So, what do we know about Cybele/Attis and the taurobolium?

 

Cybele (also known/identified with/merged with Agdistis, Magna Mater, and Kybele/Kybebe) was originally born a hermaphrodite, but the gods castrated her and she became female. An almond tree grew from the severed male organs, and Nana (the daughter of the river god Sangarius) became pregnant after setting one of its blossoms in her lap. The baby that was born was Attis. Cybele loved Attis desperately and became very jealous when he was unfaithful to her with a nymph. She drove him insane, so that he castrated himself and died beneath a pine tree. [HI:HLAR:289; NT:7CAGAC:101; RRE:26f; but there are many, many variants on this story—some very, very MAJOR as well.]

 


Draft: May/2001  [Additional reference citations: XCA: Cybele and Attis: the myth and the cult. Maaarten Vermaseren (A H. Lemmers, trans). Thames:1977]


 

 

 

“The worship of Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods, spread from its chief sanctuary, Pessinus in Phrygia, to Greece by the early fourth century BCE, and then on to Egypt and Italy. Heeding the counsel of the Sibylline oracle concerning the threat of foreign invaders, the Roman senate brought her worship to Rome in 204 BCE as the first officially sanctioned Eastern cult. By the end of the Republic in 31 BCE, worship of the Magna Mater in the Roman world rivaled that of Isis in importance….The account of Attis’ death by bleeding following his self-mutilation in service to the goddess provided the mythic paradigm for the ritual castration that characterized the worship of both Atargatis and Cybele.” [NT:HRI:83]

 

 

 

“But the senate’s intelligence service had failed them; the ritual of emasculation came as an appalling shock, and Roman citizens were forbidden to participate, and had to content themselves with membership of supporting Brotherhoods…Catullus’ remarkable tour-de-force, the poem Attis, written no doubt from experience in Asia Minor rather than in Rome, combines a Greek horror of marring the human body’s beauty with a Roman repulsion from the loss of masculinity and power. None the less…in the year 101 a Roman named Genucius became the first citizen to be consecrated as an eunuch priest.” [RRE:28]

 

“She had not come alone [in 204 bc]. Her eunuchs had accompanied her. But the Senate confined them to the enclosure of the sanctuary. A priest and priestess from Phrygia took charge of the clergy, who would continue to be recruited outside Rome, in the East. No citizen had the right to castrate himself like the galli, or even to enter the annexes occupied by these eunuchs and take part in the frenzied ‘orgies’. Once a year, during the April festivals, the galli were permitted to dance through the streets of Rome to the sounds of auloi and tambourines, in their exotic ‘get up’, with their feminine garments, long hair and amulets.” [HI:TCRE:37]

 

 

 

 

“She was popular throughout Asia, though her popularity, relatively speaking, began to decline with the reign of Augustus” [NT:7CAGAC:100]

 

“Later, during the period of the Roman Empire, the emperors increasingly favored her worship, beginning in the first century C.E. with Claudius, who opened the way for increased attention to be paid to the Magna Mater and now to Attis also. As a result, from the second century CE on, the Roman world became more and more familiar with the exotic festivals, the flamboyant Galli (eunuchs of the Great Mother) and Metragyrtai (mendicant priests fo the Great Mother), and the gory taurobolia (ritual slaughter of bulls) within the celebrations of Kybele and Attis.” [TAM:113f]

 

Restrictions (of Roman participation) were lifted by Claudius, and worship of Cybele and her consort Attis became part of the state religion…” [HI:HLAR:289]

 

 

·         At the arrival to power of Augustus, the political climate for Cybele (and the other “Oriental” gods) began to change for the better (but not for Attis):

 

“With the accession to sovereign power of a member of the gens Iulia which was descended from Aeneas, the Great Mother of Ida acquired a revived legitimacy. So she appears on several occasions in the Aenid” [HI:TCRE:43]

 

“On the contrary, the ambition of the first emperor, Augustus, had rather been the furtherance of the tradition of the ancient national gods, one of whom was Cybele; the name of Attis occurs only in the biography of the emperor, and even then in bitter scorn...Nor is Attis found on any of the Imperial coins of the Augustan epoch” [XCA:177f]

 

“During the first half of the first century the power and the influence of the oriental gods was seen to grow at an ever-increasing rate.” [XCA:178]

 

 

 

·         But it was in Claudius’ reign that the Great Mother became a real force in Roman political life. Claudius was emperor of Rome from 41 ad to 54, his reign marks a major turning point for both the popularity and the ‘structure’ of the Roman worship of Cybele. Claudius was quite learned, very interested in religious matters, and got quite “evangelistic” about them during his reign. (Some have argued that the ‘decline’ in Roman vitality at the time was a matter of some concern to the government, and that cries of ‘return to the old gods’ were beginning to be heard.):

 

“This grandson of Livia belonged to a family whose clan name Appius/Attius went back to the famous Sabine Atta Clausus and recalled the very name of Attis (‘Papa’). Claudius took great interest in the mysteries of Eleusis, which he tried in vain to bring across to the Urbs, and his erudition—encouraged by the historian Livy—had perhaps led him to read the work of Timotheus on the religion of Pessinus. Among the freedman of Graeco-oriental origin whose influence and activities were growing stronger at that time in the imperial court, many came from Phrygia where the assets of the imperial treasury were considerable. Apart from the palace and civil service, Anatolians must haven been numerous at Ostia, where the cult of Cybele would experience increasing success during the following century.”[HI:TCRE:44)

 

“What was novel about the new ruler, apart from his disconcerting appearance and manner, was his immense learning; the elder Pliny, who quotes him four times in his Natural History, ranked him among the hundred foremost scholarly writers of his day.” [TTC:130]

 

 

 

·         For example, Claudius was quite active in matters of Jewish religion, as well, and took an number of initiatives against Judaism (and Christianity, which, for him, was likely indistinguishable from it).

 

“When the Jews (of Rome) had again multiplied to a point where their numbers made it difficult to expel them from the city without a riot (note: they had been expelled by Tiberius twenty years earlier), he did not directly banish them, but forbade them to gather together in accordance with their ancestral way of life” [Dio Cassius, Hist, lx, 6]

 

“When we come to Claudius’ later action against the Jews of Rome [note: the expulsion of all Jews from Rome in 49AD], we find ourselves on firmer ground with regard to Christianity. According to Acts 18:2, it was just after Paul came to Corinth that he met Aquila and Priscilla, who had recently had to leave Rome in consequence of Claudius’ edict of expulsion…the impression we get is that they were already Christians when he made their acquaintance. That Christianity had been brought to Rome by this time—that, in fact, its propagation within the Jewish community of the capital had much to do with Claudius’ edict—is the natural inference from the statement of Suetonius that ‘because the Jews of Rome were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus (impulsore Chresto) he expelled them from the city…Although Christianity was indistinguishable from Judaism in the time of Claudius, it was perfectly distinguishable by the time Suetonius wrote (c. A.D. 120), and it was well known that it had been founded by Christ (Christus, not unnaturally confused with the common slave-name Chrestus, which was pronounced in practically the same way). It is just conceivable that the riots mentioned by Suetonius were caused by the activity of an otherwise unknown Chrestus, but in that case he would probably have said ‘at the instigation of a certain Chrestus’ (impulsore Chresto quodam). It is more natural to suppose that he intended his readers to understand that Chrestus who, as a matter of general knowledge, was the founder of Christianity. To be sure, Christ was not in Rome in the time of Claudius; but Suetonius, writing seventy years later, may have thought that he was. If his sources indicated that the riots which provoked Claudius’s edit of expulsion were due to the introduction and propagation of Christianity in the capital, he could well have drawn the mistaken inference that it had been introduced there by Christ in person. Tacitus was better informed; he knew that Christ was crucified under Tiberius; but such accuracy required a degree of research for which others had neither the interest or inclination. “ [Bruce, New Testament History, 298ff]

 

 

 

·         Claudius created/authorized several innovations to the public worship of Cybele during his reign:

 

 “The reign of Claudius saw considerable changes; these were no doubt part of a more liberal attitude to non-Romans and their practices. Restrictions on participation were now removed. The Committee of Fifteen, who exercised general control over alien cults, took part in the procession. From this period on we find the galli, the eunuch priests, and even the archigallus bearing Roman names. He is termed Attis populi Romani or Atus publicus populi Romani Quiritium, ‘the public Attis of the citizens, the people of Rome’. An archigallus may be seen on a relief in the Capitoline Museum; his dress, hair, and features are effeminate…Furthermore, though the Megalensia were left at their original date, a new cycle of ritual was established during the period 15-27 March, apparently introducing Attis into the Roman cult for the first time.” [RRE:28]

 

Phrygianism was thus well and truly officialized. It became popular and imperial. Claudius and his freedman played a decisive role in this respect, even though the Romanization of the March cycle was confirmed only in the following century by the solemnity of the Hilaria.” [HI:TCRE:47f]

 

“However, although on the above-mentioned relief Attis’ cap symbolically crowns the summit of the temple, the castrated god is not seem to have enjoyed a cult before the reign of the emperor Claudius.” [HI:TCRE:43]

 

 

 

·         But the main innovation of Claudius (according to Turcan) to the Cybele cult may be the ‘adoption’ of the taurobolium procedure by cult of Cybele!:

 

“Claudius did not stop at incorporating the deeds of Attis into the calendar. He may also have reformed the official priesthood by instituting the office of archigallus, if one agrees with the reasoning of J. Carcopino. There is no reliable mention to be found of an archigallus before the Antonine era, at lest in epigraphy. As high priest (summus sacerdos) of the Mother-worship cult, the archigallus was a Roman citizen. He thus had an official duty that was incompatible with castration, which Roman law forbade its nationals. The galli consecrated themselves to Cybele by sacrificing their manhood to her. How, therefore, could an archigallus be ‘ordained’ without breaking the law? Here we meet and have an explanation for the taurobolium which, in ancient documentation, is often the accompaniment of the archigallic title…The first epigraphic attestation of a Mother-cult taurobolium is dated to AD 160….A man descends into a pit or trench, wearing a toga of which one fold covers his ribbon-adorned head. The pit is covered with an openwork platform or flooring with many holes in it. A bull is then brought and its chest hacked with blows from a spear.

 

‘The huge wound spouts a flood of hot blood…which seethes in all directions…Through the countless channels provided by the perforations a stinking torrent falls. The priest enclosed in the pit gets the full force of it, exposing his befouled head to every drop; his robe and his whole body reek. Worse is to come! He tilts his head backwards, exposing his cheeks, his ears, his lips and nostrils, even his eyes. Without sparing his palate, he soaks his tongue in it, until his whole body is impregnated with this horrible, dark blood. (Prudentius, Hymns, X, 1028-40).

 

“The victim is removed, the cover taken off, and the ‘the pontiff, dreadful to see’ is extracted from the pit. He is hailed ‘with the idea’ that vile blood…has purified him while he was hidden in these shameful depths.’…in the Roman era the process consisted of being immersed in the spilt blood in order to identify oneself ritualistically, though imaginarily, with the victim. It was a substitution sacrifice. Inscriptions inform us that the slaughtered bull’s testicles were cut off and buried beneath an altar, just as the vires of the castrated galli were ritually interred. Prudentius quite rightly makes the martyr denouncing the repugnant performance say: ‘It is my blood that you see, not that of an ox’ (Hymns, X, 1007). Now the subject of the taurobolium of which he speaks is the summus sacerdos consecrandus (ibid., 1011-12): the one who is to be consecrated as high priest, or in other words, the archigallus. So he was hailed and worshipped, and ended with the conviction that he was ‘purified’. The Great Mother was given satisfaction by the castration of the sacrificed bull. Henceforth, the archigallus wore the crown and the occabus or heavy gold bracelet.” [HI:TCRE:49-51]

 

Concurrently, the cult of Cybele became associated with the ritual of the slaying of the sacred bull (taurobolium), which Prudentius interpreted as a baptism of blood. The ritual was performed for the prosperity of the emperor or the Empire and, more frequently, for the benefit of private individuals. Normally it was considered valid for twenty years, which makes it questionable whether it was meant to confer immortality on the baptized.” [PJC:188]

 

 

 

In the second century A.D. her followers added to her rites the taurobolium, or baptism in blood, a messy practice much favored in certain Asian cults” [HI:ELAR:89])

 

 

 

“There is no reliable mention to be found of an archigallus before the Antonine era.” [HI:TCRE:49]

 

 

 

 

 

“In the cult of Magna Mater during the empire, for example, the priests and priestesses were mainly ex-slaves, newly enfranchised Roman Citizens…Even the archigalli found in the second and third centuries A.D. were mainly ex-slaves.” [HI:RR1:261]

 

“By the middle of the first century A.D. offices in her hierarchy were being filled by men and women of respectable families. The priests no longer had to be eunuchs, and this opened the ranks to local burghers…Since the slaughter of no inexpensive victim (in the taurobolium) was required, it must have been the wealthier members of her flock who went in for such renewal.”  [HI:ELAR:89]

 

 

·         But the taurobolium itself was actually a process, not a place, and the term didn’t connote anything like baptism or even sacrifice [in spite of Prudentius’ late terminology]:

 

“The name implies not a sacrifice or baptism, but something more akin to a rodeo, and the lassoing of a wild buffalo, or something of the kind. Later it changed its character and became more intimate.” [RRE:29]

 

 

·         The first data we have for  taurobolia is not about Cybele at all (!):

 

“The earliest taurobolium known through epigraphy is dated to AD 134 by a dedication at Pozzuoli, but there it was a matter of a sacrifice offered to Venus Caelestis, the Syrio-Phoenician Astarte…” [HI:TCRE:57] (So, this seems like another case in which one cult ‘appropriates’ elements from some other--in this case, at the instigation of Claudius.)

 

 

·         The early descriptions of taurobolia do not indicate its actual function, but the scant data we do have indicates that it was used initially for initiation of the high priest (archigallus). Later, it came to be used (within the Cybele cult) as a general ‘sacrifice’ for the well being of the emperor/etc, and also later, for the ‘benefit’ of some private initiate (bestowing some 20 years of vitality upon them).

 

 

 

“At first carried out in the port of Ostia, from the time of Antonius Pius the taurobolium was celebrated in a new Phrygian sanctuary built in the VaticanArchgalli were ‘ordained’ there, sacrificing a bull for the safekeeping of the emperor and the imperial family. Apart from future archigalli, others could go through the same ceremony, standing in the pit to receive the bloody benediction, ‘for the preservation’ of the emperor.” [HI:TCRE:51

 

“The earliest known dated taurobolic altar belongs to Lyons. But it commemorates a taurobolium carried out in 160 in the Vatican Phrygianum, most probably to consecrate the first archigallus of Lyon.” [HI:TCRE:63)

 

“But others, like this inscribed altar from (Lyons) show how the performance of a taurobolium could also be focused on the prosperity of the Roman state, the emperor, and the local community.” [HI:RR2:162]

 

“His successor, the almost motionless old Antoninius Pius, gave Cybele more place in his coin than had been usual. A special kind of sacrifice known as the taurobolium is not attested before his reign on behalf of the throne but is so afterward…” [HI:PTRE:103]

 

“An ancient committee for oversight of religion, the quindecimvirs in the capital, formally installed the Cybele priest of Lyon in A.D. 160, and his like, too, in Arausio in Gaul and in several Italian cities subsequently. Those were all coloniae.” [HI:PTRE:104]

 

“During Trajan’s reign, in the year AD 114, and later in AD 134, under Hadrian, the Puteoli taurobolia took place. Soon afterwards this rite must have come into vogue in the capital, for under Antoninius Pius the cult was reorganized in order the regulate the taurobolium rites as well as the office of the archigallus.. Moreover, unlike his predecessor, Antoninius Pius openly declared himself in favour of worshipping Cybele and Attis together, and consequently no longer tried to push aside the Attis worship...The taurobolium rite was now officially recognized, and those who submitted to this ceremony mostly did so ‘for the emperor’s benefit’…In short, Antoninius Pius favored the Cybele cult to such an extent that it prospered widely in the centuries to come…” [XCA:179f]

 

 

 

“However, although it is correct to state that the cult of Isis was definitively installed in Rome under Caligula and that the monuments of Mater Magna—Taurobolium and the Mithraic caves are concentrated in the second to fourth centuries A.D., still what represented the mysteries proper for pagan antiquity, the cult of Eleusis, is known to have flourished without interruption from the sixth century B.C. onward….” [HI:AMC:2]

 

“In colonies like Cordoba, Merida, Beja, and Medellin, it is not surprising to find mention of taurobolia and criobolia. In AD 234 at Cordoba, a private citizen of Graeco-Oriental origin had the sacrifice carried out for the ‘preservation’ of the emperor Septimius Servus, and a woman gathered up the ram’s testicles.” [HI:TCRE:60]

 

“Phrygianism came into its own in the Gauls. No other region in the Empire has yielded so many taurobolic altars (over sixty).”[HI:TCRE:60]

 

“The great centre of the taurobolic cult was the capital of the Gauls, Lyon, Colonis Copia Claudia, from the name of the emperor Claudius who was born there on the very day of the inauguration of the altar to Rome and Augustus.” [HI:TCRE: 63]

 

 

 

“The same is true of the most spectacular mystery rite, the taurobolium. One fact established definitively about this ritual is that it was to be repeated after twenty years, as if the bull’s blood were a magical coating that wore away and must be renewed after a certain time.” [HI:AMC:18]

 

“In the documents of the so-called Oriental cults, the dimension of the afterlife is much less obvious…One famous and often quoted taurobolium inscription, the dedication of Aedesius, claims that he is in aeternum renatus (“reborn to eternity”). This inscription was set up in 376 A.D. two generations after the victory of Christianity and half a generation after Julian, in the midst of a pagan reaction. It obviously contradicts the multiple and earlier evidence that the taurobolium is effective for twenty years and no more; the most likely explanation is that it has drawn on the well-known Christian proclamations and is try to beat the adversary by imitation.” [HI:AMC:25]

 

“The process of change is also visible in cults long established in Rome which sometimes received new and heady interpretations. In the fourth century the cult of Magna Mater placed a new emphasis on the practice of the taurobolium. Inscriptions from the Vatican sanctuary record that some worshippers repeated the ritual after the lapse of twenty years; one claimed that he had been thereby ‘reborn to eternity’—which seems to mark a radically new significance…The exact reasons for these changes in the cult of Magna Mater and of Jupiter Heliopolitanus are unclear; but a partial explanation at least must lie in the development of Christianity. Though old cults did not adopt elements of Christianity, they did adapt old procedures to offer a new eschatology and to enhance the involvement of the initiate.” [HI:RR1:384,386]

 

“This late inscription (the reborn for eternity one, late fourth century), dedicated by Sextilius Agesilaus Aedesius, currently also head of one of the Mithras communities, already shows a tendency towards the incorporation into the Cybele rites of the eternity concept as it is found in other mysteries and in Christianity, Aedesius being a bitter enemy of Christianity, which at that time was about to gain the upper hand.” [XCA:106]

 

 

·         But what is odd is that even this ‘reborn to eternity’ is not the same concept as that held by the Christians—it meant something different:

 

“The participant in the taurobolium is ‘reborn’, like Attis, born to a new life. In 376, a follower declared himself ‘reborn for eternity’ and two inscription from Turin are consecrated viribus aeterni, that is to say to the ‘force’ (vital, sexual) of the ‘eternal’, in commemoration of a taurobolium. In fact, we know that this bloody ‘baptism’ was held to regenerate for twenty years the man or woman who descended into the pit. The Latin aeternus indeed implies durability rather than transcendental eternity in the Christian sense.” [HI:TCRE:52)

 

 

 

 

·         There is even considerable uncertainty if the Hilaria is even about resurrection at all:

 

“Consequently it must seem clear that both from the texts and from the archaeological monuments no more than a hypothesis can be advanced about the Hilaria, and that this hypothesis tends toward a resurrection” [XCA:123]

 

 

 

“Some points of similarity with the earlier stories are evident. Attis is dead; he is not resurrected; every year his grave is bewailed to commemorate his passing. A feature from Eleusis has been added to all this; Cybele roams the countryside Demeter-like, her sorrow making it barren. But unlike Persephone, Attis not granted a temporary return. The Phrygians have to make do with his image, and during their spring lamentation they can call Attis back only in their minds and in their ceremonies. His death is irrevocable; his parting is forever.” [XCA:112]

 

 

“Attis rages round like a wild maenad, until he falls down exhausted, under a pine-tree and in an access of insanity emasculates himself. Only when he sees Attis dying of his mutilation does Agdistis regret his behavior, beseeching Zeus to raise Attis from the dead and resuscitate him. The god does not refuse Agdistis’ request completely, and allows Attis’ body to remain uncorrupted, his hair to grow on and his ‘little finger’ to stay alive and move continuously (digitorum ut minimissimus vivat).” [XCA:91]

 

 

 

When bulls do show up in Cybeleic data, they are always subordinated to the lions:

 

·         “In a hymn, probably written in the second century AD in Pergamum, she is invoked as ‘the mother of the immortal gods; she prepares a fast-riding chariot, drawn by bull-killing lions…’” [XCA:10; but this could be due to Roman influence]

·         “She is sitting on a throne with footstool, and rests her hands on the heads of two escorting lions. A remarkable feature is that the lions are standing with their forelegs on the heads of bulls” [XCA:30; in Phrygia; she is also figured with Artemis here, with whom she is closely related and sometimes identical.]

·         “on the frieze below the throne [of Cybele] a fight between a bull and lion is depicted three times.” [XCA:31, Smyrna]

 

 

The overall ‘cast’ of the rite is that of an ancient hunting ritual (associated with an ‘earlier’ version of Cybele):

 

“A gold cup from Vaphio (c. 1500BC) shows the ensnared animal (bull) being brought to submission after a net has been cast (ballein) over it. From the hunting of the bull, which is also encountered in Asia Minor, as well as from its slaughter and the ensuing banquet, Fr. Cumont sought to derive the word taurobolium. It would thus signify ‘the capture or killing of the bull’, which he associates especially with the War goddess Ma-Bellona. Similarly, criobolium would mean ‘The capture or killing of the ram.’ The two terms are frequently found on altars erected to the Magna Mater and Attis. Most of these altars bear a ram’s head or a bull’s head as decoration, with occasionally on one of the sides a hooked sword (ensis hamatus), which the poet Prudentius in c. AD 400 refers to as a hunting-spear (venabulum). Therefore it looks as though we are here dealing with an ancient custom requiring this particular weapon for the slaying of the bull.” [XCA:100]

 

It would be rampant speculation to try to ‘fit’ the various elements in antiquity that are represented by a ‘bull’ into this ceremony, but we do know that Artemis (one of Cybele’s alter-egos, or maybe we should say ‘altar-egos’) was a goddess of the ‘hunt’. Perhaps Claudius, with his fascination and interaction with Asia Minor religious thought, encouraged the merging of this aspect into the Roman Cybele cult. At any rate, this information about it being a hunting event reenactment argues against the bull being some kind of ‘symbol’ of Attis’ death…

 

 

At the time of  Paul’s travels/writings in Asia Minor (the actual ‘source’ for many of the more resilient original Cybele traditions—esp. Pergamum and Phrygia), however, the cult of Cybele did not have the internalized Attis’ myth represented at all—neither companionship, death, or ‘resurrection’. Attis himself shows up in his shepherd image widely (even Tarsus), but without a hint of the death/resurrection/divinity motif. A century or two later, however, Rome will have pushed the “new, improved Attis” on them, and he will begin to show up in the data [see HI:ISGM, part 4]. This would argue that the Attis death/resurrection myth (and its attendant blood ritual) was a creation of Rome (as Roller argues in [HI:ISGM] ) and was only beginning when the NT was being written elsewhere. The ‘plain’ Cybele traditions—with which Paul would have been familiar—do not have the features of death/rebirth/etc that is supposed to be the elements Paul ‘borrowed’ from that ritual. The chronology (and geography in this case) of these events are further evidence that this ‘information exchange’ would not have occurred.

 

 

Summary points:

 

1.        The Cybele/Attis taurobolium rite—according to the data we have-- is most likely later than the 35-70 AD period we are discussing.

2.        The basic elements of the rite might have been introduced from Asia Minor at the time of Claudius (a.d. 50 AD), who was a conscious innovator in these matters [as opposed to someone who simply ‘recognized’ what had been there already].

3.        The rite was a substitutionary castration for the high-priest.

4.        Later uses of the rite allowed it to be offered for the emperor (Antonine times).

5.        The participant was said to be ‘reborn to virtue’ for 20 years.

6.        The rite became popular in the late second century AD, at the earliest.

7.        The rite looks like a hunting re-enactment, and is never called a ‘baptism’.

8.        The resurrection motif (for Attis) is not celebrated officially (even by his imperial devotees) until the end of the second century AD.

9.        These celebrations might not actually be about ‘resurrection’ at all, since the myths are inconsistent on Attis’ death/resurrection.

10.     Specialists in the field believe the fourth-century ‘reborn to eternity’ ritual was a “competitive adaptation” due to the growing importance of Christianity. [Notice how odd this would be, if Christianity first ‘borrowed’ the rite from them centuries earlier…smile]

11.     The alleged death/resurrection motifs are isolated in the Roman version of the ritual, and these elements were only being created around the time the New Testament was being ‘finished”…and several of the epistles of Paul (cf. Galatians, with its ‘crucified with Christ’ motif) would have been written 5-10 years  before Claudius ‘went for his gun’…

 

And, if we try to apply the ‘numerous, complex, detailed, underlying, and structural’ criteria for borrowing [developed in the main section of this article, copycat.html] to this case (the taurobolium rite and the Christian’s identification with Jesus’ death on the Cross and bodily resurrection), we would be tempted to agree with Roland Worth:

 

“If one ‘spiritualizes’ the concept of resurrection broadly and vaguely enough, one can erect a parallel, but it is hard to see it as a meaningful one. How could an individual driven to madness and involuntary castration parallel a judicially murdered prophet who offended the religious authorities of his day? Furthermore, what in the New Testament parallels the crucial role played by a woman in bringing about the tragedy?” [NT:7CAGAC:262n71]

 

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