Christianity cut-and-pasted from other religions?
1) similarities and differences
Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity, the Last Judgment ...from Thrace,
perhaps the cult of Dionysus, the dying and saving god. From Persia...
the dualism of Satan and God,..."
and Ariel Durant
myself, I must say, that having for many years made the evidences of Christianity
the subject of close study, the result has been a firm and increasing
conviction of the authenticity and plenary inspiration of the Bible. It
is indeed the Word of God."
How does it appear?
Imagine forcing together
pieces from different jigsaw puzzles and then coloring-in the gaps. The
result would be an incoherent mess. Some critics theorize the Bible to have
been put together in just that way: a cut-and-paste menagerie of borrowed
philosophies and folklore (Friedrich Delitzsch's pan-Babylonian theory is
an example). But what adherents of these ideas downplay, or fail to recognize,
is the astonishing completeness of the Bible as a whole.
cannot reasonably account for the unity of theme, purpose, and consistency
of each of the Bible's sixty-six books and letters: multiple works produced
by different authors, from different social, professional, and cultural
backgrounds, and across many different centuries. These works collectively
read so much like a singular composition that it is easy to see why the
Bible is so often mistaken to be one book (it isn't!).
One of the best evidences
of the harmony between the Bible's many compositions is to study the relationship
between the Old Testament and New Testament writings. For those who will
put in the time, the ties between the two collections become obvious. They
are so numerous that to find each one might could be a lifelong task. (A
big claim that I will try to write further on or provide links to corroborate.)
Given this incredible quality and depth of harmony, an origin by cut-and-paste
methodology is an irrational theory that does not fit the facts.
5.2 Similarities to ancient Near-East religions?
at the ancient biblical writings, can any similarities be found between
its events, themes, or persons, and those of other ancient cultures or religions?
While some critics have
theorized that major elements of Scripture evolved from Hammurabi's Code
or Near-Eastern religions, it is sufficient for this discussion to concede
that certain similarities, whether actual or perceived, have already been
drawn. Therefore, the issue to concern ourselves with is the nature, extent,
and significance of those alleged similarities.
It is a principle
within the Treasury Department that counterfeit copies of currency are rejected
for their differences, not accepted for their similarities. On this basis,
perceived similarities alone are insufficient to equate or link the Bible's
origins to its contemporaries. One must look at not only at the similarities,
but also the differences, and then understand how the comparisons were drawn.
Perhaps the easiest
and most common method of comparison adopted by cut-and-paste theorists
is that of guilt-by-association. Incapable or too lazy to directly
disprove the Bible, certain critics have refuted lesser foes (religions
riddled with polytheistic contradictions and factual errors) and then inferred
that Christianity, "just another religion", is equally wrong.
Here is an example of
how Christianity can be misrepresented by false linkage to other religions.
The terms baptism,
resurrection, and sacrifice have specific meanings and unique significance
within Christian thinking. These words are also used to describe practices
in other religions. Each term expresses a different meaning and significance
within the context of each system of thought. So when these terms are used
loosely in comparing religions, the casual observer can easily mistake a
correlation where, in reality, there is none.
5.3 Similarities to ancient Babylonian religion?
One such erroneous correlation
is the belief that the creation of the world was appended to Israel's religion
from the Babylonian Enuma Elish. Here is how the Enuma Elish
It tells of the revolt
of Tiamat against the gods, of their choice of Marduk to be their champion
in the fight against this monster, ...of its successful outcome, of Marduk's
ordering of the heavens and the earth...1
The only real similarity
to the Bible here is the general idea that supernatural power was involved
in the initiation of the heavens and the earth (the biblical creation account
will be explored in great detail here
and here, and
the amount of time it took here
The presence of a creation story in the Enuma Elish is wholly insufficient
to either accuse or convict the biblical authors of theological plagiarism.
5.4 Similarities to other neighboring cultures?
An additional claim
by some skeptics is that the Bible's resurrection of Jesus Christ was an
idea inspired by neighboring cultures. Tablets discovered in Syria at Ras
Shamra, for instance, tell the story of the Canaanite or Ugartic gods Baal
(son of El) and Anath (Baal's sister and consort). In the story, Baal battles
with Mot, god of the dry season, and is killed. Anath gathers up the pieces
of Baal's body and buries them. She then goes out and cuts Mot into pieces;
sometime after which Baal returns to life.
In other cultures, this
same story of a sliced-up God returning to life is similarly reflected:
the Sumerian and Mesopotamian accounts of Adonis and Tammuz and Ishtar,
of Orpheus and Proserpina, of Telepinus,
3 and of Osiris and Isis from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
any or all of these the source for a mythical Jesus?
The Book of the Dead
does not claim any witnesses to its events, nor does Egyptology reveal any
evidence. The other accounts fare no better. In fact, the majority of these
non-biblical accounts were featured explanations of either fertility cycles
or the change in seasons. None of these stories are similar to the events
surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in either symbolism
Jesus was not hacked
to pieces in mortal combat, nor reassembled by a female counterpart goddess,
nor used for the purpose of symbolizing the cycles of fertility or nature.
Jesus, by significant contrast, is a proven historical figure for whom
a great deal of written material exists; including written material
by ancient non-Christian
NEXT: Was Christianity cut-and-pasted? - part two
Where did the earth
What do we know about
Jesus from non-biblical sources?