2015-03-03

Jesus and Horus

The mere abundance of so-called parallels is its own distortion, for the height of the pile misleads him who reads as he runs to suppose that he is dealing with sifted material.
- Samuel Sandmel, Parallelomania (1962)

Lists of facts, or rather "facts", comparing Jesus and Horus have been around for some time. They got a publicity boost with the infamous Zeitgeist some years ago but are much older. As an exercise in checking facts, they are excellent; in every other respect, they are worthless.

Story written down ...

The story of Jesus was indeed written down 2000 years ago.

The story of Horus is more complicated. Egyptian mythology isn't fixed and rigid, at least not from our perspective. The gods were altered, mixed and generally messed around with. Usually very slowly, but after thousands of years the accumulated changes were considerable. The earliest traces of Horus are some 5000 years old, but in those days he was merely the patron god of Nekhen/Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt. He used to be the brother of Isis, Osiris, Set and Nephthys; later, Isis and Osiris would become his parents. In one tradition his mother is Hathor, her very name meaning "the house of Horus". And on it goes.

Born of ...

Jesus was, according to the Bible, born of the virgin Mary.

Horus was, according to later mythology, born of Isis and Osiris (the conception is often described as being highly irregular, but not in the parthenogenic way). There are numerous depictions of the three, which in other bouts of parallelomania has been compared with the holy family as well as the trinity.

Pendant from the 22nd dynasty (ca 850 BC)
thy wife is thy protection and thy son Horus is ruler of the lands
- Lamentation of Isis for Osiris

Birthday is celebrated ...

The Bible never mentions on which day Jesus was born. His birthday is, in many churches, traditionally celebrated on December 25th. In Eastern Orthodoxy and the very old Ethiopian churches his birthday is celebrated on January 7.

Horus was celebrated on a fixed day that kept changing.

The Egyptian calendar had 12 months of 30 days each = 360 days. The remaining five inserted or "epagomenal" days were considered ominous, but also a cause to celebrate since each was the birthday of a major god: Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis and Nephtyhs, in that order. Since 365 days are still a little short of a full year, the calendar "wandered". The epagomenal days were supposed to take place just before the important event of Sirius rising above the horizon in mid-July. Due to the wandering calendar, they instead kept slipping through the year, returning to mid-July every 1460 years or so. In the days of Jesus and, more importantly, Plutarch who described many Egyptians customs, they took place around midwinter.

A star led wise men ...

The Bible mentions an unspecified star in the east (Matthew 2:2) that caused an unspecified number of astrologers (not kings) to go and have a look at the baby. Whatever the supposed star was, if it has ever been, is an issue much debated, but it certainly could not have been the North star since it's in the north and doesn't move.

Horus birth was not associated with a star. And what three wise men? This idea appears to come (through the blessing of Zeitgeist) from an English writer who was an expert in mixing things up:
... the Star in the East that arose to announce the birth of [Jesus] was Orion, which is therefore called the star of Horus. That was once the star of the three kings; for the 'three kings' is still a name of three stars in Orion's belt.
- Gerald Massey, The Historical Jesus, and the Mythical Christ (London, 1880s), page 7

The quote is not taken out of context. The entire pamphlet is, though mercifully short, a hopeless, incomprehensible confusion beyond rescue. It could be described as a victorian Zeitgeist.

Taken to Egypt ...

According to Matthew, and no other books in the Bible, Joseph fled to Egypt with his family.

Typhon was a monster and supervillain. He did not, however, belong to the mythology of ancient Egypt but of ancient Greece, many centuries later. What is he doing here? Possibly because the Greeks, who enjoyed identifying the gods of other people with their own gods, identified the evil Egyptian god of Set with Typhon. Set killed Osiris, after which, according to ambiguous sources, Isis reassembled and reanimated the corpse to get pregnant. After giving birth to Horus (not in a cave but in a papyrus thicket) the young boy had indeed to be protected from the bad guy. The Osiris myth details numerous murder attempts. In some texts Isis does travel with her son, though not to Egypt - they were already there.

Taught in the temple ...

According to Luke, at the age of 12 Jesus visited the temple of Jerusalem and impressed the rabbis. That doesn't count as "taught".

Horus didn't teach nothing.

Baptized at the age of 30 ...

According to Luke, Jesus was about 30 years of age when he began his ministry. This required being baptized, which was done by John, henceforth known as the Baptist.

Horus wasn't baptized. "Anpu the Baptizer" was invented by Gerald Massey.

Had twelve disciples

Jesus had twelve disciples.

Horus didn't have any disciples.

Performed miracles and walked on water
Raised ... from the dead

According to the Bible, Jesus performed several miracles, including walking on water and raising Lazarus from the dead.

Horus didn't do miracles, unless you count fighting an evil god. His mother Isis did perform healing several times, including the major feat of temporarily raising Osiris from the dead. So we're supposed to believe 1) that Osiris was ever written as "El-Azur-us", and 2) that Horus raised him.

Was transfigured on a mount

According to the Bible, Jesus was transfigured on a mount. It is a major miracle in the New Testament.

Horus wasn't transfigured on any mount but, it has been pointed out, disfigured. In one tale, Set attacks Horus in the desert, plucks out his eyes and buries them on a mountain where they grew into lotus blossoms.

The way, the truth, the light ...

Plenty of titles here. All of them are correct regarding Jesus. Even "the morning star", which might remind you of Lucifer: "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!"

As for Horus ... The Egyptians were fond of titles, pharaohs and deities had lots of them. But if there is an ancient Egyptian source where a single one of the ones listed is attributed to Horus, it is yet to be found.

Crucified ...

Yes, Jesus was crucified etc. It's in the Bible all right.

There is nothing remotely similar regarding Horus. The Egyptian gods were not immortal, as the example of Osiris shows, and there is a tale of Horus being killed by a vicious scorpion sent by Set.
He for whose wants I provided, he who was to avenge his father, is bitten!
- Isis laments her dead son

Horus is eventually surrected by the god Thoth. He is never buried.

***

As always, I am more than happy to be corrected. Maybe I've overlooked and/or misunderstood things; maybe I've found suboptimal sources.

The Jesus/Horus exercise in fact-checking has of course been done many times. Some debunkers have gone through slightly different lists of J/H factoids. Some have done a better job than others. One of the best I found while doing my own humble attempt above was, surprising or not, on a religious site: Jesus vs Horus ... The True Facts by Andre Bland.


Wikipedia: Jesus Christ in comparative mythology#Ancient Egypt; Parallellomania

3 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

>> In Eastern Orthodoxy and the very old Ethiopian churches his birthday is celebrated on January 7.

Fast detta beror väl på hur man räknar. Är inte 7 januari i julianska kalendern lika med 25 december i den gregorianska?

Anonym sa...

Jag har fatt lara mig att i den religiosa konsthistorien finns det en klar koppling mellan Horus och Jesus sa tillvida att avbildningar av Maria och Jesusbarnet uppvisar tydligt inflytande fran liknande avbildningar av Isis och Horus; alltsa storre likhet an man bara kan vanta sig av tva disparata avbildningar av temat mer eller mindre gudomlig moder med gudomligt barn. Kopplingen Jesus Horus ar alltsa inte fullstandigt gripen ur luften.

I ovrigt ser jag inga likheter mellan Horus och Jesus. De bocker om egyptisk mytologi jag har last stammer med vad Hexmaster skrivit ar jag radd; inga larjungar, inga mirakler, ingen undervisning, ingen korsfastelse. (Dessa bocker var dock popularvetenskapliga eller rena sagobocker.)

Allt tyder pa att nagon mindre nograknad individ har strackt pa fakta tills de skriker och bryts.

Hexmaster sa...

A1: Greg/Jul-diffen verkar det vara. Har väl vetat men glömt... Men förändras faktum, att J firas på mer än en dag?
A2: Den konsthistoriska aspekten känner jag igen. Vad som nu kan vara lån, inspiration, eller att mor & barn är ett motiv med begränsad variation.