Tag Archives: paganism

Deuteronomy 15-34:

Moses’ Deuteronomic Code / The “Second Law”:
This section of Deuteronomy (chapters 12-26) is part of what is called “The Deuteronomic Code.” This is part of what scholars call “The Second Law.”  It is an expansion and application of the original Law, the Ten Commandments. This expanded Decalogue of the Deuteronomic Code actually follows the layout of the Ten Commandments in order from chapters 12-26.  So, the Second Law is actually an expansion and application of the original Law of the Ten Commandments.  Deuteronomy 12-26 (Second Law) parallels Deuteronomy 5 (Original Law).  The Code is specifically concerned with the centralization and consolidation of worship.  Sacrifice and worship is to be centralized to one place, the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant, regulated by the Law, and under the watchful eye of the Levitical priesthood.  As the Israelites are conquering and settling the land of Canaan, much of Deuteronomy is also concerned with conquest and settlement issues.  The Mosaic Second Law Covenant is fashioned after a typical Hittite covenant document from the late second millennium B.C. period in the Near East. 

This new king-vassal type of covenant is with Moses, and not directly to God Himself.  In Deuteronomy 29 we read, “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.” (Deut. 29:1) God commands Moses to make the Covenant with Israel.  Similarly, in Deuteronomy 4, Moses says these are the statutes and ordinances “which I teach you” and “which I command you.” (Deut. 4)  The Deuteronomic Code or Second Law is more a Mosaic Covenant with the Israelites, and not a direct Covenant with God now.  Moses is acting on behalf of God as His lawgiver, teacher, and commander.  Yet, certain Mosaic laws like the “herem” (total warfare on the Canaanites) did not represent the highest will of God for His people, but was an accommodation by Moses to account for the sinfulness of the Israelites. There is some distance between certain Mosaic Laws and the ideal divine will found elsewhere in Scripture.

Seven-Year Sabbath Laws and Social Justice for the Poor:
God declared that every seventh year is a Sabbath Year, meaning the Israelites were obligated to forgive debts and offer restitution of money and property.  They were also prohibited from usury and giving loans with interest.  This Jubilee forgiveness of debts every seven years is a foundational social teaching for Judaism and Christianity regarding social justice and love for the poor.  “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it; but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release.  But there will be no poor among you.” (Deut. 15:1-4)  God commands that Israel be charitable to the poor. In the New Dispensation of the Gospel this would be akin to corporeal works of mercy, or caring for the poor.  “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.” (Deut. 15:11)  Hebrew slaves will likewise be set free from bondage or indentured servitude on the seventh year.

A Review of the Feasts and Festivals – Passover and Unleavened Bread:
God instructs the Israelites that they must appear before God three times a year, first at the Tabernacle, but later, at the Temple, to offer sacrifice and worship Him.  “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place which he will choose: at the feast of unleavened bread, at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you.” (Deut. 16:16-17)

God tells the Israelites to remember the Passover Feast and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “And you shall offer the passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place which the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there.  You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in hurried flight..” (Deut. 16:2-3)

The Festival of Weeks:
“You shall count seven weeks; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the feast of weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand..” (Deut. 16:9-10)

 The Feast of Booths:
“You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press;  you shall rejoice in your feast..” (Deut. 16:13-14)

Forbidden Forms of Worship:
Any person who offers pagan worship or sacrifice is to be stoned by the community.  There shall not be any worship of false gods or idolatry, or the worship of the sun, moon or stars, as was common among the pagans.  Moses instructions are blunt and harsh to purge them from your midst: “If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones.” (Deut. 17:2-5)  One of Moses’ main concern here is to protect the fledgling nation in their worship of the one true God and to avoid them falling back into the pagan worship of demons.

No Occult or Pagan Practices:
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” (Deut. 18:9-12)

Raise Up a Prophet Like Me / The Messiah will be the New Moses:
This is one of the great Messianic prophecies of Moses pointing towards Jesus, as the New Moses, who the Lord will raise up to Israel.  A Messiah will come who is the “New Moses.”  This new Moses, of course, is Jesus.  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They have rightly said all that they have spoken.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.  And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deut. 18:15-19)

Jesus as the New Moses:
Indeed, there are many striking parallels to Jesus and Moses, too many to list here. But, Jesus is the new Moses leading His people on a new Exodus to the Promised Land, with new manna from Heaven, and bringing them into a New Covenant, not written on stones but upon their hearts.  Jesus Himself alludes to this verse in a debate with the Jews: “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:45-47)  St. Peter also quotes these lines (Deut. 18:18) from Deuteronomy, saying: “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’” (Acts 19:22-23)

Seeing God “Face-to-Face:
One of the main requirements of the prophet like Moses, ie, the Messiah, is that he shall speak to God “face-to-face” just as Moses did. Jesus fulfills this perfectly as He alone speaks to the Father, as He retreats alone into deserted places to pray. No other prophet speaks to God “face-to-face” as Jesus did, exceeding Moses’ interaction, as he was not allowed to behold the face of God directly. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (John 1:18) And, “Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father.” (John 6:46)

Three Cities of Refuge:
These are three cities Israel is to set aside as refuges for people who unintentionally kill someone else. These are cities they can flee to in order to avoid revenge from another person.  “You shall set apart three cities for you in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess. . This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If any one kills his neighbor unintentionally without having been at enmity with him in time past.” (Deut. 19:2, 4)  What is the purpose of this?  To prevent innocent blood from being shed on the land, and thus, polluting it: “lest innocent blood be shed in your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.” (Deut. 19:10)

Two or Three Witnesses Necessary:
For every accusation or court case, there must be at least two to three witnesses to convict someone. “A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained.” (Deut. 19:15)  And, if one is found guilty, then they are to act with pure justice with the person, meaning giving him exactly what he or she deserves: “then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. And the rest shall hear, and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.  Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deut. 19:19-21)

Herem: Utterly Destroy Paganism in Canaan:
“But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded; that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the Lord your God.” (Deut. 20:16-18)  The point here is Moses’ injunction of the “herem” (total warfare) command to utterly destroy the pagans of Canaan is to prevent them from influencing the Israelites with paganism and corrupt their monotheistic worship of Yahweh alone.  Earlier in Exodus and Numbers, God never says to totally wipeout the native Canaanites in the land.  It is only after the mass apostasy of the Israelites on the plains of Moab and the worship of Baal, that Moses calls for the “ban” or the herem (total warfare) against the indigenous populations.  This is to protect the Israelites from being tempted and slipping back into paganism and idolatry, as the Israelites have repeatedly done.  Yet, certain Mosaic laws like this do not represent the ideal of God’s highest will for His people.

Moses’ Laws for the Israelites:
Many of the laws that come out from Moses in Deuteronomy is exactly that, laws from Moses, that Moses permitted because the Israelites were “a stubborn people.”  In much of the Book of Deuteronomy God is not speaking in the first-person, in fact, for much of the book it is Moses speaking in the first-person to the Israelites.  God does not speak first-hand in Deuteronomy until near the end of the book (Deut. 31:16-23) Moses, in fact, took responsibility for promulgating these laws “which I command” and “I have taught you.” (Deut. 4)  And so, we find many instances where Moses permits the Israelites to do certain things and certain actions, which God Himself had not permitted them to do.  As Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees when they asked him if it is permissible for a husband to divorce his wife, Jesus responds “from the beginning it was not so.”  But rather, Moses permitted your ancestors to do it because of the hardness of their hearts.” “They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mt. 19:7-8) And so, Jesus is saying some of the things that Moses permitted was not the original intention of God.  Rather, it was a temporary “fix” allowed by Moses at a particular instance in time, to assuage the rebelliousness of the Israelites.  This must be taken in this context when considering some of the more morally questionable actions that Moses permitted the Israelites to do.  This is a hermeneutical key that Jesus gives for unlocking the mystery of Deuteronomy.  These are amendments Moses made for the Israelites at that moment in time.

Female Captives:
For example, Moses addresses the Israelites about when they win in battle and they take the women as spoils of victory.  If they find “a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife,” then you must basically shave her clean and let her mourn her father and mother for thirty days.  At that point, “you may go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” (Deut. 21:13)  Many would find this morally objectionable, if not downright repugnant.  Or, like the next line: “If a man has two wives..”  Again, this is an area where the Israelites were still shaking off the pagan culture, in this case – polygamy – from where they grew out of, but have not yet fully accomplished it.  As Jesus said, Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, but “from the beginning it was not so.”  In short, the Israelites were a work-in-progress.  Moses made accommodations for the Israelites, but his accommodations, like this, often fell short of the more ideal, divine will of God.

Crucifixion, Hung on a Tree, and Jesus:
This is another line from Deuteronomy foreshadowing and prophesying about Jesus and His crucifixion on the Cross, or “a tree.”  It reads: “and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.” (Deut. 21:22-23)  In fact, Jesus was crucified on the “tree” of a cross, where He died and was buried that same day.  Even in death, Jesus fulfilled the Law.

No Cross-Dressing:
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 22:5)

Adulterers are to be Stoned:
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Deut. 22:22)

Rapist Punished with Death:
“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But to the young woman you shall do nothing.” (Deut. 22:25-26)

No Incest:
“A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor shall he uncover her who is his father’s.” (Deut. 22:30)  This language of “uncovering his father’s nakedness” hearkens back to Ham uncovering the nakedness of his father, or in other words, he raped his mother. This is why the line of Ham was cursed, through the product of the incestuous union, who of course was Canaan.

Those Restricted from the Assembly of the Lord:
-“He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.”
-“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” (Deut. 23:1,3)
-“There shall be no cult prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, or the wages of a dog, into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow; for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 23:17-18)

The Israelites about to Passover into the Promised Land:
“Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. And on the day you pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall set up large stones, and plaster them with plaster; and you shall write upon them all the words of this law, when you pass over to enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.” (Deut. 27:1-3)  Moses is still exhorting the Israelites to obey all the Commandments that the Lord has given them.  And he commands the Israelites to build an altar to the Lord God when they cross over into the Promised Land.  “You shall build an altar to the Lord your God of unhewnstones; and you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God; and you shall sacrifice peace offerings, and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deut. 27:6-8)  The Israelites are to honor God for the great gift He has given them with the land flowing with milk and honey.  Moses then offers twelve curses for the anyone who breaks twelve different aspects of the Law.

The Blessings:
However, if the Israelites obey the Commandments of the Lord they will be exceedingly blessed among the nations. “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deut. 28:2)

The Curses:
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” (Deut. 28:15) And more curses: “A nation which you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors; and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually; so that you shall be driven mad by the sight which your eyes shall see.” (Deut. 28:33-34)  “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you, till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you. They shall be upon you as a sign and a wonder, and upon your descendants for ever.” (Deut. 28:45-46)  “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.” (Deut. 28:54)

A New Mosaic Covenant at Moab:
“These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he had made with them at Horeb.”  (Deut. 29:1)  This is a good reminder that this is a different Covenant at Moab, than the original Covenant at Mt. Sinai.  The Sinai Covenant was a familial one, but the Moab covenant was a vassal, suzerainty treaty.  God is binding them in a king-servant type of treaty to bind their rebelliousness.  It is almost as if God has stepped-aside and commanded Moses to make the Covenant with the Israelites.  God even says, “.. the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people Israel.”  God has essentially deputized Moses to stand in for Him and make the Covenant with the people.  Thus, many of the laws and statutes were promulgated by Moses, as God’s deputy, and not directly from God.

Future Restoration:
Now, even if Israel should falter and fail, and break the Covenant (which obviously we know they did repeatedly, and were conquered and dispersed by the Babylonians and the Persians, and the Romans), God will still remember His Covenant with Israel and gather them back together from the nations. “If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will fetch you; and the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, that you may possess it; and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deut. 30:4-6)  And, God promises His word is neither far away or difficult.  But rather, “But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”  (Deut. 30:14) “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.” (v.15)

Joshua Becomes Moses’ Successor:
“And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will go over before you; he will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them; and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken.” (Deut. 31:2-3)  “Then Moses summoned Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall put them in possession of it.  It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:7-8) “And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” (Deut. 31:14) “And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to give them: I will be with you.” (Deut. 31:23)

Moses’ Book of the Law on “the Side” of the Ark:
“When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book, to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are; behold, while I am yet alive with you, today you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more after my death!” (Deut. 31:24-27)  There is some symbolic significance here.  The Law written by Moses is not inside the Ark, but is only put “by the side of the ark of the covenant.”  That is, what is inside the Ark of the Covenant is written by God Himself (The Ten Commandments) and is holiest of the holies.  But, the Mosaic Law is written by Moses, and made to accommodate and try to restrict sinfulness.  It is not as holy, and so, it is only on the side of the Ark, but not in the Ark itself. St. Paul discusses this later in his Epistles, where he says the Law was written because of sinfulness: “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions..” (Gal. 3:19)  But,it was surpassed and superseded by the grace of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  Moses’ Law was not as it was intended “from the beginning.”  Jesus’ covenantal bond of friendship and adopted-sons and daughters brings us back to how it was meant to be in the beginning. The Deuteronomic Law seems to be disharmonious with the ideals expressed elsewhere in Scripture, but these are accommodations by Moses towards the sinfulness of Israel.

The Song of Moses:
Here are a few highlights from Moses’ Song:
-“The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice.”
-“Is not he your father, who created you,who made you and established you?”
-“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.”
-“You were unmindful of the Rock that begotyou, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
-“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.”
-“Where are their gods..”
-“Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun.”

The Death of Moses Foretold:
“And the Lord said to Moses that very day,  “Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho; and view the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel for a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meri-bath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the people of Israel.” (Deut. 32:48-52)

The Final Blessing of Moses Upon Israel:
Deuteronomy is Moses’ last will and testament to his people, Israel.  It has become a “constitution” of sorts for Israel, as a synopsis almost of the whole Old Testament.  It was to be read and represented to the whole nation of Israel every seven years, and as such, it serves as a liturgical document, calling Israel to ritually renew its covenant with God.  Yet, here before his death, Moses offers individual blessings for each of the tribes of Israel.  This is a parallel to Jacob’s deathbed blessings of his twelve sons and the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:1-27) Moses says, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places.” (Deut. 33:29)

Moses Ascends Mt. Nebo and Dies in Moab:
“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.  And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.”

“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him; so the people of Israel obeyed him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.  And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,  none like him for all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel.”  (Deut. 34)

Deuteronomy ends on a somewhat melancholy note that Moses is dead and that a prophet “like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” has not yet arisen. Deuteronomy ends on a note of longing for the Messiah, Messianic expectation. The Messiah will be a prophet like Moses, who knows the Lord “face to face.” Moses and the Israelites are longing for the emergence of the Messiah. It is Jesus alone, who comes some 1,500 years later, who is the New Moses, a prophet like him, who knows the Lord, God the Father, face to face. It is because Jesus is the Son of God and knows the Father face-to-face, that He speaks with authority, for “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46)

Deuteronomy 12-14:

Destroying the Pagan gods:
Part of the Israelites’ mission in taking of the land of Canaan was to utterly destroy the pagan religion there, and the inhabitants worships of demonic entities.  God reiterates that the Israelites are to erase the Canaanites’ evil pagan cult from the land: “You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains and upon the hills and under every green tree; you shall tear down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Ashe′rim with fire; you shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name out of that place.” (Deut. 12:2-3)

Do Not Drink Blood:
God also warns the Israelites not to follow the practices of the Canaanites, in their rites and rituals, including drinking blood.  “Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out upon the earth like water.” (Deut. 12:16) And again: “Only be sure that you do not eat the blood; for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out upon the earth like water.” (Deut. 12:23-24) This is a similar forbiddance as with Leviticus 7:26.  Unlike the Canaanites who drink blood in their pagan rituals, the Israelites are to pour it onto the earth.  Likewise, God warns the Israelites: “You shall not do so to the Lord your God; for every abominable thing which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deut. 12:31) Yahweh admonishes the Israelites to separate themselves from the pagan cultures around them. The Israelites are to be a distinct, set-apart, and holy nation, and not following the ways of the demonic pagan cults.

Worship in the Proper Place and Right Way:
“But the holy things which are due from you, and your votive offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place which the Lord will choose, and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God; the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, but the flesh you may eat.” (Deut. 12: 26-27)

Dreamer of Dreams Shall Be Put to Death:
“But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.” (Deut. 13:5)  The main goal of God at this point is to purge all evil and rebellion from the midst of the Israelites.  This is a simple people, living in simple times, the Bronze Age. They lived under idolatry in Egypt for 400 years as slaves.  They are prone to idol worship.  Yahweh is pruning idolatry from their midst.  This pruning includes removing false prophets from their midst who lead the people astray.  Similarly, “And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” (Deut. 13:11)

Pagan Practices Forbidden:
Some of the pagan practices among the Canaanites were shaving, cutting and tattooing themselves. The Israelites were supposed to be different, set apart, holy.  “You are the sons of the Lord your God; you shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead.  For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” (Deut. 14:1-2)  Then, Moses reiterates the clean and unclean animals that the Israelites may eat and not eat, as told in Leviticus.

Deuteronomy 7:

Israel’s Mandate as God’s First-Born Son:
This is the mandate from God to the Israelites, summarized succinctly by Moses.  Yahweh has chosen the nation Israel to be His own portion. From the Tower of Babel event, all the nations of the world were scattered about, and effectively placed under control of other fallen Elohim, fallen-angels, so-called “gods.” This is why they worship idols and demons, practice the occult and witchcraft, and make human and child sacrifices. They are following evil teachings by these evil beings. But, not so with Israel.  Israel is God’s portion.  They are to be “set-apart” and holy.  They are to follow the one true God, Yahweh, and shirk all other evil pagan cults and practices. Israel is God’s “first-born” son, a holy and priestly nation, meant to lead back all the other fallen-away children of God, and not to be ensnared by their paganism and demonic idolatry (as embodied with the Canaanites).

Thus, Moses adjures the Israelites: “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them. You shall not make marriages with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.  For they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” (Deut. 7:1-6)

The Hidden Drama:
The Canaanites represent evil and sin, so we should have no compromise with evil and sin.  The Lord tells them: “your eye shall not pity them; neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.” (Deut. 7:16)  In some respects, this is a war between the one, true God Yahweh, and the plethora of false gods, fallen-angels, demons, principalities and powers.  The Israelites and the Canaanites are almost secondary characters in the divine drama going on with God judging the fallen angels who have enslaved humanity.  It is a divine drama happening of God undoing, bit by bit, through Israel all the evils that the fallen angels have inflicted upon humanity.

Keep the Lord’s Commandments – Blessings and Curses:
Because of all this, the Lord reminds Israel: “You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day.” (Deut. 7:11)  If the Israelites keep the Commandments of God, “You shall be blessed above all peoples.”  On the other hand, the Israelites are to spurn the evil of paganism.  “The graven images of their gods you shall burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. And you shall not bring an abominable thing into your house, and become accursed like it; you shall utterly detest and abhor it; for it is an accursed thing.” (Deut. 7:25-26)

God Will Send “Hornets”:
The Lord tells the Israelites not to worry, even though these other nations are bigger and stronger than they are, because the one true God is on their side.  He tells them: “Moreover the Lord your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed. You shall not be in dread of them; for the Lord your God is in the midst of you, a great and terrible God.” (Deut. 7:20-21)  What these hornets are is up for debate.  This is mentioned also in Exodus 23:28. It is possible that God has just directed actual literal hornets to chase these peoples off of the land. There is an abundance of aggressive types hornets in Palestine. Or, it is possible that the “Angel of the Lord” is going before them, harassing the Canaanites in one form or another, or with a plague of some sort.

Leviticus 11-15:

The Cleanliness Code:
Clean and Unclean is different from Holy and not Holy. Cleanliness is the measure of suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  Holiness is the measure of the presence of God itself.  Something can be “clean” and “common,” not necessarily “holy.”  If something is “unclean” then it is needs to be made “clean,” and then, it can be “holy.”  The state of cleanliness is the suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  To be “unclean” does not necessarily mean someone has sinned or committed immorality.  It is a ritual status, not a moral status.

The Food Laws:
At the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve were vegetarians.  After the Flood, God allows Noah to eat any kind of animal (except flesh with the blood in it – Gen. 9:3-4; “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Jesus supersedes this injunction with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist).  Now, here in the Mosaic epoch, God further restricts what animals are to be eaten and not eaten. The so-called “food laws” tells the Israelites what are “clean” animals that you can eat, and “unclean” animals that you cannot eat.  God then tells Moses which animals are clean and which are not clean.  The first category is the ruminants, or beasts of the field, such as cows and sheep. There are three conditions to eat of a ruminant.  Those are: it has hooves, it is cloven-footed, and it chews cud.  If it does not meet all three requirements, then it is unclean.  Unclean ruminants include: the camel, the badger, the hare, the pig (which is one of the most well-known and most identifiable “non-kosher” Jewish foods, ie, no pork or pork products).  One of the archeological indicators of Israelite settlements was the distinct lack of swine or pig bones found. Then come the water animals, which must have fins and scales to be clean.  Any water creatures that lack fins and scales are deemed unclean and they may not eat them (“is loathsome for you”).  Next, are the birds and creatures of the air.  Basically, the birds of prey that eat dead flesh are considered unclean, such as the eagle, vulture, osprey, crows, gulls, hawks, owls, buzzards, storks, and bats, etc.  Next, are the unclean flying insects, only the grasshopper, locust or cricket is acceptable.  John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and ate locusts (Mt. 3:4)  Finally, “all creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten.” (Lev. 11:41)

Why Food Laws?:
There are five or six main explanations for the food laws. None are comprehensive or totally persuasive in and of themselves.  It is probably a combination of these reasons that God issues the food laws.  (1) Hygenic theory.  This is theory that these unlcean animals are bad for humans and not healthy, such as pork for spreading trichinosis.  This theory is popular today, although is probably not very consistent.  Every species if not properly cooked could contain parasites.  (2) The Aesthetic theory: the animals are unclean because they’re repugnant to humans.  By way of analogy, if it is repugnant to humans it is probably repugnant to their deity. If it can be sacrificed and offered on our table, it can probably be offered to the deity.  If it is not on our table, then it cannot be food for God either.  (3) Ethical theory: God restricted eating animals as a means for the Israelites to grow in self-control and limit their violence and shedding of blood. (4) Anatomical theory: This suggests that these animals represent “anomalies” within their species.  They’re misfits, and as outliers, they are unclean.  Any animals that lack the specifications of their category or are a “mixing” of categories or species are deemed unclean.  (5) Cultural theory: There is a cultural aspect to this as well.  The Israelites are culturally, as a people in a particular place and time, repulsed by certain animals and practices.  This is incorporated into some of their food laws.

(6) Cultic or Liturgical theory:
This is probably the most persuasive and logical of all the explanations.  Animals deemed unclean were associated with pagan rituals and sacrifices.  They were prominent in pagan cults and the most common animals sacrificed in pagan rituals (ie, the pig in Canaanite sacrifices). Thus, a prohibition of killing and sacrificing certain animals would be a means to separate Israel out from the surrounding pagan populations.  A way of being “set apart” and holy, as much of Leviticus is concerned about the distinctiveness of Yahweh and His people, the Israelites.  On the other hand, acceptable animals to sacrifice, such as the bull and the ram, are representation of Egyptian gods like the bull-god Apis and the cow-god Hathor.  Yahweh commanding the Israelites to sacrifice bulls and rams is a means to distance the Israelites from the pagan idolatry that they were immersed in for 400 years in Egypt.  It is an attempt to de-Egyptianize the Israelites.  In a broader sense, it is an attempt to de-Canaanize and de-paganize the Israelites through regular, and daily, sacrifice of pagan-gods.  Similar prohibitions found in Leviticus against offering honey, and boiling a kid in his mother’s milk, ritual shavings and mutilations were all about distancing the Israelites from pagan practices.  The food laws are another aspect of being distinctive, set apart, and holy.

Ritual Purity and Impurity:
Ritual purity is not about sin.  It is about fitness to occupy sacred space.  A sin offering is about “decontamination” or “purification,” not sin.  A guilt offering is about making reparation.  For example, Mary making an offering after the birth of Jesus is not about sin, but about becoming ritually pure.  Something or someone becoming ritually impure has to do with (1) coming into contact with death; or (2) a loss of “life.”  These issues stem around: childbirth, leprosy, emission of semen, menstruation, and marital intercourse (loss of semen).  These focus on the loss of “life fluids,” such as blood, water and semen.  These are fluids that produce life.  To lose life, is to be less than “whole.”  God did not make us originally to not be whole, but to be whole and complete.  God is wholeness and completeness.  Thus, if someone loses their life fluid by one means or another, that renders them not whole, or in Levitical terms, ritually unclean, impure.  Sexual activity and the loss of bodily fluids then renders one ritually impure.  Having a baby, or menstruation and the loss of blood, also renders one ritually impure. This is not about sin, but about fitness for sacred space.  Anything outside of the “normative, creation natural order” renders one ritually impure.  A person must be “whole” to enter into the perfection of the sacred space of the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is the new Eden.  It is the perfection that God originally intended in the Garden of Eden.  It is God’s dwelling place.  God is perfection, and wholeness, and life itself.  For one to enter His space, one must be whole and in an “ideal form” of wholeness and completeness.  To have lost “life” fluids or to have touched death, is to be less than fully whole and fully full of life, or in a word, imperfect.

Skin Diseases:
Skin diseases and leprosy also render an individual ritually impure and unfit to enter the sacred space of the Tabernacle. General skin ailments, not just Hansen’s disease (ie, leprosy), renders one ritually impure. There is no sin in skin disease, but one is not “whole,” as God had originally designed humanity. Something in the body is amiss. It is not as the original creation order. God is not admonishing against any particular sin, but teaching an object lesson about the perfection of God. The Tabernacle is the new Garden of Eden; a place of perfection, and a place for man to be like God had originally intended; whole and complete; full of life, not death.

Cedar Wood, Scarlet Yarn, and Hyssop:
Leviticus repeatedly tells the Israelites to purify people and places by using “cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop.”  This purification and atonement is reminiscent of the wood of the Cross; scarlet yarn hearkens to red blood of Christ; and the hyssop branch that they used to annoint the Passover lamb’s blood to the door and the hyssop branch to give Jesus a taste of the “4th cup” of wine, or vinegar, on the Cross before He died.  In short, these have connotations of Jesus’ Cross.  We are made clean through the Cross of Christ.

God is Distinct, Set Apart, Holy:
Through the purity laws, God is reminded His people that He is perfect and holy.  He is set apart, distinct.  In contrast, humanity is imperfect.  God is wholeness, completeness, perfection, and life itself.  The ritual purity reminds humanity of reverence to creation-order, and reverence for life itself.  We are less than perfect, but should reverence the normative life as designed by the Creator.  The Tabernacle is not a place for incompleteness, death, less than ideal form or imperfection.  It is a place for the otherness of Yahweh. Man can prove his loyalty to Yahweh by adhering to His ritual purity regulations.  God comes to dwell with man again in the new perfect location of the Tabernacle, the new Eden.

Genesis 1-11:

The Bible Overview:
The Hebrew Bible (the Torah, the prophets and the other books) is unique in the history of the world. It was the first book and religion to establish monotheism and a code of ethics around the world. It was divinely unique in a number of ways, with concepts unheard-of in the ancient world, and which transformed us into the modern world we know now and accept: (1) It proclaimed a universal God. (2) It posited an invisible, incorporeal God. (3) It declared a moral God, not capricious like the pagan gods and the deities of myth. (4) It presupposed a God outside of nature and beyond nature, unlike the pagan who worshipped nature and natural beings. (5) It suggested a God Who loves and wants to be loved, again unique from the selfish and capricious pagan gods. (6) It declared a universal human worth that all humans are “made in the image of God,” and therefore, of immense value and dignity. This was a world-changing concept never seen before in the history of the world. (7) Due to each individual human’s dignity, there are universal human rights that cannot be lawfully taken away by man.

All of the horrible atrocities and evil ideologies, such as human sacrifice, wanton disregard for human life, savage warfare, slavery, incest, idolatry, nature worship and superstition, all begin to fade away as the light of divine revelation is manifested to the world in successive revelations. God reached down from Heaven to guide us through the childhood and adolescence of human formation of conscience and morality. From the Garden to Eden, to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Moses and the Ten Commandments, to the Israelites becoming God’s Jewish nation, to the Temple, and the prophets, and then, at long last, to the revelation of the Son of God, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God came into the world to undo the destructive power of Original Sin and free mankind to become Children of God. The Bible stands alone in revelation, in law, in prophecy, in internal coherence, and truth. It is the most widely read book and the most important book in the history of the world. It forever altered the arc of human history. It introduced earth-shattering ideas into the course of human civilization, and singularly prepared the world for that most important moment ever to happen, the Incarnation of the Son of God. The world has never been the same since.

Genesis 1-11:
The Creation of Man:
The Hebrew Bible is a conversation that lasted more than a millennium.   The Bible begins with two creation accounts or myths. This time period is “prehistory.” After creating all living things, which is “good,” then Yahweh creates man, which is termed “very good.” Adam is created from the ground (“adamah”). The only living thing not created from the ground is “woman.” Only in seeing woman, is man completed and in their complementarity does he fully understands himself. The man and the woman together bear the image of God. This is manifested in the pro-creative nature of the husband and wife, creating new life in likeness of their creator. The first man and woman were naked and not ashamed. They bore a primordial innocence, and preternatural life in the Garden of Eden (the original harmony of Creation).

Jesus Declares Two Genders – Male and Female; and Heterosexual Marriage:
Jesus, when he was challenged by the Pharisees on the teaching of marriage and divorce, referenced that it “was not so from the beginning.” Jesus taught a radical indissolubility of marriage between one man and one woman: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? And he said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.” (Matt. 19:4-5)

The Fall:
That all changes with the Fall from innocence. The devil, mythologized as a serpent, tempts them to disobey Yahweh. Eve listens to the devil, and persuades her husband Adam to disobey as well. With that, humanity is brought into “the human condition” we know today: birthing pain, patriarchal societies, hard work toiling the land, disease and death.

Yahweh then offers the first prophecy of a future Savior and “the woman” who will crush the head of the serpent. Eve fell to the serpent, but the second Eve will crush the serpent’s head. “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Gen. 3:15) It is through the Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ is born, God becomes man. With the Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Conception, the stain of sin and the line of inherited corruption is broken. She alone is the Ark worthy of bearing God. In the woman, God the Son becomes flesh to take away the sins of the world.

In the generations from Adam to Noah, was Enoch. Genesis 5:12 reads: “Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.” The implication, much like what happens later with the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), Enoch does not die, but is taken alive to heaven. Enoch and Elijah are perhaps the two great prophets sent back at the End of the World to confront the Antichrist. (Revelation 11)

Noah and The Flood:
Chapter 6 of Genesis also deals with the origin of the Nephilim (ie, the Giants). It says: “the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. . . At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.” This episode directly precedes the flood. The wickedness of man also leads Yahweh to limit man’s lifespan to 120 years (as opposed the hundreds of years lifespans previously, such as Adam who lived to 930 years old). Yahweh warns Noah that He is about to destroy the world because of its “corruption” and “lawlessness.” The Biblical account of the flood is similar to other flood stories from Mesopotamia, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh. Yet, the Biblical account is strikingly different in the way in which God preserves Noah, as opposed to the opposition of the deities in the Mesopotamian traditions.

After God destroys most of the known world in the flood, he gives a sign of his promise never to do so again, the rainbow. The rainbow is the “sign of the everlasting covenant” God establishes between himself and all mortal creatures. Those who misuse the sign of the rainbow today again mock God with brazen disregard for his laws.

Sacramental View:
The waters of the Flood are analogous to the waters of Baptism. Just as the waters of Baptism wash away Original sin, so too did the waters of the Flood wash away the sinful world. Universal humanity (i.e., the world) seems to follow the path of Christian initiation. Just as the infant world is baptized in water, the later adolescent world is baptized in fire. At the End, the world is consumed and transformed by fire (2 Pt. 3:7), just as the fire of the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and all believers at Pentecost and Confirmation (Acts 2:3) making them a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). This final conflagration ushers in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).

Another interesting note is that after the flood Yahweh tells Noah, “Every creature that is alive shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants.” (Gen. 9:3) The Antediluvian world is depicted as strict vegetarians. It is only after the flood, that animals, including man, become carnivorous. God grants a concession to humanity in its propensity towards violence, so that they are now allowed to eat meat (but must observe certain restrictions regarding the handling of animal blood. Gen.9: 2-4; Lev. 17:11)

The Tower of Babel:
The last story in this section is the Tower of Babel. “The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.” (Gen. 11:1) This story highlights human arrogance attempting to trespass into the realm of God. They do this by trying to build a tower that reaches up to God. In Babylonian times, this probably refers to the Babylonian ziggurats, a sort-of original skyscraper. It was then that the Lord came down to see what they built and decided to “go down and there confuse their language” and then he, “scattered them from there all over the earth.” (Gen 11:8-9)

The Deuteronomy 32 Worldview:
The main passage reads: ” When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” (Dt. 32: 8-9) This Tower of Babel incident has led to what some scholars call the “The Deuteronomy 32 worldview.” The idea is that the Tower of Babel incident provoked God to renounce the Nations, in effect, if the “70” Nations of the world did not want to follow and worship Yahweh, then God renounced them, and let them follow their sinful hearts. It is at this point that God decides to “start again” with Abrahamic Covenant and forming a people of His own, Jacob (“Israel”). It is through this tiny nation that God will instill His Covenant and Laws, and eventually His Messiah. Israel will become God’s “firstborn son” to eventually lead all the Nations of the world back to God, especially with the arrival of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, and the “Good News” or Gospel of the New Testament.

But, immediately following the Tower of Babel, God renounces the Nations of the world, except the future Israel, and fixes them to boundaries, changes their languages, and assigns them under the authority of “Sons of God.” This is the making of the Gentile nations of the world and their pagan religions. The “Sons of God” are the various “Elohim” or godly, heavenly figures to rule over the nations. These would be the equivalent of the “principalities and powers, thrones and dominions” of St. Paul, who rule over the nations, trying to thwart the will of the one true God, Yahweh. These are angelic-like beings who have fallen from heaven. The “serpent” in the Garden of Eden is one such being, a supernatural Elohim, god-like figure, who has fallen and tempts mankind to fall too. Now, as the Nations reject God at Babel, God gives them what they want, and assigns these fallen Elohim to oversee each individual nation and people. As one passage in Daniel describes explicitly a battle between the heavenly protector of Israel, Michael the Archangel, and the “prince of Persia”: “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (Dan. 10:13) This also reminds me of the Angel of Peace who appeared in 1916 to three peasant children at Fatima in Portugal declaring: “Make of everything you can a sacrifice. . You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal.” On the other hand, the false-heavenly, demonic powers now rule over the nations and lead them into all sorts of false religions of the world, paganism, witchcraft, astrology, human sacrifice (ie, Molech), warfare, idolatry; basically the worship of demons.

Yahweh, however, declares “Jacob is My portion.” The one true God is Yahweh, and He will rule over Israel. From Israel will come the one true religion of God, and eventually, the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who will liberate the world, including all the Gentile Nations again, from sin and death and the evil fallen angels that rule the world. This is the Great Reclamation or Restoration Project. Thus, begins the long, slow, arduous journey of Yahweh to teach His people, the Jews, how to correctly live and follow Yahweh and His Commandments, and to worship rightly. The Patriarchs of Genesis establish this Covenant with God, in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Eventually, God uses Moses to set up the Sinai Covenant of the Old Testament, in the Exodus, and the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple in Jerusalem. This lays the groundwork for what will prepare the Jews and Israel for the arrival of the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who will establish a “New Covenant” in His own blood, to free us from the bondage of sin and lead us to the new Promised Land of Heaven. Pentecost and the Holy Spirit have begun the restoration of Israel and the Gentiles to the one family of God to the ends of the Earth. After one final, all-out assault by Satan, the Antichrist and his demonic legions, Jesus, at His Second Coming, will finally put an end to the tyrannical reign of the fallen “sons of God.” The demonic legions all around us will be destroyed once and for all, forever. Yahweh will fellowship with His human family again in the Edenic Earthly paradise, where there will be no death, suffering, and: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

Christianity and the False Dependence on Mithraism

The Catholic faith is the reconciliation because it is the realization both of mythology and philosophy. It is a story and in that sense one of a hundred stories; only it is a true story.

-G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Christianity emerged out of the historical, social and religious milieu of first century Palestine. The area was a part of the Mediterranean world unified under Hellenic cultural influences and Roman military might. The pagan Roman populace had grown weary of their pantheon of gods and the seeming dreariness of everyday life. There was a spiritual hunger for something more, something transcendent. As the empire expanded its arms to the east and to the south so it also brought in elements from these foreign lands to the mainstream Mediterranean lifestyle. These imported elements included the so-called “mystery religions,” or “mysteries” to help satisfy this spiritual hunger. These mysteries included among others the cults of Mithra, Isis and Osiris, Dionysus, Magna Mater, and Cybele and Attis. Of these, perhaps the most prolific and influential was the Mithraic cult centered about the Persian deity Mithra. Mithraism, the most renown of the mysteries, has often been compared to Christianity. Many modern scholars argue that there are a number of striking similarities between Christianity, and the mysteries and Mithraism. Moreover, many such modern scholars have argued that not only has Christianity relied heavily upon the mysteries for its theology and practices, but also that Jesus himself is merely myth and Christianity just another mystery cult.

This paper will show the fact that Jesus was indeed a historical person and that Christianity was not just another mystery cult. On the one hand, Mithraism was a mystery based on the story of Mithra. On the other, Christianity grew out of Judaism and was based on the real person of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the two divergent groups did have some superficial similarities. These similarities have wrongfully been construed to “prove” that Christianity was dependent upon Mithraism and the other mysteries. This paper will then show on which points the groups diverge. It will show how the pagan mysteries evolved and blended their theology so as to imitate the rapidly rising Christian movement. Similarly, it will reaffirm the historical nature of Jesus Christ, and the uniqueness of the religion He began. Ultimately, it will reveal the fact that Christianity emerged from Judaism as a unique religious movement based upon the historical person of Jesus Christ, and that it was different from and in direct competition with the pagan mysteries and Mithraism.

However, Christianity and Mithraism did have some apparent similarities that have been offered as proof of dependency. For example, the mysteries and Mithraism are considered religions of redemption similar to that of Christianity.1 The notion of a vicarious sacrifice for the sake of redeeming others seems to have been present. An inscription at the Mithraeum of Santa Prisca in Rome reads, “You saved us…by shedding the blood.”2 Mithra in effect saves his followers by reluctantly slaying the bull. Similarly, as Joseph Campbell points out, the mythology of dying and rising deities had been indigenous to the Near East for millennium.3 Mithra himself is the mediator, and also the god of light. He is born from a rock that was witnessed by on-looking shepherds similar to the birth of Christ. Mithra’s birth date is celebrated on December 25th. After killing the bull, Mithra then celebrates the love feast with his disciples at a “Last Supper.” At this last supper, Mithra offers an oblation of bread and a cup of water. After this he ascends into Heaven to be one with the Sun.4

Continuing in the teachings of Mithraism, at the end of the world there will be a resurrection of the dead in which Mithra will preside over the Final Judgment. Furthermore, Mithraism advocated an ascetic lifestyle. Life is a battle in that the initiate must struggle through the difficulties that may come. Abstinence was considered praiseworthy. They believed in Heaven and Hell and the immortality of the soul. The initiates went through a ritual washing of water, or “baptism” some would say. The initiates go through preparation and instruction and would be admitted into the mysteries in a nocturnal celebration on the eve of a great festival similar to the Christian catechumens entering the Church at the Easter vigil. Through an initiation process and ascending in the secret mysteries the person gains salvation. Many have compared these initiations and seven levels of Mithraism as a forerunner of the seven sacraments of the Church. Taking in all of these apparently close parallels between Christianity and the mysteries and Mithraism, many have concluded that Christianity is but myth and itself a mystery cult. As one author noted.

The obvious explanation is that as early Christianity became the dominant power in the previously pagan world, popular motifs from Pagan mythology became grafted into the biography of Jesus.5  The Christian Bible and historical Jesus at best would have just blended some aspects of the pagan mysteries into the true facts. At worst, the Bible and Jesus were pure legend in line with the Mithraism and the other mysteries.6

Despite these similar portraits between Christianity and the Mithraism, significant differences do exist. First off, just looking at the origins of the two competing religious movements reveals an abundance of dissimilarities. Mithraism was a cult based upon astronomy and astrology.7 Of course, astrology and soothsaying was explicitly condemned in the Bible.8 The initiates were to ascend through the seven spheres of the heavens. The Mithraic caves, or Mithraeums, where the ceremonies were held, were covered in a depiction of the zodiac mirroring the cosmos. Moreover, most Mithraeums had iconography of the Mithraic tauroctony. This key icon showed Mithras standing over the bull and slaying it. Given the complete astronomical orientation of the cult, as David Ulansey argues, Mithras in the iconography is actually the constellation “Perseus.” Seen from this perspective, the tauroctony was actually a “star map.”

As Ulansey argues, Mithraism was developed by Stoic philosophers in the city of Tarsus. The Stoics were philosophers steeped in astronomy and astrology. They had learned at the time of a revolutionary idea discovered by Hipparchus about the procession of equinoxes. Thus, they reasoned there must have been a great god who could have shifted the whole cosmos from the end of the age of Taurus. With Perseus directly above Taurus in sky, the Stoics then actually personified the constellation as their local hero, Perseus. Later, Cilician pirates, who themselves navigated by the stars and who had close contact with the wealthy and intellectuals, adopted the cult and changed the god from the Tarsus hero, Perseus, to Mithra. As testified by Plutarch, they then helped spread the new astrological cult of Mithra around the empire.9 Thus, the Persian myth of Mithra was superimposed upon the new astrological cult of Perseus begun originally by Stoics of Tarsus to account for the astronomical discovery of the procession of equinoxes.10

Because the Stoics are from Tarsus, the city St. Paul was from as well, many attribute Paul’s religion as just another mystery and one influenced in particular by Mithraism. This is an impossibility given what we know of Paul. Paul was a strict Pharisaic Jew schooled under Rabbi Gamaliel. In addition, there is no historical evidence that paganism had entered into the common life of the Jews.11 Paul was interested solely in preserving the Mosaic Law and strictly adhering to every letter of it. This can be witnessed in his early persecution of the nascent Church. Paul voiced the same abhorrence later for paganism. As he states in his letter to the Corinthians warning them about the dangers of idolatry and paganism, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons.”12 In addition, Paul had extended contacts with the Apostles themselves. The Church in Tarsus was in effect the same as the Church in Jerusalem. Both, as one Church, held that to be Christian meant renunciation of all other “gods” and idolatrous practices. Moreover, the New Testament canon is clearly supported by Old Testament scriptures and prophecies. As such, Paul advocated belief in Christ alone. Christianity, like Judaism, was completely intolerant of any other religions. Paul’s religion was exclusive while the mysteries were merely one of many interchangeable myths. It is very difficult indeed to imagine that this same Paul with his zealous orthodox Jewish beliefs was susceptible to pagan influences and Mithraism.

Furthermore, the Mithraic practices differed widely with those of Christianity. To begin with, whereas Christianity was open to all, Mithraism was open only to men. Women were not allowed into the cult. Of the hundreds of Mithraic inscriptions none include that of a priestess or a woman initiate.13 Mithraism was in general a soldiers and merchants religion.14 The cult spread mostly through the Roman legions. The cult was highly personal and individualistic. In this sense Mithraism was not a religion at all. The very term “Mithracists” is a modern phrase not found in ancient literature.15 There was no sense of community, organization or solidarity.16 The pagan mysteries had no sense or equivalent of the ekklesia. There was no concern for the poor; no economic cooperation; no inclusion of the family unit. Many pagans converted, such as Tatian and Justin, for the very fact that they saw the hospitality that Christians treated each other with saying, “Look how they love one another!”17 The total inclusion and submission of family into a community of believers is ridiculous when applied to the mysteries.

Christianity from its inception, however, was focused on the community of believers as the body of Christ. Christianity was a public religion open to all. The “mystery” as referred to by Paul and the New Testament is used as some as proof by terminology of Christian dependence upon the mysteries. Yet, the whole point of the “mystery” of Mithraism and the other cults was to keep all knowledge secret. The secrets of the mysteries were to be known only by the initiates, again alluding to the highly individualistic nature of the mysteries. In Christianity, however, “mystery” was something that was previously hidden in the mind of God, but now has been revealed and is to be made known to all.18 Thus, unlike Mithraism and the mysteries, Christianity was at once dogmatically intolerant of other faiths, yet it was open to any and all people. Christianity was preached everywhere openly, while Mithraism was kept secret known only to the initiates.19 In this vein of secrecy, it is not surprising that although there is an abundance of archeological evidence of Mithraism, there are almost no literary references to it.20 Since it was a secret society of sorts, none of its dogmas or tenets were written down. What is known of the cult is solely through iconography.21 This, of course, is in complete contradiction to the comparatively copious amounts of writings from the New Testament and the early church Fathers.

In connection with these differences, Tertullian offers some first hand accounts. Tertullian was an eyewitness to the Roman soldiers and the Mithraism in their ranks. He says that Mithraism attempted to copy Christianity.22 Tertullian writing in the latter second century says that Mithraism, and by association military life, was incompatible with Christianity. Firstly, Roman legions were often followed by prostitutes, pimps, gamblers and con-men.23 He also speaks of the idolatry involved in serving in the military through sacrifices and capital punishment. In his Treatise on the Crown Tertullian says,

Blush, you fellow-soldiers of his, henceforth not to be condemned even by him, but by some soldier of Mithras, who, at his initiation in the gloomy cavern, in the camp, it may well be said, of darkness, when at the sword’s point a crown is presented to him, as though in mimicry of martyrdom,…and he is at once believed to be a soldier of Mithras if he throws the crown away – if he says that in his god he has his crown. Let us take note of the devices of the devil, who is wont to ape some of God’s things with no other design than, by the faithfulness of his servants, to put us to shame, and to condemn us.24

So, just as Christians who refused to wear the crown of the king were executed, so too the Mithraic soldiers mimicked that faithfulness in their initiation ceremonies. Yet, Tertuallian describes Mithraism as the “device of the devil,” and in contrast to Christianity, something that is shameful and to be condemned. Thus, Tertullian quotes Jesus in admonishing Christians in the military that they “can’t serve two masters.”

Yet, again this exclusiveness of Christianity was not found in the mysteries. Mithraism was completely acceptable with other forms of paganism and even emperor worship. As Tiridates, king of Armenia, came to Rome on a state visit he is quoted as saying, “I have come to you, my god, to worship you as I worship Mithras.”25 Moreover, many Mithraicists were involved in more than one mystery. One could easily have been initiated into Mithraism without giving up his beliefs in say, Isis.26 The fluidity of the myths of the mysteries made them increasingly popular, especially by the end of the second century. It was at this point that Mithraism in particular became one of the favorites of the Roman aristocracy.27 Even the emperor Commodus who ruled from 180-192 AD was initiated into Mithraism which reflected a triumph of the cult.28 As one author noted the inclusive nature of the mysteries,

Thus, the use of the term “mystery religions,” as a pervasive and exclusive name for a closed system, is inappropriate. Mystery initiations were an optional activity within a polytheistic religion, comparable to, say, a pilgrimmage to Santiago di Compostela within the Christian system.29

These mysteries in general had some very foreign, and even, hedonistic rites in comparison to Christianity. Gregory of Nazianzus spoke of various tortures and humiliations involved in the Mithraic initiations.30 Other mysteries’ initiation rites included drugs and orgies. In some initiation rites they practiced the “taurobolium.” The taurobolium consisted of the initiate crouching in a pit covered in wooden beams on which a bull was slaughtered and the person was covered in its blood.31 This was a primitive practice adopted to give the initiate an “emotional high.” The Christian notion of a vicarious and voluntary suffering for others is not found in the mysteries, especially in Mithraism. Moreover, the “suffering god” myth is completely absent from Mithraism.32 Even more obvious, this form of animal sacrifice was not present in Christian practices. There was in Mithraism in particular a reduction of practices to the physical. For example, they would eat the raw flesh of the sacrificed bull.33 The notion of spiritual things or a spiritual communion as in Christianity was totally lacking in the mysteries. Salvation is seen more as a “magical liberation from the flesh,” than as the redemption from sin.34

There were other practices as well. As far as December 25th as the birth of Mithras and of Christ, it can be said that Constantine had in fact changed the celebration in 323 AD from the birth of the Sun, Mithras, to Jesus.35 In addition, Augustine writing some time later spoke of the Mithraic initiates as “flapping their wings like birds, imitating the cry of crows, others growl like lions, in such a manner are they that are called wise basely travestied.”36 These practices were in correspondence to the seven levels of initiation. Even these seven levels of initiation were not found in Christianity. There was also a “sprinkling of water” the Mithraicists used. Modern liberal scholars have anachronistically dubbed it a “baptism” using the Christian terminology. Of course, there is truly no evidence for a Mithraic baptism, especially one that was a symbol by emersion in water of dying and entering into a new life as in the Christian rite.37 Similarly, the modern liberal scholars have also dubbed the Mithraic feast a “Last Supper,” again imposing the Christian terminology. The “Mithra supper” involved bread and a cup of water. So, in this case, it was not bread and wine, and they did not become the “body and blood” of their “god.” Thomas Bokenkotter points out that even these similarities don’t necessarily indicate dependency. As he suggests, “Such primitive symbols are so basic to humanity that any religious person might use them to express an experience transcending this world.”38

What perhaps is much more interesting is the fact that the early Church Fathers all seem to agree that Mithraism had attempted to copy Christianity. It seems the most logical conclusion that Mithraism, in fact, tried to imitate the increasingly popular Christian religion. St. Justin had argued that the devil had foreseen the coming of Christ and Christianity, and so, he mimicked Christianity and the divine sacraments.39 Tertullian had argued as well that the devil had directly tried to copy Christianity.40 He also suggests that the soldiers were not really astute theologians so they tended to blend Christianity and Mithraism.41 Perhaps this is a large part of the reason why there could have been similarities between the two “religions.” Looking at the two divergent faiths, it is not difficult to see the evolution in teachings. Christianity, on the one hand, sprang forth from a strictly Judaic background. The Christian adherent had to renounce all other gods and idolatrous practices. As attested to by the Christian martyrs, no compromise was possible. On the other hand, there are the mysteries and Mithraism. By their very nature, they were all-inclusive. No one need reject their other gods or other beliefs to participate. Mithraism in particular was very fluid and adapted through time. This is evident looking back to the Mithraism of ancient Persia from which it came. The Roman Mithraism was an almost completely different religion from its origin. It had become, as Cumont depicted it, a “composite religion, in which so many heterogeneous elements were welded together.”42 Mithraism specifically attempted to establish its own superiority through a succession of adaptations and compromises with the other pagan mysteries.43 For example, Julian the Apostate tried to establish a universal pagan Church using a clergy and liturgy based on the Christian model.44 Christianity, however, unrelentingly fought against any compromises with paganism. As Cumont surmised,

Mithraism, at least in the fourth century, had therefore as its end and aim the union of all gods and all myths in a vast synthesis, the foundation of a new religion in harmony with the prevailing philosophy and constitution of the empire.45  In contrast, the direct Christian abhorrence to the mystery religions can be seen in Hippolytus’ condemnation of Gnostic sects for their dependence upon the mysteries! 46

It seems that Mithraism in its hopes for universal domination imitated and synthesized the beliefs and practices of the rising and increasingly popular Christianity in order to stay on pace with it. This dependency then of Mithraism upon Christianity can be seen too in the archeological evidence, or lack thereof. The characteristics of Mithraism are not in evidence truly before the year 100 AD.47 As Cumont described it, it was not until the end of the first century that “the name of Mithra began to be generally bruited abroad in Rome.”48 In fact, the earliest known reference to Mithraism is from around 80 AD.49

Mithraism reached the peak of its power around the middle of the third century while Christianity was still being brutalized.50 This again attests not only to the late date of Mithraism, but also to the hostility between the two creeds. Most of the evidence of Mithraism and the mysteries comes from after the year 200AD.51 Modern liberal scholars have tended to extrapolate from this late evidence, and then, to erroneously confer dependency of Christianity upon Mithraism. Moreover, there are no monuments of Mithraism before 90AD.52 Thus, it is clear that the flowering of Mithraism took place truly after the establishment of the Christian church and the writings of the New Testament canon. As Gunter Wagner summarized it, “Moreover, on account of the lateness of its spread, there is no question of the Mithras cult influencing primitive Christianity.”53

Now, perhaps the greatest dissimilarity between Mithraism, the mysteries, and Christianity, and perhaps the most obvious, was simply that they were myth and Christianity was historical. The fact remains that there never existed a historical person Mithra. He was an invention of man, a myth. On the other hand, Jesus Christ clearly was a historical person, not a myth. Mithraism, like the other mysteries, was a timeless myth intimately linked to the rhythm of nature of death and rebirth. Jesus Christ was a historical person with datable events. As Cumont saw it, “It was a strong source of inferiority for the Mazdaism (Mithraism) that it believed in only a mythical redeemer.”54 Paul in his writings is more than anything else a witness to the person of Jesus Christ. The New Testament books and epistles are almost all written before the close of the first century, and as such, should be counted as historical evidence to the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There were also some limited extra-biblical references to the person of Jesus and Christians. There is an abundance of second century Christian writings to substantiate this, such as from Iraeneus, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, Justin, Hippolytus, some of who had contact with the Apostle John.

As for the non-Christian writings there is some evidence as well. There were Roman historians at the beginning of the second century who referred directly to Christ. Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to the emperor Trajan in the year 112. An excerpt states, “..on a fixed day they used to meet before dawn and sing hymns to Christ, as though he were a god.55 Suetonius writes that “Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians..”56 More provocatively, the Roman historian Tacitus writes about the burning of Rome under Nero in 64AD that,

..he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius..57

Lucian of Samosata, a second century satirist writes “..the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world..58 Suetonius, another Roman historian writes about the Christians, “Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”59 Julius Africanus, a Christian writer of about 221 AD refers to a writing by the pagan historian Thallus in 52 AD saying that the sun was eclipsed at the time of Christ’s crucifixion.60

There were also a few references to Christ by Jewish sources, in particular, the historian, Flavius Josephus.   Although some dispute the text, and there probably were some later Christian additions to it, there is no reason to throw out the whole reference. Josephus, who was a contemporary to Jesus, wrote (from the unadulterated Arabic text),

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive;61

Josephus also later refers to the Apostle James saying, “..and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James..”62 Similarly, the Jewish Talmud, which clearly are not Christian forgeries, also mentions Jesus. One reference among a few of them states, “It has been taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshua…because he practiced sorcery and enticed Israel astray.”63

Therefore, although there are some similarities between Christianity and Mithraism and the mysteries, there are greater differences. The evidence indicates that Mithraism was dependent upon Christianity, not visa versa. Mithraism in particular was an astrological cult that would not have fit well with Christianity, and particularly, Paul’s condemnation of pagan practices. Mithraism was open only to men and was mainly a soldiers and merchants religion. Christianity was open to all. At the same time, initiates in Mithraism could freely participate in other religious cults, whereas the Christian catechumen had to renounce all gods and idols. Mithraism mystery was based on secrecy, and as such, no literary works have been recovered. Christianity’s mystery was to be proclaimed to the world, and as such, many Christian writings on doctrines and dogmas exist. The theologies of the two seem to vary on substance. Modern liberal scholars often times wrongfully apply Christian terminology to Mitrhaic practices lending to the idea of a greater similarity than actually existed. Mithra was not even a dying and rising god, and so, the “suffering god” myth does not even apply. Furthermore, there is no historical or archeological evidence that Mithraism in its Roman version preceded Christianity. The New Testament canon was already complete by the rise of Mithraism. Mithraism was based purely on myth while Christianity was based on the historical person of Jesus Christ. There are biblical and Christian, Roman, and Jewish extra-biblical writings to support the historical person of Jesus and Christianity.

The conclusion must be that through adaptations and synthesizing aspects of various cults and religions, Mithraism evolved from its Persian origins into a pagan Roman mystery cult. Christianity, on the other hand, stubbornly refused to give into any pagan influences or idolatry. Despite being forced to endure over three hundred years of persecutions and martyrdom, the Church continued to grow and thrive. Quite the opposite was true of Mithraism and the mysteries. They continued to import and meld together aspects of pagan practices, eastern myths, and Christianity for public consumption. The Mithraic cult’s ultimate aspiration was to rule the empire and to impose Mithras as the greatest of the gods. However, as Beckert describes it, “..with the imperial decree of 391/392 AD prohibiting all pagan cults and with the forceful destruction of the sanctuaries, the mysteries simply and suddenly disappeared.”64 Thus, as soon as Mithraism lost state protection the whole structure crumbled. In contrast, it is nearly unbelievable that Christianity rose from humble and victimized beginnings to become against all odds the state religion of the Roman Empire.

1Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1987), p.3.

2Ibid, p.112.

3Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology,(Viking Penguin, New York, 1964), p.334.

4Burkert, p.138.

5Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, (New York, Harmony Books, 1999), p.6.

6Burkert, p.190.

7David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, New York, Oxford Univ.Press, 1989, p.93.

8Deuteronomy 18:10

9 Ulansey, p.40.

10Ibid., p.93.

11J.Gresham Machen, D.D, The Origin of Paul’s Religion, New York, The MacMillan Co., 1921, p.255.

121 Corinthians 10:21.

13Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, New York, Dover Publications, 1903, p.173.

14Burkert, p.7.

15Ibid., p.47.

16Ibid., p.48.

17Thomas Bokenkotter, A Concise History of the Catholic Church, New York, Double Day, 1979, p.26.

18Machen, p.273.

19Bokenkotter, p.24.

20Burkert, p.42.

21Ulansey, p.6.

22Robert Day, et al., Christians and the Military: The Early Experience, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1985, p.25.

23Day, p. 49.

24Tertullian as quoted by Day in Christians and the Military, p.29.

 25Jack Finnegan, Myth and Mystery, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Book House, 1989, p.205.

26Machen, p.9.

27Cumont, p.81.

28Ibid., p.97.

29Burkert, p.10.

30Ibid., p.102.

31Ibid., p.6.

32Ibid., p.76.

33Ibid., p.110.

34Bokenkotter, p.25.

35Finnegan, p.208.

36Cumont, p.152.

37Burkert, p.101.

38Bokenkotter, p.25.

39Johannes Quasten, Patrology: Volume I, Westminster, MD, Christian Classics, 1990, p.200.

40Freke, p.28.

41Day et al., Christians and the Military, p.25.

42Cumont, p.30.

43Ibid., p.197.

44Fr. John Laux, Church History, Rockford, IL, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1930, p.97.

45Cumont, p.187.

46Machen, p.249.

47Burkert, p.7.

48Cumont, p.37.

49Ulansey, p.29.

50Cumont, p.199.

51Dr. Ronald H. Nash, “Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?,” 1994, p.3, accessed 11/15/00, (www.summit.org),

52Ibid., p.5.

53Gunter Wagner, Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries, Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1967, p.68.

54Cumont, p.195.

55Laux, p.52.

56Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, San Bernadino, Here’s Life Publishers, 1972, p.83.

57Ibid., p.82.




61Ibid., p.82.

62Ibid., p.83.

63The Jewish Talmud as quoted Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy in The Jesus Mysteries, p.138.

 64Beckert, p.53.