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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Jesus Was Neither Alone Nor Was He the First

Jesus on Easter Sunday

Just so you know some human history, Jesus wasn't the only--or even the first--god said to have risen from the dead. Actually, far from it.

Jesus: Just One More Dying 

and Rising Savior

History records many dying-and-rising saviors. Examples from the Ancient Near East that preceded the Jesus story include Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, and Baal.

Dying-and-rising god

A dying-and-rising, death-rebirth, or resurrection deity is a religious motif in which a god dies and is resurrected. "Death or departure of the gods" is motif A192 in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, while "resurrection of gods" is motif A193.

Examples of gods who die and later return to life are most often cited from the religions of the Ancient Near East, and traditions influenced by them including Biblical and Greco-Roman mythology and by extension Christianity. The concept of a dying-and-rising god was first proposed in comparative mythology by James Frazer's seminal The Golden Bough. Frazer associated the motif with fertility rites surrounding the yearly cycle of vegetation. Frazer cited the examples of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis and Attis, Dionysus and Jesus Christ.

Frazer's interpretation of the category has been critically discussed in 20th-century scholarship, to the conclusion that many examples from the world's mythologies included under "dying and rising" should only be considered "dying" but not "rising", and that the genuine dying-and-rising god is a characteristic feature of Ancient Near Eastern mythologies and the derived mystery cults of Late Antiquity.

And what is religion, anyway, if not a huge denial of death? An attempt to explain "what comes after." It only stands to reason that we want our god or God or gods dying and coming back, just to prove what we want and that it can be done, that this life isn't all there is. There's no better example or reason for this than that we want to deny death and dying.
Just saying.

That said, if you're into it, if you celebrate Easter, have at it. Enjoy.

Happy Easter.

Whatever gets you through.


The pagan roots of Easter

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