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whom they slew and hanged on a tree… (Acts 10:39)

Concerning Attis‘s death, Doane remarks:

Attys, who was cal ed the ―Only Begotten Son‖ and ―Saviour,‖ was worshipped by the

Phrygians…. He was represented by them as a man tied to a tree, at the foot of which was a

lamb, and, without doubt, also as a man nailed to the tree, or stake, for we find Lactantius making

this Apol o of Miletus…say that:

―He was a mortal according to the flesh; wise in miraculous works; but, being arrested by

an armed force by command of the Chaldean judges, he suffered a death made bitter

with nails and stakes.‖130

126 Price, R., 87.

127 Tacey, 110.

128 Acharya, SOG, 281.

129 Higgins, I, 499.

130 Doane, 190-191.


In his book Divine Institutes (4.11), Christian writer Lactantius (c. 240-c. 320) relates that, according to his

oracle, the sun god Apollo of Miletus was ―mortal in the flesh, wise in miraculous deeds, but he was made

prisoner by the Chaldean lawgivers and nailed to stakes, and came to a painful death.‖131 If the oracle

really had recounted a genuinely ancient account of Apollo‘s passion, then we have a pre-Christian

mythical precedent for that of Jesus. Moreover, the identification of Attis with Apollo is apt, since both

were taken in antiquity to be sun gods and discussed together, such as by Macrobius and the Emperor

Julian ―the Apostate‖ (331/332-363 AD/CE), the latter of whom said that both Apollo and Attis were ―closely

linked with Helios,‖132 the older Greek sun god.

Death of Attis

(Archaeological Museum of Ostia, Rome)

Tomb/Three Days/Resurrected: We have already seen Dr. Fear‘s commentary that Attis was dead for

three days and was resurrected, worth reiterating here:

The youthful Attis after his murder was miraculously brought to life again three days after his

demise. The celebration of this cycle of death and renewal was one of the major festivals of the

metroac cult. Attis therefore represented a promise of reborn life and as such it is not surprising

that we find representations of the so-called mourning Attis as a common tomb motif in the

ancient world.133

The death and resurrection in three days, the ―Passion of Attis,‖ is also related by Professor Merlin Stone:

Roman reports of the rituals of Cybele record that the son...was first tied to a tree and then

buried. Three days later a light was said to appear in the burial tomb, whereupon Attis rose from

the dead, bringing salvation with him in his rebirth.134

There is a debate as to when the various elements were added to the Attis myth and ritual. In this regard,

Murdock writes in ―The Real ZEITGEIST Chal enge‖:

Contrary to the current fad of dismissing all correspondences between Christianity and Paganism,

the fact that Attis was at some point a ―dying and rising god‖ is concluded by Dr. Tryggve

Mettinger, a professor of Old Testament Studies at the University of Lund and author of The

Riddle of the Resurrection, who relates: ―Since the time of Damascius (6th cent. AD/CE), Attis

seems to have been believed to die and return.‖ (Mettinger, 159) By that point, we possess clear

discussion in writing of Attis having been resurrected, but when exactly were these rites first

celebrated and where? Attis worship is centuries older than Jesus worship and was popular in

some parts of the Roman Empire before and well into the ―Christian era.‖

131 Lactantius, 245.

132 Athanassiadi, 204.

133 Lane, 39.

134 Stone, 146.

In addition, it is useful here to reiterate that simply because something occurred after the year 1

AD/CE—which was not the dating system used at that time—does not mean that it was influenced

by Christianity, as it may have happened where Christianity had never been heard of. In actuality,

not much about Christianity emerges until the second century, and there remain to this day

places where Christianity is unknown; hence, these locations can still be considered pre-


It is probable that the Attis rites were celebrated long before Christianity was recognized to any

meaningful extent. Certainly, since they are mysteries, they could have been celebrated but not

recorded previously, especially in pre-Christian times, when the capital punishment for revealing

the mysteries was actually carried out.

In the case of Attis, we possess a significant account in Diodorus (3.58.7) of his death and

mourning, including the evidently annual ritual creation of his image by priests. Hence, these

noteworthy aspects of the Attis myth are clearly pre-Christian. Although Diodorus does not

specifically state that Attis was resurrected, the priests parading about with an image of the god is

indicative that they considered him risen, as this type of ritual is present in other celebrations for

the same reason, such as in the Egyptian festivities celebrating the return of Osiris or the rebirth

of Sokar….

…although we do not need Attis to show a dying-and-rising parallel to Christ, the material in

ZG1.1 concerning him is soundly based in scholarship. Regardless of when these attributes were

first associated specifically with Attis, the dying-and-rising motif of springtime myths is verified as

pre-Christian by the fact of its appearance in the story of Tammuz as well as that of the Greek

goddess Persephone, also known as Proserpina, whose ―rise‖ out of the underworld was

celebrated in the Greco-Roman world. That the festivals displayed by the Attis myth represent

spring celebrations and not an imitation of Christianity is the most logical conclusion. Indeed, the

presence of such a ritual in springtime festivals dating back to the third millennium BCE, as

Mettinger relates, certainly makes the case for borrowing by Christians, rather than the other way


Again, the reason these motifs are common in many places is because they revolve around nature

worship, solar mythology and astrotheology.


Krishna, of India, born of the virgin Devaki with a “star in the east” signaling his

coming. He performed miracles with his disciples, and upon his death was


The sun is a prominent deity in the religions of India as elsewhere, dating back centuries to millennia.

Hindu literature from ancient times is full of reverence for the solar deity, the supreme light that inhabits

the visible disk. In the Gāyatrī Mantra, a Vedic scripture, the sun is revealed as the Supreme Godhead:

Let us adore the supremacy of that divine Sun, the Godhead, who illuminates all, who recreates

all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return: whom we invoke to direct our understanding

aright in our progress toward his holy seat.136

Demonstrating its importance—and that of the sun to Indian religion—this ―mantra of the sun‖ is claimed

to be ―superior to all the mantras referred to in the Vedas.‖137 Indeed, the Gāyatrī is ―considered as the

‗Mother of the Vedas.‘‖138

The main Indian sun god is called Surya, but numerous other deities within the Hindu pantheon also

possess solar attributes and have been deemed sun gods as well. As another solar deity, the Indian god

Krishna‘s story follows a pattern of mythical motifs similar to the Christ myth.139 Krishna‘s solar nature is

135 Murdock, RZC, 15-16, For a discussion of the dating of various aspects of the Attis myth, see Christ in Egypt,


136 This text represents an elegant paraphrase of the Gāyatrī Mantra by Indianist Sir William Jones. (See Balfour,


137 Pathar, 43.

138 Pathar, 43.

139 See Murdock‘s Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled for more information on Krishna‘s solar nature.



clear from many of his characteristics and adventures, not the least of which is his status as an

incarnation of the god Vishnu. In this regard, Lalta Prasad Pandey remarks that Vishnu‘s solar nature is

―‗beyond doubt‘ and that the Vedas concur that Vishnu was a sun god.‖140 Says Pandey: ―Vishnu,

described in the Rgveda, is another solar deity.‖141

In the Bhagavad Gita, verse 10.21, Krishna states:

I am Vishnu striding among sun gods, the radiant sun among lights...142

Surya in chariot driven by Aruna

Krishna in chariot driven by Arjuna

Just as Jesus was considered an incarnation of God himself, so was Krishna the incarnation of Vishnu in

a miraculous conception. In another sacred Indian text called the Vishnu Purana (5.1-3) we read:

…the supporter of the earth, Vishnu, would be the eighth child of Devakí…

No person could bear to gaze upon Devaki, from the light that invested her, and those who

contemplated her radiance felt their minds disturbed. The gods, invisible to mortals, celebrated

her praises continually from the time that Vishnu was contained in her person.... Thus eulogized

by the gods, Devaki bore, in her womb, the lotus-eyed (deity), the protector of the world....143

Born of a Virgin: Like Krishna, who is essentially a solar deity and not a ―real person,‖ so too is his

mother, Devaki, a mythical figure. Although the story becomes very complicated and far from its roots in

later retellings, the germ of the Krishna-Devaki myth can apparently be found in the Rig Veda, in which

the Dawn goddess gives birth to the rising Sun.144 This miraculous conception of a god incarnating

himself through a ―mortal‖ woman obviously compares to the gospel tale of Jesus‘s nativity.

Even though it is accepted that Krishna was another form of the Divine Vishnu, it is nevertheless argued

that because Devaki had other children prior to the birth of Krishna, she was not ―a virgin.‖ Yet, in

mythology the perpetual virgin is a common motif, regardless of how many children the female is said to

have given birth to. As Carpenter points out:

There is hardly a god whose worship as a benefactor of mankind attained popularity in any of the

four continents...who was not reported to have been born from a virgin, or at least from a mother

who owned the child not to any earthly father.145

140 Pandey, 17; Acharya, SOG, 183.

141 Pandey, 16.

142 Stoler Miller, 94.

143 Wilson, 264, 268.

144 Acharya, SOG, 222.

145 Carpenter, 156.



Indeed, the notion of a ―divine birth‖ is common in the ancient literature; although not always the same as

―virgin birth,‖ it is very close, by definition. In the Indian text the Bhagavad Gita (4:9), Krishna tells his

disciple Arjuna about his own ―divine‖ or ―transcendental‖ birth.

Moreover, while Devaki may have had other children, so too is Jesus depicted as having brothers and

sisters. For example, Matthew 12:46 refers to Jesus‘s ―brothers‖:

While he (Jesus) was still speaking to the people, behold his mother and his brothers stood

outside, asking to speak with him.

The scripture at Matthew 13:55-56 reads:

Is not this the carpenter‘s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James

and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?

Despite apparently giving birth to all these children, Mary remains a perpetual virgin.146

Regarding this virgin-birth motif, Murdock states:

While the most common terminology concerning the status of Krishna‘s mother, Devaki, when

she gave birth to the god is that she was ―chaste,‖ another myth depicts her becoming a virgin

mother as a teenager after eating the seed of a mango. This apocryphal tale demonstrates that

the notion of the virgin mother existed in Hindu mythology, specifically applicable to Devaki, who

later became Krishna‘s mother. In the Indian epic the Mahabharata, parts of which were

composed centuries before the Christian era, the character Draupadi is a virgin mother, while the

book‘s supposed author, also named Krishna, is said to have been born of a virgin. Also in the

Mahabharata, the goddess Kunti remarks: ―Without a doubt, through the grace of that god, I once

more became a virgin.‖ Kunti is depicted as a ―chaste maiden‖—here unquestionably a virgin

who is impregnated by the sun god Surya. Other ―born-again virgins‖ in this epic include Madhavi

and Satyavati.147

In consideration of the fact that a number of important figures in the Hindu sacred texts are

unquestionably depicted as virgin mothers—including Devaki as a teenager—it is understandable that

many writers have depicted Krishna‘s birth as virginal. For more on the subject, see Murdock‘s Suns of

God and ―Was Krishna‘s Mother a Virgin?‖

Devaki suckling Krishna

Virgin Mary suckling Christ

(Moor, Hindu Pantheon, pl. 59)

15th century

(Defendente Ferrari)

146 Catholic and other Christian apologists contend that these ―brothers‖ (and sisters) are either Jesus‘s cousins or

the children of Joseph by Mary.

147 Murdock, RZC, 17.

“Star in the East”: Although it is not specifically termed a ―star in the east,‖ in the Indian text the

Bhagavata Purana (10.3:1), a constellation called ―Rohini‖ or ―his stars‖ is present at Krishna‘s birth. As

professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University Dr. Edwin F. Bryant remarks:

At the time of [Krishna‘s] birth, all the constellations and stars were benevolent. The constellation

was Rohini, which is presided over by Brahma.148

Regarding this stellar motif, J.M. Robertson states:

Now, it is a general rule in ancient mythology that the birthdays of God were astrological; and the

simple fact that the Purana gives an astronomical moment for Krishna‘s birth is a sufficient proof

that at the time of writing they had a fixed date for it. The star Rohini under which he was born, it

will be remembered, has the name given in one variation of the Krishna legend to a wife of

Vasudeva who bore to him Rama, as Devaki...bore Krishna. Here we are in the thick of ancient

astrological myth. Rohini (our Aldebaran) is ―the red,‖ ―a mythical name also applied now to

Aurora, now to a star.‖149

The point here is that a celestial portent is common at the birth of great gods, legends, heroes and

patriarchs, as can be found in other stories and myths, including the Persian lawgiver Zoroaster, whose

very name means ―star of splendor,‖150 and Buddha, as the ―immortals of the Tushita-heaven decide that

Buddha shall be born when the ‗flower-star‘ makes its first appearance in the East.‖151 Hence, the story

about the star in the east at Christ‘s birth is an unoriginal and patently mythical motif.

Performed Miracles: Quoting Murdock:

Krishna‘s performance of miracles, in front of his disciples, is legendary, including many in the

Mahabharata, in which he reveals mysteries to his disciple Arjuna (John?). Krishna does likewise

in the Bhagavad Gita, in which he describes himself as the ―Lord of all beings,‖ among many

epithets similar to those found within Christianity. In this same regard, Krishna says: ―I am the

origin of al that exists, and everything emanates from Me.‖152

Death and Resurrection: Concerning Krishna‘s death and ascension, in The Oxford Companion to

World Mythology, Dr. Leeming states:

Just after the war, Krishna dies, as he had predicted he would, when, in a position of meditation,

he is struck in the heel by a hunter‘s arrow. His apotheosis occurs when he ascends in death to

the heavens and is greeted by the gods.153

Regarding the resurrection/ascension, the Mahabharata (4) says that Krishna or ―Keshava,‖ as he is also

traditionally called, immediately returns to life after being killed and speaks only to the hunter, forgiving

him of his actions:

…he [the hunter] touched the feet of [Krishna]. The high-souled one comforted him and then

ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin [sky/heaven] with splendour... [Krishna] reached his

own inconceivable region.154

Concerning Krishna‘s death, Murdock remarks:

Although it is not specifically stated that Krishna ―resurrects‖ upon his death—when he is killed

under a tree—he does ascend into heaven, alive again, since he is considered to be the eternal

God of the cosmos. Krishna‘s death is recounted in the Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana, both

148 Bryant, KS, 119.

149 Robertson, 177.

150 Zoroaster or Zarathustra has been credited with ―prophesying‖ the appearance of the ―star in the east‖ over the

place of the coming savior, as in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour (10). (Roberts, ANF, VIII, 406.) This

―prophecy‖ is also considered to be the prediction of his own rebirth.

151 The star at Buddha‘s birth is said to be the ―Pushya Nakshatra‖ (Prasad, G., 25.) This episode of the star Pushya

at Buddha's birth is found in the Buddhist texts the Mahāvastu and the Lalita Vistara. (Edmunds, 123.)

152 Murdock, RZC, 17.

153 Leeming, OCWM, 232.

154 Rāya, 12.


claiming he was killed by a hunter while sitting under a tree, the arrow penetrating his foot, much

like Christ having a nail driven through his feet. In this regard, there have been found in India

strange images of figures in cruciform with nail holes in their hands and feet, one of which was

identified by an Indian priest as possibly the god Wittoba, who is an incarnation of Krishna.155

The impression of a resurrection is evident from the depiction of Krishna comforting his killer just after

death, before he has ascended into heaven. The point is that the god was once dead, but now he is alive

again, whether in this world or the afterlife. This type of detail does not suffice to undermine the fact of the

resurrection or raising up from death being a mythical motif in the first place, applicable both to Christ as

well as many other gods and legendary figures.156


Dionysus of Greece, born of a virgin on December 25th, was a traveling teacher

who performed miracles such as turning water into wine, he was referred to as the

“King of Kings,” “God’s Only Begotten Son,” “The Alpha and Omega,” and many

others, and upon his death, he was resurrected.

It is wise at this point to recall that in the ancient world many gods were confounded and compounded,

deliberately or otherwise. Some were even considered interchangeable, such as Osiris, Horus and Ra. In

this regard, Plutarch (35, 364E) states, ―Osiris is identical with Dionysus.‖157 Thus, Zeus‘s son Dionysus

or Bacchus was considered the Greek rendition of Osiris:

Dionysus became the universal savior-god of the ancient world. And there has never been

another like unto him: the first to whom his attributes were accredited, we call Osiris: with the

death of paganism, his central characteristics were assumed by Jesus Christ.158

Dionysus is likewise identified with the god Aion and also referred to as ―Zeus Sabazius‖ in other

traditions.159 Hence, we would expect him to share in at least some of all these gods‘ attributes.

Dionysus returns from India

Mosaic pavement, 3rd cent. AD/CE

Sousse, Tunisia

(Patrick Hunt)

December 25th (Winter Solstice): As with Jesus, December 25th and January 6th are both traditional birth

dates related to Dionysus and simply represent the period of the winter solstice. Concerning these dates,

Murdock remarks:

155 Murdock, RZC, 17.

156 For more information on the mythical motif of the resurrection, see Murdock, CIE, 402-420.

157 Plutarch/Babbitt, 85.

158 Larson, 82.

159 Graves, R., WG, 335.

The winter-solstice date of the Greek sun and wine god Dionysus was originally recognized in

early January but was eventually placed on December 25th, as related by Macrobius. Regardless,

the effect is the same: The winter sun god is born around this time, when the [shortest day of the

year] begins to become longer….160

Murdock also says:

The birthday of Dionysus can be listed on both the 5th and 6th of January, while the god Aion who

is born on January 6th is called by Joseph Campbell a ―syncretistic personification of Osiris.‖

Dionysus was likewise identified with both Aion and Osiris in ancient times. In antiquity too, Jesus

Christ‘s nativity was also placed on the 6th or 7th of January, when it remains celebrated in some

factions of the Orthodox Church, such as Armenia, as well as the Coptic Church. Concerning

these dates, Christian theologian Dr. Hugo Rahner remarks:

As to the dates, Norden has shown that the change from January 6 to December 25 can

be explained as the result of the reform introduced by the more accurate Julian calendar

into the ancient Egyptian calculation which had fixed January 6 as the date of the winter


It thus appears that in ancient times these dates of January 5, 6 and 7 represented the winter

solstice, which is fitting for sun gods. Indeed, Macrobius later places Dionysus‘s birth on

December 25th, again appropriate for a sun god.161

Jesuit theologian Dr. Rahner further states:

...in the Hellenistic East, and with Alexandria evidently taking the lead, a mystery was enacted

that concerned the birth of Aion by a virgin and that this mystery took place on the night leading to

January 6. It is quite immaterial whether the object of the cult in question was really Dionysus

Aion or some other deity. Epiphanius, quoting other ancient writers, tells us elsewhere that the

birthday of Dionysus was celebrated on January 5 and 6, though in the present instance it may

well have been that of Osiris or Harpocrates-Horus. It matters very little, since the tendency in

these late Hellenistic days was for the identities of gods, all of whom were beginning to take on

the character of a solar deity, to become merged with one another. We know that Aion was at this

time beginning to be regarded as identical with Helios and Helios with Dionysus…162

The pertinent passage in the writings of Church father Epiphanius mentioned by Rahner relates:

On this day, i.e. on the eighth day before the Calends of January, the Greeks...celebrate a feast

that the Romans call Saturnalia, the Egyptians Cronia and the Alexandrines Cicellia. The reason

is that the eighth day before the Calends of January forms a dividing-line, for on it occurs the

solstice; the day begins to lengthen again and the sun shines longer and with increasing strength

until the eighth day before the Ides of January, viz., until the day of Christ‘s nativity...

The principal of [the] feasts is that which takes place in the so-called Koreion in Alexandria, this

Koreion being a mighty temple in the district sacred to Kore. Throughout the whole night the

people keep themselves awake here by singing certain hymns and by means of the flute-playing

which accompanies the songs they sing to the image of their god. When they have ended these

nocturnal celebrations, then at morning cock-crow they descend, carrying torches, into a sort of

chapel which is below ground and thence they carry up a wooden image of one lying naked upon

a bier. This image has upon its forehead a golden cross and two more such seals in the form of

crosses one on each hand... If anyone asks them what manner of mysteries these might be, they

reply, saying: ―Today at this hour Kore, that is the virgin, has given birth to Aion.‖

Such things also occur in Petra... The hymns they sing are in the Arabic tongue and are in praise

of a virgin whom they call ― Chaamu” which is the same as Kore or Parthenos, and in praise of her

160 Murdock, The 2010 Astrotheology Calendar, 44.

161 Murdock, 2AC, 36.

162 Rahner, 139.

child ― Dusares‖ which means ―Only son of the ruler of all.‖ The same thing happens on this same

night in Alexandria, in Petra and also in the city of Elusa.163

Joseph Campbell confirms this ―celebration of the birth of the year-god Aion to the virgin Goddess Kore,‖

the latter of whom he calls ―a Hel enized transformation of Isis.‖164

Virgin Birth: According to the most common tradition, Dionysus was the son of the god Zeus and the

mortal woman Semele. In the Cretan version of the same story, which Diodorus Siculus follows, Dionysus

was the son of Zeus and Persephone, the daughter of Demeter also called Kore, who, as we have seen,

is styled a ―virgin goddess.‖

In the common myth about the birth of Dionysus/Bacchus, Semele is mysteriously impregnated by one of

Zeus‘s bolts of lightning—an obvious miraculous/virgin conception. In another account, Jupiter/Zeus gives

Dionysus‘s torn-up heart in a drink to Semele, who becomes pregnant with the ―twice born‖ god this

way,165 again a miraculous or ―virgin‖ birth. Indeed, Joseph Campbell explicitly calls Semele a ―virgin‖:

While the maiden goddess sat there, peacefully weaving a mantle on which there was to be a

representation of the universe, her mother contrived that Zeus should learn of her presence; he

approached her in the form of an immense snake. And the virgin conceived the ever-dying, ever-

living god of bread and wine, Dionysus, who was born and nurtured in that cave, torn to death as

a babe and resurrected...166

This same direct appellation is used by Cambridge professor and anthropologist Sir Dr. Edmund Ronald


Dionysus, son of Zeus, is born of a mortal virgin, Semele, who later became immortalized through

the intervention of her divine son; Jesus, son of God, is born of a mortal virgin, Mary… such

stories can be duplicated over and over again.167

In The Cult of the Divine Birth in Ancient Greece, Dr. Marguerite Rigoglioso concludes: ―Semele was also

likely a holy parthenos by virtue of the fact that she gave birth to Dionysus via her union with Zeus

(Hesiod, Theogony 940).‖168

These learned individuals had reason to consider Dionysus‘s mother a virgin, as, again, he was also said

to have been born of Persephone/Kore, whom, again from Epiphanius, was herself deemed a ―virgin,‖ or

parthenos, as was the title both in the ancient Greek-speaking world as well as in modern scholarship. In

this regard, professor emeritus of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Donald White says, ―As a

title ‗Parthenos‘ was appropriate to both Demeter and Persephone...‖169

In any event, the effect is the same: Dionysus is born of a god and a virgin mother.

Miracles: The miracles of Dionysus are legendary, as is his role as the god of wine, echoed in the later

Christian story of Jesus multiplying the jars of wine at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2:1-9). Concerning

this miracle, biblical scholar Dr. A.J. Mattill remarks:

This story is really the Christian counterpart to the pagan legends of Dionysus, the Greek god of

wine, who at his annual festival in his temple of Elis filled three empty kettles with wine—no water

needed! And on the fifth of January wine instead of water gushed from his temple at Andros. If we

believe Jesus‘ miracle, why should we not believe Dionysus‘s?170

Concerning Dionysus‘s miracles, Murdock states:

163 Rahner, 137-138. For a lengthy discussion of this important passage in Epiphanius, which was edited out of the

Migne edition, see Murdock, CIE, 84-88.

164 Campbell, MI, 34.

165 van den Berg, 288.

166 Campbell, MG, 27.

167 Hugh-Jones, 108.

168 Rigoglioso, 95.

169 White, 183.

170 Leedom, 125.

As the god of the vine, Dionysus is depicted in ancient texts as traveling around teaching

agriculture, as well as doing various miracles, such as in Homer‘s The Iliad, dating to the 9th

century BCE, and in The Bacchae of Euripides, the famous Greek playwright who lived around

480 to 406 BCE. In addition, Dionysus‘s miracle of changing water to wine is also recounted in

pre-Christian times by Diodorus ( Library of History, 3.66.3).171

Epithets: In Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions, Doane asserts, ―Bacchus, the offspring of

Jupiter and Semele was called the ‗Savior,‘ ...he was called the ‗Only Begotten Son.‘‖172 The title of

―savior‖ or Soter was applied to many Greek and other gods prior to the Christian era.173

Regarding Dionysus‘s many divine epithets, Murdock states:

In an Orphic hymn, Phanes-Dionysus is styled by the Greek title Protogonos or ―first-born‖ of

Zeus, also translated at times as ―only-begotten son,‖ although the term Monogenes would be

more appropriately rendered as the latter.

As concerns the epithet ―King of Kings,‖ noted anthropologist Sir James G. Frazer tells us that the

Neoplatonist Proclus (5th cent. AD/CE) related:

Dionysus was the last king of the gods appointed by Zeus. For his father set him on the

kingly throne, and placed in his hand the scepter, and made him king of all the gods of

the world.

In the case of Dionysus/Bacchus being labeled the ―Alpha and Omega,‖ here is one instance

where not knowing foreign languages would make the sources difficult to access, as we are told

in French by Rev. Isaac de Beausobre that there is an ancient inscription in which

Dionysus/Bacchus says, ―I am the Alpha and Omega.‖174

The title ―King of Kings‖ and other epithets may reflect Dionysus‘s kinship with Osiris: During the late 18th

to early 19th dynasties (c. 1300 BCE), Osiris‘s epithets included, ―the king of eternity, the lord of

everlastingness, who traverseth millions of years in the duration of his life, the firstborn son of the womb

of Nut, begotten of Seb, the prince of gods and men, the god of gods, the king of kings, the lord of lords,

the prince of princes, the governor of the world whose existence is for everlasting.‖175

Death/Resurrection: Dionysus‘s death and resurrection were well-known mythical motifs in antiquity.

The various myths concerning these motifs are recounted by Frazer:

According to one version, which represented Dionysus as a son of Zeus and Demeter, his mother

pieced together his mangled limbs and made him young again. In others it is simply said that

shortly after his burial he rose from the dead and ascended up to heaven...

Turning from the myth to the ritual, we find that the Cretans celebrated a biennial festival at which

the passion of Dionysus was represented in every detail... Where the resurrection formed part of

the myth, it also was acted at the rites, and it even appears that a general doctrine of

resurrection, or at least of immortality, was inculcated on the worshippers; for Plutarch, writing to

console his wife on the death of their infant daughter, comforts her with the thought of the

immortality of the soul as taught by tradition and revealed in the mysteries of Dionysus. A

different form of the myth of the death and resurrection of Dionysus is that he descended into

Hades to bring up his mother Semele from the dead.176

In this same regard, Sir Arthur Weigall relates:

Dionysos, whose father, as in the Christian story, was ―God‖ but whose mother was a mortal

woman [Semele], was represented in the East as a bearded young man of dignified appearance,

171 Murdock, RZC, 18.

172 Doane, 193.

173 It should be noted that what is deemed the ―Christian era‖ is not the same as the ―common era,‖ because there

are to this day places where Christianity has not been heard of; hence, they remain pre-Christian.

174 Murdock, RZC, 18.

175 Budge, EBD (1967), liii.

176 Frazer, GB, 452.


who had not only taught mankind the use of the vine but had also been a law-giver, promoting the

arts of civilisation, preaching happiness, and encouraging peace. He, like Jesus, had suffered a

violent death, and had descended into hell, but his resurrection and ascension had followed; and

these were commemorated in his sacred rites.177

Finally, Murdock concludes:

Dionysus‘s death and resurrection were famous in ancient times, so much so that Christian father

Origen (c. 184-c. 254) felt the need to address them in his Contra Celsus (IV, XVI-XVII),

comparing them unfavorably, of course, to those of Christ. By Origen‘s time, these Dionysian

mysteries had already been celebrated for centuries. Dionysus/Bacchus‘s resurrection or revival

after having been torn to pieces or otherwise killed earned him the epithet of ―twice born.‖178

―[S]cene in the underworld. Dionysos

mounting a chariot is about to leave his

mother, Semele, and ascend‖

(Kerenyi, pl. 47)

As a related aside, it is interesting to point out that the Catholic Communion as practiced today in the

Christian world also had a place within the cult of Dionysus, as Campbell points out:

Dionysus-Bacchus-Zagreus—or, in the older, Sumero-Babylonian myths, Dumuzi-absu,

Tammuz—...whose blood, in this chalice to be drunk, is the pagan prototype of the wine of the

sacrifice of the Mass, which is transubstantiated by the words of consecration into the blood of

the Son of the Virgin.179


Mithra of Persia, born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and

performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for three days and thus

resurrected, he was also referred to as “The Truth,” “The Light,” and many others.

Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithra was Sunday.

Carpenter summarizes the myth of Mithra:

Mithra was born in a cave, and on the 25th December. He was born of a Virgin. He traveled far

and wide as a teacher and illuminator of men. He slew the Bull (symbol of the gross Earth which

the sunlight fructifies). His great festivals were the winter solstice and the Spring equinox

(Christmas and Easter). He had twelve companions or disciples (the twelve months). He was

buried in a tomb, from which however he rose again; and his resurrection was celebrated yearly

with great rejoicings. He was called Savior and Mediator, and sometimes figured as a Lamb; and

sacramental feasts in remembrance of him were held by his followers. This legend is apparently

177 Weigall, 220.

178 Murdock, RZC, 19.

179 Campbell, MG, vol. 4, p. 23.


partly astronomical and partly vegetational; and the same may be said of the following about


Carpenter also notes:

The birth feast of Mithra was held in Rome on the 8th day before the Kalends of January, being

also the day of the Circassian games, which were sacred to the Sun. (See F. Nork, Der

Mystagog, Leipzig.)181

Virgin Birth/December 25th (Winter Solstice): Although the commonly know myth depicts Mithra as

being born from a ―rock‖182—itself a miraculous birth—there is another version of the Mithraic nativity that

portrays the god as being born from the virgin goddess Anahita. Addressing the status of Mithra‘s birth,

Murdock comments:

As concerns the debate regarding the Perso-Roman god Mithra‘s ―virgin birth,‖ not a few scholars

and writers of Persian/Iranian extract have discussed the Persian goddess of love Anahita as

Mithra‘s virgin mother….

In the scholarly digest Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress, Dr.

Martin Schwartz, a professor of Iranian Studies at the University of California, discusses the

―Armenian national epic‖ concerning Mithra, who is called the ―Great Mher.‖ In recounting a myth

regarding the Great Mher (Mithra), Dr. Schwartz relates the story of his father, Sanasar, who

along with his twin brother Baltasar is ―born of a virgin who becomes pregnant from the water of

the ‗Milky Fountain of Immortality‘...‖ He next says:

Combining these data with the tradition found in Elise that Mithra was born of God

through a human mother...one may suggest a transference of the miraculous birth of the

Sosyants to Mithra.

In other words, in certain traditions Mithra was said to have been born of the union of God with a

human mortal, possibly a virgin mother like that of his father.183

Sassanid king Khosrow flanked by

Anahita and Ahura Mazda

7th cent. AD/CE

Taq-e Bostan, Iran

(Phillipe Chavin)

180 Carpenter, 21.

181 Carpenter, 21.

182 It should be noted that the ancient Latin word for ―matter‖ is materia, as in ―material,‖ which shares the same root

with mater, meaning ―mother.‖ Indeed, materia may also be rendered ―mother-stuff,‖ while mater is not only ―mother‖

but also ―source.‖ (Smith, W., 669) In this regard, Mithra‘s ―rock‖ birth can likewise be said to be from ―virgin mater.‖

183 Murdock, RZC, 19.

Mithra‘s birthday on December 25th is so well known that even the Catholic Encyclopedia (―Mithraism‖)

must admit it: ―The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-

sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season.‖184

Concerning Jesus‘s birth and the commemoration of ―Christmas,‖ Christian apologist Thomas Thorburn


The earliest church commemorated it at various times from September to March, until in 354 A.D.

Pope Julius I assimilated the festival with that of the birth of Mithra (December 25), in order to

facilitate the more complete Christianization of the empire.185

Twelve Disciples: Very simply, ―the Twelve‖ are the signs of the zodiac, metaphorically introduced in the

mysteries, and this motif is likely the source of Jesus‘s 12. During the very era when Christ had

supposedly walked the earth, two prominent Jewish writers, Philo (c. 20 BCE-c. 50 AD/CE) and Josephus

(37-c. 100 AD/CE), explained that the 12 Jewish tribes were symbolic of the signs of the zodiac. In Christ

in Egypt, Murdock writes:

As Josephus says ( Antiquities, 3.8): ―And for the twelve stones [of Exodus 39:9-14], whether we

understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that

circle which the Greeks call the zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning.‖

(Josephus/Whiston, 75.) Earlier than Josephus, Philo (―On the Life of Moses,‖ 12) had made the

same comments regarding Moses: ―Then the twelve stones on the breast, which are not like one

another in colour, and which are divided into four rows of three stones in each, what else can they

be emblems of, except of the circle of the zodiac?‖ (Philo/Yonge, 99.)186

Philo wrote before Christ had supposedly started his ministry, yet he never heard of him. In the meantime,

he had heard of the 12 tribes representing the zodiacal signs, and we subsequently read the suggestion

in the gospel (Mt 19:28) that Jesus allegedly picked his disciples based on the tribes, which were in turn,

according to Philo and Josephus, equated with the zodiacal 12.

Concerning the Twelve within Mithraism, Murdock says:

Mithra surrounded by the 12 ―companions‖ is a motif found on many Mithraic remains and

representing the 12 signs of the zodiac. The comparison of this common motif with Jesus and the

12 has been made on many occasions, including in an extensive study entitled, ―Mithras and

Christ: some iconographical similarities,‖ by Professor A. Deman in the same volume of Mithraic


The point here is not whether or not these companions are depicted as interacting in the same manner as

the disciples of Jesus but that the theme of the god or godman with the 12 surrounding him is common

enough—and with very popular deities in the same region—to have served as a precedent for the

Christian Twelve with Christ at their center. It surely would have struck any intelligent and half-way

educated member of the Roman Empire as very odd when Christians attempted to tell their supernatural

tales of a Jewish godman with 12 companions, in consideration of the fact that there were already so

many of these saviors in variety of cultures.

184 CE, X, 404.

185 Thorburn, 33.

186 Murdock, CIE, 261-262.

187 Murdock, RZC, 20.


Mithra surrounded by the 12 signs of the zodiac

c. 150 AD/CE

(Mithraeum, London)

Miracles: Regarding Mithra‘s miracles, Mithraic Studies editor John R. Hinnells states:

...the side panels of many Mithraic reliefs and paintings are interpreted as representations of the

primeval life of the god, in which he performed miracles, experience various adventures, and

celebrated an archetypal communion meal before he ascended to heaven.188

Death/Three Days/Resurrection: In the Roman Empire, Mithraism became the cult of the undertakers

guild. Hence, there was a focus on death and the afterlife, experienced in myth and ritual. In discussing

the death-oriented Mithraic rituals, professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the

University of Chicago Rev. Dr. Harold R. Willoughby cites Church father Tertullian and remarks:

A simulation of death in the Mithraic mysteries…is perfectly intelligible. Death was the logical

preliminary to a renewal of life; hence the pretence of death by the neophyte was a perfectly

natural antecedent to the regenerative experiences of baptism and sacramental communion that

followed in the Mithraic ritual. That this was precisely the interpretation put upon this bit of

liturgical fiction is clearly suggested by a passage in Tertullian. In discussing the Mithraic rites of

baptism and communion, the Christian lawyer affirmed: ―Mithra there brings in the symbol of a

resurrection.‖ This striking use of the phrase imago resurrection is doubly significant. It proves

that a simulation of death was an integral part of Mithraic ritual, and also that it was but

antecedent to an experience of regeneration.189

These death rituals were part of the Mithraic mysteries, as related by Rev. Dr. J.P. Lundy:

Dupuis tells us that Mithra was put to death by crucifixion, and rose again on the 25th of March. In

the Persian Mysteries the body of a young man, apparently dead, was exhibited, which was

feigned to be restored to life. By his sufferings he was believed to have worked their salvation,

and on this account he was called their Saviour. His priests watched his tomb to the midnight of

the vigil of the 25th of March, with loud cries, and in darkness; when all at once the light burst forth

from all parts, the priest cried, Rejoice, O sacred initiated, your God is risen. His death, his pains,

and sufferings have worked your salvation.190

In Religions of the World, Gerald L. Berry discusses Mithra‘s three-day burial and removal from the tomb:

...On Black Friday (cf. Good Friday) the taurobolium, or bull-slaying, was represented. At this

festival, the sacrament often comprised blood drinking. Mithras, worn out by the battle, was

symbolically represented by a stone image lain on a bier as a corpse. He was mourned for in

188 Hinnells, 291.

189 Willoughby, 110-111.

190 Lundy, 168.

liturgy, and placed in a sacred rock tomb called ―Petra,‖ from which he was removed after three

days in a great festival of rejoicing.191

In writing about the Mithraic festival of Mihragān, Iranian studies professor Dr. Mary Boyce remarks:

...for centuries Mihragān...was celebrated in the spring. For many generations, therefore, Mithra‘s

feast was observed at a time traditionally associated with the Zoroastrian feast of the


Boyce also says, ―The Zoroastrian theologians are indeed recorded as saying...that as an autumn feast

Mihragān was a symbol of resurrection and the end of the world...193

Epithets: Among other titles, Mithra was said to be, ―Mighty in strength, mighty rulers, greatest king of

gods! O Sun, lord of heaven and earth, God of Gods!‖194 He was also cal ed ―the mediator.‖195

Mithra shared many such epithets with Christ, as Berry demonstrates:

Both Mithras and Christ were described variously as ―the way,‖ ―the truth,‖ ―the light,‖ ―the life,‖

―the word,‖ ―the son of god,‖ ―the good shepherd...‖196

In this same regard, Iranian scholar Dr. Payam Nabarz states, ―Mithras is described as the lord of wide

pastures, the lord of truth and contracts.‖197

And Dr. Marvin Meyers, a professor of Religious Studies at Chapman College, says:

Already among the ancient Indo-Iranian peoples, Mithras was known as a god of light, truth, and

integrity.... The Avesta calls Mithra ―the lord of wide pastures‖...198

Sunday Worship: The Mithraic sacred day being Sunday represents a well-known tradition. As the

Catholic Encyclopedia states, ―Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra…‖199 Berry concurs:

Since Mithras was a sun-god, Sunday was automatically sacred to him—the ―Lords Day‖—long

before Christ.200

Dr. Ezquerra also states, ―Some say the Lord‘s Day was celebrated on Sunday because that was the

Dies Solis, the day of the Sun, which in turn had something to do with Mithraism.‖201

Concerning Mithraism and Christianity, the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia summarizes:

The birth of Mithra and of Christ were celebrated on the same day; tradition placed the birth of

both in a cave; both regarded Sunday as sacred; in both the central figure was a mediator

( mesitēs) who was one of a triad or trinity; in both there was a sacrifice for the benefit of the


If tradition in India is an indication, this celebration of Mithra‘s sacred time on Sunday possibly dates back

to Vedic ages, 3,000 or more years ago, with his Indian counterpart Mitra being celebrated into modern

times on this day as well: ―...the deity is invoked every Sunday under the name of Mitra in a small pitcher

placed on a small earthen platform...‖203

191 Berry, 57.

192 Hinnells, I, 108.

193 Hinnells, I, 114.

194 Legge, II, 266.

195 De Jong, 172.

196 Berry, 57.

197 Nabarz, 25.

198 Meyer, 199.

199 CE, X, 404.

200 Berry, 57.

201 Ezquerra, 409.

202 Jackson, S., VII, 419.

203 Gonda, 131.



The fact of the matter is there are numerous saviors, from different periods, from

all over the world, which subscribe to these general characteristics. The question

remains: why these attributes, why the virgin birth on December 25th, why dead for

three days and the inevitable resurrection, why 12 disciples or followers? To find out,

let’s examine the most recent of the solar messiahs. Jesus Christ was born of the

Virgin Mary on December 25th in Bethlehem...

The December 25th birthday is not given in the gospels; rather, it is a traditional date assigned to the birth

of Jesus based on prior Pagan traditions. As we have seen, ―December 25th‖ is one of the dates viewed

by the ancients as the end of the winter-solstice period, when, from a geocentric perspective, the sun

begins its long journey north towards the summer solstice.

If we factor in the other solar and astrotheological motifs within Christianity, both in the New Testament

and in Christian tradition, along with the highly important Pagan festivals of the day such as celebrations

of the solstices and equinoxes, we can understand why Christians later appended the December

25th/winter-solstice holiday to their religion. In fact, certain early Church fathers were clear on this point of

having their savior born at the winter solstice. For example, concerning the origins of this solar holiday

vis-à-vis Christianity, the authoritative Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in [the writings of Church father]

Cyprian [200-258]… ―O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun

was born…Christ should be born.‖

In the fourth century, Chrysostom…says:… ―But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of

December…the eighth day before the calends of January [25 December]…, But they call it the

‗Birthday of the Unconquered.‘ Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord…? Or, if they say that

it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.‖204

The Roman ―Unconquered Sun‖ is both Sol Invictus and Mithra, and we have seen other gods share this

winter-solstice birth, with good reason, as the return of the sun was one of if not the most important days

of the year for many peoples, especially in the far north. Hence, we have a relatively early Church father

who not only admits but also insists that Christ‘s birth usurps that of the sun. He also insists on the logical

equation of Christ with the sun, which had been established in the Old Testament book of Malachi, just

before Matthew‘s gospel, with him prophesying the coming Messiah as the ―Sun of Righteousness.‖ (Mal


The December 25th/winter-solstice birthday was adopted by Christianity in the third century. The Christian

world has thus been celebrating Jesus‘s birthday on December 25th for the past nearly 1700 years—it is

obvious why this birthday was attached to Christian tradition: Because it represented the winter solstice,

the time of the year when the sun is ―born,‖ and Jesus was the ―new sun‖ of the Christians.


...his birth was announced by a star in the east,

which three kings or magi followed to locate and adore

the new savior.

In the New Testament (Mt 2:1-12), the number of ―wise men‖ or magi

i.e., astrologers—following the star at Jesus‘s birth is not given.

However, it is traditionally assumed to be three because of the three

gifts (frankincense, myrrh and gold) presented by these magi or ―kings‖

during their visit with the divine child. The earliest extant numbering of

the three magi is by Church father Origen (185-224 AD/CE) in his

Homilies on Genesis (14.3),205 who seems not to blink an eye

in his equation, as if it were solidly part of Christian tradition by

Phrygian-capped ―magi‖ approach the divine child

this time.

Fresco, 4th cent. AD/CE

Catacomb of Marcus & Marcellianus,

Rome, Italy


204 CE, III, 727.

205 Origen/Heine, 198.

The Greek word used in the NT to describe these ―wise men‖ is μάγοι or magoi/ magi, the singular of

which is defined by Strong‘s Concordance (G3097) as:

1) a magus

a) the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise

men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers,

soothsayers, sorcerers etc.

b) the oriental wise men (astrologers) who, having discovered by the rising of a remarkable star

that the Messiah had just been born, came to Jerusalem to worship him

c) a false prophet and sorcerer

Hence, these figures are not technical y deemed ―kings.‖ However, Old Testament scriptures held up as

―prophecy‖ of the coming messiah discuss ― kings‖ as coming with gifts, such as Psalm 72:10: ―The kings

of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shal offer gifts.‖

The first to mention the magi as ―kings‖ was Tertullian in Adv. Marcion (3.13), referring to Psalms (67:30,

72:10) and to Isaiah (60:3): ―And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your

rising.‖ The magi as ―kings‖ was further emphasized by St. Caesarius of Arles (6th cent.): ― Ille magi reges

sunt—these magi are indeed kings.‖206

If the Bible does not denote these things exactly, then why have they become Christian tradition,

beginning in the earliest centuries of the common era? So solidly part of Christianity have these three

kings become that they are the subject of much art, as well as songs and other stories. So, why the

―Three Kings?‖

On the surface, it would seem that these notions were set in motion by Church fathers such as Origen

and Tertullian. However, if one steps back to examine the Pagan mythological motifs preceding

Christianity—of which Origen and Tertullian were very aware—the traditional notion of there being ―Three

Kings,‖ rather than an unknown number of ―Magi/Wise Men,‖ becomes clearer, as these literary themes

existed in Paganism.

Going back to the scripture in question, Matthew (2:1-9) reads:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there

came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?

for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him….‖

…and lo, the star, which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the

place where the child was.

The summary of this story is that at Christ‘s birth appeared a star in the east, which was used by wise

men or astrologers to locate the ―King of the Jews,‖ i.e., Jesus.

The question becomes whether or not there are any other tales with this same motif—and why? The

answer is yes, as Barbara G. Walker points out with regard to the myth of Osiris, previously cited and


Osiris‘s coming was announced by Three Wise Men: the three stars Mintaka, Anilam, and Alnitak

in the belt of Orion, which point directly to Osiris‘s star in the east, Sirius (Sothis), significator of

his birth...207

Hence, in this meaning of the multifold myth, Osiris‘s birth is heralded by a bright star in the east, with

three stars in the belt of Orion following. This birth occurred when the Nile flooded in the summer, around

the solstice, although because of the wandering Egyptian calendar this date would have occurred on

each day of the year, with the cycle being completed every 1,460 years.

Furthermore, the baby solar falcon-god Sokar, who is identified with Horus, is depicted as being brought

out in a manger at the winter solstice with the three gods appearing.

206 For more on this subject, see Jensen.

207 Walker, B., WEMS, 749.


Also, in the museum in Naples has been kept an ancient marble urn showing the birth/nativity of the

Greek god Dionysus, with two groups of three figures on either side of the god Mercury, who is holding

the divine baby, and a female figure who is receiving him.208

For more on the subject of the star in the east and three kings appearing at the savior‘s birth in pre-

Christian mythology, see Murdock‘s Christ in Egypt, pp. 198-209.


He was a child teacher at 12, at the age of 30 he was baptized by John the Baptist,

and thus began his ministry. Jesus had 12 disciples which he traveled about with

performing miracles such as healing the sick, walking on water, raising the dead, he

was also known as the “King of Kings,” the “Son of God,” the “Light of the World,”

the “Alpha and Omega,” the “Lamb of God,” and many, many others. After being

betrayed by his disciple Judas and sold for 30 pieces of silver, he was crucified,

placed in a tomb and after three days was resurrected and ascended into Heaven.

The above motifs all appear in the canonical gospels, in the New Testament section of the Christian



First of all, the birth sequence is completely astrological. The star in the east is

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which, on December 24th, aligns with the

three brightest stars in Orion’s Belt. These three bright stars in Orion’s belt are called

today what they were called in ancient times: The Three Kings. The Three Kings and

the brightest star, Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is

why the Three Kings “follow” the star in the east, in order to locate the sunrise—the

birth of the sun.

This contention is based on general star alignments, as we have already seen abundantly concerning

other gods such as Osiris and Horus. Also, this astrotheological symbolism likely goes back much farther

in time; we simply do not know when it was initially recognized. Regardless, the alignment on December

24th is obvious enough: The three stars of Orion clearly line up with Sirius and point to the east, where the

sun rises.

The moniker of ―Three Kings‖ for these stars in the belt of Orion is documented all over the world. For

example, South Africans call Orion‘s Belt Drie Konings—―Three Kings‖—while in French they are the

―Trois Rois.‖

In this regard, Carpenter remarks:

Go out next Christmas Evening, and at midnight you will see the brightest of the fixed stars,

Sirius, blazing in the southern sky—not however due south from you, but somewhat to the left of

the Meridian line. Some three thousand years ago (owing to the Precession of the Equinoxes)

that star at the winter solstice did not stand at midnight where you now see it, but almost exactly