The Pagan Origins of Christianity Essay

4088 Words 17 Pages
The first part of this paper will explore the mystery-religions, the reasons behind their popularity, and the Hellenistic world in which they grew that began with Alexander the Great. Next, their characteristics and connections first with Judaism and later with Christianity will be more deeply discussed. In the second part it will be shown that the mystery-religions helped to clear the pathway for the Christianization of the Greco-Roman world by men such as Paul the Apostle. Finally, the Emperor Constantine’s role in this story will be mentioned, during whose reign the mystery-religions declined and Christianity became the major religion of Europe and the near east. The paper will conclude with a brief speculation about the significance of …show more content…
After learning these mysteria, members were considered reborn or “born again.” Christianity in fact began along these lines of practice. Its most important ceremony, the Mass or Eucharist, in which the body and blood of Christ were symbolically eaten in the forms of bread and wine, was forbidden to all but a select few who had completed three levels of initiation. Most early Christians, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin, would have been familiar the concept of mysteria. Throughout the Mediterranean world, religious communities based on this idea of secret teachings thrived.

Another common element in the mystery-religions was their tendency to worship the divine on what we today would think of as a higher spiritual level than standard Greek and Roman religions did. The idea of a spiritual world as separate from the material world, first promoted by Plato, was fully adopted by the mystery-religions and provided them with a basis for belief in life after death. Conversely, ancient Greco-Roman religion and Judaism contained nothing that addressed this new concept of separate worlds. Traditional public worship in both Jewish and Gentile communities generally emphasized the material world in its requests for good crops, healthy children and success in business. Worship in a closed