Compendium of Horror, Fear, and the Grotesque

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Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History?

Edwin Yamauchi explores the these three questions about Easter in an article of the same title. He begins with this introduction to the subject: "That the Easter faith in the Resurrection of Christ is the core of Christianity can hardly be denied. Whether that conviction is rooted in myth, in hallucination, or in history has often been debated. Some have maintained that the Resurrection of Christ is a myth patterned after the prototypes of dying and rising fertility gods. Others argue that subjective visions of the risen Christ were sufficient to convince the disciples that their leader was not dead. Even those who do not doubt the historicity of Christ's life and death differ as to how the Resurrection may be viewed historically"...more

Death of Easter

Death of Easter


Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception

The month of December is the traditional time we celebrate Christmas in the United States and in many other countries throughout the world; we thought it might be a good idea to include the topic of Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception under Mythos in our Supernatural category. Christmas is a Christian feast dedicated to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. All Christian religions hold that Christ was born in the city of Bethlehem in Judea in the year 1 of the Gregorian calendar. Though the exact date of the birth of Christ is unknown, December 25 has become the traditional or mythical date agreed upon by most Christian communities.

Christ is said to have been born to a couple, Mary and Joseph. Accounts of his birth are treated in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke. Though Joseph was said to be the husband of Mary, gospel has it that Christ is not the birth son of Joseph. Mary is said to have given birth to Christ, but we are told by the gospels that Mary had never had carnal relations with any man prior to giving birth. The mythos here is that Mary is said to have conceived of Jesus not by man, but of the Holy Spirit (the third person in the Trinity consisting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). And Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of the Nativity and the miraculous Virgin Birth of Christ.


Nativity Scene

Because Jesus was conceived by a miraculous act between the third person of the Trinity and a human woman, Jesus is considered to be both man and God. Because Jesus is God, he is by nature free of sin (what Christians traditionally have called Original Sin or the "sin of Adam"). So Jesus is God made manifest to the world in human form, but completely devoid of sin. We could say that Jesus' conception was an immaculate conception, but that would be superfluous since God cannot, by definition, be marred by sin in the first place.

The Virgin Birth is specifically a reference to the mythos that Mary, a human woman, gave birth to a child without ever having engaged in sexual relations with a human man. The Virgin Birth is one of the mysteries of the Christian faith, specifically a mystery within the Catholic religion.

The mystery of faith that is the Virgin Birth has traditionally confused non-Catholic Christians and other religions. A popular confusion about the Virgin Birth is that it is the result of the Immaculate Conception. Many non-Catholics believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's impregnation in the absence of a human agent. But that is not what the Catholic mythos teaches.

In order that the son of God have the proper vessel for transubstantiating from spirit into flesh, the vessel (in this case Mary the mother of Jesus) had to be free of Original Sin. So Mary had to be treated in a very special way to prepare for the arrival of Jesus into the material world. Mary herself was conceived without sin (even though she had flesh and blood parents who engaged in normal sexual relations). And what Catholic dogma refers to as the Immaculate Conception is actually the conception of Mary herself free from the bonds of Original Sin and suffused with Divine Grace.

Immaculate Conception

La Inmaculada de Soult, 1678, Bartolomé E. Murillo