Somebody asked me the question several days ago; Were there not a bunch of ancient myths about virgin births long before Christianity? Were not Dionysius and Mithras virgin born; and did not Christianity just borrow these myths from them?
If this is so were in deep trouble; our faith is as mythological as Aesop’s Fables with his talking animals, insects and birds. The Church is not a ‘city on a hill, ’ built on a granite foundation of God’s Word but a fragile house of leaves and boughs built on a sandy river bed.
Liberals, who now like to call themselves progressives, have taught in seminaries and universities for years that this is so.(Matt. 15:9, II Tim.4:3-4, II Peter 2:1-3) The Virgin Birth they say did not originate with Christianity but with the Persian Zoroastrian people who worshipped a god named Mithra. The Christian just gilded the edges a little bit and replaced his name Mithra with the name of Jesus, and voila, there you have the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.
For example the religion of Mithraism went on to become one of the major religions of the Roman Empire. The Romans stuck to it like paint and glue because it was a very military religion. Mithras was a god of war and justice. The Romans who also loved Law were also attracted to Mithras because she was also a god of light and justice.
In the religion of Mithraism, Mithra was called the son of God, she was born of a virgin, had disciples, was crucified, rose from the dead on the third day, atoned for the sins of mankind, and returned to heaven. Therefore, the critics maintain that Christianity borrowed its concepts from the Mithra cult.
But this is as factually true and historically factual as “Jack and Jill went up the hill;” and as doctrinally pure as belief in Zeus, Unicorns, and Camelot.
It is abundantly clear that Christianity grew so fast in the first three hundred years that it did not need to borrow any theology from any mythology or cult of the time. In fact, the opposite is true. But Liberals always have the truth standing on its head; because they cannot accept the miraculous they have to come up with some explanation as to why the Virgin Birth became such a wide-spread belief throughout the Roman Empire.
After the Babylonian Captivity Jews learned their lesson well’ they would never again be sucked-in by any pagan gentile religions. To this day that holds true. The early church believers knew almost nothing about Mithra and Mithraism, and at best it would be a cult to them.
All the Church had to do to confirm the virgin birth of Christ was crack open the Old Testament and there they found plenty of support for their belief. The first book of the Bible prophecies: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) The Seed of the woman was Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary who through his death, burial and resurrection crushed Satan head or power. Isaiah 7: 14 puts it this way; “Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The word “Immanuel” means ‘God with us.’
Secondly, there were eye-witnesses galore to testify to the fact. He was seen of all the apostles (except Judas). He was visited individually by Peter and Paul and Mary Magdalene and then by five-hundred at one time. He spent forty days going up and down Israel appearing and re-appearing to believers. Why would anyone need to borrow and fabricate such a belief from a pagan religion named Mithraism?
It is from these Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament eye-witnesses that the doctrine of the virgin birth was developed.
Job had the assurance that although he was going to be eaten by worms, he would receive a new body and in that body would actually see God face to face, obviously conscious. In Job 19:25-27 he says that “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
As you can see, there is no need for any of the Christian writers to borrow from anything other than the Old Testament source in order to establish any Christian doctrine concerning Jesus.
If the argument that pagan mythologies predated Christian teachings and therefore Christianity borrowed from them is true, then it must also be truth that the pagan religions borrowed from the Jewish religion because it is older than they are! Given that all of the Christian themes are found in the Old Testament and the Old Testament was begun around 2000 B.C. and completed around 400 B.C., we can then conclude that these pagan religions actually borrowed from Jewish ideas found in the Old Testament.
It is inconceivable that the early Church Christians would lie and make up stories and suffer great persecution and death all for a lie that they fabricated themselves. It doesn’t make sense.
What is far more probable is that as Mithraism developed, it started to adopt Christian concepts. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth during its early stages. All this came about at the end of the 2nd century when Christianity was already two-hundred years old.
While there are several sources that suggest that Mithraism included a notion of rebirth, they are all post-Christian. The earliest…dates from the end of the second century A.D. When all the facts are considered it is far more possible that Mithraism borrowed many of its teaching an d especially the virgin birth from Christianity rather than Christianity from Mithraism.
That’s Something To Think About.