Jesus' Life Borrowed From Ancient Egyptian Mythology?
Bill Maher, in his mockumentary called Religulous, implies that the story of Jesus' life was borrowed from ancient Egyptian mythology. Maher belongs to a group of extreme skeptics known as “mythicists.” This group believes that Jesus never existed (i.e. the gospels are “myth”) and that his life was invented by borrowing motifs from other religions in the ancient world. Jon Sorensen is a former atheist who used to hold to the mythicist view. However, unlike many of his fellow mythicists, Sorensen decided to investigate the claims for himself. What he discovered shook up his entire view of Jesus and helped bring him back to the Christianity of his youth. One example of the poor scholarship he uncovered was the claim of alleged parallels between Jesus’ story and tales of the Egyptian god Horus. The lack of evidence for a real parallel between Jesus’ crucifixion and Horus’ crucifixion was characteristic of the many problematic claims he uncovered.
In many of the books and on the websites that attempt to make this connection, it is often pointed out that there are several ancient depictions of Horus standing with his arms spread in cruciform. One can only answer this with a heartfelt “So what?” A depiction of a person standing with his arms spread is not unusual, nor is it evidence that the story of a crucified savior predates that of Jesus Christ. We do have extensive evidence from extra-biblical sources that the Romans around the time of Christ practiced crucifixion as a form of capital punishment. Not only that, but we have in the Bible actual eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion. On the other hand, there is no historical evidence at all to suggest that the ancient Egyptians made use of this type of punishment.
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Jon Sorensen, “Cleaning Up the Horus Manure,” Catholic Answers, January 11, 2012, https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/cleaning-up-the-horus-manure.