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: 150The striking resemblance between the account of these miracles, and those attributed to Jesus in the Gospels "according to" [Pg 269]Matthew and Mark, would lead us to think that one had been copied from the other, but when we find that Tacitus wrote his history A. D. 98,[269:1] and that the "Matthew" and Mark narrators' works were not known until after that time,[269:2] the evidence certainly is that Tacitus was not the plagiarist, but that this charge must fall on the shoulders of the Christian writers, whoever they may have been.
To come down to earlier times, even the religion of the Mahometans is a religion of miracles and wonders. Mahomet, like Jesus of Nazareth, did not claim to perform miracles, but the votaries of Mahomet are more assured than himself of his miraculous gifts; and their confidence and credulity increase as they are farther removed from the time and place of his spiritual exploits. They believe or affirm that trees went forth to meet him; that he was saluted by stones; that water gushed from his fingers; that he fed the hungry, cured the sick, and raised the dead; that a beam groaned to him; that a camel complained to him; that a shoulder of mutton informed him of its being poisoned; and that both animate and inanimate nature were equally subject to the apostle of God. His dream of a nocturnal journey is seriously described as a real and corporeal transaction. A mysterious animal, the Borak, conveyed him from the temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem; with his companion Gabriel he successively ascended the seven heavens, and received and repaid the salutations of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the angels in their respective mansions. Beyond the seventh heaven, Mahomet alone was permitted to proceed; he passed the veil of unity, approached within two bow-shots of the throne, and felt a cold that pierced him to the heart, when his shoulder was touched by the hand of God. After a familiar, though important conversation, he descended to Jerusalem, remounted the Borak, returned to Mecca, and performed in the tenth part of a night the journey of many thousand years. His resistless word split asunder the orb of the moon, and the obedient planet stooped from her station in the sky.[269:3]
These and many other wonders, similar in character to the story of Jesus sending the demons into the swine, are related of Mahomet by his followers.
It is very certain that the same circumstances which are claimed to have taken place with respect to the Christian religion, are also claimed to have taken place in the religions of Crishna, [Pg 270]Buddha, Zoroaster, Æsculapius, Bacchus, Apollonius, Simon Magus, &c. Histories of these persons, with miracles, relics, circumstances of locality, suitable to them, were as common, as well authenticated (if not better), and as much believed by the devotees as were those relating to Jesus.
All the Christian theologians which the world has yet produced have not been able to procure any evidence of the miracles recorded in the Gospels, half so strong as can be procured in evidence of miracles performed by heathens and heathen gods, both before and after the time of Jesus; and, as they cannot do this, let them give us a reason why we should reject the one and receive the other. And if they cannot do this, let them candidly confess that we must either admit them all, or reject them all, for they all stand on the same footing.
In the early times of the Roman republic, in the war with the Latins, the gods Castor and Pollux are said to have appeared on white horses in the Roman army, which by their assistance gained a complete victory: in memory of which, the General Posthumius vowed and built a temple to these deities; and for a proof of the fact, there was shown, we find, in Cicero's time (106 to 43 B. C.), the marks of the horses' hoofs on a rock at Regillum, where they first appeared.[270:1]