Are Biblical accounts copied from pagan religions?
Part 2. The Resurrection
Since the original sin in the garden of Eden, mankind has searched for reasons not to believe God so he could live a life independent of God. In the garden, the serpent convinced Eve not to trust God. Why? Supposedly because God was holding back the knowledge of good and evil to the detriment of Adam and Eve. The serpent suggested God was wrong f0r withholding that knowledge, but that if they were to discover the truth, they would be "like God". (Gen 3.5) That was a big lie. God was indeed withholding the knowledge of evil, but he was not wrong in doing so because he knew that (experiential) knowledge of evil (like disobeying God) would lead to death. And the biggest irony is - they were already like God (Gen 1.26), there was nothing to be gained from what the serpent offered.
Today there is another lie circulating to destroy belief in God: The claim that the biblical accounts are not history, but rather stories borrowed or stolen and then adapted from the made up stories of pagan religions. If there's no reason to believe the pagan religions, then there's no reason to believe a made up adapted story either. In part 1 of this article we looked at the veracity of the creation account via the Exodus, since the creation is tied to the Exodus in the fourth commandment. (Ex 20.11) In this article, we'll look at claims that Jesus rising from the dead is just a motif copied from other religions like the Egyptians - with their belief in Osiris, god of the underworld who supposedly rose from the dead. We'll see that like the lie in the garden, there's nothing to be gained from this lie, but everything to lose.
Is Jesus just Osiris recycled?
In part 1, I pointed out that most pagan religions are polytheistic, and thus they must have a story for why one god is selected as the pre-eminent god. In addition to being polytheistic, the stories of Osiris explain (at least in part) other aspects of pagan worship as well, such as why bulls were worshipped, and why the phallic symbol was a required part of the pagan Egyptian worship.
I also pointed out that those making such charges have probably never read the pagan accounts. If they had, they would likely think better of making the accusation because there are almost no points of similarity. Let me demonstrate with the story of Osiris. Depending on the version of the story you listen to, Osiris was either a son of the gods become man, or a man become a god. According to the account by Plutarch, Osiris was the son of Keb and Nut, the earth god and sky-goddess respectively. He married the goddess Isis (most stories have Isis as his sister) and together they ruled the land of Egypt, bringing order, and helping with tidbits of wisdom and agriculture, and according to Diodorus, became a benefactor of the whole world by finding which foods were suitable to man.
As the first century writer Diodorus tells it, Osiris was murdered by trickery by his wicked brother Typhone (many accounts name him Set) by first capturing him in a coffin, then cutting the body into 26 pieces which he scattered among his co-conspirators of the murder. Isis searched for and found all the cutup pieces of Osiris - save one - the male member. One account states since Osiris was no longer complete, he could no longer rule the land of the living, and so he withdrew and became lord and judge of the dead. In remembrance of Osiris, Isis ordered the priests to worship bulls, offering to it "the same veneration which they paid to Osiris, and when it was dead to worship it as sincerely as they did Osiris." She also ordered "...that models of the missing part of the body of Osiris be made, and they were adored in the temples, and were held generally in great veneration."
And 2) if the early Christians copied Egyptian practices, why is there no tradition of dead Christian rulers being dressed up to look like Jesus - to parallel what Egyptians did with Osiris?
Returning to the stories of Osiris, a variation on the story
by Julius Firmicus Maternus in the fourth century has Osiris and Isis
as human siblings with Isis married to Typhon. Typhon killed Osiris
when he learned that his wife Isis was secretly in love with her brother
Thus there are a number of notable differences between Jesus and Osiris:
Clearly the Jesus of the Bible and the Osiris of the Egyptian pantheon of gods have nothing in common, save for the unfounded claims of those, who like the serpent, want to discredit God by propagating the lie that the stories of Jesus are based stories of Osiris.
What about Other Religions? Was Jesus copied from them?
A notable attempt claiming that there are other saviors similar to Jesus was made by Kersey Graves. He attempted to give this meritless claim a façade of respectability by writing a book in which he claims there were at least 15 other crucified "saviors" who were known from other religions. To be blunt, Kersey's claims are like those of the serpent's: outright lies. In responding to his claims, writer, chemist and apologist Jonathan Sarfati is more tactful, but makes the same point:
Since I want to focus on two key pieces of evidence in this matter, I will not refute his claims directly. Instead, I will provide evidence to show why the Biblical claims are true, and refer you to Sarfati's article for further detail on why Graves is gravely mistaken in his assertion.
By way of analogy, consider: The US Secret Service is responsible for identifying and dealing with counterfeit money. In order to do their job agents don't learn about every possible variation and permutation of a counterfeit bill; they learn what the genuine article looks like, and what all it's qualities are, and then search for variations from that truth. In like manner, if you can verify that the accounts of Jesus are the "genuine article" it becomes easy to identify the counterfeit lies. This is why we will spend our time looking at the details of the account of the resurrection - if we can verify it as true, we need not look at every counterfeit. If, by rising from the dead, Jesus proved that he is in fact "the resurrection and the Life" (Jn 11.25) and "the way the truth and the life" (Jn 14.6) through which all must approach God, because "Salvation is found in no one else"(Acts 4.12) then we need look no further for the truth. Thus we turn to a conclusion the gospels force us to draw: the only way Jesus' tomb could be empty is if he rose from the dead. The evidence leaves us no other options for a viable conclusion.
Evidence for the Biblical account of Jesus' death and resurrection
In part 1 of this article I point out the primary reason people claim biblical accounts are copied is so they can dismiss the Biblical claims, and live as if they're false - as they do with false pagan myths. But if it turns out that there is strong evidence for the Biblical account, such would support the claim that the Biblical account is both a) true, and b) not copied; and therefore c) ignored at your own peril.
Though there are a number of evidences that point to the truth of the Jesus rising to life after having died,  but I want to focus on just two details from the Biblical account of Jesus' resurrection. Careful consideration of these two facts leads one to an inescapable conclusion: there is no other rational explanation for these events save the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are:
Fact 1. The stone covering the tomb of Jesus was rolled back
If the death and resurrection accounts of Jesus are just false stories, they should be easy to refute. Yet critics can't refute these two facts (much less the entire account). In any attempt to refute these facts, they find themselves unable to answer the ensuing questions. But before we get to those questions, let me deal with a commonly proposed, but totally impossible, and thus absolutely false solution for those who wish to deny the resurrection: that Jesus didn't really die on the cross, he merely "appeared" to die. This theory goes by various titles, the "swoon" theory, the "apparent death" theory, the "coma" theory, etc. One of the good points of living in the 21st century is we have the benefits of modern forensic medicine. Let's hear what physicians who examine the accounts of Jesus say about whether Jesus could have survived the ordeal of his flogging and subsequent crucifixion. Consider the testimony of these medical doctors:
Also this testimony:
The testimony of multiple physicians who examine the death of Jesus is clear: Jesus died on the cross, the leading cause of death being heart failure (though there were other contributing factors), and the Romans certified that death by plunging a spear through his lungs and heart. Clearly, trying to escape the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead by claiming he never died on the cross is a fact-denying, foolish non-starter. Medical science unequivocally tells us Jesus died on the cross, there was absolutely no chance that he was not dead. Suggestions he was merely wounded and resuscitated from a weakened state when laid in the tomb are completely without merit. The suggestion is, in fact, laughable.
So then on to the evidences we want to consider
with respect to the two facts above:
Obviously if the body is missing there was a body to begin with. So the Jews of Jesus' day who are in denial that Jesus rose from the dead, are still affirming that the tomb was, in fact, empty. Furthermore, every doubter and critic after them who try to deny the resurrection by claiming the body was stolen are in fact affirming the fact that the tomb was empty. Thus not only does the Bible claim that the tomb was empty, both also the Jews of Jesus day and later critics who claim the body was stolen affirm the fact that Jesus' tomb was in fact found empty.
2. Who moved the stone?
In order to answer the question "who moved the
stone" we must first answer :
It has been suggested that either the Romans or the Jewish authorities removed the body, and thus had motive to move the stone. But does that make sense of motives? Some posit that the Jews wanted to prevent veneration of the tomb, there is no good reason for Roman authorities want to move the body. Having finally rid themselves of the riot causing Nazarene, why would Rome, embodied by Pontius Pilate, move the body? As for the the Jews, since they wanted the tomb sealed and guarded, it is unlikely they wanted to undo all that and move the body - just to do it all over again at another location.
At any rate another detail of history makes clear that regardless of motive, neither the Romans nor the Jews removed the body. Because if they had, they had a ready made answer to claims of Jesus' resurrection. If either of them moved the body, all they had to do to end the disciples claims of a resurrection is produce the body. This would settle the matter for good. The fact that neither the Romans nor the Jews could produce the body is evidence they didn't have the body, which also means they didn't move the body.
Thus we already have the answer the next key question: Why didn't either the Roman or Jewish authorities
produce the body of Jesus to silence the claims of a resurrection?
The reason is simple: They didn't produce it because they couldn't. They
didn't have the body nor know where it was. So the fact that they couldn't
even point to the body to silence the
So neither the Romans nor the Jews moved the stone. Who's left? What about the disciples? The disciples - according to the stolen body theory - had motive, but there are two practical matters that prevented them. 1) They were too busy hiding from the Jews behind locked doors (John 19.19) to undertake the difficult task of stealing a dead body from a guarded tomb, moving that dead weight around and hiding it - all without being seen, reported and arrested by the guards. 2) They would have had to have taken on (and defeated) armed guards. (In passing it was the temple guards who guarded the tomb, not a Roman guard.) So the disciples cowering behind locked doors "for fear of the Jews " were in no state of mind to take on and defeat armed guards, and thus could not have stolen the body.
So let's review:
Who then had both the motive and ability to move the stone? The one remaining person is God himself. God wanted to show the world Jesus was no longer dead. So he sent an angel to move the stone so the world could look in and see that Jesus was not dead, that he had risen. (Matt 28.2)(mobile/tablet format)
If this is all a made up story, Why are Jews making
up lies to cover what people already believe to be a myth? And more
importantly, who moved the stone? The Romans, Jews, disciples, in fact
everyone of the day agree that the stone was moved. The only
humans in a position to move the stone (Roman and Jewish authorities) had no reason to move it; and the
humans who had reason to move it (the disciples and the women) couldn't.
No, if you're trying to prove such a story is false, you throw out the whole thing - lock, stock and barrel: There was never a mighty mouse, he never rescued anyone or any creature, and there's no such thing as a flying mouse. But we never see that type of denial from the people of Jesus' day. Everyone of Jesus day affirmed Jesus was crucified, died, and the tomb was empty. They could never get away with denying those events because the people of the day were too familiar with what had happened. It would be like someone today trying to deny that jetliners flew into the World Trade Center on 9/11/01, which subsequently caused them to collapse. Such a denial would never be believed, because everyone today is too familiar with what happened.
The fact that the opponents of Jesus - both then and now - affirm parts of the Biblical accounts in their attempts to deny it, proves that there are core truths they cannot deny without being seen through as lying revisionists. This confirmation of the basic outlines of the Biblical account in turn proves that "the stories are copied" theory and the conclusion that "like pagan myths, they're false"; are just the lies of revisionists who, like the serpent in the garden, will stoop to any level to deny the truth. If you ever wondered what one of the "doctrine of demons" looked like, the claim that the biblical accounts are based on pagan religions, is one of them. For if you believe that Satanic lie and therefore refuse to trust Jesus, the one who truly rose from the dead, you will suffer the same fate as the lying demons.
Duane Caldwell | posted 12/12/2016
1. There are a number of different versions of the
story of Osiris, each with different details. The story of Osiris as a
man is by the fourth century lawyer Julius Firmicus Maternus in his
treatise De Errore Profanarum Religionum. Most other versions see
Osiris as a son of the gods.
6. Jonathan Sarfati, Was
Christianity plagiarized from pagan myths?, CMI,
10 January 2009
10. Additionally, if you accept that the Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud that Jesus was wrapped in, (which I do, see my article "Finding Jesus - The Shroud of Turin - A Review), then you also have this testimony:
ref from The Case For Christ's
Resurrection, documentary, 2007
11. There are recurrent
claims that "Jesus never existed", a variation of the "the gospel's
aren't true" claim; this time not because the stories are copied, but
because they never happened. I address that issue in an article titled "Physical
Evidence Jesus Existed"
13. The "Stolen Body"
theory is a recurring attempt to deny the resurrection. Besides the Jews
of Jesus' day, it was advocated for example, by H.S. Reimarus in
1769 and "completely discredited by Nathaniel Lardner's impressive
twelve-volume The Credibility of the Gospel History (1730-1755)"
14. Morison suggests
(and I agree) that the priests requests to Pilate for a Roman guard is
denied. While the NIV translates Pilate's response "take a guard", the
Greek records "εχετε" "you have" a guard, in other words, you have your
own guard, use them. That they were temple guards is further evidenced
by the fact that the guards reported to the chief priests and elders
(Matt 28.11), not the Roman authorities when they found Jesus gone.
15. The problem of the
women moving the stone is exacerbated if the stone, as has recently been
suggested was square in shape - like a cork instead of round and easy
For more see the article: Megan Sauter:
How was Jesus' tomb sealed? Bible History daily, 9/4/2016
The Tomb of Christ © Moti Meiri / fotolia