The Necessity of the Resurrection
Why Was the Resurrection Necessary in Christianity?
Ancient religions often featured themes of resurrection and rebirth--it was just how people back then operated mentally. They were very closely tied to the land, especially at lower social levels. Early Christian leaders utilized existing popular imagery to sell their new religion.
Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, ca. 178 CE:
CHAP. XIII.--THE RESURRECTION PROVED BY EXAMPLES.
Then, as to your denying that the dead are raised--for you say, "Show me even one who has been raised from the dead, that seeing I may believe,"--first, what great thing is it if you believe when you have seen the thing done? Then, again, you believe that Hercules, who burned himself, lives; and that AEsculapius, who was struck with lightning, was raised; and do you disbelieve the things that are told you by God? But, suppose I should show you a dead man raised and alive, even this you would disbelieve. God indeed exhibits to you many proofs that you may believe Him. For consider, if you please, the dying of seasons, and days, and nights, how these also die and rise again. And what? Is there not a resurrection going on of seeds and fruits, and this, too, for the use of men? A seed of wheat, for example, or of the other grains, when it is cast into the earth, first dies and rots away, then is raised, and becomes a stalk of corn. And the nature of trees and fruit-trees,--is it not that according to the appointment of God they produce their fruits in their seasons out of what has been unseen and invisible? Moreover, sometimes also a sparrow or some of the other birds, when in drinking it has swallowed a seed of apple or fig, or something else, has come to some rocky hillock or tomb, and has left the seed in its droppings, and the seed, which was once swallowed, and has passed though so great a heat, now striking root, a tree has grown up. And all these things does the wisdom of God effect, in order to manifest even by these things, that God is able to effect the general resurrection of all men. And if you would witness a more wonderful sight, which may prove a resurrection not only of earthly but of heavenly bodies, consider the resurrection of the moon, which occurs monthly; how it wanes, dies, and rises again. Hear further, O man, of the work of resurrection going on in yourself, even though you are unaware of it. For perhaps you have sometimes fallen sick, and lost flesh, and strength, and beauty; but when you received again from God mercy and healing, you picked up again in flesh and appearance, and recovered also your strength.Lambchop commentary:
And as you do not know where your flesh went away and disappeared to, so neither do you know whence it grew, Or whence it came again. But you will say, "From meats and drinks changed into blood." Quite so; but this, too, is the work of God, who thus operates, and not of any other.
So, back to your question [asked on Disqus about why the Resurrection was even necessary]. Themes of renewal and rebirth were extremely popular within religions, because people were largely agrarian. They were knee-deep in the land and its cycles. They eagerly looked forward to the warming of the earth with spring and welcomed the new shoots, sprouts, and baby animals. They looked forward to this time of year especially during the dead of winter, particularly if their stores of food were becoming depleted, given that food was scarce. So a theme of the dead returning to life was of great reassurance to people living that hardscrabble existence. That's why they put the "miracle" of the jeez emerging from his hole, seeing his shadow, and then flying around the world to deliver bird- and bunny-themed candies and colored eggs to all the good little girls and boys, in the springtime, at the festival of the Eostre, the Goddess of Spring. Given the details in the Gospels, it is far more likely that the writers originally had the Jewish fall festival, the Feast of Tabernacles, in view, for their supposed "triumphal entry" (do you have *any* idea how many Jewish men rode into Jerusalem on donkeys on any give day??) with the jeezy execution 6 months later, in the spring. Read more here if you're interested in the details that result in that conclusion.
So ANYHOW, there was no shortage of dying/rising gods back then. It was absolutely commonplace, as the first Christian apologist, 2nd Century CE Justin Martyr, points out:
And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; AEsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods.
Moreover, the Son of God called Jesus, even if only a man by ordinary generation, yet, on account of His wisdom, is worthy to be called the Son of God; for all writers call God the Father of men and gods. And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic Word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated.
As you can see, even the "crucifixion" angle was pedestrian. There is NOTHING that was "new" about Christianity. Copycats all the way down.
And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn. Source
See, Justin is the one who said that the blatantly obvious similarities between Christianity and the religions already in existence was because "wicked devils" persued the Jewish scriptures and could see so very clearly that it was full of prophecies of the Christian jeez and none other that they preemptively established religions with those same characteristics so that, when the jeez made its advent as supposedly foretold, everyone would say, "Oh, that's just a cheap knockoff of OUR religion!" So very clever, those "wicked devils"... Here's the section - it's kind of a slog:
CHAPTER LIV -- ORIGIN OF HEATHEN MYTHOLOGY.Here is an image of the "Orpheus Bacchus Amulet", which shows Orpheus Bacchus crucified:
But those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race. For having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ was to come, and that the ungodly among men were to be punished by fire, they put forward many to be called sons of Jupiter, under the impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the things which were said with regard to Christ were mere marvellous tales, like the things which were said by the poets. And these things were said both among the Greeks and among all nations where they [the demons] heard the prophets foretelling that Christ would specially be believed in; but that in hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error, we will make plain. The prophet Moses, then, Was, as we have already said, older than all writers; and by him, as we have also said before, it was thus predicted: "There shall not fail a prince from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until He come for whom it is reserved; and He shall be the desire of the Gentiles, binding His foal to the vine, washing His robe in the blood of the grape." The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and gave out that he was the discoverer of the vine, and they number wine [or, the ass] among his mysteries; and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, he ascended into heaven. And because in the prophecy of Moses it had not been expressly intimated whether He who was to come was the Son of God, and whether He would, riding on the foal, remain on earth or ascend into heaven, and because the name of "foal" could mean either the foal of an ass or the foal of a horse, they, not knowing whether He who was foretold would bring the foal of an ass or of a horse as the sign of His coming, nor whether He was the Son of God, as we said above, or of man, gave out that Bellerophon, a man born of man, himself ascended to heaven on his horse Pegasus. And when they heard it said by the other prophet Isaiah, that He should be born of a virgin, and by His own means ascend into heaven, they pretended that Perseus was spoken of. And when they knew what was said, as has been cited above, in the prophecies written aforetime, "Strong as a giant to run his course," they said that Hercules was strong, and had journeyed over the whole earth. And when, again, they learned that it had been foretold that He should heal every sickness, and raise the dead, they produced Aesculapius.
And here we have a crucified Dionysian Orpheus:
Anyone who's interested in an analysis of these can read more here.