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Jesus and Zoroastrianism

05 Oct

I had been under the impression that Zoroaster was a Persian god, but I was wrong. After a little investigation I have found that he is actually a Persian prophet. Some would like to date him about 1700 BCE, but most scholars date him to about the sixth century BCE, but even this is not set in stone. At any rate the Zoroastrian religion predates the time of Jesus. Actually, Zoroaster is his Greek name. The Persians called him Zarathustra. Nevertheless, his early dating before the life of Christ is not to say that everything written about Zarathustra dates back to the time before Jesus. It doesn’t, and this is easily proved but it is not always believed by those who bent on showing the New Testament accounts of Jesus are taken from or at least based upon the Zoroastrian religion.

At first it was quite difficult to find a website that would list the supposed similarities between Zarathustra (Zoroaster) and Jesus, but I found Wilson’s Almanac to fit the bill. The site is big on producing the similarities but comes up short on actually showing evidence for his suppositions. I don’t know how helpful each website is that he lists as his source for opinions concerning various religions, but I did check out those having to do with Zoroaster. All his sources for his suppositions for the Zoroaster/Jesus similarities are bogus. They took me to something other than what they were supposed to do. Only one said it was an error. The two links that did take me to something having to do with Zoroaster didn’t support any similarities between the cult and Jesus. They did show what is believed by the Zoroastrian religion. Anyway, let’s get to the supposed similarities:

  • Zarathustra was born of a virgin
  • The name Zoroaster means “seed of the woman”
  • Zoroaster was baptized in a river
  • He went into the wilderness to be tempted by the evil one
  • He restored the sight of a blind man
  • Names of Zarathustra include: “the Word made Flesh” and “Logos”
  • Zarathustra’s followers celebrated a sacred Eucharistic meal
  • Zoroaster’s followers expected a “second coming” of their prophet

Actually, other than having a kind of glow about him Zarathustra had a natural birth to a normal married couple Dukdaub and Pourushasp, his mother and father respectively (Denkard, Bk 5 2:1-2). The name, Zarthustra, actually has to do with old or weak camels. His name is derived from zareta, meaning old or feeble, and ustra, meaning camel.

The closest Zoroaster comes to being baptized is that it is said that he received a revelation on the bank of a river. As far as going into the wilderness to be tempted is concerned, the place of his temptation is never mentioned, and the actual temptation was not by the chief evil personality, Angra Mainyu, but one of his demons. The temptation consisted of a request to give up his loyalty to the main god, Ahura Mazda (Vendidad Fargad 19:6). This story is nothing like Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by Satan. While it is true that Zoroaster is offered power over the nations, the story was penned late, long after the writings of the New Testament. It comes to us sometime between the 3rd and the 7th centuries CE.

There is absolutely no Zoroastrian text showing Zoroaster was ever referred to as the Logos or the Word made flesh, either explicitly or implicitly. Neither do his followers celebrate him or his death in a Eucharistic meal. The closest to this is Zoroastrians drank the juice of the sacred haoma plant, but this rite didn’t have the body and blood significance that the Christian rite of the bread and wine have with respect to Jesus. Thus, no parallel is apparent except in the minds of people who wish to read Christian terminology into pagan myths.

The miracle of healing the blind man comes to us from the 10th century CE. There are no such parallels in the Zoroastrian religion to Jesus’ life until long after the New Testament was written.

What about Zoroaster’s “2nd Coming”? Actually, late texts speak of three comings whereby the sons of Zoroaster will come after three virgins are impregnated by Zoroaster’s sperm preserved in a lake where they are supposed to bathe. This bears no resemblance to Jesus’ return, but even if one would try to claim that it did, it was written centuries after the New Testament was complete. There is a pre-Christian story of the coming of a great one who ushers in a golden age, but the text doesn’t mention Zoroaster, and it makes no mention of this person “returning”.

There are really no parallels regarding Jesus. He is the one and only Savior of mankind. Everything that I’ve read thus far concerning supposed parallels are either forced, using Christian phrases for the pagan rites in an effort to show similarity or the supposed similarities come well after the writing of the New Testament.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 5, 2010 in Jesus, Religion, Syncretism

 

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2 responses to “Jesus and Zoroastrianism

  1. Eddie

    July 1, 2013 at 08:17

    Greetings Rick, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your input. Lord bless you.

     
  2. rixistential

    July 1, 2013 at 08:12

    There have been many claims regarding the alleged similarities between Jesus, the various ‘mystery’ religions, and the founders of other religious traditions. But, upon further investigation, the alleged similarities prove to be superficial at best. Furthermore, the differences far outweigh any similarities; and if any borrowing did take place, it was after the fact, and it occurred in the other direction, since the ‘mystery’ traditions were by nature syncretistic.

    However, the real significance of Zarathustra, or Zoroaster (Gr.), was in adding an apocalyptic framework that did not previously exist among the ancients. It was during the period of captivity during the height of the Persian Empire when the Jewish people would have been exposed to the ‘revelatory’ messages of the Persian prophet. Zarathustra had great influence on apocalyptic beliefs concerning the final judgment, the nature of heaven and hell, the cosmic struggle between good and evil, and the development of Satan and his demons. And while it is true that Christianity is not dualism in the strictest sense, it was Zarathustra that laid a framework for the functional dualism that would later emerge with the Satan figure in the New Testament and find its culmination with final war with the cosmic ‘dragon’ in the book of Revelation.

    Therefore, the real significance of Zarathustra, or Zoroaster (Gr.), was not in any alleged similarities with the stories concerning Jesus, but in his pioneer contribution to emerging apocalyptic beliefs found in the later genre of apocalyptic writings.

     
 
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