April 17th, 2014
08:00 AM ET

Did Christians really 'steal' Easter?

Opinion by Candida Moss, special to CNN

[twitter-follow screen_name='CandidaMoss']

(CNN) - It’s that time of year again: the time when chocolate comes in pastels, cherry blossoms start to bloom and well-marketed religion exposés are released to the world.

In other words, it’s Easter.

Among the rash of sensationalist stories we can expect through the season, the annual “Easter was stolen from the pagans” refrain has sprouted again just in time for Holy Week.

Don’t believe the hype.

Perhaps most misinformed theory that rolls around the Internet this time of year is that Easter was originally a celebration of the ancient Near Eastern fertility goddess Ishtar.

This idea is grounded in the shared concept of new life and similar-sounding words Easter/Ishtar. There’s no linguistic connection, however. Ishtar is Akkadian and Easter is likely to be Anglo-Saxon.

Just because words in different languages sound the same doesn’t mean they are related. In Swedish, the word “kiss” means urine.

But the biggest issue for Christians is the claim that Jesus’ resurrection - the faith’s central tenet - might have pagan roots.

Even apart from whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead, many Christians claim that the very idea is unique.

There are other biblical examples of people being raised from the dead – think of Jesus raising Lazarus. But those people went on to die again. Only Jesus was raised from the dead to live forever.

But there’s a problem: Pre-Christian religions are replete with dying and rising gods.

Dionysius, most commonly thought of as the Greek god of wine, is one such example. He was lured to his death by the Titans, who then boiled and ate him. He was revived by his grandmother, and from his ashes humanity was formed, the Greeks believed.

Farther afield, Osiris – an Egyptian god-king who became ruler of the realm of the dead – was slaughtered before being brought back to life by Isis.

A similar story is found in the case of the Greek goddess Persephone, the daughter of the harvest goddess Demeter. Persephone was carried off to the underworld by the love-struck Hades. Because she ate pomegranate seeds in the underworld, she was permitted to leave only for six months a year.

Her annual resurrection is a metaphor for the changing of the seasons, and many scholars think that stories about dying and rising deities are essentially explanations for the coming of winter.

Then there’s Mithras, an ancient Iranian deity popular among Roman soldiers.

Among the many claims made about Mithras are that he was born on December 25, that adherents to his cult practiced baptism, and that he died and was resurrected.

The connections between Christ and Mithras are further amplified by the fact that the church of St. Clement, near the Colosseum in Rome, is built on top of an ancient Mithraeum.

The list goes on, and I’ll admit it’s a bit unsettling.

That's why the accusations that Christians “stole” the Resurrection from the Pagans is so popular and rhetorically powerful.

If, as many Christians claim, Christianity’s against-the-odds success is in some way proof of its authenticity and truth, then what does it say that parts of its truth were stolen from religious movements that no longer exist?

Spiritual “Manifest Destiny” looks less persuasive when extinct religious traditions supplied the backbone for the modern-day Church.

But there are ways around some of these problems.

Lumping all of these stories of dying and rising gods into a single category obscures important differences between them. Some of those who rose as gods, for example, were mere human beings prior to their return. Jesus, in contrast, was divine before his death, according to Christian theology.

Also, some of the parallels between the traditions come from a later period (post-Christianity) or are completely unsubstantiated. The arguments about Mithras and Jesus, for example, have completely fallen apart in the past 50 years because there simply isn’t enough ancient evidence to support them.

We should also ask whether the fishermen who followed Jesus around Palestine would have known about (much less adopted) stories from ancient Egyptians and Babylonians.

Greek and Roman mythology circulated widely on coins, but would the followers of Jesus who first claimed that Jesus was resurrected have known these stories in great detail?

Perhaps, perhaps not.

On the other hand, many Christians claim that Jesus’ death and resurrection is subtly different from that of other ancient deities and, thus, that the resurrection of Jesus was a wholly new idea.

The problem is, these apologists are one archeological discovery away from disaster. In the meantime, they are trying to pry Christianity apart from other late antique religions in order to protect it.

Perhaps the real problem here is with the idea of uniqueness.

As the University of Chicago scholar Jonathan Z. Smith showed, there’s a huge ideological and religious investment in the idea that Jesus was unique.

But there doesn’t have to be. Just because one idea is influenced by another idea doesn’t mean that its meaning is determined by the chronologically prior idea.

The Founding Fathers may have been influenced by Greek classical tradition, but this doesn’t mean that we should interpret the Constitution in light of Aristotle. You can recognize both the importance and innovation of the Constitution and its roots in ancient European civics.

Rather than battening down the hatches and looking for other signs of uniqueness, Christians need to think about how meaning relates to tradition.

Christians didn’t steal Easter, but it probably wasn’t a wholly new idea, either.

Candida Moss is the author of the “Myth of Persecution” and “Ancient Christian Martyrdom” and professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed in this column belong to Moss. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Easter • Easter • Holidays • Jesus • Opinion • Paganism • Traditions

soundoff (2,118 Responses)
  1. sindy125

    The writer of this article should read "The Pagan Christ" by Tom Harpur. Jesus was a character appropriated from old gods, namely Horus, which was based on astrological signs, interpreted by ancient peoples, and the changing of the seasons and when the light appeared (get it?) I am the light and the way. Based on the equinox, when the seasons changed and you could plant, etc. Everything started in ancient times with the rising of the sun (later made literal and turned into a human) the cross symbol means rising (line up) against the horizon (straight across). that's where it all started. But it will be another 100 years or so before people can start accepting that these are all allegorical stories and that Jesus wasn't a real fella.

    April 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  2. louruiz

    Chocolate zombies would be more fitting. Just saying.

    April 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
  3. ionlyusethisforsocialmediaposts

    "Pre-Christian religions are replete with dying and rising gods."
    But Easter is unique cuz Jesus?
    This argument actually proves the point! Mankind has a habit of making up & stealing the same stories. Christians did too.

    The word "Easter" does in fact come from Anglo-Saxon origins. It comes from "Ostara" which is an Old German pagan word that predates the existence of Christianity in Europe. European pagan religions are also the source of eggs & bunnies as modern Easter symbols – it has always been a springtime fertility/rebirth festival. These are exactly the Anglo-Saxon roots the author wrongly dismisses at the start of the article.

    Would Palestinian fishermen who followed Jesus have known stories from elsewhere around the Middle East?
    Probably not – why else do you think they were gullible enough to believe them?? Believing something doesn't make it true.
    Israel/Palestine have been the trade crossroads between the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean for thousands of years. Aramaic was in fact the common tongue of a Babylonian Empire that extended from Israel into Mesopotamia (Iraq), Persia (Iran), and the Sinai (Egypt). So YES, of course merchants & storytellers & religious leaders would've heard those stories! Where do you think Jesus went when he disappeared for a few decades and shows back up around age 30?

    People don't claim Christians "stole" or co-opted Easter because of the story details – the point is the deliberate imposition of one holiday/belief system on top of another. Numerous archaeological/historical sources (not just the Bible) prove that the pagan holiday/goddess existed. People today even celebrate in the same way, but with the addition of adding "Oh, and Jesus rose from the dead too" on top of hunting for eggs ... The "divine resurrection" story of Christianity was, as the author points out, clearly borrowed from previous religious myths, and is just another symbol of "rebirth" plopped on top of existing beliefs. It's not remotely original. This also isn't unique to Christianity. How do you think Buddhism & Islam spread? Same tactics.

    Absolutely, the Christian "Easter," name and all, was borrowed & deliberately placed directly on top of existing belief systems.
    Focusing on the trivial details entirely misses the point. Getting the easy facts wrong too is just poor writing.

    April 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • mountainlady5281

      Thank you for a clear and accurate post in response to this article. I agree it's sloppy journalism. Whether or not the claims of the early Christians (and the sources of the Bible story of the passion are pretty thin), the choice of date for the celebration of the resurrection was based on incorporating holidays already celebrated by pagans in Britain. The word Easter is of Anglo-Saxon origins based on Ostara which was a pagan celebration of the spring equinox. Most of the traditional customs of the British/American Christians, i.e. eggs, bunnies, baskets were part of the pagan celebration of Ostara. Christian missionaries sent by the early Roman Catholic Church were instructed to graft Christianity onto the existing pagan religion as it made it easier to convert people. The choice of a date for Christmas had exactly the same source. From all archeologic and historic sources, Jesus was probably born in the spring but grafting his birthday onto the already in place holiday of Yule celebrated by pagans/druids in Britain made it more acceptable to the would be Christians. From pagan traditions we get the Christmas tree and many other "traditional" holiday trimmings. As someone else commented....why reinvent the wheel? But remember this the next time someone asks you to "remember the true meaning of Christmas". By decorating an evergreen in front of the fireplace you're really celebrating the end of the solar cycle and the return of the sun god.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
  4. devilsadvocate01

    There's a way around these problems, it is called ignorance.

    April 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
  5. bspurloc

    they stole Marriage and many other things...

    April 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      They stole the idea of wearing clothes and building houses to live in., too.

      And they took our jobs!

      April 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
      • Tuscany Dream


        April 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
      • ausphor

        Glad to see you took some time away from the blog. I hope you had a chance to see your psychiatrist, every bit of therapy is cathartic.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Have you ever seen a psychiatrist?

          April 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Tuscany Dream

          Psychiatrists tend to be pill pushers. If one is going to see someone, see a psychologist.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • ausphor

          Only once. I was promoted to a position while in the army that required a high level security clearance and I took the tests, gave my interpretation of the ink blots and had an hour chat with the shrink. I guess I did alright, I got the clearance.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "see a psychologist."

          Except don't see the person using the alias Kermit...that could be worse for your mental health than believing the tripe of Christianity.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          My reasons are work related, too.

          According to the extremist, non-scientist atheists I'm delusional and mentally ill.

          According to the scientific and medical doctors I'm not.

          I know the extremist, non-scientist atheists claim to love science so much, but I'm going to go with the guys who are qualified to make such decisions. Just loving science is not enough for me. I'm too skeptical to believe what the extremist, non-scientist atheists preach.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • Tuscany Dream

          Truth Prevails: that guy is no psychologist. Taking a psychology class at the local continuing education facility does not a psychologist make.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • Tuscany Dream

          Ignore the "extremist" anything, Dalahast, Christian and atheist alike. It's better for one's mental health....there are people here who feel compelled to answer any post directed to them. That's not a healthy compulsion, lol.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Tuscany: Diploma's can easily be bought and printed off of the internet these days also.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          That is good advice.

          I seem to attract the know-it-all extremists who try to play psychologist. I don't mind telling them they don't know what they are talking about.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • ausphor

          Well maybe you should avoid telling people you were taught to disrespect and even hate and it took you some time to get over it. I imagine the majority of people did not have to go through that.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not harming anyone.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • ausphor

          Never said you were. But I guess it is bothersome that you accuse others of doing the same things you do.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • Dalahäst


          I don't understand what you are talking about.

          But, yes, I am hypocritical at times. Just like everyone else is.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
        • ausphor

          Sorry, Theo was on my brain. You do not accept any kind of criticism well so I will leave you alone, don't want you to get all sulky.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The same things can be said about you, too.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
  6. SeaVik

    As an atheist, no one can "steal" Easter or any other holiday from me. Just like Christmas, Easter is about celebrating friends and family, enjoying good food and good company. If Christians want to inject their fantasies into their holidays, that's their business.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I concur

      April 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      April 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1


      April 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
  7. BringBackTheFlex

    If Jesus was divine before his death, AND was resurrected to live forever, then what's the big sacrifice. That's like Bill Gates donating $100 – what's the big deal. AND Jesus knew he would be saved anyway. Sheesh – talk about a golden parachute.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • Rynomite

      Yeah it's only a sacrifice if he has to endure eternal torture in the place of the rest of us.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
      • igaftr

        endure eternal torutre? Since when is eternity 3 days?
        How was he supposedly suffering for our sins, that we would have to deal with for eternity, but he did it in a finite time.
        How could you take the place of something that lasts forever, or infinite, but then have a finite time for the subst!tute. Clearly one of the many things the bible got wrong.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
        • Rynomite

          I didn't say eternity was only 3 days. I agreed with the OP. I'm stating that Jesus' death would only have been a sacrifice under the scenario in which he takes the place of all others in hell and has to endure torture for an eternity. It's all mythology anyway, but God creating an avatar (that he can technically create an unlimited supply of anyway being all powerful) and having that avatar die and come up and help rule in heaven does not a sacrifice make.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
  8. thetruerootofallevil

    If Your God Is Dead, My God Probably Killed HIm

    April 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  9. Letting go of superst.i.tion


    Speakers in order of appearance:

    1. Lawrence Krauss, World-Renowned Physicist
    2. Robert Coleman Richardson, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    3. Richard Feynman, World-Renowned Physicist, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    4. Simon Blackburn, Cambridge Professor of Philosophy
    5. Colin Blakemore, World-Renowned Oxford Professor of Neuroscience
    6. Steven Pinker, World-Renowned Harvard Professor of Psychology
    7. Alan Guth, World-Renowned MIT Professor of Physics
    8. Noam Chomsky, World-Renowned MIT Professor of Linguistics
    9. Nicolaas Bloembergen, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    10. Peter Atkins, World-Renowned Oxford Professor of Chemistry
    11. Oliver Sacks, World-Renowned Neurologist, Columbia University
    12. Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal
    13. Sir John Gurdon, Pioneering Developmental Biologist, Cambridge
    14. Sir Bertrand Russell, World-Renowned Philosopher, Nobel Laureate
    15. Stephen Hawking, World-Renowned Cambridge Theoretical Physicist
    16. Riccardo Giacconi, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    17. Ned Block, NYU Professor of Philosophy
    18. Gerard 't Hooft, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    19. Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford Professor of Mathematics
    20. James Watson, Co-discoverer of DNA, Nobel Laureate
    21. Colin McGinn, Professor of Philosophy, Miami University
    22. Sir Patrick Bateson, Cambridge Professor of Ethology
    23. Sir David Attenborough, World-Renowned Broadcaster and Naturalist
    24. Martinus Veltman, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    25. Pascal Boyer, Professor of Anthropology
    26. Partha Dasgupta, Cambridge Professor of Economics
    27. AC Grayling, Birkbeck Professor of Philosophy
    28. Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    29. John Searle, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
    30. Brian Cox, Particle Physicist (Large Hadron Collider, CERN)
    31. Herbert Kroemer, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    32. Rebecca Goldstein, Professor of Philosophy
    33. Michael Tooley, Professor of Philosophy, Colorado
    34. Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    35. Leonard Susskind, Stanford Professor of Theoretical Physics
    36. Quentin Skinner, Professor of History (Cambridge)
    37. Theodor W. Hänsch, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    38. Mark Balaguer, CSU Professor of Philosophy
    39. Richard Ernst, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    40. Alan Macfarlane, Cambridge Professor of Anthropology
    41. Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, Princeton Research Scientist
    42. Douglas Osheroff, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    43. Hubert Dreyfus, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
    44. Lord Colin Renfrew, World-Renowned Archaeologist, Cambridge
    45. Carl Sagan, World-Renowned Astronomer
    46. Peter Singer, World-Renowned Bioethicist, Princeton
    47. Rudolph Marcus, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    48. Robert Foley, Cambridge Professor of Human Evolution
    49. Daniel Dennett, Tufts Professor of Philosophy
    50. Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics


    Mozart – Requiem Mass In D Minor K 626 – 1. Introitus 00:03
    Massive Attack – Two Rocks And A Cup Of Water 02:28, 19:14
    Max Richter – Embers 05:13
    Ludovico Einaudi – Andare 09:27, 24:30, 26:31
    Ludovico Einaudi – Nuvole Bianche 13:13
    Max Richter – Vladimir's Blues 29:21
    Ludovico Einaudi – Eni 30 Percento (The Earth Prelude) 33:16

    April 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
    • Dalahäst


      April 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
      • Apollo to Zeus

        The "fine tuning = intelligence", and the "religion = philosophical answers" arguments are weak attempts to make 'god did it" sound rational.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Most scientists are not atheists. And of those scientists that believe, few of them use the "god did it" argument.

          They seek the same discoveries as those who use the "god didn't do it" argument.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Apollo to Zeus

          Most scientists are not atheists.

          And of those scientists that believe, few of them use the "god did it" argument.
          My point exactly. They dress it up like the guy in the video.

          They seek the same discoveries as those who use the "god didn't do it" argument.
          But they do it with the belief that a man and his family built a boat large enough to hold two of every animal on the planet along with enough food for a 375 day voyage, which is clear evidence of their inability to think rationally and apply logic.

          April 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
    • transframer

      Don`t forget to add Josef Mengele and others like him

      April 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • Doris

        Darwin had a lot of fan boys – good and bad; that's no excuse to subst.i.tute reason with superst.i.tion...

        April 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
  10. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    We enjoy scrutinizing similar to our "father" Adam who experienced a fall. I don't refuse rational consideration to a certain degree. Yet, there is a point when rational consideration becomes a smokescreen for disbelief: Somebody not wanting to believe simply tries constantly to find new rational arguements against the faith. I have heard there are people refusing to go to work saying that there could be a lion outside (indeed, the mathematical probabiltiy that a lion is around is not zero). Would we call them rationalists? No, we would call them lazy.

    Christianity fits too good in our world. A few people doubt the reality of the sun and the moon. We should not doubt the reality of Christianity.

    It is too manifest that mankind is beset by evil. Turn on TV, and the first news will be that somewhere a Muslim idiot has blown himself up using an explosive belt killing many innocent people. Ain't that evil? Of course, that is evil though Muhammad, the worst of all idiots, has commanded Jihad. What about the US spree killers? What about former German Nazis? What about former Stalinists? What about former Catholic crusades? The list is without end. Endless bloodshed!

    Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    What about our evil acts through which we harm our fellow human beings daily? What about our lack of worship?

    Even if there would be no Bible, we could not deny that evil is there. It befalls us daily.

    When people harm each other daily, it is odd to imply that man has got an evil germ inside which can take control of him under certain conditions?

    Wouldn't it be reasonable to welcome a religion which provides a solution for that issue of evil?

    The core of the solution is Jesus death and resurrection which we really should celebrate at Easter. Jesus laid the foundation for the destruction of evil: "He is the death of death and the destruction of the hell."

    Even (religious) people putting in every effort to improve (to sin less, and to love more) notice that they cannot overcome their intrinsic sinfulness (their evil germ) by natural strength. We are interwoven with evil.

    St. Paul says that when Jesus died also we have died, our evil germ. It is only that we have to believe that, and to get sacramentally baptized in order to participate in Jesus death and resurrection. All religions try to improve man by ridiculous means, but don't mind the evil germ within us. The man who smells of sweat should be washed, but not doused with perfume. All religions save Christianity do that. The only real solution is to humble the evil germ within us. No painkiller, but killing the cancer.

    If we believe in Jesus Christ, and get sacramentally baptized (or refer to our infant baptism) the evil germ within us gets disempowered, the sin gets dethroned. The evil germ is still there even after conversion and baptism, but through remembrance of our baptism and Jesus' sacrifice we can suppress it which is actually dead, declared dead.

    Through baptism we also resurrect together with Jesus who is love in himself. In Jesus we are able to love God and our neighbour. Love is the opposite of sin or breach of law, love is the fulfillment of the law of the Torah.

    Repent, convert, believe in Jesus, get sacramentally baptized, and you will experience a real Easter.

    Jesus waits for you. He loves you, and he can set you free.

    If you accept all this, Jesus sacrifice is also an atonement for your sins, for our sins. We are forgiven.

    Don't scrutinize, but believe in the Ruler of the Universe who is ready to come to judge the quick and the dead.

    Is there nobody sharing my opinion? I don't condemn the Anglo-Saxon world, but it seems to be condemned. I understand why the leaders of the Confessing Church were as afraid of a US victory over Germany as of Hitler's rule. What is better? Devil or deep blue sea?

    April 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
    • bostontola

      "A few people doubt the reality of the sun and the moon. We should not doubt the reality of Christianity."

      That brings up an interesting question:
      What is crazier, 1. not believing in things you and everyone else can plainly see, or 2. believing things no one can see? (and please don't reply with metaphysical seeing, I'm comparing actual physical sensing).

      April 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • igaftr

      "Is there nobody sharing my opinion? "
      You are finally starting to wise up.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • Doris

      Utilizing as much mental gymnastics as your brand of Christianity prescribes, it is just as plausible that your Satan engineered your entire story, starting from your interpretation of Genesis.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • mk

      "Somebody not wanting to believe simply tries constantly to find new rational arguements against the faith."

      As opposed to the irrational arguments of the faith?

      April 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
    • Tuscany Dream

      Stop scrutinizing (or in your case, lying about) other faiths and focus on your own.

      Your continued bashing is getting tiresome and completely deflects any good point you are trying to make.

      If you have to tear down others to build up your own, you are not only mean-spirited, but not genuine in your own faith.


      April 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
  11. transframer

    Eastern was not a Christian holiday, it is much older. However Jesus was crucified and then he resurrected on those days and since Christians celebrate his resurrection, not the Eastern itself, even if they kept the same name.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • trog69

      Prove it.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      "Jesus was crucified and then he resurrected on those days "

      Now without using the bible, cite the evidence backing this. No-one returns from the dead after 3 days and for you to believe that speaks of how gullible you are.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • transframer

      This was about Easter history as Christian holiday, not about proving Jesus resurrection

      April 17, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
  12. sburns54

    What about christmas, the winter solstice celebration, co-opted as the "birthday" of Jesus, when all evidence points to the fact that he wasn't born in December? Where did the christmas tree, holly, etc, come from? All religions borrow and use previous ideas. As the Book of Ecclesiastes in the bible says, "There is nothing new under the sun."

    April 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
  13. verax13

    While Easter is NOT named for Ishtar, it IS named for Eostre, a goddess in Germanic paganism who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter. Today we Pagans celebrate the first day of Spring as our holiday, Ostara. So yes, at least THAT much was indeed borrowed from Paganism. Resurrected god stories exist in almost all of the ancient religions including the Egyptian (Osiris).

    April 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
    • BringBackTheFlex

      Stop. You can't really expect "believers' to take their fingers out of their ears long enough to listen to fact and reason.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
  14. Vic

    ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

    Will, sure those similarities are unsettling; however, all the stories share the same doubt and scrutiny, and the "Truth" always stands out.

    Regardless of all the dogmas and the knock offs—Mithraism, BTW, appeared between 1 and 4 AD, what are the odds?—, in Christianity the Lord Jesus Christ is the focus, nothing else matters. On a dart board, there is only one bull's eye.

    Keep your eyes on the prize.

    Hebrews 12:2
    "2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (NASB)

    April 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Same crap different day....repeating it over and over again doesn't make it true.

      April 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
      • believerfred

        The same applies to you also correct?

        April 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I'm not claiming anything so outrageous freddy. We know that no-one comes back from the dead after 3 days; we know that there is no evidence to support your vindictive gods existence...we know that Christianity holds society back and is attributed to many problems in the world.
          Not much good about your cult of gullible fools!

          April 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • believerfred

          looks like truth does not prevail
          "I'm not claiming anything so outrageous freddy."
          =>really, do you claim we evolved out of a rock (i.e. inorganic matter)

          "We know that no-one comes back from the dead after 3 days"
          =>everything came back from the dead (inorganic) according to your belief. What you are saying is that billions of years allows for existence to accidently appear. Your magic man is time.
          =>Even Spinoza's "God" is more realistic that you are. The God of the Bible fits "God" as Einstein and Spinoza saw him when you remove all the religious anthropomorphism.

          "there is no evidence to support your vindictive gods existence"
          =>Suggest you read the proof of God as provided by Spinoza. Your problem is that you continue to limit your thoughts to 3 grade science and still do not understand that acceptable evidence varies even within scientific disciplines

          "we know that Christianity holds society back"
          =>nonsense most of the great early scientific discoveries were from Christians. Our institutions starting with Yale and Harvard were opened and lead by clergymen having strong Puritan beliefs

          "attributed to many problems in the world."
          =>man is the problem and please let us not go over the comparative death and suffering from the Atheists: Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc

          April 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • bostontola

      "Will, sure those similarities are unsettling; however, all the stories share the same doubt and scrutiny, and the "Truth" always stands out."

      It's called confirmation bias. Every group, sect, denomination, religion all think their "Truth" stands out.

      April 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • ausphor

      Jesus Christ is Lord of the Myths

      April 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • Apollo to Zeus

      ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Not Lord ♰♰♰

      Mithraism was practiced by the Romans between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, but it was around long before that.

      April 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
  15. bostontola

    I can understand why people would follow the modern popular tenets of Christianity and live according to a cherry picked set of rules they agree with.

    What is harder to fathom, is that they think the whole story behind it is actually true when there are so many religions and 42,000 denominations of Christianity.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
  16. eoyguy

    Easter and Saturnalia (Christmas), just two more things, like most of the bible stories, "stolen" , borrowed or otherwise handed down from rituals and myths far older than 2000 years ago.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
  17. amandacasto2014

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I know why I believe the day was linked to paganism over Chritianity. How else would the day be calculated by the lunar cycle rather than a specific date. Easter falls on a different day every year. It's the First Sunday after the First FULL MOON after the Spring Equinox. You can't get more pagan and lunar in calculating a date to hold a celebration on. The author is clearly ignoring this simple fact about how Easter is selected as a date each year.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
    • Alias

      And what makes you think people counted days 2,000 years ago?
      The equinox and the lunar cycles were as specific as calendars got.

      April 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
      • ausphor

        You should do a little research before making a comment like that. People were indeed counting days long before that, google the Egyptian and Maya calendars for example.

        April 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
      • paulloveking

        The first sunday part looks tacked on to a more pagan method for determining when to celebrate.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
    • verax13

      In Pagan religions, the dates of our holidays are usually fixed. Ostara is always celebrated on the first day of Spring, usually March 20 or 21.

      April 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
      • ionlyusethisforsocialmediaposts

        "First day of Spring" is defined by physical, variable, astrological phenomenon: the earth's position relative to the sun. It isn't a fixed day, and the way it's determined predate the very concept of "March 20" by at least ~8000 years.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
  18. moonischasinme

    There is NOTHING in the christian religion that is original. They are all recycled from older myths and legends.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
    • transframer

      You are wrong, I can tell at least two reasons that make Christianity unique

      April 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
      • raven100382

        And they are??? Resurrection...been done. Salvation...done. Triumvirate diety....done. Holy days...done. Even the first churches have pagan architecture because pagans built them (the wandering priest couldn't build it all by himself) and they were usually built on top of pagan ritual sites.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
        • transframer

          1. Christian God created the world out of nothing (ex nihilo). Any other religion's god created the world from something that was already there: water, darkness, thin air whatever.
          2. Christianity founder, Jesus, is alive. Any other religion founder is rotting in his tomb

          April 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
        • raven100382

          In India, Brahma came from nothing and created the universe from his own will.

          Jesus wasn't the founder of Christianity, he didn't start a new religion. People came later and used his life as an example to start a new religion. I am pretty sure most religions, if not all, believe their creator or diety to be alive, so how does that make Christianity unique?

          April 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • igaftr

          1) False. Nogomain even created HIMSELF out of nothing, more powerful than your god.
          2) Baseless belief.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • Rynomite

          I believe Eru and the Ainur created Middle Earth out of nothing.

          April 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • johnbiggscr

          '1. Christian God created the world out of nothing (ex nihilo). Any other religion's god created the world from something that was already there: water, darkness, thin air whatever.'

          'Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters' ........sounds like darkness and water to me

          April 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        1) Gullibility on long term basis 2) Fear factor of hell if you don't believe.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
  19. Alias

    I think you are missing the big picture here. Follow the Money!
    Russell Stover and Hersheys store Easter.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Unless of course you don't have munchkins and can wait until it goes on sale the day after but as with most holidays it is commercialism that wins the day.

      April 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
      • BringBackTheFlex

        Well, there's' a reason most Christian's are Republican.

        April 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          What does that have to do with commercialized holidays??

          April 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
    • paulloveking

      The candy makers took it from the christians, but that wasn't the first time the holiday got transformed.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
  20. ejonconrad

    And all this has what exactly to do with giant egg laying bunnies?

    April 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • Dalahäst


      April 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.