What does “heathen” mean and who determines what is “heathen?”The Oxford English Dictionary, as well as others, clearly state that the interchangeable terms of “heathen” and “pagan” refer to those outside the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim religions. Basically, it is anyone who does not believe in “one god” but may hold to a polytheistic view.
In the Old Testament, the word always referred to a Gentile or non-Jew. In later times, the term was adopted to mean only those untouched by Christian influences, that is, all others were regarded as primitive and unenlightened and, therefore, “heathen.”
“Heathenism” encompassed beliefs, practises, traditions, and words commonly used outside Christianity, and the word “church” is a good example (Oxford Dictionary). We see this concept represented during the “Dark Ages” and the time of the “Inquisitions.” A “pagan,” upon conversion, was then entitled to use the term “heathen” to describe others not converted to his new way of thinking.
Therefore, the following small list of words is meant only to stimulate study. There are many questions one could ask. Why were “heathen” words and ideas retained in “sacred” writings? Why were the names of so many “gods” kept, but not the name of “The One True God, if there were just one?” Further study reveals these answers, but we are not going to give those here at this time. It is up to the individual to make that discovery. What is “heathen” to one, may not be to another.
The etymologies of the words selected have a common origin. Dictionaries and encyclopedias confirm their primeval source. Authors researched and came to the same conclusion – that there were, indeed, many words and beliefs in the Scriptures that had their beginnings within “heathenism.”
Previously, a list of words was given, based on only one source. In doing our own comparative study, we found many other sources that corroborated the research done by C.J. Koster. All study should involve a variety of sources, however. Therefore, we present these same words, with the addition of a couple of new ones, but with a wider scope of reference. See the original document for the list of versions compared.
Commonly, accepted as meaning “so be it.” In actuality, “so be it” – both in Hebrew and Greek – is amein (pronounced Aw-MANE). (Strong’s Concordance)
In Egyptian mythology, Amen/Amen-Ra/Amon, was the god of life and procreation, which was also the same attributes of the Greek supreme sun diety, Zeus, “King of the Gods.”
Amen was also known as the bisexual god of the planet, Saturn; (one of the initial primeval pairs representing the air), the god of fertility who merged with the sungod, Ra, of Thebes.
Usually called “The Scriptures,” which is considered to be composed of individual “books” or “scrolls” and collectively given the name “Bible.”
The word “Bible” was first introduced about 400 AD (Richardson).
In ancient times, the term was used to mean any “written document.” Originally, all documents were written on papyrus. The Egyptian papyrus reed was imported through the Phoenician port of Gebal, which the Greeks called Byblos, or Byblus, (the home town of Philo). Egypt did a lively trade with Byblos, and, eventually, the inevitable happened. There was an exchange of “myths” between them. Egypt later gave one of their cities the name of Byblos.
Byblis/Byblos/Byblus was the goddess adopted by the area. She was reportedly the granddaughter of Apollo and was associated with Venus, who was also known as Aphrodite and various other names, depending on the culture who adopted her as their goddess – a sun-goddess of sensuality.
Koster states that the word Christos was easily confused with the common Greek proper name Chrestos, meaning “good.” There is little doubt that the pagans and the Christian authors of the first two centuries AD used the word synonymously with Christus/Chrestus/Christiani/and Chrestiani.
According to Realencyclopaedie, the inscription “Chrestos” is to be seen on a Mithras relief in the Vatican.
Osiris, the sun-god of Egypt, was revered as Chrestos – as was Mithra.
In the Synagogue of the Marcionites on Mount Hermon, built in the 3rd century AD, Jesus’ title is spelled Chrestos, This name was used by the common people of that time.
The Gnostics used the name “Christos” as the 3rd person in their godhead – Father, Spirit (the first woman), and Son, completing the “Divine Family” – a concept adopted by “Christianity.” (Legge)
Dictionaries usually give the meaning for this word as a “Christian building” or “a group of Christians.” The word used in most English versions is from the Greek ekklesia which means “a calling-out, a meeting, or a gathering.” This is the equivalent to the Hebrew word qahal, which means an “assembly or a congregation.” Again, Christianity adopted exclusivity.
The word “church” in Greek is actually kuriakon or kyriakon, which is a building or “the house of “Kurios,” or “Lord.” Kurios is the Greek form of the Latin Dominus/Domina (f).” This word was used synonymously for the god Jupiter. In the Sanskrit, Domina was the Great Mother Goddess, Kybele, who was also known as the “sensual goddess” – (Byblos/Aphrodite/Venus/Juno/Isis/Diana/Roma,etc.).
The origin of the word “church” is also attributed to the Anglo-Saxon root word Circe (pronounced and written as “Kirke”), who was a Greek goddess, daughter of Helios, the sun diety. She was reputed to be the goddess of degrading love, comparable to the Babylonian Ishtar, who was also known for her sorcery and herbal knowledge.
From Circe comes the nimbus or “circle of light” (aka “halo”). It is “halo” that gives the “hallowed” connotation.
Kurke/Curche was the Slavic spirit of corn to whom a rooster was sacrificed at the harvest festival. He was also associated with the grain weevil and had to be appeased, although he could turn into a protective and kindly deity. (Leach)
(See also: Easter.)
The “T” cross, or Tau cross is generally acknowledged to be “The Sacrificial” cross. It was used to signify the first letter of the god Tammuz. (Note that this is still the name of a month on the Jewish calendar.) The Egyptian ankh was also known as the Tau cross, i.e., a cross with a circle on top, which is now commonly used as the biological symbol for “female.”
Crosses were used long before the time of Jesus. The god Bacchus is shown with crosses on his headdress. In 134 BC in Syria, it was found that the cross was recognized as a symbol of victory over death.. (Biederman)
Hislop states that the Vestal Virgins of ancient pagan Rome wore crosses around their necks, just as the nuns do today.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that it was “ADOPTED by Christianity as the most solemn and significant symbol of the Christian faith.”
Crosses were used as symbols for the Babylonian sun god.
Koster quotes the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “In the Egyptian churches, the cross was a pagan symbol of life, borrowed by the Christians and interpreted in the pagan manner.”
After the supposed “vision of the cross” that Constantine witnessed, he promoted another variety called the Chi-Rho, or Labarum cross. This has been explained away as representing the first letters of the title of Christ, i.e., “Christos (CH and R, or in Greek, X and P). The identical symbol, however, has been found inscribed on rocks dating from 2500 BC, being interpreted as “a combination of the two Sun-symbols.” It was also used on coins of Ptolemeus III from 247-222 BC.
The labarum was also an emblem of the Chaldean sky god and has the definition “Everlasting Father Sun”.
The following versions have the symbol of the cross, either small or large, in a prominent place, usually on the cover or on the front or back of the title page:
An American Translation (Beck); Contemporary English Version; Douay-Rheims New Testament; English Version for the Deaf; The Jerusalem Bible; John Wesley New Testament; Kleist-Lilly New Testament; Knox Translation; Living Bible; Moffatt New Translation; New American Bible; New Century Version; New Jerusalem Bible; New Revised Standard Version; Noli New Testament; Reese Chronological Bible; Revised Standard Version; Riverside New Testament; The Scholars Version.
In Christianity, the cross is the symbol of the death of Jesus for the sins of the world. It is in this context that a symbol of the cross is used. All the Catholic versions use the symbol with the imprimatur. The Moffatt New Translation has the cross superimposed on a blue ball. Whether or not intended, that ball is the symbol of the sun. The cross, with the sun behind it, was the vision seen by Constantine at the time of is alleged conversion to Christianity. In keeping with tradition, the editors have used the pagan symbol of the cross to represent a symbol adopted by Christians as their own original.
Following the title page in An American Translation (Beck) is an explanation of a symbol on the cover. “This is the word for”cross” in papyrus 75, our oldest manuscript of Luke. … . If you spell out this Greek word, it is stauron. But the letters “au” are omitted and their omission is indicated by the line above the word. Then the “r,” which in Greek has the form of a “p,” is superimposed on the “t” so that we have a head suggesting a body on a cross.”
In the “Keyword Concordance” at the back of the Concordant Literal New Testament is the following definition of the word “cross:” “an upright stake or pole, without any crosspiece, now, popularly, cross.” Several examples are given as to where the word is used.
In the beginning of the New Evangelical Translation is a page describing the “chi-rho” symbol. “The symbol above is called a “chi-rho;” it reminds Christians of their Savior, Jesus Christ. This emblem is composed of two Greek letters (“chi” = “ch” and “rho” = “r”), which are superimposed on each other, and form an abbreviation of the Name “”CHR”IST.”” The “chi-rho” emblem also stands in the columns of the New Evangelical Translation (NET) New Testament text, indicating passages which directly quote those Old Testament promises which were fulfilled “in relation to” or “through” the work of the CHRIST!”
It is used to signify the “holy spirit.”
It has been long associated with Astarte/Ashtoreth, “The Great Mother” and her lover Adonis/Cupid.
It was a sacred emblem of all the “Great Mothers,” who also assumed the title of “The Queen of Heaven.”
“The doctrine of the Trinity “formulated at the time of the Council of Nicaea AD 325. In the Occident it led to the doctrine of tritheism…after the 10th century, it was forbidden to represent the Holy Spirit in human form. He was replaced by the figure of the Dove… .” (Biederman)
There are three definitions attributed to this word: (1) in religious symbolism, the complete representation of an emanation of light from the person of a sanctified being consisting of the aureole and the nimbus; (2) the quality of being radiant as the glory of the sun; and (3) any ring of light; a halo.
Neither the Greek word nor the Hebrew word used in the Bible have any of these meanings. The Greek doxa that is used, means “opinion, estimation, esteem, and repute.” The Hebrew kabad, that is used, means “to be heavy or make weighty, and esteem” in its figurative sense. Yet “glory” is the translation supposedly from these words.
“Gloria” was a Roman goddess who was a personification of fame and whose likeness was found on icons as a woman whose upper body was almost naked and holding a circle on which appeared the signs of the zodiac. (Koster)
The “halo” or circle of light around the heads of the “hallowed,” have been depicted as such since very ancient times.
The term usually refers to any diety. It is not a proper name, but a common, generalized title indicating someone above the “norm.” It was also used to elevate the status of human rulers.
The worship of such can be classified in three categories:
- polytheist: one who worships or has faith in many gods;
- henotheist: one who worships or has faith in one god, but recognizes that there are other gods;
- monotheist: one who worships or has faith in only one god (Christian, Jew, Muslim).
“Most Christians differ from other monotheists in that they believe in and worship a triune and incarnate God.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)
The word “God” has a Teutonic origin applied to ALL the superhuman beings of mythologies and was later converted into meaning only “One God.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)
In Hebrew, “God” is written asGD, without the vowel, but with Massoretic vowel points, GD not only becomes “God” but “Gad,” who was a Syrian/Canaanite deity of good luck and was identified with Jupiter, the sun diety.
“God” is usually translated from the Hebrew as Elohim – which is plural. According to Zechariah Sitchin in several of his books and forwards in others, Elohim literally means “those who came down.” He has theories of who “THEY” were and how “THEY” came down.
The singular form for God in the Hebrew is El who was the supreme god of the pantheons of Phoenicia, Canaan, and Syria, who, with his wife Asherat and his son Baal, formed a triad. He was considered remote and an all-powerful god associated with the sky. (Leach)
Circe (See Church, above.), the “daughter of the sun,” is from where we obtain the word “circle.” The circle was the nimbus or halo seen around the heads of the “hallowed.” This was the reason for the naming of Saturn – because of its rings – and after the Greek god. Saturnalia was the winter festival honoring Saturn. This was the forerunner to the Christian holiday of Christmas. (See Christmas.)
The equivalent of “holy” in the Germanic languages is heilig, from the root word heile, which means the “sun’s rays.” Heil was a Saxon sun god. This is the same word used for salutations, as in “Heil Hitler.”
“Holi” was the goddess of dancing and singing in India and who tried to poison the baby Krishna. It is the Great Hindu spring festival held in honor of the sun-god, Krishna.
It is a name used synonymously with Yahshua and Iesous.
Sources agree that the name Jesus, can be traced back to the Latin Iesus and the Greek Iesous. Koster states that Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon associates the “healing god” Iesous with the “healing goddess” Ieso. Jesus was also a “healing god.” Asclepius, Ieso’s father, was the diety of healing and his father was Apollo, the great sun diety.
The common abbreviation for Iesous was IHS, which is found on many inscriptions of the “Church.” IHS was the mystery name of Bacchus, aka Tammuz. Both were known as “The Fish” god. Jesus was also associated with fish, and thus his name was used synonymously – Jesus/Iesous/Ichthus (fish).
Ichthys was Dagon, the fish god of Babylonia, and was just another name for Bacchus/Tammuz.
The Church began to use this association in the 4th century with the Latin piscina meaning “fish pond,” which was the baptismal font. New converts were referred to as pisciculi or “little fish.” Note that there are many referrals to fish in the course of the life of Jesus – “fishers of men,” “bread and fish meals.” Jesus likened to Jonah, etc.
Buddha, as well as Jesus, was known as a “Fisher of Men.”
It is noted in the Vedic belief, before the time of Jesus, that fish were “saviors” and “instruments of revelation.”
In the cultures of Egypt, the Celtic, Indian, Mesopotamia, Burma, Persia, and France, two fish denoted temporal and spiritual power, but that three fish with one head portrayed the unity of the Trinity symbolism (Cooper, Fontana).
Hall states that Christians still use the fish symbol as in ancient times.
Cooper states that “the fish headdresses of the priests of Ea later became the mitre of Christian bishops” and that in “Phoenicia, Phyrgia, and Syria, fish was the eucharistic food of the priests of Atargatis.” Thus, the custom of fish on Fridays. For “Ishtar/Nina/Isis/Venus, their day was Friday on which day fish was eaten in their honor.” (Cooper)
Fish was an important element of the “sacramental meals in several cults in antiquity.”
“Hebrew tradition prepared the way for this extensive symbolism. Fishes represented the faithful and were food of the Sabbath and paradise” (Tresidder). Adar, the Jewish month of Passover, corresponds to the month of the “Fish”, or Pisces of the zodiac.
This is a title applied to all deities, heathen or not. It is used synonymously with “god” and “master.”
The “name” of “God” was substituted with the Greek Kurios (Lord), as in the Latin Vulgate where “the name” was substituted with Dominus. For years, this was accepted solely as a “title.”
In Latin, Dominus/Domus/Dom are used synonymously for the god, Jupiter.
Domus also means “house” (dome in French) which was construed to mean “the vault of heaven” or the “cosmic dome”. This explains why so many countries display “domes” on their buildings as the main feature and why the “Dome of the Rock” in Jerusalem is so sought after.
From the Sanskrit, damunas/demunas is the name for the sun diety Agni, as well as a host of others, including Venus/Sakra, “the morning star.” (See Revelation 2:28 and 22:16)
In the Hebrew, “Lord” often replaces the supposed name of “God.”.
According to Ayto, “Testament” was derived from an ancient Indo-European word tris, meaning three or “third person who was a party to an agreement and thus would be a disinterested witness to it.” The word comes from a family of words with the root being “testis” or “witness” – which is the meaning preferred by Christians. It literally means to “bear witness” to a man’s virility (testicle) and is the reason for the ancient oath-binding ceremonies that called for men to grab each other’s testicles while declaring an oath (this is referred to as “thigh” in the Bible).
He did not seem to make an appearance until circa 1200 BC. His origin is Judaic. He seems to be a local god who demanded complete obedience.
He was “the creator god of the southern tribes of Israel…eventually superseded the northern god El to become supreme deity of Israel.” (Jordan)
“During Hellenic occupation, the sanctuary of Yhwh on Mt. Gerizim in Sumaria (northern kingdom) was rededicated to Zeus. The name Yhwh survived into Christian religion though, in English translation, it is now generally replaced by the term “Lord”.. “Jehovah” is a corruption introduced circa 12-1300 AD.” (Jordan)
- Ayto, John. Dictionary of Word Origins. 1990.
- Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism. 1992.
- Brandon, S.G.F. Dictionary of Comparative Religion. 1970.
- Bruce-Mitford. The Illustrative Book of Signs and Sumbols. 1996.
- Chevalier, Jean, and Gheerbrant, Alain. A Dictionary of Symbols. 1994.
- Cooper, J.C. An Illustrative Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols. 1978.
- Dowson, John. A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology. 1973.
- Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought. 1990.
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- Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 1926.
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- Glazier, Michael, and Hellwig, Monika K., editors. The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia. 1994.
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- Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons. 1916.
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- Leach, Marjorie. Guide to the Gods. 1992. (which also lists thirty “resurrection” gods)
- Legge, Frances. Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity. 1964.
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- Tresidder, Jack. Dictionary of Symbols. 1997.
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