Unless there is some way to determine if the rock from which sprung Mithras — the ancient mythical god at the heart of the mystery cult known as “Mithraism” — was a virgin, that is.
That Jesus’ virgin birth was stolen from the Mithras myth is one of the many allegations raised by Christianity’s critics, ancient and modern. They contend the New Testament authors borrowed heavily from multiple pagan religions to elevate an obscure itinerant preacher named Jesus to divinity.
Not so, contends Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, an expert on such matters who teaches at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). Jones addresses a bunch of the supposed parallels.
For example, besides allegedly sharing the virgin birth, Mithras and Jesus were both resurrected, according to the critics. Here’s how Jones handles the contention:
“Supposed parallel: Mithras rose from the dead on the third day; his followers celebrated his resurrection each year.
“Significant problem: There is no surviving evidence from the pre-Christian era for a resurrection of Mithras on the third day. Because of his association with the sun, it is possible that followers of Mithras celebrated a renewal or rebirth each year.”
“There is no surviving evidence from the pre-Christian era for a resurrection of Mithras on the third day.”
Odds are good that such myths are why many men and women working on Capitol Hill who graduated from college in the last decade or so chose to dismiss or ignore the claims of Jesus Christ.
Too often, they were only told one side of the issue.
Go here for the rest of Jones’ analysis, which, by the way, merely skims the surface of a huge body of academic research that ought to have much wider exposure and consideration on America’s secular campuses.
Photo: Mithras birth rock in the Baths of Diocletian [Public domain]. Wikimedia Commons.
(Full Disclosure: I am an online graduate student at SBTS, but have never had a course under Jones and have no idea if I will in the future).