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Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Horus Myth?

Would This Bother You?
There are many atheists who claim that Jesus never really lived. What if I told you that there was once an ancient religion which described God as a being who:

    • Conceived by a virgin mother named Meri, and had a stepfather named Seb (Joseph)
    • Was born in a cave, his birth announced by an angel, heralded by a star and attended by shepherds
    • Attended a special rite of passage at the age of twelve and there is no data on the child
    • from the age of 12 to 30
    • Was baptized in a river at the age of 30, and his baptizer was later beheaded
    • Had 12 disciples
    • Performed miracles, exorcized demons, raised someone from the dead, walked on water
    • Was called “Iusa”, the “ever-becoming son” and the “Holy Child”
    • Delivered a “Sermon on the Mount”, and his followers recounted his sayings
    • Was transfigured on the Mount
    • Was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and was resurrected
    • Called “Way”, “the Truth the Light”, “Messiah”, “God’s Anointed Son”, “Son of Man”, “Good Shepherd”, “Lamb of God”, “Word made flesh”, “Word of Truth”, “the KRST” or “Anointed One”
    • Was “the Fisher” and was associated with the Fish, Lamb and Lion.
    • Came to fulfill the Law, and was supposed to reign one thousand years

Would you recognize this religious figure? Sound like someone you know? Well, of course, we are describing the figure of Horus!! What, did you think we were talking about Jesus? It sure sounds like Jesus doesn’t it? Would it shake your faith to discover that Horus was an Egyptian god who was worshipped thousands of years before the time of Christ? While Horus is no longer worshipped in our world, there are a number of atheists who are now assembling to argue that Christianity is simply a copycat of previously existing faith systems. Their argument is that Christianity is not true, and that Jesus never lived. He is simply a copied form of deity from a number of pre-existing mythologies!

Is He Really Like Jesus?
A first reading of these similarities is startling and for many Christians, these descriptions have caused them to stumble and doubt the true historicity of the man, Jesus Christ. So it’s important for us to examine the truth of these claims of similarity and to also see what the REAL mythologies can tell us about the heart of man that drives us to imagine what God might be like. There can be little doubt that there are a number of pre-Christian mythologies with dying saviors, but when we examine these figures closely, we’ll see that they only foreshadow the God who truly DID come to earth. These mythologies actually SUPPORT the claims of Christ. Before we begin to examine this mythology carefully, it’s important to recognize that a significant portion of what we just read about Horus is simply FALSE, and lacks ANY Egyptian archeological support whatsoever. Much of what is seen on this list is simply the effort of atheists to make Horus look as much like Jesus as possible. So let’s take a look at the truth and see what it can tell us.

The Truth About Horus
The mythical Egyptian God, Horus, was worshipped principally in two cult centers at Bekhdet in the North and Idfu in the south. Little remains at the northern location, but there is still a large and well preserved Ptolemaic temple at Idfu. So, most information about Horus comes from this southern temple. Horus was usually represented as a falcon, as he was a great sky God and the Son of Isis and Osiris. Let’s take a look at the claims we have already described and separate truth from fiction, and then try to understand the underlying hope of the people who invented the god called Horus:

Claim: Horus was conceived by a virgin mother named Meri, and had a stepfather named Seb (Joseph)
Truth: Horus was NOT conceived of a virgin. In fact both mural and textual evidence from Egypt indicate that Isis (there is no evidence that “Meri” was ever part of her name) hovered over the erect penis (that she created) of Osiris and conceived Horus. While she may have been a virgin before the conception, she utilizes Osiris’ penis to conceive. She later had another son with Osiris as well. There is no evidence of three wise men as part of the story at all (in neither Horus’ nor Jesus’ birth story for that matter!). Seb was actually the ‘earth god’, (earth itself, just as Nut was the sky); He was not Horus’ earthly father. Seb is NOT the equivalent of Joseph and, in most cases, he is described as Osiris’ father!

The Reasoning Behind the Horus Mythology: Clearly men dream and think about God, and when we do that, it is reasonable for us to imagine that God be in some way different from the natural order that He has created. It’s reasonable to assume then, that He would appear in a supernatural way, defying the natural order of things.

Claim: Horus was born in a cave, his birth announced by an angel, heralded by a star and attended by shepherds
Truth: There is no reference to a cave or manger in the birth story at all. In fact none of these details are present in the ancient Egyptian stories of Horus. Horus was born in a swamp. His birth was not heralded by an angel. There was no star to announce his birth.

Claim: Horus attended a special rite of passage at the age of twelve and there is no data on the child from the age of 12 to 30
Truth: There is no continuous effort in the Horus mythology to account for all these years, so there are no real gaps in the chronology. Horus never taught in any temple at twelve (as did Jesus), and keep in mind that Jesus didn’t ‘disappear’ in the years between His teaching in the temple and His baptism. He was simply working as a carpenter.

Claim: Horus was baptized in a river at the age of 30, and his baptizer was later beheaded.
Truth: Horus was never baptized. While the conspiracy theorists will often point to “Anup the Baptizer” and claim he was later beheaded, there is no such person in Horus’ story.

Claim: Horus had 12 disciples
Truth: Horus had only four disciples (called ‘Heru-Shemsu’), but at some point in his story there is reference to sixteen followers, and a group of unnumbered followers who join Horus in battle (called ‘mesnui’). But there’s no reference to twelve followers.

The Reasoning Behind the Horus Mythology: It is reasonable to imagine that God, if he was to come to earth, would then gather to himself disciples that would continue to share the truth with others.

Claim: Horus performed miracles, exorcized demons, raised someone from the dead, walked on water
Truth: Of course Horus performed miracles, after all he was supposed to be a god!! But there was no mention of exorcizing demons, raising people from the dead or walking on water.

The Reasoning Behind the Horus Mythology: It is reasonable to expect that if there is a God (a true God), He would have the power to perform the miraculous and control the forces of the natural environment.

Claim: Horus was called “Iusa”, the “ever-becoming son” and the “Holy Child”
Truth: No one in Egyptian history was ever called “Iusa” (the word does not exist) nor was anyone called “Holy Child”.

Claim: Horus delivered a “Sermon on the Mount”, and his followers recounted his sayings. He was transfigured on the Mount
Truth: Horus never delivered a “Sermon on the Mount”, nor was he transfigured.

Claim: Horus was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and was resurrected
Truth: Horus is not reported to have died at all in the vast majority of story versions. There is also no crucifixion story. Instead, Horus is usually described as eventually merging with Re (the Sun god) after which he ‘dies’ and is ‘reborn’ every single day as the sun rises. (This is a bit of a stretch at a death and resurrection parallel). Now there is an unofficial story that describes Horus as dying and being cast in pieces into the water, and later fished out by a crocodile at Isis’ request.

The Reasoning Behind the Horus Mythology: If there is a true God, we would expect him to have mastery over death and be able to control the powers of death and life.

Claim: Horus was called “Way”, “the Truth the Light”, “Messiah”, “God’s Anointed Son”, “Son of Man”, “Good Shepherd”, “Lamb of God”, “Word made flesh”, “Word of Truth”, “the KRST” or “Anointed One”
Truth: None of these titles are in Egyptian history, but Horus IS called by several names you might expect for any god in mythology: “Great God”, “Chief of the Powers”, “Master of Heaven”, and “Avenger of His Father”. Horus was also not called “the Krst” because this word in Egyptian means “burial” (it wasn’t a title at all).

The Reasoning Behind the Horus Mythology: If there is a God, we would expect Him to be powerful and possess a title that reflects that power.

Claim: Horus was “the Fisher” and was associated with the Fish, Lamb and Lion.
Truth: Some of the conspiracy theorists try to show an association with fish (by virtue of the fact that Horus WAS a fish, very unlike Jesus), but there is no evidence that Horus was ever called a “fisher” or was ever associated with the Lion or the Lamb.

Claim: Horus came to fulfill the Law, and was supposed to reign one thousand years
Truth: There was no Egyptian “law” for Horus to fulfill, and there is no mention of a thousand year reign in Egyptian mythology.

So, What is Left?
From this quick examination of the Horus tradition, we can see that he was NOT conceived of a virgin, and his mother’s name was NOT Meri. There were NOT three wise men who attended his birth, and he had NO earthly father named Joseph. He was NOT born in a cave or manger (he was born in a swamp), his birth was NOT heralded by an angel, nor was it attended by shepherds. There are NO missing 18 years in his life story, and NO story about a special event in the temple at twelve. He was NOT baptized at 30 by a baptizer who was later beheaded. He did NOT have 12 disciples, and while he certainly performed miracles, he did NOT exorcize demons, raise the dead or walk on water like Jesus. Horus was NOT called, “Iusa”, the “ever-becoming son”, the “Holy Child”, the “Way”, “the Truth the Light”, “Messiah”, “God’s Anointed Son”, “Son of Man”, “Good Shepherd”, “Lamb of God”, “Word made flesh”, “Word of Truth”, “the KRST” or the “Anointed One”! He did NOT deliver a “Sermon on the Mount”, NOR was he transfigured. He was NOT crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, NOR resurrected! He did NOT come to fulfill the law and was NOT said to reign for one thousand years. So in hindsight, how similar is Horus to Jesus after all?

How Could They Have Imagined That?
Even with all the differences between Osiris and Jesus, it is still striking that early men would imagine a God with even a few similarities, don’t you think? How could that happen? Is it really possible that someone could imagine something that could later become a reality, even if only in part? Well, let’s take a look at another example from history. What if I told you that a man named Morgan Robertson once wrote about a British ocean liner that was about 800 feet long, weighed over 60,000 tons, and could carry about 3,000 passengers? The ship had a top cruising speed of 24 knots, had three propellers, and about 20 lifeboats. What if I told you that this ocean liner hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage in the month of April, tearing an opening in the starboard side forward portion of the ship, and sinking along with about 2,000 passengers? Would you recognize the event from history? You might say, “Hey, that’s the Titanic!” Well, you would be wrong. While all these details are identical to the Titanic, the ship I am talking about is the “Titan” and it is a fictional ship described in Robertson’s book called “the Wreck of the Titan” or “Futility” (Buccaneer Books, Cutchogue, New York, 1898). This book was written fourteen years BEFORE the disaster took place, and several years before the construction was even begun on the Titanic! In addition to this, other writers and thinkers had also started to develop a mythology about such large ships. In the 1880’s, the well known English journalist, W. T. Stead also wrote an account of a sinking ocean liner in the mid-Atlantic, and by 1882 had added the detail that an iceberg would be the cause of the disaster. There are also quite a number of recorded premonitions on the part of passengers who cancelled at the last minute before boarding the Titanic for its maiden voyage in 1912, citing that the ship would suffer a similar fate.

How could all these people foresee something like this? How could Robertson foresee this so accurately? Well, it is quite possible that these men and women had a prophetic gift of sorts (after all, even atheists will concede that some among us are at least more intuitive than others), but it is also possible that they simply observed the world around them, thought about the possibilities, examined the history of man leading up to the era, and imagined what an ocean liner like this might be like. Clearly they did actually imagine something that was close to the truth of history. Now if a thousand years from now we were examining the truth of the Titanic in history, and we discovered the story of the Titan, do you think we would find ourselves saying, “Hey, that story about the Titanic is a lie, it was just a re-creation of a prior mythology called the Titan!” I hope not. I hope, instead, that we would evaluate the evidence related to the existence of the Titanic, read the eyewitness accounts, study the impact the event had on history, and then make a decision about the event. I would hope that a prior mythology would not stop our search for the truth. And let’s face it, the similarities between the Titan and the Titanic are far greater than the similarities between Horus and Jesus.

What Was in the Heart of Those Who Created Horus?
So, is there also something in the heart of man that drives him to seek God and try his best to understand and know him? Is there something in the heart of man that encourages him to dream and imagine mythologies about God, just like he might imagine a boat like the Titanic? The Bible certainly maintains that God has placed the truth of his existence in the world around us:

Romans 1:18-20
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

And the Bible also tells us that God has given us a conscience that testifies to his existence:

Romans 2:12-16
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

Why should we be surprised that as people created in the image of God, we would have a mind and a heart that dreams about the nature of our creator? If God has placed his moral truth in our heart, and hinted at his existence with the wonder of the created world around us, it is reasonable that even before anything was directly revealed in the Bible, men and women thought, imagined and dreamed about the nature of God (just like some obviously thought about large ocean liners!) We would actually expect these mythologies to bear a resemblance to the reality of God’s nature once it IS revealed to us, just as the Titan resembled the Titanic!! And that appears to be the case with Horus. But let’s be realistic about the limited Horus similarities. They are NOT all that powerful and striking; especially when we investigate them and see that the vast majority of the claims of similarity are simply not historically verified. They are lies.

But go back for a minute and re-read the reasoning of the creators of the Horus mythology. Think about what motivated them. They reasoned through the notion of God, based on what they saw in their environment and the seed of God’s conscience planted in their heart, and decided that if there is a God, (1) He must be in some way different from the natural order that He has created, (2) He may appear in his natural order in a supernatural way, (3) He would love us enough to gather to himself disciples that would continue to share the truth with others, (4) He must have the power to perform the miraculous and control the forces of the natural environment, (5) He must be powerful enough to defeat death, and (6) His power and majesty would warrant His having titles that reflect His nature.

So, How Did God Eventually Appear?
OK, these six driving motivations have clearly contributed to the thinking of those who originally created the mythology of Horus. As humans, we can evaluate the environment around us and form a reasonable notion about the God who created it. While Horus is MUCH different from Jesus, it is interesting to note that God eventually met and exceeded the expectations of those who dreamed about Him. Jesus is everything we might have hoped for, and so much more. He is powerful and defied the natural expectation upon his emergence into our world. He loves us enough to gather to himself disciples that will continue to share the truth with others. He has the power to perform miracles and control the forces of the natural environment. He is powerful enough to defeat death. His power and majesty warrant His having titles that reflect His nature!
Jesus meets the expectation that early God seekers had and exceeds their expectation in every way!

Paul Told Them That God Was Greater Than Their Expectations
That really shouldn’t surprise us, because Paul told early God seekers this very thing as he was addressing the people of Athens on Mars Hill, two thousand years ago. He told these Greek thinkers and seekers that while they had imagined the nature of God (just as Horus believers had also dreamed about God), there was actually a TRUE God, Jesus Christ, who came into the world and exceeded their expectations:

Acts 17:22-31
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Paul seemed to recognize that God had an answer for all those who had been dreaming about His nature. God was not unaware of all the mythologies that preceded His appearance in the form of Jesus Christ. He knew everything that these cultures had imagined and dreamed about Him. He saw how they had shaped their gods. He knew how they had described them with miraculous powers and abilities. Why should it surprise us that God would eventually appear and prove to mankind that He was the ONE TRUE GOD by simply MEETING our expectations, point for point (and then surpassing these expectations along the way)? It should not surprise us that God might, in some way, CHOOSE to appear in a form that is consistent with the expectations of man, particularly when God wants his creation to recognize him. God could simply be saying, “Children, I know you have imagined me to be a certain way. In some small measure you have imagined correctly. In many other ways you have been very far from the mark. Let me show you who I am. Watch me meet all the expectations you had about my nature. Let me help you believe by the miraculous life that I will live among you. Let me rescue you in a way you could never have dreamed of.”

Jesus Ends the Search
Maybe that’s why in the long lineage of mythologies and descriptions of God, Jesus completes the list. There are no significant mythologies that follow Jesus. Ever wonder why? Is it simply because the human race developed past such fables? Or is it because the human race developed past its own immaturity to the point and place where God finally determined it was time to appear in the flesh? Perhaps God decided that the time in which he had “overlooked such ignorance”, was now complete, so He presented himself in a way that ended all mythology. He appeared in TRUE power and glory, putting all prior mythologies to rest forever; meeting and exceeding anything we could ever have hoped for.

Christianity Continues to Thrive
While there are actually very FEW similarities between Horus and Jesus in detail, there are similarities between them in the underlying expectations early seekers had for God. Jesus simply meets the hopes and dreams of these seekers as the true incarnate God. While Horus worship is now a dead religion, Christianity continues to thrive. Why? Because the Horus tradition is inconsistent with the geological history of our world, inconsistent with the archeological history of humanity, and unsupported by textual evidence. In contrast, Christianity still continues to speak to the minds of seekers today. It has strong geological and archeological consistency with what we see in our world and strong textual evidence to support the earliest of claims. Atheists have tried to portray Horus as something he isn’t in order to make us believe that Jesus never existed at all. But the story of Horus should only encourage us to believe in the God who exceeds our expectations!

For a complete list of alleged ‘copy cat’ deities, click HERE, and for another detailed article on the Osiris / Jesus relationship, click HERE.

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