Sunday, 21 October 2012
Why Mithras Lost
Too right. Although not that alone. For displaced slaves and others in the cosmopolitan Roman Empire, it had become difficult to maintain:
complicated ritual cleanliness;
divisive dietary laws;
repeated animal sacrifices;
deities and myths associated with particular places (oneness and "omnipresence" were becoming necessary).
Gentiles could be attracted by Jewish monotheism and morality but repelled by circumcision and dietary laws. Paul, preaching monotheism free from Jewish Law, could take interested Gentiles with him when he was expelled from synagogues. One dying and rising god saved all men with a perfect sacrifice which, re-enacted with bread and wine, put aside the need for ritual cleanliness, dietary restrictions and repeated but never fully efficacious blood sacrifices. The sacrifice, death and resurrection had occurred historically, recently, "under Pontius Pilate," thus superseding cyclical, ahistorical resurrections, yet had fulfilled ancient prophecies, thus were divinely ordained.
Jesus crucified is victim, priest and god in one whereas Mithras was still shown killing a bull and his (male) followers still had to find a white bull to slaughter. The Andersons' character Gratillonius refuses to share a meal, even with his military commander, on Mithras' Birthday. The Mithraists were failing, or refusing, to adapt.
Later, Christians adapted further by accepting the Mother of God in Ephesus where Paul had opposed the Mother Goddess. We can see how Mithraism lost and also that it could have won only by becoming less like itself and more like Christianity.