Mithraism and ChristianityA Comparison:
Most of the research into Mithraism, a religion with many parallels to Christianity, comes from two writers, Cumont and Ulansey with a variety of other writers input. Some Similarities Between Mithraism and Christianity are:
Killing and resurrection
Birthdate on December 25
Known as the Light of the world
Have you ever wondered why December 25th was chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ? If the accounts in the Bible are correct, the time of Jesus birth would have been closer to mid-summer, for this is when shepherds would have been "tending their flocks in the field" and the new lambs were born. Strange enough there is an ancient pagan religion, Mithraism, which dates back over 2,800 years that also celebrated the birth of their "savior" on that date. Many elements in the story of Jesus' life and birth are either coincidental or borrowings
from earlier and contemporary pagan religions. The most obviously similar of these is Mithraism. Roman Mithraism was a mystery religion with sacrifice and initiation. Like other mystery cults, there's little recorded literary evidence. What we know comes mainly from Christian detractors and archaeological evidence from Mithraic temples, inscriptions, and artistic representations of the god and other aspects of the cult. In an EAWC (Exploring Ancient World Cultures) essay entitled Mithraism, Alison Griffith explains Cumont's theory of a Zoroastrian origin for the Roman Mithraist religion. While this theory is disputed, there was
a Mitra in the Hindu pantheon and a minor deity named Mithra among the Persians as well. Cumont came to believe the religion spread westward from Eastern Roman provinces. However, as Griffith explains, there is little evidence of a Zoroastrian Mithra cult and most evidence for Mithraic worship comes from the western portion of the empire from which Cumont correctly deduced that "Mithraism was most popular among legionaries (of all ranks), and the members of the more marginal social groups who were not Roman citizens: freedmen, slaves, and merchants from various provinces...." No women were allowed.