Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

16 July 2007

Facile comparisons

Filed under: Egyptian,parallels — markandmore @ 13:28

Gavin C. Schmitt has put up a page on his website called 50 Similarities Between Jesus and Horus (actually only 45). I am not going to comment on the Horus side of the comparison except to say that I am unconvinced until I see detailed references to source documents that I can read myself (English translations will do).

The point that I am making here is that the assumptions on the Jesus side are actually untrue if Mark is the Jesus document that we are using.

1 Both were conceived of a virgin. Not in Mark.
2 Both were the “only begotten son” of a god Mark 1:11- ‘Thou art my beloved Son’. No mention of ‘only’.
3 Hours’ mother was Meri, Jesus’s mother was Mary. Unlike in John where the mother remains anonymous, in Mark she has the Roman name, Maria.
4 Hours’ foster father was called Jo-Seph, and Jesus’s foster father was Joseph. Mark says nothing, not a single word about a father.
5 Both foster fathers were of royal descent. Not in Mark.
6 Both were born in a cave. Not in Mark.
7 Both had their coming announced to their mother by an angel. Not in Mark.
8 Hours; birth was heralded by the star Sirius. Jesus had his birth heralded by a star in the East. Not in Mark.
9 Ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Hours on December 21 (the Winter Solstice). Modern Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. Not in Mark.
10 Both births were announced by angels Not in Mark.
11 Both had shepherds witnessing the birth. Not in Mark.
12 Hours was visited at birth by “three solar deities” and Jesus was visited by “three wise men”. Not in Mark. Incidentally neither Matthew nor Luke has both wise men and shepherds.
13 After the birth of Hours, Herut tried to have Hours murdered. After the birth of Jesus, Herod tried to have Jesus murdered. Not in Mark. Herod did order the killing of the children of his wife Miriam after he suspected her of an affair with a Joseph. This is the only historical parallel.
14 To hide from Herut, the god That tells Isis, “Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with thy child.” To hide from Herod, an angel tells Joseph to “arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt.” Not in Mark.
15 When Hours came of age, he had a special ritual where his eye was restored. When Jesus (and other Jews) come of age, they have a special ritual called a Bar Mitzvah. Not in any of the Gospels.
16 Both Hours and Jesus were 12 at this coming-of-age ritual. Not in Mark.
17 Neither have any official recorded life histories between the ages of 12 and 30. See 19.
18 Hours was baptized in the river Eridanus. Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan. Finally a datum that is actually in Mark.
19 Both were baptized at age 30. The age of Mark’s Jesus is not specified.
20 Hours was baptized by Anup the Baptizer. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. This is in Mark.
21 Both Anup and John were later beheaded. Ditto.
22 Hours was taken from the desert of Amenta up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Set. Jesus was taken from the desert in Palestine up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Satan. Mark’s account only says the wilderness. There is no mention of a mountain, high or low. Satan is nowhere in the NT presented as a rival messiah.
23 Both Hours and Jesus successfully resist this temptation. Yes.
24 Both have 12 disciples. Jesus also has Levi and BarTimeus who are not in the count of 12.
25 Both walked on water, cast out demons, healed the sick, and restored sight to the blind. Yes.
26 Hours “stilled the sea by his power.” Jesus commanded the sea to be still by saying, “Peace, be still.” This is the Markan version.
27 Hours raised his dead father (Osiris) from the grave. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. (Note the similarity in names when you say them out loud. Further, Osiris was also known as Asar, which is El-Asar in Hebrew, which is El-Asarus in Latin.) Not in Mark.
28 Osiris was raised in the town of Anu. Lazarus was raised in Bethanu (literally, “house of Anu”). Bethany is in Mark, but not Lazarus.
29 Both gods delivered a Sermon on the Mount. Not in Mark.
30 Both were crucified. Yes.
31 Both were crucified next to two thieves. Yes.
32 Both were buried in a tomb. Yes.
33 Hours was sent to Hell and resurrected in 3 days. Jesus was sent to Hell and came back “three days” later (although Friday night to Sunday morning is hardly three days). Not in the NT
34 Both had their resurrection announced by women. Mark 16:8 – And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.This is the last verse. The women never made the announcement.
35 Both are supposed to return for a 1000-year reign. Not in Mark.
36 Hours is known as KRST, the anointed one. Jesus was known as the Christ (which means “anointed one”). Yes.
37 Both Jesus and Hours have been called the good shepherd, the lamb of God, the bread of life, the son of man, the Word, the fisher, and the winnower. lamb and winnower are not used in Mark.
38 Both are associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces (the fish). Not in Mark.
39 Both are associated with the symbols of the fish, the beetle, the vine, and the shepherd’s crook. Not in Mark.
40 Hours was born in Anu (“the place of bread”) and Jesus was born in Bethlehem (“the house of bread”). Not in Mark.
41 “The infant Hours was carried out of Egypt to escape the wrath of Typhon. The infant Jesus was carried into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Concerning the infant Jesus, the New Testament states the following prophecy: ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son.'” (See Point 13) Not in Mark.
42 Both were transfigured on the mount. Yes.
43 The catacombs of Rome have pictures of the infant Hours being held by his mother, not unlike the modern-day images of “Madonna and Child.” Not in Mark.
44 Noted English author C. W. King says that both Isis and Mary are called “Immaculate”. Not in Mark.
45 Hours says: “Osiris, I am your son, come to glorify your soul, and to give you even more power.” And Jesus says: “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” Not in Mark.

Sum total: 13 of these 45 points are in Mark. This is not a good score.


14 July 2007

Mark: some of the candidates

Filed under: authors,Flavian,Herodians,Julio-Claudians,Mark — markandmore @ 22:39

So, who did write the Gospel of Mark?

Here are some of the persons who have been suggested:

1) The John Mark who appears several times in the New Testament, Peter’s secretary, and the first bishop of Alexandria. The founder of Coptic Christianity and whose body lies in the Cathedral San Marco in Venice. The orthodox version which we looked at in detail in the previous post.

2) Ptolemaeus Chennus (Ptolemy the Quail). This nomination relies on the fact that Dennis MacDonald in The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark analyzes the Gospel as a transvalued emulation of mainly the Odyssey, but also parts of the Iliad. Ptolemaeus Chennus wrote an ‘anti-Homer poem’ which we no longer have – unless it is the Gospel of Mark. Ptolemaeus Chennus – like John Mark – was an Alexandrian who came to Rome. He wrote versions of old mythologies that rewrote the past.

3) Marcus Mettius Epaphroditus (+23 – 96?). Sometimes known as Tiberius Claudius Epaphroditus. The name ‘Epaphroditus’ means ‘of Aphrodite’, which may mean that he was raised as a sex slave, but not necessarily. Other New Testament characters e.g. Titus, Saulus have names with sexual connotations. Other NT characters have names dedicated to Greek gods: Apollos, Artemas (from Artemis), Zenas (=Zenodorus=gift of Zeus), Tychius (from Tyche). He was born in Chaeronea in Greece, a slave in the house of Archias, a grammaticus, who educated him. He was later sold to a Roman eques (of the lessor nobility), Marcus Mettius Modestus, who was prefect of Egypt in the +50s ruling from Alexandria (so like John Mark, Marcus Epaphroditus also came from Alexandria). Modestus freed Epaphroditus, and as per custom Epahroditus took the name of his ex-master. He moved to Rome, founded a school, founded a lepaphroditus_s.jpgibrary of over 30,000 scrolls, owned two houses and published several books: a grammatical Commentary on Homer (see Dennis MacDonald above), Lexeis (literary styles), Peri Stoicheion (first principles of language), a commentary on the Aitia by Callimachus of Cyrene, a commentary on the Shield of Heracles attributed to Hesiod. He also sponsored three of the books by Flavius Josephus. He rose at the court of Nero, first apparitor Caesarus, then viator tribunicius and finally libellis, which means that he drafted Nero’s replies to petitions. (As John Mark was secretary to Peter, Marcus Epaphroditus was secretary to Nero). In +65 he learned of the Piso conspiracy and shopped it to Nero. In exchange he received military honours and great wealth. When Nero was declared a public enemy by the Senate in +68, Epaphroditus and a few other freedmen helped him escape from Rome, and finally helped him to suicide (or maybe just killed him). He returned to the imperial court under Domitian, again as secretary. He also protected his now-freed slave philosopher, Epictetus, when Domitian was persecuting the philosophers (as John Mark had protected a slave devoted to himself). Finally Domitian had Epaphroditus executed. He also appears in Philippeans 2:25, 4:18, 4:23 as Paul’s emissary to the court of Nero. He is recognized as a saint by the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches.

See Robert Eisenman. James the Brother of Jesus.

4) Marcus Julius Agrippa (28 – 100?). The last king of the Herodian dynasty. He was raised in Alexandria. He was the only male Herodian of his generation descended from the Hasmodians (via Herod’s wife Miriam). He was known to the Samaritans as Marqeh bar Titus (he, like Josephus, had been adopted into the Flavian family) who wrote texts and hymns that became part of the Samaritan tradition, and is regarded by them as the second Moses. He was recognized as the messiah of Daniel 9:24-7. He ruled as king an area in Syria for at least 30 years after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in +70. At the end of his life when he had fallen out with the Romans and was in their prison, he wrote another gospel, The Gospel of Me, explaining that the male child who reappears in the Gospel of Mark was himself.

See the various websites by Stephan Huller here, here and here

1 July 2007

The Life of Mark

Filed under: biography,Mark,walkons — markandmore @ 23:43


For someone who is basically a postulation because a text must have an author, Mark has a remarkably detailed biography.

Walk-ons in the New Testament

In his own gospel, it has been proposed that Mark is the young man who runs off naked (14:51-2), and the servant who carried water to the house of the last supper (14:13).

In John’s gospel, it has been proposed that Mark was one of the servants at the wedding celebrations in Cana who poured out the water now turned to wine (2:1-11), and the one who hosted the disciples after the death of Jesus and to whose house the resurrected Jesus came (20:19).

In Luke’s gospel, it has been proposed that Mark was one of 70 apostles sent by Jesus (10:1); in his sequel, it is proposed that Mark is ‘John Mark’ the son a Mary(Acts 12:12,25, 15:37,39), John (13:5, 13:13), and Mark (15:39); In Luke’s epistles, Mark is mentioned at 2 Tim 4:11.

In Paul’s epistles, Mark appears at Col 4;10 as a cousin of Barnabas, and Philemon 1:24.

In Peter’s epistles he appears at 1 Peter 5:13, described as the son of the author, presumably Peter.

Outside the New Testament

Eusebius quotes Papias that Mark had been Peter’s secretary and that the gospel is based on Peter’s reminiscences.

While preaching on the shores of the Adriatic his ship took shelter from a storm in the lagoon to be later called San Francesco della Vigna, and an angel appeared and told him of the future city of Venice. Mark also founded a church at Aquileia in the lagoon.

There is a strong tradition that Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria, that he performed many miracles, including healing a cobbler with an injured hand who became his successor, Bishop Anianus. Jesus appeared to Mark in his cell before he was executed in 67 or 68 (which raises the problem of his apparent knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 which is hinted at in his gospel). Several ancient Christian writers, Dorotheus, Eutychius and the Chronicon Paschale, state that Mark’s body was burnt. However the Acts of St Mark, 4th century, claims that a miraculous storm permitted his followers to steal away the body and bury it in a church.pdvd_002.jpgKing of Kings, 1927

Cecil B. Demille’s King of Kings, 1927


Venice has a tradition that Mark came down from Heaven to rescue a slave who was devoted to his shrine, and was about to be executed. Another legend relates how during a storm, a stranger (Mark) persuades a fisherman to pick up two other saints, and then go out to sea where they encounter a ship filled with demons intending to destroy Venice. The three saints destroy the demons instead. Mark pays the fisherman with a ring from his sanctuary to be taken to the Doge.

In either 815 or 828 Venetian sailors stole most of Mark’s body and smuggled it to Venice by hiding it under pork meat which the muslim guards avoided. Venice deposed its existing patron saint, Theodore, and built the cathedral San Marco in Mark’s honour.

Copts maintain that Mark’s head is still in St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, and every year on the 30th day of the month of Babah, they commemorate its appearance.

In 1063, during the construction of a new basilica in Venice, St. Mark’s relics could not be found. However, according to tradition, in 1094 the saint himself revealed the location of his remains by extending an arm from a pillar.

In 1968 a delegation from the Coptic Pope to the Catholic Pope was given a piece of bone that had been given to the Catholic Pope by Cardinal Urbani, patriarch of Venice, and said that the rest of Mark remains in Venice.


Did they get the wrong body?

The Tomb of Alexander the Great was in Alexandria, and its location was well known in Roman times. The tomb disappeared in the dark ages. Andrew Chugg argues that the Venetian sailors in 815 or 828 stole the wrong corpse. They stole that of Alexander himself, and that it is Alexander who lies in the cathedral San Marco in Venice. !!!

JCJ Metford Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend Thames and Hudson 1983 under ‘Mark, St’

Wikipedia entry on Mark the Evangelist

Andrew Chugg Alexander’s Tomb

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