If you are a Christian, you may be very surprised to learn that the God you worship isn’t who think he is. The God of Israel was originally a national god of the Canaanite pantheon (which is a mixture of ancient Phoenician, Sumerian, Babylonian and Sumerian pantheons and cults). His cult likely started as the cult of some of the ruling clans and eventually it spread to the rest of Israel and took on monotheistic elements around 600 BCE, and only after the Hebrew’s supposed Babylonian captivity. Yahweh (or YHWH) wasn’t even the prime god of the pantheon – apparently a god of war; that honor belonged to El, also known as Anu (the Sumerian sky god). After the period of supposed Babylonian captivity, Yahweh came to take on other titles and the Israelites merged him with El and banned the worship of the other Canaanite gods, though even in the Old Testament remnants of the polytheistic period of Israel are still evident – Yahweh clearly refers to other gods and that he sits at the center of them and presides over the Council of Gods (usurping El‘s position):
I revealed myself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Ēl Shaddāi, but was not known to them by my name, Yahweh.
A Psalm of David.
Ascribe to Yahweh, sons of gods (bênê ’Ēlîm),
Ascribe to Yahweh, glory and strength
Psalm 89:6 (verse 7 in Hebrew) has:
For who in the skies compares to Yahweh,
who can be likened to Yahweh among the sons of gods (bênê ’Ēlîm).
Who is like you among the gods (’ēlim), Yahweh?
And the king will do according to his pleasure; and he will exalt himself and magnify himself over every god (’ēl), and against the God of gods (’ēl ’ēlîm) he will speak outrageous things, and will prosper until the indignation is accomplished: for that which is decided will be done.
According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology’,
It seems almost certain that the God of the Jews evolved gradually from the Canaanite El, who was in all likelihood the ‘God of Abraham’… If El was the high god of Abraham – Elohim, the prototype of Yahveh – Asherah was his wife, and there are archeological indications that she was perceived as such before she was in effect ‘divorced’ in the context of emerging Judaism of the 7th century BCE. (See 2 Kings 23:15).
Philo of Byblos (c. 64-141 CE) was a Greek writer whose account Sanchuniathon survives in quotation by Eusebius and may contain the major surviving traces of Phoenician mythology. Ēl (rendered Elus or called by his standard Greek counterpart Cronus) is not the creator god or first god. Ēl is rather the son of Sky and Earth. Sky and Earth are themselves children of ‘Elyôn ‘Most High’. Ēl is brother to the god Bethel, to Dagon, and to an unknown god equated with the Greek Atlas, and to the goddessesAphrodite/’Ashtart, Rhea (presumably Asherah), and Dione (equated with Ba’alat Gebal). Ēl is father of Persephone and of Athene (presumably the goddess ‘Anat).
Sky and Earth have separated from one another in hostility, but Sky insists on continuing to force himself on Earth, and attempts to destroy the children born of such unions. At last Ēl, son of Sky and Earth, with the advice of the god Thoth and Ēl’s daughter Athene successfully attacks his father Sky with a sickle and spear of iron. So he and his allies theEloim gain Sky’s kingdom. In a later passage it is explained that Ēl castrated Sky. One of Sky’s concubines (who was given to Ēl’s brother Dagon) was already pregnant by Sky. The son who is born of this union, called Demarûs or Zeus, but once called Adodus, is obviously Hadad, the Ba‘al of the Ugaritic texts who now becomes an ally of his grandfather Sky and begins to make war on Ēl.
Ēl has three wives, his sisters or half-sisters Aphrodite/Astarte (‘Ashtart), Rhea (presumably Asherah), and Dione (identified by Sanchuniathon with Ba‘alat Gebal the tutelary goddess of Byblos, a city which Sanchuniathon says that Ēl founded).
The Romans referred to Yahweh (due to interpretatio romana or, more commonly, interpretatio graeca) as Jupiter Optimus Maximus or Caelus. (Interestingly, Caelus was part of the cult of Mithras, which some attribute to the mythology behind Christ). Both the Greeks and the Romans had a habit of rationalizing every foreign deity they came across as merely a manifestation of their own gods or their own gods under a different name based on what was attributed to that particular god or goddess. The Romans seemed to think Wotan was Mercury, for example, and that Thor was Jupiter.
If you are Roman Catholic, you in reality worship Jupiter, not the Jewish Yahweh. All the things that were attributed to Yahweh were also attributed to Jupiter, according to the Romans:
Georg Wissowa stressed Jupiter’s uniqueness as the only case among Indo-European religions in which the original god preserved his name, his identity and his prerogatives. In this view, Jupiter is the god of heaven and retains his identification with the sky among the Latin poets (his name is used as a synonym for “sky”. In this respect, he differs from his Greek equivalent Zeus (who is considered a personal god, warden and dispenser of skylight). His name reflects this idea; it is a derivative of the Indo-European word for “bright, shining sky”. His residence is found atop the hills of Rome and of mountains in general; as a result, his cult is present in Rome and throughout Italy at upper elevations. Jupiter assumed atmospheric qualities; he is the wielder of lightning and the master of weather. However, Wissowa acknowledges that Jupiter is not merely a naturalistic, heavenly, supreme deity; he is in continual communication with man by means of thunder, lightning and the flight of birds (his auspices). Through his vigilant watch he is also the guardian of public oaths and compacts and the guarantor of good faith in the State cult. The Jovian cult was common to the Italic people under the names Iove, Diove (Latin) and Iuve,Diuve (Oscan, in Umbrian only Iuve, Iupater in the Iguvine Tables).
Wissowa considered Jupiter also a god of war and agriculture, in addition to his political role as guarantor of good faith (public and private) as Iuppiter Lapis and Dius Fidius, respectively. His view is grounded in the sphere of action of the god (who intervenes in battle and influences the harvest through weather).
In Georges Dumézil’s view, Jovian theology (and that of the equivalent gods in other Indo-European religions) is an evolution from a naturalistic, supreme, celestial god identified with heaven to a sovereign god, a wielder of lightning bolts, master and protector of the community (in other words, of a change from a naturalistic approach to the world of the divine to a socio-political approach).
See, Jupiter even had his own Tetragrammaton: IOVE – when you pronounce that in the Latin form, it sounds a lot like Yahweh. Catholicism is very Roman. The difference is, is that the names have been replaced by Hebrew ones and the other gods downgraded from “gods” to “messengers” (Angels) and Saints. Catholics even have some Germanic pagan leftovers, like St. Michael, who, in reality, is Thor. And in Orthodox Christianity, there is St. Ilya (Elijah) “The Thunderer” that is really Perun (Thor).
The Greeks really took to Christianity in its early stages for several reasons: They had already believed in Zeus, the personal god (unlike the Romans that viewed Jupiter as distant). The Jews simply recycled and Judaified ancient Greek philosophies like Stoicism, Platonism and Neo-Platonism, and Gnosticism and just fed it back to the Greeks. So of course they fell for it. It didn’t catch on in Rome like it did in Greece’s lower classes. The Romans had much more gravitas and concerned about Patrician things, seeing it as subversive. It didn’t catch on very well with the Slavs or German tribes either. It wasn’t until their leaders tried to solidify alliances that conversions happened en masse and at times by the sword.
So, it isn’t so difficult to become a pagan. Keep your holidays, and just change the names from Hebrew to the native tongue. Keep God, the Angels, and the Saints (you can toss the demons – since not even the Jews believed in Hell; that was a later addition to keep people in line). Just give them the names that your ancient ancestors gave them, not what the Bible gave them – there are resources all over the internet for this. The Bible isn’t your book, it belongs to the Jews. Metaphorically toss it out the window. Now, pick up copies of the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. That wasn’t so difficult, was it? You didn’t even need to change your moral code. And rather than call Christ Jesus, perhaps Baldr or Wotan would be better. Wotan also sacrificed for the good of humanity: He, like Christ, was pierced on a “cross” with a spear (for slightly different reasons – and Wotan hung there for Nine days in agony to bring us writing).