Discover more in these hand-picked books What you think;  what others say.
You are here. Ideas, rituals and myths Christianity boosted from the Pagans. Some of the Pagan's dying-resurrected godmen The Triumph of Christianity Discover mainstream scholarship about Christianity's Pagan origins What did the Christians borrow? So what?
Home > getting started > pocm ancient religion for dummies | ancient religion syncretism

Getting started
"We must not treat legend as if it were history."

[Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 374]

Congratulations! -- you've found POCM, The Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth web site. You're going to discover the answers to two questions.
Was Christianity new?
Was Christianity unique?

At the end, we'll talk about what the answers to those question mean.

The short course
Like Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, MIthras and many others, Jesus was a God shaped like a man, walking, talking, eating, but still having magic God powers. Like the other Pagan godmen Jesus was a subordinate God, son of the great universal God, miraculously conceived in a mortal woman, living for a while on Earth rather than in Heaven, helping people

Was Jesus a xerox copy of one particular Pagan God? Was He Mithras renamed? Or Dionysus? The answer is No.

Jesus was new -- in the same way the first Honda Accord was a new car and the first Mountain Dew was a new soda pop. But the Accord wasn't the first car, and Dew wasn't the first soda. They were "new" versions of old ideas. So was Jesus.

Jesus was the Son of God who suffered, died, and was reborn. But He wasn't the first Son of God who suffered, died, and was reborn. He brought salvation; but He wasn't the God first to do that either. His mom was a virgin; He wasn't the first God there either. It's the same with miracles, disciples, ascending to heaven -- the list goes on and on.

Believing scholars like to bring up differences between Jesus and the earlier Pagan godmen. Mithras was born of a rock, not a virgin, so Jesus can't be Mithras. Attis' faithful hung his likeness on a pine tree, not on a cross, so Jesus can't be Attis. Believing scholars are right, Jesus wasn't Mithras, and He wasn't Attis. Jesus was a "new" God, the same way the first Honda Accord was a new car. He was a "new" version of God, built from old ideas.


Quick look at POCM
If you're in a hurry and want a quick look at a representative Pagan God who died, was reborn, and brought salvation, try Osiris.

Pagan Origins tells you about the old Pagan ideas and sacraments used to build the new Christian religion.

Pagan Christs lists a few of the Pagan godmen. They all predated Jesus. You'll see they were each different from Jesus, but Jesus was certainly a member of the club.borrowing

For a quick summary of everything here at POCM, try Borrowing, which sums up the facts the rest of the site explains in detail.  Borrowing also has links so you can bounce back to discover more about topics you're interested in.

If you've got time, POCM makes the most sense when you read it like a book, cover to cover. The  and buttons help you do that.


POCM's Prime Directive: Just facts, no opinion

Just facts, no opinion. Look, I know the stuff you're reading here is hard to swallow.  This is the wacky web -- I don't expect you to believe me.  So here's the POCM web site's prime directiveJust facts, no opinion.  

Stick around. You'll discover Christianity's Pagan origins directly from the pens of the ancients themselves. You'll also discover the Christianity's Pagan origins in mainstream modern scholarship. 

What you won't read is my opinion.  You absolutely won't hear my interpretation -- yuck! -- of any bible verses. Just facts. No opinion

For the compulsive, here's what you'll find at each navigation tab
Getting Started  tidbits about ancient Mediterranean culture and religion. Over and over the ancients made new religions out of old parts.
Pagan Origins    Were Christian ideas, sacraments and myths new? Were they unique? (Hint: the answer is No.) We'll look at God, the soul, monotheism, the death and resurrection of the Son of God, baptism, salvation, the eucharist and more.
Pagan Christs a few of the Pagan dying, resurrected godmen, their myths, rituals, and theologies.
Triumph how one Christianity -- one version of many early Christianities -- conquered the Roman Empire, and suppressed all other religions, Pagan and Christian
Scholarship the surprising thing to most people is that there is mainstream scholarship on Christianity's Pagan origins. There is. Here's a rundown.
Borrowing how Pagan ideas got into Christianity
The End Oh yeah, so what?

There's also
Good books good books

Feedback your feedback, and other folk's


POCM is here to inform, not to persuade. I'm not pushing one religion over another; I'm not pushing a-religion or atheism over faith. For me the Pagan roots of Christianity are historically and culturally stunning, but not life-changing. I will say I'm not a Pagan. But if I did it right you'll go through everything here without otherwise figuring out what my religious convictions are.

, if you've committed yourself to a literal bible, well, you're starting with an axiom that makes everything here impossible, so you won't miss much clicking away. No hard feelings.

Greg Kane

What other people think about POCM

I can't say that i'm Pagan, but i am looking into it. I'm trying to find out as much as i can about it. Your page, though informatively seen from a different point of view (your point), i didn't find that great. You have a couple of grammatical errors and a couple of verbal misuse (I have a prefectionist habit and if you would like some examples, i would be happy to show you, but i won't include them in here).

You might be thinking that I didn't like your page simply because of your errors... well, it goes back further than that. You talk about Paganism like you know everything about it (i'm not saying you do know everything about it, but rather you sound like it). Now if you have errors in the language you're using to describe it in, how can i be sure that there are no errors in your teachings? (I know you say you're not trying to pursuade, but want it or not, those are considered teachings) On a more happier oppinion, this could just be the habit talkin. I'm not saying your writing is false, I don't even know that much about the religion. However, i would like you to think on it. 
Thanks. -Daniel



Good Books for this section  
I've spent way lots of money on dozens and dozens of books about ancient religion. If I were starting over, these are the three I'd buy first:
Deconstructing Jesus
by Robert Price
Professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, member of the Jesus Seminar, and editor of the Journal of Higher Criticism

The best book to get started with,  because as an academic himself Price understands the orthodox scholarly theories, though he doesn't buy them.

The theme is that nothing we know about Jesus is historical, everything is mythical.

The book follows the regulation scholarship, starting with the "Jesus People," (an academic term for Jesus' first followers; the Jesus People weren't really Christians, since they didn't believe Jesus was God or that he had risen from the dead), on to the first groups who worshiped Jesus as God, the Christ-cults (another academic term), though Jewish Messianic expectations, non-orthodox early Christianities and even ancient novels, which reveal a cultural theme of escape from crucifixion.

The point is not one-for-one parallels between Jesus and, say, Mithras or Osiris.  The point is that  the first Christians took the basic ideas of their culture and adapted them to their new faith.  


Available at


The Ancient Mysteries : A Source book
Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean World
Marvin W. Meyer (Editor)

Who you gonna trust?  The ancients. Believing scholars shade the facts in favor of the myth.  Non-believers exaggerate and make up facts and connections as a way to attack the church. 

So who are you going to trust?  That's up to you.  I trust the ancients -- people alive back when Christianity began, and before. That's what this book is about.

This is a sourcebook, is a collection of primary documents -- excerpts from ancient authors who wrote about Pagan religion and early Christianity.  It's a great collection, with the original text of most of the standard ancient references to the pagan mystery religions.

This is a powerful book. You'll discover firsthand, right from the pens of the ancients themselves,  that Dionysus came to earth "incognito, disguised as a man"; that Pagan Gods died and were reborn with the meaning that "the God is saved, and we shall have salvation."; that pagans had initiation ceremonies seen as "a voluntary death", sacred meals shared with the God, ceremonial washing, Pagan miracles, a Godman who changed water into wine, and a Pagan version of the great flood.  And much more.  


An important book that no serious student will be without. Highly recommended.

Available at Amazon .com.


Backgrounds of Early Christianity
by Everett Ferguson

An excellent book to start with.

If you need a special-purpose book to understand Christianity's Pagan origins, then probably Christianity didn't have Pagan origins.  It does; you don't.  What you really need is a good book describing ancient Pagan culture and religion.  This outstanding, easy to read book is the best I've read.

From Greco-Roman religions (Mithras, Isis, Dionysus, Eleusis, the mystery religions, etc.) and philosophies (monotheism, the soul, life after death, etc.), on through an excellent section on Second Temple Judaism and another on early Christianity, you'll discover the facts and issues behind modern scholarship on Christian origins.

I bought this book on a whim, figuring it would have a relevant section or two;  I ended up reading the thing cover to cover, 600 delightfully clear and well written pages.  But you don't have to read it cover to cover -- just pick the section you're interested in.

Available at Amazon .com.