Friday, January 10, 2014

Common Objection #22- "Jesus is Just a 'Pagan Copycat' of Mithras!"

This is very popular internet claim.  Many skeptics will point to the ancient deity Mithras as a savior who seemingly appeared four hundred years prior to the first Christians.

The following similarities are often asserted:

Mithras was born in a cave, attend by shepherds.
Mithras had twelve companions or disciples.
Mithras was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
Mithras was called "the Good Shepherd."
Mithras was identified with both the Lamb and the Lion. [1]

Cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace investigated this claim and reports the following:

"While these similarities are striking and seem to sustain an alternative theory related to the historicity of Jesus, a brief investigation quickly reveals that they are unsupported by the evidence.  There is no existing 'Mithraic scripture' available to us today; all our speculations about the Mithras legend are dependent on Mithraic paintings and sculptures and on what was written about Mithras worshipers by the Christians who observed them between the first and third centuries.  Even with what little we do know, it is clear that Mithras was not  born of a virgin in a cave.  Mithras reportedly emerged from solid rock, leaving a cave in the side of the mountain.  There is also no evidence that Mithras have twelve companions or disciples; this similarity may be based on a mural that places the twelve personages of the Zodiac in a circle around Mithras.  There is no evidence that Mithras was ever called the "Good Shepherd," and although Mithras was a "sun-god" and associated with Leo (the House of the Sun in Babylonian astrology), there is no evidence that he was identified with the Lion.  There is also no evidence that Mithras ever died, let alone rose again after three days.  These claims of skeptics...are not supported by the evidence." [2]

As Proverbs 18:17 states:

"The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him."

To read more from J. Warner Wallace on Mithraism, see here.

For a more thorough examination of Mithraism, see here.

Further, you can find a brief video that humorously deals with the "pagan copycat" thesis here.

Courage and Godspeed,



1. J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, p. 149-150.

2. Ibid., p. 150.

Vid H/T- Apologetics315

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