Is Jesus Christ a Myth? Part Two
2) Don't restrict yourselves to pagan religions from before the time of Christ. Remember, you can claim that Christians copied pagans, and not the other way around, even when the Christian writing is more ancient than the pagan. This is useful because you can now point to similarities between paganism and Christianity after the latter was already widespread. For instance, there is a poem with a line about the Norse god Odin being attached to the world tree ("I know that I hung on a windy tree, nine long nights, wounded with a spear"). Sounds like Jesus being nailed to the cross? Well, not really, and in any case the Norse myth was written down well after the Vikings converted to Christianity. Don't let that stop you.
3) Language is important. Christian terms such as 'salvation', 'Eucharist', 'word made flesh,' and 'lamb of god' are common currency today. Therefore, when translating or paraphrasing pagan sources, always use familiar Christian language. Never mind that the ancient pagans would not have known what you were going on about; you are not talking to them. In this way, you can call a woman being raped by various kinds of wildlife a 'virgin birth' (such as Europa being raped by Zeus in the form of a bull); you can call the reassembly of body parts a 'resurrection' (such as Osiris being pieced back together by Isis); and you can call just about every Greek hero a 'son of god' (because, let's face it, the Greek gods were a lecherous bunch and so had a good few kids). Also, it is helpful to use King James Bible phrases and style when quoting pagan texts. It gives them some more gravitas.
4) Do try to confuse liturgy and cult practice with history. For instance, the mystery religions and Christianity were both underground movements, so they had to operate in similar sorts of ways. This doesn't make them similar in other ways, but pretend that it does. Sacred meals and ritual washing are as old as religion itself so the fact that Christianity employed them as well as pagans (not to mention Jews) is not surprising at all. Make it sound like a complete revelation. For instance, if Mithraists shared a ritual meal with bread and wine (and meat too, but never mind that), make it sound astronomically unlikely that Christians should have done the same unless they were borrowing from Mithraism.
5) Assert that totally different things are in fact closely related. For instance, Mithras was sometimes represented by a bull. Say this is the same as Jesus being called the Lamb of God (one is a symbol of sexuality and strength, the other of innocence and humility, but never let facts get in the way of a good theory). Compare the Mithraic ritual of taking a shower in the warm blood of the aforementioned bull with Christian baptism with water. Mithras was born as a fully-grown man from solid rock; call this a "virgin birth." Claim that the thieves crucified with Jesus are the same as a pair of torchbearers that appear on some illustrations of Bacchus.
6) For goodness sake, do not mention the things that really made the pagan mysteries interesting. After all, in your work of showing that Jesus and Bacchus are one and the same, you will lose everything if you let on that Bacchus was the god of drunkenness and his worship involved getting plastered and having sex with anything in sight (goats being a particular favourite). In fact, keep sex out of it altogether. Yes, sex was the central feature of an awful lot of these pagan rituals but that is not the point you are trying to make.
James Hannam earned degrees in physics and history from Oxford and London universities, and his doctorate in the history of science from Cambridge University. He blogs at http://bedejournal.blogspot.com and recently published God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science (London, 2009), the first history of medieval science written for the layperson.