Two Coins for The Boatman - Part Two

The similarities in Christianity to the Norse religions are represented by the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son who is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. One God in three persons, the three persons are distinct, yet are one in substance, essence and nature. In this context, "nature" is what one is, while a "person" is who one is.

The work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons in which each demonstrates what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are "from the Father", "through the Son" and "in the Holy Spirit". The Father is NOT the Son or Holy Spirit, The Son is NOT the Father or Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is NOT the Father or the Son.

The shield of the Trinity

In Christianity there is a final judgment where God is on a Great White Throne with Jesus sits on His right hand side. Those who sided against God and Jesus in life are ultimately cast into a Lake of Fire by Angels. (Rev. 20:11-15, Matthew 20:20-23, 25:31-41, Acts 2:30-33, Matthew 13:41-43, 49-50).

HEAVEN AND HELL

In Greek mythology, the soul would be sent to either Elysium, Tartarus or the Asphodel Fields. Elysium, was initially a separate place from Hades, and was reserved for those who were related to the gods. Elysium later expanded to include the righteous and the heroic. These souls would remain in Elysium after death and live a blessed and happy life indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life.

The Elysian Fields consisted of green fields, valleys and mountains, everyone there was peaceful and contented, and the Sun always shined there.

Elysium is similar to Heaven in Christianity which has mansions and rewards given to Christians by Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ. An exception in Heaven from Elysium, is there is no job or work in Heaven. Heaven is a large part of the Christian faith, in the Bible, there are 691 verses that speak of Heaven. (John 14:2, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 22:1-5)

PUNISHMENT

In contrast, Tartarus was the deep abyss that was used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. Tartarus was for people that blasphemed against the gods, or were simply rebellious and consciously evil.

In Tartarus, the soul would be punished by being burned in lava, or stretched on racks. Tartarus as the final place of judgment is akin to the Lake of Fire in Christianity because the Lake of Fire is the final judgment where all the wicked, fallen Angels, Satan, the Anti Christ, the false Prophet and the inhabitants of Hell and the physical place of Hell itself are cast in to the Lake after the final judgment of God. (Revelation 19: 20, 20:9-15, 21:8)

The Asphodel Fields, was a place where ordinary people were sent after death, it is also referred to as the Fields of Punishment because a section of the fields gave harsher punishments than that given at the Asphodel fields. The Asphodel Fields were for those whose sins equaled their goodness, or those who were indecisive in their lives, ones who never took a side, as in Christianity where Jesus rejects the lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16). The Fields of Punishment were for people that had sinned often, but not so much as to be deserving of Tartarus.

This divide between these fields is akin to Paradise and Hell of Christianity, which existed in proximity with a great gulf dividing them, prior to the resurrection of Christ in Christianity. (Luke 16:19-31)

DEGREES OF PUNISHMENT AND REWARDS

The aspect of degrees of punishment and rewards in Greek Mythology are also present in Biblical text.

In the book of Leviticus 20:8-27 God gives Moses rules that would govern the children of Israel. Cursing your parents, adultery, incest among mothers, sons, fathers and daughters-in-law, homosexuality, communing with familiar spirits and sex with animals are all punishable by death.

Other sins like incest with a sister or seeing your sister naked, having sex with a woman during her menstrual cycle, sex with an aunt, sleeping with your brother’s wife, don’t carry death as a penalty. This suggest that God Himself sees sin in a manner of degree.

In theology:

  • Venial sins are minor sins, white lies, completely forgivable, like telling your kid to say you’re not at home when you really are, to someone on the phone.

  • Unintentional sins are those sins you are not aware of, like borrowing someone’s pen, and walking off with it absent mindedly.

  • Presumptuous sins which are intentional

  • Mortal sins which are unto death, bringing judgment on yourself (Galatians 5:16-21; Rev 14:9-10).

In Christianity Jesus spoke of degrees of punishment and rewards: (Matthew 11:22-24, Matt. 10:14-15, Matt. 26:24, Matt 5:12, Luke 6:23, Luke 20:46-47, John 19:11)

TWO COINS FOR THE BOATMAN

In Greek mythology, those who died an honorable death would get a coin referred to as Charon’s Obol, a Greek coin called an Obolus or they would use a Danake coin from the Persian Empire, this coin was placed on the eyes, in or on the mouth. These coins were given to Charon to pay for passage across the Styx.

In the event one could travel back across to Styx to the world of the living, they would need the second coin to give Charon for their return. When a warrior died, like Achilles for example, two coins were placed on their eyes, hoping they would return from the dead.

In a trip to the underworld, heroes such as Hercules, Orpheus, Aeneas, Dante, Dionysus and Psyche journeyed to the underworld and returned alive.

This is akin to Christianity’s rapture where the dead rejoin with their bodies, and more broadly, go back to heaven and return to earth to witness Armageddon and participate in the thousand-year reign with Christ on earth. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Revelation 19:11-21, 20:3-6)

The souls of those not given a proper burial or those who were not given coins on their corpse could not pay the fee to Charon. These had to wander the shores of the River Styx for one hundred years. All the other dead that wait at the Styx for Charon would stand near a place where the wrongly convicted and those committing suicide had to reside with no hope of ever crossing the Styx. For those who could not cross, watching others cross the Styx is part of their torment. Today, any examples of these coins in any denominations are considered some of the most rarest and valuable grave goods of antiquity. Grave goods are the items buried along with a body.

JEWISH TRADITION

Biblical accounts predate Greek mythology, which covers the periods c.1100 BC to 800 BCE. The Judaic faith starts 1000 years earlier with Abram who lived around 2100 BCE in what is now modern day Iraq. As a practical matter, the basis of the Christian faith starts with Adam and his sons giving the first sacrifices for the remission of sins, sacrosanct to the first prophesy and promise of a savior Genesis 3:15, but more broadly its emphasized with the account of Abram, where the promise of God to the Israelites begins, through Ismael and Isaac, the sons of Abraham.

The largest Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Christians refer to Abraham as the father of the faith. Romans 4:11-12, there is an Islamic religious term, Millat Ibrahim (which means faith of Ibrahim) which suggest that Islam sees itself as having practices tied to the traditions of Abraham.

Jewish tradition claims descendance from Abraham, they follow his practices as the first of the three spiritual "fathers" or biblical Patriarchs being: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Abraham is recorded in the Law (first five books of the bible) as the ancestor of the Israelites through his son Isaac, born to Sarah through a promise made by God in Genesis 17:16. All variants of Judaism through the early 20th century were founded by Israelite descendants.

Most Christians are considered gentiles or non-Jews, who consider themselves “grafted” into the family of God, who are the chosen people of God (originally Jews only) under the New Covenant. The vast majority of Jews are not Messianic Jews, or followers of Christ. (Romans 11:17-24)

In the Islamic tradition Muhammad as an Arab, is descended from Abraham's son Ishmael. Jewish tradition also equates the descendants of Ishmael as Ishmaelites, with Arabs as the descendants of Isaac through his son Jacob, who was also later known as Israel, originating the term Israelites or children of Israel. (Genesis 32:28)

To the Jews, Abraham and his wife Sarah are the first Jews, the founding patriarchs of the children of Israel. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was the first post-Flood prophet to reject idolatry. (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 17:7-8)

Christians view Abraham as a spiritual, as well as physical ancestor of Jesus. For Christians, Abraham is a spiritual forebear as well as rather than a direct ancestor depending on the interpretation of the circumcision. (Romans 4:9-12)

If the Abrahamic covenant is reinterpreted so as to be defined by faith in Christ rather than by any biological descent, or one could view it both by faith as well as a direct ancestor; in any case, the emphasis is placed on faith being the only requirement for the Abrahamic Covenant to apply.

ABRAHAMS COVENANTS

In Genesis 12 and 15, God grants Abraham land and descendants but does not place any stipulations (unconditional). By contrast, in Genesis 17 the covenant of the circumcision is applied (conditional). Circumcision is to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and his male descendants and is known as the “brit-milah”. (Genesis 17:9-14)

Covenants in biblical times were often sealed by severing or cutting in half an animal. The implication was that the party who breaks the covenant will suffer a similar fate as the animal. The removal of the foreskin of men symbolically represents a sealing of the covenant with God and men. Covenants could only be made with men.

The specific covenant of Abraham was to make Abraham a great nation and to bless him and make his name great so that he will be a blessing to others, to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him and all people on earth would be blessed through Abraham. (Genesis 12:1-3)

To give Abraham's descendants all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. (Genesis 15:18-21) Later, this land came to be referred to as the Promised Land or the Land of Israel. The children of Israel were made slaves by the Egyptians and was prophetically spoken to Abraham hundreds of years in advance. (Genesis 15:13-15) This slavery last for 400 years and introduces the children of Israel to the perpetual idolatry of the Egyptians.

EGYPT

The Ancient Egyptian's had complicated polytheistic beliefs, which is to say they believed in multiple gods. The afterlife played an important role in Ancient Egypt, its belief system is one of the earliest known in recorded history. When the body died, parts of its soul and personality would go to the Kingdom of the Dead. Heaven or Paradise is referred to as the Fields of Aaru, or the Egyptian reed fields.

A concept later adopted by the Romans who at one time referred to Heaven as the field of reeds.

This is often depicted as a person wondering through wheat fields until they see their loved ones, who then run into each others arms and embrace.

The god Osiris demanded work as restitution in the afterlife for the protection he provided during ones lifetime, so statuettes were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.

Arriving at one's reward in the afterlife required a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords and formulae of the Book of the Dead. After a series of test issued by the gods, if one survived, you would come to a place called the Hall of Two Truths. The deceased's heart was weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma’at.

If the heart was lighter than the feather, they could pass on into Paradise, but if it were heavier they would be devoured by the demon Ammit who was known as the devourer or soul-eater. Ammit was a female demon in ancient Egyptian religion with a body that was part lion, part hippopotamus and part crocodile—the three largest "man-eating" animals known to ancient Egyptians.

Egyptians also believed that being mummified and put in a sarcophagus (an ancient Egyptian "coffin" carved with complex symbols and designs, as well as pictures and hieroglyphs from the book of the dead) was the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a Mastaba, could the dead live again.

A Mastaba was a flat-roofed rectangular structure that marked a burial place. Mastaba’s were constructed out of mud-bricks (from the Nile River) or stone. The Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewelry, and 'curses'. They sometimes place the book in the opening of the mouth, like the coins for Charon in Greek mythology.

BOOK OF THE DEAD

The Book of the Dead was written by the priest or scribes of the Pharaoh, the incantations were designed to hide the sins of the Pharaoh from the gods during a series of test they must pass in the afterlife. The advent of confession by the Catholic Church is adopted from this exercise. Although there is no reference to reincarnation in the Talmud or any prior writings, reincarnation is recognized as being part and parcel of Jewish tradition. Within the Bible itself, the idea of reincarnation is implied in what Christians call the Rapture, where the spirit and soul rejoins the body after death and ascends back to Heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)

Mainstream Christianity professes belief in the Nicene Creed, Christian eschatology is concerned with death, an intermediate state, which is the existence between one's death and the resurrection, Heaven, Hell, the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, a rapture, a tribulation, the Millennium, end of the world, the last judgment, a new heaven and a new earth, and the ultimate consummation of all of God's purposes for man.

Eschatological or end times passages are found in many places in the Bible, especially Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, and the Book of Revelation. Although punishments are part of the Christian concepts of the afterlife, there is also punishment during ones lifetime for sins as well.

The Book of the Dead is in direct contrast to the view of Christianity in many ways, beyond the polytheistic view, it suggest that God can be deceived which is a singular distinction of the Egyptian view of the afterlife. Most Christians deny that entry into Heaven can be earned, rather it is a gift that is solely God's to give through his unmerited grace and mercy. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

However, not all Christian sects accept this doctrine, creating many controversies on grace, free will and the idea of predestination espoused by Calvinist. Predestination is the belief that God decides in advance who will be saved and as a result there is nothing one could do to change the outcome, however, this is not in accordance with the orthodox Christian theology.

Christianity depicts a sharp distinction, souls receive salvation from the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, those who accept Him as their savior will live in Heaven for an interim period, be rewarded for their work on earth, experience the rapture, witness Armageddon, experience the millennium reign of Christ on earth and the final judgment.

(Salvation- John 3:12-18, Acts 4:10-12, Romans 10:9-13, Rewards-Romans 14:10-12, 2Corinthians 5:10, Rapture-1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, Armageddon-Revelation 19:10-21, Millennium-Revelation 20:4-6, Final Judgment-Revelation 20:8-15)

During the fifth Egyptian dynasty (2494 - 2345 BC) the Egyptian religion identified itself with the midday sun and the god Ra. The major religious centre of Ra was a place called Heliopolis, where Ra was identified with the local sun-god Amun who was a local deity of Thebes and later known as Amun-Ra. He was also seen as the first god and the originator of the Ennead, a group of nine gods in Egyptian mythology.

The Ennead consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephtys. A lot like the Titans and their children, which came to known as the Olympians, which is similar to Christianity where God has a Son in Jesus, only different in that Jesus is not a god created through any union of another god. Jesus is a being as with God and the Holy Spirit having no beginning and no end, one who exist from the beginning as God does.

Ra was eventually merged with the god Horus and is depicted with the head of a falcon or a hawk. He was thought to rule all parts of the created world, the sky, the earth and the underworld. He was worshipped as the creator god himself and most directly and specifically by his followers at Heliopolis.

Heliopolis was one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, and the capital of Lower Egypt known as Ta-Mehu which means "land of papyrus." It was divided into twenty districts called nomes, the first of which was at el-Lisht. Lower Egypt was mostly undeveloped scrubland filled with all types of plant life. This area is now found at the north-east edge of Cairo.

Ra was thought to travel on two solar boats called the “Mandjet” the Boat of Millions of Years. These boats took him on his journey through the sky and the Duat, which is the underworld of Egypt. When Ra traveled in his sun boat he was accompanied by a number of other gods, sometimes by members of the Ennead. The Mesektet, or the Night boat, would carry Ra through the underworld and back towards the east in preparation for his rebirth.

These aspects associated with Ra represented the sun rising as the rebirth and renewal of Ra and his role as the creator correlates with salvation in Christianity and becoming born again by accepting Jesus as ones savior, in addition to the advent of the rejoining with ones physical body in the rapture prior to the tribulation. The resurrection of Christ in a glorified body and reigning in Heaven with glory is all is akin to the aspect rebirth. Notwithstanding, the rebirth of mankind in the biblical story of Noah and the flood.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Revelation 3:10, Matthew 19:28, Genesis 6:7-17)

There are many merges of Ra with other gods in Egyptian religion, as well as outside Egypt in Ancient Libya and Nubia. Through these associations he was known as Zeus Ammon and came to be identified with Zeus in Ancient Greece. All these associations of Ra within the sub cultures of Egyptians are what give Ra the attribution of the creator God. But none more than when Ra was in the underworld, there he merged with Osiris, the god of the dead, and through it Ra became the god of the dead as well. In this regard the similarities of the religious beliefs of the Egyptians corresponds with the Greeks and the River Styx.

Why Christians Believe What They Believe 

© 2020 Tony - Antonakis Maritis