What did Jesus really say?
A book by Dr. Mishaal Abdullah Al-Kadhi
Chapter 3: Ancient Paganism
and the Dangers of Compromise
In this chapter, we shall demonstrate that most of the practices of today's "Christianity" as well as most of it's beliefs were only introduced into the religion as a regrettable outcome of an excessive undue willingness to compromise with the surrounding pagans in order to attain their support and conversion. This was the same paganism Jesus (pbuh) fought so valiantly during his lifetime to destroy. This will be proven, by the will of God, through the writings of Christians themselves. We shall demonstrate how all of these practices and beliefs were well established among many other pagan cults centuries before the arrival of Paul and his "visions."
The expanse of land between the river Nile and the river Euphrates was home to the Jews for centuries before the coming of Jesus (pbuh). During this period, this land fell under the rule of many empires, including the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Romans, all of whom had extensive contact with many other cultures and beliefs. We shall see in what follows that the religion of Jesus (pbuh) was revised and modified after his departure through the influence of all of these cultures and beliefs and how it now bears characteristics of many of these religions, including Buddhism, Roman and Greek worship, Hinduism, Persian and Egyptian beliefs, in addition to Judaism and many others.
The following information has been obtained from the books "Bible myths and their parallels in other religions" by T. W. Doane and "Islam and Christianity in the modern world," by Dr. Muhammad Ansari.
The general impression among Christians today is that the difference between today's "Christianity" and Paganism is so great that any similarity between them is scarcely recognizable. This, however, is far from the truth. The more knowledgeable a Christian becomes with today's "Christianity," the more they realize that it is the end result of a continuous effort to appease the pagan Romans in order to gain their support. This has regrettably resulted in the foisting upon Jesus (pbuh) and his apostles the pre-existent beliefs of ancient paganism. The established beliefs of these pagans were "inserted" into the word of God and it's religious practices through the agency of many centuries of divine "inspiration" to the Church. The knowledgeable Christian scholars are the most well-acquainted with this fact.
The great luminary of the Church, Saint Augustine (354-430 C.E.), is quoted to have said "The same thing which is now called CHRISTIAN RELIGION existed among the ancients. They have begun to call Christian the true religion which existed before."
"Our love for what is old, our reverence for what our fathers used, makes us keep still in the church, and on the very altar cloths, symbols which would excite the smile of an Oriental, and lead him to wonder why we send missionaries to his land, while cherishing his faith in ours" James Bonwick
Let us start with the very symbol of Christianity itself, the "cross."
It is well known that the first symbol of Christianity was that of a fish. On sacramental cups, seals, and lamps the Holy Spirit was symbolized by a dove and Christ by a fish (perhaps because at the time, fish was one of the elements of the sacred meal) or by a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders (from Luke 15:3-7) The cross was not adopted until long after the departure of Jesus. One of the main reasons for this was the fact that he who dies on the cross is considered cursed by God (Galatians 3:13). Current historical knowledge recognizes the fact that the cross was well recognized as a religious symbol long before the advent of Jesus (pbuh). It was adored in India as the symbol of the Hindu god Agni, the "light of the world." It was placed in the hands of Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Tvashtri, and Jama. The cross was also well known among the Buddhists from ancient times and the followers of Lama of Thibet.
The ancient Egyptians also adopted the cross as a religious symbol of their pagan gods. Countless Egyptian drawings depict themselves holding crosses in their hands. Among them, the Egyptian savior Horus is depicted holding a cross in his hand. He is also depicted as an infant sitting on his mother's knee with a cross on the seat they occupy. The most common of the crosses used by these pagan Egyptians, the CRUX ANSATA, was later adopted by the Christians.
The Egyptian savior, Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and the underworld, is sometimes represented holding out this cross to mortals signifying that this person has discarded mortality for the life to come.
Another cross has been unearthed in Ireland. It belongs to the cult of the Persian god of the sun "Mithra-Mithra-->" and bears a crucified effigy. The Greeks and Romans too adopted the cross as their religious symbol many centuries before Christianity did the same. An ancient inscription in Tessaly is accompanied by a Calvary cross. More crosses can be found to adorn the tomb of king Midas in Phrygia. The above references may be referred to for many more examples.
Now let us study the "Trinity" and it's roots in ancient pagan worship. The "Trinity" of Christendom, as defined in the creed of Nicea, is a merging of three distinct entities into one single entity, while remaining three distinct entities. We are told to speak of the three gods as one god, and never as three gods which would be considered heresy (Isaiah 43:10). They are considered to be co-eternal, co-substantial, and co-equal. However, only the first was self existent. The others preceded from the first. This Neo-Platonic philosophical doctrine has it's roots not in the inspiration of God, but in ancient paganism. Most ancient religions were built upon some sort of threefold distinction. Deities were always trinities of some kind or consisted of successive emanation in threes.
In India we find the doctrine of the divine trinity called "Tri-murti" (Three-forms) consisting of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. It is an inseparable unity though three in form. Worshipers are told to worship them as one deity. Such concepts posed no problem to the logic of a Hindu worshipper since they were already used to worshipping gods with the body of a man and the head of an elephant (Ganesh), or monkey-faced gods (Hanuman), or gods with six arms, and so forth. Remember, classical Hinduism dates back to at least 500BC, with roots extending as far back as 2000BC.
The Brahmas also have their trinity. In their trinity, Vajrapani, Manjusri, and Avalokitesvara form a divine union of three gods into one god called "Buddha." The citizens of China and Japan also worship Buddha, but they know him as "Fo." When they worship him they say "Fo, is one god but has three forms."
Sir William Jones says:
"Very respectable natives have assured me, that one or two missionaries have been absurd enough to in their zeal for the conversion of the Gentiles, to urge that the Hindoos were even now almost Christians; because their Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa (Siva), were no other than the Christian Trinity."
Bible myths and their parallels in other religions, p. 370.
The ancient Egyptians also worshipped a trinity. Their symbol of a wing, a globe, and a serpent is supposed to have stood for the different attributes of their god.
The Greeks also had their trinities. When making their sacrifices to their gods, they would sprinkle holy water on the altar three times, they would then sprinkle the people three times also. Frankincense was then taken with three fingers and strewed upon the alter three times. All of this was done because the oracle had proclaimed that all sacred things ought to be in threes. Remember that the philosophy of these people (The Greeks) is what was primarily responsible for defining the Christian "Trinitarian" nature of God. This was done through the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato regarding his "Logos" ("word"). Further, remember that the Gospels of the Bible were named the "Greek Gospels" for a reason: they were written in their language and based upon their philosophy (see chapter one).
As mentioned previously, T. W. Doane says:
"The works of Plato were extensively studied by the Church Fathers, one of whom joyfully recognizes in the great teacher, the schoolmaster who, in the fullness of time, was destined to educate the heathen for Christ, as Moses did the Jews. The celebrated passage : "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God" is a fragment of some Pagan treatise on the Platonic philosophy, evidently written by Irenaeus. It is quoted by Amelius, a Pagan philosopher as strictly applicable to the Logos, or Mercury, the Word, apparently as an honorable testimony borne to the Pagan deity by a barbarian........We see then that the title "Word" or "Logos," being applied to Jesus, is another piece of Pagan amalgamation with Christianity. It did not receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second century after Christ. The ancient pagan Romans worshipped a Trinity. An oracle is said to have declared that there was 'First God, then the Word, and with them the Spirit'. Here we see the distinctly enumerated, God, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, in ancient Rome, where the most celebrated temple of this capital - that of Jupiter Capitolinus - was dedicated to three deities, which three deities were honored with joint worship."
Bible Myths and their parallels in other religions, pp. 375-376.
Trinities were not confined to these groups alone, but the Persians, the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, the Scandinavians, the Druids, the inhabitants of Siberia, the ancient Mexicans, the Peruvians, and many others, all worshipped "Trinitarian" pagan deities (among a great multitude of other gods) long before the council of Nicea of 325 C.E. officially recognized this to be God's "true" nature.
Let us now move on to the "birthday of Jesus," Christmas. Jesus (pbuh) is commonly considered to have been born on the 25th of December. However, it is common knowledge among Christian scholars that he was not born on this day. It is well known that the first Christian churches held their festival in May, April, or January. Scholars of the first two centuries C.E. even differ in which year he was born. Some believing that he was born fully twenty years before the current accepted date. So how was the 25th of December selected as the birthday of Jesus (pbuh)?
Grolier's encyclopedia says:
"Christmas is the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated on December 25.... Despite the beliefs about Christ that the birth stories expressed, the church did not observe a festival for the celebration of the event until the 4th century.... since 274, under the emperor Aurelian, Rome had celebrated the feast of the "Invincible Sun" on December 25. In the Eastern Church, January 6, a day also associated with the winter solstice, was initially preferred. In course of time, however, the West added the Eastern date as the feast of the Epiphany, and the East added the Western date of Christmas."
So who else celebrated the 25th of December as the birth day of their gods before it was agreed upon as the birth day of Jesus (pbuh)? Well, there are the people of India who rejoice, decorate their houses with garlands, and give presents to their friends on this day. The people of China also celebrate this day and close their shops. The pagan god Buddha is believed to have been born on this day when the "Holy Ghost" descended on his virgin mother Maya. The great savior and god of the Persians, Mithras, is also believed to have been born on the 25th of December long before the coming of Jesus (pbuh). The Egyptians celebrated this day as the birth day of their great savior Horus, the Egyptian god of light and the son of the "virgin mother" and "queen of the heavens" Isis. Osiris, god of the dead and the underworld in Egypt, the son of "the holy virgin," again was believed to have been born on the 25th of December.
The Greeks celebrated the 25th of December as the birthday of Hercules, the son of the supreme god of the Greeks, Zeus, through the mortal woman Alcmene. Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry among the Romans (known among the Greeks as Dionysus) was also born on this day.
Adonis, revered as a "dying-and-rising god" among the Greeks, miraculously was also born on the 25th of December. His worshipers held him a yearly festival representing his death and resurrection, in midsummer. The ceremonies of his birth day are recorded to have taken place in the same cave in Bethlehem which is claimed to have been the birth place of Jesus (pbuh).
The Scandinavians celebrated the 25th of December as the birth day of their god Freyr, the son of their supreme god of the heavens, Odin.
The Romans observed this day as the birth day of the god of the sun, Natalis Solis Invicti ("Birthday of Sol the invincible"). There was great rejoicing and all shops were closed. There was illumination and public games. Presents were exchanged, and the slaves were indulged in great liberties. Remember, these are the same Romans who would later preside over the council of Nicea (325 C.E.) which lead to the official Christian recognition of the "Trinity" as the "true" nature of God, and the "fact" that Jesus (pbuh) was born on the 25th of December too. The pagan emperor Constantine, who presided over the council of Nicea, was popularly considered the "embodiment" or "incarnation" of the this supreme Roman "Sun" god. Neither was Constantine the first Roman emperor to be given this title, rather, many or his predecessors before him were also promoted to the status of the "incarnation" of the god of the sun.
Edward Gibbon says:
"The Roman Christians, ignorant of his (Christ's) birth, fixed the solemn festival to the 25th of December, the Brumalia, or Winter Solstice, when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of Sol"
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. ii, Gibbon, p. 383.
Christmas festivals today incorporate many other pagan customs, such as the use of holly, mistletoe, Yule logs, and wassail bowls. The Christmas tree itself is the most obvious aspect of ancient pagan celebrations which were later incorporated into church rites. Scholars believe that the Christian celebration was originally derived in part from rites held by pre-Christian Germanic and Celtic peoples to celebrate the winter solstice. The Christmas tree, an evergreen trimmed with lights and other decorations, because it keeps its green needles throughout the winter months, was believed by pre-Christian pagans to have special powers of protection against the forces of nature and evil spirits. The end of December marked the onset of a visible lengthening of daylight hours - the return of warmth and light and defeat of those evil forces of cold and darkness. The Christmas tree is derived from the so-called paradise tree, symbolizing Eden, of German mystery plays. The use of a Christmas tree began early in the 17th century, in Strasbourg, France, spreading from there through Germany, into northern Europe and Great Britain, and then on to the United States.
Christmas is not the only Christian festival which was borrowed from ancient paganism and foisted upon the religion of Jesus (pbuh). There is also Easter (see details in chapter one), the Feast of St. John, the Holy communion, the Annunciation of the virgin, the assumption of the virgin, and many others have their roots in ancient pagan worship. Since we can not get into the details here, therefore, the interested reader is encouraged to consult the above books.
Many people object to people who advise them not to introduce new and innovative practices into their religion, even if they were only to be festivals and celebrations. They object "what could it hurt if I were to worship God and thank Him for his blessings on this day when pagans performed their worship? I am not worshipping idols." For this we only need to read the very explicit prohibition of God in this regard which He Himself emphatically declared in the Bible:
"Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them (pagans), after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise."
There is a good reason why God commands us to do things. Just because we do not know the wisdom behind a prohibition does not give us the freedom to disregard it. Indeed, it is exactly such willingness to "adapt" and "compromise" which eventually lead to the loss of the message of Jesus, as seen chapter one.
General Similarities with Paganism
As we have seen, the common thread among most of these pagan sects is their worship of the sun as their deity and their selection of the winter solstice (25th of December) as the time of the birth of their supreme god. The winter solstice is the time of year when the sun would reach it's last stage of decline and once again begin to rise and become "re-born." This rise would continue until day and night become equal in length. At this point, the god of the sun would appear to be at a stand off with the "prince of darkness." This would occur at the vernal equinox, or Easter. This situation, however, would not last for long, as the god of the sun would triumph after Easter, and days would become longer than nights.
We notice that the church too received divine "inspiration" that Jesus (pbuh) was born on the 25th of December, and also that he too "triumphed over the prince of darkness" on Easter day, just as the pagan gods of the Greeks and Romans had done centuries before. Let us have a brief look at the popular beliefs of the pagan Gentiles who would later take it upon themselves to spread "Jesus'" religion to the world:
The pagan god Attis was the son of the virgin Nana. He was the "savior" and "only begotten son." His blood was believed to have renewed the fertility of the earth. As such, he was a symbol of immortality. He was believed to have died on March 24th and been resurrected shortly thereafter. Sacramental meals and baptism of blood were features of his church.
Adonis or Tammuz:
He was born of a virgin and was the "savior" of Syria. He died in redemption for mankind and was later resurrected in the spring.
Dionysus or Bacchus:
He was the "only begotten son" of Jupiter, the king of the gods of the Romans and the lord of life and death (For the Greeks, his father was the almighty Zeus). He was named the god of wine and revelry. Dionysus died at the hands of the Titans, who tore him apart, roasted the pieces, and began to eat them. At that point Zeus intervened, saved some of the pieces, and had Apollo bury them at Delphi. There, it was believed, Dionysus arose from the dead He said to mankind "It is I who guide you; it is I who protect you, and who save you; I am Alpha and Omega." He was slain for redeeming humanity and was called "the slain one," "the sin bearer," and "the redeemer." In celebrating his festival, his worshippers would observe the sparagmos: the tearing apart of a live animal, the eating of its flesh, and the drinking of its blood; participants believed they were in fact partaking of the god's body and blood. Plays were also staged at these festivals. Wine had a central place at his festivals. Does any of this sound familiar?
Bel or Baal:
He was the sun god of Babylon. The story of his life and his passion play bears a tremendous resemblance to that given to Jesus (pbuh) in our current Gospels. Called the lord of the universe, he was killed by monsters but restored to life. His death and resurrection were celebrated annually as a part of Canaanite fertility rituals.
He was the Egyptian's god of the dead and the underworld, born of the "virgin of the world" on the 29th of December. He preached gentleness and peace. Wine and corn were both his discoveries. He was betrayed by Typhen, slain and dismembered. He remained in hell for two or three days and three nights. He would be the judge of mankind in a future life.
Mithras or Mithra
He was the sun god of the Persians and the son of a virgin. He was born on the 25th of December. Christmas and Easter were two of the most important festivals of his church. His worshipers observed baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist supper at which time they would partake of their "god" in the form of bread and wine.
The Indian god Krishna too bears a tremendous resemblance to Jesus (pbuh) in the story of his mission and his divinity. He was the incarnation of the Indian's supreme god Vishnu (the preserver and protector of the world) in the womb of Devaki. Upon his birth, a great chorus of angles proclaimed "In the delivery of this favored woman, nature shall have cause to exalt." His birth was indicated by a star in heaven. Although of royal blood, he was born in a cave. He was presented with gifts of sandalwood and perfumes. His foster father was told to flee and hide him lest king Kansa might take his life. King Kansa had ordered all male infants born on that night to be slain. One of his first miracles was the healing of a leper. He was later slain and this resulted in an eclipse of the sun and a black circle forming around the moon. Spirits were seen on all sides and he descended into hell, rose again, and ascended into heaven with many people being witnesses to his bodily accent. He will have a "second coming" in the future which his followers continue await. There are countless other similarities with what is known today as "Christianity" even though his religion was well establish centuries before the birth of Jesus (pbuh). The accounts of Krishna's childhood agree quite closely with the apocryphal accounts of Jesus' childhood. In the ancient epic poems, Krishna is simply regarded as a great hero, it was not until about the 4th century BC that he was elevated to the position of a god.
Both books mentioned above have compiled a very detailed comparison of the legends of both Jesus (pbuh) and Buddha. The similarities are astounding. T.W. Doane has gone so far as to dedicate an entire chapter to this comparison, including a 48 point side-by-side narration from the time of their birth till the end of their lives on earth. Their conception, birth, mission, miracles, temptation, preaching, worship, prophesies, death, ascension, divinity, judgment of mankind, and many other matters are almost word-for-word exact copies of one another. Dr. Ansari records in his book the following words of the eminent Christian scholar S. M. Melamed:
"Yet the fact remains that Buddhist canons were already known to the Western world before the coming of Jesus. Today hardly any Indologist of note denies the organic connection between the two redemptive religions. So close is the connection between them that even the details of the miracles recorded between Buddhism and Christianity are the same. Of Buddha, too, it was told that he fed five hundred men with one loaf of bread, that he cured lepers and caused the blind to see."
As far back as 1884, a German historian of religion by the name of Rudolph Seydel published a very detailed study demonstrating that all of the tales, miracles, similes, and proverbs of the Christian Bible have their counterparts in the much more ancient Buddhastic gospel.
The author of "Bible Myths" observes that even though Buddha has been elevated today to the position of God, still, Mr. Doane observes that
"There is no reason to believe that he ever arrogated to himself any higher authority than that of a teacher of religion, but as in modern factions, there were readily found among his followers those who carried his peculiar tenets much further than their founder. These, not content with lauding during his life-time the noble deeds of their teacher, exalted him, within a quarter of a century after his death to a place among their deities - worshipping as a god one they had known only as a simple hearted, earnest, truth-seeking philanthropist."
Once again, this conforms exactly to the claim of the Qur'an that God was selecting prophets from every nation on earth (not just the Jews) and sending them to their people (and only to their people) to return them to the true worship of God alone, and that after their departure, their followers would not be content with themselves until they had managed to totally corrupt what their prophet had come to preach to them and even to go so far as to make this prophet himself the object of their pagan worship (see the Qur'an, Fatir (35):24).
Does this mean that Buddha was a true prophet of God? Only God Almighty Himself knows the answer to that question. However, it does appear that there at least exists the possibility that he might have been one of those many thousands of prophets and that his message may have started out as a true message of God which was later changed by mankind.
We have already seen in chapter one how Christian scholars today readily recognize the fact that for the first three decades C.E., "Christianity" remained a sect within Judaism and that the first fifteen Bishops of Christianity were circumcised Jews who worshipped in the synagogues of the Jews. We have seen how it was only after the introduction of Christianity to the Romans and the official "guardianship" of the Roman empire of the religion of Jesus (pbuh) that it began to see many of the "truths" of the mission of Jesus (pbuh) which were hidden from the very first apostles of Jesus (pbuh). We have seen how the "Trinity," the birth of Jesus (pbuh) on the 25th of December, the Easter festival and many other founding doctrines of Christianity were not recognized to be the "truth" until after the religion of Jesus (pbuh) was adopted by those people who for many centuries before that had been spoon fed the doctrines of "Trinity," "savior from sin," "incarnation of the Almighty," "death and resurrection," Christmas and Easter, "three days and three nights in hell," "only begotten of the almighty," "killed by the enemy," and many other matters which were later "inspired" to them by God in order to be "clarified" in the Bible so that they could be seen clearly.
Sadly enough, once all of this detailed evidence has been presented by Western scholars in support of the fact that all of these matters were acts of pagan worship and belief centuries before the coming of Jesus (pbuh), even with all of this, the adamant orthodox will ever manage to find a way out. "It is quite simple really," they will explain, "All of these countless pagan cults from all over the earth must have had prior knowledge of the coming of Jesus and inserted the story of his life into pagan mythology centuries before his actual arrival."
The great and elect messenger of Allah, Jesus the son of Mary (peace be upon them both), is innocent of these pagan innovations which have been foisted upon him after his departure by those who did not fear God. He was a true messenger of God and would never dare to say otherwise. God is One. Period!. He is indivisible and inseparable. There is no God but He. He has no sons nor any equal. He does not hold mankind responsible for the sin of others, but only for their own worship. And God alone shall be the final judge of all of mankind on the Day of Judgment.
There are many other parallels that could be brought up in this comparison. However, we can not get into the details here, therefore, it shall be left up to the interested reader to read about them in the books mentioned above, or in the book "Mohammed A Prophesy Fulfilled," by H. Abdul Al-Dahir, which I recommend highly.
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