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D.M. Murdock (Acharya S.), Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection. Stellar House Publishing.

Reviewed by Robert M. Price


Yes, she published it herself. So did Hume. Nuff said.

Some may think to accuse Ms. Murdock of committing the fallacious appeal to authority because she peppers her text with information ascribed to various scholars and includes their professional titles or academic posts. But she is not thereby trying to lend a weight to her thesis which it would not possess on its own. Rather, she is trying to help us place the specialists whose work she is discussing. I am no Egyptologist, so it helps me to know who I am “listening to” here and that it is never just some convenient crank.

This is no doubt the best book by this controversial author. Any and every fault, real or perceived, that one might have detected in The Christ Conspiracy was already absent from Suns of God, and it is hard even to remember them while one is reading Christ in Egypt. Just so no one will suspect Acharya paid me to puff this thing, I suppose I ought to supply a couple of minor criticisms. My main one is that, as in the case of the great Robert Eisenman, she seems to me to over-document her case, almost to the point that I fear I will lose track of the argument. But, like all good teachers, she periodically pauses to draw the threads together. And of course the danger is implied in the scope of the subject. She quotes a previous scholar concerning this occupational hazard: “Unhappily these demonstrations cannot be made without a wearisome mass of detail” (Gerald Massey, Ancient Egypt: Light of the World, p. 218, cited p. 313).

The book is more extensive and encompassing than many dissertations I have read, containing over 900 sources and nearly 2,400 citations in several languages, including ancient Egyptian. The text abounds in long lost references many of them altogether new to English rendering, including de novo translations of difficult passages in handwritten German. This is the kind of thing that gives me, as a researcher, a migraine as soon as I see them coming in the distance!

Besides random judgment calls re this or that proposed parallel or conclusion, my only continuing disagreement with the Acharya is on her model whereby a committee of creators sat down to formulate the Christian religion. Such a scenario is by no means impossible, but it seems unnecessary to me. I prefer the old Romantic idea of Hölderlin and the early form-critics of an anonymous and nebulous “creative community.” It is hard to track down rumors, myths, or ascendant religious symbols to specific names. But this difference hardly matters. We are in agreement on the thoroughly syncretic character of primitive Christianity, evolving from earlier mythemes and rituals, especially those of Egypt. It is almost as important in Christ in Egypt to argue for an astro-religious origin for the mythemes, and there, too, I agree with the learned author. Let me outline the main argument that persuades me, some of it learned here, some already assimilated and facilitating my acceptance of much that Acharya offers.

First, I find it undeniable that, as Ignaz Goldziher (Mythology among the Hebrews) argued, following the lead of “solar mythologist” Max Müller (yes, the great historian of comparative religion and world scripture), many, many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations. This theory is now ignored in favor of others more easily made into theology and sermons, but it has never been refuted, and I find the evidence overwhelming. And once you recognize these patterns in the Old Testament, you start noticing them, albeit to a lesser degree (?), in the New. Hercules’ twelve labors surely mark his progress, as the sun, through the houses of the Zodiac; why do Jesus circumambient twelve disciples not mean the same thing? And so on.

Second, for Egyptian influence to have become integral to Israelite religion even from pre-biblical times is only natural given the fact that from 3000 BCE Egypt ruled Canaan. We are not talking about some far-fetched borrowing from an alien cultural sphere. The tale of Joseph and his brethren is already transparently a retelling of Osiris and Set. The New Testament Lazarus story is another (Mary and Martha playing Isis and Nephthys). And so is the story of Jesus (Mary Magdalene and the others as Isis and Nephthys). Jesus (in the “Johannine Thunderbolt” passage, Matthew 11:27//Luke 10:21) sounds like he’s quoting Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Sun. Jesus sacramentally offers bread as his body, wine as his blood, just as Osiris offered his blood in the form of beer, his flesh as bread. Judas is Set, who betrays him. Mourning women seek for his body. The anointing in Bethany (“Leave her alone! She has saved the ointment for my burial!”) is a misplaced continuation of the women bringing the spices to the tomb, where they would raise Jesus with the stuff, as Isis raised Osiris. In fact, Jesus “Christ” makes more sense as Jesus “the Resurrected One” than as “Jesus the Davidic Scion.” In the ritual reenactments, three days separate the death and the resurrection. Jesus appears on earth briefly, then retires to the afterworld to become the judge of the living and the dead—just as Osiris does.

Osiris is doubly resurrected as his son Horus, too, and he, too, is eventually raised from the dead by Isis. He is pictured as spanning the dome of heaven, his arms stretched out in a cruciform pattern. As such, he seems to represent the common Platonic astronomical symbol of the sun’s path crossing the earth’s ecliptic. Likewise, the Acts of John remembers that the real cross of Jesus is not some piece of wood, as fools think, but rather the celestial “Cross of Light.” Acharya S. ventures that “the creators of the Christ myth did not simply take an already formed story, scratch out the name Osiris or Horus, and replace it with Jesus” (p. 25). But I am pretty much ready to go the whole way and suggest that Jesus is simply Osiris going under a new name, Jesus,” Savior,” hitherto an epithet, but made into a name on Jewish soil. Are there allied mythemes (details, really) that look borrowed from the cults of Attis, Dionysus, etc.? Sure; remember we are talking about a heavily syncretistic context. Hadian remarked on how Jewish and Christian leaders in Egypt mixed their worship with that of Sarapis (=Osiris).

Third, Eusebius and others already pegged the Theraputae (Essene-like Jewish monks in Egypt) as early Christians, even Philo the Jewish Middle Platonist of Alexandria) as a Christian! Philo and various Egyptian Gnostic sects experimented with the philosophical demythologizing of myths such as the primordial Son of Man and the Logos. Philo equated the Son of Man, Firstborn of Creation, Word, heavenly High Priest, etc., and considered the Israelite patriarchs, allegorically, as virgin-born incarnations of the Logos. All, I repeat, all, New Testament Christological titles are found verbatim in Philo. Coincidence? Gnostic texts are filled with classical Egyptian eschatology. Christian magic spells identified Jesus with Horus. It seems hard to deny that even Christians as “late” as the New Testament writers were directly dependent upon Jewish thinkers in Egypt, just like the Gnostic Christian writers after them. And if the common Christian believer saw no difference between Jesus and Horus in Egypt (or between Jesus and Attis in the Naasene Hymn), why on earth should we think they were innovators?

I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock: “we assert that Christianity constitutes Gnosticism historicized and Judaized, likewise representing a synthesis of Egyptian, Jewish and Greek religion and mythology, among others [including Buddhism, via King Asoka’s missionaries] from around the ‘known world’” (p. 278). “Christianity is largely the product of Egyptian religion being Judaized and historicized’ (p. 482).


Copyright©2009 by Robert M Price
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