The Pagans argued that their God was older and therefore original. The Christians admitted Christ came later, but claimed Attis was a work of the devil whose similarity to Christ, and the fact he predated Christ, were intended to confuse and mislead men. This was apparently the stock answer — the Christian apologist Tertullian makes the same argument.
The following are some of the similarities between Attis and the Christian story of Jesus:
Attis was born on December 25th of the Virgin Nana.
He was considered the savior who was slain for the salvation of mankind.
His body as bread was eaten by his worshippers.
His priests were “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.”
He was both the Divine Son and the Father.
On “Black Friday,” he was crucified on a tree, from which his holy blood ran down to redeem the earth.
He descended into the underworld.
After three days, Attis was resurrected on March 25th (as tradition held of Jesus) as the “Most High God.”
It is recorded that Attis was represented as a “a man tied to a tree, at the foot of which was a lamb, and, without doubt also as a man nailed to a tree…”
Itis reported that on March 22nd, a pine tree was felled and “an effigy of the god was affixed to it, thus being slain and hung on a tree…” Later the priests are supposed to have found Attis’ grave empty.
Birth Attis of Phrygia was born of the Virgin Nana on December 25th. He was both the Father and the Divine Son.
The Festival of Joy — the celebration of Attis‘ death and rebirth
On March 22 a pine tree (origins of the christmas tree?) was brought to the sanctuary of Cybele, on it hung the effigy of Attis. The God was dead. Two days of mourning followed, but when night fell on the eve of the third day, March 25th, the worshippers turned to joy. “For suddenly a light shone in the darkness; the tomb was opened; the God had risen from the dead…[and the priest] softly whispered in their ears the glad tidings of salvation. The resurrection of the God was hailed by his disciples as a promise that they too would issue triumphant from the corruption of the grave.” [for more see Frazer, Attis, chapter 1]
Attis‘ worshipers had a sacramental meal of bread and wine. The wine represented the God’s blood; the bread became the body of the savoir. They were baptized in this way: a bull was placed over a grating, the devotee stood under the grating. The bull was stabbed with a consecrated spear. “It’s hot reeking blood poured in torrents through the apertures and was received with devout eagerness by the worshiper…who had been born again to eternal life and had washed away his sins in the blood of the bull.” [for more see Frazer, Attis, chapter 1]
Attis was called “the Good Sheppard,” the “Most High God,” the “Only Begotten Son” and “Savior.”
[In Rome the new birth and the remission of sins by shedding of bull’s blood took place on what is now Vatican Hill, in our days the site of the great basilica of St. Peter’s]
The Early Church, Henry Chadwick, Penguin Books, 1993, page 24