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The 2007 conspiracy theory film Zeitgeist: The Movie (Website, Watch online, Wikipedia Entry) states in Part I "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" that major points of the story about Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection are not original but are shared with multiple other gods or deities of older religions.

The film first (at around 16min:34sec) presents Horus an Egyptian God representing Light, worshiped around 3000 BC. It list the following attributes which as for I know all also apply for Jesus Christ. The attributes are numbered so they can be referenced later.

  1. Born on December 25th
  2. Born of a virgin
  3. Birth was accompanied by a star in the east
  4. After his birth was adored by three kings
  5. Teacher at 12
  6. Baptized/Ministry at 30
  7. Had 12 disciples he traveled about with
  8. Performing miracles: 8a. healing the sick, 8b. walking on water
  9. Known by many names: "Lamb of God", "The Truth", "God's begotten(?) Son", "The Light", "The good Shepard"
  10. After being betrayed:
  11. was crucified
  12. Dead-for 3 days
  13. Resurrected

The film then claims that these attributes influenced other gods in other cultures over time. It follows a lists of gods/deities together with a listing for each including many but not always all of the above attributes. The listed gods/deities are:

  • Attis (Greece, 1200 BC) — Attributes 1, 2, 11, 12, 13
  • Krishna (India, 900 BC) — Attributes 2, 3, 8, 13
  • Dionysos (Greece, 500 BC) — Attributes 1, 2, 8b + Turning Water into Wine, 9 ("God's son", "Alpha and Omega", ...), 13
  • Mithras (Persia, 1200 BC) — Attributes 1, 2, 7, 8, 12, 13, 9 ("The Truth", "The Light"), Day of worship: "Sunday"

Then it is represented as a fact that there are even more, numerous saviors which have (some of) these attributes. The following list scrolls quite fast over the screen:

  • Krishna of Hindustan
  • Buddha Sakia of India
  • Salivahana of Bermuda
  • Zulis, or Zhule, also Osiris and Horus, of Egypt
  • Odin or Thor of the Scandinavians
  • Crite of Chaldea
  • Zoroaster and Mithra of Persia
  • Baal and Taut, "the only Begotten of God", of Phoenicia,
  • Indra of Tibet
  • Bali of Afghanistan
  • Jao of Nepal
  • Wittoba of the Bilingonese
  • Thammuz of Syria
  • Attis of Phrygia
  • Zalmoxis of Thrace
  • Zoar of the Bonzes
  • Adad of Assyria
  • Deva Tat, and Sammonocadam of Siam
  • Alcides of Thebes
  • Esus of the Druids
  • Kadmos of Greece
  • Ptahil of the Mandaeans
  • Gentaut and Quexalcote of Mexico
  • Universal Monarch of the Sibyls
  • Ischy of the island of Formosa
  • Divine Teacher of Plato
  • Holy One of Xaca
  • Fohi and Tien of China
  • Adonis, son of the virgin Io of Greece
  • Ixion and Quirinus of Rome
  • Prometheus of Caucasus

The film than claims these common attributes to astronomical elements (virgin = new moon, three kings = three stars of Orion's belt, 12 disciples = 12 signs of the zodiac, ...). However, these claims should be asked as separate questions.

The question here:

Is there historical proof or dis-proof of the claimed similarities between Jesus Christ and Horus as well the other gods?

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Feel free to adjust the title and text if required. –  Martin Scharrer Apr 2 '11 at 9:57
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One thing that might be good would be to break off that long list of saviors into a separate question, because Conspiracy Science doesn't seem to cover it. A point by point of that list would probably be educational. Just looking quickly, I note that "Beddru" of Japan is a name you can't pronounce in Japanese, and the version of Cadmus I'm familiar with wished himself turned into a snake. So I'm guessing most of the stories on that list are pretty dubious in their resemblance to the Jesus story. –  Scott Hamilton Apr 2 '11 at 14:39
    
I think the title of this question should be changed - it is different from what is actually being asked –  Casebash Apr 3 '11 at 7:24
    
There are a bunch of divinities which don't exist, and many of them are completely unrelated to the question. I've started some clean up but I would like some help here! –  Ebenezer Sklivvze Apr 3 '11 at 10:41
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@mmr: He meant some of them seem to be made up by the Zeitgeist author because they are not mentioned anywhere else. –  Martin Scharrer Mar 26 '12 at 7:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 62 down vote accepted

The movie Zeitgeist greatly overstates the case for mythological similarities between Jesus in the Bible and those predecessors. Conspiracy Science has a detailed takedown of the Horus material. Here's the most important part:

Horus was not born on December 25th, he was born on the 5th day of the "Epagomenal Days"3, which does not even take place in December on the modern or ancient calendars, but rather between August 24th and 28th, but in terms of the rising of Sirius (August 4), they are July 30th through August 3rd[4]. His mother was also not a virgin. Horus's father was Osiris, who was killed by his brother Seth. Isis used a spell to bring him back to life for a short time so they could have sex, in which they conceived Horus[5].

I, as well as several others, as well as several Egyptologists you can find on the Internet, know of no reference anywhere to a "star in the east" or "three kings" and "new-born savior"; it is simply made up. I cannot find any source or information proving he was a "teacher when he was 12 years old", that he was "baptized at age 30", that he "walked on water" (but on the Internet, I did find several places that suggest he was "thrown in the water", but I have no direct source at this time for that). More so, I cannot find any evidence he was referred to as "The Truth", "The Light", Lamb of God", "the Good Shepherd", etc.

Also lacking is any evidence that he was betrayed by Typhon. In fact, Horus never died, at any time, he later merges with the sun god, Ra -- but never dies and certainly never is crucified, and therefore could not have been buried for 3 days and resurrected. If you want to look it up yourself, you can find documentation of Horus and Isis and Osiris here [6] and here [7].

As you can see Peter Joseph has a tendency to make long lists that conform to his theory, but few of the items on the list are true or real evidence of anything.

Conspiracy Science has a full accounting of the Zeitgeist movie and related subjects. It's well worth checking out, even if navigation of the site is a little tricky.

More generally, did the literary Jesus take on attributes from previous savior characters? Absolutely. That's a natural process. Does this mean Jesus didn't exist as a historical person? I'd say no. Around the same time similar supernatural acts were attributed to many Roman emperors and even the mathematician Pythagoras, and we don't use that as evidence that they were fictional.

When it comes to that long list of saviors, it helps to remember that much of what we know about other religions has been distorted by the lens of Christianity. Even if it's not on purpose, we tend to highlight those attributes of other religions that resemble our preconceived notions, and downplay those that are different. Most of those on the list don't resemble Jesus's story nearly so closely as Joseph would have you think, especially the ones from non-European cultures.

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Thanks for your answer, especially the link to Conspiracy Science. I will study that and wait a little until I accept it, just to give others a chance to post their answers. –  Martin Scharrer Apr 2 '11 at 14:12
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@MartinScharrer: if you carefully read Conspiracy Science specially articles written by "Edward L Winston", you will notice that he is taking a lot of things of the movie out of context aswell as some things of the movie take other things out of context. It is not an objective analysis of the movie it is more like an attack against it, not using proper research to prove it right or wrong, it only seeks to prove it wrong. –  Joze Oct 4 '11 at 6:56
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you forgot: Jesus also was not born on 25 December... The date was chosen centuries later to coincide Christmas with pagan mid-winter festivities, thus co-opting those (the use of decorated pine trees has the same origin). –  jwenting Apr 9 '13 at 9:48

While I agree with Scott Hamilton for the most part, there is a legend where Horus dies and is resurrected, but it takes place while he's an infant. He's stung by a scorpion, and dies. Thoth appears and restores the young Horus to life.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/leg/leg11.htm

Wiki mentions Shed, a deity sometimes referred to as Savior, who was later merged with Horus in the form of Horus the Child.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shed_%28deity%29

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That's interesting, but I'd say it represents a different line of mythological divinity. The idea of the blessed baby runs through a lot of myths. Probably the most famous to us would be the examples of Moses and Hercules, or fictional characters like Oedipus and Snow White. The story of the Magi is probably the closest thing to it we have in the Gospels, though there are several blessed baby stories told about Jesus in non-canonical gospels. –  Scott Hamilton Apr 2 '11 at 20:34
    
On the whole I was agreeing with you, just giving some additional information. As it is, someone might stumble around and just pick out a few lines, wanted to make sre it was covered. –  Mike Apr 3 '11 at 13:07
  1. Born on December 25th
    There is no date of birth given in the bible for Jesus (hence no citation). The whole Julian Calendar was quiet a mess until reformed by the Gregorian Calender 1582. But the date isn't important at all, from a religious viewpoint.

    The December 25 date may have been selected by the church in Rome in the early 4th century source: wikipedia

  2. Born of a virgin
    This would be a longer discussion. AFAIK only catholics see it this way.
    (see discussion with DJClayworth, which led to this correction).

  3. Birth was accompanied by a star in the east
    Source: Mt 2.3-8. Yes, part of the myth for Jesus.

  4. After his birth was adored by three kings
    Wise men from the East are mentioned by Mt2 and Lk2.7. Not how many of them exactly, and they aren't described as kings. This is a later legend.

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We are not being asked whether these things were true of Jesus, but whether they were true of Horus. –  DJClayworth Apr 28 '11 at 21:05
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"Born of a virgin" is a core Christian belief, not just Catholics. Catholics also hold that Mary remained a virgin for all of her life, even after Jesus was born. –  DJClayworth Apr 28 '11 at 21:06
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You may be confusing the issue with the of the Immaculate Conception, which is the belief that Mary was born without original sin, and is a specifically Catholic doctrine. Christian doctrine for almost all denominations is that Mary was a virgin at the time of Jesus birth. This is part of Catholic doctrine, standard creeds such as the Apostle's Creed, the faith statements of most Protestant groups, and has clear biblical support (e.g. Luke 1:34). –  DJClayworth May 3 '11 at 14:40
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@DCJ: if it can be shown to not be true of Jesus, truth for Horus becomes irrelevant (only a myth in which it is stated of Horus would be needed) –  jwenting Oct 24 '11 at 6:36
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@JimThio: The question is not, whether the legends of Horus and Christ are true, but whether they are similar in some aspects. –  user unknown Sep 12 '12 at 22:44

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