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Isis' influence on Christianity (part 4)


"Why was the Isis cult so popular -  what did it have to offer its followers?  As we have seen, it was concerned with personal salvation and redemption, and bestows on its

devotees the blessings of an eternal afterlife.  As Sharon Kelly Heyob says in 'The Cult of

Isis among Women in the Graeco-Roman World' (1975):

     Isis eventually became a saviour goddess in the essential meaning of the word.

     Individual redemptionn could be attained through participation in her myster-

     ies. The belief that immortality could be obtained was the most persistent of

     its doctrines.

 


While Merkelbach says of the Isis cult:

     It was popular because it appealed to the desire for personal salvation (like

     Christianity), and Platonic philisophical ideas became associated with it, as

     they did in Christianity.

 


     Sins were confessed and forgiven through immersion in water...

 


S.G.F. Brandon stresses that the two concepts - immersion to symbolize spiritual

purification, and consequent regerneration - were put together in Egypt in the rituals of the Osiris mystery school, and that:

      This two-fold process for the acheivement of a blessed immortality is not

      found again until the emergence of Christianity.

 


Indeed, there are close parallels between the description of baptism as given by

Paul and that of the Osirian mystery schools...

 


As in Christianity, the personal salvationi of the worshiper was linked to his or her repentance.   There is another striking - and unique - similarity between the practices of the Isis cult and later Catholic Christianity.  This was the concept of confession: the devotee would admit wrong-doing to a priest, who would then make a plea to Isis on his or her behalf for her forgiveness...

 


The Isis cult generally emphasized the goddesses maternal aspect, celebrating her attri-

butes as wife and mother, although it did not neglect the other sides of female nature. 

Consequently, as we have seen, the family trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus exerted a po-

tent influence over the worshipper's family life: men, women and children alike felt they were understood by their gods...

 


In the Egyptian heyday of the religion, the greatest Isian celebration came on 25 Decem-

ber, when the birht of Isis' son Horus was commemorated - and then, twelve days later,

on 6 January, that of her other son - Aion.  Both these dates have been taken over by

Christians - the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on 6 January.  In Egypt, Christians in the fourth century celebrated the epiphany of Jesus on that day, also adopting elements from the Aion festival, including baptismal rites using water from the Nile...

 


...when the Serapeum was destroyed in 391 CE, many of the worshippers went over to

the Coptic (Egyptian) Christian Church.

 


The Coptic church remained a distinct entity, independent of the  Church of Rome or the  Eastern Orthodox Church.  Significantly, its doctrines are an obvious blend of tra-

ditional Egyptian and Christian beliefs - and the two were assimilated with extraordin-

ary ease.  After 391, the Coptic Church adopted the ankh as its symbol and still uses it

today.  And Mircea Eliade states bluntly: " The Copts regard themselves as the true de-

scendants of the ancient Egyptians."  

 


"The Templar Revelation"   L. Pickett and C. Prince

 


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