Yes, this was a comment. I made it its own post because I think it’s interesting and I wanted to and that way I feel like I’ve made more entries to my blog this week. Lazy sod.
Mithraism and Christianity both started up in popularity at about the same time (1st Century CE). Mithraism was a very upper-class religion, whereas Christianity was “the slave’s religion”. Under Mithraism the Taurobolia was a blood baptism rite. A bull was slaughtered and the initiate was baptisted in the blood. Oftentimes this happened as the bull was slaughtered over a floor with holes in it. The initiate stood in a chamber underneath and was covered in the warm blood as it rained down.
Obviously this was a costly practice–bulls are not cheap! Christianity’s water baptism was a more cost-effective rite (the water symbolising the same thing as the blood.)
Ironically, Christianity probably gained prominance because of feminism. Mithraism was a bit hostile toward women initiates–not allowing very many women to practice the faith. The disgruntled women then turned to Christianity–another mystery religion with many similarities.
Around the 4th Century CE, Mithraism became outlawed and many of its practices were subsumed into what is now Catholicism. As we’ve all seen, the Mithraic attitude toward women came with the package.
As for something Adam said above–this is important.
Protestants and Anabaptists are not the same thing. I know I say this over and over again, but as long as folks fail to understand this, the differences between the Baptism rites of the churches don’t make sense. Protestants generally adhere more closely to Catholic rites–which adhere more closely to Mithraic origins. Hence the “sprinkling” baptism–like the bull blood sprinkling down.
Anabaptists (those who believe in adult baptism) use dunking. They are adamant about being seperate from Catholic rites entirely–in fact for many centuries the Anabaptists had a great anti-Catholic prejudice. The dunking practice is a) a disavowal of the Catholic sprinkling/infant baptism/christening and b)an attempt to return to the “early church” by baptising the way Jesus was baptised in the river.
Baptism throughout history has been a key component of mystery religions. While on the surface it appears similar to the practice of Mikvah (they both involve water) it is actually not at all derived from Mikvot rites. The purposes of Mikvot are different and not Mystical in origin. It is most likely that John the Baptist–as a practitioner of a mystical subset of Judaism–incorporated the rite of immersion baptism after study of other Mystery religions. Or–if you choose to believe–upon divine revelation during his purification rite in the desert. As a Mystical Christian I tend to believe the latter.
Now if you will excuse me I am going to bribe my dog to come in so I can lie back down.
The collected works of Roger Beck I have personally read whatever I can get my hands on of his.
A STUDY OF MYSTERY INITIATIONS IN THE GRAECO-ROMAN WORLD
BY HAROLD R. WILLOUGHBY
(Full text available online–not under copyright. Original copyright 1929)
A Brief History Of Christian Baptism
(I don’t care for this source, as it is brief and very Christocentric. It doesn’t take much comparative study into account and is clearly a primer for Christians. This is fine if you just want to know the basics, but for deeper information there needs to be much deeper reading, I think.
I’m going through my notes and papers to find other sources that aren’t so easily googled.