Zoroastrianism & mystery religions
Some facts about the origin and characteristics of Judaism and Christianity; comparing with other religions existing at the same time and before.
Zoroastrianism was the religion of the Persian empire. The Old Testament Jews were exposed to it during their 70 year Babylonian captivity.
Old Testament books and sections of books written during and after the Babylonian captivity contain many of the same characteristics as Zoroastrianism. Therefore, the Jews when in captivity adopted many key ideas by blending them with their own.
Key elements of Zoroastrianism:
- Zoroastrianism began long before 440 BC
- Good and evil (God and Satan)
- Good conquers evil at the end time
- One main God with many lesser gods (angels, demons)
- Influenced Judaism during the Babylonian captivity
- Heaven and hell
- Judgment after death
- Humans have free-will choice to accept and follow and worship the one true good creator God
- No reincarnation
- The Magi of the New Testament were of this religion
- Resurrection of the dead
All nations having Hellenism (those conquered by Alexander the great and later part of the Roman empire) had a mystery religion. Christianity is conceptually Judaism blended with the mystery religion format.
- Followers must join the religion, by initiation
- Baptism for the remission of sins, which grants eternal life
- Communal religious meal mystically uniting everyone
- Fictive kinship (brothers/sisters)
- All classes and genders and ethnicities are united and equal
- Secret ritual practices (for example, the Romans didn't know what the Christians were doing in their services and assumed they were practicing cannibalism)
- Had a Son of God, who suffered in a passion (often death; sometimes by crucifixion), to conquer death on behalf of followers
- A dying and rising god
- All mystery religions originated long before Christianity
- Isis/Osiris — from Egypt
- Romulous — from Rome
- Dionysus/Bacchus — from Greece
- Zalmoxis — from Thrace
- Inanna — from Sumer
- Adonis (Tammuz in the Bible) — from Syria
- Mithras — Mithraism in Persia (a blend of Zoroastrianism with Hellenism)
Common claims that are not true:
- It is not true that Judaism was established in complete form by Moses, and that there were never any changes. I noticed this to not be true early on, when noticing even the differences within the first 5 books of the Old Testament. And there were major changes after that, with David, and with the prophets.
- It is not true that there were no other examples of religions having a Son of God kind of savior who suffered and died to redeem his followers.
So how is it possible that Christianity contains key elements from other religions of the time? Here's the answer:
All of these elements were orchestrated by God so that they all came together to form Christianity, the true religion. All the necessary ideas from their various sources appeared at the right time and right place so that the people were ready to hear and embrace the teachings of Jesus.
New Testament verses having the word "mystery" that match what I present above regarding the mystery religions:
- To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. (Matthew 13:11)
- To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables... (Mark 4:11)
- For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in... (Romans 11:25)
- Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations... (Romans 16:25,26)
- But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory... (1 Corinthians 2:7,8)
- Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)
- If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge... (1 Corinthians 13:2)
- For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2)
- Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed... (1 Corinthians 15:51)