Sun worship was common in the ancient world.
Although Christians generally consider such veneration paganism, it's evident even Christianity is rooted in pagan mythology and sun worship.
The sun takes preeminence over the apparently tiny stars of the Zodiac, a large region of the night sky ancient astronomers divided into 12 constellations or "signs." In Genesis, Jacob, the patriarch of Israel, plainly refers to himself and his 12 sons as the "sun" and "stars." (See ch. 35:22b; 37:9-10, NRSV throughout.)
There is, in fact, a lot of paganism in Israel's history. However, since most readers of this column are probably more familiar with the New Testament (NT), let us skip forward a few centuries. The sun sustains all life. In the NT, Jesus is a "great light" and the only "true light" able to provide the "light of life" (Matt. 4:16; John 1:6-9; 8:12). (See also, John 10:28; Acts 4:12.) The sun lights up the world, followed nightly by 12 star signs. In the NT, Jesus is the "light of the world" followed by twelve disciples (John 8:12).
Most modern Christians know virtually nothing about astrology. Consequently, they fail to recognize its symbols in scripture. In former times, however, Christians were aware of the Bible's astrological connections and embraced them.
In countless paintings, Jesus and the Virgin Mary are portrayed with halos symbolizing the sun reminiscent of Egyptian statues of Horus on the lap of his virgin mother, Isis, with the sun over her head. Jesus and Mary are simply reworked pagan characters.
Throughout Christian history, cathedrals have been adorned with zodiacs, typically images of Jesus surrounded by the 12 apostles, each paired with an astrological sign. (See michaelfenemore.com/z.) Every autumn, the sun regresses south until it appears to die and "hang" at the "cross" constellation on or about Dec. 21. For three days thereafter, any movement of the sun is imperceptible. However, after three days, the ancients noticed it beginning to rise again.
So they celebrated its "rebirth" on Dec. 25. Is it merely coincidental the birth of Jesus is celebrated every Dec. 25, followed by "12 days of Christmas?"
Should we not consider it suspicious Jesus supposedly died on a cross and rose again after three days on "the day of the sun" and that some Christians still go out to witness the sunrise on Easter Sunday, clearly associating the resurrection of Jesus with the rising sun?
Should we dismiss it as meaningless that Christians have always regarded Sunday as "the Lord's Day" or that Jesus came to "give light to those who sit in darkness" and "shone like the sun" at his transfiguration (Luke 1:78-79; Matt. 17:2)?
Paul admonished Christians to let Jesus "shine" on them so they might live up to their role as the "children of light" (Eph. 5:8, 14). Metaphorical contrasts between light and darkness pervade the Pauline letters.
Shamelessly plagiarizing Greek mythology, the author of the second letter attributed to Peter continues the Bible's reliance on paganism by borrowing an image of Zeus banishing the Titans to the darkness of Tartarus, a place far beneath the underworld. The Petrine author claims God cast rebellious angels down to the "deepest darkness" of hell (Greek: tartaros) (2 Pet. 2:4). Despite the details being virtually identical, Christians dismiss the first story as a preposterous heathen myth, while claiming the second was inspired by God. If one were a counterfeit of the other, wouldn't it logically have to be the latter?
Ancient astronomers named the seven planets, or "wandering stars," after their gods -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, etc.
In Revelation, Jesus is directly referred to as the sun -- the "bright and morning star" -- his face compared to "the sun shining with full force" as he clutches seven stars representing angels, a stunning parallel to the sun's preeminence over the seven planet-gods (ch. 2:28; 22:16; 1:16, 20b) (See also, 2 Pet. 1:19.)
Accordingly, God's people are "clothed with the sun" and crowned with "twelve stars" (ch. 12:1).
Another famous image of Zeus, the "thunder god," "King of the gods," hurling lightning bolts is recycled as Jesus, "King of kings" and "Lord of lords," firing off "flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder" (ch. 4:5; 19:16). Finally, just as the 12-sign Zodiac incorporates four seasonal subdivisions, each consisting of three signs, New Jerusalem descends out of the Zodiac with 12 gates, three on each of its four walls.
The city is literally founded on the zodiacal number 12. (See ch. 21:12-14.) Christianity is indisputably rooted in ancient paganism.
Of greatest significance is the implication Jesus probably never existed as anything more than a fictional rehash of an earlier mythical son-of-a-virgin character fabricated to symbolize and honour the rising sun.
Yes, Christians enthusiastically sing, "Shine, Jesus, shine . . . Shine on me," blissfully unaware they have been duped into worshipping the sun.
Michael A. Fenemore of Kamloops is the editor and co-author of The Twilight of Postmillennialism, available at Amazon.ca. His website is at MichaelFenemore. com/bible.
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