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Jesus and Dionysus

02 May

Several of the critics of Christianity would have us believe that the New Testament plagiarized the myth of the Dionysus cult. Nevertheless, the only similarities between Dionysus and Jesus are in the imagination of the purveyor of this myth. Why would they do such a thing, if it weren’t so? Well, I couldn’t claim that all simply wish to make their fortunes on the name of Jesus without submitting to him as their Lord, but when I consider some of the outright lies I’ve investigated in this series concerning supposed pagan similarities, it is difficult to imagine the almighty dollar isn’t behind most of it.

Dionysus similarities to Jesus include:[1]

  • He was born of a virgin on December 25th
  • He was a travelling teacher
  • He changed water into wine
  • He had a triumphant entry riding upon a donkey
  • His followers worship him by eating bread and drinking wine (his flesh and blood)
  • He was crucified
  • He rose from the dead

In the myth Dionysus was the son of Zeus and a human priestess, Semele. Zeus was taken by her beauty and became her lover. She became pregnant but Zeus’ wife, became jealous and convinced Semele to ask to see Zeus’ glory. Well, she was consumed by the thunderbolts and Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus from the ashes and inserted him into his thigh until he was full term. Now, if you are waiting for some similarity to Jesus birth, don’t hold your breath. There is none. In case anyone missed it, Semele could not have been a virgin, if she was a temple priestess. One of her many duties, as a priestess, was to engage in sexual relations with the temple priests etc. to act out the particular version of pagan worship.

Dionysus was the god of wine. He traveled teaching people how to make wine. This is as close as it gets to being a traveling teacher like Jesus. Did he turn water into wine? If he did, I couldn’t verify it in the myth. He turned corn and oil into wine—but he was the god of wine. Would it be true to say that one could get most anything that grew to ferment and turn to wine? Is there a miracle here or anything that would bring Jesus to mind—without the suggestion of the critic?

As far as Dionysus’ supposed triumphant entry is concerned, his mode of travel was often depicted upon a donkey. There was nothing special about his entry into any city. Jesus’ entry depicted the entry of other Jewish kings who returned to Jerusalem after being victorious. The people came out to meet their king, holding and waving palm branches (1Maccabees 13:51; 2Maccabees 10:7), which was founded upon what we find in Leviticus 23:40.

The followers of Dionysus never celebrated him by eating bread and drinking wine. What they did was tore a human or animal sacrifice limb from limb and ate the raw body parts. Yet, this did not depict Dionysus himself, but the king of Thebes who outlawed worship of Dionysus. The incident is depicted in a symbolic play, The Bacchae, by Euripides. There is absolutely nothing here that would even vaguely call the Christian Eucharist to mind. Yet, biased critics would use Christian terminology or outright lies to say we derived our celebration of Jesus from this pagan rite.

There is no story of Dionysus being crucified that I’ve been able to find, and the only “resurrection” he is said to have experienced is that Zeus saved the fetal Dionysus from the ashes of his priestess mother, Semele, and inserted the fetal Dionysus into his thigh until his birth. What this has to do with the bodily resurrection of Jesus is anyone’s guess, but this is what the critics of Christianity call it.

How can anyone simply “say” something is similar to another matter when no similarity exists? The only thing I can come up with is that it is “their truth,” and “their truth” isn’t someone else’s “truth”. In other words, there are no absolutes. The philosophy stems from things like political correctness when everything is treated the same. Contradictory “truths” can exist, because no one is permitted to contradict anyone’s so-called “truth.” In a couple of future blogs I hope to discuss this very contradictory philosophy in an effort to show why it is logically impossible to categorize Jesus as myth. The polytheistic philosophy is diametrically opposed to monotheism. They represent two totally different worldviews. The one is not derived from the other. Both represent two entirely different origins, and this is what the critics cannot accept, because, if they did, they would have to account for how monotheism arose on its own when the whole world was polytheistic. The critics don’t wish to think about such an occurrence, but the evidence seems to point to exactly that—two entirely different worldview origins.

____________________________________

[1] More information concerning how people accused Christianity of copying the pagan myths can be found HERE  and HERE.

 

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11 Comments

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Paganism

 

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11 responses to “Jesus and Dionysus

  1. Hermod

    December 19, 2012 at 20:05

    Well, hello!
    My friend, when people understand WHAT is a Myth they will fall back. But lets not talk about this now. Just one point: you forgot one more coincidence between then. Have you forgot that when the Titans – by the orders of Hera – catch and destroyed the entire body of Zagreus-Dionysus, Athena came and rescued his most important part: His Heart. And then Zeus the Almighty, made a potion with His Sacred Heart and gave it to Semele drink. Then, this helped her to give birth do Dionysus. Another point that we can take in consideration, after all, Jesus is known to have a Sacred Heart, isn’t ?
    Regards- Palas John

     
    • Eddie

      December 19, 2012 at 21:16

      Is there a point here–or is it that Jesus is supposed to have ‘sacred heart’?

      Even if what you say about Dionysus is true, and I haven’t read that in the myth, the Scriptures make no claim about Jesus’ heart.

       
  2. john

    November 24, 2012 at 02:37

    I have a few books on mythology that list the properties of Dionysus and I’ll post them in with all the sources in a few days. In the interim, I think you should buy a book on Dionysus and read it. I don’t think you are being honest if you don’t read about your subject matter. It’s equivalent to claiming that there is nothing in science that talks about motion, without buying a basic book on physics.

     
  3. john

    November 24, 2012 at 02:31

    “The followers of Dionysus never celebrated him by eating bread and drinking wine”
    The whole POINT of dionysus was the production and celebration of wine drinking. I’m trying to be polite here, but he was the GOD of wine. Wherever they MADE wine back in the day, Dionysus was worshipped. From Wikipedia “The use of wine in religious ceremonies is common to many cultures and regions. Libations often included wine, and the religious mysteries of Dionysus used wine as a sacramental entheogen to induce a mind-altering state.” . You aren’t helping your cause here. And anyone in the world can read about the maeneads, and how they would drink wine in worship of Dion and go a little crazy.

     
    • Ed Bromfield

      November 24, 2012 at 08:55

      Greetings John and thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I really appreciate those who offer something new or who challenge what I say. Welcome! :-)

      My argument is not with the myth itself. I have no problem with that at all. My argument is with the purveyors of the myth who find supposed similarities with the Gospel accounts of Jesus, implying that early Christianity ‘stole’ its doctrines from mythology. We did not.

      One of the many websites claiming we copied from the Dionysus myth is one hosted by D.M. Murdock. As far as the Dionysus myth ever used to imply we got the Lord’s Supper from it (partaking of bread and wine), you can read about it HERE. In fact, I plan to update my article by placing these two websites in the article. Also a variation of this “flesh and wine” was provided in the article’s reference to the king of Thebes outlawing worship of Dionysus.

      If I missed anything as it pertains to people who accuse Christianity of adopting pagan doctrines from the myths, surely you could find them on the ‘religious tolerance‘ website. :-)

      Have a great day, John,

      Eddie

       
  4. Amy

    November 17, 2012 at 15:07

    Good article, however there is one issue with it that I should bring to your attention. While it is true that some *older* pagan religions included sex in their rituals, it was not true with the Greeks. In fact, they were to be abstinant from it for certain periods of time, along with certain foods and drinks. However, certain priestesses were to remain abstinant(pure) for a lifetime. Still, we do not have enough information to determine rather or not she followed that rule for a lifetime. I need to brush up on my mythology lol! Aside from that, i agree that Dionysus and Jesus really don’t have much in common. Take care, and have a great day! :)

     
    • Ed Bromfield

      November 17, 2012 at 19:26

      Hi Amy, thanks for reading my blog post and for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate the information concerning the celibacy of Greek priestesses. It would appear that I, too, must brush up on my mythology. :-)

      In the case of Semele, however, if she was supposed to have become the lover of Zeus, as at least one version of the myth tells it, she was no longer a virgin. If Zeus took her virginity in lovemaking, this is a far cry from what Christianity claims about Mary, and how the Biblical texts tell the story. Anyway this point is moot, since you agree that there is little if anything at all in common with the Dionysus myth and Jesus.

      Hope you have a great day too, and holiday season. :-)

       
  5. shane

    November 2, 2012 at 14:07

    i think you need just a little more research to make such bold claims. firstly i cant comment about the virginity of semele, it was said in numerous sources that she was a virgin but i cant say much about her. secondly as the ancient people may not have been able to explain how wine is made; it can be said that Dionysus made wine from water as he is accredited with having shown how to make wine (from the Greek myths) because that may just be how it is seen. there is some relation to Dionysus and a talking donkey which he traveled with to keep him company after giving the donkey speech. Dionysus was worshiped by the maenads who followed Dionysus around. the eating of the flesh of animals and people came from Dionysus being ripped to pieces and cooked to be fed to zues but Dionysus was resurrected back to life (occurred when Dionysus was a young god). Dionysus was also on of the few gods to bring back the dead, in which he brought back his mother semele from the underworld (dead) after many years. there is a lot of information in the world, so having not “found” information wouldn’t be the right thing to say. who is to say whats really true or not or what hasn’t been intertwined into other stories. man makes religions which is why there are so many, but there is only one science, in my opinion science is only the observation of what already is and shall always be until it can be explained further. religions change and with the dark ages, who is to say that the more accurate religion was not put into the background by violent people who killed in the name of the bible.

     
    • Ed Bromfield

      November 2, 2012 at 15:23

      Greetings Shane and thanks for your comment.

      Of course we disagree. You tell me that I need to conduct deeper research into mythology, but all you can add is “who’s to say”. You haven’t posted anything to support your information. I have provided two links that support what I am saying. Of course you may believe whatever you wish, but it seems to me, if you don’t support your claims with some authoritative website, that you must be clinging to an opinion you heard before, but can’t produce now by way of an authority. What I have used are two websites that tell about the myth. I have not used a Christian website as my authority, so I cannot be accused of being biased.

      Concerning science, all science is able to prove is what it can produce in a test tube. Science is not without its own unproved theories. For example, no one has seen, felt, heard, touched or smelled dark matter or dark energy. Yet, science tells us it’s there. If I cannot see it, hear it, touch it, smell it or taste it, **it** is not physical science. It is theory accepted on faith in what they can imagine, calculate or conclude through logic. Logic is only as good as the knowledge we already have. Our calculations (math) are only as good as the formulas we’ve proved true, and our imaginations cannot always be trusted. Everyone is able to imagine something is so, but few (if anyone) are able to physically prove what they imagine to be true.

       
  6. Deborah

    May 17, 2012 at 11:15

    I have heard these same lies about anicent gods and goddesses from critics of Christianity ad naseum but the actual archaeological evidence always refutes such wild claims. Much of this stems from the debunked book “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop whose goal was to try to prove the Roman Catholic Church was the Mystery Babylon of the Revelation, the whorish apostate woman, and he made up all kinds of false claims about anicent Mesotheologies of which he actually had no knowledge or training in to try to “prove” his specious claims, but they have been thoroughly debunked by imminent authorites. But the damage is done and there are scores of students who take his work seriously and run with the false claims without ever bothering to actually study these ancient religions to determine the truth of the matter. Talk about bias at work …

     
    • Ed Bromfield

      May 17, 2012 at 18:47

      Deborah, thanks for reading and for your comment. I was unaware of the possible source of these claims. I did a search for the book and I’ll give it a read. Thanks again.

       

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