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Horus S***?

So I'm reading articles lately on debunking the Book of The Dead myth. The argument has been used here a number of times and I was always just too uninterested in this to bother looking into it any further, but this article is one of a couple I've read lately. Is it Horus shit?
This article was published in the Nov-Dec 2012 issue of Catholic Answers Magazine.

Many atheists, neo-pagans, and other disbelievers of Christianity claim the story of Jesus Christ was borrowed from earlier mythologies. In recent years, a claim has been making the rounds that Jesus is based on the Egyptian god, Horus.

Who was Horus?
Horus is one of the oldest recorded deities in the ancient Egyptian religion. Often depicted as a falcon or a man with a falcon head, Horus was believed to be the god of the sun and of war. Initially he appeared as a local god, but over time the ancient Egyptians came to believe the reigning pharaoh was a manifestation of Horus (cf. Encyclopedia Britannica, “Horus”).

What about Jesus?
The skeptical claims being made about Jesus are not always the same. In some versions he was a persuasive teacher whose followers later attempted to deify him by adopting aspects of earlier god-figures, while in others he is merely an amalgamation of myths and never really existed at all. Both versions attempt to provide evidence that the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ are rip-offs.

In the 2008 documentary film Religulous (whose name is a combination of religion and ridiculous), erstwhile comedian and political commentator Bill Maher confronts an unprepared Christian with this claim. Here is part of their interaction.

Bill Maher: But the Jesus story wasn’t original.
Christian man: How so?
Maher: Written in 1280 B.C., the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus. Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother. He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer who was later beheaded. Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert, healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water. He raised Asar from the dead. “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.” Oh, yeah, he also had twelve disciples. Yes, Horus was crucified first, and after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.

Maher is only repeating things that are and believed by many people today. Similar claims are made in movies such as Zeitgeist and Religulous and in pseudo-academic books such as Christ in Egypt: The Jesus-Horus Connection and Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth.

Often Christians are not prepared for this type of encounter, and some are even swayed by this line of argumentation. Maher’s tirade provides a good summary of the claims, so let’s deconstruct it, one line at a time.

Written in 1280 BC, the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus.
In fact, there are many “books of the dead.” But there is no single, official Book of the Dead. The books are collections of ancient Egyptian spells that were believed to help the deceased on their journey to the afterlife. The title Book of the Dead comes from an Arabic label referring to the fact that the books were mostly found with mummies (cf. The Oxford Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Funerary Literature”). Some of these texts contain vignettes depicting the god Horus, but they don’t tell us much about him.

Our information about Horus comes from a variety of archaeological sources. What we do know from the most recent scholarship on the subject is that there were many variations of the story, each of them popularized at different times and places throughout the 5,000-year span of ancient Egyptian history. Egyptologists recognize the possibility that these differences may have been understood as aspects or facets of the same divine persona, but they nevertheless refer to them as distinct Horus-gods (cf. The Oxford Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Horus”).
Part of the problem with the “Jesus is Horus” claim is that in order to find items that even partially fit the life story of Jesus, advocates of the view must cherry-pick bits of myth from different epochs of Egyptian history. This is possible today because modern archaeology has given us extensive knowledge of Egypt’s religious beliefs and how they changed over time, making it possible to cite one detail from this version of a story and another from that.

But the early Christians, even if they had wanted to base the Gospels on the Horus myths, would have had no way to do so. They might have known what was believed about Horus in the Egypt of their day, but they would have had no access to the endless variations of the stories that laid buried in the sands until archaeologists started digging them up in the 1800s.

Another part of the problem is that the claimed parallels between Jesus and Horus contain half-truths, distortions, and flat-out falsehoods. For example . . .


Asked by adnilm at 7:31 PM on Oct. 28, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 40 (118,866 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (33)
  • She posted an article on a debate forum. That hardly qualifies as "bitching". Some of us enjoyed the article, some didn't. No need to be hateful about it.

    Answer by Iamgr8teful at 11:14 PM on Nov. 11, 2012

  • Don't know about the Horus sh*t, but the holier-than-thou drama queen sh*t is alive and grasping at straws. Horus mythology predates the Jesus mythology. There's no tap-dancing around that. It does. The jews spent decades enslaved to the Egyptians and heard their myths over and over and over. Plus the Israelites were notorious "borrowers". But the end result is the same. Neither Horus nor Jesus EVER existed. Egyptian mythology is likely as full of errors and contradictions as the christian mythology because it's the same thing. Fiction. Written by men. You missed this straw.

    Answer by witchqueen at 9:41 PM on Oct. 28, 2012

  • Evolutionary religious theory just doesn't hold water

    Yeah, I'll take the word of the PhDs over the Director of Marketing for Catholic Answers on that one.


    Answer by NotPanicking at 2:01 PM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • Don't know why I'm bothering to comment on an academically specious load of crap written by someone with the obvious intent of convincing the simple minded that other people can be swayed from their faith more easily than Christians can. However, the arguments are lopsided, only addressing one facet of the traditions which pre-date Christianity and were absorbed into its mythos.

    He ignores completely the fact that many early Christians were polytheistic, travelling around the Mediterranean, and treating Jesus as just one more deity among many, incorporating his principles into their rituals and beliefs alongside Horus and Tyr and Fides. They were migratory people, who traded religion and stories as easily as salt and grain. Apparently in this silly author's world, Christianity existed in a vacuum, even the traders were illiterate, and they never traded with ANYONE who wasn't Christian.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 1:40 PM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • It would be good if people understood half of what they post.

    True, then we all might have been spared this article in the first place.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 1:58 PM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • Who said you had to believe everything.

    As long as you don't believe for one second that they were in any way influenced by anyone they ever met who came from anywhere on the planet where Christianity was not the dominant religion (even when Christianity wasn't a dominant religion anywhere, yet).

    Answer by NotPanicking at 3:28 PM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • NotPanicking--love ya!!! No, I didn't read all of the article. The crap appeared so early on, there was obviously no point in finishing. Plus, proving or disproving the existence of Horus, or the validity of his mythology, doesn't prove or disprove the existence of Jesus nor make valid the christian mythology. Or existence of Little Red Riding Hood for that matter. On a side note, does anybody understand the o.p.'s obsession with fecal matter? She sure brings it up a lot, for a self-proclaimed christian.

    Answer by witchqueen at 5:17 PM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • All this does for me is make Jesus seem even more like a surviving myth. Like witchqueen said, Jewish slaves would've heard the stories, in fact, the Egyptians may have even tried to convert them.

    Answer by 3libras at 10:15 AM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • Yes, but the idea that Jews borrowed the story of Christ isn't plausible.


    Why? Especially when they also borrowed the flood myth.


    Answer by 3libras at 1:53 PM on Oct. 29, 2012

  • i dont believe everything about Jesus in the Bible is free from human error or borrowing...its just not reasonable looking at the way humanity works now & then. especially since the Gospels werent written down for almost 50 years after Jesus' crucifixion. also the church itself has changed the story of Jesus to suit their own needs (like moving Jesus bday to Dec 25 in order to encourage Pagan conversion) that its no wonder that many Christians dont know enough about their own religious history to tell the difference between the true similarities and the manufactured similarities.

    Answer by okmanders at 2:48 PM on Oct. 29, 2012