Mithra and Jesus - SBS Gone Stupid
The SBS (Stupid Broadcasting Service) is a publically funded TV station in Australia. Whilst channel flicking tonight I was somewhat shocked to see their program guide making the claim that Jesus shared a lot in common with Mithra, including the date of his birth, the 12 disciples, bron of a virgin, dying to save the world. Unfortunately, their world guide is broken, otherwise I could link to the absurd claims themselves. The horribly biased site, Religious Tolerance has a good enough description of this claim, so I'll quote that.
Some theologians and historians believe that many of the details of Jesus' life were "borrowed" from a competing, contemporary religion, Mithraism.
Mithra was a fictional character who was worshipped as a Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth and the Light, the Redeemer, the Savior, and the Messiah. A religion in his name was founded in the 6th century BCE. Mithraism one of the most popular of religions in the Roman Empire, particularly among its soldiers and civil servants. It was Christianity's leading rival. Mithra was also believed to have been born of a virgin. Like Jesus, their births were celebrated yearly on DEC-25. Mithra was also visited by shepherds and by Magi. He traveled through the countryside, taught, and performed miracles with his 12 disciples. He cast out devils, returned sight to the blind, healed the lame, etc. Symbols associated with Mithra were a Lion and a Lamb. He held a last supper, was killed, buried in a rock tomb. He rose again after three days later, at the time of the spring equinox, circa MAR-21. He later ascended into heaven. Mithraism celebrated the anniversary of his resurrection, similar to the Christian Easter. They held services on Sunday. Rituals included a Eucharist and six other sacraments that corresponded to the rituals of the Catholic church. Some individuals who are skeptical about stories of Jesus' life suspect that Christianity may have appropriated many details of Mithraism in order to make their religion more acceptable to Pagans. St. Augustine even stated that the priests of Mithra worshipped the same God as he did. Other early Christians believed that Satan invented Mithraism and that he made Mithra's life and the practices of the religion identical to what Christianity would become centuries later. They felt that Satan's purpose was to confuse believers.
If anyone makes this claim in your presence, you should laugh at them as if they were an idiot. For instance, Mithra was born out of rock (does this mean born of a virgin?), and there are no scriptures or written records at all about Mithraism, all they have are some pictures. No reference at all is found to Mithra ever dying. In fact, Roman Mithraism was not the same as the original Iranian Mithraism (which is the one founded before Jesus), and therefore none it's claims predate Christianity. There is a lot more, but really this is such a ludicrous claim that doesn't come from scholars but from anti-christian polemics with no academic or intellectual integrity.
If you want to learn more, Tektonics has a fairly indepth refutation of these claims which actually refers to scholars work, not polemics.
(As a side note, Augustine's 'statement' is not referenced to his works but to another somewhat dubious author)