No Jesus was not Zoroaster or Buddha
Introduction Was Jesus just some Zoroastrian myth or a New Age Buddhist mystic? And why would Jesus as presented in the Bible seem so much like Mithra, Buddha, or Zoroaster? This is a complex issue for Unitarian Christians (and all Christians) to ponder. We are being overrun by the occult, New Age and Eastern Religion, and atheism.
It's time we take a hard look beyond the deluge of propaganda and lies. We can't sacrifice ourselves for political correctness or being popular because truth is not about popularity. It's time to answer this Jesus question without being popular to anyone.
Most historians believe Jesus did exist. Jesus and His Apostles relied on oral traditions and like many historical figures left no known writings. The gospels were written during or after the Jewish Revolt and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
According to the Catholic Church, the earliest known copies (other then fragments from the 2nd century, all in Greek) date to the 4th century. The only other known works were discovered in Egypt in the 1940s known as Nag Hammadi Gospels (also copies of earlier works and written in Coptic) dated to the 3-4th centuries. The Dead Sea Scrolls dated to the 1st century and were written Hebrew and Aramaic has no mention of Jesus.
Zoroastrian writings are in the same problem state. Zoroastrians relied on oral tradition as well. Most were written down between the 6th-9th centuries C.E. Some church fathers complained about Zoroastrians not using holy books. These were likely written down to preserve the faith from being totally destroyed by Islam.
Because of the bitter and ongoing war between secular and religious in the West, most source materials are so biased and distorted that one must be careful of their opinions.
There's too much secular material out there designed only to destroy Christianity while Christian rejection and attempted suppression of any form of inquiry is all too common. I will rely on mainly Jewish and Zoroastrian sources along with my own analysis. I also make use of the Catholic New American Bible (NAB), which I consider one of the best along with an electronic (with word search) King James. (KJV) All quotes are from the KJV.
Basic Zoroastrian Theology
Zoroastrianism is perhaps the oldest revealed religion. While Zoroastrians today are few in number (less then 200,000), like Judaism their contributions and influence on civilization go far beyond their small numbers. Not only did they influence Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but perhaps Hinduism and Buddhism as well.
Zoroastrianism is known for its monotheism, devil, and separation of material and spiritual worlds. Conservative Zoroastrians assign a date of 6000 BCE to the founding of the religion; other followers estimate 600 BCE.
Historians are unsure when Zoroaster lived. Some others claim between 1000-1500 B.C.E. Most scholars' think he was born in present day Iran, others claim Azerbaijan or Nepal. It certainly became corrupted after Zoroaster's death and like Buddhism shared origins with the broad world of Hinduism.
Legends say that his birth was predicted and that attempts were made by the forces of evil to kill him as a child. (Again a similarity with the attempted killing of Jesus tradition and that of the Moses tradition.)
He preached monotheism in a land, which followed an aboriginal polytheistic religion. He was attacked for his teaching, but finally won the support of the king. Zoroastrianism became the state religion of various Persian empires, until the 7th Century CE. (www.religioustolerence.org)
The Avesta is attributed directly to Zoroaster and contains the Gathas. They are the divine songs that contain the message of Zoroaster sent by Ahura Mazda (God) Himself to the Aryans. They are poetry - sung by the Prophet of God, praising God. Zoroaster tells us in the Gathas to choose between good and evil.
Ahura Mazda will send the saviors (Saoshyants) who will teach men righteousness and fight evil. The world will be cleansed (with fire) by God, all men and women will be judged, evil destroyed, etc.
Marriage is celebrated very strongly, in particular marriage that produces beautiful children. Unlike Christianity, which considers the pain of childbirth a punishment for sin, this is a celebration of new life, a gift from God.
Fire is worshiped as a symbol of God. (Light)
Ahura Mazda prohibits sexual perversion such homosexuality, prostitution, etc. along with infanticide (abortion) and intermarriage with outsiders. (Non-Zoroastrians) They do not consider non-Zoroastrians as damned nor see conversion to Zoroastrianism as necessary. They don't accept converts; one must be born into it.
Ahura Mazda knew the Devil (Ahriman) would attack the spiritual world (Minoi), so He created the material (Geti) world, then the first man and finally Fire, which entered into the Creation and gave it life.
For the 1st 3000 years, the first man lived a perfect life, worshiped God, etc. Then the devil arose from the darkness and attacked the world and killed everything including the first man. (Zoroastrian time consists of four 3000-year periods before the world ends.)
However, new life arose from the dead. From the body of the slain first man, both man and woman came forth. Man and women were united in divine love. God had brought love and children into the world.
The Devil became trapped in the material world. The battle between good and evil thus goes on until the end time, when God will send His Savior and defeat evil once and for all. This savior will be born of a virgin, but of the lineage of the Prophet Zoroaster who will raise the dead and judge everyone in a final judgment.
These concepts of heaven and hell, of the Saviors to come, the Virgin birth of the final savior, the Final Judgment, the Bathing of the world by Fire, the final battle between good and evil, the final defeat of evil and the resurrection of the dead - these are all Aryan Zoroastrian concepts which filtered down into Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Also from Zoroastrianism would come the Mithra Cult. A worrier god born of a virgin mother, he would become the Roman sun god and the official god of the Roman Empire. Emperor Constantine (baptized on his death bed) would worship this god and seemed to confuse the sun god with the later Son of God. The Christian Virgin Birth story originates with Mithraism and is unsupported in the Old Testament. The Zoroastrian motto is "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds."
It's just as probable Judaism greatly influenced Zoroastrianism. It predates it, and a million Jews lived in Babylon before the Persians destroyed it and freed the Jews around 520 BC.
Paula Fredriksen says of Sepphoris,
Sepphoris was known as the jewel of the Galilee. It was one of the capital cities of the Galilee and it's the first capital of Herod's son, who is an independent Jewish client king of Rome during the lifetime of Jesus...Sepphoris is a beautiful, wealthy city. It's a Jewish city.
But like most wealthy Jewish cities in the Greco-Roman period, it's architectural statements are done in Greco-Roman idiom. That doesn't mean that it's Greco-Roman culture. No more than we would think that Thomas Jefferson [was] because Monticello has elements of Greek architecture...
Sepphoris...was moneyed. It was the center of trade for the area. And if Jesus were growing up in Nazareth, which is just a walk for somebody healthy...I think it's something like three miles. If he were a carpenter, or some kind of craftsman, he might have done work in Sepphoris...What does this imply about Jesus' social class?
It's hard to know. I think that since he's depicted as a pious Jew, and since pious Jews have a six-day work week, and since on the seventh day they have particular obligations that don't allow them to take long journeys, (on the Sabbath you really are supposed to rest.
You're not supposed to hike into Sepphoris and maybe, catch a play in the afternoon, or something like that.) I don't think that culturally, Sepphoris would have made all that much difference. I think as most people in his period who are not landed gentry, Jesus would have worked for a living for six days a week and rested on the Sabbath....
But was Sepphoris "a Jewish city" as Fredriksen claims? Why would Jews adopt so much Greek architecture? Mahlon H. Smith has a differing view,
When the Roman Senate made Herod "king of the Judeans" with authority over Galilee (39 BCE), Sepphoris refused to submit to him until subdued in a bloody siege [Josephus, War 1.304]. When Herod died (4 BCE), Judah ben Hezekiah, son of the leader of the first revolt, plundered the Herodian palace in Sepphoris and armed the populace. This led Varus, the new Roman governor of Syria, to burn the city and sell its inhabitants into slavery.
Herod's son Antipas reconstructed Sepphoris as a model Roman city, renaming it Autocratoris in honor of the emperor Augustus. For 23 years this was his capitol until he built Tiberias (19 CE). Current excavations have not yet determined how much of the city's eventual 150 acres were developed by Antipas.
But this massive Herodian urban building project, that included a theater that could seat 15,000 must have had a major impact on the economy and social life of southern Galilee during the first 2 decades of the 1st c CE, including residents of surrounding villages such as Nazareth, just 3.5 miles to the southeast.
The extent of the Romanization of Sepphoris was dramatized by the fact that the city refused to join the great Jewish revolt against Rome (66 CE). Only after 150 CE did it gain religious importance to Jews, when Judah ha Nasi moved the rabbinic Academy there. The Mishna was published at Sepphoris and it remained a center of rabbinic teaching clear down to 363 CE when it suffered a major earthquake.
The question of pagan influences in the Galilee still remains an object of debate. Ref. URL http://virtualreligion.net/iho/sepphoris.html
Sepphoris is very important to Jesus, the city was rebuilt between 10-30 C.E. Here would be steady work for a carpenter (some say stone mason) and his son. There Jesus may have been exposed to Greek culture and language. Jesus' mother Mary was supposed to be from Sepphoris.
Further note that while Jesus left no writings Himself doesn't mean He couldn't read. Writing materials were very expensive but that didn't keep Him from reading the Torah or learning to read Greek or some other language. Greek was the language of commerce; Aramaic was the everyday language while Hebrew (or Aramaic) would have been the language of the Torah.
Nazareth was on the fringes of Hellenistic and Orthodox Judaism. Jesus could have been exposed to other cultures and not isolated as many like to pretend. He wouldn't have any need to go to India or anywhere else to be exposed to Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, or Greek philosophy. Many of his sayings are somewhat like those of the Jewish Sage Hillel (died circa 10 C.E.?) who came from Babylon and himself a brilliant man and popular with his fellow Jews.
It should also be noted that Buddhism had reached the west with records of Buddhist Monks in Alexandria, Egypt and elsewhere. So to say Jesus was Zoroaster or Buddha or recreation of them, thus being a myth, is just radial Humanist wishful thinking. Zoroastrianism, Buddhists, Greeks, Romans, and many others existed where he lived and to varying degrees influenced the culture. So Jesus never needed to travel to India or Persia. This would have had more influence on Hellenistic Jews (or converts) such as the writer of Gospel of John and Saint Paul.
Unlike Zoroastrianism, Buddhism takes a very negative worldview that's irrational and attempts to escape reality:
The Four Noble Truths 1. All worldly life is unsatisfactory, disjointed, containing suffering. 2. There is a cause of suffering, which is attachment or desire rooted in ignorance. 3. There is an end of suffering, which is Nirvana. 4. There is a path that leads out of suffering, known as the Noble Eightfold Path. 1. Right Understanding 2. Right Thought 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration The Five Precepts 1. I refrain from harming living creatures (killing). 2. I refrain from taking that which is not given (stealing). 3. I refrain from sexual misconduct. 4. I refrain from incorrect speech (lying, harsh language, slander, idle chit-chat). 5. I refrain from intoxicants which lead to carelessness.
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who lived between approximately 563 and 483 BCE about the time of the Persian Empire. Originating in India, Buddhism gradually spread throughout Asia.
- Classical Deist' View of Religion and Its Application Today
- Were the Three Magi Zoroastrian Pilgrims?
- Biblical Monotheism and Persian Influences
- More Questions on Zoroastrianism for Comparison
- Traditional Zoroastrianism Another View
- Early Life of Zoroaster From Zoroastrians
- Calling Jesus a Recreation of Zoroaster is Rubbish
- Zoroastrianism Influence on Christianity and Judaism Hard to Prove
- Zoroastrianism and Judaism According to the Jewish Encyclopedia
- Influence of Zoroastrianism On Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism
- Why Jesus was not Zoroaster or Buddha
- Is the Resemblance Between Zoroastrianism and Judaism Coincidence?
- Hellenism Meets Judaism
- Judaism Versus Zoroastrianism
- What are we to believe?
- Zoroastrians Keep Dwindling
- Under Judaism God Alone Does Good and Evil
- Problem of Original Source Material for Zoroastrianism
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