Author Topic: Zoroastrianism & Mithras  (Read 13690 times)

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Offline Nacho

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Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« on: March 15, 2007, 01:57:10 AM »
Hey everyone,

Step back ya'll cuzz Nacho's in da house... ;D

Ok...on a more serious note, I'm taking a religions class and we went over Zoroastrianism & touched a little on Mithras, a branch or development from Zoroastrianism. Anywho, my professor was telling the class how Christianity might have borrowed many concepts from this religion that preceded Christianity by many hundred years.

First, he talked about how Satan was not an original Christian 'idea', and is even absent from Judaism. He said at most the concept of Satan may have been hinted at 3 times in the Old Testament. He said the most mistaken concept of Satan in the OT was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, where the serpent was never identified with actually being Satan. I'm sure you could argue that the serpent could have been identified with the devil through other means such as oral history/church tradition. He went on & said that the idea of Satan really originated with Zoroastrianism where this idea was clearly taught.

He then brought up the topic of Mithras and said how Christianity may have borrowed from this. He didn't spend too much time on this, but stated that the idea of using wine & bread as sacrament, the idea of worshipping a 'son' & a virgin birth that took place of December 25, a principle of atonement & resurrection, & even 12 apostles were ideas taught in Mithras.

He then said something too the effect, "well, how did the early Christians try to explain such striking similarities to this other faith? He said that the best explanation may have come from Augustine, who explained that there may have been similarities because Christianity is like a music pitching fork, which it's eternal truth reverberates both backwards & forward through time.   

This doesn't effect my faith at all because the proof is in the saints! I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit and personally have seen many miracles which I can only attribute to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

I just found this kind of interesting and wanted to know if Christianity really did borrow any of these concepts. I know there are some well informed people here that would probably be able to shed a little more light on this.
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity

Offline jmbejdl

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2007, 04:14:41 AM »
Hey everyone,

Step back ya'll cuzz Nacho's in da house... ;D

Ok...on a more serious note, I'm taking a religions class and we went over Zoroastrianism & touched a little on Mithras, a branch or development from Zoroastrianism. Anywho, my professor was telling the class how Christianity might have borrowed many concepts from this religion that preceded Christianity by many hundred years.

First, he talked about how Satan was not an original Christian 'idea', and is even absent from Judaism. He said at most the concept of Satan may have been hinted at 3 times in the Old Testament. He said the most mistaken concept of Satan in the OT was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, where the serpent was never identified with actually being Satan. I'm sure you could argue that the serpent could have been identified with the devil through other means such as oral history/church tradition. He went on & said that the idea of Satan really originated with Zoroastrianism where this idea was clearly taught.

He then brought up the topic of Mithras and said how Christianity may have borrowed from this. He didn't spend too much time on this, but stated that the idea of using wine & bread as sacrament, the idea of worshipping a 'son' & a virgin birth that took place of December 25, a principle of atonement & resurrection, & even 12 apostles were ideas taught in Mithras.

He then said something too the effect, "well, how did the early Christians try to explain such striking similarities to this other faith? He said that the best explanation may have come from Augustine, who explained that there may have been similarities because Christianity is like a music pitching fork, which it's eternal truth reverberates both backwards & forward through time.   

This doesn't effect my faith at all because the proof is in the saints! I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit and personally have seen many miracles which I can only attribute to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

I just found this kind of interesting and wanted to know if Christianity really did borrow any of these concepts. I know there are some well informed people here that would probably be able to shed a little more light on this.

Sounds like your professor has bought into some of the rather less reputable 'scholarship' of a bygone era. The similarities between Mithraism and Christianity are there, but they are almost always massively exaggerated. For instance, one common claim is that Mithra was born on 25th December from a virgin in a cave. The actual story is that he was pulled, as a full grown adult from a rock. Of course, I suppose you could claim that all rocks are virgin, but it would be a stretch. The only real similarity is the date (and given the late fixing of that date, it's hardly significant). I'm also willing to bet that your professor didn't mention two of the other things usually glossed over by proponents of the Christianity stole from Mithraism view. Usually they betray their bias by mentioning the great age of Mithraism in Persia without pointing out that it is not this version of Mithraism that shares similarities with Christianity, but the much later Roman mystery cult which, much like the various Gnostic sects with relation to Christianity, shares little but the characters withthe earlier faith. The second point is related, which is that what we do know of the Roman cult is almost all late, very little from before 4th century AD and absolutely all of it from within the Christian era. In other words, the two faiths were actually contemporaries and, especially considering the Imperial favour that Christianity gained in the 4th century, it's just as likely, if not more so, that Mithraic similarities with Christianity were actually borrowed from us, rather than the reverse. This possibility becomes particularly apparent when you consider the generally syncretistic nature of Roman mystery cults in comparison to the anti-syncretic nature of the early Church. Frankly, if you take away the preconceived bias (and the original 'scholarship' is down to some incredibly anti-Catholic Protestants) you find that the evidence fails to stack up.

James
We owe greater gratitude to those who humble us, wrong us, and douse us with venom, than to those who nurse us with honour and sweet words, or feed us with tasty food and confections, for bile is the best medicine for our soul. - Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2007, 06:43:53 AM »
Fwiw, I'd say it's very possible (but also very difficult to prove) that Judaism took concepts from Zoroastrianism. I suppose it's easier to see a connection if you aren't Christian or Jewish, though I don't think the Jews borrowing from another religion would be a death nail for Christianity/Judaism. Couldn't God have put them there to teach the Jews? I'm not saying that I think it happened that way, just pointing out that there are many different scenarios that are possible.

Regarding Mithras (especially the claimed influence on Paul), I would agree with James. I think Jaroslav Pelikan writes about how the Church Fathers dealt with the similarities between Christian and earlier non-Christian beliefs and practices in the first volume of his work on the history of the Catholic tradition, which I imagine any Church library would have. Now, I don't for a second agree with the arguments of the Church Fathers (e.g., that God influenced the Greeks to make up those stories to prepare people for the coming of Christ), but there are definitely attempts at answers to be found.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2007, 07:30:13 AM »
What would be a more interesting and challenging study would be the similarities between religions which apparently developed in complete isolation from each other. For example, there are so many remarkable similarities between Japanese Taoism and Old Testament Judaism (including Hebrew words!) that some now argue that the Japanese may be descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel! (For example: http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~magi9/isracame.htm)

Of course, another possibility is that different people approach the same revealed Metaphysical Truth at different levels and with different degrees of accuracy.
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Offline Keble

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2007, 11:33:05 AM »
The kinship between Zoroastrianism and Judaeo-Christian religion is obvious. I'm not sure how this is supposed to discredit Christianity, but it fits into the annoying academic obsession with trying to deny that we ever had an original thought.

Of late the understanding of Mithraism-- the Roman version-- has taken a huge step upward. Pretty much anything over fifteen years old is almost entirely wrong. As it stands, it's obvious that it has nothing at all to do with Christianity.

Offline Nacho

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2007, 12:19:54 PM »
Thanks guys for clearing up some of these issues. It's nice to come here and have something that may seem complex or even controversial at first easily explained away. I know I won't get any hogwish unlike I would with particular protestant apologist who might just qoute me scripture and tell me to have faith.... ::)    ahh, the perks of being Orthodox!

Also, in regards to Zoroastrianism being the first to actually name Satan & teach this concept, does anyone have any insight into this?
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2007, 02:04:04 PM »
I have a girl in my class who's a Zoroaster.  I had no idea what in the world that was, but when she described it to me, I'm just amazed at the amount of information that makes it quite close to Judaism.  What I do know is that their prophecies much more clearly talked about the Messiah than the Jewish scriptures do.

What interests me more is that while the ancient Fathers have traced Adam and Eve back to around 5500 BC, they can trace their "founder" to around 10,000 BC.

Has anyone done research on Zoroastrianism and its history with Judaism?  What good books can I read?

Were the wise men that followed the Star to find Christ Zoroasters?

God bless.
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Offline Keble

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2007, 04:58:34 PM »
Yes, the magi were Zoroastrians.

Offline Nacho

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2007, 11:33:48 PM »
Bumpity Bump Bump for more info.....
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."--Mere Christianity

Offline Salpy

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2007, 12:14:16 AM »
For those of us old enough and cool enough to remember the 70's, Freddy Mercury was a Zoroastrian.   ;D

Actually, Zoroastrianism was a major religion in the Middle East before Christianity and Islam came along.  It was the religion of the Persian Empire and also Armenia.  The Armenians had a variety of the religion called Zrvanism.  The belief was that there was some original god named Zrvan.  He made sacrifices for 1,000 years so he could have a son.  I have no idea to whom he made sacrifices, since he supposedly existed before anyone else.  One day his wife conceived two sons.  One son, Vormisd, was good and the other, Ahriman, was evil.  This was how good and evil were explained. 

I think Zoroastrianism was originally a dualistic religion and around the time of Christ they had become polytheistic, borrowing all kinds of gods and goddessees from the Greeks and Romans.  I think they have gone back to being dualistic now.  At least that is what I have heard.  In Armenian they are called "gurabasht," which means "fire worshipper," because of their veneration of fire.

There are very few Zoroastrians now.  Most of them are in India and are known as "Parsis."  I think the reason there are so few of them is because they were so badly persecuted by the Muslims.  They are not "people of the Book," so they didn't have the protection the Christians had.  In fact, I've heard that some of their original scriptures don't even exist anymore because they have been so thoroughly destroyed.

I have also heard about how their religion influenced Judaism and Christianity, but that is not a stumbling block, as God can use whomever He wants for His purposes.  As was just pointed out, the Magi were Zoroastrian priests.  Magi is plural for magus, which is the word for a Zoroastrian priest.  In Armenian the word is "mok." 

What I heard is that during the time when the Jews were held captive by the Persians, they borrowed some of their beliefs.  The Zoroastrians have very strict rules for ritualistic purity, but I don't know if that is among the things that are alleged to be borrowed.  They also have a belief in the afterlife, similar to purgatory, where your sins are burned away, and a belief in a sort of final judgement.  They also have a strong belief in angels.  The allegation is that the Jews borrowed this, but I am not convinced.  I get the feeling that the belief in angels already existed in Judaism, but exposure to the Persians may have led to a greater emphasis and awareness of them, like you see in Tobit. 

Offline Keble

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2007, 09:29:23 AM »
Zubin Mehta is also Zoroastrian-- I remember a broadcast of Also Spracht Zarathustra in which he discussed this very briefly in a prologue.

The common view of Zorastrianism as dualistic is a misconception caused by confusing some of the lesser principles with Ahura Mazda, the one creator god as they name him. They are actually monotheists, and (at least if you believe the Wikipedia article  ;) ) there is considerable scholarly disagreement over how Judaism and Zoroastrianism are related. It's possible that the influences flow the opposite direction. In any case the Zoroastrian picture of the universe as being eschatologically directed is very close to the Judaeo-Christian picture. What's missing are the covenantal aspect of Judaism and of course the incarnation.

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2007, 09:47:23 AM »
Keble,

Are there any other historical religions out there that you know of that have the convenantal aspect for which Judaism is famous?
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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2007, 07:30:20 PM »
Kinda wondering if there is a relation between Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, and which one of the pagan religions evolved first?

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2007, 11:00:11 PM »
How old Zoroastrianism and Hinduism are is obscure. Zoroaster is likely a near-contemporary of Moses, but might have lived several hundred years later. The oldest Hindu text, the Rig Veda, is of a similar age, but there are archaeological hints that some Hindu practices are very much older. The Bhagavad Gita is much younger, possibly younger than any part of the Old Testament, even the deuterocanonicals.

There's a Hindu theory that Zoroastrianism descends from Hinduism. I think this is really not very likely. There are some linguistic similarities, but Zoroastrianism is much more like a Semitic religion. Hinduism is the Borg religion: it tries to assimilate every other religion that comes along. Indeed, it's not implausible that it was formed itself by the merger of a proto-Hindu polytheism. But Hindu claims to being the progenitor of other religions, other than of Buddhism, ought not to be taken seriously.

As far as other covenantal religions, I don't know of any.

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2007, 06:31:48 PM »
When Christianity put pay to Mithraism in Britain, it was that bastardized form developed by eclectic Roman soldiers and merchants. It had nothing to do with Persian Mithraism. 
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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2007, 11:36:39 AM »
Mithra (no s) predates Zoroastrianism and is generally supposed to be related/identical to the Vedic Mitra. However, in Zoroastrianism he is the equivalent of an angel. The material on this that I could find strikes me as a bit untrustworthy. On the one side it is contaminated by Hinduists and people like Joseph Campbell who like to merge everything together; on the other side there have been huge changes in the understanding of Roman Mithraism which also seem to have affected understanding of the Persian deity. I also gather that there is a lack of direct material (as opposed to, say, dedicatory inscriptions). But the impression I get is that Mitra/Mithra originally appeared as a central figure in Indo-Persian religion in a general sea of polytheism.

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2007, 09:19:48 AM »
Posts that were lost on this thread due to crash, that I saved:

Addai:

Quote from: ozgeorge on March 15, 2007, 07:30:13 AM
What would be a more interesting and challenging study would be the similarities between religions which apparently developed in complete isolation from each other. For example, there are so many remarkable similarities between Japanese Taoism and Old Testament Judaism (including Hebrew words!) that some now argue that the Japanese may be descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel! (For example: http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~magi9/isracame.htm)

Of course, another possibility is that different people approach the same revealed Metaphysical Truth at different levels and with different degrees of accuracy.

Actually I can explain that...    The Nestorian Christians actuauly had reached Japan.   Their language and culture was Aramaic/Syriac.   That is the conection.

Addai:
Quote from: minasoliman on March 15, 2007, 02:04:04 PM
I have a girl in my class who's a Zoroaster.  I had no idea what in the world that was, but when she described it to me, I'm just amazed at the amount of information that makes it quite close to Judaism.  What I do know is that their prophecies much more clearly talked about the Messiah than the Jewish scriptures do.

What interests me more is that while the ancient Fathers have traced Adam and Eve back to around 5500 BC, they can trace their "founder" to around 10,000 BC.

Has anyone done research on Zoroastrianism and its history with Judaism?  What good books can I read?

Were the wise men that followed the Star to find Christ Zoroasters?

God bless.


Yes, that is why most historians, including Christian Church ones believe the The Three Wise men were Zoroastorian.  And this is said directly in some Church traditions like the Assyrian Church of the East.   I think they actually are suppose to have come from Nineveh.

By the way like others on the board, I also don't have a problem with similarities/commonalities with other religions.   In the OT, previous to Mosaic covenant we read about righteous gentiles, like Melchizedek, Jethro etc.   who were not Hebrew but worshipped God in a fashion, and the Jewish faith came from "The Wandering Aramean", Father Abraham.   Likewise nobody knows the exact history of the account of the Book of Job, but it is often expected to predate the life of Moses by a few centuries, by the oral tradition.   Anyway before the Jews, their were believers among the Aramean people in general.   And some of those people, Like Father Abraham, came from the same areas where Zoroastorianism is found.

So it should be perfectly logical given what we know about matters of oral tradition that such similarities come from this common heritage that Judeo Christian Tradition has with Zoroastorianism.



Ozgeorge:

Quote from: Addai on Yesterday at 11:57:57 AM
Actually I can explain that...    The Nestorian Christians actuauly had reached Japan.   Their language and culture was Aramaic/Syriac.   That is the conection.

Welcome back Addai! Do you know of any documentation about this? I'd be interested to read up on it.


jmbejdl:

Quote from: ozgeorge on Yesterday at 01:18:22 PM
Welcome back Addai! Do you know of any documentation about this? I'd be interested to read up on it.

I'm not sure about Japan (never heard anything about that) but it's quite well known that the Assyrians reached China, and even had a degree of Imperial patronage for a time, so it's not impossible. Archaeologists unearthed some sort of Christian monument there and there's bound to be references to it online (sorry about the vagueness of my recollection).

James


Ozgeorge:
I knew the Assyrians had reached China, and that there is an 8th century Nestorian monument there. I also know that a replica of the monument was set up in Japan in the early 20th century (because I've seen it!). But my understanding is that the Japanese first had an interest in the monument in the 19th century. That's why I'm curious. I'm wondering whether the initial Japanese interest in the monument was because they too had been reached by the Assyrians.
Japan has a fascinating history with Christianity- including the Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") who were Roman Catholics who went into hiding in the 17th century to escape persecution. In a museum in Nagasaki, I found an exquisite, small brass image of the Madonna and Child dating back to the 17th century. But I was horrified to find out what it was used for. Such images were called "fumi-e" which means "step-on image". They were produced after Christianity was banned in Japan in 1614 and entire villages were made to line up and tread on them, and if anyone hesitated, they were assumed to be a Christian and were executed.
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Offline Addai

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2007, 10:08:25 AM »
Hi everybody!   As I said before the crash there is stuff on the internet in regards to this if you simply search the internet with such key words as "japan" and "nestorian"

such as


http://www.nestorian.org/christianity_arrived_in_japan_.html

http://www.nestorian.org/copy_of_nestorian_stone.html

http://www.keikyo.com/xian/nestorians.htm


My knowedge of this came from the fact that a few years ago I was a member of Syrian/Nestorian American church ,(IT was actually largely Protestant but with apostlolic lines and liturgy that came from "The Church of the East") Prior to becoming Oriental Orthodox/ Coptic     I read a good book nearly a century old written from an English Church Historian, that was out of print for many years (It currently is being put out in small costly print runs from an Indian publisher now).   It's title was "The Church Aflame" which covered the Japanese history I think in the most depth.


Some of the things mentioned in that book are included in some of links above.    Like the Christian connection to Meitrya buddha.    But there are some ones that I have not read any where else.   Like the Japanese Tea Ceremony i suppose to have its origon as an underground Nestorian Eucharist.   There are pecularities to the Tea Ceremony that are Eucharistic (IT's been a while....... but I think both parties are suppose to make peace with each other.   And the act itself is a kind of binding and "making one".   Is taken solemnly.   Furthermore their are rubrics that are directly lifted from the Assyrian Eucharist like rotating the cup three times).
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 10:15:26 AM by Addai »

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2007, 10:55:52 AM »
Addai, as OzGeorge mentioned in a post that was lost, the copy of the Xian Stele was put on Mt. Koya in 1911 as can be read on this page
http://www.edessa.com/history/monument.htm

It is a recent addition and it would be interesting to find out just *why* it was put there.  It has nothing to do with Shingon Buddhism or Kukai (who is now known by the postumous name Kobo Daishi).  However, Nara was built using Chang'an/Xian as a model as was the next Capitol, Heian-Kyo which is now known as Kyoto.  So it is possible that that is the link.

But Shingon Buddhism is a sect that dates from the Heian period and is based on certain sutras, not any Christian scriptures.
http://www.shingon.org/history/history.html

If you will go to the "Japan" thread from almost three years ago, you may read that the Keikyo site was talked about as well as the Mrs. Gordon whose book is one of the sources of this concept. 
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3357.30.html

I mean no offense here and apologize in advance for any upset, but the "Syrian/Nestorian American church" that you were a member of may *not* have been accurate in its historical understanding or documentation.  Also, if the book you mentioned was written over 100 years ago, that was during the Meiji Restoration when there was not a great deal of knowledge or understanding of Japan amoungst most of the West/European/American cultures. Remember that Japan had been a "closed" country for over 200 years
http://www.japanese123.com/nanban.htm is an overview of this.  I must suggest, until such time as this book may be available for scrutiny, that its assertions as to any kind of Christianity in Japan not be accepted wholesale.

Again, meaning no offense, your ideas about the Tea Ceremony or "Cha-no-Yu" as rooted in Christianity and the Eucharist are ummm not correct.  The history of the ceremony is known and I can give you the titles of some books that I have on this subject.  Here is a site with a brief history:
http://www.teahyakka.com/HistElayout.html

May I ask what is your source for "rotating the cup three times" please?  I have never seen that mentioned. Yesterday btw, you referred to a 'tea glass'.  It is customary for a bowl, a "Chawan" to be used.  This Wiki article has a picture, and I can provide others if desired:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chawan

In the tea ceremony the chawan may be turned in the hand to admire it and it is proper tun the chawan to show the front of the bowl, to not drink from the same spot as others.  Here is a site with basic instructions:
http://welcome.to/chanoyu  with parts 6 and 7 being the "actual steps" that each person is do do.  Also, as far as I know, the host of a Tea Ceremony does not drink the tea that he or she has prepared for the guests whereas in a Eucharist the priest *does* commune. 

Respectfully,

Ebor
 

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Offline Ebor

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2007, 10:59:40 AM »
OzGeorge, I need to go do somethings at the moment, but if you are interested, I can go over some of the suggested similarities between Shinto and Judaism on the page you linked to later.  I will say that I do not find the page convincing.  It has a good bit of the might/likely/could linkages rather then solid backed up information. 

Ebor
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Offline Kreator

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2007, 12:00:34 PM »

   Christianity is the belief in Gods word handed in through Jesus Christ. Zoroastrim etc is a buch of trash. Christianity does NOT borrow concepts like a book.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 12:05:59 PM by Kreator »

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2007, 12:23:32 PM »
May I ask what is your source for "rotating the cup three times" please?  I have never seen that mentioned. 
I think this may actually be related to the British custom of turning the pot three times. This practice dates back to the Colonial Era, and is still practice today in Australia. When you make a pot of tea, you don't stir it, but let it steep until the leaves completely settle in the bottom of the teapot. You then gently rotate the pot three times just before serving in order to stir the tea without unsettling the leaves. If you have done this correctly, you should be able to pour the tea without a strainer as the leaves remain in the bottom of the teapot. I guess you could call this the "British/Australian Tea Ceremony". :)

OzGeorge, I need to go do somethings at the moment, but if you are interested, I can go over some of the suggested similarities between Shinto and Judaism on the page you linked to later.  I will say that I do not find the page convincing.  It has a good bit of the might/likely/could linkages rather then solid backed up information. 
Possibly. But stranger things have happened: like the case of the Bnei Menashe in India being recognised by Israel as one of the Lost Tribe and being granted citizenship under the Israel's Law of Return....on the basis of little more than a traditional folk song!
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Offline Thanatos

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2007, 04:22:06 PM »

Ok...on a more serious note, I'm taking a religions class and we went over Zoroastrianism & touched a little on Mithras, a branch or development from Zoroastrianism. Anywho, my professor was telling the class how Christianity might have borrowed many concepts from this religion that preceded Christianity by many hundred years.

Do you go to a public university by chance ;)?

First, he talked about how Satan was not an original Christian 'idea', and is even absent from Judaism. He said at most the concept of Satan may have been hinted at 3 times in the Old Testament. He said the most mistaken concept of Satan in the OT was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, where the serpent was never identified with actually being Satan. I'm sure you could argue that the serpent could have been identified with the devil through other means such as oral history/church tradition. He went on & said that the idea of Satan really originated with Zoroastrianism where this idea was clearly taught.

I'm just going to flood you with some helpful links, if that doesn't annoy the admins ;). I've found this blurb helpful: http://www.tektonics.org/qt/satansame.html

Quote
He then brought up the topic of Mithras and said how Christianity may have borrowed from this. He didn't spend too much time on this, but stated that the idea of using wine & bread as sacrament, the idea of worshipping a 'son' & a virgin birth that took place of December 25, a principle of atonement & resurrection, & even 12 apostles were ideas taught in Mithras.

I highly reccomend reading this over: http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/mithra.html
It debunks most of those claims.

I'm going off to college myself within the next 5 months, and I'm worried that I'll come across these type of professors. But, I've been told by a good priest before that taking courses in religion at a university will just spread relativism and atheism. Having a good response to them is best, and I hope these references might've helped.

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2007, 10:24:56 PM »
Yes Ebor, I went back and read a classic "East of the Euphrates: Early Christianity in Asia by T.V. Philip"

It looks like much of the Nestorian influence in China came from them copying temples etc. found in china.   I did find it interesting in one web site of Japanese words that are suppose to have been Christian in origon.   But if that true, those could have easily come from borrowing the from China as well.


http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=1553&C=1365

Offline Ebor

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2007, 11:28:41 PM »
I have read that page before, and I read it again, Addai.  In reference to Japan, the line

"It was not until the invasion of Japan by Kublai Khan (AD 1268-1281) that Japan began to assert her spiritual and material independence."

is puzzling.  China did not rule Japan.  While it was a source of some trade and some of it was used as a model for such things as literature and the building of Nara and Heian-Kyo, there was still a strong Japanese culture that existed.  Reading the diaries from the Heian Period such as those of Murasaki Shikibu, or the "Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon" or others, there is talk of Chinese poetry and clothing styles, but it was not the be-all and end-all of the people's lives. Spiritually there was a mix of Buddhism, native Shinto and influences from Confucius and Taoism. So how could the copying of architecture such as the temples be an influence of Nestorian Christianity?  It makes it sound as though by copying Classic Architecture in Washington, DC, would somehow be a pagan Roman or Greek influence on people.

Further in that paragraph is a quote from a Mr. England
" "Regarding Japan," he writes, "the Seventeen Articles of injunction of the Regent Prince Shotoku (574-622) apparently include a grant to Nestorians of" full liberty and personal rights." "

I have read the Seventeen Articles of Prince Shotoku (who encouraged the spread of Buddhism in Japan) and cannot find this "apparent" grant to Nestorians.  The Articles may be read on-line in translation here:
http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/japan/japanworkbook/traditional/shotoku.htm

Please note that article 2 reads
"The three treasures, which are Buddha, the (Buddhist) Law and the (Buddhist) Priesthood; should be given sincere reverence, for they are the final refuge of all living things. Few men are so bad that they cannot be taught their truth."

The page that you link to does go on to say that there are other scholars who do discount the assertions that early Christianity made it to Japan or that some "evidence" is fragmentary and not convincing.

Respectfully

Ebor
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Offline Ebor

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2007, 11:43:32 PM »
I think this may actually be related to the British custom of turning the pot three times. This practice dates back to the Colonial Era, and is still practice today in Australia. When you make a pot of tea, you don't stir it, but let it steep until the leaves completely settle in the bottom of the teapot. You then gently rotate the pot three times just before serving in order to stir the tea without unsettling the leaves. If you have done this correctly, you should be able to pour the tea without a strainer as the leaves remain in the bottom of the teapot. I guess you could call this the "British/Australian Tea Ceremony". :)

I *like* it!  And such a ceremony could have other customs like the pourer being "Mother" as I recall reading.  And the adding of milk, or not.  ;)

Quote
Possibly. But stranger things have happened: like the case of the Bnei Menashe in India being recognised by Israel as one of the Lost Tribe and being granted citizenship under the Israel's Law of Return....on the basis of little more than a traditional folk song!

I'll grant you that strange things can happen and coincidences turn out to be meaningful.  But things like Mt. Moriya in Japan being necessarily a reference to "Mt. Moriah" in the Old Testament are speculation, imo.  "Mori" and "ya" are perfectly good Japanese words that don't *have* to have their origins in Hebrew.

Ebor
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Offline Nacho

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2007, 01:00:14 AM »
Quote
Do you go to a public university by chance Wink?

LoL, kind of. About to start a Bachelors program in Nursing, maybe a Master's if I'm real ambitious. I'm actually taking the religions class at the local community college here just for fun.

Quote
I'm going off to college myself within the next 5 months, and I'm worried that I'll come across these type of professors. But, I've been told by a good priest before that taking courses in religion at a university will just spread relativism and atheism. Having a good response to them is best, and I hope these references might've helped.

Good luck with everything. I could see relativism being a big problem. I personally have seen a few friends changed because of these types of courses. Some of them come out after taking a few philosophy courses and they act like they know everything. What I hate the most is that they are committed to nothing and love to pick & choose whatever tickles their fancy. Some say stupid things like they believe that everything has truth to it or some similar blanket statement. There are no absolutes, just personal opinions, likes & dislikes. If you try to argue otherwise, they always love to give the pro & con argument to everything while supposedly trying to remain neutral.... ::)

On another depressing note, we just starting going over Islam and my religions teacher seems very gleeful about it.... ::) He's also going to invite a guest speaker, which he has not done for the other religions we have gone over. I just have to roll my eyes and wonder about how many brainwashed people in my class are going to be suckered into this nonsense. I actually talked a guy out of inquiring further about Islam who had this same teacher last semester. He told me that allot of the people in the class seemed to be mezmorized by his presentation of Islam. I essentially told him that he did not hear the bad stuff about Islam and that the presentation must have been very unbalanced. I think we are going to spend the next few class periods going over Islam; I will have to see how biased it could possibly get. In the meantime, I'm laying low and waiting for my teacher to slip up or say something ridiculous so I can bust him on it. I'll follow up on this thread and post what he says, I'm sure there will be some very biased comparisons to Christianity to put Islam in the best light possible.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2007, 01:37:05 AM »
I *like* it!  And such a ceremony could have other customs like the pourer being "Mother" as I recall reading.  And the adding of milk, or not.  ;)
Don't laugh! Tea is serious business here in Australia, and it is highly ritualized. "Afternoon tea" is a paid break in most employment here. Our customary afternoon break here in rural Australia is called  "Devonshire Tea" consisting of tea served with fresh scones, jam and fresh whipped cream. Some of the most prized antiques in Australia are teapots and teacups, and a Royal Doulton teacup and saucer can fetch upwards of $400. And there is much ritual around tea making. The pot must first be warmed before placing the leaves in it. One teaspoon of tea is placed in the pot for each person plus one extra teaspoon ("one for the pot"). The milk question you mention is actually the argument against the use of teabags. In the "British/Australian Tea Ceremony", if one has tea with milk, the milk must be placed in the cup first and the tea poured into it- which, of course, you can't do if you're using a teabag. So Australian teabags tend to be larger, so they can be placed in the pot rather than the cup. But of course, a true tea connoisseur would never use a teabag!

I'll grant you that strange things can happen and coincidences turn out to be meaningful.  But things like Mt. Moriya in Japan being necessarily a reference to "Mt. Moriah" in the Old Testament are speculation, imo.  "Mori" and "ya" are perfectly good Japanese words that don't *have* to have their origins in Hebrew.
It is fun to speculate though! I agree though that we need to examine hypotheses carefully for a lack of an alternative explanation.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2007, 06:20:07 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline jmbejdl

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2007, 03:09:05 AM »
Our customary afternoon break here in rural Australia is called  "Devonshire Tea" consisting of tea served with fresh scones, jam and fresh whipped cream.

Whipped cream? That's just not cricket. I knew you Aussies had gone off the rails a little but whipped cream on scones? It's supposed to be clotted cream (and yes afternoon tea here is just as ritualistic especially amongst oilder folk. You should have tried having tea with my great aunt - she was in service in the early 20th century and she was an absolute stickler).

James
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2007, 05:59:31 AM »
I knew you Aussies had gone off the rails a little but whipped cream on scones? It's supposed to be clotted cream
I think it's the word "clotted". We just can't get used to the idea of eating something whose name suggests it has been allowed to congeal! Hopefully, you can take some comfort in the fact that we still consider afternoon tea to be worth bringing out "the Royal Doulton with the handpainted perwinkles."
« Last Edit: April 02, 2007, 06:19:25 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Panagiotis

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #30 on: April 03, 2007, 12:43:44 PM »
Somewhere in my research into Parsi way back in the day I found a bit of information which I thought bizarre. Apparently, and I have no clue where I got this form so if someone wants to fill in the gaps if they heard this before please do, that the Hindu faith was originally from Abraham.

The seeded tale goes that while Abraham left his home he had an entourage of followers with him. As he went through the Fertile Crescent some went off to preach about this God of Abraham and the next thing we have is the Hindu land of the Indus. Abraham=Brahma, etc. etc.

Anyone heard of this?

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Offline Ebor

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #31 on: April 05, 2007, 10:52:44 PM »
Don't laugh! Tea is serious business here in Australia, and it is highly ritualized. "Afternoon tea" is a paid break in most employment here.

I assure you, I'm not laughing!!  My father got to know tea when he was stationed in England during the War.  He is quite fond  of it and firm in the custom that it is made with loose tea, none of that bag business.  :)  He doesn't quite make it "strong enough to trot a mouse across" but it's a good rich brew.

Quote
Our customary afternoon break here in rural Australia is called  "Devonshire Tea" consisting of tea served with fresh scones, jam and fresh whipped cream. Some of the most prized antiques in Australia are teapots and teacups, and a Royal Doulton teacup and saucer can fetch upwards of $400. And there is much ritual around tea making. The pot must first be warmed before placing the leaves in it. One teaspoon of tea is placed in the pot for each person plus one extra teaspoon ("one for the pot").

Yes, this sounds familar and also quite delicious.  I wish it were more of an American custom.  There are places where one may go for afternoon Tea, but they're not under every bush.

Ebor
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Offline Ebor

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #32 on: April 05, 2007, 11:01:33 PM »
It is fun to speculate though! I agree though that we need to examine hypotheses carefully for a lack of an alternative explanation.

I quite agree.  I've thought of a counter to the page you linked to and its assertion that the common custom of mountains being places for worship is a link between Ancient Israel and Japan.  This idea is quite common in human history.  As I understand from my reading (since I have never yet been so fortunate as to visit your country) Uluru/Ayers Rock is considered special and sacred to the native group from that area.  They would prefer that people *not* climb it, though it is done.  In my own home state of Montana the Native American tribes counted high places and mountains as sacred and where they would go for vision quests and other rituals, places like Chief Mountain on the northeast part of what is now Glacier Park and the Sweetgrass Hills east of there. 

I think it highly unlikely that all of these could be traced back to coming from the tribes of Israel.

I'll have to go back and find the quote, but as I recall the page you linked to had some ummm shall we say odd reading of the ancient legends of Japan in trying to make them fit with the Old Testament.  One place was with the story of Amaterasu-omikami hiding herself in the cave and how the gods got her out.

Ebor
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Offline Zoe

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2007, 11:21:54 PM »
Surprised to see this theory discussed!  I have a small interest in this, myself.  I'm of the belief that connections and similarities between religions does not discredit ours, and so I really have no issue looking into this stuff.  With that said, attached is a paper written by one of my rel. professors (great Scottish guy!) on the connection between Zoroastrianism and Christianity.  I believe it was published, if anyone wants the journal name just ask.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #34 on: April 05, 2007, 11:27:17 PM »
I'll have to go back and find the quote, but as I recall the page you linked to had some ummm shall we say odd reading of the ancient legends of Japan in trying to make them fit with the Old Testament.  One place was with the story of Amaterasu-omikami hiding herself in the cave and how the gods got her out.
I don't think the article is trying to fit Japanese legends to the Old Testament, but rather, is trying to establish a link between Japanese and Ancient Israelite culture. The goddess story may not be as unrealted as you think. If you look at Jeremiah 7:17-18 and 44:17, you will find references to Israelites worshipping a goddess. This is probably the goddess Asherah. See "The Hebrew Goddess" by Raphael Patai (1967).
« Last Edit: April 05, 2007, 11:27:42 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Ebor

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #35 on: April 11, 2007, 05:00:15 PM »
I don't think the article is trying to fit Japanese legends to the Old Testament, but rather, is trying to establish a link between Japanese and Ancient Israelite culture. The goddess story may not be as unrealted as you think. If you look at Jeremiah 7:17-18 and 44:17, you will find references to Israelites worshipping a goddess. This is probably the goddess Asherah. See "The Hebrew Goddess" by Raphael Patai (1967).

As I read the article, it was trying to show how much the Japanese legends paralleled or fit some from the OT.  I know about the Israelites worshipping a goddess.  My point was that in trying to show the similarites, the article is, to my mind, making mistakes in the telling and explaination of the story of Amaterasu to try and show a link that is not really there.

Ebor
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Offline Andrew21091

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2009, 12:36:58 AM »
I hope nobody minds but I decided to grab my shovel and dig this thread up. I had a few thoughts that I would like to express here. I read a little on Zoroastrianism and I think it is interesting but I'm pretty ignorant for the most part about the religion.

First off, in minasoliman's post, he mentions that Zoroastrian prophecies predicted a messiah. Does anyone have the specific examples of text and I'm wondering, could any of their prophecies could have been talking about Christ? Did any of their prophecies point to an event that may have happened in Christ's life?

My second thought concerns the three Magi who came to Christ and the belief that Christianity and Judaism took some of the Zoroastrian beliefs. Is it possible that the Magi learned of the signs of the coming Christ from Zoroastrian writings? Is it possible that Zoroaster was a true prophet that really pointed to Christ? We all know that Christ's coming was the fufillment of Judaism but was His coming also possibly the fufillment of Zoroastrianism? The teachings were similar to Judaism and it makes me think that the two were possibly pointing toward the same thing and that is Christ.

My knowledge of Zoroastrianism is very limited though, but any thoughts perhaps?

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #37 on: June 29, 2017, 02:02:18 AM »
Interesting hypothesis about the tea ceremony, if fanciful
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...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline William T

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #38 on: June 29, 2017, 03:01:04 AM »
I hope nobody minds but I decided to grab my shovel and dig this thread up. I had a few thoughts that I would like to express here. I read a little on Zoroastrianism and I think it is interesting but I'm pretty ignorant for the most part about the religion.

First off, in minasoliman's post, he mentions that Zoroastrian prophecies predicted a messiah. Does anyone have the specific examples of text and I'm wondering, could any of their prophecies could have been talking about Christ? Did any of their prophecies point to an event that may have happened in Christ's life?

My second thought concerns the three Magi who came to Christ and the belief that Christianity and Judaism took some of the Zoroastrian beliefs. Is it possible that the Magi learned of the signs of the coming Christ from Zoroastrian writings? Is it possible that Zoroaster was a true prophet that really pointed to Christ? We all know that Christ's coming was the fufillment of Judaism but was His coming also possibly the fufillment of Zoroastrianism? The teachings were similar to Judaism and it makes me think that the two were possibly pointing toward the same thing and that is Christ.

My knowledge of Zoroastrianism is very limited though, but any thoughts perhaps?

Savior:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saoshyant

Of note: A virgin (and descendant of Zoroaster) will bath in water then give birth. 

Jewish texts that take place after the Babylonian captivity and during the interaction with the Persians are a bit different than the old Torah texts.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 03:03:47 AM by William T »

Offline michaelus

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #39 on: June 29, 2017, 04:22:45 AM »
I hope nobody minds but I decided to grab my shovel and dig this thread up. I had a few thoughts that I would like to express here. I read a little on Zoroastrianism and I think it is interesting but I'm pretty ignorant for the most part about the religion.

First off, in minasoliman's post, he mentions that Zoroastrian prophecies predicted a messiah. Does anyone have the specific examples of text and I'm wondering, could any of their prophecies could have been talking about Christ? Did any of their prophecies point to an event that may have happened in Christ's life?

My second thought concerns the three Magi who came to Christ and the belief that Christianity and Judaism took some of the Zoroastrian beliefs. Is it possible that the Magi learned of the signs of the coming Christ from Zoroastrian writings? Is it possible that Zoroaster was a true prophet that really pointed to Christ? We all know that Christ's coming was the fufillment of Judaism but was His coming also possibly the fufillment of Zoroastrianism? The teachings were similar to Judaism and it makes me think that the two were possibly pointing toward the same thing and that is Christ.

My knowledge of Zoroastrianism is very limited though, but any thoughts perhaps?
Matthew 2:1-6
Quote
When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.
Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him.
And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born.
But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet:
"And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel."
That's almost an exact quote from the Book of Micah.  I think the Magi definitely learned of Jesus from a Jewish source of some kind.
But while we're on this topic, Matthew says the Magi were also guided by the star.  Anyone here know anything about Zoroastrian astrology?
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 04:25:18 AM by michaelus »
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Offline juliogb

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #40 on: June 29, 2017, 08:21:52 AM »
Zubin Mehta is also Zoroastrian-- I remember a broadcast of Also Spracht Zarathustra in which he discussed this very briefly in a prologue.

The common view of Zorastrianism as dualistic is a misconception caused by confusing some of the lesser principles with Ahura Mazda, the one creator god as they name him. They are actually monotheists, and (at least if you believe the Wikipedia article  ;) ) there is considerable scholarly disagreement over how Judaism and Zoroastrianism are related. It's possible that the influences flow the opposite direction. In any case the Zoroastrian picture of the universe as being eschatologically directed is very close to the Judaeo-Christian picture. What's missing are the covenantal aspect of Judaism and of course the incarnation.

I have a friend that has the theory that Prophet Daniel and Zarathustra were the same person, or one was based in the another.


Offline William T

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #41 on: June 29, 2017, 11:23:46 AM »
Zubin Mehta is also Zoroastrian-- I remember a broadcast of Also Spracht Zarathustra in which he discussed this very briefly in a prologue.

The common view of Zorastrianism as dualistic is a misconception caused by confusing some of the lesser principles with Ahura Mazda, the one creator god as they name him. They are actually monotheists, and (at least if you believe the Wikipedia article  ;) ) there is considerable scholarly disagreement over how Judaism and Zoroastrianism are related. It's possible that the influences flow the opposite direction. In any case the Zoroastrian picture of the universe as being eschatologically directed is very close to the Judaeo-Christian picture. What's missing are the covenantal aspect of Judaism and of course the incarnation.

I have a friend that has the theory that Prophet Daniel and Zarathustra were the same person, or one was based in the another.

I don't think there is much evidence for uniting those two, there isn't much comparison between the two.  I can't recall off the top of my head anything in Persian or Mesopotamian literature that sounds like the story of Daniel. However Daniel may be the most important book to look at for Post-Exilic Judaism and the influence of Zoroastrianism.  Look at the apocolyptic sections, the treatment of angels, and the advancing and evolving view from a henotheistic belief system to a monotheistic belief system.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #42 on: June 29, 2017, 11:38:07 AM »
I think Zoroaster may have been a failed prophet, sent to preach to the Hindus; Zoroastrianism is on the one hand like Judaism, but on the other hand, like a reverse of Hinduism (the terminology is inverted, so daevas are devils in Zoroastrianism but divine manifestations in Hinduism).  The Eucharist-like Yasna with the consecrated plant Haoma looks like the ancient Hindu ceremonies of a similiar name in the Vedic texts concerning Soma.

My theory is Zoroaster tried to hybridize the Noahide, pre-Judaic religion with Hinduism, that he was a divinely sent prophet who failed, a possibility hinted at in the book of Jonah (which does show God sending Hebrew prophets to other nations).

This is purely a theologoumemnon of mine. 
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 11:38:26 AM by Alpha60 »
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Offline William T

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Re: Zoroastrianism & Mithras
« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2017, 12:36:00 PM »

It's been awhile since I looked at any of my saved lectures on Zoroastrianism, but from what I recall this may be a good primer to Zoroastrianism:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCn1XJ3MIH8

I think I suggested this to people who asked me for an introduction on this religion before.  If that's no good let me know, I have other lectures saved that may be good for an intro.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 12:36:17 PM by William T »