Have you ever run across people who believe the apostles simply copied similarities from the Mithras religion in order to gain a following? Well, I have run across a few on the discussion forums, and they try to say the Christian faith is based upon this Persian religion that the Roman military popularized in the West. Well, it just isn’t so. There isn’t a shred of solid evidence to prove their case. For example, a few people have tried to tell me that the god, Mithras, was born on December 25th just like Christianity says about Jesus. Well, there are two obvious things wrong with their conclusion. First of all, the Mithraic scholarship of today is undecided about when Mithras was supposed to have been born, and, secondly, several pagan religions celebrated the birth of their god about this time of year. It is winter solstice, after all! So, even if it could be shown that Mithras was born at this time, what makes folks believe Christianity copied him?
In any case the whole matter is a farce, since one cannot show with the Bible that Jesus was born on or even near December 25th. His birth was simply not observed during the 1st century CE, so no matter what one concludes about Mithras and December 25th, it has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus in the 1st century CE.
Actually the implications of the Gospel narratives would lead one to believe Jesus was born in the fall, and, if one takes Revelation 12 into account, regarding the sign of the woman and the child in the heavens (Virgo), Jesus was born on the first day of the 7th month of the Hebrew calendar or the Feast of Trumpets.
So, the real question is: how did we come to observe December 25th as the birth of Jesus? Well, there are a lot of theories, but one that makes a lot of sense to me is that it was used as a vehicle to spread the Gospel after Constantine made Christianity the state religion. Many people were simply illiterate at that time, especially country folk, so how would one tell an illiterate world about Jesus and have one’s message remembered? Well, an easy method would be to ‘Christianize’ matters of their own religion and give the old symbols a new meaning. After all the first chapter of Romans tells us the at one time all men knew the truth about God, but we corrupted the truth in order to exclude the real God from our knowledge. Based upon this understanding, there would be some truth in any ancient pagan religion, but the amount of truth would be relative and corrupt. Now, before anyone tries to say that this would mean either Mithras or paganism had a significant effect upon Christianity, let me say that Christianity was already established long before the 4th century CE. The New Testament was already written, and after Constantine supposedly accepted the Christian faith, the Church sought a way to make the Gospel understandable to a basically illiterate world. They did what they could.
Did it happen this way? Well, it is a thought to consider, and it fits the context of history, but, admittedly, the idea is not cast in cement. The main point of this blog, however, is that neither the Mithras nor any other pagan religion had an influence upon the founding of the Christian faith or upon the writing of the New Testament.
Another idea concerning why we celebrate December 25th is that early Christians actually theorized that Jesus’ birth was probably about this time, and this site, Ancient and Future Catholics, presents a good argument for that case. However, I do disagree with the idea of December 25th being the birth date of Christ, because I consider, as alluded to above, the Feast of Trumpets in the Jewish calendar to be the date of his birth. Nevertheless, this site presents a logical premise for why we began to celebrate December 25th.
The idea that our celebrating Christmas was copied from the Mithras religion and that our doing so represents a fundamental argument that the Apostles used symbols and ideas in that religion to sell Christ to the world is logically wrong and has absolutely no basis in fact.