Article ID: DB109 | By: Ronald Nash
The following is an excerpt of article DB109 from the Christian Research Journal. The full PDF can be viewed by following the link below the excerpt.
The best-known rite of the cult of the Great Mother was the tauroboliurn. It is important to note, however, that this ritual was not part of the cult in its earlier stages. It entered the religion sometime after the middle of the second century A.D.
The Taurobolium- What Was It?
During the ceremony, initiates stood or reclined in a pit as a bull was slaughtered on a platform above them.6 The initiate would then be bathed in the warm blood of the dying animal. It has been alleged that the taurobolium was a source for Christian language about being washed in the blood of the lamb (Rev. 7:14) or sprinkled with the blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:2). It has also been cited as the source for Paul’s teaching in Romans 6:1-4, where he relates Christian baptism to the Christian’s identification with Christ’s death and resurrection.
The Taurobolium- Influence on the New Testament?
No notion of death and resurrection was ever part of the taurobolium, however. The best available evidence requires us to date the ritual about one hundred years after Paul wrote Romans 6:1-4. Not one existing text supports the claim that the taurobolium memorialized the death and “resurrection” of Attis. The pagan rite could not possibly have been the source for Paul’s teaching in Romans 6. Only near the end of the fourth century A.D. did the ritual add the notion of rebirth. Several important scholars see a Christian influence at work in this later development.7 It is clear, then, that the chronological development of the rite makes it impossible for it to have influenced first-century Christianity. The New Testament teaching about the shedding of blood should be viewed in the context of its Old Testament background — the Passover and the temple sacrifice.