Saturday, March 14, 2009

Easter: The Resurrection of Spring

Excerpted and Adapted from

Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection

Christ in Egypt cover image

Although it is believed to represent the time of Jesus Christ's resurrection, the festival of Easter existed in pre-Christian times and, according to the famous Christian saint Venerable Bede (672-735 AD/CE), was named for the Teutonic or German goddess Eôstre, who was the "goddess of dawn" and who symbolized the fertility found abundantly during the springtime of the year. (See CE, V, 224; Weekley, 491) Regarding the ancient fertility goddess, in How the Easter Story Grew from Gospel to Gospel, Dr. Rolland E. Wolfe, a professor of Biblical Literature at Case Western Reserve University, relates:

"In the polytheistic pantheons of antiquity there usually was a king or chief of the gods, and also a female counterpart who was regarded as his wife. This mother goddess was one of the most important deities in the ancient Near East. She was called by the various names of Ishtar, Athtar [sic], Astarte, Ashtoreth, Antit, and Anat. This mother goddess always was associated with human fertility. In the course of time Mary was to become identified with this ancient mother goddess, or perhaps it should be said that Mary was about to supplant her in certain Christian circles." (Wolfe, 234)

The comparison between the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and the Jewish maiden Mary becomes even more evident when it is factored in that in an ancient Akkadian hymn Ishtar is called "Virgin." (Sayce, 268) Yet, like Mary, Ishtar too was the "Mother of God," in this case Tammuz, the dying and rising god mourned by the Israelite women at Ezekiel 8:14. (See Mettinger, 213) Indeed, Old Testament scholar Rev. Dr. W. Robertson Smith identifies Ishtar as the virgin-mother goddess worshipped at Petra who was mentioned by Church father Epiphanius. In a footnote, Smith remarks, "The identification of the mother of the gods with the heavenly virgin, in other words, the unmarried goddess, is confirmed if not absolutely demanded by Aug. Civ. Dei, ii. 4." (Smith, 56) The reference is to St. Augustine's The City of God (2.4), in which the Church father discusses with undisguised contempt the Pagan rites surrounding "the virgin Caelestis" and "Berecynthia the mother of them all." (Augustine, 54) From these remarks and many others over the past centuries it is clear that the educated elite have been well aware of the unoriginality of the virgin-mother motif within Christianity. Yet, to this day the public remains uninformed and/or in fervent denial about such facts....

As demonstrated in Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection, the springtime/ Easter resurrection myth occurred in Greek mythology with the tale of Kore/Persephone descending into the underworld to reside with Hades, leading to the death of winter. Her remergence out of the underworld represented the springtime renewal of life on Earth - thus, Persephone's resurrection symbolized eternal life, precisely as did that of Jesus and the Egyptian god Osiris.

Sun on the cross of the vernal equinox imageComprising the entombment for three days, the descent into the underworld, and the resurrection, the spring celebration of "Easter" represents the period of the vernal equinox, when the sun is "hung on a cross" composed of the days and nights of equal length. After a touch-and-go battle for supremacy with the night or darkness, the sun emerges triumphant, being "born again" or "resurrected" as a "man," moving towards "his" full strength at the summer solstice...

It is noteworthy that even older scholarship reflects the knowledge of the strengthening of the sun at Easter, as exemplified by Rev. George W. Lemon, who in his English Etymology, published in 1783, gives the meaning of "Easter" as:

" that time or on that day, the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in his wings, like the sun all glorious in the east..."

Jesus Christo Sole Helios sun god imageThe "Sun of Righteousness" refers to Jesus Christ, as purportedly prophesied in the last book before the New Testament, Malachi (4:2). Christ's identification as the "Sun of Righteousness," the placement of his "resurrection" at Easter, and his association with the "sun all glorious in the east," all reflect his solar role, serving as earmarks of Jesus himself being a sun god. Indeed, "Easter" or the vernal equinox truly represents the resurrection of the "Light of the World" - the sun-bringing with it the fertility of spring.

That Easter constituted a pre-Christian festival concerning resurrection is apparent from the discussion in the New International Encyclopaedia regarding Easter customs:

"The use of eggs in this connection is of the highest antiquity, the egg having been considered in widely separated pre-Christian mythologies as a symbol of resurrection..." (Gilman, 492)

In his extensive analysis in The Golden Bough regarding the "dying and rising gods," Sir James George Frazer concluded that the story of Easter as a time of rebirth, renewal and resurrection of life in general could be found in the myths of non-Christian deities such as the Greco-Phrygian god Attis and the Greco-Syrian god Adonis, among others. While various of Frazer's contentions have come under fire, frequently from Christian apologists, in The Riddle of Resurrection, Dr. Tryggve N.D. Mettinger demonstrates the dying-and-rising theme overall to be sound....


No comments:

Post a Comment