Serapis (Σέραπις, Attic/Ionian Greek) or Sarapis (Σάραπις, Doric Greek) is a Graeco-Egyptian god. Serapis was [allegedly] devised during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I1 of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm2 ....
... Sarapis was a syncretistic deity derived from the worship of the Egyptian Osiris and Apis [the Bull] (Osiris + Apis => Osirapis/Sarapis) and also gained attributes from other deities, such as chthonic (subterranean) powers linked to the Greek Hades and Demeter, and benevolence linked to Dionysus.
- Ptolemy 1 aka Meryamun Setepenre (ca. 367-283 BCE) (aka "Soter"; ie. savior; hence soteriology).
. There is mention of "soter" on coins minted by his son, Ptolemy II, in 263 BCE.
- There is, however, evidence which implies Serapis existed before the Ptolemies came to power in Alexandria - a temple of Sarapis (or Serapis; Roman) in Egypt is mentioned in 323 BCE by both Plutarch (Life of Alexander, 76) and Arrian (Anabasis, VII, 26, 2). The common assertion that Ptolemy "created" the deity is derived from sources which describe him erecting a statue of Sarapis in Alexandria ...
... Ptolemy I may have created 'the cult of Sarapis', and endorsed him as a patron of the Ptolemaic dynasty and Alexandria
CHRISTIAN ROOTS IN THE ALEXANDRIAN CULT OF SERAPIS
The cult of Serapis was to have sweeping success throughout Greece and Asia Minor, especially in Rome, where it became the most popular religion. There was a Serapis temple in Rome as early as 105 BC. Initiation into the Serapis cult included the rite of baptism, and Sir Alan Gardiner, the British Egyptologist, argued in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in 1950 that Egyptian baptism should be seen as analogous to Christian baptism, of which he commented: "In both cases a symbolic cleansing by means of water serves as initiation into a properly legitimated religious life." The cults of Serapis and Isis did not merely survive the emergence of Christianity, but in the 2nd century AD actually increased in popularity. Serapis and Christ existed side-by-side and were frequently seen as interchangeable. Some early Christians made no distinction between Christ and Serapis and frequently worshipped both, while paintings of Isis with her son Horus became identified by early Christians as portraits of Mary with her son Jesus*. The rite of baptism, part of the initiation ceremony of the Serapis cult, was also adopted by the Church as part of its initiation ceremony.
http://dwij.org/forum/amarna/8_serapis_ ... ianity.htm
- The imagery is incredibly Christ-like -
Hadrian wrote in 134CE [to Servianus(?)]
The Christians among them [the Egyptians] are worshippers of Serapis, and those calling themselves bishops of Christ scruple not to act as the votaries of that God. The truth is, there is no one, whether Ruler of a synagogue, or Samaritan, or Presbyter of the Christians, or mathematician, or astrologer, or magician, that does not do homage to Serapis. The Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is by some compelled to worship Serapis, and by others, Christ.
http://stephanhuller.blogspot.com.au/20 ... ainst.html
Scholars are undecided about the precise origin and meaning of Sarapis (or Serapis as he was called by the Roman emperors). Attempts have been made to demonstrate an origin in Asia Minor, Babylon or Greece, but so far unsuccessfully. It is more likely that Sarapis was 'born' on Egyptian soil. According to an ancient cult legend, Ptolemy I received orders in a dream to transport the cult statue of Pluto from Sinope on the Black Sea to Egypt. When he asked his advisors what the dream meant, they told him that the god was called Sarapis and that the order had to be followed, which it subsequently was. Some researchers interpret the story to mean that Sarapis was a deliberate creation of Ptolemy and his advisors with the intention of uniting the Egyptians and the Greeks living in Egypt under one religion. Others are of the opinion that the intention was to give the Greeks their own deity. There are two arguments against the theory that Sarapis was a Ptolemaic 'invention' - first, this would mean that for the first time in the history of religions an 'invented' deity was worshipped for a long time, and second, the legend demonstrates that the name Sarapis was already known to the advisors. It is clear that the name Sarapis is a graecized form of the name Osiris-Apis, the bull of Memphis identified with the ba* of Osiris and worshipped in Egypt. The fact that the statue of Pluto in Alexandria was given the name Sarapis means that this new god was added to the pantheon as a special form of Osiris-Apis. However, Sarapis is not identical to Osiris; thus it is still only Osiris with whom an Egyptian wants to be identified with after death. There are also striking iconographic differences - Sarapis is never depicted mummiform, but rather as a Greek god with beard and a kalathos on his head.
The basis of the Sarapis theology is supplied by Osiris as the god of the underworld and of fertility. Just like Osiris, Sarapis is linked with the earth and with regenerative power. The kalathos that Sarapis wears on his head points to his links with the earth and its fruits. Just like Osiris, Sarapis, too, was regarded as the lord of the Nile, but also of the sea; he rules the storms and rescues people in peril. Sarapis quickly came to be seen as a healer of all kinds of diseases and this characteristic certainly contributed to him being worshipped in a wider circle. To his aspect as healer he also added that of giver of oracles; in both instances Sarapis used a dream or a vision to appear to believers. Sarapis has a close relationship with Isis; together with her he was worshipped as 'soter', saviour. In the Roman Period, Sarapis became associated with Helios and became the 'Lord of Time' and god of all, and his cult spread through the region around the Mediterranean Sea. In the 2nd century AD, the church father Tertullian could still state that 'the whole earth now swears by Serapis', but by 391 AD the destruction of his temples in Alexandria and Canopus marked the end of the worship of Sarapis.
http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/glo ... spx?id=327
- Untranslatable Egyptian word referring to one of the aspects of a person or a god's being. Unlike what many other cultures believed and believe, the Egyptians did not regard a person as being made up of a body and a soul together forming the sum total of a person, while each representing a separate part of the person. According to Egyptian texts, the 'ba' also had bodily needs, and is thus not the equivalent of our concept 'soul'. The Egyptians thought that the entire person, regarded from different points of view, could be referred to by different words. Just as the 'ka' was the life force, and a name the visible, physical manifestation of the person called by that name, so the 'ba' was seen as the aspect of the non-physical, freely moving personality. The desire for freedom of movement appears regularly in the funerary literature.
It was the 'ba' which enabled the deceased to leave the tomb, for example to worship the rising sun, to rest in the shadow of a tree, or to drink water from a pond. This highly desirable freedom of movement was perceived to be present in birds. Very swift birds like swallows were seen as the personification of the 'ba'. Migratory birds, who periodically crossed the borders between Egypt/the created world and the regions beyond, were also supposed to be 'ba's. A text in a temple at Abydos relates that migratory birds outside the created world had the bodies of birds and human heads; as soon as they came into the light of the sun, that is, entered the created world, they changed into real birds. The 'ba' was indeed usually depicted as a bird with a human head (and sometimes human arms). The 'ba' was capable of assuming any shape it wanted to. Funerary texts provide many examples of spells which enable the deceased to transform himself at will.