Dying/Resurrection God Myths

Death and resurrection myths were common to several cultures some 2,000-3,000 years ago:

The Greeks had their Dionysus, the half god/half mortal who was ripped to shreds by angry and agenda driven Titans, only to be reassembled and resurrected to become one of the most revered and influential gods of the Grecian culture; as well as being the only Greek god who ever descended to the realm of death and successfully raised another from the dead; when he rescued his deceased mother from the underworld.

Asia Minor had Attis, who castrated himself on his wedding day and bled to death under a pine tree, only to be raised from the dead before and without suffering decay.

Egypt had Osiris, who in spite of being suffocated to death in a box, floated “down the river” in his coffin, and mutilated; was nonetheless reassembled in order to reign as the king of the underworld and to serve as the Judge of the eternal fate of the deceased.

Canaan had Baal; the son of God (El, aka Dagon); who was killed, banished to the netherworld; presumed dead; raised up and restored to his throne and rightful position as Lord and Master.

The Hebrews had Jesus; the half god/half mortal son of God who was executed by crucifixion; only to be raised from the dead before his body suffered decay; and soon thereafter to ascend to heaven in order to reign at the right hand of God before eventually judging the eternal fate of the deceased.

Observations:

Every god listed above; without exception, was alleged to have died and subsequently spent time in the underworld/realm of death, before being resurrected to live again.

Every god listed above; with one exception, served as the god of fertility/vegetation of his respective culture.  The lone exception being the Hebrew dying/rising from the dead god Jesus.

Every culture listed above; with one exception, associated the mythical tale of the miraculous death and subsequent resurrection of their respective dying/rising gods primarily with agricultural and natural experiences such as the annual dying and seasonal revival of crops, and the daily departure and cyclical return of the sun.  The lone exception being the Hebrew culture with reference to their dying/rising from the dead god Jesus.

The Hebrew culture in fact have seemingly “flipped” the perspective in that they associate the natural death and rebirth of crops with the miraculous death, burial, and resurrection of their dying/rising from the dead god Jesus (John 12:24,27); as opposed to vice versa.

The primary concern then of most of the cultures listed above seems to have been the natural practical matter of survival based upon the fertility of agriculture and the stability of the environment.  The exceptions being the Hebrew culture, and to an extent the Egyptians.

The primary concern of the Hebrew culture on the other hand seems to have been the supernatural spiritual matter of salvation based upon faith in the details of their myth of the death, burial, and miraculous resurrection of their god/man Jesus; and furthermore faithful obedience to set doctrines relative to the myth itself (namely; baptism and ceremonial worship).

The Egyptian culture seems to have assumed a hybrid perspective with regards to their mythical dying/rising god tale in that they associated Osiris with both the natural practicalities of survival based upon the dying and returning of crops; and yet likewise associated Osiris with one’s supernatural afterlife state by portraying Osiris as the judge of the deceased in the underworld.

Speculations:

The fact that these tales of dying/rising gods are usually associated with practical natural matters leads me to view such as cultural myths whose agenda related to everyday “here and now” affairs.

The fact that the Hebrew dying/rising god myth seems to be somewhat uniquely a primarily and fundamentally supernatural/afterlife agenda based tale, leads me to view such as a party driven myth, as opposed to one whose concerns represented any given culture as a general whole.

History would seem to indicate that the party(s) so referenced would be the early Christian movements (Gnostic Christian, Marcionite Christian, Jewish Christian, and early Catholic Church come to mind.  Early Christianity was split into a variety of philosophic factions; 1 Cor 1:12).

Regardless of whether the agenda be practical or philosophical, the nature of the tales and the scope of the exercise of mythical creation and circulation leads me to conclude that no one dying/rising god myth is in fact historic and/or true.  (This is not to say that any claims of historicity relative to any such myths are efforts to deceive or are lies as such; this is merely to say that all such myths are creations of the human imagination for a variety of heretofore mentioned reasons, and therefore not to be confused as fact. Or so it seems to me).

Conclusion:

It seems that the value of any given cultural/party agenda based myth would surely be for the most part specific to the demographic of the given culture and/or concerned party who maintained a vested interest in each respective tale.

Clearly, most of the dying/rising god myth tales taught reverence for and respect of the earth and the environment; if for no other reason than one’s own survival (A lesson which would do our society an element of good in my personal opinion).

The Egyptian Osiris and the Hebrew Jesus dying/rising from the dead myths no doubt counseled a degree of respectable lifestyle and social engagement, as each involved a post life judgment relative to how the deceased had conducted their earthly lives.

Regardless then of the alleged historicity of a given cultural/party agenda based myth, suffice it to say that the value of such is somewhat relative to the perspective of the individual.

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s