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: 261[438:1] Nicodemus, Apoc., ch. xii.
[438:2] See Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. xiv.
[438:3] Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. xiii.
[438:4] In year 1444, Caxton published the first book ever printed in England. In 1474, the then Bishop of London, in a convocation of his clergy, said: "If we do not destroy this dangerous invention, it will one day destroy us." (See Middleton's Letters from Rome, p. 4.) The reader should compare this with Pope Leo X.'s avowal that, "it is well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us;" and Archdeacon Paley's declaration that "he could ill afford to have a conscience."
[438:5] Porphyry, who flourished about the year 270 A. D., a man of great abilities, published a large work of fifteen books against the Christians. "His objections against Christianity," says Dr. Lardner, "were in esteem with Gentile people for a long while; and the Christians were not insensible of the importance of his work; as may be concluded from the several answers made to it by Eusebius, and others in great repute for learning." (Vol. viii. p. 158.) There are but fragments of these fifteen books remaining, Christian magistrates having ordered them to be destroyed. (Ibid.)
[438:6] Hierocles was a Neo-Platonist, who lived at Alexandria about the middle of the fifth century, and enjoyed a great reputation. He was the author of a great number of works, a few extracts of which alone remain.
[438:7] Celsus was an Epicurean philosopher, who lived in the second century A. D. He wrote a work called "The True Word," against Christianity, but as it has been destroyed we know nothing about it. Origen claims to give quotations from it.
[440:1] Draper: Religion and Science, pp. 18-21.
[440:2] Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii. p. 146.
[441:1] Draper: Religion and Science, pp. 55, 56. See also, Socrates' Eccl. Hist., lib. 7, ch. xv.
[442:1] We have seen this particularly in the cases of Crishna and Buddha. Mr. Cox, speaking of the former, says: "If it be urged that the attribution to Crishna of qualities or powers belonging to the other deities is a mere device by which his devotees sought to supersede the more ancient gods, the answer must be that nothing has been done in his case which has not been done in the case of almost every other member of the great company of the gods." (Aryan Mythology, vol. ii. p. 130.) These words apply to the case we have before us. Jesus was simply attributed with the qualities or powers which had been previously attributed to other deities. This we hope to be able to fully demonstrate in our chapter on "Explanation."
[443:1] "Dogma of the Deity of Jesus Christ," p. 41.
[444:1] Adherents of the old religion of Russia have been persecuted in that country within the past year, and even in enlightened England, a gentleman has been persecuted by government officials because he believes in neither a personal God or a personal Devil.
[444:2] Renan, Hibbert Lectures, p. 22.
[444:3] The following are the names of his victims:
|Maximian,||His wife's father,||a. d. 310|
|Bassianus,||His sister's husband,||a. d. 314|
|Licinius,||His nephew,||a. d. 319|
|Fausta,||His wife,||a. d. 320|
|Sopater,||His former friend,||a. d. 321|
|Licinius,||His sister's husband,||a. d. 325|
|Crispus,||His own son,||a. d. 326|
Dr. Lardner, in speaking of the murders committed by this Christian saint, is constrained to say that: "The death of Crispus is altogether without any good excuse, so likewise is the death of the young Licinianus, who could not have been more than a little above eleven years of age, and appears not to have been charged with any fault, and could hardly be suspected of any."
[444:4] The Emperor Nero could not be baptized and be initiated into Pagan Mysteries—as Constantine was initiated into those of the Christians—on account of the murder of his mother. And he did not dare to compel—which he certainly could have done—the priests to initiate him.
[444:5] Zosimus, in Socrates, lib. iii. ch. xl.
[445:1] "The sacrament of baptism was supposed to contain a full and absolute expiation of sin; and the soul was instantly restored to its original purity and entitled to the promise of eternal salvation. Among the proselytes of Christianity, there were many who judged it imprudent to precipitate a salutary rite, which could not be repeated. By the delay of their baptism, they could venture freely to indulge their passions in the enjoyments of this world, while they still retained in their own hands the means of a sure and speedy absolution." (Gibbon: ii. pp. 272, 273.)
[445:2] "Constantine, as he was praying about noon-tide, God showed him a vision in the sky, which was the sign of the cross lively figured in the air, with this inscription on it: 'In hoc vince;' that is, 'By this overcome.'" This is the story as related by Eusebius (Life of Constantine, lib. 1, ch. xxii.), but it must be remembered that Eusebius acknowledged that he told falsehoods. That night Christ appeared unto Constantine in his dream, and commanded him to make the figure of the cross which he had seen, and to wear it in his banner when he went to battle with his enemies. (See Eusebius' Life of Constantine, lib. 1, ch. xxiii. See also, Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. ii.)
[445:3] Dupuis, p. 405.
[445:4] Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii. p. 373. The Fathers, who censured this criminal delay, could not deny the certain and victorious efficacy even of a death-bed baptism. The ingenious rhetoric of Chrysostom (A. D. 347-407) could find only three arguments against these prudent Christians. 1. "That we should love and pursue virtue for her own sake, and not merely for the reward. 2. That we may be surprised by death without an opportunity of baptism. 3. That although we shall be placed in heaven, we shall only twinkle like little stars, when compared to the suns of righteousness who have run their appointed course with labor, with success, and with glory." (Chrysostom in Epist. ad Hebræos. Homil. xiii. Quoted in Gibbon's "Rome," ii. 272.)
[446:1] Lib. 4, chs. lxi. and lxii., and Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. 2, ch. xxvi.
[446:2] Eusebius: Life of Constantine, lib. 2, ch. xliii.
[446:3] Ibid. lib. 3, ch. lxii.
[446:4] Ibid. lib. 3, ch. lxiii.
[446:5] Ibid. lib. 3, ch. lxiv.
[446:6] Ibid. lib. 4, ch. xv.
[446:7] Ibid. ch. lxiii.
Plato places the ferocious tyrants in the Tartarus, such as Ardiacus of Pamphylia, who had slain his own father, a venerable old man, also an elder brother, and was stained with a great many other crimes. Constantine, covered with similar crimes, was better treated by the Christians, who have sent him to heaven, and sainted him besides.
[447:1] Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii. p. 274.
[447:2] "Theodosius, though a professor of the orthodox Christian faith, was not baptized till 380, and his behavior after that period stamps him as one of the most cruel and vindictive persecutors who ever wore the purple. His arbitrary establishment of the Nicene faith over the whole empire, the deprivation of civil rites of all apostates from Christianity and of the Eunomians, the sentence of death on the Manicheans, and Quarto-decimans all prove this." (Chambers's Encyclo., art. Theodosius.)
[447:3] Quoted in Taylor's Syntagma, p. 54.
[447:4] Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii. p. 81.
[448:1] Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii. pp. 91, 92.
[448:2] All their writings were ordered to be destroyed.
[448:3] Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii. p. 359.
[448:4] Ibid. note 154.
[449:1] Julian: Epistol. lii. p. 436. Quoted in Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii. p. 360.
[449:2] "Thing"—a general assembly of the freemen, who gave their assent to a measure by striking their shields with their drawn swords.
[449:3] See Mallet's Northern Antiquities, pp. 180, 351, and 470.
THE ANTIQUITY OF PAGAN RELIGIONS.
We shall now compare the great antiquity of the sacred books and religions of Paganism with those of the Christian, so that there may be no doubt as to which is the original, and which the copy. Allusions to this subject have already been made throughout this work, we shall therefore devote as little space to it here as possible.
In speaking of the sacred literature of India, Prof. Monier Williams says:
"Sanskrit literature, embracing as it does nearly every branch of knowledge is entirely deficient in one department. It is wholly destitute of trustworthy historical records. Hence, little or nothing is known of the lives of ancient Indian authors, and the dates of their most celebrated works cannot be fixed with certainty. A fair conjecture, however, may be arrived at by comparing the most ancient with the more modern compositions, and estimating the period of time required to effect the changes of structure and idiom observable in the language. In this manner we may be justified in assuming that the hymns of the Veda were probably composed by a succession of poets at different dates between 1500 and 1000 years B. C."[450:1]
Prof. Wm. D. Whitney shows the great antiquity of the Vedic hymns from the fact that,
"The language of the Vedas is an older dialect, varying very considerably, both in its grammatical and lexical character, from the classical Sanscrit."
And M. de Coulanges, in his "Ancient City," says:
"We learn from the hymns of the Vedas, which are certainly very ancient, and from the laws of Manu," "what the Aryans of the east thought nearly thirty-five centuries ago."[450:2]
That the Vedas are of very high antiquity is unquestionable; but however remote we may place the period when they were written, we must necessarily presuppose that the Hindostanic race had [Pg 451]already attained to a comparatively high degree of civilization, otherwise men capable of framing such doctrines could not have been found. Now this state of civilization must necessarily have been preceded by several centuries of barbarism, during which we cannot possibly admit a more refined faith than the popular belief in elementary deities.
We shall see in our next chapter that these very ancient Vedic hymns contain the origin of the legend of the Virgin-born God and Saviour, the great benefactor of mankind, who is finally put to death, and rises again to life and immortality on the third day.
The Geetas and Puranas, although of a comparatively modern date, are, as we have already seen, nevertheless composed of matter to be found in the two great epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which were written many centuries before the time assigned as that of the birth of Christ Jesus.[451:1]
The Pali sacred books, which contain the legend of the virgin-born God and Saviour—Sommona Cadom—are known to have been in existence 316 B. C.[451:2]
We have already seen that the religion known as Buddhism, and which corresponds in such a striking manner with Christianity, has now existed for upwards of twenty-four hundred years.[451:3]
Prof. Rhys Davids says:
"There is every reason to believe that the Pitakas (the sacred books which contain the legend of 'The Buddha'), now extant in Ceylon, are substantially identical with the books of the Southern Canon, as settled at the Council of Patna about the year 250 B. C.[451:4] As no works would have been received into the Canon which were not then believed to be very old, the Pitakas may be approximately placed in the fourth century B. C., and parts of them possibly reach back very nearly, if not quite, to the time of Gautama himself."[451:5]
The religion of the ancient Persians, which corresponds in so very many respects with that of the Christians, was established by Zoroaster—who was undoubtedly a Brahman[451:6]—and is contained [Pg 452]in the Zend-Avesta, their sacred book or Bible. This book is very ancient. Prof. Max Müller speaks of "the sacred book of the Zoroastrians" as being "older in its language than the cuneiform inscriptions of Cyrus (B. C. 560), Darius (B. C. 520), and Xerxes (B. C. 485) those ancient Kings of Persia, who knew that they were kings by the grace of Auramazda, and who placed his sacred image high on the mountain-records of Behistun."[452:1] That ancient book, or its fragments, at least, have survived many dynasties and kingdoms, and is still believed in by a small remnant of the Persian race, now settled at Bombay, and known all over the world by the name of Parsees.[452:2]