The Pagan Christ

Recovering the Lost Light

Tom Harpur  2004


Tom Harpur is a former Anglican priest and professor of Greek and New Testament at the University of Toronto.  He is an internationally renowned writer on religious and ethical issues, and the author of 9 books.


Main points:

  1. The story of Jesus contained in the gospels is basically a plagiarism of ancient Egyptian religious myths.  Everything that is ascribed to the life of Jesus and the sayings of Jesus come from these Egyptian sources.  Born of a virgin, star appearing; brutally killed, went to hell, and then arose from the dead, etc. Only the names and places have been changed.


  1. The leaders of the Roman church beginning about the second century AD did everything they could to hide the Pagan origins of the Christian story.  Libraries are burnt along with valuable manuscripts of philosophy, medicine, mathematics, etc.


Tom Harpur remains a Christian, and delights in the almost universal qualities that this reveals.  So his main argument is against fundamentalism and the literal interpretation of the bible.  This has been true since the early Roman church, through the dark ages, and into our day.  It has been the source of an unbelievable number of attacks of heresy and fights within Christianity and against all other religions.


Repeatedly in the book, the author says he wishes that he knew this information while he was attending seminary.


You can get an idea of the structure by the titles of some of the chapters:


Christianity before Christianity: Where it all began

The Greatest Cover-up of All Time: How a Spiritual Christianity became a Literalist Christianism

It Was All Written Before – In Egypt

            Ancient Egyptian Religion

            Horus and Jesus are the Same

The Bible – History or Myth?; The End of Fundamentalism

Was there a Jesus of History?

The Only Way Ahead: Cosmic Christianity


A substantial portion of the research is dependent on several Egyptologists who are quoted throughout.  Also, Edward Gibbon of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” is quoted about the early church.  In the effort to hide the Pagan connections, the early church historians falsified history and changed texts to their liking.  Several are quoted saying that to lie for the church is not really lying.


Very readable and recommended if you are interested in these topics.




The blunt truth is that seismic research by a few specifically neutral scholars, most notably Orientalists and Egyptologists, has been deliberately ignored by churchly authorities for many decades. Scholars such as Godfrey Higgins (1771—1834), author of the monumental tome Anacalypsis, the British Egyptologist Gerald Massey (I 828-1908), and more recently, and most important, Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1881 — 1963) have made it clear in voluminous, eminently learned works that the Jewish and Christian religions do indeed owe most of their origins to Egyptian roots.


I will clearly document that there is nothing the Jesus of the Gospels either said or did—from the Sermon on the Mount to the miracles, from his flight as an infant from Herod to the Resurrection itself—that cannot be shown to have originated thousands of years before, in Egyptian Mystery rites and other sacred liturgies such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead.


Everything—from the star in the east to Jesus’ walking on water, from the angel’s pronouncement to the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, from the temptation in the wilderness to the changing of water into wine—already existed in the Egyptian sources. Egypt and its peoples had knelt at the shrine of the Madonna and Child Isis and Horus for many long centuries before any allegedly historical Mary lifted a supposedly historical Jesus in her arms. But for all those centuries before the translation of the Rosetta Stone by Champollion in 1822, the ancient key to all this Egyptian material had been lost.


 The truth is that the Gospels are indeed the old manuscripts of jii^he dramatized rituals of the incarnation and resurrection of the sun god Osiris/Horus, rituals that were first Egyptian, later Gnostic and Hellenic, then Hebrew, and finally adopted ignorantly by the Christian movement and transferred to the arena of history. They were not considered history until, in Christian hands, their esoteric meaning had been obscured and the wisdom needed to interpret them non-historically was wanting. Kuhn says quite starkly that we can now state, with little chance of refutation, that the Gospel “life” of Jesus had already been described, in substance, at least three thousand years before he came. An Egyptian Jesus had raised an Egyptian Lazarus from the dead at an Egyptian Bethany, with an Egyptian Mary and Martha present, in the scripts of that ancient land about two thousand years b.c.e.


In an extraordinary revelation, Massey writes that carvings depicting scenes of angels announcing a deific advent to shepherds in the fields, of the angel Gabriel telling a virgin that she would be the mother of the Christos, of the Nativity in the cave, and of three sages kneeling in adoration before the infant deity were on the innermost walls of the holy of holies in the temple of Luxor at least seventeen hundred years b.c.e. The Virgin Mother had held the divine child in her arms in zodiacs on temple ceilings for millennia before the Galilean baby saw the light.


Like the “star in the east” of the Gospels, Sirius, the morning star in Egypt, heralded the birth of Horus.

Horus was baptized in the River Eridanus (Jordan) by a god figure named Anup the Baptizer (John the Baptist), who was later decapitated.

Like Jesus, Horus had no history between the ages of twelve and thirty.

Horus walked on water, cast out demons, and healed the sick.

Horus was transfigured on a mountain; Jesus took Peter, James, and John into “a high mountain” and was transfigured before them.^

Horus dehvered a “Sermon on the Mount,” and his followers faithfully recounted the “Sayings of lusa” (or Jesus).

Horus was crucified between two thieves, buried in a tomb, and resurrected. His personal epithet was lusa (or lusu), the “ever-becoming son” of Ptah, or the Father.

Horus was the good shepherd, the lamb of God, the bread of hfe, the son of man, the Word, and the fisher; so was Jesus.

Horus was not just the path to heaven but the way by which the dead travel out of the sepulcher. He was the god whose name was written as the “road to salvation”; he was thus “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Therefore, the key verse of conservelive orthodoxy today was sourced in Pagan roots.

In the Gospels, it is the women who announce the Resurrection. “The goddesses and the women proclaim me when they see me,” shouts Horus as he rises from the tomb, “on the horizon of the resurrection.


Significantly, both Horus and Jesus were accompanied by twelve disciples, as were Mithras and Dionysus. In the old religions of Egypt, Chaldea, and Greece, the twelve rays of genius in humans were variously represented by the Twelve Saviours of the Treasure of Light, the Twelve Reapers of the Golden Grain, the Twelve Harvesters in the Fields of Amenta, the Twelve Builders, the Twelve Carpenters, the Twelve Potters, the Twelve Weavers of the Pattern, the Twelve Fishermen, the Twelve Rowers of the Boat of Ra (with Horus at the prow), the Iwelve Sailors in the Ship of Ra, the Sun. The Iwelve Labours of Hercules, the Twelve Sons of Jacob, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Twelve Apostles, and the twelve knights of King Arthur’s table all have the same zodiacal, evolutionary, and theological derivation. Without exposing you to a further mass of detail, let me say simply that the evidence seems incontestable that the twelve disciples represent twelve deific powers, and not men.


The stark truth is that apart from the four Gospels (cind their full witness is really established only from about 140 to 170 c.E.) and the Epistles, there is no hard, historical evidence for Jesus’ existence coming out of the first century at all.  It must also be remembered that no autograph (original) manuscript of any one of the four Gospels has ever come to light, nor has any credible wiitness ever claimed to have seen such a manuscript.  Origen says the four Gospels were chosen out of a very large number  “It has always been an unfailing source of astonishment to the historical investigator of Christian beginnings that there is not one single word from the pen of any Pagan writer of the first century of our era which can in any fashion be referred to the marvelous story recounted by the Gospel writers. The very existence of Jesus seems unknown.”

What is even more curious is that the closer one gets to Jesus’ alleged time, the greater and more general is the denial or ignorance of his existence. But the further one draws away from it, the greater and more insistent are the “proofs” of it. This again entirely reverses the universal phenomenon of a historical recording.

In ‘The Twilight of Christianity’, the Bible scholar Harry Elmer Barnes reviews the meager number of non-Gospel mentions of Jesus—a sum total of twenty-four lines from Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Josephus—and states that, given that these passages are virtually all forgeries and interpolations, they constitute poor evidence of what the orthodox insist on calling one of the best-attested events in history.



We must remember that very few periods in the history of the ancient world were so well documented as the period when Emperors Caesar Augustus and Tiberius reigned supreme. Yet one amazing fact must be faced: no contemporary non-Christian writer even knew of Jesus’ existence. It’s for this reason that Barnes was able to declare Jesus a mythical person, the product of the mythmaking tendencies common to religious people ot all ages, particularly the period of the early Roman Empire. 


Dr. Albert Schweitzer, in The Questfor the Historical Jesus, says that after years of careful study, he concluded there was no traditional Jesus of Nazareth as a historical person. Prophetically, he saw that the Jesus figure of the theologians was the dramatized, rituahzed. Symbolic figure of our divine nature—^grossly mistaken after centuries of ignorance for a man of flesh. Schweitzer writes, “There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of lesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence. This image has not been destroyed from without, it has fallen to pieces, cleft and disintegrated by the concrete historical problems which come to the surface one after another.”


The earliest writings in the New Testament, which make up more than one-quarter of its total content, are the letters of the Apostle Paul. What is absolutely striking about them is their virtual silence )n the whole subject of a historical Jesus of Nazareth. There is no question that this is the datum that ultimately stares down the proponents of historicity.

As a matter of fact, as Bacon says, Paul expressly disavows even having any interest in a “Jesus after the flesh,” i.e., a historical Jesus, and his letters bear this out because—and this is highly significant—they contain not a single reference to any of the great miracles, teachings, and other events related in the Gospel narratives as integral to Jesus’ life and ministry. I have looked myself in detail at what scholar after scholar has discovered—that all the miracles, parables, and other teachings of Jesus’ ministry are either unknown to Paul or a matter of complete indifference to him.