The term Osiris-Dionysus is used by some historians of religion to refer to a group of deities worshipped around the Mediterranean in the centuries prior to the emergence of Jesus. It has been argued that these deities were closely related and shared many characteristics, most notably being male, partly-human, born of virgins, life-death-rebirth deities and other similar characteristics.
The Egyptian god Osiris and the Greek god Dionysus had been equated as long ago as the 5th century BC by the historian Herodotus (see interpretatio graeca). By Late Antiquity, some Gnostic and Neoplatonist thinkers had expanded this syncretic equation to include Aion, Adonis, Attis, Mithras and other gods of the mystery religions. The composite term Osiris-Dionysus is found around the start of the first century BC, for example in Aegyptiaca by Hecateus of Abdera, and in works by Leon of Pella.
Freke and Gandy base the Jesus Mysteries thesis partly on a series of parallels between their suggested biography of Osiris-Dionysus and the biography of Jesus drawn from the four canonical gospels. Their suggested reconstruction of the myth of Osiris-Dionysus, compiled from the myths of ancient dying and resurrected “godmen,” bears a striking resemblance to the gospel accounts. The authors give a short list of parallels at the beginning of the book:
- Osiris-Dionysus is God made flesh, the savior and “Son of God.”
- His father is God and his mother is a mortal virgin, 7 month pregnancy.
- He is born in a cave or humble cowshed on December 25 before three shepherds.
- He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism.
- He miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony.
- He rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honor him.
- He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
- After his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in glory.
- His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days.
- His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolize his body and blood.
Later chapters add further parallels, including Mary’s 7 month pregnancy.
Serapis (Latin spelling, or Sarapis in Greek) was a syncretic Hellenistic–Egyptian god in Antiquity. His most renowned temple was at Alexandria,. Under Ptolemy Soter, efforts were made to integrate Egyptian religion with that of their Hellenic rulers. Ptolemy’s policy was to find a deity that should win the reverence alike of both groups, despite the curses of the Egyptian priests against the gods of the previous foreign rulers (i.e Set who was lauded by the Hyksos). Alexander the Great had attempted to use Amun for this purpose, but he was more prominent in Upper Egypt, and not as popular with those in Lower Egypt, where the Greeks had stronger influence. The Greeks had little respect for animal-headed figures, and so a Greek-style anthromorphic statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as the equivalent of the highly popular Apis.It was named Aser-hapi (i.e. Osiris-Apis), which became Serapis, and was said to be Osiris in full, rather than just his Ka (life force).
Water into Wine, Tom Harpur
p 242: When it comes to the widespread first-century cult of Serapis, Barb explains: “Serapis is fundamentally Osiris/Horus… and he serves as the expression of monotheistic tendencies: [there is] one god, Serapis,” it says on numerous monuments.
Christ in Egypt, D.M. Murdock
pp 31-32: As in Christianity, within the Egyptian solar religion the sun god’s power is illustrated by the divine qualities of omnipresence, omnipotence and oniscience, typically defining the god of the cosmos within monotheism. For example, demonstrating his omnipresence, the God Sun is contained in everything, as in the Great Hymn,” which addresses the sun as “you create millions of incarnations from yourself, the One.”6 In a section about the god “Re-Horakhty,” Dr. Assman entitles a selection of hymns, “oOmnipresence of the Light: God-Filled World.’ This material reflecting omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience includes scriptures such as: “Every way is full of your light”; “Are you not the leader on all ways?”; and “There are no limits to the field of his vision and no place hidden to his ka.”1 The ka is defined by James Allen as the “force of conscious omniscience in its worshippers – called in the texts the “sun-folks”3 – as highlighted in this line from a sun hymn: “The morning sun which enables one to know all things.”4
This concept of the “omniscience of light” is part of the “new solar theology” in which “the unattainably distant sun comes palpably near to earth creatures,” providing ” the idea of the simultaneous remoteness and proximity of god…”5 The German scholar next says:
The idea of proximity of god arises not from the sensual experience of light, but from the transcendental idea of a divine omniscience and omnipresence, in which god is right next to the heart “that turns to him.”6
As we can see, the Egyptian concept of God here is highly reminiscent of that found in Judeo-Christianity. The Egyptian God Sun is also depicted as hearing “the prayers of all who call him.”7
pp 53-54: Regarding the Egyptian and Christian trinities and scriptural parallels, Morenz is prompted to conclude, “The multifarious links between Egypt and Judeo-Christian scriptures and trinitariantheology can already be traced with some degree of plausibility.”5 In his discussion of “Egyptian trinities,” as he terms them, Morenz includes a section addressing the idea of “unity in plurality.”6 The German scholar also points out that a “trinity” can likewise be created out of the “primordial One” and “the first pair of gods to be begotten”7 Regarding the motif of the trinity, Morenz further states:
…thus three gods are combined and treated as a single being, adressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology.
Deconstructing Jesus, Robert M. Price
p 26: Egypt presents us with the same picture yet again. The first attested workers for Christ there were the Gnostics Valentinus, Basilides, Apelles, Carpocrates, and his son Isidore. Phlegon preserves a letter attributed to Hadrian noting that all Christian priests in Egypt worshipped Serapis, too! The leading gospels in Egypt, the Gospels according to the Hebrews and according to the Egyptians, as far as we can tell from their extant fragments, were Gnostic or heretical in color. Bauer could detect no trace of Demetrius. But does not tradition make the gospel-writer Mark the first bishop of Egypt? Indeed it does, but like the letters of Jesus and Abgarus, this legend seems to be but another spurious “orthodox” origin for Egyptian Christianity (assuming Mark and his gospel could themselves be judged orthodox!).
pp 26-27: About the Nag Hammadi library – “What makes this discovery all the more astonishing is that associated documents show the collection of leather-bound volumes to have been from the monastic library of the Brotherhood of Saint Pachomius, the first known Christian monastery. Apparently when the monks received the Easter Letter from Athanasius in 367 C.E., which contains the first known listing of the canonical twenty-seven New Testament books, warning the faithful to read no others, the brethren must have decided to hide their cherished “heretical gospels, lest they fall into the hands of the ecclesiastical book burners. We may perhaps take that monastery as a cameo, a microcosm of Egyptian Christianity in the fourthcentury, diverse in doctrine, though soon to suffocate beneath the smothering veil of catholic orthodoxy.
Christ in Egypt, D.M. Murdock
pp 23-24: Dr. Richard A. Gabriel in Jesus the Egyptian… tersely recounts this disturbing history:
In 356 C.E. ConstantiusII ordered the Egyptian temples of Isis-Osiris closed and forbade the use of Egyptian hieroglyphics as a religious language. In 380 C.E. Emperor Theodosius declared Christianity to be the official Roman state religion and all pagan cults were thereafter forbidden. These edicts were devastating to the Egyptian culture and religion, both of which had been preserved over millennia through the Egyptian language and the writing systems of Egyptian priests. In 391 C.E., the patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus, summoned the monks to arms and turned them against the city of Memphis and the great shrine of Serapis, the Serapeum, the main temple of the Osiran-Isis religion. The attack was akin to ordering the destruction of the Vatican. Egyptian priests were massacred in their shrines and in the streets. The ferocity of the violence consumed priests, followers, and the Egyptian intellectual elite of Alexandria, Memphis and the other cities of Egypt who were murdered and their temples and libraries destroyed. The institutional structure of Egyptian religion, then more than four millennium old, was demolished in less than two decades.”