Written by Jake Cannon. Media by Jake Cannon.
There is nothing new under the sun. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before cleverly inserted into conversations about Hollywood remakes and sequels, then everyone agrees in a holy unison and the conversation continues. But what does that actually mean? It means there is nothing original. It means when someone does anything creative or “original,” it is built upon foundations laid by others. What you do can enhance or examine the creative complexities of what came before, but you are not creating anything original. Check out Everything is a Remix before you jump the criticism bandwagon. This brings up an incredibly interesting point however, is religion a remix? Looking at the world today there are so many different religions and cults, someone had to be the epicenter of all of this. But this brings us to whether Christianity is a remix or not. Was Christianity borrowed or copied from other pagan religions and cults before Moses wrote everything down? If so, what does that do for our faith in the Scriptures, in God?
I want to approach this in two parts, one from creation and one from Christ, and try to answer the question: is Christianity a remix?
There are many creation stories from the Ancient Near East (ANE). You have some that begin “ex nihilo,” some out of chaos and some that speak of Earth Divers that brought our world out of the sand. But out of all of these creation stories, which one is the story that everyone remixed? In 1853, Hormuzd Rassam uncovered the Epic of Gilgamesh which dated back to as early as 1800 BCE. It speaks of a worldwide flood and is similar to the flood story we have in Genesis. However, upon further inspection there are varied differences. The Epic has been taken and translated from multiple tablets and each contain inconsistent narratives. Whereas with the Old Testament, while we have manuscripts that date all the way back to 1600 BCE, we have more consistent and reliable texts. We have, to date, over 12,000 manuscripts from the Old Testament compared to a handful of fragmented tablets for Gilgamesh.
One might think that our creation story has been derived from ancient Mesopotamian and Babylonian narratives, but who’s to say that Gilgamesh wasn’t derived from our creation story? The other ANE accounts are incredibly inconsistent and unreliable not only historically but thematically as well. You might say that Gilgamesh came first, but how do we know? As they say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The events in Genesis take place thousands of years before the Mesopotamian and Babylonian stories appear. The Biblical creation account was passed down orally and in written form for hundreds of years. Judging by what we have discovered thus far, it is a safe assumption to conclude that many of the other creation accounts have indeed been remixed from the Biblical account of creation.
Now we move to the figure of Jesus Christ. Many consider him a great teacher and spokesperson, but some also say his divine origins have stemmed from pagan myths. In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, he posits that the church has hid many secrets over the years some of which include hiding other documents that contradict Scripture. As quoted, “Nothing in Christianity is original.” Looking at the character of Christ, many critics have speculated that his story mirrors earlier accounts of Horus, Mithras, Krishna, Attis, and Dionysus.
Again, let us look at the manuscripts. While there are only a handful of other “Christ” figures in certain obscure manuscripts, there are over 5,600 reliable manuscripts of the New Testament. There are also distinct differences in the mythology of the other gods. None of them mirror Jesus at all. In fact, they are so overwhelmingly different from the accounts written about in the synoptic gospels, making comparisons and saying Christ was derived from these myths is poor scholarship. A writer for gotquestions.org says,
“Jesus Christ is unique in history, with His voice rising above all false gods’ as He asks the question that ultimately determines a person’s eternal destiny: ‘Who do you say I am?'”
It’s obvious not only from a historical analysis but from a contextual analysis, the Holy Scriptures stand above the other religions as the original source. Many of the religions are remixes of Christianity as found in the Bible. While there is nothing original in the other religions, they each offer different ways to salvation whereas Christianity offers Christ alone, the Son of God as the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The other world religions are false remixes of an original source, that source is found in historical Judaism and Christianity as read about in the Holy Scriptures.