JESUS AND HORUS – IS THERE A CONNECTION?
APRIL 2014 – This image, claiming that the story of Jesus was plagiarised from the Egyptian god Horus, recently appeared on a widely popular social media site that is visited by young people around the globe. This is not the first time this idea has circulated – there have been numerous versions of it before.
There are varying connections made between Jesus and Horus, and many different websites addressing this topic, from both perspectives, which can lead to a lot of confusion. For the purpose of this article, we address only the claims made on this particular image, and consider the origins of the connection.
Below are some counter-claims to refute this connection, drawing on three main sources:
A) The Divine Evidence – http://thedevineevidence.com/jesus_similarities.html
B) Jon Sorenson’s apologetic blog – http://www.jonsorensen.net/2012/10/25/horus-manure-debunking-the-jesushorus-connection/
C) David E. Anderson – http://www.kingdavid8.com/_full_article.php?id=24f9c898-6b92-11e1-b1f8-842b2b162e97
1. VIRGIN BIRTH
According to most scholars, Horus’ mother was not a virgin. She was married to Osiris, and there is no reason to suppose she was abstinent after marriage. Horus was, per the story, miraculously conceived. Seth had killed and dismembered Osiris, then Isis put her husband’s dead body back together and had intercourse with it. So while it was a miraculous conception, it was not a virgin birth. There are other versions of the story in which Horus’ conception was non-sexual, but, since Isis was still married to Osiris, there’s no reason to suppose that the authors of those stories intended for her to be a virgin. (C)
2. BORN ON THE 25TH OF DECEMBER
Horus’ birth was actually celebrated during the month of Khoiak (October/November). Though some critics claim Horus was born during the winter solstice, this shows more of a relationship to other pagan religions which considered the solstices sacred. (A)
3. EASTERN STAR AND WISE MEN
Horus’ birth was not announced by a star in the east. Some claim that the “star in the east” is Sirius, but Sirius is not “in the east” in any sense. No stars can reside exclusively in the east or west, due to the rotation of the Earth. There were no “three wise men” at Horus’ birth, or at Jesus’ for that matter (the Bible never gives the number of wise men, and they showed up at Jesus’ home, not at the manger, probably when Jesus was a year or two old). (C)
4. TAKEN TO EGYPT TO ESCAPE TYPHON
Typhon actually occurs in Greek mythology, but has been connected to the Egyptian character of Set, who had ongoing conflict with Horus (his nephew) after killing Horus’ father, Osiris. There are no similarities to Herod. And why would Horus be taken to Egypt if he was already there? (Wikipedia)
5. TAUGHT IN THE TEMPLE AS A CHILD
There is no evidence to support this. (C)
6. BAPTISED BY ANUP THE BAPTISER
There is no record of any baptism for Horus, or of any character called Anup the Baptiser. (B, C)
7. TWELVE DISCIPLES
Superficially this similarity seems accurate until we see Horus’ “disciples” were not disciples at all – they were the twelve signs of the zodiac which became associated with Horus, a sky god. Horus had four disciples (called ‘Heru-Shemsu’). There’s another reference to sixteen followers, and a group of followers called ‘mesnui’ (blacksmiths) who join Horus in battle, but are never numbered. But there’s no reference to twelve followers (A, C)
8. PERFORMED MIRACLES AND WALKED ON WATER
The Metternich Stella, a monument from the 4th century B.C., tells a story in which Horus is poisoned by Seth and brought back to life by the god Thoth at the request of his mother, Isis. The ancient Egyptians used the spell described on this monument to cure people. It was believed that the spirit of Horus would dwell within the sick, and they would be cured the same way he was. This spiritual indwelling is a far cry from the physical healing ministry of Christ. Horus did not travel the countryside laying his hands on sick people and restoring them to health. (B)
There is no record of Horus walking on water.
9. RAISED EL-AZUR-US (OSIRIS) FROM THE DEAD
There is a version of the story in which Osiris is resurrected, but it happens prior to Horus’ birth. (C)
10. WAS TRANSFIGURED
There is no record of this.
11. SIMILAR TITLES
Critics allege that Horus held similar titles used to identify Jesus such as Messiah, Savior, Son of Man, Good Shepherd, Lamb of God, The Way, the Truth, the Light, and Living Word. However there is no evidence of any of these names ever being used in reference to Horus. The only titles Horus is given are “Great God”, “Chief of the Powers”, “Master of Heaven”, and “Avenger of His Father”. (A, C)
12. CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION
Horus was never crucified (crucifixion didn’t exist until around 600 BC, long after the stories of Horus). There’s an unofficial story in which he dies and is cast in pieces into the water, then later fished out by a crocodile at Isis’ request. (C)
In many of the books and on the websites that attempt to make this connection, it is often pointed out that there are several ancient depictions of Horus standing with his arms spread in cruciform. One can only answer this with a heartfelt “So what?” A depiction of a person standing with his arms spread is not unusual, nor is it evidence that the story of a crucified savior predates that of Jesus Christ. (B)
CONCLUSION: Any connections made between the stories of Horus and Jesus are entirely tenuous, and there is little or no supporting information for any of these connections. It is also important to be aware that there are many different versions of the story of Horus, and none of them can be taken as a serious ‘precursor’ of the story of Jesus.
SO WHEN DID THIS FALSE CONNECTION COME FROM?
Cecil Adams, on “The Straight Dope”, writes the following:
“There’s more of a puzzle here than you might think. The notion that Jesus was copied from Horus is a stretch, of interest chiefly to people with an axe to grind — such as the writer and star of Religulous, Bill Maher. But it springs from the same questions that occur to anyone reading the foundation stories of the world’s great religions, and Christianity’s in particular: how much of this stuff really happened, and who dreamed up the rest?
Religulous (2008), an antireligious diatribe that takes on Islam and Judaism in addition to Christianity, presents a list of parallels between Jesus and Horus, the falcon-headed Egyptian deity identified with the sky and the rule of the pharaohs. Conclusion: Jesus is a myth.
The movie doesn’t say where it got these claims, but they may have come from The Pagan Christ (2005) by Tom Harpur. Harpur in turns cites earlier authors, the most relevant of whom for our purposes is Gerald Massey, a poet and self-taught Egyptologist who published a massive work entitled Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World shortly before his death in 1907.
Massey argues that the Judeo-Christian tradition borrowed heavily from Egyptian mythology and that the “Jesus-legend” in particular was based on Horus. He lists 269 alleged parallels between the two figures, including those mentioned in the Maher movie. Massey contends Jesus and Christianity were concocted in Rome based on myths borrowed from Egyptian gnostics.
Why would the Romans do this? Massey doesn’t explicitly say, and later authors aren’t much clearer.
If it all sounds pretty crazy, nothing Gerald Massey has to say will convince you it’s sane. The man was an eccentric whose work has never been taken seriously by scholars. His book is a weird mix of historical speculation, philology, and theorizing about the precession of the zodiac, all presented as fact with minimal supporting evidence.”
NOTE: Adams does not support or promote Christianity in any sense, but he still clearly dismisses the connection made between Jesus and Horus as ridiculous.
RESPONSE: This topic is a big can of worms – atheists use the idea as further ‘proof’ that Christianity is a misguided falsehood, while Christians are often rocked by any idea along these lines because we know so little about Egyptian religious history. In addition, there are other claims that linked the story of Jesus to other religious/cultural origins.
So how do we know what is true?
We remember that Jesus and the New Testament writers warned of people who would try to lead others into darkness through deception. We know that Satan is the ‘father of lies’ and he operates with great skill, using half-truths convincingly to obscure to the full truth.
We also need to remember that there is a wealth of information, from respected scholars, supporting the validity of the Bible, the man Jesus, and our faith. We will always be challenged on this in various ways, and will always need to choose to apply faith when there is room for doubt.