Comparison of Christianity, Mithraism, and the Cult of Isis

Essay by mjhs_asmsHigh School, 10th gradeA+, May 2004

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Comparison of Christianity, Mithraism, and the Cult of Isis

There is a division of religions referred to as mystery religions. This simply means that the religion involves gaining knowledge about God as well as becoming involved in or with the God. Christianity is classified as one of these mystery religions. There are two others, Mithraism and the cult of Isis, which are very similar, while still having many differences that set it apart from Christianity. Mithraism is an ancient religion of Iran. The cult of Isis originates in Egypt. In ancient times before the Roman Empire, there was strong rivalry between Christianity and Mithraism for popularity. After Christianity was sanctioned the official religion of Rome, Mithraism all but disappeared. There was a renewed interest in ancient Egypt known as "Egyptomania" which lead to more understanding of the cult of Isis. Being that all three are mystery religions they are bound to have commonalities.

With relation to Christianity, Mithraism and the cult of Isis have similar theological stories, rituals and practices, symbolism, and all contain a central savior figure.

As far as religious stories are concerned the major stories of Christianity are given basically the same as tales as in Mithraism. In Christianity, Adam and Eve after eating the fruit of the tree of good and evil, realize they are naked and attain fig leaves to cover themselves when they notice God approaching. Mithraism is similar in that after Mithra was created he clothed himself with the leaves of a fig tree and ate of its fruit. The same implication of the causation of the original sin is not present in the Mithra religion, however. A legend of a great flood is also present in these two religions. In Christianity, it is Noah and his family who survive the...