Monday, December 14, 2009

Is there a Connection Between Jesus and Romulus?

In continuing my essays on the critical view that our thoughts and belief about Jesus are borrowed from pagan myths, I want consider the myth of Romulus and Remus - the founders of Rome. I found an interesting article that makes the claim that beliefs about Jesus was influenced by Romulus because according to legend.

1. Romulus and his twin, Remus, were the sons of a virgin raped by Mars - the God of War.
2. Romulus and Remus' uncle who supplanted their mother's father as a King wanted to kill them
3. After Romulus killed his brother and founded the city of Rome, a darkness covered the sun and he was ascended to heaven and made a god himself.

One of the articles I read asks the question for why is Jesus more credible than Romulus.

1.Generally speaking the founding of Rome is thought to be 753 BC, however Rome did not completely conquer the Greek Empire until about 30 BC and I doubt that we can argue that the Romans were worshiping the Greek god Ares whom the Romans called Mars back before the 750's.
2. Another point is that one of the earliest written examples of the myth was by Plutarch and can't be dated before the 1st century AD. How do we know that legend did not crop in there.
3. How closely does Jesus really resemble Romulus? He doesn't.
a. Romulus killed his brother Remus and Jesus never killed anyone - sounds more like Cain and Able.
b. Romulus became a god, Jesus was always god.
c. Romulus was conceived when a god raped his mother. Jesus was not conceived sexually - a true virgin birth. Even if you want to argue that Mars is a real god, it doesn't stack up against Jesus.

More Clues in the Legend (or Is It Fact?) of Romulus
Romulus and Remus
Romulus & Remus: A Lesson for Christianity

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  1. Another God who submitted to being murdered in order to triumph was the well-revered Roman national deity Romulus, whose death and resurrection was celebrated in annual public ceremonies in Rome since before Christian times (Plutarch, Romulus 27-28 & the pre-Christian author Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.16.2-7, written c. 15 B.C.; cf. also Cicero, Laws 1.3, Republic 2.10, c. 40 B.C.; Ovid, Fasti 2.491-512, c. 10 A.D.; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.63.3, c. 10 B.C.; Tertullian, Apology 21, c. 200 A.D.). Though again a very different story, the Romulan tale shared with Christ's at least the following elements: both were incarnated gods (Romulus descended from heaven to become human and die); both became incarnate in order to establish a kingdom on earth (for Romulus, the Roman Empire; for Christ, the Kingdom of God, i.e. the Church); there was a supernatural darkness at both their deaths (Mark 15:33, etc.); both were killed by a conspiracy of the ruling powers (Christ, by the Jewish and Roman authorities; Romulus, by the first Roman senate); both corpses vanished when sought for (i.e. Christ's tomb is found empty--no one sees him rise); both appear after their resurrection to a close follower on an important road (Proculus on the road to Alba Longa; Cleopas on the road to Emmaus--both roads 14 miles long, the one leading to Rome, the other from Jerusalem); both connected their resurrections with moral teachings (Romulus instructs Proculus to tell the Romans they will achieve a great empire if they are virtuous); both "appeared" around the break of dawn; both ascended to heaven (e.g. Luke 24:50-55, Acts 1:9-11); both were hailed "God, Son of God, King, and Father"; and in the public Roman ceremony, the names were recited in public of those who fled in fear when the body of Romulus vanished, just as we "know" the names of those who fled in fear when the body of Jesus vanished (Mark 16:8), and in both cases the story went that these people kept their silence for a long time and only later proclaimed Romulus a risen god (just as the women "told no one" and the Christians waited fifty days before proclaiming their "discovery" to the public: Acts 1:3, 2:1-11).

    (Richard Carrier)

  2. I wouldn't call 50 days a long time especially while Jerusalem was still filled with the many of the same people who were there during the events of the crucifixion and Resurrection. Also let's also not forget that 500 people saw Jesus simultaneously after the Resurrection (See 1 Corinthians 15).

    I think Carrier leaves out a lot of issues and Johnny P's quote does not answer any of the questions the post raises. Really shoddy.

    1. Those 500 people can't be verified, if even one was named and somebody wrote about that one person, that would be good evidence but at the 500 are probably myth like a lot of stuff in that religious book.

    2. When Paul mentioned the 500, he was writing to people who already knew who they were so there would not have been a need to give their names. If you need names to believe the account, many witnesses are named - such as the Apostles.

  3. It wasn't designed to 'answer' anything, but as a point of interest, showing the very real similarities between the two stories. It is especially important since the Gospels have been accused of trying to answer the imperial authority of Rome with their own accounts. There is mimesis all over the Gospels. I have actually corresponded with Carrier over this and there seems to a good case for this comparison / copying here.

  4. well, Romulus and Remus story is a myth, but Jesus is not a myth. He is the real and absolute truth every life my know and accept.

    1. Lol Yea right!
      Can you prove Romulus was a myth?

    2. what have Romulus or Remus done for you lately?

  5. • Romulus’s mother Rhea was a Vestal virgin
    • Jesus’s mother Mary was known as Virgin Mary

    • Romulus’ mother claimed to be impregnated by a god
    • Jesus’ mother claimed to be impregnated by God

    I think both made the claim for the same reason, as Livy wrote in Book One in his History of Rome:

    “For when the Vestal, having been ravished, became the mother of twin sons, she named Mars as the father of her dubious progeny, either because she thought he really was the father or because naming a god as the one responsible for her transgression made a more respectable story.”

    • Romulus was a shephard
    • Jesus was a shepherd

    • Romulus as king appointed 12 lictors to accompany him in public in order to “make his own person more august” so that the “rustics would feel bound to observe his laws”.
    • Jesus appointed 12 disciples to accompany him in public for much the same reason.

    • Romulus’ body vanished and was claimed to have risen to "heaven" as a god.
    • Jesus’ body vanished as was claimed to have risen to heaven as God (co-eternal).

    • After death, Romulus had followers claiming that he “descended from heaven without warning and appeared before them” and ordered them to announce to the Romans that the gods in heaven will it that Rome be the capital of the world.
    • After death, Jesus had followers claiming that he also descended from heaven without warning and appeared before them ordering them to spread the word that Christianity can provide the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

    It is important to remember that at the time of Jesus, Rome had become the greatest and most powerful nation the Mediterranean, and Western Europe, had ever seen. The methods in which the Romans used to manipulate public devotion - via creation “myths”, etc. - proved to be very effective. But the then nearly 800 year old tale of Romulus may not have been so well known to Jews in Judaea in Jesus’ time. In any case, I don’t think it would be a stretch to imagine that Jesus himself learned of the tales of Rome’s founding, and that he drew upon it - at times nearly verbatim? - in order to start his own movement, being that the basic scaffolding of this creation story proved to be so compelling to the poor and uneducated people of that era (and in any era).

    1. Jesus' life as reported in the Gospels does not repeat Romulus verbatim at all. For example: The Bible does not claim that Mary was impregnated. This would imply sexual intercourse. However Rhea being a Vestal Virgin does not mean that her children were not the product of Sexual intercourse. They were according to the story. Jesus and Romulus do not match.