In response to this, professor Nash comments that: "...any
conclusion along this line can be, at best, only an inference from Plutarch’s text,
which itself makes no such claim. All Plutarch states explicitly is that some of the pirates practiced Mithraic mysteries and that some of them in all likely hood were taken to Rome as
trophies of Pompey’s victory. But Plutarch himself does not state that Mithraism was
established in Italy in or before 67 B.C.
However, if the critics are right in their interpretation of Plutarch, it is only by speculations and assumptions that lead them (the critics) to assume that the alleged
of Mithra was in practices as an ideology in its very earliest development in Rome. Even at its peek of popularity in the 2nd-4th centuries we are still left with no primary evidence to indicate a resurrection of Mithra. It is also worth noting that Mithriac scholars of the
First International Congress of Mithraic Studies
acknowledge that there exists today an ideology problem in tracing Mithraic belief.
One scholar lamented that:
"At present our knowledge of both general and local cult practice in respect of rites of passage, ceremonial feats and even
is based more on conjecture than on fact."
Moreover, the Greco-Roman scholar Richard Gordon advises us that there is
So if there is no death of Mithras, how are we able to identify that there was any type of resurrection at all? The lack of any artifacts dated prior to 90 A.D. seems to im
ply that Plutarch’s reference to
the Mithras religion was in all probability to a very small and secretive society (if indeed the
critics are right in interpreting Plutarch’s reference).
The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization
estimates that at its height in popularity [2nd - 5th centuries], it never encompassed more than 2% of the population.
It is at this point, that when we look back and try to speculate what percentage of the population was influenced by a more primitive prototype of Mithriasm, that we begin to see the improbability of such an influence on the writers of the New Testament. Mithraism was basically a military cult which excluded women. Therefore, one must be skeptical about suggestions that it appealed to nonmilitary people like the early Christians. Two Mithras
Most critics are unaware that there are two distinct forms of this pagan mystery religion under the same name - Mithra. They are Roman Mithraism, and Iranian Mithraism. Critics more times than not confuse the two forms in an attempt to trace Roman Mithraism as far back as they can. However, these two versions of Mithraism have no direct connection with each other. Critics respond to this by saying:
"...Mithraism arose in the region of what is now Iran and spread to
Rome. Roman forms of worship may have been different than those in Persia/Iran, but to say that there's no direct