Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

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Iaw Sabaoth
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by Iaw Sabaoth » Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:44 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:24 pm

Right there. Paul is quoting two pagan poets to preach his own god.
...
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
Great points. Also interesting is that Acts reports how Paul himself was conflated/syncretzed/whatever with Hermes Trismegistus, while Barnabas was conflated with Zeus. Likewise, Paul also conflated his God with the Roman “Unknown God” of the pagan sanctuary at Mars Hill. As he said, he tried to be all things to all men. He even had no problem participating in pagan sacrifice meals. It does indeed s em like this distancing of themselves from pagans was a later development.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by GakuseiDon » Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:09 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:24 pm
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.
My argument is: the lack of evidence to support any type of syncretism between OT Joseph and Serapis suggests that they were indeed making up the comparison, in the exact same way that Justin Martyr did. There are lots of parallels listed by early Christian apologists: some meaningful, most not so meaningful. So in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it appears to me that the Joseph/Serapis link is not meaningful as evidence of syncretism.

So what evidence would I hope to see? If there was some kind of syncretism, then in my view it would mean that concepts surrounding the figures would be transported as well. IOW, Christians might bring in additional characteristics about Serapis and apply them to OT Joseph; or Egyptians might bring in Judaic concepts and apply them to Serapis. It would be interesting to see that impact.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:24 pm
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.
Nowadays I'm not interested in the views of Christian apologists unless they've been dead for 1700 years. But I would be interested in the arguments of modern secular scholars who have written to deny that significant connections can be made between paganism, Judaism and Christianity. Mainstream scholarship is filled with articles and theses showing connections between the three. So such secular scholars denying those connections would have to be on the fringe. Can you suggest an author and/or book by a secular scholar please? I'd love to check out why they think mainstream scholarship is wrong.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

andrewcriddle
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by andrewcriddle » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:36 am

There is a discussion of the 8th century P Berlin 8313 here

FWIW it is clearly a Christian text which mention the traditional Egyptian gods long after their cults had disappeared.

Andrew Criddle

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

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:04 am

andrewcriddle wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:36 am
There is a discussion of the 8th century P Berlin 8313 here

FWIW it is clearly a Christian text which mention the traditional Egyptian gods long after their cults had disappeared.

Andrew Criddle
Add to the depiction of Christ as Pharaoh/Horus during the Roman Imperial era and it can be said that this synthesis took place fairly early.

From what I recall reading, Coptic Christians were still depicting Christ as Horus during the medieval period, and the image of the Madonna with her child is an overtly Egyptian icon.

The overall point is that the argumentum ad parallelomenium is used as a hand-wave dismissal for any and all comparisons to Christianity, Judaism, and paganism. Ancient people didn't have these restrictions or hangups and freely blended their religious expressions together.

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

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:31 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:09 pm
My argument is: the lack of evidence to support any type of syncretism between OT Joseph and Serapis suggests that they were indeed making up the comparison, in the exact same way that Justin Martyr did.
Are you even reading this? Justin Martyr wasn't making up comparisons, i.e. he just made up Perseus' virgin birth or Dionysus' ascent into Heaven. And if you're going to claim these have no similarities to Christ, then I can't help you man.

Once again, the fact that Christians and Jews felt that the Egyptians worshiped Joseph as Serapis is proof that they indeed took part in syncretizing with other cultures.

Just to illustrate this point further:

To the effect that Sarapis is Joseph … the interpretation has roots going back at least to the 2nd century B.C. … Thus it does appear that the several versions of the finding of Joseph’s bones agree in a number of respects with the Osiris myth as told by Plutarch (A.D. 46-120) in his treatise De Iside et Osiride which he dedicated to Clea, a priestess of Osiris living at Delphi (364e). Osiris and Joseph are both put in coffins, their coffins are thrown into the Nile, are searched for and found, their scattered limbs or bones are reassembled, and moreover the fact that both are taken to the water, whether Sea or Nile, has the purpose of effecting somehow the flooding of the river. With these correspondences, however, and that of the introduction of regular agriculture, the list of parallels is still not quite complete. … We observe that both in the god Sarapis himself and in his component deities Osiris and Apis there were features with which Joseph could be assimilated.

Dr. Gerard Mussies, in Studies in Hellenistic Religions

And going off of Tertullian, Melito, Firmicus Maternus, and the Talmud, they did indeed assimilate Joseph into the Egyptian pantheon. Whether or not that has any historic basis is beyond the point. THE POINT IS THEY DID IT ANYWAY.
There are lots of parallels listed by early Christian apologists: some meaningful, most not so meaningful. So in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it appears to me that the Joseph/Serapis link is not meaningful as evidence of syncretism.
Tell that to the above Christians and Jews then. It is evidence of a broader religious synthesis between the groups. Even if the Egyptians never had any involvment (which I'm not saying they did), clearly Christians and Jews thought so, and syncretism doesn't have to be a unified agreement. Like a younger brother trying to imitate his older brother without his consent to appear cooler.
So what evidence would I hope to see? If there was some kind of syncretism, then in my view it would mean that concepts surrounding the figures would be transported as well. IOW, Christians might bring in additional characteristics about Serapis and apply them to OT Joseph; or Egyptians might bring in Judaic concepts and apply them to Serapis. It would be interesting to see that impact.
What are you even saying here? That the evidence needs to comport to your expectations? That's not how history is done.

Not only that, you're creating a strawman. I never said that Egyptians actually worshiped Joseph. That is your own misunderstanding, and I will not abide by it.
Nowadays I'm not interested in the views of Christian apologists unless they've been dead for 1700 years. But I would be interested in the arguments of modern secular scholars who have written to deny that significant connections can be made between paganism, Judaism and Christianity. Mainstream scholarship is filled with articles and theses showing connections between the three. So such secular scholars denying those connections would have to be on the fringe. Can you suggest an author and/or book by a secular scholar please? I'd love to check out why they think mainstream scholarship is wrong.
???

What are you asking here? The scholars I'm referring too, like Ehrman and J.Z. Smith, argue against the mythicist position of pagan parallels and represent the mainstream.

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

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:25 pm

I will elucidate further that the phenomenon of syncretism did not always carry over to aspects of both religions.

For Egyptians do not all worship the same gods in the same way. Only the gods Isis and Osiris (the latter of whom they say is Dionysos) are worshiped in the same manner by all Egyptians. … The Egyptians say that Demeter and Dionysos reign over those in the underworld. …
The last of these to reign over Egypt was Horus son of Osiris, whom the Hellenes name Apollo. It was he who had subdued Typhon and became the last of these divine kings of Egypt. His father Osiris is called Dionysos by the Hellenes. … They say Apollo and Artemis are the children of Dionysos and Isis, and that Leto became their nurse and savior. Apollo in Egyptian is Horus, Demeter is Isis, and Artemis is Boubastis.

Herodotus, Histories


And of the ancient Greek writers of mythology some give to Osiris the name Dionysus. … Osiris, they say, was also interested in agriculture and was reared in Nysa, a city of Arabia Felix near Egypt, being a son of Zeus; and the name which he bears among the Greeks is derived both from his father and from the birthplace, since he is called Dionysus. …
The discovery of ivy is also attributed to Osiris by the Egyptians and made sacred to this god, just as the Greeks also do in the case of Dionysus. … For the rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysus and that of Isis very similar to that of Demeter, the names alone having been interchanged.

Diodorus of Sicily, Library of History

So we can easily see that to these ancient writers Osiris and Dionysus were not only thought of being worshiped in the others' place, but that they were the same god, full stop.

One of the first acts related of Osiris in his reign was to deliver the Egyptians from their destitute and brutish manner of living. This he did by showing them the fruits of cultivation, by giving them laws, and by teaching them to honour the gods. Later he travelled over the whole earth civilizing it without the slightest need of arms, but most of the peoples he won over to his way by the charm of his persuasive discourse combined with song and all manner of music. Hence the Greeks came to identify him with Dionysus. … It is better to identify Osiris with Dionysus. … Dionysus also they call Hyes since he is lord of the nature of moisture; and he is no other than Osiris. … That Osiris is identical with Dionysus who could more fittingly know than yourself, Clea? For you are at the head of the inspired maidens of Delphi, and have been consecrated by your father and mother in the holy rites of Osiris.

Plutarch, Moralia

And it's easy to see why as both gods shared commonalities, not only in their respective histories but also how they worshiped.

But nevertheless not all attributes were shared between them. Osiris was never sewn to his father's thigh, and Dionysus never married his sister [Demeter was, if anything, his aunt]. Nor were these traits ever shared. So syncretism isn't always focused on the absolute mirroring of the two cultures.

Another is of Attis and Horus.

Image

The above image is of Attis-Harpocrates, the child Horus, from the second century bc. So Attis and Horus were syncretized. And just like Osiris and Dionysus, despite that they still retained their personal differences.

Another:

Image

Attis, as Mithras, slays the bull as depicted from the first century bc terracotta plaque. So Attis and Mithras were syncretized.

And yet despite this, only one, the Attis cult, shows a noticeable change in their religious expressions, while the Mithraic cult seems to have taken little from the Attis cult. Just because two religions are syncretized doesn't mean they are both thrown into a blender and come out the same. One religion can be more effected than the other.

So coming back to the Joseph/Serapis syncretism, while it wouldn't be a direct syncretism given that the Egyptians did not worship Joseph in anyway (at least as far as I can see), that Christians and Jews were making such a claim is proof of their own syncretism to the Egyptians, with the psychological projections and disingeniousness that comes with the dogmatic mindset.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Joseph and Osiris/Serapis

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:16 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:25 pm
So coming back to the Joseph/Serapis syncretism, while it wouldn't be a direct syncretism given that the Egyptians did not worship Joseph in anyway (at least as far as I can see), that Christians and Jews were making such a claim is proof of their own syncretism to the Egyptians, with the psychological projections and disingeniousness that comes with the dogmatic mindset.
I wonder if this is just a disagreement over the meaning of syncretism. A hypothetical question: If the early writers were lying about the connection between Joseph and Serapis, would their claims still be an example of syncretism? (My answer would be 'no', unless the claims resulted in some actual change to their beliefs. But the claims alone, untrue and with no impact on their beliefs, is not IMHO an example of syncretism. Perhaps we differ there?)
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. » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:09 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:16 pm
I wonder if this is just a disagreement over the meaning of syncretism. A hypothetical question: If the early writers were lying about the connection between Joseph and Serapis, would their claims still be an example of syncretism? (My answer would be 'no', unless the claims resulted in some actual change to their beliefs. But the claims alone, untrue and with no impact on their beliefs, is not IMHO an example of syncretism. Perhaps we differ there?)
It's not a matter of difference of opinion. You have a completely skewed understanding of religious expressions and its evolution, especially where the phenomenon of syncretism is involved.
If the early writers were lying about the connection between Joseph and Serapis, would their claims still be an example of syncretism?
They're not lying. They are expressing a belief. Truth and lies at that point are irrelevant terms.

I can only say you are utterly ignorant of this. Even after I went over examples of syncretism where changes were not even made. That's not how syncretism works. And yes, it did impact their beliefs, because they believed that Joseph and Serapis were the same!

Are you even paying attention here? Why am I wasting my time with this?

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