Comparison Of Christianity, Mithraism, And The Cult Of Isis

1120 words - 4 pages

Comparison of Christianity, Mithraism, and the Cult of Isis There is a division of religions referred to as mystery religions. This simply means that the religion involves gaining knowledge about God as well as becoming involved in or with the God. Christianity is classified as one of these mystery religions. There are two others, Mithraism and the cult of Isis, which are very similar, while still having many differences that set it apart from Christianity. Mithraism is an ancient religion of Iran. The cult of Isis originates in Egypt. In ancient times before the Roman Empire, there was strong rivalry between Christianity and Mithraism for popularity. After Christianity was sanctioned the official religion of Rome, Mithraism all but disappeared. There was a renewed interest in ancient Egypt known as "Egyptomania" which lead to more understanding of the cult of Isis. Being that all three are mystery religions they are bound to have commonalities. With relation to Christianity, Mithraism and the cult of Isis have similar theological stories, rituals and practices, symbolism, and all contain a central savior figure. As far as religious stories are concerned the major stories of Christianity are given basically the same as tales as in Mithraism. In Christianity, Adam and Eve after eating the fruit of the tree of good and evil, realize they are naked and attain fig leaves to cover themselves when they notice God approaching. Mithraism is similar in that after Mithra was created he clothed himself with the leaves of a fig tree and ate of its fruit. The same implication of the causation of the original sin is not present in the Mithra religion, however. A legend of a great flood is also present in these two religions. In Christianity, it is Noah and his family who survive the flood on an ark filled with animals. In the Mithraic story, it is only one man with his cattle. These are just two examples, but there are more. All three religions share the same three very important ritual or practices: asceticism, baptism, and communion. In all threes religions, abstinence from certain foods, referred to as fasting, and sexual abstinence are practiced and praised. In the cult of Isis a part of being initiated into the mystery is a purifying bath, very similar to baptism in Christianity. Baptism is a cleansing of the soul using water. Mithraism uses repeated lustrations and ablutions to cleanse the soul. Another common practice is that similar to communion. In Christianity, it is the eating and drinking of bread and wine, which represent the blood and body of Jesus. In Mithraism it is somewhat different, but basically the same meaning. When Mithra kills the bull, the animal's spinal cord created wheat or bread, and its blood is the vine that produces wine. In the cult of Isis, Osiris' body is cut into many different pieces that Isis tries to find. This is somewhat reminiscent to the Christian idea of the individual pieces of bread being one...

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