Christmas is a great time to be around family and friends, give gifts, laugh, eat and watch Tim Allen movies. For me, an atheist, that is where the significance ends. For Christians however, the holiday is so much more – it represents the birth of Jesus, the central character in the New Testament of the Bible.
We all know the story:
- Born of a virgin
- Whose name was Mary
- In a stable/cave
- Where 3 men and some shepherds were there to witness it
- Who were lead to the location by a star
Would it surprise you to know though that you ALSO know the birth story of an ancient Egyptian God called Horus, whose story pre-dates Jesus by 3,000 years? Well, you do. Because it’s the same story. Also, the Ancient Egyptians used to celebrate the birth of Horus at the time of the winter solstice, which is approximately December 21st.
The similarities don’t end there either – they were both the only son of God and both were crucified next to two criminals. Both walked on water, cured blindness and healed the sick. Both raised somebody from the dead.
You can see a comprehensive list with even more similarities here.
To dig a little deeper and investigate this we need to look at the timelines, and analyse where and when certain holy scriptures were written.
The Holy Bible is scripture for Christians, and according to Christians it was inspired by God himself. However, what a lot of Christians don’t know is exactly how the Bible came to be – God inspired or otherwise. In the 4th century AD Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire fancied Christianity, however there wasn’t a lot of clarity around the Christian rhetoric yet. There were many people preaching, so he got them all together to write this book – this meeting is now known as the Council of Nicea. This is where the story of Jesus was first immortalised on paper, and the Bible was born.
I’m no expert on the Council of Nicea, so I wanted to keep that description vague. All the facts are there though – 4th Century. Constantine. Bible.
So, God didn’t write the Bible, and even if he did inspire it, the words were still written by man.
What about the story of Horus? It seems it has been translated and interpreted from hieroglyphics and artefacts found in Egypt, created thousands of years ago.
Here are the possible reasons for the similarities then – either the hieroglyphics are being mis-interpreted by experts in Etymology (which is a possibility) or the men at the Council of Nicea were well aware of the story of Horus, and just used it as a template for their main character.
It really can’t be anything else.
One argument by devout believers is Satan planted similarities in Horus’ story to give Christians even more reason to question their faith. That one seems a bit cheap to me though.
Whether or not the similarities are accurate, it raises a question around the legitimacy of the Bible. If you are religious and you take the Bible seriously, I encourage you to study its origins and investigate the stories within. Christopher Hitchens & Richard Dawkins explore this topic in great depth in their books God is Not Great and The God Delusion respectively. They are great reads whether you are religious or otherwise!
So whose birth are we celebrating exactly? Did the Ancient Egyptians steal the story of Jesus and apply it to their own religion – 3,000 years before Christianity was a thing? MAYBE!
Let me know what you think in the comments below!