I would like to start this off by emphasizing that I am not out to attack the religion that was founded on the teachings of that famous son of David nearly two millennia ago. I only want to put one part of that religion into an historical context. The Greeks had a young man who had fallen in love with Aphrodite. His name was Adonis. By an arrangement with Hades, he was rejuvenated every spring into a beautiful young man. The Greeks weren’t the only culture with a similar story. In Egypt, Osiris died and came back from the with the help of his wife. Among the Mesopotamians there was a god named Tammuz, whille the Canaanites knew him as Ba’al. Closer to home the Phrygians knew him as Attis and the Etruscans as Atunis. In all cases these deities were associated with seasonal fertility, in all cases they came back from the dead.
Just like our familiar hero of Christianity. I don’t bring this up to discount Christianity, as I prefaced this blog with. What I am pointing out is a common theme. From modern Iraq to Italy, from Greece to Egypt, there is typically a fertility god associated with life-death-rebirth. And Jesus, or whatever the person’s given name was (surely he was not given the title of savior as a personal name, that would have made for awkward social situations) just happened to be born along the crossroads.
It is generally accepted among scholars that there have been trade routes since the earliest times. For instance we know that the Phoenicians sailed the Mediterranean as traders and after them it was the Greeks. We know that the there was a trade route from India to Egypt. It is also reasonable that the most central and logical gathering point for all these trading routes would have been Israel.
And Jesus was born and raised there, as were all of his followers during his lifetime.
In modern times we have come to celebrate the new year on January first. It’s kind of silly when you think about it, January 1st is an unimportant day. It is not quite in the middle of winter and it has no astronomical or practical use. In ancient and probably in prehistoric times, however, the spring equinox was the first day of the new year. It signaled the emergence of new life and a resurgence of food. When humans began planting crops, the new year meant a time for that. It should come as no surprise that festivals regarding all of the deities named above took place around the spring equinox.
Which is exactly the dating for Easter. And as three was a magical number for the ancients, it was common for the entire spring ceremony to take three days. Which is exactly what happens with Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Does this mean that events in the New Testament were shifted around known and accepted pagan ceremonies when the Gospels were finally written down decades after the events they described? Of course not. Does it mean that Jesus might have manipulated events to coincide with known and accepted ceremonies? Highly doubtful. It’s just interesting that there are so many curious similarities between Jesus’ death and the religions that penetrated every part of the region he was in. The timing of his death, his life-death-rebirth, and the number three. That’s all.