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Dionysus, Not That Similar To Jesus Really.


ContraBardus
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I've been doing some reading on Greek mythology, and it seems that a line I hear a lot of from non-Christians just isn't true.

 

Dionysus isn't that similar to Jesus.

 

He never turns water into wine for starters. In a second century story by Achilles Tatius in the Greek Romance, "The Adventures of Leucippe and Clitophon" he calls water wine. This appears to be the earliest reference to anything remotely like that.

 

He's not really associated with Rams or Lambs. There's one version of his story where he's born with Ram's horns, but that's as close as it gets. He's closely associated with bulls, and is often portrayed with bull's horns.

 

He wasn't born on Dec. 25th, and was not conceived of a virgin. Zeus was screwing his mother Persphone or Semale [or in some cases Semele with Zeus playing the role of 'second mother' by apparently sewing him into his scrotum]. The story of his parentage varies, but he's never virgin born. His title was 'twice born'. His birthday was celebrated on January 6th. I can't find any reference to a celestial display or heavenly music either.

 

He was a traveling teacher, but he didn't really perform 'miracles'. He tended to punish people who pissed him off, and did little to help anyone.

 

He was resurrected, but not anything like Jesus was. The story is that he was killed by being slaughtered like a calf and eaten by the Titans, and Zeus brought him back after he drove them off. He used his heart which was saved, by implanting it into the womb of Semele or himself depending on which source you're using. In some versions Semale dies before this by requesting that Zeus show her his Godly Glory, which kills her. [Now there's an apparent similarity, but not with Jesus.] She may have eaten the heart, but it varies depending on which version it is. There does not appear to be any reference to any rituals similar to the Eucharist involved either.

 

I can find no reference that he was ever hung or Crucified. He was called 'Young Man of the Tree', but I don't see how it relates to being crucified or that he was ever any sort of sacrifice at all.

 

I can also not find any mention of his followers being born again, or baptism. There's something involving waving a fan over the heads of young children, but nothing similar to Christian beliefs.

 

A few titles I've heard associated with him and Jesus also don't appear to have any valid source. Just savior, and that appears to be only in reference to his dealings with Pentheus.

 

There's also the riding of a donkey with followers waving branches about, but as I understand it that was commonplace for Gods and Royalty at the time. Which is why it was used in the Bible the way it was. An easily recognizable way to imply a status for Jesus for those who heard the story at the time would understand.

 

There's also the story of him calming the sea. However, I can only find mention of him freezing a boat, making wine leak from it, and having vines grow on the mast and sails. There's no mention that he did anything about the condition of the sea, but just the boat itself.

 

I've also heard that he was quiet, with long hair, and a beard at his trial when he meets Pentheus. However, there's also no basis for that. He's quite talkative, and supposedly appears very effeminate.

 

It does not appear that they are very similar at all, and I've heard all these claims from others before. It seems that most of the similarities I've heard about between Jesus and Dionysus have no real basis. At the very least, they are stretched quite a bit farther than they should be.

 

I doubt that the stories surrounding Jesus were influenced very much at all by Dionysus. Perhaps some, but it seems to be pretty minimal. It seems to be mostly based on misinformation being spread about the matter.

 

I've not changed my mind about Jesus or anything, but I'd rather not help with spreading misinformation just to support my beliefs. There's enough of that going about already as it is.

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Christianity was new religion and Jesus was a new god. I don't think you can point out this god or that god and say, ah ha! Jesus! However, what that culture believed were the attributes of a god were applied to Jesus. Jesus is more a product of what that particular culture believed what a god should be than he is a fax simile of any other god.

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Christianity was new religion and Jesus was a new god. I don't think you can point out this god or that god and say, ah ha! Jesus! However, what that culture believed were the attributes of a god were applied to Jesus. Jesus is more a product of what that particular culture believed what a god should be than he is a fax simile of any other god.

Bingo.

 

For cultures that believed in spirits controlling people or causing disease, Jesus is your man. Virgin birth? Yep, we've got that too. What else ya want. Defy gravity? How about walking on water? Floating up in the sky? You got it. Exercising power over nature, oh, yeah, he can do that too.

 

I'd say that Jesus can do anything your gods can do, and MORE!

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I agree totally. However, this is an argument I've heard a lot of from non-theists, and it's just got no real basis.

 

It's an argument I've seen used to rebut Christians before, and well, it's simply not true. Especially the claim that Dionysus turned water into wine, which is the most common example.

 

I agree with the general principal of making an argument like that, but Dionysus is about the worst example that can be used. Krishna or Horus are far better examples, even Hercules works better.

 

Dionysus just doesn't work as a comparative figure to Jesus. He's not really similar to him at all. Only in the most insignificant ways. They were both traveling teachers, and that's pretty much it.

 

I'm just pointing out a poor argument that's often used by non-Christians despite it not being very true. Just a case of not checking one's facts before making an argument, which both sides are often guilty of.

 

I don't think it's a case of dishonesty in most cases, just misinformation that's been spread on the matter.

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I'm new here, and don't know your personality Contrabardus, but I read your post and heart satire. You structured your post with Dionysus similarity with slightly different Jesus account and then basically said in each point "but not that similar." If I read your post by someone I knew wrote in such a fashion, it would've seemed totally satiric to me.

 

He wasn't born on Dec. 25th, and was not conceived of a virgin.

 

Neither was Jesus.

 

He was a traveling teacher

 

That in itself is more similar than I think it seems.

 

He was resurrected, but not anything like Jesus was.

 

This is such a crucial similarity. There was virtually no tradition of resurrected deities in Israelite religion.

 

You seem to be trying too hard to find too many similarities, without seeing the significance of the ones that do exist. Mind you, I don't think at all that Jesus and Dionysus are congruent, but there is a real possibility that Israelite religion may have been so influenced by the Dionysian cult that it had given rise to Jesus' ministry, or the way that Jesus ministry was later written.

 

Beyond what you compared, Dionysus is a god in human form (does not exist in Hebrew religion in any shape or form), and was born of divine father and human mother (also nonexistent).

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I think the Op was referring primarily to the fact that when people use this argument they often try to make out that Jesus was a carbon copy of Dionysus. He wasn't, he may have been another dieing rising Saviour god, but he was a different one, and when people go shooting their mouths off saying that their were all these extra similarities between them that don't really exist, the net effect is that it makes it easier to overlook the real similarities between them.

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Jesus may have been a composite of Osiris, Mithras, Dionysus, Attis etc.

 

Dionysus probably is the one with the least similarities. Mithras and Attis are much closer.

 

I think there was a lot of mystery religion stuff added on to the account of a messiah saviour (himself partly a real figure, partly a lot of prophecy and hope)

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I think the Op was referring primarily to the fact that when people use this argument they often try to make out that Jesus was a carbon copy of Dionysus. He wasn't, he may have been another dieing rising Saviour god, but he was a different one, and when people go shooting their mouths off saying that their were all these extra similarities between them that don't really exist, the net effect is that it makes it easier to overlook the real similarities between them.

 

This hit's it on the head. It's not that Dionysus had no similarities with Jesus. He did, thought they were few and only barely qualified.

 

He was killed and rose from the dead, the the circumstances were vastly different, and he was a traveling teacher. That's pretty much it.

 

Yes, he was the 'Son of God' but he was also a literal God. Not of human nature at all, so that one doesn't really qualify. He was a God born of Gods.

 

It's the misinformation that is often touted that I'm referring to. Dionysus had minimal impact on the myth of Jesus. He wasn't as similar as I often hear non-Christians claim he was. The similarities are vague, very general, and minimal.

 

As mentioned, there are other Gods that far better fit the comparisons to Jesus than he does, and the exaggeration of the similarities between the two is unnecessary.

 

Why make false claims about the similarities between the two, when Mithra, Horus, Krishna, and others fit much better as comparative figures.

 

I'm not saying they shouldn't be compared, or that there was no influence on Jesus from Dionysus at all. Just that by accident or design, a lot of non-Christians make false claims about just how similar they are. Some may do it intentionally, relying on the ignorance of the other party, others may just be misinformed themselves.

 

Either way, I see nothing constructive about promoting the exaggerations. It's a poor argument and there are others that would better serve the same purpose.

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I don't really know about the similarities between these two. What I do find interesting is that when Antiochus IV ultimately ended the YHWH temple cult and replaced it with the hellenic cults of the time (this is what the last 5 or so chapters of Daniel is talking about) that one of those things the Jews were forced to do was practice the Dionysic ritual.

 

2 Maccabees 6

 

2 also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus, and that on Mount Gerizim to Zeus the Hospitable, as the inhabitants of the place requested.

 

3 This intensified the evil in an intolerable and utterly disgusting way.

 

4 The Gentiles filled the temple with debauchery and revelry; they amused themselves with prostitutes and had intercourse with women even in the sacred court. They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden,

 

5 so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws.

 

6 A man could not keep the sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit that he was a Jew.

 

7 Moreover, at the monthly celebration of the king's birthday the Jews had, from bitter necessity, to partake of the sacrifices, and when the festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were compelled to march in his procession, wearing wreaths of ivy.

 

8 At the suggestion of the citizens of Ptolemais, a decree was issued ordering the neighboring Greek cities to act in the same way against the Jews: oblige them to partake of the sacrifices,

 

9 and put to death those who would not consent to adopt the customs of the Greeks. It was obvious, therefore, that disaster impended.

 

10 Thus, two women who were arrested for having circumcised their children were publicly paraded about the city with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown down from the top of the city wall.

 

11 Others, who had assembled in nearby caves to observe the sabbath in secret, were betrayed to Philip and all burned to death. In their respect for the holiness of that day, they had scruples about defending themselves.

I left a bunch of extra stuff here because v2 shows the statue of Zeus that Daniel mentions (as well as some of the other stuff). It also show in v11 what I believe is the first reference, or what is among the first references, to martyrs. It would also show how the origin of Jews gathering in caves for worship may have come about (as the early xians are supposed to have done).

 

So, as I said, I don't know how similar the two figures are but the rituals were (against their will) practiced by the Jews for a short period of time.

 

mwc

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I agree totally. However, this is an argument I've heard a lot of from non-theists, and it's just got no real basis.

 

It's an argument I've seen used to rebut Christians before, and well, it's simply not true. Especially the claim that Dionysus turned water into wine, which is the most common example.

 

I'm a Hellenic Pagan and I agree with you. There are a lot of important differences between Dionysos and Jesus. However, whoever started spreading the story about Dionysos turning water into wine may have gotten that idea from some of the references to miracles associated with Dionysos (often wine flowing out of the ground like a spring), including the story of a spring at one of Dionysos' temples which reportedly tasted like wine on his festival days. A description with references can be found here. Granted, this isn't turning a confirmed jug of water into a confirmed jug of wine like Jesus was said to have done, but it is at least a reference to something normally associated with water pouring forth wine in association with the God.

 

BTW, it just so happens that I have a couple of the reference texts mentioning Dionysian wine miracles. Here they are:

 

From Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book VI, ch. 26:

Between the market-place and the Menius is an old theatre and a shrine of Dionysus. The image is the work of Praxiteles. Of the Gods the Eleans worship Dionysus with the greatest reverence, and they assert that the god attends their festival, the Thyia. The place where they hold the festival they name the Thyia is about eight stades from the city. Three pots are brought into the building and set down empty in the presence of the citizens and of any strangers who may chance to be in the country. The doors of the building are sealed by the priests themselves and by any others who may be so inclined. On the morrow they are allowed to examine the seals, and on going into the building they find the pots filled with wine. I did not myself arrive at the time of the festival, but the most respected Elean citizens, and with them strangers also, swore that what I have said is the truth. The Andrians too assert that every other year at their feast of Dionysus wine flows of its own accord from the sanctuary. If the Greeks are to be believed in these matters, one might with equal reason accept what the Aethiopians above Syene say about the table of the sun.

 

From Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, 1.34a:

Theopompus of Chios relates that the vine was discovered in Olympia, on the banks of the Alpheius; and that there is a district in Elis a mile away, in which, at the festival of Dionysus, the inhabitants shut up and seal three empty cauldrons in the presence of visitors; later, they open the cauldrons and find them full of wine.

 

 

I agree with the general principal of making an argument like that, but Dionysus is about the worst example that can be used. Krishna or Horus are far better examples, even Hercules works better.

 

Asclepius works quite well, too. A scholarly book I have about Asclepius even has a little section dedicated to this point. This God was real competition to the early Christians.

 

I don't think it's a case of dishonesty in most cases, just misinformation that's been spread on the matter.

 

Yep, one person starts it, then everybody else quotes it.

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