Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 149

Even in the second century after Christianity, foreign conjurors were professing to exhibit miracles among the Greeks. Lucian gives an account of one of these "foreign barbarians"—as he calls them[267:3]—and says:

"I believed and was overcome in spite of my resistance, for what was I to do when I saw him carried through the air in daylight, and walking on the water,[267:4] and passing leisurely and slowly through the fire?"[267:5]

He further tells us that this "foreign barbarian" was able to raise the dead to life.[267:6]

Athenagoras, a Christian Father who flourished during the latter part of the second century, says on this subject:

"We (Christians) do not deny that in several places, cities, and countries, there are some extraordinary works performed in the name of idols," i. e., heathen gods.[267:7]

Miracles were not uncommon things among the Jews before and during the time of Christ Jesus. Casting out devils was an every-day occurrence,[267:8] and miracles frequently happened to confirm the sayings of Rabbis. One cried out, when his opinion was disputed, "May this tree prove that I am right!" and forthwith the tree was torn up by the roots, and hurled a hundred ells off. But [Pg 268]his opponents declared that a tree could prove nothing. "May this stream, then, witness for me!" cried Eliezar, and at once it flowed the opposite way.[268:1]

Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that King Solomon was expert in casting out devils who had taken possession of the body of mortals. This gift was also possessed by many Jews throughout different ages. He (Josephus) relates that he saw one of his own countrymen (Eleazar) casting out devils, in the presence of a vast multitude.[268:2]

Dr. Conyers Middleton says:

"It is remarkable that all the Christian Fathers, who lay so great a stress on the particular gift of casting out devils, allow the same power both to the Jews and the Gentiles, as well before as after our Saviour's coming."[268:3]

Vespasian, who was born about ten years after the time assigned for the birth of Christ Jesus, performed wonderful miracles, for the good of mankind. Tacitus, the Roman historian, informs us that he cured a blind man in Alexandria, by means of his spittle, and a lame man by the mere touch of his foot.

The words of Tacitus are as follows:

"Vespasian passed some months at Alexandria, having resolved to defer his voyage to Italy till the return of summer, when the winds, blowing in a regular direction, afford a safe and pleasant navigation. During his residence in that city, a number of incidents, out of the ordinary course of nature, seemed to mark him as the peculiar favorite of the gods. A man of mean condition, born at Alexandria, had lost his sight by a defluxion on his eyes. He presented himself before Vespasian, and, falling prostrate on the ground, implored the emperor to administer a cure for his blindness. He came, he said, by the admonition of Serapis, the god whom the superstition of the Egyptians holds in the highest veneration. The request was, that the emperor, with his spittle, would condescend to moisten the poor man's face and the balls of his eyes.[268:4] Another, who had lost the use of his hand, inspired by the same god, begged that he would tread on the part affected. . . . In the presence of a prodigious multitude, all erect with expectation, he advanced with an air of serenity, and hazarded the experiment. The paralytic hand recovered its functions, and the blind man saw the light of the sun.[268:5] By living witnesses, who were actually on the spot, both events are confirmed at this hour, when deceit and flattery can hope for no reward."[268:6]