Several deities that predate Christianity are believed by some to display very close similarities to Jesus; Osiris-Dionysus, Asclepius, Apollo, Helios, Hora, Mithras are among them. Dionysos, who was also worshiped long before Jesus, has also many similar features to him: For example, he was worshipped on December 25th (Rustic Dionysia) (Christmas), the day of the winter solstice in ancient Greek times, and his major holiday was in March called City Dionysia (Easter). Some sources even claims that Dionysus died on the cross.
Dionysian religion and Christianity are significantly parallel; according to Martin Hengel, "Dionysus had been at home in Palestine for a long time", and Judaism was influenced by Dionysian traditions.
The modern scholar Barry Powell thinks that Christian notions of eating and drinking the "flesh" and "blood" of Jesus were influenced by the cult of Dionysus. In another parallel Powell adduces, Dionysus was distinct among Greek gods as a deity commonly felt within individual followers. Another example of possible influence on Christianity, Dionysus' followers, as well as another god, Pan, are said to have had the most influence on the modern view of Satan as animal-like and horned.
Wine was important to Dionysus, imagined as its creator; the creation of wine from water figures also in Jesus's Marriage at Cana. In the 19th century, Bultmann and others compared both themes and concluded that the Dionysian theophany was transferred to Jesus; Heinz Noetzel's Christus und Dionysos disagrees, arguing Dionysus never actually did turn water into wine. Martin Hengel replied that opposing traditions would be anachronistic, and that since all Palestinians were familiar with the transformation of water to wine as a miracle, it was expected from the Messiah to perform it. The extreme positions of copying Dionysian traditions or only referring to the Old Testamony are both no longer taken, but that there was a Dionysian background especially, but not only when the Marriage of Cana was written.
Peter Wick argues that the use of wine symbolism in the Gospel of John, including the story of the Marriage at Cana at which Jesus turns water into wine, is intended to show Jesus as superior to Dionysus.