Is the Story of Jesus Unique? July 5, 2008

Is the Story of Jesus Unique?

This could be shocking to people who believe the Bible is an original story and is not simply a collection of recycled myths from other faiths of the time.

The New York Times is reporting on a recently found tablet that dates back decades before the birth of Christ:

A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

The article notes it will still take time for the tablet to be verified or debunked as a forgery.

There’s also a lot of disputable “filling in the blanks” taking place where parts of the writing are illegible.

“This should shake our basic view of Christianity,” [Bible Studies professor Israel Knohl] said… “Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus, which runs contrary to nearly all scholarship. What happens in the New Testament was adopted by Jesus and his followers based on an earlier messiah story.”

I’m curious if it would shake — or even nudge — any religious person’s faith if it were discovered that the writing was accurate and these traditions/beliefs were around long before Jesus.

For some reason, I highly doubt it.

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  • There will be two answers to it:

    1) It is a lie by Big Science.

    2) Satan put it there.

    Or, if you’re Ray Comfort, it will be:

    Is it repeatable? Then it’s not science. How do you know it predates Jesus? To know that it does, that requires absolute knowledge. You are not omniscient, only God is. Therefore, you do not know; you have faith. I’d much rather put my faith in Jesus.

  • Darryl

    Far from demolishing faith, it will bolster it. Christians already believe that the O.T. Prophets spoke of the Messiah and his resurrection (properly-interpreted, or course); this will just confirm what they already believe. The only trouble for some mightl be how to champion it though it is not in the Biblical canon. But, I imagine most Christians hungry for ‘evidence’ will treat it like the shroud of Turin.

  • The ability to shut their brains when confronted with evidence is what makes them theistards, so it would probably strengthen instead of weaken their theistarded faith.

  • Adrian

    Interesting. It seems to confirm the argument that Jesus sceptics have been making, that there was a tradition of dying and resurrected saviours. Just further evidence that this notion was also active within the region and religion.

  • This is hardly new information. Just an addition to an already growing database of parallels between stories of Jesus’ life and myths of other saviour heroes. Few peoples’ faith was shaken because of it.

  • Darryl

    This is hardly new information. Just an addition to an already growing database of parallels between stories of Jesus’ life and myths of other saviour heroes. Few peoples’ faith was shaken because of it.

    Truer words were never written than “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the essence of things not seen.” Peoples’ faith is not shaken because they want to believe it, and absence of evidence is the essence of their faith. Only religion can turn a deficit into a credit. You gotta’ love it.

    Oh, and politics too, don’t forget politics.

  • Anatoly:

    This is hardly new information. Just an addition to an already growing database of parallels between stories of Jesus’ life and myths of other saviour heroes. Few peoples’ faith was shaken because of it.

    Except that the parallels that you are referring to are between pagan and Christian stories, and are pretty much either strained or bogus. This story, if it holds up, is a Jewish precursor, which makes a heck of a lot more historical sense.

    Also, the claim that resurrection after three days “contradicts all scholarship” is a bit dicey, since a misinterpretation of Hosea 6:2 has been thought to be the source of the “three days” motif in the first place. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a connection between that verse and the story on the tablet.

  • I agree with what was said earlier….it will be “you see? There were many prophesies of Jesus out there!”

    It is sort of what was parodied in the “Life of Brian” when Brian denied that he was the Messiah.

  • Stephen M.

    I feel it will be dismissed as the work of SATAN to trick humans away from faith.

    I find if funny how anything thay physically disproves or contradicts the bible and christian dogma is denied as a trick of the devil, while everything taken as “truth” must be accepted on faith with no evidence except the circular logic of the bible written by god proving he exists….


  • “already believe that the O.T. Prophets…”

    Is it bad that I read that thinking Original Trilogy? Man I’m a nerd…

  • Pseudonym

    This could be shocking to people who believe the Bible is an original story and is not simply a collection of recycled myths from other faiths of the time.

    For those playing “spot the logical fallacy” at home, this is what we call “false dichotomy”.

  • Bad

    As I was blogging, this is not going to turn Christians into atheists, but it would seriously undermine a core claim of many apologetics, which is that the core Christian story are so original, so unprecedented, and so outside what people of that culture would have expected or tried to appeal to, that this all bolsters its claims to authenticity. If this finding holds up, that argument will be quite weakened. They’ll find others, of course, but that doesn’t mean that this is of no relevance to anti-apologetics.

  • It will shake up apologetics at first, but they’ll come up with something later. Besides isn’t it their argument that the previous messiahs were actually created by the devil to discredit Jesus? (I believe that’s from “The God Who Wasn’t There.”)

  • Daniel Hoffman

    It’s nothing new, as someone pointed out. Death and resurrection in some form or other is pretty common in most religions.

    I fail to see why it would shake my faith. I mean, the thing in and of itself has absolutely no bearing on whether the Biblical stories are true or not.

    The only thing parallels between religions tell me is that most people have parallel intuitions about spiritual things or maybe that they are actually on to something and parallel notions reflect an objective reality. But to say that an idea is wrong or make-believe because lots of people have had a similar idea doesn’t make a bit of sense.

    The simple truth is, lots of people believing something (or not believing it for that matter) has nothing to do with whether it’s actually true or not.

  • Her-Excellency

    I’m not an idiot.
    I know that Jesus’s story in the Bible is similar to that of other stories (Dionysus, Zoroaster…). I’ve read Joseph Campbell. It’s not news.
    I can’t tell you why exactly it doesn’t bother me, it just doesn’t.

  • JohnB

    Nothing is as resistant to evidence and logic like faith, so for those who believe first, think second, last or not at all, it will have no impact whatsoever unless it is somehow used to justify and strengthen that faith.
    But it’s already known that Christianity stole borrowed from earlier belief systems and modern Christians conveniently overlook these facts, if they’re aware of them at all.

  • it’s very convenient to keep your beliefs completely separate from reality, that means you never have to change them, even in the face of great evidence against them

    makes me wonder then, why there are always attempts to find evidence for god or biblical stories if they supposedly don’t need any when they hear our evidence against?

  • Pseudonym

    Actually, Her-Excellency, I’ve read Joseph Campbell too. That’s precisely one of the biggest reasons why this doesn’t bother me in the slightest and why JohnB is mostly incorrect about his “stole/borrowed” comment.

    In addition, until this tablet has been fully analysed, it’s not evidence of anything any more than the “Jesus tomb” is “evidence”. But evidence has never been important so long as it sounds vaguely anti-Christian.

  • shaggrat

    Prologue: This is much larger than initially intended, but is such a juicy topic, it just kept pouring out. I graduated from Cal Poly California in History with a specialty of Mediterranean cultures from 3500 B.C.E, through about 100 C.E of Empirical Rome. Also,as recently proven by Stephen Hawking latest creation-ist equation, it theoretically more probable that we are part of an inter active multi-verse, than Uni-verse. So all of this god stuff comes down to :is there a creature out there some were ,who’s action, intended or not, was the original matter moving motion in our universe? What most of the religous, and especially the”Monotheistic” religions do is define our own sense of hubris, not what a GOD might want. We are relentlessly sophomoric in dealing with our ego-centrism, and our individual value as related to the rest of what is out there. And regardless of ignorant, illogical, stupid asinine writing, and statements that are still being tossed around no differently than 1500 years ago, we continue to push the idea of “US” being in God’s likeness and most favored constructs, can not do anything but boggle a rational mind. So please feel free to edit all or some or none of what I have written. No hard feelings at all. I do want to see what others think of my little story regarding the biggest con job ever pulled off.

    First, I am an ordained Non-Christian Gnostic priest. What does that mean? It means I have no doctrine bogging down my search into the only two relevant questions regarding God. 1) What is it? 2) What, if anything, does it expect from us? The rest of the ink that has been spilt on this is either a waste, or a back door entry into the realm of cultural politics.( for those who are not sure, politics is the science of the distribution of power. Diplomatic, financial, or in your face kill you type, it all falls in the pot, and those that control GOD, control what people think of the after life, and that is power.)

    As my opener, a king of clubs, there are too many of you who think of the Bible as “fact” based book with a few mis-interpretations, rather than a book of terribly written fiction. It is worse than starting a book with “a dark and stormy night…” Forgetting the old testament right now, because it has nothing to do with the mythology of the “Cristos” ( meaning to “anoint with oil” as was done with kings, and hence the Jesus, King of the Jews fallacy), the earliest books of the new testament were penned somewhere (at best)between 40-60 years after the saviors death. That would be the same as me penning what Franklin Roosevelt or Adolf Hitler said during World War II, with no extant material of their actions. Next, what Christianity was, became, and the initial doctrine, was laid down in the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., held by Constantine I, a pagan Roman Emperor,(who’s reason was that there were enough Christians pulling on the Roman culture that a religious schism could easily turn into full out civil war, so Constantine being a rational, politically astute person avoided the whole thing by making Christianity the “official religion.” There was no previous “official religion”, so there was no loss in the action.” during which formed the seven initial diocese, named patriarchs, and basically outlined what was required of the church and what was required from the “flock.” and what was to be included and not included in the “Book”. I don’t think any of the twelve apostles were invited, and the man himself had already been killed, as the story goes, “risen”, went to Hell to whoop ol’ Lucifer for good measure and gone back to the willowy, gold lined clouds of the eternal reward until Armageddon, when he makes his encore. Picks his army. Then give Lucifer’s son and friends a serious ass whoop’en, and takes all the good people to heaven, and the ones who were not so good go to hell with all the other bad kids. Riddle me this Batman…..The big”J” has already gave Lucifer a smack down, how does his kid (actually the Satan child would be a Nephilim, described in the Old Testment of Genesis as “the mighty men of old, the men of renown.” were the the result of the “Fallen” angels mating with human women. They were giants noted as being 300 cubits, roughly 18 inches, would give these guys a 225 foot in seem. Needless to say, these kids didn’t have the best upbringing, and big “G” washed these boys down the drain with Noah’s flood) even rate as a contender? And all of those demons and devils, people think, at their best, as angels (yes that is all they are…messengers for “God” and only a handful got a pass to come deliver a message to us on Earth …the rest of them Angels were smacked down, and they couldn’t do anything on Earth then, much less now. They got totally whipped and tossed in the mud. Where does Satan get all this new power from in the book of Revelations? This comes straight from how to write up a fictional super hero. The super hero can only be as good and powerful as the super villain that beats him in the first round. The hero goes back to his companion ( yes this is Joseph Campbell’s “hero with a thousand faces.”) So now Luke Skywalker knows how nasty Darth Vader really is, took Obi-won out, then in round two, good old “DAD” comes out and tells him “join me in the Dark Side of the Force (sounds like Christ’s last temptation by Satan, no) and together we will destroy the Emperor, and rules the galaxy as father and son!” Now, late in the third, good is taking the beating it can’t stop and evil looks like the probable winner, then the errant sinner sees the error in his ways, repents, destroying the evil, but at the cost of his own life, the ultimate sacrifis in hopes of redemption and God (the universal Force) . the compassionate, benevolent being adds him to the heavenly host in the end. So for God to be able to be the omniscient all loving God needed to keep the population in check, the church super charges Satan, and then puts him on steroids and methamphetamines and this provides the muscle power to the Lord of Lies and deception the overwhelming force to cause a person to dispair, and turn to the church for a hope of a lift up.
    To review the facts. We really don’t know what big”G” is and or wants other than a general message of just be cool with other people. Remember him at dinner on Sat or Sun. And if you want something, earn it, and it pretty smart to not mess with your neighbor’s wife. He will find out, then you have a fight, she gets smacked around, then the law steps in and wants to know who through the first punch…Blah, Blah, Blah just bad news for a little nooky on the side. Not a good idea. See, if we go back to the story, Big “G” gave ol’ Moses 2 tablets, with ten do’es and don’ts on it. Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince, and would not have known how to read or write, that is what scribes are for. As for the Semitics that he was supposed to have lead out of “slavery”, one were not slaves, but the would have held positions as scribes, and accountants and could have read the tablets, if they were written in Egyptian. PROBLEM BOMB HERE! At the time of the supposed execution, in the provence of Judah, people would be speaking Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Egyptian, Phoenician, Ugritic, Carthagian, and some Celtic and stuff from the plains people above the Black Sea and others possibly, probably, big trade route hub that section of the world. Well, we run into another problem that starts with Abraham. See he wasn’t Semitic, he was originally from the city of Ur, in the low delta region of the Mesopotamian Valley, and then migrated to the Levant area, geographically the south-eastern portion of what is now Israel, Palestine, up to what is now the corner of Iraq and Turkey. As determined by other texts from the same area and time frame (Ancient Near Eastern text as they relate to the Bible, by James Pritchard, 1969…if you find this book for less than $700.00 it is a steal!)
    There were recorded over 700 men at the council meeting that went on for 3 months figuring everything out. And it didn’t take long before the great schism split the church in to the Eastern Orthodox churches, and “The Church” of Rome who’s patriarch then took the title “Pope” From about the 6th century until Martin Luther nailed his conplaints on a church door and thus creating the “Protestants” and a whole new way for people to worship god, same “G” just a significant change in the rules of the road that say every person can talk with the big “G”, where in the newly renamed Catholic,”Universal” church, all requests have to go through a priest.

    Historically speaking, there is no extant evidence the person ever existed, and if he did, his name was most certainly not Jesus or in the Latin spelling of the time Iesus. The letter “J” as we know it was not invented until 17th century by the French. But here is the real killer to this idiocy. Of the thirteen wondering do-gooders, only Matthew/lLevi and Luke were the only two that might have been able to write. Matthew/Levi as a tax collector would have worked for the Romans, and would have been responsible for ensuring the Romans got every danarii they were owed. Not a job you can just drop. But he would have been able to read and write. It is mentioned that Luke was a doctor. That education might have needed reading and writing. The rest would not have known how to write or read, and hiring people who could was expensive.

    This is locking up,
    out for now

  • shaggrat

    a quick , short finish. The massiah story/prophecy has been around since the neolithic period started. In Egypt, it is the Osiris, Isis, Set Horus story. in one of the early mesopotamian cities it was Innana and Tammuzi. In short it is the hero with a thousand faces as discussed by Joseph Campbelll. Every generation has it’s problems, and the person who is going to clean it up and make with the kissy face is around the next corner. The problem with the next corner is that it is ALWAYS the next corner. like the next moment, it just never gets here. Cultural anthropology would call it the unreal expectation of happiness later, for sorrow and pain now. Human being just can’t face the idea that they are not so important that when the switch is flick off, there is only the eternal oblivion. Sad base to have when the rational of the now can be so incredibly rewarding. My love for my wife is the most intense felling I have this moment, and all the moments in the last 29 years. I tried to believe, but the harder I tried to believe the mythos, the more it fell apart. I truly empathize for the people who are living that fantasy.

    Rational logic is what seperates us from the other animals, and those following long in Christianity, or any mythology of salvation is not being rational, nor logical, thus those people are not rising up to be a human being, but a human waiting for dying. Waste.


  • Ron in Houston

    It will have an effect on thinking Christians. Although, I suspect a number of them already harbor numerous doubts about things like the virgin birth or even the divinity of Christ.

    For those who don’t question their faith and only believe what is spoon fed to them by some preacher man, there’s no hope.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Ok, maybe I am dumb. Can someone explain how someone believing something close to Christianity several decades before it began undermines it?

    I mean, ‘oh no, lots of people have believed this, therefore it’s false“??

  • If I read the NY Times article correctly, there’s a lot of ambiguity as to what exactly is being said on this tablet.

    But even if we accept that, “Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus,” as a person quoted in the article says, there’s still a big difference between claiming that a messiah/rescuer will rise after 3 days and claiming that a particular person (e.g., Jesus) has in fact done so.

    In other words, there’s still a difference between prophecy and history.

    So I don’t really see why this tablet should shake anyone’s faith, even if all the claims/guesses about the tablet are true.

  • I don’t quite see what the big deal is about this. Of course early Christianity “borrowed” pre-existing concepts from Judaism (though “carried forward” would be a more accurate term) – it was a Jewish sect after all. Why in the world then would you expect them to do otherwise? It’s not like the first Christians thought they were inventing an entirely new religion.

    I know the Jesus Seminar folks have created this wacko idea that if something in the gospels is at all similar to the Judaism that preceded it or the early Christianity that followed it, it therefore can’t be counted as authentic, but for my money New Perspective folks like James Dunn and Tom Wright have done a great job of showing how little sense it makes to completely decontextualize Jesus from his entire historical setting if your goal is to actually understand the “historical Jesus”.

  • Grimalkin

    My final project in Uni was on the background from which the mythical Jesus (as opposed to the historical Jesus) emerged. What I did was I found a number of Hebrew “divine men” and Greco-Roman “divine men” and I compared those traditions to those of Jesus. The idea of a miraculous birth, the resurrection, the miracles, etc. can all be found in one or the other (or both) traditions. To be even fairier, I focused on divine men living as close to 0-30CE as possible.

    As for the idea of rising after three days, the number three is special in most western traditions. Whenever something mythical/magical happens, it’s pretty much always in threes.

    Anyways, the point of this comment is two-fold: 1) Anyone who is only looking into Jewish tradition from the time hasn’t done their homework. It was the “gentiles” who mostly developed the mythic Jesus, so it’s mostly their pre-existing traditions and myths that we should be looking at. The Hebrews, for the most part, were far more interested in guys like Honi the Circle Drawer or Hanina ben Dosa to bother coming up with myths for Jesus. 2) Do we really need some newly discovered tablet to tell us all this? Honestly, scholarship has been working on this very question for about 200 years and there is more than enough evidence around to show where and how the mythic Jesus was created. Yet again, anyone who thinks that the discovery of one single new tablet is going to revolutionize our thinking of the mythical Jesus hasn’t done their homework.

  • Stephanie

    You’re talking about people who think the dinosaurs were planted in the Earth as a test of their faith. Do you really think ANY evidence can stand up to that kind of egocentric arrogance?

  • Darryl

    When it comes to religion, serious argumentation, filled with technical jargon, and appeals to history and archeology and versions of ancient texts, and to the researches of this scholar and that scholar, is like a book club for enthusiasts of a great novelist. If an unknown short story is discovered among the effects of the now-deceased novelist, and it has a topical bearing upon the life of the novelist’s fictional hero, the club will commence arguing over how it fits with the rest of the novels, and what it might mean to their interpretation. It may dash some interpretations and support others, but its authenticity will not be denied.

    The difference between religion and the book club is that the latter knows that the book they’re discussing is fiction.

  • Richard Wade

    You could unearth Jesus’ skeleton, complete with wounds in hands and feet, with his photo ID in his wallet saying “Jesus of Nazareth,” his driver’s license showing he was authorized to drive donkeys only, two utility bills with his name and most recent address, 112 North Olive Tree Drive, Jerusalem, Palestiine, 26160, clutching a video tape cassette (they used Beta back then) showing highlights of his life and death including the parts about not performing any miracles and not coming back to life, the local coroner’s report giving the dates of his death and the autopsy four days later and the burial the next day ’cause he was getting ripe, Mary’s signed, witnessed and notarized confession that she did it with Amal the Potter and just made up that fib about an angel to keep Joseph from getting pissed off and killing her with stones, and finally signed affidavits by all the apostles witnessed by Romans, Pharisees and whatnot saying unequivocally “Hey it was all just a scam to get some free food but it got outa hand,” and still people will believe whatever their parents told them to believe when they were little.

    Faith is impervious to reason, unaffected by evidence, invulnerable to logic. Most believers rely heavily on faith to preserve their beliefs. Arguing with them using reason, evidence and logic is like shooting spit balls at a battleship. Some believers will venture out and exchange arguments in the reason/evidence/logic forum, but when their arguments are shot full of holes they run back inside their impenetrable fortress of faith and say, “Well regardless of everything you say and everything you show me, this is what I believe and you can’t shake me, so there, nya nya nya.” It’s a complete waste of time.

  • Of course all of that evidence that Jesus was just a man was placed there by the devil to challenge our faith…

  • Peter Kaufman

    It is highly probable this stone tablet text is yet another sensationalist scam, as is clearly indicated by the facts

    (1) that no specific information is available on its provenance and

    (2) that no details are provided on carbon dating of the ink.

    As such, this “news” falls right in line with the faked Lost-Tomb-of-Jesus “documentary” designed to make a profit off of people’s fascination with the “real” Jesus, and with the larger scandal of the biased and misleading way (oriented towards a Christian audience) the Dead Sea scrolls are being presented in museum exhibits around the world. See, e.g.,


  • It strikes me that attempting to use this archaeological discovery as some sort of confirmation of one’s pre-existing skepticism is just as inherently biased as those who would attempt to discredit it or explain it away based on a religious bias. Perhaps we should simply let the experts evaluate this stone for what it is – we don’t even know if it actually says what is claimed that it says – before trying to shoehorn it into any particular partisan agenda.

  • Mike Clawson wrote:

    I know the Jesus Seminar folks have created this wacko idea that if something in the gospels is at all similar to the Judaism that preceded it or the early Christianity that followed it, it therefore can’t be counted as authentic

    Mike — it’s not that they don’t consider this “authentic” — it’s more a matter of reflecting a “distinctive” point of view for the words recorded.

    For example, the “golden rule” has been said by others besides Jesus (e.g. Hillel). Even if Jesus said the “golden rule,” since it isn’t unique to him, it doesn’t provide any information on Jesus.

    However, the sayings that are “red letter” in the Jesus Seminar translation do portray a distinctive voice and provide themes and ideas not reflected in the surrounding culture.

  • TXatheist

    Some reading on the risen savior myths.

  • Mike — it’s not that they don’t consider this “authentic” — it’s more a matter of reflecting a “distinctive” point of view for the words recorded.

    Umm, I’m afraid I’m going to have to differ with you there Steve. Authenticity seems to be very much the issue for the Seminar. For instance, the title of Robert Funk’s book based on the work of the Seminar is titled “The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus”. (Not to mention the follow-up book, “The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus”.)And if you go to the wikipedia entry for the Jesus Seminar there’s a whole section about their criterion for “authenticity”, by which it’s pretty clearly meant whether or not Jesus actually said it. For instance, the article states:

    The Seminar concluded that of the various statements in the “five gospels” attributed to Jesus, only about 18% of them were likely uttered by Jesus himself (red or pink).

    But at any rate, even if your interpretation of their work is correct, that is, even if this is true:

    For example, the “golden rule” has been said by others besides Jesus (e.g. Hillel). Even if Jesus said the “golden rule,” since it isn’t unique to him, it doesn’t provide any information on Jesus.

    That still doesn’t make any sense. Just because someone else said it, it doesn’t tell us anything about Jesus? Of course it does. At the very least it tells us that Jesus agreed with Hillel.

    What you’re suggesting is like saying that since Barack Obama’s positions usually agree with a pre-existing Democratic Party platform, that therefore we don’t know anything about Obama’s own positions. But that’s crazy. Similarity to what other people also say is no indication that ones own beliefs aren’t authentic.

  • Peter Kaufman:

    It is highly probable this stone tablet text is yet another sensationalist scam

    I doubt it, mostly because the actual text appears to be pretty vague.

    BTW, TXatheist, I took a look at your list of your risen savior myths:

    1) It already starts out dicey in referring flat-out to Semele as a virgin, when in many forms of the myth, she was a straight-up paramour of Zeus. There is a form of the myth of Dionysus’ birth where he is born from Zeus raping Persephone and dismembered by the Titans, and then his heart is ground up into a potion that impregnates Semele with Dionysus, so in that case, I think she’s a virgin. Doesn’t really resemble Christian myths when viewed close up though.

    2) Isis, despite assertions to the contrary, is clearly disqualified from being a virgin by having sex with Osiris.

    3) The account of Mithras mixes up the Mithra of the Persian religion with the Mithras of the Roman mystery religion, which appears to have borrowed little more than the name from Persia. The Mithras that was born from Anahita was not born on December 25, and the Mithras that was born on the 25th was born from a rock. The stuff about Mithras having 12 disciples is pure crap.

    In short, it’s an example of the strained or bogus pagan parallels that I mentioned in the previous post.

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