Parallels between Jesus and Horus

Kevin Rogers

(Investigator 155, 2014 March)

Critics of Christianity often claim that Jesus is a copy of pagan gods, and Horus is one of these examples.

For instance, the following claims have been made of Horus:

•    He was conceived by a virgin mother named Meri, and had a stepfather named Seb (Joseph)
•    Was born in a cave, his birth announced by an angel, heralded by a star and attended by shepherds
•    Attended a special rite of passage at the age of twelve and there is no data on the child from the age of 12 to 30
•    Was baptized in a river at the age of 30, and his baptizer was later beheaded
•    Had 12 disciples
•    Performed miracles, exorcized demons, raised someone from the dead, walked on water
•    Was called "Iusa", the "ever-becoming son" and the "Holy Child"
•    Delivered a "Sermon on the Mount", and his followers recounted his sayings
•    Was transfigured on the Mount
•    Was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and was resurrected
•    Called "Way", "the Truth the Light", "Messiah", "God's Anointed Son", "Son of Man", "Good Shepherd", "Lamb of God", "Word made flesh",       "Word of Truth", "the KRST" or "Anointed One"
•    Came to fulfil the Law, and was supposed to reign one thousand years
•    And much more.

However, are these parallels with Jesus actually real?

As background, Horus was an Egyptian god who was worshipped from at least the Pre-dynastic period (i.e before 3000BC) up until Greco-Roman times. He was usually portrayed as the son of Isis and Osiris. He was opposed to Set and was the patron of the Pharaoh. He was the god of the sun, war and protection. He was depicted as a falcon-headed man. If you read general descriptions about Horus, he does not seem particularly similar to Jesus.

The parallels between Horus and Jesus were first proposed by Gerald Massey (1828-1907). These assertions influenced various later writers such as Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Tom Harpur, Dr.Yosef ben-Jochannan, and Acharya S. These writers assumed that Massey's works were authoritative.

For instance, Tom Harpur did not consult original sources but relied on quotations from Massey and Kuhn. In Harper's book, The Pagan Christ, Harper states, "[Author Gerald] Massey discovered nearly two hundred instances of immediate correspondence between the mythical Egyptian material and the allegedly historical Christian writings about Jesus. Horus indeed was the archetypal Pagan Christ." The series of claims about primarily based on Massey's material. However, was Massey reliable?

Massey was brought up in a poor environment but educated himself in his spare time. During the later years of his life, (from about 1870 onwards) Massey became interested in Egyptology and in what he perceived as the similarities that exist between ancient Egyptian mythology and the Gospel stories. He studied the extensive Egyptian records housed in the British Museum, eventually teaching himself to decipher the hieroglyphics, but he was self-taught and did not have formal qualifications in Egyptology. He published several books, but the most famous were The Natural Genesis, and Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World, in which he argued for the supposed parallels between Jesus and Horus.

Massey's works were never considered significant in the field of Egyptology and modern Egyptologists completely reject Massey's connections between Horus and Jesus. In addition a prominent Egyptologist has described Kuhn's work as "fringe nonsense".

All of the supposed claims of parallels between Jesus and Horus are completely false and are founded on claims from people who had no formal qualifications in Egyptology and were looking to confirm their own theories. It has just been a great way to sell books to those who are willing to believe the lie. I could step through each of the supposed parallels and show why each is contrived, invented or the result of a vivid imagination, but this is quite a tedious process and can be easily verified by numerous sources on the web.

In general, the whole field of comparative religious studies thrived at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. However, this movement has since been discredited and is no longer considered seriously by Biblical and historical scholars, even though it still flourishes through populist books and sceptical websites.

There have been many articles in the Investigator Magazine that have pushed this line and there will probably be more in the future, but "it ain't necessarily so". The whole idea that pious Jewish writers would copy what they considered to be detestable pagan idolatry is inherently implausible.

Jesus is solidly embedded within the Jewish heritage. If you do your research, you will invariably find that the claims are false. For a brief and entertaining summary of the supposed parallels, google "Horus Ruins Christmas Satire". For a more serious presentation on this issue, see "Did NT writers copy pagan religions?" by Dr Stephen Spence at