He had an inauspicious beginning: born to a low-class family in Judea during the time of the Roman occupation of that area. In his adulthood, however, he became
determined to transcend his origins and improve his people's lot in life. Rebelling against the established norms of his religion and of the political class in his homeland, he was called
"Messiah" by his followers and declared himself the "King of the Jews." His agitation proved to be too much and he was executed by the Romans for sedition. Rather than renounce their beliefs,
his followers were crucified by the Roman authorities. It is suggested that there was a belief that this man would rise from the dead within three days.
This is the rough outline of the circumstances of Simon of Peraea, a Jewish slave who led a failed rebellion against the Romans in Judea in the first century BC. It also happens to be the
rough outline of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, the sine qua non of the Christian religion. While it would be disingenuous to say that there is a direct
correlation between the lives of Simon and Jesus, it would be similarly difficult to deny their similarities. The messianic tradition was strong in Judaic thought in the period of the
Roman (and earlier Seleucid) occupation and there were several claimants to the title of "messiah" during this era, some perhaps more deserving than others. However, the title of
the writeup is "the Pagan Origins of Christianity" and a full history of Jewish messiahs is beyond the scope of what I want to accomplish here, so I'll only note that the relationship
between Simon and Jesus shows that the circumstances surrounding the fundamental claims of early Christianity are not unique to that religion or to the person of Jesus.
Before I delve into the minutiae of exegesis, I will have to define what I'm talking about. When I say "pagan," I am referring to any number of polytheistic religions that existed
prior to the advent of what could fairly be called organized Christianity (dated rather generously to approximately 313 AD, the year that the Roman Emperor Constantine
claimed to have converted to the religion). I will not be comparing Christianity to Wicca or any other relatively modern sect since they have nothing to do with discerning an "origin" of the
former faith. The main points of Christianity that I will be examining will be related to the methods of worship, the tenets of faith, and the claims that are designed to bolster the idea of the
divinity of Jesus. I will not be discussing in any depth the pagan origins of Judaism, which -- while certainly extant -- are not entirely relevant to the altogether separate origins of
Christianity. It's important to note as well that ancient views about Jesus were not unanimous; some early Christians did not accept the notion of the Holy Trinity, or that Jesus was in any way divine, or that he was in any way human, or any other number of beliefs. I'm sticking to the story that ultimately won out and is with us today. I would also like to note that it is not my intention to challenge anybody's faith in Christianity, but rather to show that there is an interconnectedness between spiritualities that
is not often given the recognition that it deserves.
Ancient Jewish Religious Identity
As I have noted elsewhere, the religion that we call Christianity arose at a very specific time and place and for a series of very specific reasons. The fact
that the widely accepted chronology of Jesus' life (approx. 4 BC - 29 AD) coincides with the early years of the Roman Empire is not an accident. By the time of Jesus' birth, the area of Judea had
been under foreign occupation off and on for at least the previous seven centuries: first by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, then the Persians, afterwards the Greeks, and finally the Romans. With political and military domination usually comes at least something resembling a civilizational influence. While we today take for granted the idea that
Jews have always practiced Judaism, the truth is that in ancient times, they were very much religiously divided. There is a reason that the Bible has important Jewish figures such as Moses rail
against idolatry: polytheism was at times very much widespread amongst the Hebrews and trying to ascribe to them a monolithic monotheism is fallacious. Pagan worship was accepted and practiced by
a large number (perhaps even a majority) of Jews up until the 6th century BC; this tension between monotheism and polytheism would later be reenacted on a much larger scale during the time period
following Constantine's conversion to Christianity in the 4th century AD.
While widespread Hebrew polytheism eventually died out, it was supplanted by a politico-religious sectarianism that partially laid the groundwork for the Christian religion. Like most peoples
under foreign occupation, ancient Jews were divided on how to deal with the situation. Some eagerly embraced the culture of their conquerors while others actively resisted
against it; still others sought to reconcile and ingratitate themselves with their foreign rulers while maintaining their unique identity; a select few shut themselves off from the
world and devoted themselves to more esoteric spiritual pursuits. The vast majority simply tried to get on with their lives by not rocking the boat, but found themselves stuck
in the middle of these competing worldviews. It was a confusing time, no doubt, especially given the divergent natures of the successive occupations and the fleeting tastes of freedom they
Toward the end of the Greek/Macedonian/Seleucid/Ptolemaic occupation (roughly 330-164 BC) the primary trend in Judaic religious thought was one of apocalypticism. This outlook
brought with it the expectation of a great king from the bloodline of David who would free the Hebrews, raise the dead, and rule justly in an era of universal peace. This king was generally
called the moshiach, from which we derive the word "messiah." There is no expectation in Judaism that the messiah will himself be divine in the supernatural sense but rather that he will be
divinely anointed ("messiah" literally means anointed with oil). It is for these reasons (among others) that the message of Jesus was not accepted by the majority of ancient Jews.
Background and Attributes of Jesus
After roughly a century of independence, Judea was brought into the Roman fold by Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. While this was no doubt a traumatic event for the Jews
of the period, it also allowed them access to all the trade and ideas being promulgated around the Mediterranean basin at the time. From Spain to the Levant and from Germany to Africa, the
world would soon be united under the rule of one man: Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor. Judea was located near the border with the Parthian Empire, Rome's major regional rival, so peace
and stability in the area were seen as strategically necessary, which accounts for the consistently large Roman military presence as well as the heavy-handed manner in which dissent was punished.
Against this backdrop, Jesus lived and spread his message. I'm not going to go into a full biography of the man or even his words but I will say that his low birth, his message of non-violence,
and his claim to being the son of God made him not only an unacceptable messianic contender for the vast majority of Jews but also deeply and blasphemously out of step with the even the fringes of
Judaic thought at the time. The authors of the New Testament would later invent fanciful genealogies to show Jesus' descent from David in an effort to make him more palatable to his countrymen,
but he failed to meet the basic expectation of being able to create and rule over an earthly kingdom. His inability to meet any of the very specific prerequisites for Judaic messiahship ironically
helped make him more palatable to an audience he never had any reasonable expectation to capture: non-Jews.
The basic mythology surrounding Jesus meant to bolster his divinity was extremely similar to other religious figures of the ancient world. His virgin birth, his divine
parentage, his ritual death and resurrection, his descent into the underworld, and other theological tropes were well-known and widely dispersed throughout the Roman (and the broader
otherwise Hellenistic) world. Even the manner in which Christian religious services were held in the ancient world -- and to some extent today -- were similar to other practices of the time. The
very specific act of communion (i.e. the drinking of wine and eating of bread in a religious context) was practiced by groups other than Christians.
Perhaps the best comparison to Jesus was the god Dionysus. Also known as Bacchus, he was the Hellenistic god of wine. Dionysus was not an indigenous Greek deity since he is
almost invariably depicted as hailing from a region known as Nysa, the precise location of which in Greek thought was unspecified but usually placed somewhere far to the south or east. The
etymology of his name is unclear, and could mean something as generic as "son of a god" or "god of Nysa" or any other number of things. It's important to note that while ancient pagans believed in
the existence of multiple gods, they generally only specifically venerated one or two primary deities. Like modern christianity, Dionysus worship had a number of different denominations that
proliferated throughout the Mediterranean world. The Orphic rite -- named after the semi-legendary poet and musician Orpheus -- of the Dionysian cult has many close parallels to Christian
religious practice and the set of beliefs surrounding Dionysus that the Orphics proferred are almost identical in a number of respects to christian beliefs about Jesus.
In Orphism (which dates to at least 400 BC), Dionysus is the son of Zeus. He is betrayed by another group of gods, killed, dismembered, and eaten. Before his death, he had impregnated a mortal
woman. The woman, Semele, later gives birth to Dionysus, allowing the dead god to be resurrected through his own actions. As the god of wine, imbibery clearly played a central role in the worship
of Dionysus. In the Bacchic rite (Bacchus being an attribute of Dionysus meaning "ecstatic," although it is probably derived from a now-lost word meaning "berry"), Dionysus was worshipped in what
were reported to be orgiastic drunken parties by traditionally unprivileged members of Roman/Hellenistic society such as women, slaves, and various other non-citizens. These events were called
Bacchanalia and were originally celebrated once a year but eventually came to be celebrated at least once a week in certain parts of Italy. While the practice was eventually severely restricted
(i.e. the Bacchanalia could only be celebrated by special decree of the Roman Senate) it carried on in secret for years. While there are clearly substantial differences in the stories of Jesus
and Dionysus, several basic Christological notions are still present: divine parentage, resurrection after ritual death, the belief in eating a deity, betrayal, a god impregnating a
mortal woman and then giving birth to that same god, ritual consumption of wine, and a body of worshippers made up chiefly of oppressed groups. The purported founder of the sect, Orpheus, even
descended into the realm of Hades and returned, like Jesus is supposed to have done.
Underscoring the southern relationship, the religious beliefs and practices of ancient Egypt had a profound influence on both early Christianity and Judaism before it. Indeed,
even certain aspects of Orphic beliefs have their origins in Egyptian religion. It is perhaps overly simplistic to refer to "the" ancient Egyptian religion since its widespread practice extended
from at least 3200 BC to the 5th century AD and correspondingly evolved over that huge gulf of time to focus on different deities and sets of beliefs. It is said that monotheism has its roots in
Egypt, dating to the 14th century BC in the form of Atenism, a sun-worshipping cult created by the pharaoh Akhenaten which came about in the time period shortly before Hebrew servitude in Egypt
is traditionally dated (although I note that there is little archeological evidence that this actually occurred). Concerning Jesus, the main deities in question were Osiris, Isis, and Horus.
In brief, the god Osiris was betrayed and murdered by his brother Set. His wife, Isis, resurrected him three days later and conceived a son, Horus, with him before he died again. Although Isis
hid his body, Set found it and dismembered it. Isis retrieved her husband's body parts, put them back together with linen, and gave him a proper burial (this is the origin of ritual Egyptian
mummification). Osiris was afterwards granted a place in the afterlife as the judge of the dead. Horus was born and was destined to defeat Set for dominance over the world. The most common
epithet of Isis is "mother of the god." In later Egyptian theology (5th century BC), Osiris and Horus are considered two attributes of the same figure, Horus as the god in life and Osiris as the
god in death.
The motifs of divine parenthood, subsequent betrayal, ritual death, resurrection, and circular divine rebirth are present in the Egyptian cycle, the Orphic rite, and in Christianity. Unlike the
Orphics, however, the Egyptians placed a real and important emphasis on the mother figure, Isis. The iconography of Isis and Horus is comparable in many ways to that of Jesus and
Mary, although to be fair, a mother rearing her child is a pretty universal theme to begin with. Like Jesus, Horus is destined to defeat his enemy and rule over the world. Like Jesus, Osiris went
to the underworld, where he was revived (though he did not come back to "life" at this point as we recognize it, he did enter another plane of existence). A type of holy trinity exists in the
form of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, as these three were generally the most consistently venerated Egyptian deities.
After the Roman conquest of Egypt in the first century BC, a cult centered around the worship of Isis spread throughout the Hellenistic world. Her motherly and protective qualities
were emphasized and she was frequently considered equivalent to other various local female goddesses. The Isis cult was practiced from Britannia to Arabia and her veneration was so prominent that
the Flavian Dynasty of Roman Emperors claimed her as their patron goddess. She acquired the title "queen of Heaven," another name (like "mother of god") that would later be given to Jesus' mother
Mary. The popularity of Isis can be attributed to her nearly universal application as a mother goddess, the template for which has existed for as long as religious belief has been around. More
specifically, Isis was considered something of a savior figure. The Egyptian focus on the afterlife was distilled in Isiac beliefs and applied to everybody, not just the powerful and the pharaonic
family who could afford proper mummifications. She offered her devotees an escape from their lot in life and in the standard Roman-era invocation, a priestess speaking for Isis would say, "I gave
mankind its laws...I have brought together men and women...I have overthrown the dominion of tyrants...I have made justice more powerful than silver and gold." The promise of salvation and a
peaceful afterlife helped make Isis palatable to widely disparate social groups and, like Orphism and Christianity, originally started out as a cult practiced primarily by women and the lower
The phenomenon we now call Hellenism was the blending of Greek and Asiatic culture that naturally developed as a consequence of Alexander the Great's conquest of the East in the 4th
century BC. While we tend to focus on the spread of Greek influences to Asia, the movement of cultural exchange was a two-way street. As with the spread of the Isiac cult, Eastern ideas rapidly
spread to the West, chiefly in the realm of religion. One of the most prominent examples of this in the Roman successor world was the religion of Mithraism. Mithraism originated in Persia and
was based around the figure Mithras, who is one of the oldest known deities in Indo-European mythology. He has been venerated in various forms across many lands and his worship dates back to the
Vedic-era of India (approximately 1500 BC) under the name Mitra. He was adopted by the proto-Iranians as Mithra and then by the Romans as Mithras. There is some controversy as to whether
there is a real connection between Mithras and his precursors considering their different functions and attributes, but the trajectory of the spread of Mithraism in the Roman world follows the
original east-to-west route of Hellenic exchange, so I'd say the point is somewhat moot.
By the time of the Macedonian conquest, the Persian Mithra had become identified as a solar deity. Sun worship was popular with the fighting men of the Roman army and they brought the worship of
Mithras with them back from Asia Minor. Mithras was identified with the god Sol Invictus, a Latin term meaning "unconquerable sun" that encompassed many different solar figures at different
times. Because Mithraism was a mystery religion, few records relating to it are in existence today and our knowledge of many of its beliefs and practices are unfortunately lost to us (probably
forever). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there is no possible connection between Mithraism and early Christianity. The publication then goes on to list several possible connections
between Mithraism and early Christianity, including eucharists, baptisms, the celebration of major holidays on the 25th of December, the intermediary nature of Mithras and Jesus (i.e. between the
divine and the earthly), and a redeeming sacrifice on the part of the central figure (Mithras sacrificed a bull, Jesus sacrificed himself). The same resource goes on to misleadingly post-date the
advent of Mithraism to the 3rd century AD while Plutarch attests its introduction to the Roman army as early as 67 BC. Ancient Christian sources of the second and third centuries bitterly
complained that the Mithraists had copied their rituals, which is an interesting assertion considering organized and codified Mithraism predates organized and codified Christianity. A strange
feature of Mithraic practice separating it from Christianity is that Mithraists were exclusively male. It was meant primarily for soldiers and was a type of secret society featuring initiation
rites and a very hierarchical structure. It is perhaps wrong to say that Mithraism was the direct forebearer of Christianity, and indeed the theological foundations are very different, but to deny
any influence or relationship is similarly wrong-headed.
In the Persian context, Mithra was part of the Zoroastrian religion. Zoroastrianism was unique among indigenous Indo-European faiths in that it was a revealed, prophetic
religion. It was the official state religion of the Persian Empire from the time of Cyrus the Great and featured as its central thesis that the universe was divided roughly evenly between the
forces of goodness and light on one side and evil and darkness on the other, and that humanity was ground zero for the battle between the oppositional forces. From Zoroastrianism, Christianity
derived the idea of a destructive, evil adversary who actively rebelled against the good side of the cosmos and made a conscious decision to try to corrupt the physical world. It was the
responsibility of Zoroastrians to resist the temptations of the flesh and to live in the light. Zoroastrians believed in the concept of a savior figure (called the Saoshyant) who would eventually
vanquish the forces of evil in an apocalyptic final battle and would lead the righteous to eternal life in a garden of harmony called Pairi-Daeza -- the word from which we derive the term
"paradise." It is worth pointing out that the Magi who are reported to have visited Jesus at his birth would have been Zoroastrians as the term at that time was used exclusively to refer to the
priestly caste of Persian society.
Continuing the eastward drive, the real cradle of civilization -- India -- provides some further clues. Of interest is the Hindu god Krishna, one of the central figures of that
religion and a prominent avatar of Vishnu. Krishna was the product of a divine birth, being as he was conceived when his deity father Vasudeva psychically impregnated his wife Devaki. Like
Jesus, Krishna was marked for death at the time of his birth by a paranoid king who had heard a prophecy indicating that he would be killed by a child born in a particular town. In later life,
Krishna like Jesus would return sight to a blind man. Shortly before his death, Krishna retired to a forest to fast and meditate, as Jesus would later do. Finally, after being
killed, Krishna ascended into heaven with some of his followers as witnesses. There is more that separates Krishna and Jesus than unites them, but the similarities that do exist demonstrate again
the idea that many of the specific circumstances of Jesus' mythology are not unique to him.
Philosophical and Structural Concepts
Hopefully by now I've at least somewhat demonstrated some evidence for my basic statement that the claims surrounding Jesus were entirely consistent with the milieu in which he
lived and acted and that they were used to bolster his divinity due to their similarities with other, better established traditions in the ancient Roman/Hellenistic world. But aside from all of
this, there were several other factors that contributed to the development of the mythology of Christ. Most of these relate to more abstract claims and concepts that have more to do with the
organization of the Christian church than with Jesus. I won't spend too much time on them since it would be veering slightly off course, but they're worth bringing up.
Many of the terms used to describe Jesus are derived entirely from Greco-Roman political propaganda. For most people in the ancient world, there was no such thing as what we might consider
"leisure time." Sure, everybody had a couple of days to themselves here and there, but very few average people were able to just sit down and read a book. Something that just about everybody had to
come into contact with on a daily basis was money which provided the most direct connection between rulers and subjects possible at the time. In ancient times, coinage was important not just as
an instrument to facilitate trade but also as a form of political aggrandizement. Everyone had to spend money and putting a ruler's name and face on coins was the easiest way to get a particular
message out to as many people in as short a time as possible. I mention this because many of the terms that are used to refer to Jesus -- "savior," "king of kings," "son of god," "divine," and
"liberator" -- all came into widespread use as epithets for individual Hellenic rulers, most frequently found on coinage from that era. Ptolemy I of Egypt was called Soter or Ptolemy the Savior. The term "king of kings" has been in
political use since the days of the Assyrians, but was most consistently used by the Persians. The Greek rendering of this, basileus basileon, came into vogue after the 3rd century BC and
can be found on coinage of the era from Turkey to China (obviously the meaning became somewhat debased over time since it's impossible to have more than one king of kings, but everyone in the
Hellenistic world used the term). On his path to becoming the first Roman Emperor, Augustus had his uncle (and adopted father) Julius Caesar declared a god by the Roman Senate so that he would
be able to take advantage of the title Divi Filii, literally meaning "son of the god." The Seleucid king Antiochus IV had himself declared Epiphanes, meaning Antiochus the Divine.
To return to Dionysus, one of his common epithets was Eleutherios, literally meaning "liberator," a term occasionally used to describe Jesus.
More abstractly, early Christians made use of ancient pagan philosophy to bolster their claims. A belief system resembling monotheism was proposed in Greece as early as the time of Plato when
he developed the notion that all of his Forms ultimately emanated from one over-arching concept he simply called the Good. This concept would be fleshed out by his intellectual heirs and taken to
its logical conclusion with the advent of Neoplatonism, a religious re-framing of Plato's philosophy. Christians and Neoplatonists would at first compete for the hearts and minds of the Roman
world, with the latter becoming the official state religion of the Empire during the short reign of Julian the Apostate (360-363) before being banned during the reign of Theodosius I (379-395).
Ironically, the essential message of Neoplatonism was then co-opted by Christians like Augustine of Hippo to lend credence to their views.
Another Greek writer from whom the early Christians borrowed a number of views was the scholar Euhemerus. Euhemerus was roughly contemporaneous with Plato's disciple Aristotle, living in the
4th century BC. Euhemerus posited that the gods were literal beings but that they were not divine in any way: he claimed that most religious beliefs were attempts to explain natural phenomena and
that particular figures like Zeus or Hercules were actually kings and heroes from a distant past who were deified by their followers after death and later had epic, mythological stories and deeds
ascribed to them. Euhemerus was probably influenced by the growing trend of mortal kings claiming divine honors and titles with nothing to show for it, causing him to become somewhat jaded about
spirituality in general. While it is easy to see the appeal of this line of thought for Christians trying to philosophically combat paganism, apparently none of the early Christians who used this
argument conceived that it could be used against them in turn to argue against the divinity of Jesus.
In terms of organization, the influence of the late Roman Imperial cult cannot be overstated. The Imperial Cult was the overarching official religion of the pagan Roman Empire, encompassing the
worship of the genius of both the Empire and the Emperor. This is not to say that Roman Emperors were necessarily considered divine in and of themselves while alive, but rather that they were
divinely guided, protected, and inspired by a figure that was a cross between a person's soul and what we might consider a guardian angel. It is also worth pointing out that the divinity
ascribed to the Emperor was generally seen as being related to the institution of the office rather than to individual rulers. Not making the proper tributes or sacrifices to the Imperial genius
was a crime punishable by death as it was seen as treasonous to offend the divine protector of the state and the monarch; this was why Christianity was persecuted during the Roman Empire since the
exclusive nature of that religion was incompatible with the sacrifices. By contrast, there was nothing contradictory about a devotee of Isis, Mithras, Dionysus, or any other god offering a tribute
to the Imperial genius. Indeed, the Imperial cult was not a source of controversy until the middle of the 3rd century when Christians began growing in number and massive refusals to participate in
the service became seen as a dangerous act of sedition.
Toward the end of the Crisis of the Third Century, the emperor Aurelian attempted to unite the fracturing Roman world under one god, Sol Invictus. Despite sharing solar attributes,
Aurelian's Sol Invictus was not Mithras, but rather an older Roman version of the Greek god Helios. His chief festivities were celebrated on the 25th of December as well, but they were otherwise
distinct deities. The Roman Emperors after the time of Aurelian became the chief priests of Sol Invictus and the rituals of candle-lighting during religious services would go on to be adopted by
early Christians from the Sol cult. The worship of Sol was very widespread, chiefly because sun-worship was already regularly practiced and worshipping this god did not require citizens to give up
their own deities. Even Constantine I, the first "Christian" Emperor, was the chief priest of Sol Invictus right up until the time of his death. In 321, eight years after his "conversion,"
Constantine decreed that Dies Solis -- literally, Latin for Sunday -- to be the official day of rest. I use scare quotes to refer to Constantine's Christianity because it does not seem as if he
really understood the religion he was accepting until a very short time before his death, and even then he seems not to have comprehended that being the chief priest of a pagan religion was not
compatible with Christianity. Indeed, the symbols and accoutrements used to depict Sol Invictus were later laid on top of Jesus in the Eastern Orthodox tradition in particular (a chariot in the
sky, a spiked halo of light, etc.).
Constantine's biggest political influence was his mentor and predecessor, the emperor Diocletian. Diocletian was a man of very low birth, perhaps even being the son of manumitted slaves. He
rose through the ranks of the imperial army and eventually became powerful enough to rise to the purple. The end of the Crisis of the Third Century is almost universally dated to the beginning of
his reign, which began in 284. He felt that the chief reasons for the chaos of the previous 50 years were the unmanageably large size of the empire and the debasement of respect for imperial
dignity. To combat these problems, he tackled first the issue of administration by dividing the empire into four roughly equally-sized portions and then further subdivided them into dioceses. The
Catholic and Orthodox churches would adopt the diocese model of territorial division unchaged from Diocletian's plans, a system that remains essentially
intact today. To deal with the second issue, Diocletian made himself and his office remote and inaccessible. Public proceedings at his court were highly ritualized and required an adoratio
to the Emperor, meaning an averting of the eyes and a bowed posture. Genuflection, proskynesis, and other forms of obeisance were mandatory for even the most highly ranked of Senators in addressing
Constantine absorbed Diocletian's style and reinterpreted it in a semi-Christian context. Later, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire as a governing authority in Western Europe in the
late 5th century, most of the trappings of power associated with the imperial administration were transferred to local religious authorities. The ceremonial vestements worn by Catholic and Orthodox
bishops are, even today, partially derived from the styles of togas worn by Roman and Greek aristocrats in the Constantinian era. Particularly at the level of the Papacy, the protocol and
ceremony surrounding the court of the Pope is almost entirely derived from the protocol set forth by Diocletian, including the kissing of the ring and the prostration. This is particularly ironic
given the fact that Diocletian was the greatest persecutor of Christians ever known -- he thought Christianity was subversive and detrimental to interests of the Roman Empire.
As stated earlier, the intention of this essay is not to make anyone doubt his or her beliefs. There are a host of spurious claims about the connections between paganism and
Christianity, the most famous of which have their origins in the book the World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Kersey Graves. There are many over-statements and stretches of logic that say
things like Krishna's birth was attended by celestial beings (which is true, but only because his parents were celestial beings) or that Osiris was crucified (this is not true, he was simply stuck
inside a tree). That said, there are several other parallels between Jesus and figures like Attis, Adonis, or Apollonius of Tyana that I simply did not have the space to discuss, and this
only counts figures in the rough same geographical region that Jesus lived in. If anything, this should serve to at least demonstrate that the interconnectedness between stories about Jesus'
divinity and those of his contemporaries/rivals/precursors were products of their time and place. The heart of the matter is up to personal interpretation, I've just presented the facts, so I hope
this at least provides some food for thought.