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Is the Jesus story an astrological allegory?

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:48 pm
by Ishtar
I have been having a look at the work of Acharya S. She has come developed a theory about the Jesus story that I'd like to discuss here, particularly with our astrology/astronomy specialists.

But first a little background:

As has been mentioned in the Abraham and the Vedas thread, there are many similarities between the story of Mithras and that of Jesus.

We also discussed how it wasn't just Mithras - that were many stories of Godmen who were born on December 25, who were travelling teachers with 12 disciples who performed miracles, were betrayed and then killed, but then rose again after three days.

For instance, these are the main features of the stories of Horus (the Egyptian sun god), Attis and Dionyus. There are also some similarities to the story of Krishna.

Acharya S says that the reason these stories are all so similar is that they are astrological allegories, and here's how it works:

We know that the original God that mankind worshipped was the sun, and it was the centre of his worship for obvious reasons, because he knew his life depended upon it. From this, many stories have been developed about light and dark being in a battle, each one being the victor for around 12 hours of each day, depending upon the time of year.

But here's where the dying and resurrecting Godman comes into it:

From a northern perspective, the Sun spends the summer and autumn travelling south and then seems to disappear for three days at the Winter Solstice or December 22. From an astrological perspective, the sun resides for three days in a constellation called the Southern Cross.

Then on 25 December, it starts to go north again (rise up), and the days once again start to become longer.

The story of the nativity, according to Acharya S, tells this story in allegory. The Star in the East is the brightest star, Sirius, which at this time is in alignmment with the three brightest stars in Orion's belt, known as The Three Kings. Thus, the Three Kings are following Sirius, or following the star. The star points towards where on the horizon the sun will rise again on 25 December.

These stars are in the constellation known as Virgo. The other name for the Virgo constellation is the House of Bread, and Virgo is often depicted carrying a sheaf of wheat. The name Bethlehem, apparently, translates as House of Bread

But the sun doesn't fully overcome the darkness again (in that the days are longer than the nights again) until the Spring equinox. So this is why the 'resurrrection of the sun' is celebrated at that time, which is Easter.

This is the bare bones of it. I'd be very interested to hear what others have to say about it.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:01 pm
by Digit
The Southern Cross is not visible from northern latitudes Ish.
Currently only visible from Cancer and lower but was visible in Jerusalem at time of Christ but would have been very on the southern horizon.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:10 pm
by Ishtar
Digit wrote:The Southern Cross is not visible from northern latitudes Ish.
Currently only visible from Cancer and lower but was visible in Jerusalem at time of Christ but would have been very on the southern horizon.
Oh dear, Digit. I'm hopeless at astrology. I can feel myself about to panic, so please bear with me.

I think the whole point is that the sun is invisible when it is residing in the Southern Cross. That's the bit where it 'disappears' for three days. So do you think this is hanging together from a Jerusalem storyteller's point of view?

And also, do the Three Kings really follow Sirius, and is Sirius the star most likely to show where the sun is going to rise on 25 December?

Phew, panic attack going down...I think! :oops:

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:22 pm
by Minimalist
"Matthew" the only gospel writer to mention any wise guys...sorry, wise men, does not even say there were "three." He certainly does not name them.

All of that was later ornamentation by xtians trying to dress up the tale.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:32 pm
by Ishtar
Thanks Min.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the meaning of the word Bethlehem.

Bethlehem Arabic: بيت لحم, Bayt Laḥm (help·info), lit "House of Meat"; Greek: Βηθλεέμ; Hebrew: בית לחם‎, Beit Lehem, lit "House of Bread")

So it does seem to be Hebrew for House of Bread.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:42 pm
by Digit
At the time of Christ the SC would have been visible, just, but I can't see how the Sun would have disappeared for three days at that latitude at that period, only at much higher latitudes where the Cross would not have been visible.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 7:42 pm
by Forum Monk
The sun will disappear for 3 days if you were at preceisely the correct latitude above the arctic circle. Last time I looked at my globe, the middle east was about 30* or more south of that point. Crux on the otherhand requires a latitude of about 30* north or less to be seen. That is about the same latitude as Giza. But 2000 years ago, precession would have made Crux appear to be even more southerly so an observer would have had to have been (how that for a complicated english verb tense?) even more south. That makes it visible from India (perhaps) but few other places in the middle east except perhaps southern Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Virgo should be visible from just about any inhabitable place in spring (northern hemisphere).

I don't how to follow a star. A star like Sirius rises 4 minutes earlier each solar day making it appear to move east to west slowly over the months. The Bethlehem star attracted attention because it moved toward the east (not west - or am I only remembering a song). Planets do appear to move easterly. Still one must wonder how significant was the event if only a few Magi were able to see it and interpret it as the 'sign' for the birth of a king. You're right, Min, three is definately from the song - not the Bible.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 7:45 pm
by Forum Monk
I had an even more elegant reply all made out and my internet crashed when I pushed the Submit the above post is a paraphrase of the lengthier explanation which I don't care to reproduce tonight. Hope it suffices.

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:07 pm
by Minimalist
You're recollection is correct, Monk.

Matt 2:
[9] When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
P.s. - I really hate it when that happens.

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:35 am
by Ishtar
Minimalist wrote: P.s. - I really hate it when that happens.
So do I. This used to happen to me a lot, so now, if I'm doing a longish one, I type it on a Word doc first and then copy and paste over.

Anyway, back to the topic:

First of all, on the 'diisappearance' of the sun. I think I may have got this wrong. I don't have any written material on this yet and I'm trying to get it all from a video. But looking at the video again, it seems to me that the sun doesn't actually disappear, but hangs really low on the horizon.

Secondly, according to Acharya, how the ancients worked out where it would start to rise again is by following the trajectory created by the alignment of the Three Kings behind (following) Sirius (the star). I think it would be interesting to find out the derivation of the Three Kings name for those stars.

Thirdly, about whether these astronomical phenomena could be perceived from Jerusalam. I've realised that they wouldn't need to be. The Jesus story is based on old Egyptian mythological stories such as that at Horus, and Osiris as well as Dionysus. So we would need to be looking at whether this story would work as as astrological allegory from Egypt and Mespotamia and possibly even India.

This is Wikipedia on the subject:

The term Osiris-Dionysus is used by some historians of religion to refer to a group of deities worshipped around the Mediterranean in the centuries prior to the emergence of Jesus. It has been argued that these deities were closely related and shared many characteristics, most notably being male, partly-human, born of virgins, life-death-rebirth deities and other similar characteristics.

The Egyptian god Osiris and the Greek god Dionysus had been equated as long ago as the 5th century BC by the historian Herodotus (see interpretatio graeca). By Late Antiquity, some Gnostic and Neoplatonist thinkers had expanded this syncretic equation to include Aion, Adonis, Attis, Mithras and other gods of the mystery religions. The composite term Osiris-Dionysus is found around the start of the first century BC, for example in Aegyptiaca by Hecateus of Abdera, and in works by Leon of Pella.

With the growth of Christianity, some pagan polemicists (notably Celsus) charged that the Gospels' narrative of Jesus's death and resurrection was in fact a bastardized reworking of the sufferings of Dionysus and other similar gods. Christian apologists like Justin Martyr charged in turn that the pagan mystery-cults were degenerate adaptations of vague Biblical prophecies about the Jewish Messiah - although neither Osiris nor Dionysus show many similarities to the actual prophecies. The Pagan and Christian practices are strikingly similar: bread and wine as the body and blood, resurrection on the third day, virgin birth to a father who is a god, etc.

Christian apologists charged the devil of copying Jesus' life into the past. Jews like Philo of Alexandria also observed similarities and postulated that the pagan religions had borrowed from Jewish scriptures.

In the 19th century, the idea of a pan-Mediterranean cult of the dying-and-rising demigod was used by Alexander Hislop in his anti-Roman Catholicism treatise The Two Babylons. Hislop argued that Roman Catholicism was based not upon Biblical Christianity, but upon pagan cults of the divine mother goddess and her suffering son (e.g. Cybele and Attis, etc.).

Later authors, such as Peter Gandy and Timothy Freke, have expanded this line of reasoning to encompass not merely Roman Catholicism, but Christianity more generally. Their book, The Jesus Mysteries, contends that Jesus was not a historical figure, but rather a mythic product of the same pan-Mediterranean mythic complex that also yielded Osiris, Dionysus and other similar figures.

Such arguments have not won over many mainstream Christian scholars. However, secular historians specializing in the cultures and civilizations of the region do accept the phenomena of pagan-to-Christian borrowings, such as iconographic characteristics of Orpheus and Mithras applied to Christ in early Christian art.

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:46 am
by Ishtar
More on The Three Kings from Robert Bauval:

The Three Kings of Orion
taken from "The Madonna and Child"

It is a strange peculiarity among the four canonical gospels that only one of them, the Gospel of Matthew, speaks of the birth of Jesus in relation to the appearance of a star in the east and the Magi.

The Gospel of Matthew is also unique in its narrative of the 'flight into Egypt' by the Holy Family. But if these events are historically true, then why are the other Gospels so conspicuously silent on such a crucial and important event in the birth of the Messiah? Could it be that the event was not 'historical' at all but mythical?

It has long been believed by scholars that the 'Matthew' Gospel was probably written between 40 and 80 AD in the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Now in Alexandria at the time of the writing of the 'Matthew' Gospel, the celebration of the new day and the new year were not anymore observed at dawn but at sunset to conform with both the Judeo-Christian tradition and Roman traditions of marking such events at sunset.

The celestial imagery, therefore, is that on the 25th December, right after sunset, the three stars of Orion's belt were seen rising in the east as if to 'herald' the coming of the birth-star Sirius, which followed about one hour after.

It would be very unlikely that such a powerful celestial sign which was known to denote the 'birth of the divine child' in Egypt since time immemorial would not have been unnoticed by the writer of the 'Matthew' Gospel. It seems evident that the introduction of a new divine child (Jesus) born from the Madonna (Mary) in Egypt and the Graeco-Roman world would benefit greatly by absorbing the older and very powerful mythology of Isis and her star, Sirius.

Thus Isis and the child Horus were metamorphosed into the Madonna and child Jesus, and the star Sirius became the 'Star of the East' which the wise men saw and heralded the birth of Jesus. Much later, three wise men became known as the 'three kings' in Western tradition and, in keeping with stellar symbolism, they also became identified to the three stars of Orion's belt. In his book Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, the astronomer Richard H. Allen states that in European folklore the three stars in Orion's belt are often called the Magi or the Three Kings. And the Christian mythologist, Alvin Boyd Kuhn wrote:

There is the legend of the 'Three Kings of the Orient' who came on Christmas to adorn the new-born God? From days of old the Three Kings were the three conspicuous stars in the belt of Orion that so easily distinguishes this notable constellation and their title was for long the Three Kings of Orion. They point almost in a direct line to the following Sirius (which) was made in the type of Christ-soul in mankind. (Sirius) is preceded by the Three Kings who anticipate its coming (rising).

Kuhn then proceeds to give a variant of the popular Christmas carol:

"We three kings of Orion are, (my bolding)
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
fields and fountains, moors and mountains,
following yonder star"

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:47 am
by Digit
Your problem Ish is trying to place the events in an area where the Sun can reside low on the horizon for the length of the daylight hours and be able to see the Southern Cross.
This is not possible in the northern hemisphere, neither currently nor in the relatively recent past.
To achieve this you would have to move into the southern hemisphere.

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:04 am
by Ishtar
Oh...only FM thought it might be visible from southern Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Also, what about India?

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:27 am
by Ishtar
We've already discussed that the story of the Egyptian Horus might be an early protoype for the Jesus story. This is tthe story of Horus from Acharya's website:

Horus of Egypt
  • Horus was born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th in a cave/manger with his birth being announced by a star in the East and attended by three wise men.
    His earthly father was named "Seb" ("Joseph"). Seb is also known as "Geb": "As Horus the Elder he...was believed to be the son of Geb and Nut." Lewis Spence, Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends, 84.
    He was of royal descent.
    At age 12, he was a child teacher in the Temple, and at 30, he was baptized, having disappeared for 18 years.
    Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus or Iarutana (Jordan) by "Anup the Baptizer" ("John the Baptist"), who was decapitated.
    He had 12 disciples, two of whom were his "witnesses" and were named "Anup" and "Aan" (the two "Johns").
    He performed miracles, exorcised demons and raised El-Azarus ("El-Osiris"), from the dead.
    Horus walked on water.
    His personal epithet was "Iusa," the "ever-becoming son" of "Ptah," the "Father." He was thus called "Holy Child."
    He delivered a "Sermon on the Mount" and his followers recounted the "Sayings of Iusa."
    Horus was transfigured on the Mount.
    He was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and resurrected.
    He was also the "Way, the Truth, the Light," "Messiah," "God's Anointed Son," the "Son of Man," the "Good Shepherd," the "Lamb of God," the "Word made flesh," the "Word of Truth," etc.
    He was "the Fisher" and was associated with the Fish ("Ichthys"), Lamb and Lion.
    He came to fulfill the Law.
    Horus was called "the KRST," or "Anointed One."
    Like Jesus, "Horus was supposed to reign one thousand years."

    Furthermore, inscribed about 3,500 years ago on the walls of the Temple at Luxor were images of the Annunciation, Immaculate Conception, Birth and Adoration of Horus, with Thoth announcing to the Virgin Isis that she will conceive Horus; with Kneph, the "Holy Ghost," impregnating the virgin; and with the infant being attended by three kings, or magi, bearing gifts. In addition, in the catacombs at Rome are pictures of the baby Horus being held by the virgin mother Isis--the original "Madonna and Child."

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:56 am
by Digit
The Southern Cross Ish, yes, but not the Sun residing on the horizon throughout daylight hours, you need to get much closer to the Arctic/Antarctic circle for that.
The two requirements are incompatible in the Northern hemisphere, sorry.