Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

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Joseph D. L.
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Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:12 pm

D. N. Boswell did a blog regarding the syncretism of YHWH and Horus, which is very illuminating, but he also wrote a blog covering the apparent syncretism of Osiris/Serapis, and Joseph, the Jewish diviner who divined the dreams of Pharaoh and who eventually became a ruler in his own right in Egypt, and was even mummified, a practice used to allow the deceased to emulate Osiris.

But far be it from modern writers and sceptics to make such claims, we can see that ancient writers thought the same thing:

The Egyptians worshipped Joseph the Hebrew, who was called Serapis, because he supplied them with corn during the years of famine.

Melito of Sardis, Fragment 1. 56


Learn also, Saerosant Emperors, of the venerable divinity from Alexandria, where its beginnings started, so that when the inept frailness of this one is detected, our trifling speech may be recalled to the origin of truth. When the destruction by the hot weather--the shriveling fruits of the wretched famine--was imminent in Egypt, a young man was born from the devout line of a patriarch and interpreted the dream of the king. He revealed everything that was imminent. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was put into prison because of his modesty. After the interpretation of the dream, he was the partner in the kingship. For by the foresight of a divine mind, he overcame seven years of poverty by seven years of collecting and saving fruits. Then after his death, the Egyptians made temples to him according to the ancestral patterns of their own race. And in order that posterity might learn the gratitude of a just stewardship, a peck by which he distributed the crops to the starving was placed over his head. So that he might be worshipped, he even received a more holy name from the first author of his family. For since he was a great-grandson of Sarah who at age ninety, by the favor of God, gave birth to a son for Abraham. He is called Serapis in the Greek language, that is Σάραπάις. This was against his will, so he was called this after his death.

Firmicus Maternus, The Error of the Pagan Religions, ch. 13


I laugh often enough at the little coteries of gods in each municipality, which have their honours confined within their own city walls. To what lengths this licence of adopting gods has been pushed, the superstitious practices of the Egyptians show us; for they worship even their native animals, such as cats, crocodiles, and their snake. It is therefore a small matter that they have also deified a man — him, I mean, whom not Egypt only, or Greece, but the whole world worships, and the Africans swear by; about whose state also all that helps our conjectures and imparts to our knowledge the semblance of truth is stated in our own (sacred) literature. For that Serapis of yours was originally one of our own saints called Joseph. The youngest of his brethren, but superior to them in intellect, he was from envy sold into Egypt, and became a slave in the family of Pharaoh king of the country. Importuned by the unchaste queen, when he refused to comply with her desire, she turned upon him and reported him to the king, by whom he is put into prison. There he displays the power of his divine inspiration, by interpreting aright the dreams of some (fellow-prisoners). Meanwhile the king, too, has some terrible dreams. Joseph being brought before him, according to his summons, was able to expound them. Having narrated the proofs of true interpretation which he had given in the prison, he opens out his dream to the king: those seven fat-fleshed and well-favoured cattle signified as many years of plenty; in like manner, the seven lean-fleshed animals predicted the scarcity of the seven following years. He accordingly recommends precautions to be taken against the future famine from the previous plenty. The king believed him. The issue of all that happened showed how wise he was, how invariably holy, and now how necessary. So Pharaoh set him over all Egypt, that he might secure the provision of grain for it, and thenceforth administer its government. They called him Serapis, from the turban which adorned his head.

Tertullian, Ad Nations, bk. 2, ch. 8

So the conflation of Joseph and Serapis was established and known within the second century AD.

Lest a critic or sceptic lays claim that these are responses to pagan charges against Christians, all of the above quotations make it clear that it is the reverse. The Christians are claiming that the pagans recognized Joseph as Serapis, and the Christians are claiming mimicry between Joseph and Serapis.

But the kicker? This wasn't limited to Christian observation:

Thereupon said Abayi that it is so. Rabha, however, asserted that the three statements have all reference to the finding, and as for the statue of a person, he says, the Boraitha is in accordance with the following: R. Jehudah prohibits also found vessels with the image of a nurse or of a serapis on them. The nurse signifies Eva, who was nurse to the whole world; serapis signifies Joseph, who was a prince and supplied the whole world with bread, thereby appeasing mankind. The human image and that of a nurse are however, prohibited only when having respectively a measure in the hand and a son in the arms whom she is nursing.

Tractate Avodah Zara, ch. 3

So even the Jews recognized that such a confluence existed between their own religion and this gentile religion. Why not? Even their own texts say that they spent over four hundred years in Egypt; that Joseph had ruled Egypt and had participated in their rituals; and had their own temples next to the temples of Iah and Re: and that Moses himself was raised by an Egyptian princess and had been a priest of Osiris, and taught the gentiles their philosophy!

But God forbid anyone even suggest that a significant connection can be made between Christianity, Judaism, and paganism.

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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by GakuseiDon » Sat Dec 28, 2019 5:45 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:12 pm
D. N. Boswell did a blog regarding the syncretism of YHWH and Horus, which is very illuminating, but he also wrote a blog covering the apparent syncretism of Osiris/Serapis, and Joseph, the Jewish diviner who divined the dreams of Pharaoh and who eventually became a ruler in his own right in Egypt, and was even mummified, a practice used to allow the deceased to emulate Osiris.
Do you have the link to Boswell's blog article that you can share, please?

FYI: Most of your examples don't appear to be examples of syncretism. Associating a person with a god isn't syncretism. (I'd be interested to see Boswell's examples of syncretism.)
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:09 am

Here's a link to his blog regarding YHWH:

https://mythodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/07 ... tile-gods/

I will say that Boswell's style of writing expunges explicit references to "Jesus", "Jews", and "Jehovah", as he felt that it would make the parallels drawn more implicit to the reader, making them make the connections themselves to illustrate just how easy and intuitive this practice is, and was.

Regarding Joseph, though Boswell himself never calls it syncretism, it would be syncretism considering how figures, historical or otherwise, were assimilated into different cults. So Antinous became Antinous-Osiris and Antinous-Liber. That both Christians and Jews made Joseph out to be Serapis is but another example of religious homogeneity.

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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by GakuseiDon » Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:50 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:09 am
Here's a link to his blog regarding YHWH:

https://mythodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/07 ... tile-gods/
Thank you.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:09 am
I will say that Boswell's style of writing expunges explicit references to "Jesus", "Jews", and "Jehovah", as he felt that it would make the parallels drawn more implicit to the reader, making them make the connections themselves to illustrate just how easy and intuitive this practice is, and was.
We just need to beware of Parallelomania:

In historical analysis, biblical criticism and comparative mythology, parallelomania refers to a phenomenon (mania) where authors perceive apparent similarities and construct parallels and analogies allegedly without historical basis.

In the 19th C, amateur scholars -- in order to show that Christianity was true -- made up crap to show parallels between Christianity and other world religions, thus showing that Christianity shared a common truth.

Later on, amateur scholars -- in order to show that Christianity was false -- used that crap to show parallels between Christianity and other world religions, thus showing that Christianity shared a common falsehood.

There are many parallels that have been manufactured, either by making up data or stretching data points beyond reason, that their significance needs to be weighed carefully.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:09 am
Regarding Joseph, though Boswell himself never calls it syncretism, it would be syncretism considering how figures, historical or otherwise, were assimilated into different cults... That both Christians and Jews made Joseph out to be Serapis is but another example of religious homogeneity.
Syncretism, as I understand it, results in either a new religion (formed by combining from two different traditions) or a change in an existing one (by bringing in outside elements.)

What religion was created or changed by bringing in Joseph as Serapis? Do you have any primary sources for a reference to show this? Otherwise: it's still interesting, but not an example of syncretism.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:14 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:50 pm

Thank you.
No problem.
We just need to beware of Parallelomania:

In historical analysis, biblical criticism and comparative mythology, parallelomania refers to a phenomenon (mania) where authors perceive apparent similarities and construct parallels and analogies allegedly without historical basis.

Parallelomenia is used as a pejorative against anyone specifically comparing Christianity and Judaism to other religions.

Was Herodotus merely under the sway of parallelomenia for comparing the Egyptian religion to the Greek pantheon? Was the author of 1 Clement under the sway of parallelomenia when he compared the resurrection to the Phoenix? Where exactly is this line of "historical basis"?

Instead the argument of parallelomenia is that even insinuating that Judaism and Christianity, and by extension Islam, are the result of cultural synthesis between pagans, gentiles, and Jews, is completely off the table and to even suggest such a thing is "without historical basis". That is what is meant and I do not recognize that.

Early Christians acknowledged their debt to pagan philosophers; and Jewish texts acknowledge their history of partaking in the worship of pagan gods. That's not some fringe theory. That's a fact of textual analysis.
In the 19th C, amateur scholars -- in order to show that Christianity was true -- made up crap to show parallels between Christianity and other world religions, thus showing that Christianity shared a common truth.


Later on, amateur scholars -- in order to show that Christianity was false -- used that crap to show parallels between Christianity and other world religions, thus showing that Christianity shared a common falsehood.
Define "amateur scholars". Who? Kersey Graves? Probably. Thomas W. Doane? I suppose. Sir James George Frazer? No. Ernest W. Budge? No. You're neglecting to acknowledge that professional scholars also made such comparisons, for one reason or another. You can disagree with their conclusions, but if you're going to pull the scholarship card, acknowledge when it goes against you.
There are many parallels that have been manufactured, either by making up data or stretching data points beyond reason, that their significance needs to be weighed carefully.
What parallels have been manufactured? The only one that I can even think of is Krishna's supposed crucifixion, which I've never been able to find confirmation for. But the Indians did believe in a crucifixion (of sorts) of Purusha, who was sacrificed on the Stambah, a tower the connect the earth and Heavens. So, whatever. You need be more specific.
Syncretism, as I understand it, results in either a new religion (formed by combining from two different traditions) or a change in an existing one (by bringing in outside elements.)

What religion was created or changed by bringing in Joseph as Serapis? Do you have any primary sources for a reference to show this? Otherwise: it's still interesting, but not an example of syncretism.
Syncretism as a broader definition is the harmonization of two or more diversive cults, religions, or cultures. The end result is not necessarily a new product, but can be one facet.

During Herodotus's time, the Osirian religion and Dionysian religion had already been syncretized, but can you point out a distinctly new feature between them? If you can then your eye for subtlety is better than mine, because as far as I can see the cults went on as before. The only difference was that they would be referred to as each other's name, or as Osiris-Dionysus. The reason for this is the reason why the two cults syncretized to begin with. They were similar enough to be syncretized. So you shouldn't expect a new feature to come out.

As per Joseph, looking at the language used by Tertullian, Melito and Firmicus Maternus, it's readily apparent that they are saying the Egyptians syncretized Joseph into their religion as Serapis. Does that have a historical basis? No, because Serapis was the product of Osiris/Apis and Zeus being syncretized. And yet they still felt it necessary to make such a claim as to Egyptians worshiping Joseph as Serapis, because he brought them wheat and saved them from famine.

And the above Talmudic passage proves that this wasn't limited to just a Christian observation, and that this was probably the mainstream idea back then.

So yes, Joseph was syncretised into the Egyptian religion, as per early Christians and first century Jews.

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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:51 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:14 pm
Syncretism as a broader definition is the harmonization of two or more diversive cults, religions, or cultures. The end result is not necessarily a new product, but can be one facet.
Broadening a definition is the start of a slippery slope towards making the definition meaningless; but OK, I'm happy to go with that.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:14 pm
As per Joseph, looking at the language used by Tertullian, Melito and Firmicus Maternus, it's readily apparent that they are saying the Egyptians syncretized Joseph into their religion as Serapis. Does that have a historical basis? No, because Serapis was the product of Osiris/Apis and Zeus being syncretized. And yet they still felt it necessary to make such a claim as to Egyptians worshiping Joseph as Serapis, because he brought them wheat and saved them from famine.
Then, what was the one facet that was changed in Egyptian religion? What was the result of that syncretization? Egyptians worshipped people, animals, the skies. How did adding another person into that collection (assuming they actually did that in the first place) change things? What was the difference between pre-harmonized and post-harmonized Egyptian religion, in your view? That's what I'm interested in.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Joseph D. L. » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:46 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:51 pm
Broadening a definition is the start of a slippery slope towards making the definition meaningless; but OK, I'm happy to go with that.
That's not broadening it. That is precisely what it means.
Then, what was the one facet that was changed in Egyptian religion? What was the result of that syncretization? Egyptians worshipped people, animals, the skies. How did adding another person into that collection (assuming they actually did that in the first place) change things? What was the difference between pre-harmonized and post-harmonized Egyptian religion, in your view? That's what I'm interested in.
Did you even understand what I wrote? Such a syncretism did not occur. The point is that Christians and Jews believed that Joseph had been syncretized into the Egyptian religion, showing just how easy, and readily they were, to make such a connection between their religion and other religions. So whenever a modern day proponent of pagan-parallels to Jews and Christians are antagonized, it should be remembered that Jews and Christians were doing this as well.

https://books.google.com/books?id=WpOTn ... os&f=false

Image
Christ as Horus, based on a bas-relief from the Memnonium church of Abydos, Roman Imperial Era

Spells for relieving the pain of childbirth and
stomach pain
Text: Berlin 8313
Description: papyrus, 23 x 35.5 cm
Bibliography: Walter Beltz, "Die koptischen Zauberpapyri," 65-67 (Beltz
apparently assigns an incorrect inventory number (8314)); Angelicus M.
Kropp, Ausgewiihlte koptische Zaubertexte, 2.9-12
Translators: Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith
Berlin 8313 is a text that contains two spells for relieving pain in
the abdominal region. The first spell (a: column 1, 1-18) recounts a
legend of Jesus and a doe that is in labor, apparently in order to provide
relief from the pains of childbirth. The second (b: column 2, 1-verso,
8) tells a story about Horus, Isis, and three demons named Agrippas, in
order to offer relief for someone (a child?) who has stomach pains, perhaps from indigestion. Both of the spells conclude with similar Christian statements of confidence in Jesus to provide help.
HEALING SPELLS 95
TEXT
(a) [0 holy] of holies, unshakable, indestructible rock! '
Child of the maiden, firstborn '[of your father] and mother! Jesus
our lord came' walking [upon] the Mount of Olives in the
[midst] of his 5 twelve apostles, and he found a doe .. . in pain '
[ .. . ] in labor pains. ' It spoke [to him in these words]: "Greetings, child of the maiden! Greetings, ' [firstborn of your] father
and mother! You must come' and help me in this time of need."
He rolled his 10 eyes and said, "You are not able to tolerate
my glory, nor to tolerate' that of my twelve apostles. But though I
flee, ' Michael the archangel will come to you with his' [wand] in
his hand and receive an offering of wine. ' [And he will] invoke
my name down upon [it] with the name 15 of the apostles, for
'whatever is crooked, let it be straight: ' [Let the baby] come to the
light!"
The will of [my heart happens] quickly. It is I who speak, the
lord Jesus. The gift ' [ ... ].
(b) Jesus! Horus [the son of] Isis went upon a mountain in
order to rest. He [performed his]' music, [set] his nets, and captured a falcon, [a Bank bird, a] wild pelican. ' [He] cut it without a
knife, cooked it without fire, and' [ate it] without salt [on it].
He had pain, and the area around his navel 5 [hurt him], and
he wept with loud weeping, saying, "Today I am bringing my
[mother] ' Isis to me. I want a demon so that I may send him to
my mother' Isis. "
The first demon Agrippas came to him and said' to him, "00
you want to go to your mother Isis?"
He said, "How long will it take for you to go there ' and how
long for you to come back?"
He said, '''How long will it take for you to go there and how
long for you to come back?' 10 I can go there in two hours and I
can come back in two."
He said, "Leave, 'you do not satisfy me."
The second demon Agrippas came to him ' and said, "00 you
want to go to your mother Isis?"
He said, "How much time do you need' to go there and how
much time to come back?"
He said, "1 can go there in one hour' and I can come back in
one."
96 COPTIC SPELLS OF RITUAL POWER
He said, "Leave, you do not satisfy me."
The third demon Agrippas, 15 the one with a single eye and a
single hand, came to him I and said to him, "Do you want to go
to your mother Isis?"
"How long will it take I for you to go there and how long for
you to come back?"
"1 can go there with the breath of your mouth and I can
come back with I the breath of your nose."
"Go then, you satisfy me."
He went upon the mountain of Heliopolis I and found his
mother Isis wearing an iron crown and 20 stoking a copper oven.
She said to him, "Demon Agrippas, I from where have you come
to this place?"
He said to her, "Your son Horus went upon a I mountain in
order to rest. He performed his music, set his nets, I and captured
a falcon, a Bank bird, a wild pelican. (verso) He cut it without a
knife, cooked it without fire, and ate it without salt on it. I He had
pain, and the area around his navel hurt him."
She said I to him, Even if you did not find me and did not
find my name, the true name that the sun I bears to the west and
the moon bears to the east and that is borne by the six propitiatory 5 stars under the sun, you would summon the three hundred
I vessels that are around the navel:
Let every sickness and every difficulty I and every pain that is
in the belly of N. child of N. stop I at this moment. I am the one
who calls; the lord Jesus is the one who grants healing.

... 2,1 "Jesus! Horus": or, "Jesus Horus." In this connection it may be noted that
in the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo there is a wooden crucifix with the crucified
figure of Jesus together with a falcon (Horus).

Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power, Marvin W. Meyer, Richard Smith

Also, I even even said that a change is not necessary, as religions that are syncretized are similar enough that they continue unchanged. Osiris was a bull, and Dionysus was a bull, and both are depicted as such, before and after their syncretism. So what changed? Nothing. Like with any evolution, the differences are eliminated and only the similarities remain.

Image

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:08 pm

Finding parallels and harmonization may well be the first steps towards syncretism. But if nothing changes, how do you say that syncretism has occurred? Is there a difference between finding a parallel and syncretism, in your opinion? If so, what is it?

Christians claimed that the Egyptians recognised Joseph as a form of Serapis. What did the Egyptians say to that? I don't know, but my guess is it was "GTFO!", followed by a boot up the bum.

Early Christians saw any number of parallels between pagan beliefs and Christianity. Justin Martyr saw parallels in the doctrines of Plato as showing Plato took some of them from the Old Testament. Is that an example of syncretism? I don't think so. That is an example of parallelomania.

Early Christian apologists wanted to show its validity by comparing it to the pagan religions. This nearly all went one way: there might be some truth in pagan beliefs, but Christianity was MORE true. Some parallels were valid; others were stretches.

With Joseph, I suspect that Christians saw that Serapis was related to harvests somehow, and so connected that to Joseph's story in the OT, and then claimed that Serapis was connected to Joseph. The Egyptians unknowingly were worshipping a Jewish figure; Christianity -- via its Jewish roots -- wins again!

But this seems to be another example of parallelomania. If the connection between Joseph and Serapis resulted in a change in Christianity or Judaism or Egyptian religion in how they viewed Joseph or Serapis, then the label 'syncretism' might be applicable. That's the evidence I'd like to see.

... 2,1 "Jesus! Horus": or, "Jesus Horus." In this connection it may be noted that
in the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo there is a wooden crucifix with the crucified
figure of Jesus together with a falcon (Horus).

Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power, Marvin W. Meyer, Richard Smith

Yes, interesting. I read as much as I could using Google books. But so what? Some of the spells included passages from Homer. Once Christianity started to become popular, Jesus became just another god that could be invoked for magical purposes. Is this a controversial position?

Magic was popular in the old days in Alexandria. Throw in references to Jesus, Horus and passages from Homer to make the spell stronger. Common sense!

Not that I believe in magic personally. But access to hidden knowledge and the supernatural has been a driving force from the start of humanity. Rituals and magic incantations has infused all societies, including earliest Christianity IMO. It was morphed in more recent times into Psychic Phenomena, Christian science, mysticism, pseudo-science and so on. These interact with more mainstream religions, forming cults and heresies. These are forms of syncretism, if you like. But adding the label tells us nothing. When it comes to Joseph and Serapis, you seem more interested in applying the label than in understanding what actually happened.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:46 am
But God forbid anyone even suggest that a significant connection can be made between Christianity, Judaism, and paganism...

So whenever a modern day proponent of pagan-parallels to Jews and Christians are antagonized, it should be remembered that Jews and Christians were doing this as well.
Just who are these people that deny a connection can be made between Christianity, Judaism and paganism? Can you name names and positions please? If they are just some amateur like myself, why should anyone care? If they are scholars, then lets have a look at their arguments.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Joseph D. L. » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:24 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:08 pm
Finding parallels and harmonization may well be the first steps towards syncretism. But if nothing changes, how do you say that syncretism has occurred? Is there a difference between finding a parallel and syncretism, in your opinion? If so, what is it?
Because ancient writers wrote as if these gods were the same god, and the extent archaeological depictions show that they were combined.

So this:

Image

plus this:

Image

made this:

Image

As far as worship and rites go, we can't say anything because that has not been preserved. At the very most that I can see, after the Attis cult and Mithraic cult syncretized, the Attis cult used bulls in their sacrifices instead of rams, and if Hipolytus and Ambrose are any authorities Attis became more of a celestial figure. Other than that, the Mithraists never castrated themselves nor took on any apparent traits of the Attis cult. But nonetheless they were still sincretized.

Boswell goes over all of this on his blog.
Christians claimed that the Egyptians recognised Joseph as a form of Serapis. What did the Egyptians say to that? I don't know, but my guess is it was "GTFO!", followed by a boot up the bum.
That's not the point at all. I'm sorry but I feel like you are deliberately being disingenuous here. The point is that Christians and Jews had no problems with looking for parallels to their religions to pagan and gentile religions. That's the point.
Early Christians saw any number of parallels between pagan beliefs and Christianity. Justin Martyr saw parallels in the doctrines of Plato as showing Plato took some of them from the Old Testament. Is that an example of syncretism? I don't think so. That is an example of parallelomania.
Then again, Justin Martyr also said that Christianity and paganism stemmed from the same source and not that they just shared happenstance beliefs. Make of that what you will.

And given that many of the features that crop up in Christianity were already in vogue before it emerged... if you're asking what changes we should be looking for, Christianity itself is that change, as it's just a synthesis of Jewish and pagan ideas.
Early Christian apologists wanted to show its validity by comparing it to the pagan religions. This nearly all went one way: there might be some truth in pagan beliefs, but Christianity was MORE true. Some parallels were valid; others were stretches.
Okay? The very fact that they made such comparisons is enough to validate the practice of comparing Christianity and paganism, which critics and sceptics have always antagonized mythicists over.

If it was good enough for early Christians, who were alive and writing when much of the New Testament was still being written, then it's good enough for us.

Indeed, such comparisons even made it into the New Testament itself!

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,“‘For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Right there. Paul is quoting two pagan poets to preach his own god.

But who are these poets and what was the context of their poems?

The first quoted is Epimenides' Cretica In it Minos addresses Zeus thus:

They fashioned a tomb for you, holy and high one,
Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies.
But you are not dead: you live and abide forever,
For in you we live and move and have our being

[As an aside, this sounds very similar to another Christian doctrine.]

The second poet Paul quotes is Aratus and his work Phenomena

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken.
For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus.
Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity.
Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus.
For we are indeed his offspring ...

So both poets are in fact address Zeus. And yet Paul feels that these poets' ideas of Zeus are similar to his god so much that he calls attention to it. Well, if it's good enough for the goose, it's good enough for us.
With Joseph, I suspect that Christians saw that Serapis was a grain/harvest god, and so connected that to Joseph's story in the OT, and then claimed that Serapis was connected to Joseph. The Egyptians unknowingly were worshipping a Jewish figure. Christianity -- via its Jewish roots -- wins again! If this resulted in a change in Christianity or Judaism or Egyptian religion in how they viewed Joseph or Serapis, then the label 'syncretism' might be applicable. That's the evidence I'd like to see.
You don't get any of this, do you?

That Christians and Jews claiming such a connection between Joseph and Serapis is evidence of syncretism--an acknowledgement of a broader cultural commonality--between the two myths. However, such a syncretism, historically, never occurred because, as far as I know, Egyptians never recognized Joseph, and Serapis was a-whole-nother entity on his own. So the syncretism was one way, Christians and Jews.

They're not making some off the cuff comparison like Justin does. They are explicitly claiming that the Egyptians worship Joseph as Serapis. That is nearly identical to what Herodotus said regarding Osiris and Dionysus.

Honestly man it's not that hard. You are just overthinking it to the extreme.

Yes, interesting. I read as much as I could using Google books. But so what? Some of the spells included passages from Homer. Once Christianity started to become popular, Jesus became just another god that could be invoked for magical purposes. Is this a controversial position?
Here's where I throw in the towel. You are either being deliberately disingenuous or you have zero comprehension of this.

This and a few other texts like it are proof that certain Coptic traditions syncretized Jesus and Horus.

No, Jesus wasn't just another god among other gods. This was a Coptic Christian text that invoked Jesus AND Horus as one and the same god. Just as what numerous other gods before them who were syncretized had done to them.

There was the evidence right in your face and you didn't even see it.

I don't expect anything more to come from this.
Magic was popular in the old days in Alexandria. Throw in references to Jesus, Horus and passages from Homer to make the spell stronger. Common sense!
No, Jesus and Horus were invoked as the SAME god. The artifact of the cross with Jesus and Horus on it is further demonstration that, at least to whatever church created it, THEY WERE THE SAME.
Not that I believe in magic personally. But access to hidden knowledge and the supernatural has been a driving force from the start of humanity. Rituals and magic incantations has infused all societies, including earliest Christianity IMO. It was morphed in more recent times into Psychic Phenomena, Christian science, mysticism, pseudo-science and so on. These interact with more mainstream religions, forming cults and heresies. These are forms of syncretism, if you like.
Most of this is irrelevant. Even so, I'm not claiming the magical incantations actually work. That's not the point of anthropology. Nor was it why I bothered to reference the text to begin with, which the point has obviously been lost on you.
When it comes to Joseph and Serapis, you seem more interested in applying the label than in understanding what actually happened.
Whatever you say jefe.
Just who are these people that deny a connection can be made between Christianity, Judaism and paganism? Can you name names and positions please? If they are just some amateur like myself, why should anyone care? If they are scholars, then lets have a look at their arguments!
Are you serious? Whole books by Christian apologists and secular scholars have been written denying the very notion that paganism can be comparable to Judaism and Christianity. And their arguments are the same "apples to oranges" tripe, without understanding any of the nuance, or history, of the phenomenon of syncretism.

I need a break from this
Last edited by Joseph D. L. on Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Joseph D. L. » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:38 pm


And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun [ἥλιος ,ēlios] and his clothes became white as light.

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Helios in his solar chariot

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Christ as Helios in his solar chariot

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Helios/Sol holding the world-globe, from a 4th century synagogue

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Christ as Sol holding the world-globe, from an 11th century tapestry

I think that what the Lord says, I am the light of the world, is clear to those that have eyes, by which they are made partakers of this light: but they who have not eyes except in the flesh alone, wonder at what is said by the Lord Jesus Christ, I am the light of the world. And perhaps there may not be wanting some one too who says with himself: Whether perhaps the Lord Christ is that sun which by its rising and setting causes the day? For there have not been wanting heretics who thought this. The Manichæans have supposed that the Lord Christ is that sun which is visible to carnal eyes, exposed and public to be seen, not only by men, but by the beasts. But the right faith of the Catholic Church rejects such a fiction, and perceives it to be a devilish doctrine: not only by believing acknowledges it to be such, but in the case of whom it can, proves it even by reasoning. Let us therefore reject this kind of error, which the Holy Church has anathematized from the beginning. Let us not suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ is this sun which we see rising from the east, setting in the west; to whose course succeeds night, whose rays are obscured by a cloud, which removes from place to place by a set motion: the Lord Christ is not such a thing as this. The Lord Christ is not the sun that was made, but He by whom the sun was made. For all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.

Augustine of Hippo, Tractates On John, Trc. 34

Augustine claims that heretical Christians indeed syncretized Jesus and Helios/Sol.

So there you go.

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