Known as Mitra to the Indians, Mithra and Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek) to the Iranians, and Mithras to the Romans, this is the oldest of all living deities. Mithras was recognized as the greatest rival of Christianity, a greater threat even than the religion of Isis. If Rome had not become Christian, it would have become Mithrasian. Mithraisians had a sacrament that included wine as a symbol of sacrificial blood. Bread in wafers, or small loaves marked with a cross, was used to symbolize flesh. The priestly symbols were a staff, a ring, a hat, and a hooked sword; members were called brothers, and priests were called "Father." Mithras was born on December 25th. He offered salvation based on faith, compassion, knowledge, and valor. He appealed to the poor, the slave and the freeman, as well as to the Roman aristocracy, the militia, and even to some emperors. The Christians sacked his temples, burned his books, and attacked his followers; they desecrated his temples, and built their own churches on the same foundations as the old Mithraic temples. Cooper examines Mithras and his religion in the most complete study ever done. He explores the various forms of this god--worshiped from Lisbon to modrn Bangladesh, from the Scottish border to the Russian Steppes--and investigates the worship. This is an exciting journey into living mythology, the history of a living god, and will fascinate modern Western readers who want to know more about the spiritual path--whether they want to better understand contemporary Christianity, the basis of many contemporary ideaologies, mythology, or the Western Mystery Tradition.
D. Jason Cooper
Brand: Red Wheel / Weiser
Used Book in Good Condition
Red Wheel / Weiser
Red Wheel / Weiser
Red Wheel / Weiser
Red Wheel / Weiser
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cooper's annotated bibliography identifies 29 works, and he indicates the way in which each assists readers in rediscovering the nature of early Christianity's most powerful rival religion. Episcopal priest Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie (1871-1940) asserted Mithrasism contributed more than Judaism to the story of Jesus--whose birth was fixed on the same date as that of Mithras, his predecessor. Guthrie is cited in this text (p. 160) for his contention that the classical world was not interested in codifying dogmatic unity into its systematic theologies. Cooper suggests early Mithrasism and Christianity were not monoliths of homogeneity, but just as diverse in their beliefs and practices as religions today.
This was an interesting book from the standpoint of Cooper tends to propose theories based on his experience as an occultist rather than from a scholars approach. This is a fresh approach and I believe offers some insight into the nature of the religion. However, Cooper was quick to attack modern scholarship on several points and then turns around a builds theories of Mithras worship based on his own subjective views of occultism. I think it would've been more prudent of Cooper to compare the mystery religions of the day to Mithras rather than modern occult groups like the Golden Dawn and Free Masons - something that he critisizes scholars of doing with Mithras and Christianity. Over-all the book is a good introduction to Mithras - for occultists.
Cooper's Mithras makes for a quick and relatively good overview of the Mithraic religion is practiced primarily in the Roman Empire. It is not an especially academic or technical book, but rather looks at the phenomenon from the point of view of a mystery religion, a quasi secret society having much in common with other secret groups such as the Templars, Freemasons, and more recently the Golden Dawn. This Mithras is examined from the magical and initiatory points of view.
Cooper looks at the nature of the God figure, the general outlines of the 'cult' and his worship, the layout of the standard (and almost never varied) Mithraeum and its fixtures, with special attention to the image of the Tauroctony and some of the more common ancillary images. Then he turns to the seven individual grades or degrees of the order, their signs and meanings, and as much of their function in the religion as can be established from the limited information available to us. Inasmuch as the...
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