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So...Why Horus?

#98: Aug. - Sept. 2011 (Non-Fiction)
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Stuart Mason
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So...Why Horus?

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This is something I've been wondering ever since I first watched Zeitgeist years ago. I don't know if this deserves it's own thread and feel free to move it elsewhere if not, but I didn't see anywhere else it really fit. Why Horus? If one were to look for an Egyptian pre-cursor to Christ, Osiris rather than Horus would be the most glaring candidate. The central event in Jesus' story is his death and resurrection through which his followers hope to achieve a paradisical afterlife for the rest of eternity. This is something nearly identical to Osiris' story but nothing like Horus'. Jesus and Horus do have some similiarities, but not in the central attributes. At least not with the Jesus of the canon gospels. Osiris is the one who died, resurrected, ascended to heaven, became judge of the dead, facilitated the continued afterlife in either heaven or hell, etc. I've only browsed Christ in Egypt and know of Acharya's work mainly through reading some of her articles and listening to an interview or two. From what I've seen, I find CIE to be very well researched though I disagree with some of it's conclusions. I've also seen alot of the arguments made by advocates of Acharya's work, so I have a running idea of the case being made in regards to Jesus and Horus. It's my understanding that CIE is largely in response to critics of Acharya's earlier books and the Zeitgeist film. But what surprised me was to find out that the similarities between Osiris and Christ are directly acknowledged in the Horus-Jesus argument. Acharya even wrote an article with the page title "Is Jesus a Remake of Osiris". This to me is where it gets strange. The argument is that Horus was sometimes regarded as a reincarnation of Osiris, therefore the mythos of Osiris and Horus are completely interchangable. So when the Horus/Jesus comparison is brought up and skeptics make the obvious observation that Horus never did any of these major things Jesus did, Horus proponents respond by saying that Osiris did them so you can therefore say Horus did too, basically using Osiris as a gap filler for the places where the Horus-Jesus comparison breaks apart. OK, I guess technically that works and I don't have a problem with it per se, but I wonder then why not use Osiris in the first place since he's the one that really has the parallels?

At risk of answering my own question, the Horus thing seems to come from an (over?)emphasis on astrotheolgy. Horus is a Sun god and because of that he's used instead of Osiris because a Sun god fits better with the astrotheology argument. I don't know, that's just my guess. But reading some of the books, articles, and board messages I see a focus on astrotheology that seems a little extreme. Astrotheology is just an ordinary subset of mythology. It's not a particularly veiled or profound mystery or an ultimate truth behind the myths. Some myths are astrotheological, some aren't. I'd also say that different cultures' myths were astrotheological to different degrees. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression that some feel that astrotheology is a sort of forbidden science that's kept hidden from the world by academia, but I honestly don't know of anyone who studies myths that hides or denies the fact that world mythology is based in part on the movement of heavenly bodies. That's pretty much mythology 101. But to propose nearly everything as astrotheological would be going overboard. This excerpt from the aforementioned Osiris/Jesus article sums up my issue.
Is Jesus a Remake of Osiris wrote:In spite of the rampant evemerism regarding the Osirian earth-wandering legend, Osiris is essentially the sun, regularly identified as such in the Egyptian Bible, the Book of the Dead.
Osiris is "essentially the Sun"? While Osiris did acquire solar assosciations as Egyptian gods tended to do, by and large I don't think one could honestly reduce Osiris' mythos to him being the Sun. If you were to scroll through Osiris' attributes and functions I'd say his solar associations, if not tertiary, were secondary at best. Osiris is the god of resurrection, vegetation, personification of the Nile, etc. He's not like, say, the Sun god Helios of Greek myth. Later the article says "In telling the Osiris myth, Diodorus paradoxically lapses into the evemerist perspective that Osiris was a 'real person' who walked the earth". But why is it a paradox? Evemerism isn't an all-or-nothing stance. You can feel some gods might be based on historical persons and that some might not. This objection seems to rest on the idea that astrotheology is the near sole basis of myth. The gods are pre-supposed to be stars, therefore there can't be any other meaning or basis for them. That both ancient writers and a considerable number of Egyptologists believe Osiris may have been based on a real person(with no apparent religious or political motivation for doing so) is dismissed out of hand. I have no solid stance about whether there was an "historical Osiris" or not, but I certainly think it was possible. The matter isn't as cut an dry as saying Osiris or the Anunnaki or the Olympians were just planets. That is in my opinion a major oversimplification. It would be similar to being asked what kind of store Wal-Mart is and someone answering that it's a clothing store. Well, yes, Wal-Mart does sell clothes, but it also sells alot of other stuff too and can't be labelled simply as a clothier. Likewise while myths do sometimes have an astrotheological basis they are not solely astrotheological nor were they viewed that way by the ancients.

I thought this discussion was going to start around September so I'm behind on the comments. If this is something that's been brought up already then my apologies. This is just something I wonder whenever I see the Horus-Jesus comparison because it seems kind of quirky to me when Osiris is right there.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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Stuart Mason wrote:This is something I've been wondering ever since I first watched Zeitgeist years ago. I don't know if this deserves it's own thread and feel free to move it elsewhere if not, but I didn't see anywhere else it really fit. Why Horus?
Hi Stuart, thanks for joining the discussion on Christ in Egypt. I was wondering if you were going to participate after our recent interesting conversation on Egypt. Readers may wish to see the debate between Stuart and me from June this year on the nature of Egyptian religion in the thread Militant Atheism.

I think this is a really good question you have posed, and it illustrates how mythic evolution is not simple. The relation between Christianity and Egyptian antecedents is complex, and the idea of simple complete parallels has been used to confuse a lot of readers. Christian apologists mounted the "Zeitgeist Challenge" to say effectively that if there was no evidence of Horus nailed to a tree then Jesus must be the supernatural son of God as literally described in the Gospels. This was an ignorant and ideological critique, but it reflects popular belief in simple literal religion, and Murdock wrote Christ in Egypt partly to respond to it.

Some features of Christ parallel Horus and others parallel Osiris. Main Horus parallels include the virgin birth to Mary/Isis after the winter solstice, the war with Satan/Set, Christ/Horus as a child and young heroic man at 12 and 30, the trinity and holy family with Osiris, Isis and Horus, and the main one, Christ/Horus as the rising sun. Christian ideas such as 'He is risen" and "Sun of Righteousness" show clear evidence of being borrowed from the Horus myth.

You have a good point that Osiris is the main one who actually comes back to life in Egyptian myth, like Jesus, but Christ in Egypt provides interesting evidence that this mytheme applies also to Horus, in his role as symbolising the rebirth of the sun each day and year.
If one were to look for an Egyptian pre-cursor to Christ, Osiris rather than Horus would be the most glaring candidate. The central event in Jesus' story is his death and resurrection through which his followers hope to achieve a paradisical afterlife for the rest of eternity. This is something nearly identical to Osiris' story but nothing like Horus'.
Yes, and it illustrates how Christianity combined motifs from Osiris and Horus into the single universal anointed savior Jesus Christ. God never gets murdered by Satan in Judaism, and in syncretising Judaism with Egyptian and Greek myth, the Christians mutated the Egyptian story to fit the box of Yahweh. So you are right - the Egyptians assigned the cycle of rebirth to the father, while Christians transferred it to the son, while also giving Christ attributes that the Egyptians had given to the son, Horus.
Jesus and Horus do have some similiarities, but not in the central attributes. At least not with the Jesus of the canon gospels. Osiris is the one who died, resurrected, ascended to heaven, became judge of the dead, facilitated the continued afterlife in either heaven or hell, etc.
It really depends what you consider the "central attributes". You are right about the resurrection motif as mainly linked to Osiris, but by the way this does also apply to Horus, for example after he is bitten by the scorpion sent by Set and restored to life by Isis, and as I just mentioned there is the daily and yearly rebirth of the sun as Horus. And this scorpion story again has its astral meaning, with the sun passing through the constellation of Scorpio in autumn as it prepares to die each year in winter. But I think you downplay the idea of a dynamic young living savior figure in both Christ and Horus. My sense, although I am not certain on this point, is that Osiris is more a passive representative of eternal life, who nonetheless delivers final judgment, while Horus is the active living divine principle. Again, the power of Christianity rested partly in its combination of these two key attributes in Christ.
I've only browsed Christ in Egypt and know of Acharya's work mainly through reading some of her articles and listening to an interview or two. From what I've seen, I find CIE to be very well researched though I disagree with some of it's conclusions. I've also seen alot of the arguments made by advocates of Acharya's work, so I have a running idea of the case being made in regards to Jesus and Horus. It's my understanding that CIE is largely in response to critics of Acharya's earlier books and the Zeitgeist film. But what surprised me was to find out that the similarities between Osiris and Christ are directly acknowledged in the Horus-Jesus argument.
I don't think you should be surprised by this Stuart. Murdock's goal is to find the truth, by looking at the evidence. She is not pushing some simplistic agenda, of the sort that might be inferred from Zeitgeist Part One, that ignores the allegorical complexity in the material. It is worth noting that the Zeitgeist movement has effectively banned discussion of religion because they find it too complicated for the simple political message they are trying to push. But Murdock is arguing that reality is complicated, so ignoring the depths of the issues will not provide sound foundations for understanding reality. It is precisely this political desire to ignore the depths of meaning that led to literal historical Christianity in the first place.
Acharya even wrote an article with the page title "Is Jesus a Remake of Osiris". This to me is where it gets strange. The argument is that Horus was sometimes regarded as a reincarnation of Osiris, therefore the mythos of Osiris and Horus are completely interchangable. So when the Horus/Jesus comparison is brought up and skeptics make the obvious observation that Horus never did any of these major things Jesus did, Horus proponents respond by saying that Osiris did them so you can therefore say Horus did too, basically using Osiris as a gap filler for the places where the Horus-Jesus comparison breaks apart. OK, I guess technically that works and I don't have a problem with it per se, but I wonder then why not use Osiris in the first place since he's the one that really has the parallels?
Again, this gets to the question of what you consider primary. Of course, in purely religious terms a case can be made for Osiris as the restorer of life, but the association between Horus, the sun and the living king has an arguably equal or greater resonance with the Christ myth. And we see that Osiris is directly (although hidden) acknowledged in the Gospel of John through his identification with Lazarus (el-osiris), the mummified figure who is restored from death by Jesus. I don't think that Osiris and Horus are interchangeable, as they have distinct roles and identities.

At risk of answering my own question, the Horus thing seems to come from an (over?)emphasis on astrotheolgy. Horus is a Sun god and because of that he's used instead of Osiris because a Sun god fits better with the astrotheology argument. I don't know, that's just my guess. But reading some of the books, articles, and board messages I see a focus on astrotheology that seems a little extreme. Astrotheology is just an ordinary subset of mythology. It's not a particularly veiled or profound mystery or an ultimate truth behind the myths. Some myths are astrotheological, some aren't. I'd also say that different cultures' myths were astrotheological to different degrees. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression that some feel that astrotheology is a sort of forbidden science that's kept hidden from the world by academia, but I honestly don't know of anyone who studies myths that hides or denies the fact that world mythology is based in part on the movement of heavenly bodies. That's pretty much mythology 101. But to propose nearly everything as astrotheological would be going overboard. This excerpt from the aforementioned Osiris/Jesus article sums up my issue.
You are right that I, for one, see astrotheology as a forbidden science. It is actually not taught in Myth 101, but suppressed, mocked and hidden. Myth 101 tends to respect the Christian myth that Jesus was a real man largely as described in the Bible. In my own study of this material, as I have explained in various threads at Booktalk, I have found numerous allegories for stellar observation in the Bible that are completely unknown and undiscussed. These allegories rest on a hypothesis of the primacy of 'as above so below' as stating that events on earth reflect observed events in the sky. To really understand this, we have to actually look at the sky without the weight of Christian literalist presuppositions.

I disagree with your suggestion that astrotheology is a subset of mythology. Rather, if we say for example that Jesus Christ is an allegory for the sun, we find that astrotheology provides a systematic scientific foundation for rebasing the myth in actual life and observation. This is in fact a profound veiled mystery, including why this understanding remains so heavily suppressed, and is not discussed in universities or media or conferences, and remains confined to self published books and the internet. Astrotheology is actually a new and revolutionary theory of the nature of religion. It is only now getting past the point experienced by all new paradigms of being ignored by the defenders of the old paradigm.
Is Jesus a Remake of Osiris wrote:In spite of the rampant evemerism regarding the Osirian earth-wandering legend, Osiris is essentially the sun, regularly identified as such in the Egyptian Bible, the Book of the Dead.
Osiris is "essentially the Sun"? While Osiris did acquire solar assosciations as Egyptian gods tended to do, by and large I don't think one could honestly reduce Osiris' mythos to him being the Sun. If you were to scroll through Osiris' attributes and functions I'd say his solar associations, if not tertiary, were secondary at best. Osiris is the god of resurrection, vegetation, personification of the Nile, etc. He's not like, say, the Sun god Helios of Greek myth. Later the article says "In telling the Osiris myth, Diodorus paradoxically lapses into the evemerist perspective that Osiris was a 'real person' who walked the earth". But why is it a paradox? Evemerism isn't an all-or-nothing stance. You can feel some gods might be based on historical persons and that some might not. This objection seems to rest on the idea that astrotheology is the near sole basis of myth. The gods are pre-supposed to be stars, therefore there can't be any other meaning or basis for them. That both ancient writers and a considerable number of Egyptologists believe Osiris may have been based on a real person(with no apparent religious or political motivation for doing so) is dismissed out of hand. I have no solid stance about whether there was an "historical Osiris" or not, but I certainly think it was possible. The matter isn't as cut an dry as saying Osiris or the Anunnaki or the Olympians were just planets. That is in my opinion a major oversimplification. It would be similar to being asked what kind of store Wal-Mart is and someone answering that it's a clothing store. Well, yes, Wal-Mart does sell clothes, but it also sells alot of other stuff too and can't be labelled simply as a clothier. Likewise while myths do sometimes have an astrotheological basis they are not solely astrotheological nor were they viewed that way by the ancients.
Interesting perspectives Stuart. Taking your Wal-Mart analogy, I would argue that saying religion is originally astrotheological is more like saying Wal-Mart is a low price store. Wal-Mart is far more than that, but its low prices are fundamental to its identity and success.

Re the attributes of Osiris, it is clear that each of these - vegetation, the Nile - follow an annual resurrection cycle driven by the sun. There are many different associations with Osiris, and the centrality of the sun to Egyptian religion naturally makes the association with Osiris important. As I mentioned in the atheism thread, I think there is also a match with the constellation Argo. It might also be speculated that the Milky Way, the destination of transmigration of souls, may have been viewed like a big Osirian mummy in space.
I thought this discussion was going to start around September so I'm behind on the comments. If this is something that's been brought up already then my apologies. This is just something I wonder whenever I see the Horus-Jesus comparison because it seems kind of quirky to me when Osiris is right there.
Thanks again Stuart. I hope you can read over the Booktalk threads on Christ in Egypt and let us know if you find anything you want to comment on. Hopefully the threads here are sufficiently accessible to enable sensible comment by people who have not read Christ in Egypt cover to cover. It is superb that the author DM Murdock is participating. Your question here 'Why Horus?' gets to the heart of the debate, so I hope others will respond to this thread as well.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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Robert Tulip wrote:
Stuart Mason wrote: Jesus and Horus do have some similiarities, but not in the central attributes. At least not with the Jesus of the canon gospels.
It really depends what you consider the "central attributes".
In the New Testament the death and resurrection of Christ is singularly the most important event in the fate of the world and Christian worship centers around this act. So the things related to this are what I'm calling his central attributes, with the other things being lesser attributes.
You are right about the resurrection motif as mainly linked to Osiris, but by the way this does also apply to Horus, for example after he is bitten by the scorpion sent by Set and restored to life by Isis, and as I just mentioned there is the daily and yearly rebirth of the sun as Horus.
Yes, but the key thing about Osiris wasn't that he died and resurrected, which is fairly common in myth. What's key and parallel to Jesus is that Osiris' death and resurrection turned him into a savior god whose death and resurrection allows for the rest mankind to resurrect as well. It reminds me of how you'll often see Egyptologists puzzled as to why the Egyptians never equated the Canaanite god Baal with Osiris since Baal was also killed and resurrected. I would say that the reason is because the deaths and resurrections are only similar in the superficial fact that both were brought back to life. Baal's legend doesn't have Osiris' themes or religious impact. The manner and effect of their resurrections were so significantly different as to not be seen as parallel. You raise a good point of discussion with your astral analysis of Horus' scorpion sting and I will try to get back to that in a separate post.

But I think you downplay the idea of a dynamic young living savior figure in both Christ and Horus. My sense, although I am not certain on this point, is that Osiris is more a passive representative of eternal life, who nonetheless delivers final judgment, while Horus is the active living divine principle.
I'm not really sure how Jesus is anymore a young living savior figure than Osiris since they have the same story as far as that goes. They both were travelling teachers who died and then retired to the Otherworld after being resurrected. Neither is a living savior in the sense of still living on Earth. Now again, I'm not saying Jesus doesn't share attributes with Horus as well, but Osiris is who would immediately jump out at you as the most analogous to the Christ of the gospels.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Stuart Mason wrote:But what surprised me was to find out that the similarities between Osiris and Christ are directly acknowledged in the Horus-Jesus argument.
I don't think you should be surprised by this Stuart. Murdock's goal is to find the truth, by looking at the evidence.
Well the reason I was surprised was because since it was being said that Jesus was based on Horus rather than Osiris, I initially assumed they must not know the mythology since Osiris is the much closer equivalent. But keep in mind, this was when I first came across the Horus-Jesus argument. I now know that the knowledge and research behind it is much greater than it appeared at first when just looking at the claims.
You are right that I, for one, see astrotheology as a forbidden science. It is actually not taught in Myth 101, but suppressed, mocked and hidden. Myth 101 tends to respect the Christian myth that Jesus was a real man largely as described in the Bible. In my own study of this material, as I have explained in various threads at Booktalk, I have found numerous allegories for stellar observation in the Bible that are completely unknown and undiscussed.
In the case of Christianity specifically, I wouldn't necessarily disagree. But I get the impression that it's believed astrotheology is something denied or hidden by academia of mythology in general. Coincidently I just happened to have been reading through some of the older comments and came across a case in point. In another thread you said that the idea of Osiris being a real person "just fails to engage with the Egyptian cosmic vision...". But the cosmic vision of Egyptian religion is engaged and discussed all the time by academia. Speculating that Osiris might have been a real person isn't mutually exclusive to acknowledging the use of astrotheology. It's just acknowledging that there are other contexts in which myths are written and developed besides just astrotheological ones.

I disagree with your suggestion that astrotheology is a subset of mythology. Rather, if we say for example that Jesus Christ is an allegory for the sun, we find that astrotheology provides a systematic scientific foundation for rebasing the myth in actual life and observation.
I don't see how that removes it from under the classification/definition of mythology. Interpretting a god as an allegory for something else would just be a study of the myth. "Mythology" literally means the study of myths.
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Astrotheology vs. Context

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Robert Tulip wrote: ...Horus, for example after he is bitten by the scorpion sent by Set and restored to life by Isis, and as I just mentioned there is the daily and yearly rebirth of the sun as Horus. And this scorpion story again has its astral meaning, with the sun passing through the constellation of Scorpio in autumn as it prepares to die each year in winter.
I think this makes for a good example of how myths differ in form and function. The myth of baby Horus being attacked by Set via a scorpion sting or snake bite comes from the magical cippi of Horus. In comparison I'll bring up a somewhat similar instance with Set and the other, elder Horus. In ch. 112 of the Book of Coming Forth By Day there's another myth where Set, this time in the form of a black boar, ambushes Horus and hits him in the eye with what appears to be a fiery lance which causes Horus to fall unconscious. From the context, this myth is astrotheological with Horus' eye being the Sun/Moon and Set as a black boar being a metaphor for storm clouds or similar interpretation. This can be deduced by other parts in the same group of texts. But because Horus and Set are being used as cosmic metaphors here doesn't mean that they always are. The cippi are a different kind of text. This scorpion myth is a spell, an incantation to be read as part of the sympathetic magic practiced by the Egyptians. We know this because the cippi say so in the instructions written on them. Horus is stung by a scorpion and healed. As Horus was healed from the sting, the person hoped to be healed as well. This was not an astrotheological allegory. It was meant to heal real people from literal scorpion stings that literally happened by using sympathetic magic to associate them with another person(Horus) who'd been stung by a scorpion like they were.

The Coming Forth by Day story has a different mythological basis from the magical cippi. While Horus and Set are cosmic phenomena in the former, the context of the latter is very different. Myths aren't always written in the same form. They're not always astrotheological like they're not always literal or historical. What a god represents or what the story means varies.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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Interesting post.
It was meant to heal real people from literal scorpion stings that literally happened by using sympathetic magic to associate them with another person(Horus) who'd been stung by a scorpion like they were.

The Coming Forth by Day story has a different mythological basis from the magical cippi. While Horus and Set are cosmic phenomena in the former, the context of the latter is very different. Myths aren't always written in the same form. They're not always astrotheological like they're not always literal or historical. What a god represents or what the story means varies.
But what I see here is how a solar myth about how the sun can recover after the sting of Scorpio sending it to it's three day standstill, the former, is then used to go on and elaborate about how you too can recover from a Scorpion sting in the physical world by tapping into this magic, the latter. Just as how the entire afterlife context hinges on observing the dying and rising of the sun and then concluding that you too can become "The Osiris" - you too, like the the sun, can hope to rise again. And super naturalism takes off running from what had originally been a mere observation of nature's cyclic renewals. This has continued on in esoteric circles to the modern era. There has a been newer shift that separates from the old dying and rising sun motif. We began to understand that the sun doesn't actually die and rise, it stays on all the time. And the response in esoteric circles (post Golden Dawn) has been to say, "aha" the sun stays on all the time = I stay on all the time. The dying and rising motif then became outdated in these mystical circles. We can see the influence of astronomical observation on modern mysticism. The science changes, the mysticism adapts to the new observations and continues along basing it's beliefs on what begins with an observation of nature.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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tat tvam asi wrote:But what I see here is how a solar myth about how the sun can recover after the sting of Scorpio sending it to it's three day standstill, the former, is then used to go on and elaborate about how you too can recover from a Scorpion sting in the physical world by tapping into this magic, the latter.
I don't think that would work though, because while there just happens to be a Greek zodiak sign known as Scorpio, you also have other cippi and spells where Horus suffers from things one would be hard-pressed to make an astrotheological link to, such as getting sick from eating too much junk food or candy.


---edited to add---
We can see the influence of astronomical observation on modern mysticism. The science changes, the mysticism adapts to the new observations and continues along basing it's beliefs on what begins with an observation of nature.
Well I don't know if it can be said which one, if either, came before the other. I personally don't know of any point in ancient history where observation of nature and supernaturalism weren't hand-in-hand and side-by-side. But even if hypothetically taking astronomical observation to have existed at some point before the concept of deities and supernaturalism, we know that whenever the concept of gods came about they were from very early times thought of as more than just astronomical objects, so we can't assume an astrotheological basis for every myth.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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Stuart Mason wrote:I'm not really sure how Jesus is anymore a young living savior figure than Osiris since they have the same story as far as that goes. They both were travelling teachers who died and then retired to the Otherworld after being resurrected. Neither is a living savior in the sense of still living on Earth. Now again, I'm not saying Jesus doesn't share attributes with Horus as well, but Osiris is who would immediately jump out at you as the most analogous to the Christ of the gospels.
Jesus is typically portrayed as a baby, a boy of 12 and a young man of 30. Each of these match to Horus. Osiris was killed by Set in the 28th year of his reign, so was older. In any case, Osiris is the father and Horus is the son. This is a basic typology.
I get the impression that it's believed astrotheology is something denied or hidden by academia of mythology in general. Coincidently I just happened to have been reading through some of the older comments and came across a case in point. In another thread you said that the idea of Osiris being a real person "just fails to engage with the Egyptian cosmic vision...". But the cosmic vision of Egyptian religion is engaged and discussed all the time by academia. Speculating that Osiris might have been a real person isn't mutually exclusive to acknowledging the use of astrotheology. It's just acknowledging that there are other contexts in which myths are written and developed besides just astrotheological ones.
I had a look at that comment, and it was not just about the general idea of Osiris as evemerist, but Renouf's claim it is 'generally agreed' that Osiris was an ancient king. It is this claim of 'general agreement' that fails to engage with the cosmic meaning. Egyptology in general is hostile to astrotheology, with writers such as Massey, Bauval and Murdock generally ignored or derided.

Your statement of 'other contexts' warrants analysis. If the origin of the myths is astrotheological, then these other contexts are derivative.
I don't see how that removes it from under the classification/definition of mythology. Interpreting a god as an allegory for something else would just be a study of the myth. "Mythology" literally means the study of myths.
It is not about saying that astrotheological readings are not mythology, but rather that they are at the foundation of myth. If we consider mythology as a set, this opens a real question of whether it is correct to call astrotheology a subset. It may be equally or even more accurate to see myth as a subset of astrotheology. For example, if the Egyptians primarily regarded Horus as a symbol for the rising sun, then all the stories about Horus can be considered within this natural framework. The primary observation is the apparent movement of the sun, and the myths gradually accrete to this basic astral fact.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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It's likely that the ancients were making astronomical observations because they considered the celestial orbs as divinities, Stuart. So these divine objects were closely monitored. It was nothing more than ancient astronomy in reality, but the ancients saw it as much more than just astromony. So it's not hard to see how the physical was poored over with metaphysical concepts. The two were closely intertwined. Robert was posting elsewhere about how metaphysical concepts have a basis in physical observation and documentation. This is tricky because it's entirely true but largely confusing. They were mythologizing nature, true enough, which is physical, true as well, but the catch is that its bloody obvious that they considered physical things as divine and the visible objects of the universe - celestial orbs included - as effects stemming from inner spiritual or mystery causes.

The first function of mythology is the religious / mystical function. It all starts there. Astrotheology doesn't enter until the second function of a traditional mythology as a sub-set of the cosmological function. Until the invention of mathematics astronomy wasn't supposed to be in the mix. So the issues raised here about astrotheology being the only or first importance of myth, or however you've tried to raise this straw man against mythicism, is obviously incorrect. But at the same time astrotheology is wide spread and obvious in myths, as would be expected of something serving part of the overall cosmological function of a traditional mythology.
But to propose nearly everything as astrotheological would be going overboard.
That's more or less a straw man against the MP Stuart. And even if Robert has at times given you that impression that doesn't mean much of anything because Robert is new to mythicism for one thing, and doesn't speak for the position as a whole. While Murdock quotes can be cherry picked to raise certain straw men the bottom line is that she knows comparative religion and mythology and hasn't stood behind any claim that mythology is only astrotheological and nothing more. But at the same time astrotheology is wide spread and a very significant factor involved in trying to understand mythology in a comparative sense. I've seen no 'all or nothing' position presented via the MP...

The sun rises as Horus, becomes Ra at noon, turns to Atum at sundown, and goes on to Osiris at midnight, only to return as Horus at dawn again - according to the sources presented in CiE. The light of the moon comes from the subterranean sunlight as it goes. Murdock's analysis is sound. On one hand the evidence shows Osiris as involved in solar mythology explaining the sun's journey through the night hours, and on the other hand there's no evidence at all for Osiris as a real man made into a God. Plants absorb sunlight during the day and growth occurs at night. That's it. It's simple. As it stands this is a myth tied up in solar symbolism and solar light's relation to organic life as well (via the solar cycle) with zero evidence for an historical basis at the foundation of the myth. So The MP is the simplest explanation as it stands. If that were to change, then so what? Everyone will change according to a simpler and therefore more favored explanation of the myth.
Last edited by tat tvam asi on Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:31 pm, edited 6 times in total.
D.M. Murdock
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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Thank you for your interest, Stuart, and for your input, Robert and Tat.

Horus and Jesus Equated in Antiquity

The answer to the question of why we would compare Jesus to Horus is quite simple: Because there are major correspondences between Horus and Jesus, so much so that in antiquity the two were interchanged, as they both were with Osiris as well. In my opinion, obviously, the reason for this comparison is precisely because Jesus is derived from both of them, as well as many other gods, goddesses, characteristics and motifs not only within the Egyptian religion but also in numerous other religions, sects and cults from around the Mediterranean and beyond.

This question is answered in great detail in the book that is the subject of this thread, in which I also discuss the interchangeability of Osiris, Horus, Ra and many other Egyptian gods and goddesses in detail.

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Hieroglyph representing either Horus or Ra in his Sun Disk. (Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, cxiv)

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Hieroglyph for hybrid god Osiris-Horus (Budge, A Hieroglyphic Vocabulary to the Book of the Dead, 60)

As I say in CIE (52ff), in a section entitled "Amen-Ra-Osiris-Horus," following a discussion of the many Horuses:
Adding to this mythical mélange, we have seen that Horus is essentially solar in nature, having even been identified with the main Egyptian sun god Re/Ra, as well as the Greek sun god Apollo, along with possessing many solar attributes, including as the morning and rising sun, born again each day. In his Guide to the Egyptian rooms at the British Museum, Budge summarizes the Egyptian solar mythology, revealing that the many separate personas are all aspects of the one sun:
The Sun has countless names, Ptah, Tmu, Ra, Horus, Khnemu, Sebek, Amen, etc.; and some of them, such as Osiris and Seker, are names of the Sun after he has set, or, in mythological language, has died and been buried.... All gods, as such, were absolutely equal in their might and in their divinity; but, mythologically, Osiris might be said to be slain by his brother Set, the personification of Night, who, in his turn, was overthrown by Horus (the rising sun), the heir of Osiris.
Confirming this observation, Hornung states that "in the New Kingdom, Amun, Ptah, Osiris, Khnum, and most of the other great gods and even goddesses of Egypt can be understood as solar deities." In discussing the multiple faces of the sun god, Griffiths notes a comparison to Christianity:
A text of the Ramesside era…refers to the triple positions of these gods during the course of day: "I am Khepri in the morning, Re in the afternoon, Atum in the evening." Three forms or modes of the sun god are implied—an example, thus of a modalistic trinity, comparable to the later Christian concept.
This "trinity" or triad is one of a number with Egyptian deities, as we will continue to see here. Another such Egyptian triad/trinity appears on a papyrus from the 19th Dynasty (1292-1182 BCE) called the "Leiden Hymn to Amun":
All gods are three:
Amun, Re, and Ptah, who have no equal.
He who hides his names as Amun,
he is Re in appearance,
his body is Ptah.
Regarding the Egyptian and Christian trinities and scriptural parallels, Morenz is prompted to conclude, "The multifarious links between Egypt and Judaeo-Christian scriptures and trinitarian theology can already be traced with some degree of plausibility." In his discussion of "Egyptian trinities," as he terms them, Morenz includes a section addressing the idea of "unity in plurality." The German scholar also points out that a "trinity" can likewise be created out of the "primordial One" and "the first pair of gods to be begotten." Regarding the motif of the trinity, Morenz further states:
…thus three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology.
I also provide much of the evidence for the synthesis not only of Osiris and Horus but also of Horus and Jesus, as done by the Christian Copts for example. In CIE (232-233), I write:
...in Gnosticism and Christianity, Dr. Bishai states:
…the Copts of Egypt during the early Christian centuries were known for their massive production of Apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. This characteristic of the early Copts should not be surprising to us in light of the evidence of gnostic influence on the early Coptic Christian thought. The gnostics were literate people and well acquainted with ancient religions and mythology. As Christianity was spreading in Egypt, a group of these gnostic Christians apparently made an effort to tie old Egyptian myths to Christian beliefs.
Bishai next reminds us of the assertion by Egyptologist Bleeker that "a number of gnostic conceptions go back to ancient Egyptian religious thought." In this same regard, Witt provides further, archaeological evidence:
The fusion of Horus with Judaeo-Christian features can be exemplified on Gnostic gems from Egypt. On one of these the deity Iao (to be connected no doubt with the Iah of the Pentateuch) is seen standing on a crocodile....

In the theology and art of Gnosticism Horus and Christ could easily be blended. One of the Gnostic sects indeed labelled itself "Carpocratian" and in general they propounded cosmologies in terms of "Aeons", the final and perfect Aeon being Jesus Christ. Those who bore the name Peratae in their astrological theories recognized the rule of Isis and Osiris over the hours, which Horus as the God of Time created. The Valentinian Gnostics can plausibly be said to have evolved a doctrine in which Isis fulfils the role of Sophia and Horus/Harpocrates that of Logos. As to the term Aeon, we learn from Epiphanius, who produced his massive anti-heretical treatise at the end of the fourth century, that among the pagans at Alexandria Horus/Harpocrates was the Aeon par excellence. Aeon/Horus was born of the Virgin Isis on 6 January. Clearly in the Gnosticism which fringed Christian orthodoxy Horus and Christ could merge.
In this pithy paragraph from a well-respected, modern scholar emerge a number of intriguing assertions that validate previous observations made here. Firstly, we discover there are archaeological artifacts from Egypt that demonstrate the Gnostic merging of Horus with Jesus. Secondly, we read that Sophia is Isis, and Horus is the Logos/Word, in the Alexandrian Gnostic system. But he could also be Horos, in his similar function as concerns time. We have already seen how the pertinent part of Epiphanius’s work in which he discusses the virgin birth of "Aion" was edited out of the Migne Greek edition—here Witt contends that Epiphanius was referring to the virgin birth of Horus and that the Valentinians had incorporated Horus the Egyptian god into their system. We would add to Witt’s final assessment that it was not only within the "fringe" Gnostic movement that Horus and Christ could merge but that within Orthodox Christianity as well did Horus serve as a prototype for the Jesus character.
The Resurrection of Horus

As concerns Horus's resurrection, he is risen daily as the morning sun - indeed, he is Osiris's resurrection, as Osiris combines with the nightly sun in the underworld, after which "he" is resurrected as Horus.

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"Horus emerging from the corpse of Osiris, the sun disk behind him, in the burial chamber of Ramesses VI." (Hornung, Valley of the Kings, 116)

Moreover, it needs to be emphasized that Horus is killed by Set and resurrected by Isis, as discussed by Diodorus Siculus in the first century BCE. Significantly, Diodorus uses the same Greek term, anastasis, to describe Horus's as resurrection as did the gospel writers many years later.

As I further write in CIE (393):
The emergence of Horus himself from the underworld—his own anastasis or resurrection—can likewise be found in the Book of the Dead, called Pert em Heru in the Egyptian, which is translated also as "The Day of Manifestation" or "The Coming Forth by Day," reflecting the coming forth from the dark underworld into the light. As Goelet states:
The very title of the BD in Egyptian, "The Chapters of Going Forth by Day," evokes an image of the soul emerging into the restorative rays of the sun’s light after revival during the nighttime in the underworld.
The resurrection of Horus/Re/Osiris in large part represents the return of the sun from both its nightly and its annual descent into darkness, as well as, in the case of Osiris, the light waxing in the moon and the restoration of the Nile to its height among other life-renewing aspects, previously discussed. As stated, the death and resurrection of Horus likewise demonstrates another astrotheological meaning: While in the funerary texts Horus is basically resurrected as the morning sun on a daily basis, in a later myth he is killed by the scorpion of Set, to be raised from the dead by his mother, Isis, as related by Diodorus in The Antiquities of Egypt (1.25.6), worthwhile reiterating here:
Isis also discovered the elixir of immortality, and when her son Horus fell victim to the plots of the Titans and was found dead beneath the waves, she not only raised him from the dead and restored his soul, but also gave him eternal life.
The term used here by Diodorus for Isis raising Horus from the dead is from the verb αναστησαι, the noun for which is anastasis, the very word utilized in the description of the later Jesus’s resurrection. Obviously, in this resurrection account of Horus we discover a pre-Christian dying and rising god strangely overlooked in the debate on the subject over the past decades.
There is obviously much more to the story, as my entire nearly 600-page book answers the question "Why Horus?," as do many other posts here. Indeed, one could say the whole thread answers that question.
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Re: So...Why Horus?

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Stuart Mason wrote: ..... Now again, I'm not saying Jesus doesn't share attributes with Horus as well, but Osiris is who would immediately jump out at you as the most analogous to the Christ of the gospels.
Who would immediately jump out at you as the analogous to the Christ of the gospels depends on knowledge, so subjective perception in reality answer no question nor verify a claim.

Stuart Mason wrote: Well the reason I was surprised was because since it was being said that Jesus was based on Horus rather than Osiris, I initially assumed they must not know the mythology since Osiris is the much closer equivalent. But keep in mind, this was when I first came across the Horus-Jesus argument. I now know that the knowledge and research behind it is much greater than it appeared at first when just looking at the claims.
Unfortunately it seems me who is a "heathen pagan" manage to remember one of christianities most debated and important issues. I recommend works of the magnificant wordsmith and scholar, professor Joseph Campbell, to learn some essential elements about myth and its relevance.

It could be that a forgetful moment occured when such a important aspect as father and son, as it one if not the most essential issues related social structure of humanity as one example of social animals.

Expanding from such a central core issue, obvious elements could be added to strengthen the claim to the point where it would be disputed only out of pure denial.

Both sons was in connection to the earthly world and functions as representation of the father . Horus as aspect of divinity infused and represented as part of the pharao, while the pope serve equally as the vikar of Christ. Later as power of church was overtaken by emerging independent kingdoms, and the kings themselves claimed to be the binding link between the divine and humanity. "God and King" should be a familiar concept that originates from this development.

Stuart Mason wrote: But even if hypothetically taking astronomical observation to have existed at some point before the concept of deities and supernaturalism, we know that whenever the concept of gods came about they were from very early times thought of as more than just astronomical objects, so we can't assume an astrotheological basis for every myth.
The sun going up, the sun going down. The moon and its phases. Day becomming night, where comfort comes from faith in sunrise once more occuring. Every living thing experience it, and it functions as a framework in our understanding of reality. Perhaps regardet as basic and non-essential astronomical observations, yet our society and life are organized according to it. The complexity of structure in myth evolve with change in society and social systems in it. The birth of agriculture gave origin to what is defined as civilization. Astronomical observation is foundation for agriculture, and therefore functions not as a leisure activity but as the most influential elements of existenze itself. Astronomical basis for every myth can easily be assumed, as we only experience and have knowledge of a reality where these elements are present. We can not perceive a reality without time and change, patterns and connections, because we are evolved within the framework of this universe.

One important understanding about language, regardless of oral or contained in books and other forms of communication, is the true wisdom of language when it comes to function and use. Claiming we can't assume an astrotheological basis for every myth forgets that natural laws is the design everything is bound by, and that all language in itself is myth. Every word, every sentence, are sounds or symbols communicating the subjective perception of experienced objective reality.

Perhaps taking a closer look at your forum name will elaborate some. Stuart Mason originates from someting different than purely a reference to a single individual. Stuart in older form meant something like guard of the house, while Mason relates to builder/constructor/maker. If not being a guard of the house or a constructor as origin intended it to be understood, Stuart Mason is myth. To go deeper into subject requires own separated thread because of its complexity, so I will leave it at this. But I would like to mention some of the early works of Noam Chomsky as introduction to language and issues related to it.
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