The Cult of Isis and Early Christianity
By Hazel Butler
Hohonu: A Journal of Academic Writing, Vol.7 (2005)
Introduction: Before the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, there was the Cult of Isis. This research paper is an exploration of the Cult of Isis and its possible effects on Early Christianity. Early Christianity is defined as about the first five hundred years of its existence. The cult of Isis certainly had an effect on the development of early Christianity, even if some of the specific beliefs within the religions were different. There are similarities in the worship and the belief behind the Cult of Isis during the Roman era with those that are reflected in Early Christian beliefs. However, it is the missing pieces in Isiac worship that Christianity seemed to satisfy that made it become so popular. The way that the Roman world came to embrace also had a staggering effect on the religion, and set it apart from Isis.
Isis was first worshiped in Egypt as a queen alongside her brother and husband, Osiris, the King of Egypt. When Osiris was killed by his brother Set and chopped up into pieces, it was Isis who put him back together. When she did so, she became the only god in the Egyptian Pantheon who was capable of resurrection. Most importantly, after reviving Osiris temporarily, she conceived Horus, who avenged the murder of his father and become the first Pharaoh of Egypt. As Osiris’s wife, she became queen of the dead. As the mother of Horus, she was not symbol of motherhood, the patron of childbearing and the protector of children. She was also the model for all the future queens of Egypt, who referred to as “daughters of god,” “the great wifes of the king” and “the mothers of god”.