Origins of Christianity: An Introduction

You already know Christmas trees and Easter eggs were originally Pagan, and you probably know the seasonal timing of the two holidays is Pagan too. Mildly interesting. Not what you'll find here. You'll discover in this website that ancient Pagan cultures around the Mediterranean shared standard ideas about Gods and their powers and place in the universe—and that the early Christians naturally held these same ideas about Jesus.

In the first centuries of Christianity, there were many “faith communities,” often in the same vicinity, with different and competing beliefs. One group, called the Ebionites, thought Jesus was just as human as anybody else. Gnostic groups, by contrast, often saw him as a phantom materialized in this material world. But none of them — at least none that we know of — thought he was God. Nowhere in the gospels did Jesus ever explicitly claim to be God. The Encyclopedia Britannica states:

"Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. (Deut. 6:4)".

The core of Christianity—Many of the miracles attributed to Jesus, are identical to stories Pagans told about their deities. .The worship of a miracle working, walking, talking salvation bringing deity—was also the core of other ancient religions that began many years before Jesus.

Heaven, hell, prophecy, daemon possession, sacrifice, initiation by baptism, communion with God through a holy meal, the Holy Spirit, monotheism, immortality of the soul, and many other "Christian" ideas all belonged to earlier, older Pagan faiths. They were simply part of ancient Mediterranean culture. Along with  a miracle-working son of god, born of mortal woman, these elements were found in pre-Christian Pagan religions. Mithras had them. So did Dionysus, Attis, Osiris, and Orpheus. And they had them centuries before they were publicized in the New Testament

Jewish Origins
Judaism, beginning in 1500 BC, experienced many changes. The system that Moses created contained a number of Egyptian elements. After all, wasn't he the adopted grandson of the Pharoah? Then we find the writers of the Old Testament repeatedly bemoaning the fact that the Jews were adopting the customs and beliefs of their non-Jewish neighbors.

Then there was the so-called "Babylonian Captivity" in which a large element of the Jewish people were held in Persia for hundreds of years. When they finally returned to Jerusalem, they brought with them a belief in angels, a dualistic view of deity, the practice of baptism, the sect of the Pharisees and more.

After they returned from captivity and tried to rebuild their kingdom, the Jews evolved the idea that God would send them a Messiah (an annointed leader like King David) who would re-establish their great "Kingdom of God" as they imagined it had once been under Kings David and Solomon.
Before it had begun, the Jewish kingdom was taken over by the Greeks and then the Romans. As a result  there were continuous religious and political tensions in Judea which came to a head under the rule of Herod, who was merely a Roman puppet.

Many claimed to be the promised Messiah. As John notes: "My children, this is the last hour. You were told that a false messiah was to come, and now many false messiahs have appeared, which proves to us that this is indeed the last hour.  -l John2.-18

There was one serious revolt in 66 AD which was finally put down.  But continued to boil underground. A second revolt erupted under the command of Simon bar Kokhba, who was regarded by many Jews as the Messiah who would restore their national independence. They were victorious over the Romans for over two years. Finally Roman Emperor Hadrian assemblef a large scale Roman force which invaded Judea in 134 AD which finally managed to crush the revolt.

Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius was born into a respected and wealthy Greek family.  He was a contemporary ofJesus who lived about 3 BC to 97 AD.
 The story goes that, before he was born, an angel informed his mother that her child would not be a mere mortal but would be divine.. As an adult he left home and went on an itinerant preaching ministry, urging his listeners to live, not for the material things of this world, but for what is spiritual. He gathered a number of disciples around him, who believed  he was divine. because he performed many miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. At the end of his life, his enemies delivered him over to the Romans. After his death, he returned to meet his followers in order to convince them that he was not really dead but lived on in the heavenly realm. Laterhis followers wrote books about him

Mithras
An ancient savior-god worshipped in Persia four hundred years prior to Jesus (and worshipped continually throughout the first four or five centuries of this millennia in Rome, right alongside those who worshipped Jesus).Mithras was born in a cave, on December 25th, and his birth was attended by shepherds. He had twelve companions. Mithras performed miracles and saved the world by slaying the heavenly bull.  He ascended to heaven on a solar chariot. His followers celebrated Sunday as his sacred day (also known as the “Lord’s Day,”) and they celebrated a special meal or “Lord’s Supper”. Mithras was one of many saviors of Greek and Asia Minor myths.

Greg Kane, referred to by his detractors refer as Pikachu, has produced a remarkable website - Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth.  For fear that this website might someday drop off the web, we are hooking you up to it here:

Origins of the Christ Myth