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: 247[Pg 427]became known to history as Christians, or believers in the Anointed Angel.
This ascetic Buddhist sect called Essenes were therefore expecting an Angel-Messiah, for had not Gautama announced to his disciples that another Buddha, and therefore another angel in human form, another organ or advocate of the wisdom from above, would descend from heaven to earth, and would be called the "Son of Love."
The learned Thomas Maurice says:
"From the earliest post-diluvian age, to that in which the Messiah appeared, together with the traditions which so expressly recorded the fall of the human race from a state of original rectitude and felicity, there appears, from an infinite variety of hieroglyphic monuments and of written documents, to have prevailed, from generation to generation, throughout all the regions of the higher Asia, an uniform belief that, in the course of revolving ages, there should arise a sacred personage, a mighty deliverer of mankind from the thraldom of sin and of death. In fact, the memory of the grand original promise, that the seed of the woman should eventually crush the serpent, was carefully preserved in the breasts of the Asiatics; it entered deeply into their symbolic superstitions, and was engraved aloft amidst their mythologic sculptures."[427:1]
That an Angel-Messiah was generally expected at this time may be inferred from the following facts: Some of the Gnostic sects of Christians, who believed that Jesus was an emanation from God, likewise supposed that there were several Æons, or emanations from the Eternal Father. Among those who taught this doctrine was Basilides and his followers.[427:2]
Simon Magus was believed to be "He who should come." Simon was worshiped in Samaria and other countries, as the expected Angel-Messiah, as a God.
Justin Martyr says:
"After the ascension of our Lord into heaven, certain men were suborned by demons as their agents, who said that they were gods (i. e., the Angel Messiah). Among these was Simon, a certain Samaritan, whom nearly all the Samaritans and a few also of other nations, worshiped, confessing him as a Supreme God."[427:3]
His miracles were notorious, and admitted by all. His followers became so numerous that they were to be found in all countries. In Rome, in the reign of Claudius, a statue was erected in his honor. Clement of Rome, speaking of Simon Magus, says that:
"He wishes to be considered an exalted person, and to be considered 'the Christ.' He claims that he can never be dissolved, asserting that he will endure to eternity."
Montanus was another person who evidently believed himself to be an Angel-Messiah. He was called by himself and his followers the "Paraclete," or "Holy Spirit."[428:1]
Socrates, in his Ecclesiastical History, tells us of one Buddhas (who lived after Jesus):
"Who afore that time was called Terebynthus, which went to the coasts of Babylon, inhabited by Persians, and there published of himself many false wonders: that he was born of a virgin, that he was bred and brought up in the mountains, etc."[428:2]
He was evidently one of the many fanatics who believed themselves to be the Paraclete or Comforter, the "Expected One."
Another one of these Christs was Apollonius. This remarkable man was born a few years before the commencement of the Christian era, and during his career, sustained the role of a philosopher, religious teacher and reformer, and a worker of miracles. He is said to have lived to be a hundred years old. From the history of his life, written by the learned sophist and scholar, Philostratus, we glean the following:
Before his birth a god appeared to his mother and informed her that he himself should be born of her. At the time of her delivery, the most wonderful things happened. All the people of the country acknowledged that he was the "Son of God." As he grew in stature, his wonderful powers, greatness of memory, and marvelous beauty attracted the attention of all. A great part of his time was spent, when a youth, among the learned doctors; the disciples of Plato, Chrysippus and Aristotle. When he came to man's estate, he became an enthusiastic admirer and devoted follower of Pythagoras. His fame soon spread far and near, and wherever he went he reformed the religious worship of the day. He went to Ephesus, like Christ Jesus to Jerusalem, where the people flocked about him. While at Athens, in Greece, he cast out an evil spirit from a youth. As soon as Apollonius fixed his eyes upon him, the demon broke out into the most angry and horrid expressions, and then swore he would depart out of the youth. He put an end to a plague which was raging at Ephesus, and at Corinth he raised a dead maiden to life, by simply taking her by the hand and bidding her arise. The miracles of Apollonius were extensively believed, by Christians as well as others, for centuries after his time. In the fourth century Hierocles drew a parallel between the two Christs—Apollonius and Jesus—which was answered by Eusebius, the great champion [Pg 429]of the Christian church. In it he admits the miracles of Apollonius, but attributes them to sorcery.
Apollonius was worshiped as a god, in different countries, as late as the fourth century. A beautiful temple was built in honor of him, and he was held in high esteem by many of the Pagan emperors. Eunapius, who wrote concerning him in the fifth century, says that his history should have been entitled "The Descent of a God upon Earth." It is as Albert Reville says:
"The universal respect in which Apollonius was held by the whole pagan world, testified to the deep impression which the life of this Supernatural Being had left indelibly fixed in their minds; an expression which caused one of his contemporaries to exclaim, 'We have a God living among us.'"
A Samaritan, by name Menander, who was contemporary with the apostles of Jesus, was another of these fanatics who believed himself to be the Christ. He went about performing miracles, claiming that he was a Saviour, "sent down from above from the invisible worlds, for the salvation of mankind."[429:1] He baptized his followers in his own name. His influence was great, and continued for several centuries. Justin Martyr and other Christian Fathers wrote against him.
Manes evidently believed himself to be "the Christ," or "he who was to come." His followers also believed the same concerning him. Eusebius, speaking of him, says:
"He presumed to represent the person of Christ; he proclaimed himself to be the Comforter and the Holy Ghost, and being puffed up with this frantic pride, chose, as if he were Christ, twelve partners of his new-found doctrine, patching into one heap false and detestable doctrines of old, rotten, and rooted out heresies, the which he brought out of Persia."[429:2]
The word Manes, says Usher in his Annals, has the meaning of Paraclete or Comforter or Saviour. This at once lets us into the secret—a new incarnation, an Angel-Messiah, a Christ—born from the side of his mother, and put to a violent death—flayed alive, and hung up, or crucified, by a king of Persia.[429:3] This is the teacher with his twelve apostles on the rock of Gualior.
Du Perron, in his life of Zoroaster, gives an account of certain prophecies to be found in the sacred books of the Persians. One of these is to the effect that, at successive periods of time, there will appear on earth certain "Sons of Zoroaster," who are to be the [Pg 430]result of immaculate conceptions. These virgin-born gods will come upon earth for the purpose of establishing the law of God. It is also asserted that Zoroaster, when on earth, declared that in the "latter days" a pure virgin would conceive, and bear a son, and that as soon as the child was born a star would appear, blazing even at noonday, with undiminished splendor. This Christ is to be called Sosiosh. He will redeem mankind, and subdue the Devs, who have been tempting and leading men astray ever since the fall of our first parents.
Among the Greeks the same prophecy was found. The Oracle of Delphi was the depository, according to Plato, of an ancient and secret prophecy of the birth of a "Son of Apollo," who was to restore the reign of justice and virtue on the earth.[430:1]
Those who believed in successive emanations of Æons from the Throne of Light, pointed to the passage in the Gospels where Jesus is made to say that he will be succeeded by the Paraclete or Comforter. Mahommed was believed by many to be this Paraclete, and it is said that he too told his disciples that another Paraclete would succeed him. From present appearances, however, there is some reason for believing that the Mohammedans are to have their ancient prophecy set at naught by the multiplicity of those who pretend to be divinely appointed to fulfill it. The present year was designated as the period at which this great reformer was to arise, who should be almost, if not quite, the equal of Mahommed. His mission was to be to to purify the religion from its corruptions; to overthrow those who had usurped its control, and to rule, as a great spiritual caliph, over the faithful. According to accepted tradition, the prophet himself designated the line of descent in which his most important successor would be found, and even indicated his personal appearance. The time having arrived, it is not strange that the man is forthcoming, only in this instance there is more than one claimant. There is a "holy man" in Morocco who has allowed it to be announced that he is the designated reformer, while cable reports show that a rival pretender has appeared in Yemen, in southern Arabia, and his supporters, sword in hand, are now advancing upon Mecca, for the purpose of proclaiming their leader as caliph within the sacred city itself.
History then relates to us the indisputable fact that at the time of Jesus of Nazareth an Angel-Messiah was expected, that many persons claimed, and were believed to be, the "Expected One," and [Pg 431]that the reason why Jesus was accepted above all others was because the Essenes—a very numerous sect—believed him to be the true Messiah, and came over to his followers in a body. It was because there were so many of these Christs in existence that some follower of Jesus—but no one knows who—wrote as follows:
"If any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ, or, lo, he is there; believe him not; for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."[431:1]
The reasons why Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah by the majority of the Jews was because the majority expected a daring and irresistible warrior and conqueror, who, armed with greater power than Cæsar, was to come upon earth to rend the fetters in which their hapless nation had so long groaned, to avenge them upon their haughty oppressors, and to re-establish the kingdom of Judah; and this Jesus—although he evidently claimed to be the Messiah—did not do.