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The Fellow In The Cap And The Man On The Cross: Mithraism And Christianity

1818 words - 7 pages

The Fellow in the Cap and the Man on the Cross: Mithraism and ChristianityMithras is a god who has been worshiped from the time of antiquity. Mithraism predated Christianity although Mithraism came of age at approximately the same time as Christianity developed. Comparative studies of the two religions expose many similarities. These similarities will be discussed and possible reasons for the sudden disappearance and lack of Mithraism in the literature will be examined.Mithras is a Sun-God and is identified with other Sun-Gods such as Shamas of the Assyrians and might also be called "the warrior of the world", "the judge of heaven and earth", "the light of the gods", and "the ruler of the day, who vanquishes the king's enemies". According to Wynne-Tyson (1972, p. 21):In the West he is known as Atys, Bacchus, or Apollo, and, in 47 B.C., he is found in the form of Helios-Dionysos upon the medallion of Pharnaces II, son of Mithridates, King of Pontus, where Mithras reigned as the chief God from the days of Alexander. Pontus was one of the main gates from which the cult spread into the Western world.The legend of Mithras, based on both Eastern and Western origins, is that in the beginning before earth was inhabited some shepherds (the pre-habitation type) witnessed as the sun rose a young and naked Mithras emerge from a rock, adorned with a Phrygian cap and carrying a knife and flaming torch. The shepherds came and worshipped, bringing gifts. Mithras, being cold climbed into a tree and made himself a garment of fig leaves. Mithras conquered the Primeval Bull, dragging it back into the cave where he lived, this difficult task symbolizing the suffering of mankind. The bull (the Persian word for bull and life is the same) escaped from the cave and the Sun commanded Mithras to find and kill the bull. Reluctantly Mithras found the bull and plunged his knife deep into the side of the bull and from the bull's blood was created all the useful plants and herbs, and from his spinal cord sprang the grains. Mithras indirectly provided the bread of life. From the blood also came the sentient creatures and harmless animals. This killing of the bull is called the tauroctony and is depicted universally in Mithraic Temples called mithraeum. The race of man is said to have come from a single couple and Mithras mounts guard over the race of man defending mankind from Ahriman, the Prince of Darkness, the Father of Lies, and antithesis of Light. This spirit of evil caused a great drought and Mithras pierced a rock with his golden arrows and water gushed forth. Another time Ahriman sent a flood to engulf mankind but one man was inspired by Mithras to build an ark and save his family and cattle. Mithras ascended into heaven in a chariot after partaking of a Last Supper with the twelve who had helped him with his labors. The birthday of Mithras is December 25th. Sunday, the seventh day of the week, was consecrated to Mithras as the Lord's Day long before the Christian era....

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