The OriginS OF Christianity
The Egyptian Religion: (Horus and Isis) and Christianity and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and its coverage of Early Christianity:
Pagan gods: “In Egypt he was Osiris, in Greece Dionysus, in Asia Minor, Attis, in Syria Adonis, in Italy Bacchus, in Persia Mithras” and in Rome Christianity’s Jesus Christ
The Egyptian goddess Isis:
In U.S. New & World Report, Collector’s Edition, “Da Vinci Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Bestselling Novel,” there appeared the following:
“The ‘Sacred Feminine’ Tracing the Links Between Christianity and Ancient Fertility Cults,” by Margaret Starbird, excerpt from The Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine (1998):
Statues: “Early Christian renderings of the Virgin and her child were modeled on the far more ancient images of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the Sister-Bride of Osiris, holding the sacred child Horus, god of light, on her lap.
“Ritual poetry from the cult of Isis and Osiris paralellels the Song of Songs in some places word for word.
“Both lunar and Earth goddesses of the ancient world were often rendered dark to represent feminine principle in justaposition to the solar/masculine, a dualism common in the early civilizations of the Mediterranean. Numerous goddesses were rendered black: Inanna, Isis, Cybele, and Artemis , to name only a few. For the earliest Christians, the goddess in the Gospels was Mary Magdalene, whose epithet meant ‘elevated’ or ‘watch-tower/stronghold.’ … After peaking in the twelfth century, the unique importance of the Magdalene in Western Europe was gradually downgraded from around the mid-13th century–a date that corresponds rather dramatically with the Albigensian crusade against the Cathars,[a heretical sect that believed that the world was created by an evil god] and the adherents of the “Church of Love.’ … The rise of the Inquisition in the 13th century … popular heretical sects that severely threatened the hegemony of the Church of Rome. With collaboration from the French king, the pope mounted a crusade against the Albigensian heretics, a bloody war that lasted for a generation, wiping out whole towns and destroying the cultural flowering of the region known as the Languedoc.
“During this same era, beautiful and important epithets that once belonged tot he Magdalene were shifted to the Virgin Mary and churches built to ‘Our Lady’ ostensibly honored the mother of Jesus as the preeminent bearer of the archetypal feminine – ‘alone of all her sex. Statues and effigies of the Virgin proliferated, most often with her child on her lap, reminiscent of the Egyptian statues of Isis and Horus. … “
[See “Black Madonnas of Europe: Diffusion of the African Isis,” by Danita Redd, in African Presence in Early Europe, Editor, Ivan Van Sertima (1986)
“By the latter half of the third century A.D., Isis had ascended over the Greek and Roman goddesses as she had over other African goddesses. In African and Europe, Isis rose from obscurity to supreme rule over other goddesses. On both continents, the transfiguration of Isis may have been aided by similarities in racial and cultural aspects. Anthropologists have noted that many of the Greek and Roman goddesses were portrayed as black, such as the goddesses Cybele and her daughter Demeter Melaina (often confused with the Eleusian Demeter) as well as Diana, Rhea, Artemis and Ceres. (Footnote: Leonard Moss and Stephen C. Cappannari, “The Black Madonna: An Example of Culture Borrowing,” Scientific Monthly, vol. 73 (1953), p. 322)
“As the cult of Isis spread into and throughout Europe, her associated emblems, majrestic depictions, attributes and titles, first identified in Africa, became well known. Though she maintained her African qualities and gained new qualities from the Greeks and Romans, her protrayals eventually took on the racial features common to the white inhabitants of her new domain. … Greeks and Romans of the ancient world usually associated the veil with feminine virginity, particularly in the virgin cults associated with the Roman goddess Vesta. ‘In some statues and basso-relievos (bas-reliefs) when Isis appears alone, she is entirely veiled from head to foot … as a symbol of a mother’s chastity.’ (Footnote: T. W. Doane, Bible Myths (Truth Seeker Co.: New York), 1882, p. 328) … She was known as the “Great Mother,” The “Tender Mother,” “personification of feminity,” “Immaculate Virgin,” to whom women prayer for forgiveness of sexual sins, “Our Lady,” the “Queen of Heaven,” “Star of the Sea,” and “Mother of God” were other titles associated with her. The cult of Isis coexisted with nascent Christianity, Judaism and assorted Roman religions.
“Initially Christianity did not appeal to the European masses. This was partially due to the fact that nascent Christian doctrine lacked three main elements of mass appeal–elements that we take so much for granted now–resurrection, promise of a better after-life, salvation of the soul. All of these can be found in African religions, particularly in the cult of Isis. The strongest rivalry to nascent Christianity in Europe came from the Isis cult which provided the elements respectively listed: the resurrection myths associated with Osiris and Horus, the role of Isis as protectoress of those in the abode of the dead, and the Isis incantations meant to save souls of the deceased. … The early Christians viewed Eve as the biblical character responsible for the downfall of man and his expulsion from the garden. The Virgin Mary was not a prominent image in nascent Christian art and it took quite a while for her image to proliferate through European Christiandom. The turning point for Christianity in Europe developed after the 313 A.D. declaration of the religious tolerance Edict of Milan by Constantine I. Christianity had gained official recognition in Europe. Emperor Constantine converted to the Christian faith and aided in the passage of laws favorable to Christianity.
“During the 4th century A.D., there was great dissention in the European Christian Churches concerning the doctrinal status of the Virgin Mary. In 428 A.D. Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, put forth the claim that the Virgin Mary was mother to the divine Jesus Christ, differing from the strongest Church faction which insisted that the Virgin Mary was the Mother of God (as seen through the idea that Jesus was God reborn in earthly form). In 430 A.D. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, called a synod which included the major Christian leaders of Europe. The 431 A.D. official declaration of the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God was the result of this synod, the Council of Ephesus. Cyril’s faction of the Christian Church formed the European Orthodox Churches (which eventually separated into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The absent Nestorius was ousted from the Constantinope Patriarchy and his writings were burned as a result of the Council of Ephesus.
“Nascent Christianity now contained the elements for mass appeal. The Virgin Mary was elevated to a status equal to the status of Isis. European Christians appealed to God through the image of the Virgin Mary, who was recognized as a divine intervener. Many early Christians believed in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. Though it did not become official Church doctrine until the eighteenth century A.D., the concept grew in popularity. The attributes and titles which catapulted the Virgin Mary into the realm of goddesshood were borrowed from the African Isis. … Titles of the Virgin which includes “The Madonna,” “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” “The Great Mother” and “Our Lady” (are the same titles attributed to the African Isis long before the existence of Christianity.”
“Statues of the goddess Isis with the child Horus in her arms were common in Egypt, and were exported to all neighboring and to many remote countries, where they are now found with new names attached to them–Christian in Europe, Buddhist in Turkestan, Taoist in China and Japan. Figures of the Virgin Isis do duty as representations of Mary, of Hariti, of Juan-Yin, of Kwannon and of other Virgin Mothers of Gods.” [Footnote: Jocelyn Rhys, Shaken Creeds: The Virgin Birth Doctrine (Watts and Co.; London), 1922]