHTORETH ash'te-reth [Heb. 'astoret. pl. 'astarôt; Gk. Astarte]. A goddess of Canaan and Phoenicia whose name and cult were derived from Babylonia, where Ishtar represented the evening and morning stars and was accordingly androgynous in origin. Under Semitic influence, however, she became solely female, although retaining a trace of her original character by standing on equal footing with the male divinities. From Babylonia the worship of the goddess was carried to the Semites of the West, and in most instances the feminine suffix was attached to her name; where this was not the case the deity was regarded as a male. On the Moabite
Stone, for example, 'Ashtar is identified with Chemosh, and in the inscriptions of southern Arabia 'Athtar is a god. On the other hand, in the name Atargatis (2 Macc. 12:26), 'Atar, without the feminine suffix, is identified with the goddess 'Athah or 'Athi (Gk. Gatis). The cult of the Greek Aphrodite in Cyprus was borrowed from that of Ashtoreth; that the Greek name also is a modification of Ashtoreth is doubtful. It is maintained, however, that the vowels of Heb. 'astoret were borrowed from boset (''shame'') in order to indicate the abhorrence the Hebrew scribes felt toward paganism and idolatry.

In Babylonia and Assyria Ishtar was the goddess of love and war. An old Babylonian legend relates how the descent of Ishtar into Hades in search of her dead husband Tammuz was followed by the cessation of marriage and birth in both earth and heaven; and the temples of the goddess at Nineveh and Arbela, around which the two cities afterward grew, were dedicated to her as the goddess of war. As such she appeared to one of Ashurbanipal's seers and encouraged the Assyrian king to march against Elam. The other goddesses of Babylonia, who were little more than reflections of a god, tended to merge into Ishtar, who thus became a type of the female divinity, a personification of the productive principle in nature, and more especially the mother and creatress of mankind.

In Babylonia Ishtar was identified with Venus. Like Venus, Ishtar was the goddess of erotic love and fertility. Her chief seat of worship was Uruk (Erech), where prostitution was practiced in her name and she was served with immoral rites by bands of men and women. In Assyria, where the warlike side of the goddess was predominant, no such rites seem to have been practiced, and instead prophetesses to whom she delivered oracles were attached to her temples.

From various Egyptian sources it appears that Astarte or Ashtoreth was highly regarded in the Late Bronze Age.

Reading on pages 412-413 of Unger's Bible Dictionary, we find this information about Ashtoreth-Astarte:

Ash'toreth (ash'to-reth), Astarte, a Canaanite goddess. In south Arabic the name is found as 'Athtar (apparently from 'athara, to be fertile, to irrigate), a god identified with the planet Venus. The name is cognate with Babylonian Ishtar, the goddess of sensual love, maternity and fertility. Licentious worship was conducted in honor of her. As Asherah and Anat of Ras Shamra she was the patroness of war as well as sex and is sometimes identified with these goddesses. The Amarna Letters present Ashtoreth as Ashtartu. In the Ras Shamra Tablets are found both the masculine form 'Athtar and the feminine 'Athtart. Ashtoreth worship was early entrenched at Sidon (I Kings 11:5, 33; II Kings 23:13). Her polluting cult even presented a danger to early Israel (Judg. 2:13; 10:6). Solomon succumbed to her voluptuous worship (I Kings 11:5; II Kings 23:13). The peculiar vocalization Ashtoreth instead of the more primitive Ashtaroth is evidently a deliberate alteration by the Hebrews to express their abhorrence for her cult by giving her the vowels of their word for ''shame'' (bosheth). M. F. U.

The Interpreter's Dictionary, Volume 1, page 252 says:

The antipathy toward the Asherah on the part of the Hebrew leaders was due to the fact that the goddess and the cult object of the same name were associated with the fertility religion of a foreign people and as such involved a mythology and a cultus which were obnoxious to the champions of Yahweh.

Unger's Bible Dictionary, page 412, gives us this information about Asherah:

Asherah (a-she'ra), plural, Asherim, a pagan goddess, who is found in the Ras Shamra epic religious texts discovered at Ugarit in North Syria (1929-1937), as Asherat, ''Lady of the Sea'' and consort of El. She was the chief goddess of Tyre in the 15th century b.c. with the appellation Qudshu, ''holiness.'' In the Old Testament Asherah appears as a goddess by the side of Baal, whose consort she evidently came to be, at least among the Canaanites of the South. However, most Biblical references to the name point clearly to some cult object of wood, which might be worshiped or cut down and burned, and which was certainly the goddess' image (I Kings 15:13; II Kings 21:7). Her prophets are mentioned (I Kings l8:19) and the vessels used in her service referred to (II Kings 23:4). Her cult object, whatever it was, was utterly detestable to faithful worshipers of Yahweh (I Kings 15:13) and was set up on the high places beside the ''altars of incense'' (hammanim) and the stone pillars (masseboth). Indeed, the stone pillars seem to have represented the male god Baal (cf. Judg. 6:28), while the cult object of Ashera, probably a tree or pole, constituted a symbol of this goddess (See W. L. Reed's The Asherah in the Old Testament, Texas Christian University Press). But Asherah was only one manifestation of a chief goddess of Western Asia, regarded now as the wife, now as the sister of the principal Canaanite god El. Other names of this deity were Ashtoreth (Astarte) and Anath. Frequently represented as a nude woman bestride a lion with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other, and styled Qudshu ''the Holiness,'' that is, ''the Holy One'' in a perverted moral sense, she was a divine courtesan. In the same sense the male prostitutes consecrated to the cult of the Qudshu and prostituting themselves to her honor were styled qedishim, ''sodomites'' (Deut. 23:18; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46). Characteristically Canaanite the lily symbolizes grace and sex appeal and the serpent fecundity (W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, Baltimore, John Hopkins Press, 1942, pages 68-94). At Byblos (Biblical Gebal) on the Mediterranean, north of Sidon, a center dedicated to this goddess has been excavated. She and her colleagues specialized in sex and war and her shrines were temples of legalized vice. Her degraded cult offered a perpetual danger of pollution to Israel and must have sunk to sordid depths as lust and murder were glamorized in Canaanite religion.

On page 413 of Unger's Bible Dictionary, we have found that Astarte is the Greek name for the Hebrew Ashtoreth. From Collier's Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 97, we find that Astarte-Ashtaroth is merely the Semitic Ishtar__which we have already learned is pronounced Easter:

ASTARTE [aesta'rti], the Phoenician goddess of fertility and erotic love. The Greek name, ''Astarte'' was derived from Semitic, ''Ishtar,'' ''Ashtoreth.'' Astarte was regarded in Classical antiquity as a moon goddess, perhaps in confusion with some other Semitic deity. In accordance with the literary traditions of the Greco-Romans, Astarte was identified with Selene and Artemis, and more often with Aphrodite. Among the Canaanites, Astarte, like her peer Anath, performed a major function as goddess of fertility.

Egyptian iconography, however, portrayed Astarte in her role as a warlike goddess massacring mankind, young and old. She is represented on plaques (dated 1700-1100 b.c.) as naked, in striking contrast to the modestly garbed Egyptian goddesses. Edward J. Jurji

In Ephesus from primitive times, this MOTHER GODDESS had been called DIANA, who was worshiped as the Goddess of Virginity and Motherhood. She was said to represent the generative powers of nature, and so was pictured with many breasts. A tower shaped crown, symbolizing the Tower of Babylon, adorned her head:

Reading from Bible Manners And Customs, by James M. Freeman, 1972, page 451, we learn these facts about the Mother of all things:

''The circle round her head denotes the nimbus (sin circle) of her glory, the griffins inside of which express its brilliancy. In her breasts are the twelve signs of the zodiac, of which those seen in front are the ram, bull, twins, crab, and lion; they are divided by the hours. Her necklace is composed of acorns, the primeval food of man. Lions are on her arms to denote her power, and her hands are stretched out to show that she is ready to receive all who come to her. Her body is covered with various breasts and monsters, as sirens, sphinxes, and griffins, to show that she is the source of nature, the mother of all things. Her head, hands, and feet are of bronze while the rest of the statue is of alabaster to denote the ever-varying light and shade of the moon's figure... Like Rhea, she was crowned with turrets, to denote her dominion over terrestrial objects.''

The Japanese still celebrate fertility festivals.

The Tagata Fertility Festival involves the procession of a two-metre long, phallus-shaped wooden sculpture along the main street of the small farming town of Komaki. The festival, Hounen Matsuri, is an offering to the local Shinto deities in the hope of a bountiful harvest.

In the Tagata Shrine, deities are represented by phalluses of all shapes and sizes. This is due to an ancient Japanese belief that says Mother Earth must be impregnated by Father Heaven for things to grow and develop.

Before the procession begins, barrels of sake (rice wine) are opened and distributed among the crowd. The Shinto priest then leads the procession, followed by colourful characters and local musicians playing ritual music on bamboo flutes. Next come the erect wooden phalli, carried vertically on a bar or litter by villagers hoping for a bumper crop. Women follow carrying wooden symbols wrapped in red paper. Sometimes pregnant women will ask the bearers to let them touch the tip of the phallus, which is supposed to bring a safe birth and good health for their baby.

The largest symbol of the lot is a 2.5 metre-long, 400kg penis which protrudes from both sides of a portable shrine. Sixty men (all aged 42, which is considered to be a vulnerable age in Shinto belief) work in alternating shifts shouting "hoh-sho hoh-sho", while running, stopping abruptly, or turning the shrine around in circles until eventually they reach the Tagata Shrine itself. Finally the phallus is carried into the shrine and offered to the gods amid great celebration.

Saki anyone?

Happy Easter!