Christianity and Common Religious Practices

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Miracles (add specific pagan examples)

Similarity between Pagan miracles and Jesus miracles: http://www.pocm.info/pagan_ideas_miracles.html

  • Jesus healed the sick.
    • Pagan Gods healed the sick first.
  • Jesus walked on water.
    • Pagan Gods walked on water first.
  • Jesus turned water into wine.
    • Pagan Gods turned water into wine first.
      • “at the touch of god, a spring of wine poured out …” Euripides, The Bacchae 703-707 (c 5th century BC)
  • Jesus calmed the storm.
    • Pagan Gods calmed storms first.
  • Jesus fulfilled prophecy.
    • Pagan Gods fulfilled prophecy first.
  • Jesus prophesied correctly.
    • Pagan Gods prophesied correctly first.
  • Jesus raised the dead.
    • Pagan Gods raised the dead first.
  • Jesus rose from the dead.
    • Pagan Gods rose from the dead first.
  • Jesus apostles performed miracles.
    • Pagan Gods' apostles performed miracles first.

Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity – Wendy Cotter

  • You'll read short excerpts from ancient texts describing Pagan Gods who healed the sick (blindness, paralysis, lameness), raised the dead, exorcised demons, controlled nature, turned water into wine, walked on water, calmed storms, and more. (POCM)

Jesus miracles fall into 4 categories and so do the list of pagan miracles. (POCM)

  1. Healings
  2. Exorcisms
  3. Raising the dead
  4. Nature miracles

Jesus miracles are often similar to pre-existing pagan miracles

Herodotus describes many miracles in “The Persian War” (c 440 BC)

List of supernatural references in Bible

There are many miracles documented in the Old and New Testament. Why are there not any miracles occurring today that are documented, unambiguous interruption of the laws of nature?

List of Jesus miracles

  • Control of Nature
    • Calming the storm – Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:22-25
    • Feeding 5,000 - Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14
    • Walking on water - Matthew 14:22-32; Mark 6:47-52; John 6:16-21
    • Feeding 4,000 – Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9
    • Fish with coin – Matthew 17:24-27
    • Fig tree withers – Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25
    • Huge catch of fish – Luke 5:4-11; John 21:1-11
    • Water into wine – John 2:1-11
  • Healing of Individuals
    • Man with leprosy – Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-44; Luke 5:12-14
    • Roman centurion’s servant – Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10
    • Peter’s mother-in-law – Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:30-31; Luke 4:38-39
    • Man with palsy – Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:18-26
    • Woman with bleeding – Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48
    • Two blind men – Matthew 9:27-31
    • Canaanite woman’s daughter – Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30
    • Two blind men – including Bartimaeus - Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43
    • Blind man at Bethsaida – Mark 8:22-26
    • Crippled woman – Luke 13:10-17
    • Man with dropsy – Luke 14:1-4
    • Ten men with leprosy – Luke 17:11-19
    • The high priest’s servant – Luke 22:50-51
    • Nobleman’s son at Capernaum – John 4:46-54
    • Sick man at the pool of Bethsaida – John 5:1-15
    • Man born blind – John 9:1-41
  • Exorcism
    • Two men possessed with devils – Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-15; Luke 8:27-39
    • Dumb, devil-possessed man - Matthew 9:32-33
    • Boy with devil - Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 9:38-43
    • Demon-possessed man in synagogue – Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37
  • Raising the Dead
    • Jairus’ daughter – Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56
    • Widow’s son at Nain – Luke 7:11-17
    • Lazarus – John 11:1-44

Other New Testament miracles

  • Conception by Elisabeth, Luke 1:18,24,25;
  • The incarnation of Jesus, Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-80.
  • The appearance of the star of Bethlehem, Matt. 2:1-9.
  • The deliverance of Jesus, Matt. 2:13-23.

List of Old Testament miracles

  • Creation, Gen. 1. Flood, Gen. 7; 8.
  • Confusion of tongues, Gen. 11:1-9.
  • Fire on Abraham's sacrifice, Gen. 15:17.
  • Conception of Isaac, Gen. 17:17; 18:12; 21:2.
  • Destruction of Sodom, Gen. 19.
  • Lot's wife turned to salt, Gen. 19:26.
  • Closing of the wombs of Abimelech's household, Gen. 20:17,18.
  • Opening of Hagar's eyes, Gen. 21:19.
  • Conception of Jacob and Esau, Gen. 25:21.
  • Opening of Rachel's womb, Gen. 30:22.
  • Flaming bush, Ex. 3:2.
  • Transformation of Moses's rod into a serpent, Ex. 4:3,4,30; 7:10,12.
  • Moses's leprosy, Ex. 4:6,7,30.
  • Plagues in Egypt, see Plagues. Pillar of cloud and fire, Ex. 13:21,22; 14:19,20.
  • Passage of the Red Sea, Ex. 14:22.
  • Destruction of Pharaoh and his army, Ex. 14:23-30.
  • Sweetening the waters of Marah, Ex. 15:25.
  • Manna, Ex. 16:4-31. Quails, Ex. 16:13.
  • Defeat of Amalek, Ex. 17:9-13.
  • Transfiguration of the face of Moses, Ex. 34:29-35.
  • Water from the rock, Ex. 17:5,7.
  • Thundering and lightning on Sinai, Ex. 19:16-20; 24:10,15-17; Deut. 4:33.
  • Miriam's leprosy, Num. 12:10-15.
  • Judgment by fire, Num. 11:1-3.
  • Destruction of Korah, Num. 16:31-35; Deut. 11:6,7.
  • Plague, Num. 16:46-50.
  • Aaron's rod buds, Num. 17:1-9.
  • Waters from the rock in Kadesh, Num. 20:8-11.
  • Scourge of serpents, Num. 21:6-9.
  • Destruction of Nadab and Abihu, Lev. 10:1,2.
  • Balaam's donkey speaks, Num. 22:23-30.
  • Preservation of Moses, Deut. 34:7.
  • Jordan divided, Josh. 3:14-17; 4:16-18.
  • Fall of Jericho, Josh. 6:20.
  • Midianites destroyed, Judg. 7:16-22.
  • Hail on the confederated kings, Josh. 10:11.
  • Sun and moon stand still, Josh. 10:12-14.
  • Dew on Gideon's fleece, Judg. 6:37-40.
  • Samson's strength, Judg. 14:6; 16:3,29,30.
  • Samson supplied with water, Judg. 15:19.
  • Fall of Dagon, 1 Sam. 5:1-4.
  • Cows return the ark, 1 Sam. 6:7-14.
  • Hemorrhoids, 1 Sam. 5:9-12; 6:1-18.
  • Destruction of the people of Beth-shemesh, 1 Sam. 6:19,20.
  • Thunder, 1 Sam. 12:16-18.
  • Destruction of Uzzah, 2 Sam. 6:1-8.
  • Plague in Israel, 1 Chr. 21:14-26.
  • Fire on the sacrifices of Aaron, Lev. 9:24;
  • of Gideon, Judg. 6:21;
  • of Manoah, Judg. 13:19,20;
  • of Solomon, 2 Chr. 7:1;
  • of Elijah, 1 Kin. 18:38.
  • Jeroboam's hand withered, 1 Kin. 13:3-6.
  • Appearance of blood, 2 Kin. 3:20-22.
  • Panic of the Syrians, 2 Kin. 7:6,7.
  • Elijah is fed by ravens, 1 Kin. 17:6;
  • by an angel, 1 Kin. 19:1-8;
  • increases the widow's meal and oil, 1 Kin. 17:9-16; Luke 4:26;
  • raises the widow's son, 1 Kin. 17:17-24.
  • Rain in answer to Elijah's prayer, 1 Kin. 18:41-45.
  • Elijah brings fire on Ahaziah's army, 2 Kin. 1:10-12;
  • divides Jordan, 2 Kin. 2:8.
  • Elijah's translation, 2 Kin. 2:11.
  • Elisha divides Jordan, 2 Kin. 2:14;
  • sweetens the waters of Jericho, 2 Kin. 2:19-22;
  • increases a widow's oil, 2 Kin. 4:1-7;
  • raises the Shunammite's child, 2 Kin. 4:18-37;
  • renders harmless the poisoned pottage, 2 Kin. 4:38-41;
  • feeds one hundred men, 2 Kin. 4:42-44;
  • cures Naaman, 2 Kin. 5:1-19;
  • struck Gehazi with leprosy, 2 Kin. 5:26,27;
  • causes the ax to float, 2 Kin. 6:6;
  • reveals the counsel of the king of Syria, 2 Kin. 6:12;
  • causes the eyes of his servant to be opened, 2 Kin. 6:17;
  • strikes with blindness the army of the king of Syria, 2 Kin. 6:18;
  • the dead restored to life, 2 Kin. 13:21.
  • Destruction of Sennacherib's army, 2 Kin. 19:35; Isa. 37:36;
  • return of the shadow on the sun dial, 2 Kin. 20:9-11;
  • Hezekiah's cure, Isa. 38:21;
  • deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Dan. 3:23-27;
  • of Daniel, Dan. 6:22;
  • the sea calmed on Jonah being cast into it, Jonah 1:15;
  • Jonah in the fish's belly, Jonah 1:17; 2:10;
  • his gourd, Jonah 4:6,7.Ex. Strength in hair
  • Walking bones

Sacrifices

  • Gods love the fragrance of a sacrifice
    • No, come, let us ask some holy man … who can tell why Phoibos Apollo is so angry, if for the sake of some vow, some hecatomb [sacrifice] he blames us, if given the fragrant smoke of lambs, of he goats, somehow he can be made willing to beat the bane aside from us.” Homer, Iliad 1.62 … 67 (8th century BC)
      • This sounds like the Christian Old Testament - [comment by detecting truth author]
    • “Then I put out to the four winds, and I made a sacrifice. … The gods smelt the fragrance, the gods smelt the pleasant fragrance.” Epic of Gilgamesh, 11th tablet (early second millennium BC)
    • Genesis 8:20 (ESV) “ Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse[a] the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.”
  • Both pagan and Christian sacrifices were the same: an animal was killed; at an alter; in a god’s temple; with incense; part was burned for god and the rest was eaten. (POCM)
  • Hell, Atonement, Sacrifice, Sin
    • “The gods, too, may he turned from their purpose; and men pray to them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libations and the odour of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed. And they produce a host of books written by Musaeus and Orpheus, who were children of the Moon and the Muses --that is what they say --according to which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.” Plato, Republic – book 2 – 360 BC
      • Sounds like New Testament stuff – [comment by detecting truth author]
  • “Quoting Hesiod “The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose; and men pray to them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libations and the odor of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed.” Plato, The Republic, Book 2.7 (c 4th Century BC); Hesiod (c 750 - 650 BC) around same time as Homer

Slavery

  • Pagan cultures owned slaves: Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians, Persians, Thracian, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks
  • Jews owned slaves
  • Christians owned slaves
  • The Jewish and Christian god said it was OK to own slaves and made suggestions or rules about how to treat them.
  • Where did Jews and Christians get the idea of slavery?  Other cultures or did they independently come up with the idea?  Probably other cultures.  What else did they borrow from other cultures? (POCM)
  • Herodotus (circa 440 BC) speaks of people converted to slaves by the Persians after their defeat.  (the Persian Wars 6.18-19)
  • Leviticus 19:19-29 (ESV) The Hebrew god speaks of how to treat female slaves.  It implies it is OK to mistreat a female slave if not yet assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or freed. Otherwise, a goat must be sacrificed to be forgiven for such mistreatment.
  • Exodus 21 (ESV) God says a man can beat is slave as long as he survives and is able to get up after a day or two.
  • Colossians 4:1 (ESV) “Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”
Can modern society use a book that endorses slavery as the basis for ethics and morality? The Bible no longer has credibility in the area of ethics and morality.  Civilized secular society has moved beyond ancient texts in ethical and moral standards encoded in secular laws. [comment by detecting truth author]
“ .  .  . now at least, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain; it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession—and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.” Mark Twain

Prophesy & Dreams

  • Herodotus (circa 440 BC) speaks of oracles and prophecy. (the Persian Wars 6.18-19)
  • Dreams as messages from god was a common belief among pagans.  This is demonstrated in the Old Testament when pagan Pharaohs and Kings had dreams they understood as being divine.
  • Daniel interpreted Jewish and Pagan dreams.
  • Pagans and Jews had the same exact belief about dreams – they were messages from god.
  • There are many examples of dreams in the Old and New Testament as well as many documented divine dreams from pagan texts that date back as far as 7th century BC.  (See POCM website for original sources such as Herodotus, Pliny the Younger, Plutarch, Diodorus of Sicily, Asclepius, Virgil)
  • Aristotle wrote a book on sleep and dreams
  • The Egyptian story of Sabaco is similar to Gen 15:10, 17 & Jer 34 18-19 in that one may be preserved from harm by passing between the parts of a sacrificed animal.  This is also demonstrated in Herodotus 7.39.

Demons

  • Pagan demon story – Philostratus, life of Apollonius of Tyana (c. 217 AD)
  • Christian demon story – Luke 8:26
  • Demon story in Homer, Iliad 380, 395 (c. 8th century BC)
  • Gargoyles were used to ward off demons by pagan religions

Soul

  • Common belief system: Souls of good people are rewarded and souls of bad people are punished.
  • References to life, death and dream souls can be found in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
  • Plato and Aristotle had debates on the nature of the soul.  Plato, Phaedo, 105c ff; Aristotle, Metaphysics section 1022a.
  • Lucian, a 2nd century AD pagan describes what happens to people’s soul after death.  Lucian, On Funerals.
  • Elysium or the Elysian Fields (Ancient Greek: Ἠλύσιον πεδίον, Ēlýsion pedíon) is a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life. – Wikipedia
    • Elysian plane is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey and Elysian Fields are mentioned in Lucian, On Funerals.
  • American Indians had beliefs about the soul.  Nelson Lee, Three Years Among the Comanches. Pg. 123-124.

Belief in God

  • From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed; full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men; full is the sea and the havens thereof; always we all have need of Zeus. For we are also his offspring; and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood.  Aratus, Phenomena 1-5 (c 3rd century BC)
  • Acts 17:28 (ESV) “for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”
  • The Old Testament has numerous references to “other gods.”  Even the Jewish god acknowledged other gods existed.  Those gods must have existed within the context of other nations religious framework prior to the writing of the Old Testament. [comment by detecting truth author]
    • Exo 20:3 (ESV) “You shall have no other gods before me.”
    • Deu 6:14 (ESV) “Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you …”
  • Greek religion developed without knowledge of Jewish or Christian beliefs.
    • Acts 17:19-20 (ESV) “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
  • Plutarch (Isis and Osiris) describes how man’s soul will migrate into the presence of Osiris after death and Osiris will become their leader and king where they will contemplate and yearn.
    • This sounds sort of like what will happen to Christians when they die – [comment by detecting truth author]

Heaven (develop this section)

  • Common belief by many cultures
    • Heaven is located in the "starry sky"
As an old serpent casts his scaly vest,
Wreathes in the sun, in youthful glory drest;
So when Alcides mortal mold resign'd,
His better part enlarg'd, and grew refin'd;
August his visage shone; almighty Jove
In his swift carr his honour'd offspring drove;
High o'er the hollow clouds the coursers fly,
And lodge the hero in the starry sky.
 
The Transformation of Galanthis
 
Atlas perceiv'd the load of Heav'n's new guest.
Revenge still rancour'd in Eurystheus' breast
Against Alcides' race.   Ovid, Metamorphosis – book nine, the death of Hercules (c 1 AD) 

Hell (develop this section)

  • “They said that after this king went down alive to what the Greeks call Hades …” Herodotus 2.122 (c 5th century BC)
  • “Leonidas, …, ordered them to prepare their breakfast quickly, since they would dine in Hades.”  Diodorus Sciulus (c 1st century BC)

Eternal Life (develop this section)

  • There are numerous examples of pagan religion beliefs about life after death. [comment by detecting truth author]

Immortality (develop this section)

  • “The belief of the Getae in respect of immortality is the following. They think that they do not really die, but that when they depart this life they go to Zalmoxis, who is called also Gebeleizis by some among them.”  Herodotus (c 440 BC)  Book IV

Key Points from POCM.info

  • There is a section on why we don’t know more about the pagan origins of Christianity.  In summery, history is written by the winners.  Early Christians purged the world of ancient pagan texts (and humans) or anything that competed with Christianity.  Read about the murder of Hypatia by Christian mob in Alexandria in 370 AD.

Ten Commandments

  • The Egyptian Book of the Dead Chapter 125 has similarity to Ten Commandments.  Such things are written on walls of pyramids.  The wording is structured as a defense of behavior relative to “Ten Commandment” type laws.  The Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians for a very long time and the Hebrew Ten Commandments were written down after they were release from captivity. MRD
  • From http://www.digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk/literature/religious/bd125a.html
    • I have not impoverished the divine herd (people); I have committed no crime in place of What is Right;
    • I have not known (explored) nothingness; I have not done any evil
    • My name has not reached the office of director of servants;
    • I have not orphaned the orphan of his goods;
    • I have not done the abomination of the gods;
    • I have not slighted a servant to his master;
    • I have not caused affliction; I have not caused hunger; I have not caused grief; I have not killed;
    • I have not harmed the offering-cattle; I have not caused pain for anyone;
    • I have not reduced the offerings in the temples;
    • I have not harmed the offering-loaves of the gods;
    • I have not taken the festival-loaves of the blessed dead;
    • I have not penetrated the penetrater of a penetrater; I have not masturbated; 
    • I have not reduced the measuring-vessel, I have not reduced the measuring cord;
    • I have not encroached on the fields; I have not added to the pan of the scales;
    • I have not tampered with the plumb bob of the scales;
    • I have not taken milk from the mouths of babes;
    • I have not concealed herds from their pastures;
    • I have not snared birds in the thickets (?) of the gods;
    • I have not caught fish in their pools;
    • I have not held back water in its time;
    • I have not dammed a dam at rapid waters;
    • I have not put out the fire in its moment;
    • I have not transgressed the days concerning meat offerings;
    • I have not turned back cattle from the property of a god;
    • I have not blocked a god in his processions;
    • I am pure (four times)
  • The Book of the Dead was written circa 1800 BCE. 2 The Schofield Reference Bible estimates that the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and the provision of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai occurred in 1491 BCE., some three centuries later. Thus, many religious liberals, historians, and secularists have concluded that the Hebrew Scripture's Ten Commandments were based on this earlier document, rather than vice-versa. – Wikipedia
  • “Every stable society punishes murder, theft, and bearing false witness; teaches children to honor their parents; and condemns envy of one’s neighbor’s possessions, at least when such envy leads one to treat one’s neighbors badly.  People figure out these rules long before they were exposed to any of the major monotheistic religions.  This fact suggests that moral knowledge springs not from revelation but from people’s experiences in living together, in which they have learned that they must adjust their own conduct in light of others’ claims.” – If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted? Elizabeth Anderson (TPA:ERFTN)