Mithra(s) and Jesus
I can't resist replying to Pete's claim that the Jesus 'myth' was copied from the pagan Mithra 'myth'. Let me set out differences between Mithra(s)/ Mithraism and Jesus/ Christianity, as follows:
Mithraism was a new religion founded in the 1st century BC that borrowed the name of a Persian god to make it sound exotic.
Christianity sprang from monotheistic Judaism in the 1st Century AD.
Mithra(s) the god was born from a hollow egg-shaped rock.
Jesus was born of a virgin.
Mithraism maintained strict secrecy about its teachings and practices.
Christianity, except when locally forced into hiding from persecution, was an open society.
Mithraism excluded female devotees.
Christianity was open equally to men and women.
Mithraism's temples were natural caves or artificial tunnels.
Early Christians met mostly in peoples' homes.
Mithraism is thought to have produced no literature. Its beliefs can only be deduced today from temple icons and artifacts.
Christianity produced the New Testament and patristic writings.
Mithraism's icon, found in every Mithraic temple, is of a man slaying a bull.
Christianity has never been identified with bull iconography.
Mithraism's icon, as interpreted by modern scholars, is an astronomical star map illustrating the signs of the zodiac.
Christianity has never been associated with astrology.
The 'X' appearing in Mithraic iconography is a sign borrowed from Platonism.
The 'X' in Christian iconography is a sign of the cross.
For more information on Mithraism read "The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries" by David Ulansey.
For more information of Christianity read the New Testament.
When Pliny the Younger, AD 61-112, the governor of Bithynia, wrote to Emperor Trajan to explain beliefs and practices of the early Christians his description matches beliefs and practices of various modern Christian denominations. It doesn't in any way relate to the beliefs and practices of Mithraism. The Christians about whom Pliny wrote belonged to a society whose members faced lions in the Roman Colosseum. They faced death gladly because they wouldn't burn incense to the emperor's statue. Mithraism's devotees would have had no qualms about doing that.
In conclusion, if there is a link between Mithraism and Christianity it can be established only with the various gnostic sects that sprang up from the 2nd century AD. A number of popular so-called scholarly books, e.g. Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code", have been written to promote gnosticism as authentic Christianity. Authors of such 'scholarly' works must either be ignorant of history or intellectually dishonest. I leave your contributors to judge.