Anyone that has tried to discuss the historicity of the story of Jesus will generally encounter the religious plagarism charge. Sadly, the internet is full of allegations that the historical records of the life of Jesus are ripped off from mythological constructs such as Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, or someone else. The same old dying and rising god theme myth just gets rehashed over and over. Generally speaking, those that hold to this position start with the notion that the New Testament witness to the resurrection of Jesus is false. They then turn around and try to punt to the pagan myths/mystery religions to explain the problems of the New Testament story of Jesus. One issue that tends to be left out is the following:
Linguistically speaking, Christianity didn’t exist in the first century. Judaism in the first century was not seen as a single “way.” There were many “Judaism’s”- the Sadducees, the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, etc. The followers of Jesus are referred to as a “sect” (Acts 24:14;28:22); “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5). Josephus refers to the “sects” of Essenes, Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Zealots. The first followers of Jesus were considered to be a sect of Second Temple Judaism. For all the different sects, they did have some core beliefs such as adherence to the Torah, belief in one God, and belief in Israel as God’s elect people and the Temple was part of the social glue that bound them together as a people group. Would Second Temple Jewish people who would recite three times daily his nation’s creed, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one’ (Deuteronomy 6.4), be so quick to base the Jesus story after mythological constructs such as Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, or someone else? Let’s say Paul and the New Testament authors decided to build the Jesus story off some of the these figures. Based on each sects adherence to their core beliefs, any form of religious syncretism is a form of idolatry. First, the Jewish Scriptures forbids worshiping anyone other than the God of Israel (Ex. 20:1–5; Deut. 5:6–9).
Also, following the exile and subsequent intertestamental struggles, the Jews no longer fell prey to physical idolatry. So to assert that the Israel always had problems with idolatry in their early formation which would lead to further into idolatry in the Second Temple period leads me to cry “anachronism.” Remember, idolatry is rarely mentioned in the Gospels. But there are warnings about idolatry in other portions of the New Testament( 1 Cor. 6:9-10 ; Gal 5:20 ; Eph. 5:5 ; Col 3:5 ; 1 Peter 4:3 ; Rev 21:8). Paul instructs believers not to associate with idolaters ( 1 Cor. 5:11 ; 10:14 ) and even commends the Thessalonian for their turning from the service of idols “to serve the living and true God” ( 1 Thess1:9). So I guess my question is the following: Why would Paul or the early disciples commit an idolatrous act and but then later speak against idolatry? It seems rather inconsistent.
Just some food for thought.