Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
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16-12-2013, 02:12 PM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
I've been looking into this some more and still can't find much hard evidence that the Christian virgin birth concept was borrowed from earlier traditions. I certainly don't doubt it; I just can't find the smoking gun. What IS very apparent, though, is that the idea of a great religious/mythical figure with a divine father and mortal mother was extremely common in ancient times, and certainly didn't originate with Christianity. Examples include Perseus (son of Danae, who was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a shower of gold), Romulus (son of Rhea Silvia, fathered by the god Mars), and Plato (son of Perictione, who was impregnated by Apollo).
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17-12-2013, 02:07 AM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
Bart Erhman covers this in his latest book, Did Jesus Exist? He explains why you can't find any solid evidence about all the other syncretic anomalies, because they were made up.

And a virgin birth for their expected messiah was never part of Jewish prophecy.

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17-12-2013, 05:02 AM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
(17-12-2013 02:07 AM)Diogenes of Mayberry Wrote:  Bart Erhman covers this in his latest book, Did Jesus Exist? He explains why you can't find any solid evidence about all the other syncretic anomalies, because they were made up.

And a virgin birth for their expected messiah was never part of Jewish prophecy.


Ehrman on Jesus: A Failure of Facts and Logic

That Dying-and-Rising God Thing: Case in point. Regarding the claim that Osiris “returned to life on earth by being raised from the dead,” Ehrman insists that in fact “no ancient source says any such thing about Osiris (or about the other gods)” (p. 26). He relies solely on Jonathan Z. Smith, and fails to check whether anything Smith says is even correct. If Ehrman had acted like a real scholar and actually gone to the sources, and read more widely in the scholarship (instead of incompetently reading just one author–the kind of hack mistake we would expect from an incompetent myther), he would have discovered that almost everything Smith claims about this is false. In fact, Plutarch attests that Osiris was believed to have died and been returned to life (literally: he uses the words anabiôsis and paliggenesis, which are very specific on this point, see my discussion in The Empty Tomb, pp. 154-55), and that in the public myths he did indeed return to earth in his resurrected body (Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 19.358b).

Although Plutarch does say that in the private teachings Osiris’ death and resurrection took place in outer space (below the orbit of the moon), after which he ascended back to the heights of heaven in his new body (not “the underworld,” as Ehrman incorrectly claims on p. 228), that is irrelevant to the mythicist’s case (or rather, it supports it, by analogy, since this is exactly what competent mythicists like Doherty say was the case for Jesus: public accounts putting the events on earth, but private “true” accounts placing it all in various levels of outer space: see my Review of Doherty). In fact the earliest Christians also believed Jesus was resurrected into outer space: he, like Osiris, ascended to heaven in his resurrection body, appearing to those below in visions, not in person (see my survey of the evidence in The Empty Tomb, pp. 105-232; the same is true of many other dying-and-rising gods, like Hercules). The notion of a risen Jesus walking around on earth is a late invention (first found in the Gospels).

That these kinds of beliefs about Osiris’ death and resurrection long predate Plutarch is established in mainstream scholarship on the cult: e.g. S.G.F. Brandon, The Saviour God: Comparative Studies in the Concept of Salvation (Greenwood 1963), pp. 17-36 and John Griffiths, The Origins of Osiris and His Cult, 2nd ed. (Brill 1980). But we hardly need point that out, because there is already zero chance that the entirety of Isis-Osiris cult had completely transformed its doctrines in imitation of Christianity already by 100 A.D. (I shouldn’t have to explain why such a claim would be all manner of stupid). Ehrman’s claim that Plutarch is making all this up because he is Platonist is likewise nonsense. Ehrman evidently didn’t check the fact that Plutarch’s essay is written to a ranking priestess of the cult, and Plutarch repeatedly says she already knows the things he is conveying and will not find any of it surprising.

So regarding the death and resurrection of Osiris, Ehrman states what is in fact false. And this is most alarming because much of his case against mythicism rests on this false assertion. But worse, Ehrman foolishly eats his foot again by hyperbolically generalizing to all possible gods (he repeatedly insists there are no dying-and-rising gods in the Hellenistic period). Which is really bad, because that proves he did no research on this subject whatever. I shouldn’t have to adduce passages such as, from Plutarch, “[about] Dionysus, Zagreus, Nyctelius, and Isodaetes, they narrate deaths and vanishings, followed by returns to life and resurrections” (Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 9.388f-389a). That looks pretty cut and dried to me. But it’s worse than that. Because for Romulus and Zalmoxis we undeniably have pre-Christian evidence that they actually die (on earth) and are actually raised from the dead (on earth) and physically visit their disciples (on earth). And likewise for Inanna, a clear-cut death-and-resurrection tale exists on clay tablets a thousand years before Christianity (she dies and rises in hell, but departs from and returns to the world above all the same).

I was very alarmed to see that Ehrman never once mentions Romulus or Zalmoxis or Inanna. Thus demonstrating he did no research on this. He didn’t even read my book Not the Impossible Faith, even though he claims to have and even cites it. I know he can’t have actually read it, because I document the evidence, sources, and scholarship on these gods there (pp. 17-20 and 85-128), yet his book shows no awareness of these gods or any of the evidence I present for their resurrection cults. As well as many others, besides those I’ve just here named. (Do not mistake me for supporting false claims in this category, however; Mithras was almost certainly not a dying-and-rising god, and Attis only barely was.)
Even if Ehrman had done any responsible literature review on this, he would have found the latest peer reviewed scholarship establishing, for example, that vanishing bodies as elements of resurrection tales were a ubiquitous component of pagan mythmaking: Richard C. Miller, “Mark’s Empty Tomb and Other Translation Fables in Classical Antiquity,” Journal of Biblical Literature 129.4 (2010): 759-76. And thus a dying-and-rising hero theme was incredibly ubiquitous, even if highly flexible in the different ways this theme could be constructed. To be fair, Ehrman does address Tryggve Mettinger’s work on pre-Hellenistic dying-and-rising gods, dismissing it as questionable but ultimately admitting he might have a case for there being such gods (Ehrman arguing instead, albeit implausibly, that they can’t have influenced Christianity). But Ehrman doesn’t address any of the evidence for these same (much less other) gods in the Hellenistic period, the period actually relevant to Christianity, which proves he did no checking, and isn’t even aware of such evidence, nor even thought it was important for him to be.

Again, Ehrman exposes himself as completely uninformed, and incompetent as a scholar (like any hack, trusting a single biased scholar and not checking any of the evidence or reading any of the other literature), and as consistently misinforming his readers on the actual facts, and thus hiding from them almost everything that actually adds strength to the mythicist thesis. That he does this on a point so central and crucial to his book’s entire argument is alone enough to discredit this book as worthless.

-Richard Carrier

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17-12-2013, 05:24 AM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
(14-12-2013 02:21 PM)Mick Wrote:  We've all heard about how the virgin birth concept was very big in ancient times, and originated in pagan religions. But attempts to research this usually don't go anywhere. For instance, I've read that the Egyptian god Horus was the product of a virgin birth, but a little quicky research shows that his mom was, in fact, boinked by the re-assembled body parts of her defunct hubby. Which doesn't count as a virgin birth in my book.

There's a tremendous amount of misinformation out there - most of it spewed out by the Zeitgeist movie and the Acharya S/D.M. Murdock drivel that inspired it. So my question is - is there any RELIABLE information - by RESPECTED authors out there that would shed light on whether or not the virgin birth is a pagan concept?

No no no no no, purity is the motif even with Hourus. It still avoids conventional human sex and makes it "magic", something above humans. And the temple of Luxor has the oldest version of "Madonna and Child",

How is a disembodied penis any less magical than a virgin birth? If Lorana Bobbit(sp) had fucked the cut off penis of John do you still think she could have gotten pregnant?

Egypt is much older a society than the Canaan myths and geographically very close in travel. It makes much more sense that cultures overlapped or splinter tribes moved and created their own myths. Do you keep records of every person you say hi to in your lifetime? All it would take back then is one person or one family to move from one area to another.

Regardless of who started what humans STILL invent gods and neither magic penis or magic babies exist. You lend fuel to magic baby conspiracy theorists by making Horus the issue rather than likelyhood of magical claims being true, be they magic dicks or magic pussies.

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17-12-2013, 05:39 AM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
And often with stories there are competing stories about the same characters, much like politics where you can have people within the same camp having different views on the same politician. I don't think she is lying about those versions of Horus, they are simply the least known and least popular compared to the ones laypeople know of.

Not many people know that Akanaton(sp) attempted monotheism by making Ra the only god. After his death the Egyptians tried to erase all mentions of this unpopular belief.

Horus WAS believed to be a savior god, whom with Ra and Osirus sat in judgment of the dead. Arguing over details of myth to me is stupid when all of it promotes magic, no matter who or what period of human history we are talking about.

To me it is like Coke arguing with Pepsi that it was the first beverage because it's can was red. Magic is magic and bullshit is bullshit and ALL superstitions survive because of mere marketing.

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17-12-2013, 07:29 PM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
(17-12-2013 05:02 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  ...Again, Ehrman exposes himself as completely uninformed, and incompetent as a scholar (like any hack, trusting a single biased scholar and not checking any of the evidence or reading any of the other literature), and as consistently misinforming his readers on the actual facts, and thus hiding from them almost everything that actually adds strength to the mythicist thesis. That he does this on a point so central and crucial to his book’s entire argument is alone enough to discredit this book as worthless.

-Richard Carrier

You realize, of course, that Carrier is one of the mythicists that Ehrman is critiquing? Carrier is not objective in this matter, as he has his agenda to push.

Quote:On the origins of Christianity

He is a supporter of the Christ myth theory. In his contribution to The Empty Tomb Carrier argues that the earliest Christians probably believed Jesus had received a new body in the resurrection, and that stories of his old body disappearing from its tomb were developed later. He also argues it is less likely but still possible the original body of Jesus was misplaced or stolen. This work was criticized by philosophy professor Stephen T. Davis in Philosophia Christi[10] and Christian apologist Norman Geisler.[11] The religious studies professor Bart Ehrman has criticized Carrier's suggestion that during the initial formation of Christianity a humiliated messiah figure like Jesus would be expected; Ehrman says that Carrier's evidence of this is based on misreadings of Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9.[12] Carrier's first major book was published in 2012 by Prometheus Books, describing the application of Bayes Theorem to historical enquiry (specifically the historicity or otherwise of Jesus of Nazareth).[13]

Though originally skeptical of the notion, and subsequently more agnostic, since 2005 he has considered it "very probable Jesus never actually existed as a historical person",[14] yet he also said "though I foresee a rising challenge among qualified experts against the assumption of historicity [of Jesus]... that remains only a hypothesis that has yet to survive proper peer review".[15]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Car...ristianity

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17-12-2013, 08:43 PM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
(17-12-2013 07:29 PM)Diogenes of Mayberry Wrote:  
(17-12-2013 05:02 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  ...Again, Ehrman exposes himself as completely uninformed, and incompetent as a scholar (like any hack, trusting a single biased scholar and not checking any of the evidence or reading any of the other literature), and as consistently misinforming his readers on the actual facts, and thus hiding from them almost everything that actually adds strength to the mythicist thesis. That he does this on a point so central and crucial to his book’s entire argument is alone enough to discredit this book as worthless.

-Richard Carrier

You realize, of course, that Carrier is one of the mythicists that Ehrman is critiquing? Carrier is not objective in this matter, as he has his agenda to push.

Quote:On the origins of Christianity

He is a supporter of the Christ myth theory. In his contribution to The Empty Tomb Carrier argues that the earliest Christians probably believed Jesus had received a new body in the resurrection, and that stories of his old body disappearing from its tomb were developed later. He also argues it is less likely but still possible the original body of Jesus was misplaced or stolen. This work was criticized by philosophy professor Stephen T. Davis in Philosophia Christi[10] and Christian apologist Norman Geisler.[11] The religious studies professor Bart Ehrman has criticized Carrier's suggestion that during the initial formation of Christianity a humiliated messiah figure like Jesus would be expected; Ehrman says that Carrier's evidence of this is based on misreadings of Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9.[12] Carrier's first major book was published in 2012 by Prometheus Books, describing the application of Bayes Theorem to historical enquiry (specifically the historicity or otherwise of Jesus of Nazareth).[13]

Though originally skeptical of the notion, and subsequently more agnostic, since 2005 he has considered it "very probable Jesus never actually existed as a historical person",[14] yet he also said "though I foresee a rising challenge among qualified experts against the assumption of historicity [of Jesus]... that remains only a hypothesis that has yet to survive proper peer review".[15]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Car...ristianity

He's as "objective" about his view, (and fully supports it .. actually MORE so than Ehrman does) as Ehrman is about his.



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17-12-2013, 10:29 PM (This post was last modified: 17-12-2013 10:33 PM by grizzlysnake.)
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
(17-12-2013 05:39 AM)Brian37 Wrote:  And often with stories there are competing stories about the same characters, much like politics where you can have people within the same camp having different views on the same politician. I don't think she is lying about those versions of Horus, they are simply the least known and least popular compared to the ones laypeople know of.

Not many people know that Akanaton(sp) attempted monotheism by making Ra the only god. After his death the Egyptians tried to erase all mentions of this unpopular belief.

Horus WAS believed to be a savior god, whom with Ra and Osirus sat in judgment of the dead. Arguing over details of myth to me is stupid when all of it promotes magic, no matter who or what period of human history we are talking about.

To me it is like Coke arguing with Pepsi that it was the first beverage because it's can was red. Magic is magic and bullshit is bullshit and ALL superstitions survive because of mere marketing.
Sorry the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV promoted the God Aten, Amenhotep even changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect this. Aten was depicted as a sun disk sometimes with no physical form although sometimes with arms coming out holding the ankh. He proceeded to destroy any mention of any other gods and held Aten to be the one true god and he and his wife Nefertiti the sole speaker of Aten. After his reign the old gods were restored but some still held that Aten was the one true god. This is a bit interesting since christianity hasn't even begun yet and everyone would of known about this at the time.
Just wanted to clear that up, read it in a book a few weeks ago. Still freshBig Grin

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17-12-2013, 10:36 PM
RE: Tis the season for virgin birth skepticism
Quote:And often with stories there are competing stories about the same characters

Yep...many of these stories have been around a long time and have multiple traditions associated with them. That's one of the difficulties of debating this stuff...a historian cites a virgin birth tradition for a given god, then a theist looks up that god on Wikipedia, reads about a different tradition that doesn't involve a virgin birth, and says "Ahah! Suck it, Atheists!"

Quote:Arguing over details of myth to me is stupid when all of it promotes magic, no matter who or what period of human history we are talking about.

To me it is like Coke arguing with Pepsi that it was the first beverage because it's can was red. Magic is magic and bullshit is bullshit and ALL superstitions survive because of mere marketing.

Of course magic is bullshit. But I'm fascinated learning where all the bullshit came from. Specifically, the Christian bullshit - since that's what's been force-fed to me my entire life. Many Christians will deny til their last dying breath that their religion has pagan roots...it's good to have some hard core facts to stick in their face.
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