Posted by: info | December 15, 2008

Jesus Christ in comparative mythology

The study of Jesus from a mythographical perspective is the examination of the narrative of Jesus, the Christ (“the Anointed“) of the gospels, Christian theology and folk Christianity as a central part of Christian mythology. Such study may also involve comparison between Christian beliefs about Jesus and beliefs about other gods or mythological characters.

Examination of such parallels may seek to uncover common elements of human myth-making or analyse mythemes (the component elements of myth) in the gospel presentation of Jesus. Alternatively it may identify historically specific parallels in contemporary mystery religions of the Roman Empire such as Mithraism and the myths of rebirth deities and sacral kingship. The New Testament narrative explicitly employs earlier mythology, notably claiming fulfillment of Messianic prophecies of Hebrew mythology, and by Paul the Apostle in Athens as he took up the motif of the “Unknown God” (Acts 17:16–34).

The study of Jesus Christ as myth is popularly associated with a skeptical position toward the historicity of Jesus, the claim of a purely mythical Jesus with no base in history, sometimes dubbed the “Jesus-Myth theory“. However, study of parallels between the narrative of Christ and other mythological figures does not prejudice Jesus’ historicity, and is open to several interpretations besides ahistoricity:

  1. interpretation of mythological parallels as “diabolical imitation” of Christ (so Justin Martyr)
  2. interpretation of pre-Christian myth as a product of degraded Monotheism (various 20th century Christian apologetics)
  3. interpretation of the Christ narrative as “true myth” (so C. S. Lewis)
  4. admission of a historical Jesus, who is however of lesser interest to Christianity than the Christ myth (so C. G. Jung)

continue reading at source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_in_comparative_mythology

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