1) Dionysus was not born of a virgin.
The Greek god Dionysus is said to be the god of wine, actually he began as a fertility god in Phrygia and in Macedonia, Thrace, and other outlying regions. The origin of the cult is probably in Asia. (Charles Seltman, The Twelve Olympians, New York: Thomas Y. Corwell Company, 1960.)
"In the myths about Dionysus the most important is the tale of his birth. His mother was Semele...in fact she was an earth goddess...the usual form of the story is that Zeus loved Semele and consorted with her...." (Ibid, 171). Hera, of course was jealous and tricked the girl into asking Zeus to show himself to her in his true from. She was fried by his thunderbolts which cannot help but constantly shoot from his true form, but Zeus was able to save the child that she carried. I can find no authority who says that Dionysus mother was a virgin. But this is one of the tricky ones, she may have known no mortal man, but she was not the product of virginal conception. She was also not mortal herself, so the idea of her having a Virginal conception is out of the question, because whatever she did would be supernatural anyway, and we don't' know what gods she dated before Zeus.
2) Dionysus not laid in a manger.
There is one very tiny aspect of a manger-like thing in the Dionysus myth, and it is not very central. A flower basket which could double as a crib was used as one of many fertility symbols. In fact there is no real manger connection at all. Near the end of the 5th century BC the Greek Euripides wrote a play, The Bacchae, one of the major sources of Dionysian mysteries. I've seen skeptics claim that he was laid in a manger at his birth. But he was not, he was laid in Zeus's thigh until he came to term and there is no manger scene at all (Stelman,171).
3) Title "Son of god" Other similarities.
Euripides does refer to Dionysus as "son of god." But that is just profanatory. In mythology gods were like people, they were born, they had parents, and they lived in families. Why? Probably because people do. The phrase "son of god" and the general concept may be "influenced" by paganism in a general sense (see above) but the specific notion of Jesus' incarnation is totally different. Jesus is the incarnation of the divine logos, the second person of the Trinity, God incarnate. He is the incarnation of the rational that created the universe; not a mythological demigod, the offspring of a god and mortal. Besides that, the term "Son of God" in Judaism of Jesus' day was understood as a Euphemism for the Messiah.
4) Dionysus Dying and Rising.
In some stories Dionysus is torn apart by the Titans. In other stories it is Hera's orders that he be torn apart. But he was torn apart, not crucified. Moreover, since he was not an historical figure he was not a flesh and blood man. He did not really die, and his resurrection is not really bodily. His dying and rising are an echo of the death of plant life and fertility in winter and his rising is the rising of the plants in the Spring. "He was the vine which is always pruned as nothing else which bears its fruit; every branch cut away, only the bare stock left, through the winter a dead thing to look at...he was always brought back to life..." (Edith Hamilton, Mythology, Mentor edition, original copywriter 1940, pp. 61-62). Hamilton says that his rising did offer hope of new life, the immortality of the soul. "He was the assurance that death does not end all."
But this is very different from the historical claims of Christ's resurrection. Dionysus did not have an historical existence, no empty tomb, no flesh and blood body seen and felt by witnesses afterward. He is merely the archetype suggested by seasons, the human wish for a rejuvenation and the circularity of nature.
"In Christianity everything is made to turn on a dated experience of a historical Person; it can be seen from I Cor. XV. 3 that the statement of the story early assumed the form of a statement in a Creed. There is nothing in the parallel cases which points to any attempt to give such a basis of historical evidence to belief" A. D. Nock (Early Gentile Christianity and Its Hellenistic Background", 1964, p. 107).
5) Not a savior Moreover, the followers of Dionysus did not gain their sense of eternal life from Dionysus himself, nor form his death, but from their own drunken ecstasy in the "BÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â©chamel." (Yamauchi, in "Easter: Myth, Hallucination or History," and c.f. M. Nilsson, The Dionysiac Mysteries of the Hellenistic and Roman Age, 1957).
His death was not an atonement and his resurrection has not even the semblance of an historical, much less history making aspect. But perhaps it was a dress rehearsal.
6) Moreover, he was not crucified as Till claims but instead was torn apart by the Titans. OSIRIS Osiris was of the most influential families of gods in ancient Egypt. Perhaps in the distant past they were based upon some sort of flesh and blood family, but we know nothing of that. Our knowledge of Orisis is that of a purely mythological family. Isis was the mother goddess, Osiris is the brother and husband of Isis. He possesses generative powers connected to nature, not fertility per se, but to the land so dependent upon water from the Nile for production of crops. Whereas most fertility deities are related to sexual fertility as well as crops Osiris seems to be more connected to crops themselves.
1) no virginal conception is connected to Osiris, they live in a family. They are the product of intercourse of the gods.
Meyer records that Isis and Horus were worshiped as mother and child. Like the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus, Isis was "Queen of heaven" pictured with infant seated on her lap. (159). While that may constitute a pagan influence upon latter Christianity, there was no cult of Mother and Child in the Gospels. Osiris' birth stories come from the Hellenistic period. The Greek Poet Plutarch wrote on Isis and Osiris, in which Osiris is conceived and brought forth from the union between Rhea and Kronos, but there is another tradition that Osiris sprang form the sun. (Meyer, p.161). These figures are purely mythical so even the technical virginity above does not apply to them. If being the product of virginal conception was at all important to the Osiris story, or even was ever mentioned in connection with him, one would think that these stories would respect that view. There is no claim that I can find of his 'vigilant conception.' That is, unless one counts the sun as a virgin.
2) No crucifixion Osiris is killed by Set, his evil brother, who than sank his coffin in the Nile, "thus Horus as the mythological counterpart of the living Pharaoh, succeeded his dead father and assures the triumph of continuity and order in Egyptian life. Isis meanwhile along with Thoth, Horus, Anubis, and Nephthyts employs her magical powers to mummify Osiris and thereby to restore him from death to life." (Meyer, p.157) So we are not dealing with the restoration of actual flesh and blood life, but a mummified state which is merely in a waiting mode, for a future resurrection, and we don't even know if this will be life as a restored flesh and blood person, or life as a mummy. Moreover, this is a purely mythological scene not something played out in history with historical figures. It seems more likely that it is the prototype and perhaps justification for preserving bodies as mummies. What's more, Osiris was not crucified. One encounters Osiris in the land of the dead waiting to be taken to that afterlife, (Ibid.) no eyewitnesses see him restored to normal human life.
3) References to baptism far fetched
The language with which scholars sometimes speak of these myths, either purposefully or not, suggests a lot more than does the actual story. Osiris was drowned in a box in the Nile which is spoken of in such terms as: "The dead body of Osiris floated in the Nile and he returned to life, this being accomplished by a baptism in the waters of the Nile." (Joseph Klausner, From Jesus to Paul (New York: Macmillan, 1943), 104.) Wagner suggests that comparing the coffin of Osiris floating on the Nile to baptism is like comparing the sinking to Atlantis to Baptism. (Gunter Wagner, Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1967), 260ff.)
4) No resurrection
Easter: Myth, Hallucination or History
by Edwin M. Yamauchi
Updated 22 March 1997
(prof. of History at Miami University, Osford, Ohio) "This leaves us with the figure of Osiris as the only god for whom there is clear and early evidence of a "resurrection." Our most complete version of the myth of his death and dismemberment by Seth and his twofold resuscitation by Isis is to be found in Plutarch, who wrote in the second century A.D. (cf. J. Gwyn Griffiths, Plutarch's De Iside et Osiride, 1970). His account seems to accord with statements made in the early Egyptian texts. After the New Kingdom (from 1570 B.C.. on) even ordinary men aspired to identification with Osiris as one who had triumphed over death". "But it is a cardinal misconception to equate the Egyptian view of the afterlife with the "resurrection" of Hebrew-Christian traditions. In order to achieve immortality the Egyptian had to fulfill three conditions: (1) His body had to be preserved, hence mummification. (2) Nourishment had to be provided either by the actual offering of daily bread and beer, or by the magical depiction of food on the walls of the tomb. (3) Magical spells had to be interred with the dead-Pyramid Texts in the Old Kingdom, Coffin Texts in the Middle Kingdom, and the Book of the Dead in the New Kingdom. Moreover, the Egyptian did not rise from the dead; separate entities of his personality such as his Ba and his Ka continued to hover about his body".
"Nor is Osiris, who is always portrayed in a mummified form, an inspiration for the resurrected Christ. As Roland de Vaux has observed:
What is meant of Osiris being "raised to life"? Simply that, thanks to the ministrations of Isis, he is able to lead a life beyond the tomb which is an almost perfect replica of earthly existence. But he will never again come among the living and will reign only over the dead.... This revived god is in reality a "mummy" god (The Bible and the Ancient Near East, 1971, p. 236)".
1) Replaced with Serapis Before Time of Christ
Osiris really belongs more properly to the cult of Isis, he was her consort. It originated in Egypt and was not a mystery religion until after 300 BC , after Ptolemy I, who introduced major changes. Osiris was replaced with Serapis to harmonize Greek and Egyptian cultures. Thus Osiris was not even part of the mystery cult, and thus has no influence upon the "saving" aspects of the cult.
2) Immortality aspects minimal in Osiris time
The Cult moved to Rome where it was at first rejected, but finally was allowed into the city between 37 and 41. Only after the next two centuries did it become a rival of Christianity. Its eventual popularity came from its elaborate ritual and hope of immortality, although this was a latter development which post dates Christian origins and does not include Osiris. During the Osiris phase the immortality aspects were very minimal.
3) Early phase of cult no savior, in period of clash with Christianity, no Osiris!
Thus, during the early part of the cult they had no great savior figure and no salvation aspects to speak of, and in the phase where they competed with Christianity (two or more centuries after the Gospels) they had no dying or rising savior figure. (Ronald Nash, "Was The New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?" the Christian Research Journal, Winter 19994, p 8 )
Non Christian scholarly sources used
Conze, Edward. Buddhist Scriptures, ,Penguin:1959.:35)
Cumont, Franz. The Mysteries of Mithra. New York: Dover, 1950.
Gordon, Richard. Image and Value in the Greco-Roman World. Aldershot: Variorum, 1996.
Hamilton, Edith. Mentor edition, original copywriter 1940 Mythology, 172). See also World Book Encyclopedia, "Hercules" 1964)
Klausner, Joseph. From Jesus to Paul (New York: Macmillan, 1943), 104
Kramer, S.N. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 183 ,
Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies. Manchester U. Press, 1975.
La 'resurrection' d'Adonis," in Melanges Isidore Levy, 1955, pp. 207-40).
Meyer, M. (editor) The Ancient Mysteries : A Source Book , San Francisco: Harper, 1987, pp.170-171).
Robinson, Herbert Spencer. Myths and Legends of all Nations, New York: Bantum Books, 1950, 13-16 Seltman, The Twelve Olympians, New York: Thomas Y. Corwell Company, 1960.p 176).
Ulansey, David. Cosmoic Mysteries of Of Mithras (website).
________________.The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1989.
World Book Encyclopedia, "Hercules" 1964