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New Testament
Greek and Roman Mythologies
Jesus Christ

List parallels between Jesus and Greek god Attis and who came first?


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September 13, 2011 11:20AM

Some authors say, that the Christian religion partly origins from the Attis cult. To support this view, they see a number of parallels, as listed below.

Attis (a deity or semi-deity in the ancient Greek culture) is known to be worshipped between 500 B.C. and 400 A.C., first in Phrygia and eventually even in Rome. During this period, the legend of Attis has taken many forms, which makes it hard to comment on the parallels. It is hard to determine which version of the legend was most popular at the time when and the place where Christianity emerged.

  1. Jesus and Attis were both born from a virgin.

    > One difference is, though, that Jesus's mother was human while Attis's mother Nana was a nymph. Further, Maria got pregnant by the Holy Spirit and Nana got pregnant by an almond from a daemon. Another version of the legend tells that the goddess Cybele (not a virgin) was his mother.

  2. Jesus and Attis both died a violent death.

    > Jesus was crucified and Attis killed himself, or, in an old Lydian version of the story, was killed by a boar.

  3. Jesus and Attis both resurrected from the death.

    > According to some versions, Attis was reborn as the evergreen pine, in another version, he just disappeared and in yet other versions, he was indeed resurrected by either Zeus or Cybele. The resurrection played an important role in the Roman cult in the first century. This may be influenced by Christianity.

  4. The Attis cult included that the worshippers had a meal, that symbolized the body of Attis, just like the Holy Communion of the Christians.

    > They did have a meal, but there is no evidence that this symbolized the body of Attis. Furthermore, this meal was part of an extensive yearly ritual, while in the first century the christian communion was held separately and frequently, although the exact frequency is not known.

Whether or to what extent the Christian belief was influenced by the Attis cult or vice versa is not known, but the similarities are not very striking. The theologies and the cultural contexts of both religions are very different.