Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

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nightshadetwine
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Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by nightshadetwine » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:57 pm

I don't consider myself a mythicist although I am open to the possibility of there being no historical Jesus but I've been entertaining an idea that Paul sees Jesus the same way that Plutarch sees Osiris in "Isis and Osiris" and Philo sees the Logos. Plutarch sees Osiris as the "Logos" that is a mediator or intermediary between god and humanity. Philo says the logos is "god's first born son" which is also a mediator between humanity and god. This concept of god or the divine needing a mediator to reach humanity or the physical realm is something you find in middle Platonism.

From The Gospel of Thomas and Plato : A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the Fifth Gospel By Ivan Miroshnikov:
The double role of Plutarch's Osiris is determined by his intermediary status: in order to act as an intermediary between the transcendent God and the world, he needs to participate in both transcendence and immanence. The very same double role is ascribed to Logos in Philo: according to Mos. 2.127, the cosmic Logos deals with both "the incorporeal and paradigmatic forms" and the visible objects that imitate these forms. The fact that Philo's Logos and Plutarch's Osiris are functionally identical and that Osiris can also be called Logos demonstrates that Philo's philosophy of Logos was part of a larger Middle Platonist tradition and that this tradition as a whole should be recognized as a possible background for the Johannine Logos
The Logos doctrine is something you find in the Hebrew scriptures too but it seems to originally come from ancient Egyptian religion.

From "The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt" by Richard H. Wilkinson:
The text alludes to the Heliopolitan creation account centered on the god Atum, but goes on to claim that the Memphite god Ptah preceded the sun god and that it was Ptah who created Atum and ultimately the other gods and all else 'through his heart and through his tongue'. The expression alludes to the conscious planning of creation and it's execution through rational thought and speech, and this story of creation ex nihilo as attributed to Ptah by the priests of Memphis is the earliest known example of the so-called 'logos' doctrine in whuch the world is formed through a god's creative speech...It lies before, and in line with, the philosophical concepts found in the Hebrew Bible where 'God said, let there be light, and there was light'(Genesis 1:3), and the Christian scriptures which state that 'In the beginning was the word[logos]...and the word was God...all things were made by him...
So Osiris and Jesus can both be seen as the Logos and they both die and resurrect. The death symbolizes the partaking of the logos in the physical world or world of matter. This idea of a mediator who comes from a divine realm or comes from god is something you find in the mystery religions. The mystery god or goddess partakes in some kind of experience or suffering in a "lower" realm like the physical realm or the underworld. By entering the lower realms and "dying" they are able to "connect" humanity to the divine/God. This is why the initiate into the mystery religion would identify with the dying and rising god or goddess.

From "Following Osiris: Perspectives on the Osirian Afterlife from Four Millennia" By Mark Smith:
But the crucial significance of Osiris for them lay in what he personally had experienced. His life, death, and resurrection were perceived to be particularly momentous in relation to their own fates, and thus they figure more prominently in the textual record than do accounts of the exploits of other divinities. Moreover, because so much importance was invested in the fact that these were events actually experienced by a real individual, and not merely abstractions, personal detail was essential
in recounting them.
From "Reading Dionysus: Euripides’ Bacchae and the Cultural Contestations of Greeks, Jews, Romans, and Christians" by Courtney Friesen
Not only does Paul employ language that reflects mystery cults in several places, his Christian community resembles them in various ways.They met in secret or exclusive groups, employed esoteric symbols, and practiced initiations, which involved identification with the god’s suffering and rebirth.
From "The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations" by Jan Bremmer and Andrew Erskine
Dionysos and Persephone, who, in spite of being immortals, suffer some events which can be interpreted as death and resurrection in tales in which human beings participate in one way or another. Both gods act as mediators who grant the initiates salvation and divinization. The initiates hope to be identified with Dionysos after death...
From "The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity" By James S. Jeffers:
The initiates also learned the central secret of the group, typically involving how to achieve union with the cult's deity. Another common element of mystery religions was a myth telling how the deity had either defeated his or her enemies or returned to life after death. As the cult member shared in the god's triumph, he or she was redeemed from the earthly and temporal.
From "Exploring the New Testament World: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Jesus and the First Christians" By Albert Bell:
Most of the gods associated with mystery cults had some connection with a cycle of death and rebirth or with going into the underworld and coming out alive...The association of grain or vegetation of any type with death and rebirth is not difficult to make. Each year the seed is put into the ground (buried) and comes up again (rebirth, resurrection). This was a familiar symbol to an agrarian society, so familiar that Paul even used it in his discussion of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:35-44.
Plutarch associates Isis with matter:

From The Gospel of Thomas and Plato : A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the Fifth Gospel By Ivan Miroshnikov:
Thus, according to Plutarch, Isis is matter...
A lot of the divine mediators or mystery gods are born to mortal women impregnated by a god or the divine. So the mortal woman could just be symbolic for matter like Plutarch says of Isis. So when Paul says Christ was "born of a woman" maybe he's just saying that Christ, as the "logos" or mediator sent by god, entered or partook in a "lower" realm, the realm of matter. Not that Christ was literally born to a mortal woman. Greco-Roman religion had a belief that the incarnating soul symbolically "dies" when it enters the lower/physical realms of matter. Physical realm is the realm of death. This is why the "logos" or divine mediator/savior dies in mythology.

From Plato's Gorgias, 492e-493a:
Well, life as you describe it is a strange affair. I should not be surprised, you know, if Euripides was right when he said, 'Who knows, if life be death, and death be life?' And perhaps we are actually dead, for once heard one of our wise men say that we are now dead, and that our body is a tomb, and that that part of the soul in which dwell the desires is of a nature to be swayed and to shift to and fro.
From Plato's Cratylus, 400b:
For some say that the body is the grave of the soul which may be thought to be buried in our present life;
Paul says that Christ died and rose three days later. The divine mediator/savior always "dies" by partaking in the physical realm and "rises" by partaking in the divine realm. Although the savior/mediator rises or ascends to heaven he/she doesn't completely leave humanity because humanity now has a connection to the divine/god through the mediator/savior. Plutarch says that the body of Osiris is "The images from this with which the sensible and corporeal is impressed...like impressions of seals in wax", so when the mediator/savior "dies" or partakes in the physical realm it leaves it's "impression" on the physical realm.

When Paul says Jesus was dead for Three days maybe the three days represent the three lower kingdoms below humanity: Mineral, Plant, Animal. Christ can only rise in Humanity so he has to stay dead for three days. The only issue I have with the three lower kingdoms representing the three days is I can't find much information about how popular this idea of different kingdoms was in those days. According to the book "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? How eighteenth-century science disrupted the natural order" by Susannah Gibson the different kingdoms date back to at least Aristotle:
Since the time of Aristotle, there had been a clear divide between the three kingdoms of animal, vegetable, and mineral.
Does anybody have any information on whether this was a common thing in ancient times?

The source that the following quote is taken from is not an academic source, it's an esoteric/occult book. I find the author's interpretation of ancient religion very interesting though and I think there's some truth to his interpretation.

From "The Lost Light: An Interpretation of Ancient Scriptures" by Alvin Boyd Kuhn:
as elsewhere three days and the three kingdoms below the human, figured the period of the god’s burial in the material worlds. "As Jonas was three days in the whale’s belly, so must the Son of Man be three days in the bowels of the earth."...It is a numeral cosmograph of the death, burial or incubation of life in matter before its germination and resurrection. It is the ideograph of soul-death. Jesus was three days in the tomb. Under water emblemism it was the three-days’ sojourn of Jonah in the belly of the fish, though even there it is called "the belly of death." It is primarily expressed in the New Testament verse: "As Jonas was three days in the whale’s belly, so must the Son of Man be three days in the bowels of the earth." In its broad cosmic reference it outlines the great truth that the soul of life must evolve upward through its pre-mental period of gestation. The fiery spark of consciousness must lie dormant in "death," its conscious functions unawakened, for the three aeons of its involvement in dense matter before it comes to self-awareness in the fourth kingdom. In the lunar cycle of twenty-eight days, the three days of the dark moon, when the sun lights no part of the orb’s surface (visible to us) are the emblem.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:23 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:57 pm
The only issue I have with the three lower kingdoms representing the three days is I can't find much information about how popular this idea of different kingdoms was in those days. According to the book "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? How eighteenth-century science disrupted the natural order" by Susannah Gibson the different kingdoms date back to at least Aristotle:
Since the time of Aristotle, there had been a clear divide between the three kingdoms of animal, vegetable, and mineral.
Does anybody have any information on whether this was a common thing in ancient times?
I think that animals, vegetables (= plants), and minerals were pretty well distinguished by ancients in many ways. But I am not sure to what extent they were made into formulaic categories as distinct as the quasi-rhyming Victorian animal/vegetable/mineral scheme would imply. The six days of creation in Genesis 1 separate plants from animals, but the plants take one day to create while the animals take two. Pliny's Natural History dedicates separate groups of books to animals, vegetables, and minerals, without much overlap so far as I can tell. If these divisions were formalized into a threefold pattern in antiquity, I too would be interested in reading about it.

What was formulaic in antiquity was the fourfold division of animalkind into beasts of the land, birds of the sky, fish of the sea, and crawling things. These four categories come up time and time again in the Hebrew scriptures, for example. This typology evolved into the concept of primacy in the medieval period, with the lion being thought of as the primate (king) of beasts, the eagle as the primate of birds, and either the dolphin or the whale as the primate of fish (modern biological niceties distinguishing between true fish, marine mammals, and other nonpiscine inhabitants be hanged).
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nightshadetwine
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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by nightshadetwine » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:16 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:23 pm
I think that animals, vegetables (= plants), and minerals were pretty well distinguished by ancients in many ways. But I am not sure to what extent they were made into formulaic categories as distinct as the quasi-rhyming Victorian animal/vegetable/mineral scheme would imply. The six days of creation in Genesis 1 separate plants from animals, but the plants take one day to create while the animals take two. Pliny's Natural History dedicates separate groups of books to animals, vegetables, and minerals, without much overlap so far as I can tell. If these divisions were formalized into a threefold pattern in antiquity, I too would be interested in reading about it.
Yeah, I'm not sure about the three days representing the three kingdoms below humanity. I've read that the three days are associated with the sun and also the moon. I think it does have some kind of esoteric meaning because it seems to show up in a lot of myths.

nightshadetwine
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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by nightshadetwine » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:36 pm

I still lean more towards there being a historical Jesus that by the time of Paul was turned into a Mystery cult savior/logos. A mystery cult formed around him after he died and some of the members of the cult started having visions of Jesus which was pretty common in cults during that time.

From "Porphyry's Against the Christians: The Literary Remains" By R. Joseph Hoffmann:
...Paul's use of body imagery in his first letter to the Corinthians and the theme of spiritual communion through the incorporation into "the body of Christ"(1 Cor. 12.27f.) is familiar from the language of the Dionysiac mysteries:"Blessed is he who hallows his life in the worship of God, he whom the spirit of God possessth, who is one with those who belong to the holy body of God"(Euripides, Bacchae 73-75). Pagan critics of the early movement pointed to the fact that Christians addressed Jesus in terms equivalent to those used by the bacchantes(Dionysus' worshipers). Jesus was kyrios(lord) and lysios, redeemer. In the Dionysiac cult, the god redeemed adherents from a world of darkness and death by revealing himself in ecstatic visions and providing glimpses of a world-to-come.
I'm just trying to interpret Paul's writings as if he's not talking about a historical Jesus but of a logos type being that symbolically "died" by leaving his "father" or the divine realm and entering the physical realm in order to give humanity eternal life and salvation.

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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:49 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:36 pm
From "Porphyry's Against the Christians: The Literary Remains" By R. Joseph Hoffmann:
... In the Dionysiac cult, the god redeemed adherents from a world of darkness and death by 'revealing himself' in ecstatic visions and providing glimpses of a world-to-come.
This isn't a dig at nightshadetwine, but the frequent semantics/ language of the commentary around a lot of ancient religious concepts is at best 'interesting', and at worst illogical and misleading.

The situation isn't gods "revealing themselves" - it's accounts of perceptions of visions and dreams, and 'a dreamworld' was a pervasive concept big from ~2-300 bc/bce to ~ 2-300 ad/ce (eg. the works of Aelius Aristides such as Sacred Tales (Hieroi Logoi)).
During the Hellenistic era (the first three centuries of the Common Era) ... dream incubation [took place in dedicated] temples that were staffed by priest-physicians.

In fact, dream temples made up the single most popular spiritual healing institution in the Mediterranean world. These restful sanctuaries were designed to produce dreams that provided healing wisdom —and also instant cures— if we are to believe the boasts of ancient graffiti.

The divine figure associated with these dream temples is Aesclepius, the Greek god of healing. When doctors take the Hippocratic oath today, they still give thanks to Aesclepius and his daughters.

http://dreamstudies.org/2011/12/04/5-as ... -dreaming/
As the new religion of Christianity developed, they adopted some of the European and Greek heritage. Early Christians had to accept the idea that at least some dreams had a divine inspiration. The bible mentions a lot about dreams and God communicated through them. The dreams of the New Testament were seen as straightforward messages from God, the disciples and other founders of Christianity ..

In dreams, they would see visions of the bible and God would grant them gifts and provide them with guidance. Dreams are reliable messengers. They reveal the condition of one’s heart (dan.2:30) as well as the voice of God within one’s heart. (Acts 2:17) The bible says that when people wake up from their dreams,they act upon them.

https://www.academia.edu/3100958/Ancien ... out_Dreams
See http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... f=3&t=1554

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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:21 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:36 pm
I still lean more towards there being a historical Jesus that, by the time of Paul, was turned into a Mystery cult savior/logos. A mystery cult formed around him after he died and some of the members of the cult started having visions of Jesus which was pretty common in cults during that time.

I'm just trying to interpret Paul's writings as if he's not talking about a historical Jesus but of a logos type being that symbolically "died" by leaving his "father" or the divine realm and entering the physical realm in order to give humanity eternal life and salvation.
There could well have been a historical human Jesus, but I think there's a question of when he would have existed. And when Paul existed (if he did; Paul could just be a literary character, as Jesus could be).

(I think that a person the NT Jesus character was based on could have lived in the 2nd century, and could have been based wholly or partly someone like R. Joshua ben Hananiah (d c. 130 AD/CE) or Joshua b. Neḥunya.

Another question is whether there was a messianic or Christ cult (or several Christ or messianic cults), separate to a Jesus cult.

eg. tablet found at Qumran, dated before the time of the NT Jesus, gives an account of vision of [an] apocalypse transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah and Haggai, and has speaks of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days - https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/worl ... wanted=all

nightshadetwine
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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by nightshadetwine » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:26 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:49 pm
This isn't a dig at nightshadetwine, but the frequent semantics/ language of the commentary around a lot of ancient religious concepts is at best 'interesting', and at worst illogical and misleading.

The situation isn't gods "revealing themselves" - it's accounts of perceptions of visions and dreams, and 'a dreamworld' was a pervasive concept big from ~2-300 bc/bce to ~ 2-300 ad/ce (eg. the works of Aelius Aristides such as Sacred Tales (Hieroi Logoi)).
Yeah, I don't believe they literally were visited by gods or even necessarily had hallucinations(maybe some did). I think they would maybe just get "ideas" or have dreams that they interpreted as being some kind of revelation from their god. Is that what you're saying?

nightshadetwine
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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by nightshadetwine » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:41 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:21 pm
Another question is whether there was a messianic or Christ cult (or several Christ or messianic cults), separate to a Jesus cult.

eg. tablet found at Qumran, dated before the time of the NT Jesus, gives an account of vision of [an] apocalypse transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah and Haggai, and has speaks of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days - https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/worl ... wanted=all
I didn't know about this. See, these ideas were around before Christianity. The Dead Sea scrolls show Hellenic influence so the idea of some kind of future dying and resurrecting savior or messiah was already being "created". This idea probably come out of Hellenized Jewish sects that were influenced by Greco-Roman religion.

nightshadetwine
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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by nightshadetwine » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:42 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:21 pm
Another question is whether there was a messianic or Christ cult (or several Christ or messianic cults), separate to a Jesus cult.

eg. tablet found at Qumran, dated before the time of the NT Jesus, gives an account of vision of [an] apocalypse transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah and Haggai, and has speaks of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days - https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/worl ... wanted=all
I didn't know about this. See, these ideas were around before Christianity. The Dead Sea scrolls show Hellenic influence so the idea of some kind of future dying and resurrecting savior or messiah was already being "created". This idea probably came out of Hellenized Jewish sects that were influenced by Greco-Roman religion.
Last edited by nightshadetwine on Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Plutarch's Osiris, Philo's Logos, and Paul's Jesus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:59 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:21 pm
Another question is whether there was a messianic or Christ cult (or several Christ or messianic cults), separate to a Jesus cult.

eg. tablet found at Qumran, dated before the time of the NT Jesus, gives an account of vision of [an] apocalypse transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah and Haggai, and has speaks of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days - https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/worl ... wanted=all
I for one would love it if the Hazon Gabriel is what some purport it to be. But IIUC there are questions about the correct reading at the crucial point (as to whether it ought to be "in three days live" or "in three days the sign"); also, the possibility of forgery present.
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