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Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery 
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Post Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery

I’m jumping ahead to this chapter because it is central to the cultural politics of Christ in Egypt. There is abundant evidence that the virgin mother archetype was widespread for thousands of years before Christianity. As well, the word ‘meri’ in the Egyptian sources means ‘beloved’, so Isis is continually referred to as Meri. As well, there are references in ancient Greek sources such as the scholar Epiphanius about the annual rituals of the virgin giving birth to the savior at Christmas time, as the days start to lengthen just after the winter solstice. The motif is widespread.

It has been a source of great frustration for Murdock that this observation is the subject of obtuse denial by Christian apologists. Her chapter on the topic is very long, because she wants to collect and present evidence from a very wide variety of ancient sources on the myth of the virgin mother. It seems like she uses a sledgehammer to crack a walnut here, and it does get a bit repetitive, but the reason is that this topic has been one of the main agendas for those who wish to assert that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ was a literal historical event that was unique and new. It was not new at all; rather, the evidence shows it was in clear continuity with ancient traditions from many countries.

So why do the dogmatists insist Jesus was special against all the evidence? This opens up some subconscious questions about motives and assumptions. My view, and I confess this is somewhat speculative, is that in pre-Christian myth the virgin mother was used to celebrate female identity and equality, whereas in Christianity it was turned into a patriarchal weapon to control and denigrate women. Abrahamic religions are completely patriarchal, emphasizing the authority of men over women. If they admit that the miracle of the virgin birth of Christ is subject to doubt, then their cultural construct of male superiority also becomes open to question. For those who use religion to justify traditional authority, creating an idol of a woman whose perfection is based on sexlessness has served as an instrument of social control of men over women.

My impression is that the ancient pagan virgin mothers such as Isis and Demeter served a very different role, because their worship was controlled by women just as much as by men. I am not sure how far this is true, especially considering that patriarchal religion did start its rise well before the time of Christianity. But the fact remains that deconstructing the myth of the virgin birth is a potentially powerful contribution to contemporary feminist efforts to restore equality of the sexes. It seems very plausible that this feminist factor in the sexual politics of religion is why dogmatists react with such irrational fury on this topic.

Reading this chapter made me think about the possible astrotheological meaning of virgin birth. Isis has a strong association with the Goddess of Night. Murdock discusses the role of Nut, the sky goddess, and Neith an ancient creator goddess. Murdock mentions that Nut is a source of the Biblical line at Matthew 3:17 ‘this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased’ spoken by God at the baptism of Jesus by John. And the great Egyptologist EA Wallis Budge said Isis is very like Neith in that both are perpetual virgins. I would be interested to know if Nut and Neith are related.

The virgin birth motif, with Horus representing the morning sun, made me wonder about how the sun is born each morning from the night. The night sky may well be regarded as virginal, in that it has a purity and peacefulness that is not violated in any way, and the sun seems to spontaneously generate each day out of the night.

Murdock is very much involved in feminist politics, for example in relation to the work of Barbara Walker on research into goddesses, although I didn’t see this aspect of the argument really made explicit in Christ in Egypt. There is an interesting speech by Walker on sexism in the Christian tradition. Feminist religion was prominent in the 1970s with writers such as Mary Daly and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. The feminist critique of patriarchal religion, how the church is a bastion of male superiority, seems to have become less part of the public debate in recent times. But feminism is central to the cultural politics of the Christ Myth Theory, and needs to be raised as an explicit philosophical question if the debate is to become more mainstream. The construction of the myth of Christ had an explicit sexist agenda, aimed at the destruction of older visions of sexual equality, so the deconstruction of the myth has to openly challenge this dimension of the sexual politics of mythology.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Azrael wrote:
I have never understood this, most claim that Horus mother was not a virgin what proof do we have that she was and what proof do we have the Horus was crucified? Just asking.


It's easy to understand.

Those who claim that Isis was not a virgin when Horus was born claim so because she wasn't.

Those who claim that Isis was indeed a virgin when she gave birth to Horus claim so because she was.

How is it possible? They can't both be right can they?
Yes, they can. Myths have variants. Sometimes these variants can even run concurrently, with one version not necessarily being any more "canonical" than the other.
To illustrate this particular point, as historian Elizabeth Vandiver states in her lectures for The Teaching Company-
Quote:
"Once a version of a myth is written down, it's fixed, there it is. And we, literate people, have a strong tendency to assume that that means that version is somehow the myth, the real myth, the only way the myth was ever told. But that's not how traditional tales work, in any oral setting.
...
I can give a clear example of what I mean by this. Everyone knows the story of Oedipus the King, how he killed his father, married his mother, without knowing who they were. When he discovered the terrible thing that he had done, after his mother hanged herself Oedipus blinded himself, went into exile, never returned home to Thebes again, right?
Well, right according to Sophocles, who wrote the play "Oedipus the King". In homer, in "The Odyssey", there's a very brief reference to Oedipus which agrees that yes, he killed his father and married his mother. Yes, his mother killed herself after the truth came out, but Oedipus, says Homer, continued to rule in Thebes many years thereafter.

Which is the "real" version of the Oedipus myth?

THEY BOTH ARE.

Sophocles version dominates our understanding of the myth because it is such a marvelous play, and because it's so famous. And this is the kind of thing we have to guard against. Often we have only one version of a myth. We have to remember there probably were others.
...
Occasionally a work of art preserves what is clearly a very different version from the only ones known to us by literature. There's a beautiful classical Greek painting, vase painting, of a character who is quite clearly Jason, Jason who got the golden fleece, after his voyage on the Argo.
The golden fleece is there on a tree behind Jason, the tree is guarded by a dragon. All of those elements point to the fact that this is very clearly Jason, and yet, in this painting, the dragon is either swallowing Jason, or spitting him back out again. Jason is halfway out of the dragon's mouth. His arms and head are visible outside the dragon's mouth.
In no written version of Jason's story that has survived for us, does the dragon eat Jason, or attempt to eat Jason. The whole point is that Jason is helped by Medea, who gives him magic potion so that he can overcome the dragon without being eaten. If this case painting had not survived, we would not know that there had ever been a variant in which Jason was eaten by the dragon. Because we have the painting, we know this variant existed, but that's all we know about it. We have no written description of that version of Jason's story."


There were different versions of the same characters, and even when in contradiction, they were not viewed as antithetical, but rather, more like different selections on a buffet. So to bring this point back around to Horus, here is an informative statement from Egyptologist Edmund S. Meltzer-

Quote:
"The roles, local cult foundations, and titles or epithets of Horus are sometimes correlated with distinct or preferred forms in iconography: for example the falcon, the falcon headed man, the winged disk, and the child with a side-lock(sometimes in his mother's arms). Egyptologists therefore often speak of distinct, sometimes originally distinct, Horuses or Horus-gods.

Combinations, identifications, and differentiations were, however, possible for Horus, and they are COMPLIMENTARY RATHER THAN ANTITHETICAL. A judicious examination of the various Horuses and the sources relating to them supports the possibility that the roles in question are closely interrelated, and so they may be understood as different aspects, or facets, OF THE SAME DIVINE PERSONA."- The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion


So, yes, there are SOME versions of the story in which Isis is explicitly depicted as having sexual intercourse with Osiris to conceive Horus, such as in the Pyramid Texts which state Isis is upon the phallus of Osiris, receiving his seed, but in the form of Sothis, which is significant, as I shall explain later.
Or in the narrative recorded by Plutarch, he has Isis & Osiris gettin' it on in their momma's womb and Isis giving birth to Horus the Elder, while they were all still inside the womb, and in another version Plutarch says Isis made a golden phallus to replace Osiris's missing one, and used magic to impregnate herself.

However, and this gets to more directly answering your question, there are other versions in which Isis is clearly being indicated as a virgin at the conception of Horus and even after his birth.

The most blatantly indisputable one being the text in the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus called "The Festival Songs of Isis and Nephthys", which is a hymnal type ritual to be performed during the holidays of Osiris's death & resurrection. The songs are lamentation songs mourning the death of Osiris and pleading for him to 'return to his temple', i.e., to come back to life. The papyrus explicitly orders that Isis & Nephthys are to be portrayed as two virgins whose wombs have never been opened. So that's clear and undeniable. But the real kicker, is that when we read the songs we find out that Horus has already been born. So if Isis is a virgin whose womb has never been opened, yet she already has a son named Horus who will succeed Osiris, then clearly, Horus was born of a virgin.
Now, this text was from the Ptolemaic period of Egypt, dated to around 312 B.C. or so according to the translator, Egyptologist Raymond O. Faulkner.
So, an obstinate xian apologist might argue that Isaiah 7:14 still predates this papyrus. Well, while Isaiah 7:14 comes with its own host of problems, that's fine either way, because we can go back a little earlier, to around 1200 b.c., give or take. In the temple of Seti I at Abydos there are the ruins of a wall which depict Isis saying "I am the great virgin". On this same wall we see pictures of Horus, already born, and already fully grown. So clearly, if Horus is already born & grown, yet Isis is a virgin, then Horus had a virgin birth. Now, for this one, the typical apologetic excuse is to try and do the very thing they hate for us skeptic to do to Isaiah 7:14, and that is, analyze the original language and the accuracy of translation. But unlike our objections to Isaiah 7:14, this translation of the text from Abydos actually holds up to scrutiny. There is not a single scholar I have ever found, in English, who has ever translated this particular text from Abydos as anything other than "virgin". They are all unanimous in translating it as "great virgin". Plus, there are a load of other arguments apologists have tried to levy against this passage as well, and so far ALL of them have been crushed by our friend GodAlmighty over on the Freethoughtnation forum, when a little infamous internet apologist known as KingDavid8 made the mistake of thinking he knew anything about this subject, and instead got his ass whooped, and ran away with his tail between his legs and burned the bridge behind him(i.e., he removed the link to the thread from his website so that his readers hopefully wouldn't find it). The excuses he tried and the refutations for every one of them are much too lengthy and numerous to go into again here, so I will simply provide the link to said thread for you to read on your own time. It may get tedious, but it is worth it- freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic. ... amp;t=3206

Now, even if the previous two primary sources weren't enough(which they are), that's fine, we can go back even earlier, to the ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, written during the First Intermediate period to the Middle Kingdom period, which is approximately from 2055 BC to around 1650 BC. In these spells, specifically number 148, Isis is described as being impregnated with Horus, not by sex with Osiris, but instead...
by a bolt a lightning. And the translator, the aforementioned late great Raymond O. Faulkner, wrote two peer reviewed articles explaining that this was indeed a non-sexual conception, just like that of the Apis bull(a form of Osiris, btw) described by Herodotus and several other myths with this recurring motif of impregnation by lightning or a flash from the sky.
And so here we have the same Egyptologist translating for us a text that three centuries before Christ stated that Isis is a virgin whose womb has never been opened in spite of being the mother of Horus, and then the same Egyptologist telling us that in an even earlier text which predates even the Old Testament, that Isis was impregnated with Horus by a bolt of lightning.

Now, getting back to the even earlier Pyramid Texts which I mentioned a moment ago, which were written during the Old Kingdom period, and describe Isis receiving the seed of Osiris from his phallus, even that text says she did so as Sothis. Now, who is Sothis? Sothis is the star Sirius. Sothis is also the 'Ba' of Isis. Now, explaining the concept of the Egyptian Ba is a little a complex. People used to think of it as the Egyptian counterpart to our idea of a "soul", but the evidence doesn't bear that out, so that idea has more or less been dropped. It is one of the constituent parts of a person, so to speak, but the point is, it is NOT the biological body. Now to read more about the Ba, and for a statement that Sothis is in fact the Ba of Isis, you can read "A Study of the Ba Concept in Ancient Egyptian Texts" by Egyptologist Lois V. Zabkar, which you can download here- oi.uchicago.edu/research/pubs/catalog/s ... aoc34.html. On a side note, it is also a great work explaining that the resurrection of Osiris and the pharaohs was indeed expected to be a literal, physical, bodily resurrection and not an alleged "spiritual" resurrection as the old 19th century writers mistakenly believed and that xian apologists still rehash regardless.
Anyway, this is all significant because even in this explicitly sexual conception of Horus in what are the earliest religious texts we have from Egypt(as stated by James P. Allen in the intro to his translation), even in this obviously sexual conception, it is still not sex with their biological bodies, but instead, sex with the Ba of Isis, which is Sothis. Zabkar also explains this in his book, that one of the main functions of the Ba was to have intercourse in place of the deceased. Interesting, because that's exactly the case here, Osiris is deceased. So even in this version of Horus's conception, even though sex is the mechanism, it is not sex with Isis's biological body, it is sex with her Ba, so her body remains untouched, and if she is a virgin, then her hymen remains intact. Now, the Pyramid Texts do not state whether Isis was still a virgin at this point or not, but it is very interesting that such a plot device is used that keeps her body from actually performing the sex. So even if she was not yet understood to be a virgin mother at this early point, we can see how this plot device is what most likely lead to later generations progressively further developing this aspect of the myth into what finally became the virgin birth of Horus. Especially since her Ba, Sothis, is the star Sirius, in the sky, and in the Coffin Text version, Isis is impregnated by lightning from the sky. So here we can sort of see the this evolution towards Isis becoming explicitly a virgin mother:

Old Kingdom period - Isis's Ba has sex with Osiris in her place in order to conceive Horus.

Middle Kingdom period - Isis is impregnated by a bolt of lightning to conceive Horus.

New Kingdom period - Isis calls herself "the Great Virgin" even after her son Horus is already born & full grown.

Ptolemaic Period - Isis is explicitly depicted as a virgin whose womb has never been opened, even though Horus has already been born at this point.

There's other things we can go into as well, and other scholarly quotes that support this, but I think I've shown enough to clearly establish the point, plus I don't want to give away everything, since you should really read Murdock's book. You'll be glad you did. :)



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
How come I don't know any more than I did? Thanks for responding anyway.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
:? ?



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Quote:
Old Kingdom period - Isis's Ba has sex with Osiris in her place in order to conceive Horus.

Middle Kingdom period - Isis is impregnated by a bolt of lightning to conceive Horus.

New Kingdom period - Isis calls herself "the Great Virgin" even after her son Horus is already born & full grown.

Ptolemaic Period - Isis is explicitly depicted as a virgin whose womb has never been opened, even though Horus has already been born at this point.

Outstanding clarity in the above Vishnu. Thanks for breaking it down into this simplistic and easy to follow progression. And of course this progression of the "virgin birth" motif carries on right into the Christian era with the formation of this new resurrection oriented religious cult seeking converts.

Christain Period - Isis becomes Mary.


_________________
A) The Origins of Religious Worship

B) The Christmas Nativity

C) The Mythicist Position

D) YEC theory put to rest!


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
The Greek myth that Athene sprang fully formed from the brow of Zeus is a useful analogy for the Christian doctrine of the virgin birth as a unique historical event without precedent. The two myths are equally absurd, but they speak to the desire of believers that their own doctrine is special and superior, representing an unprecedented intervention of God. In fact, the Christian doctrine is a revision of older myths, and the concealment of this mythic source remains part of the efforts to bolster the appeal of Christianity as literal history.

Looking to these older mythic sources in Egypt and elsewhere, we find abundant evidence of the virgin mother motif, as I mentioned in the opening post here. Christian denial of this material is as contemptible as creationism, and just not worth debating, except to continue to present the evidence, as Murdock does, and to analyze the psychology of denial.

There are some myths over the long history of Egyptian religion that can be used to clutch at straws to say the Christian revelation was actually special and unique, just as all the Dark Ages bigots taught. But the fact is there was abundant precedent at hand for the manufacture of Christ as born of a virgin, so finding myths that differ from the Christian version does not detract from the abundance of similarity.

Since virgin birth is literally impossible, the only plausible conclusion is that the writers examined existing myth to include material that they hoped would be most plausible and useful. Isis, known as Meri, was the 'perpetual virgin' who gave birth to the savior Horus, who battled Set just as Jesus battled Satan.

Jesus Christ did not even exist, let alone being born of a virgin. And if, just for argument sake, we explore the hypothesis that he was miraculously born of a virgin, he would have been a girl, since you need a Y chromosome to be 'fully man' as the creeds put it. Ah, but all things are possible to God, even obtuse denial of plain evidence and reason. There are murky cultural politics of patriarchal tradition at play here.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
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Azrael/Starburst "I have never understood this, most claim that Horus mother was not a virgin what proof do we have that she was and what proof do we have the Horus was crucified? Just asking."


Azrael/Starburst, I thought you knew more about Acharya's work than that. Have you not learned anything at the forum? You've been a member there for some time now.

Quote:
"The Pyramid Texts speak of "the great virgin" (Hwn.t wr.t) three times (682c, 728a, 2002a, cf. 809c)" ...

"In a text in the Abydos Temple of Seti I, Isis herself declares:

"I am the great virgin"

"The Egyptian goddess who was equally ‘the Great Virgin’ (hwnt) and ‘Mother of the God’ was the object of the very same praise bestowed upon her successor [Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus]."
- Dr. Witt, an Egyptologist

- Christ in Egypt, page 152


* The Pyramid Texts are 4,400 years old.

ISIS IS A VIRGIN MOTHER!!!

Was Horus "Crucified?"



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Your dealing with a myth how would you know? And I know how old the Pyramid Text are. And its just Azrael thanks...none of this is making sense...I will leave it with y'all.............



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
If you know what the Pyramid texts are and how old they are then you'd know that they're ancient primary source evidence for the "great virgin." Along with Isis herself claiming "I am the great virgin".

What part of that are you not understanding? It appears that you have no idea what you're talking about at all. Before making commentary here it is probably wise to actually read the book especially since this forum is devoted to discussion of the book hence the name of this website, "Booktalk."



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
a very interesting discussion. I think a point many people miss in relation the the virgin concept is that those of us who are of a higher spiritual nature are twice born, first from a woman and second from the Spirit. According to the Christian story Jesus was born of the Spirit when she descended on him at his baptism. Christian stories I take with a large spoon of scepticism when they reach no father than the author's nose. From my wider reading I think the Virgin found him in the temple of Isis. Mary was no more a virgin than any other physical woman who gives birth. The virgin Spirit is the Mother Goddess, Isis, Sophia Divine Spirit and who knows how many others? Her essence is wisdom. Those to whom she has not come can see no further that the horizon, are of this world and know no other. Those she has chosen to accept into her womb live on a wider plain. Our birth from her virgin womb takes place through our sharing of the higher wisdom she gives us. Just a thought for what it is worth. I make no pretence of being a scholar. Just a work-a-day guy whom my virgin mother chose one day in the Museum of Modern Art, Huston TX. All I know is what I experience, ergo I am a gnostic, one who knows because he receives his wisdom from Isis or is it Hathor? That Jesus studied in Egypt at the temple of Isis and that is where he learned his magic to me is not in doubt. "Jesus the Magician," Dr. Morton Smith. From there one can follow references and end up with "Ancient Egypt:Light of The world" and "Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection," which is my next project. so I leave you and go to my reading.

Peace



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
FTL99 wrote:
If you know what the Pyramid texts are and how old they are then you'd know that they're ancient primary source evidence for the "great virgin." Along with Isis herself claiming "I am the great virgin".

What part of that are you not understanding? It appears that you have no idea what you're talking about at all. Before making commentary here it is probably wise to actually read the book especially since this forum is devoted to discussion of the book hence the name of this website, "Booktalk."


No everyone is not as smart and knows it all as you do do you know what you can do with this discussion................



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Azrael wrote:
Your dealing with a myth how would you know?

Oh, is that what you're drivin' at? Yeah, I think Az is just having fun trolling you, FTL. Of course, in that respect Isis was not a virgin since she didn't exist, just like Mary didn't, nor did Andy Stitzer of 'The 40 Year Old Virgin'.
On the other hand, since non-existent characters can't have real sex, should they be considered virgins anyway?



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Vishnu wrote:
Azrael wrote:
Your dealing with a myth how would you know?

Oh, is that what you're drivin' at? Yeah, I think Az is just having fun trolling you, FTL. Of course, in that respect Isis was not a virgin since she didn't exist, just like Mary didn't, nor did Andy Stitzer of 'The 40 Year Old Virgin'.
On the other hand, since non-existent characters can't have real sex, should they be considered virgins anyway?


What is myth and what is reality? I remember my childhood as an abusive one. My sister who is the Cinderella who thinks she made it to the ball sees it as a bright and shiny life of great love and fulfillment. Maybe it was if beatings every day and a constant diet of apple jelly sandwiches for lunch is paradise on earth. Actually we are both right. We were raised during the great depression. In a home where our parents went from middle class splendor to abject poverty. Depressed as they were they kept a roof over our heads and meager food on the table. They were both the king and queen my sister saw and the wicked stepmother I saw. Reality is whatever an individual perceives it to be. She saw the doll cradle her brother made from an oat meal box as if it were made of magonhy. Her brother was angry because it was not. He was older and remembered our past life. She could not. And what ever happened to the original topic here? Why is everyone getting so angry? Be cool. It is only one lifetime. There are many more to come. Save some energy for that.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Azrael, I know you've been answered on this before. But if you're asking how do we know if she was really a virgin or not, because it's a myth, the answer is that this myth is about the virgin dawn which gives birth to the sunrise each morning. Horus is a personification of the morning sun and the pure virgin dawn is rendered as Isis, "The Great Virgin." The virgin dawn remains pure / virgin even though the sun continually rises from it each morning. Thus Isis / the virgin dawn is a perpetual virgin mother goddess. This is the development of a mythological motif. We're not talking about real people, we're talking about nature. What sex occurs in order for the sun to rise at dawn? No literal sex occurs of course. And that's the very point that Vishnu has outlined with his summary of how this myth evolved. The writers were paying careful attention to have Isis's Ba conceive Horus (as opposed to her physical body), then lightning, then calling herself the "Great Virgin" because the objective was to relate a mythological personification of the natural solar cycle. They knew what they were mythologizing, it's modern audiences that continue to struggle with it...

Now enter the mystics, gnostic and otherwise. We find an established myth about the solar cycle. The Goddess is the Great Virgin in this myth. Then proceeds certain mystical interpretations of mythology which uses the symbolism of the natural world - the solar cycle - in order to have a basis for an analogy to a spiritual teaching. Just as the sun is virgin born from the purity of the virgin dawn, so too ought men have rites and rituals by which they too are symbolically "born again" and what-have-you. That is the reasoning behind the esoteric spiritual teachings that use solar myth. And thus enters the endless variations of both exoteric and esoteric religious belief, baptism, and the like. The important thing to understand here is that it all traces backwards to humanity observing their surroundings, mythologizing these observations, and then attaching mystical belief to the mythologized observations. This is what paved the way right down to the Christian era in the first few centuries. They simply made use of very ancient mythological motifs that had long been in circulation. And that is where and why the Virgin Mary myth came about...


_________________
A) The Origins of Religious Worship

B) The Christmas Nativity

C) The Mythicist Position

D) YEC theory put to rest!


Last edited by tat tvam asi on Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank tat tvam asi for this post:
Robert Tulip, Vishnu
Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:28 pm
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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Virgin Isis-Mery
Thanks TaT that's all I was asking..........that clarifies it...



Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:33 pm
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