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: 284Christ Jesus is like other Sun-gods.[495:2]
In the ancient sagas of Iceland, the hero who is the Sun personified, descends into a tomb, where he fights a vampire. After a desperate struggle, the hero overcomes, and rises to the surface of the earth. "This, too, represents the Sun in the northern realms, descending into the tomb of winter, and there overcoming the power of darkness."[495:3]
12. He rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Resurrections from the dead, and ascensions into heaven, are generally acknowledged to be solar features, as the history of many solar heroes agree in this particular.
At the winter solstice the ancients wept and mourned for Tammuz, the fair Adonis, and other Sun-gods, done to death by the boar, or crucified—slain by the thorn of winter—and on the third day they rejoiced at the resurrection of their "Lord of Light."[495:4]
With her usual policy, the Church endeavored to give a Christian significance to the rites which they borrowed from heathenism, and in this case, the mourning for Tammuz, the fair Adonis, became the mourning for Christ Jesus, and joy at the rising of the natural Sun became joy at the rising of the "Sun of Righteousness"—at the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the grave.
This festival of the Resurrection was generally held by the ancients on the 25th of March, when the awakening of Spring may be said to be the result of the return of the Sun from the lower or far-off regions to which he had departed. At the equinox—say, the [Pg 496]vernal—at Easter, the Sun has been below the equator, and suddenly rises above it. It has been, as it were, dead to us, but now it exhibits a resurrection.[496:1] The Saviour rises triumphant over the powers of darkness, to life and immortality, on the 25th of March, when the Sun rises in Aries.
Throughout all the ancient world, the resurrection of the god Sol, under different names, was celebrated on March 25th, with great rejoicings.[496:2]
In the words of the Rev. Geo. W. Cox:
"The wailing of the Hebrew women at the death of Tammuz, the crucifixion and resurrection of Osiris, the adoration of the Babylonian Mylitta, the Sacti ministers of Hindu temples, the cross and crescent of Isis, the rites of the Jewish altar of Baal-Peor, wholly preclude all doubt of the real nature of the great festivals and mysteries of Phenicians, Jews, Assyrians, Egyptians, and Hindus."[496:3]
All this was Sun and Nature worship, symbolized by the Linga and Yoni. As Mr. Bonwick says:
"The philosophic theist who reflects upon the story, known from the walls of China, across Asia and Europe, to the plateau of Mexico, cannot resist the impression that no materialistic theory of it can be satisfactory."[496:4]
Allegory alone explains it.
"The Church, at an early date, selected the heathen festivals of Sun worship for its own, ordering the birth at Christmas, a fixed time, and the resurrection at Easter, a varying time, as in all Pagan religions; since, though the Sun rose directly after the vernal equinox, the festival, to be correct in a heathen point of view, had to be associated with the new moon."[496:5]
The Christian, then, may well say:
"When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of winter, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven (i. e., bring on the reign of summer), to all believers."
13. Christ Jesus is Creator of all things. We have seen (in Chapter XXVI.) that it was not God the Father, who was supposed by the ancients to have been the Creator of the world, but God the Son, the Redeemer and Saviour of Mankind. Now, this Redeemer and Saviour was, as we have seen, the Sun, and Prof. Max Müller tells us that in the Vedic mythology, the Sun is not the bright Deva only, "who performs his daily task in the sky, but he is supposed to perform much greater work. He is looked upon, in fact, as the Ruler, as the Establisher, as the Creator of the world."[496:6]
Having been invoked as the "Life-bringer," the Sun is also [Pg 497]called—in the Rig-Veda—"the Breath or Life of all that move and rest;" and lastly he becomes "The Maker of all things," by whom all the worlds have been brought together.[497:1]
There is a prayer in the Vedas, called Gayatree, which consists of three measured lines, and is considered the holiest and most efficacious of all their religious forms. Sir William Jones translates it thus:
"Let us adore the supremacy of that spiritual Sun, the godhead, who illuminates all, who re-creates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return; whom we invoke to direct our undertakings aright in our progress toward his holy seat."
With Seneca (a Roman philosopher, born at Cordova, Spain, 61 B. C.) then, we can say:
"You may call the Creator of all things by different names (Bacchus, Hercules, Mercury, etc.), but they are only different names of the same divine being, the Sun."
14. He is to be Judge of the quick and the dead. Who is better able than the Sun to be the judge of man's deeds, seeing, as he does, from his throne in heaven, all that is done on earth? The Vedas speak of Sûrya—the pervading, irresistible luminary—as seeing all things and hearing all things, noting the good and evil deeds of men.[497:2]
According to Hindoo mythology, says Prof. Max Müller:
"The Sun sees everything, both what is good and what is evil; and how natural therefore that (in the Indian Veda) both the evil-doer should be told that the sun sees what no human eye may have seen, and that the innocent, when all other help fails him, should appeal to the sun to attest his guiltlessness."
"Frequent allusion is made (in the Rig-Veda), to the sun's power of seeing everything. The stars flee before the all-seeing sun, like thieves. He sees the right and the wrong among men. He who looks upon the world knows also the thoughts in all men. As the sun sees everything and knows everything, he is asked to forget and forgive what he alone has seen and knows."[497:3]
On the most ancient Egyptian monuments, Osiris, the Sun personified, is represented as Judge of the dead. The Egyptian "Book of the Dead," the oldest Bible in the world, speaks of Osiris as "seeing all things, and hearing all things, noting the good and evil deeds of men."
15. He will come again sitting on a white horse. The "second coming" of Vishnu (Crishna), Christ Jesus, and other Sun-gods, are also astronomical allegories. The white horse, [Pg 498]which figures so conspicuously in the legend, was the universal symbol of the Sun among Oriental nations.
Throughout the whole legend, Christ Jesus is the toiling Sun, laboring for the benefit of others, not his own, and doing hard service for a mean and cruel generation. Watch his sun-like career of brilliant conquest, checked with intervals of storm, and declining to a death clouded with sorrow and derision. He is in constant company with his twelve apostles, the twelve signs of the zodiac.[498:1] During the course of his life's journey he is called "The God of Earthly Blessing," "The Saviour through whom a new life springs," "The Preserver," "The Redeemer," &c. Almost at his birth the Serpent of darkness attempts to destroy him. Temptations to sloth and luxury are offered him in vain. He has his work to do, and nothing can stay him from doing it, as nothing can arrest the Sun in his journey through the heavens. Like all other solar heroes, he has his faithful women who love him, and the Marys and Martha here play the part. Of his toils it is scarcely necessary to speak in detail. They are but a thousand variations on the story of the great conflict which all the Sun-gods wage against the demon of darkness. He astonishes his tutor when sent to school. This we might expect to be the case, when an incomparable and incommunicable wisdom is the heritage of the Sun. He also represents the wisdom and beneficence of the bright Being who brings life and light to men. As the Sun wakens the earth to life when the winter is done, so Crishna, Buddha, Horus, Æsculapius, and Christ Jesus were raisers of the dead. When the leaves fell and withered on the approach of winter, the "daughter of the earth" would be spoken of as dying or dead, and, as no other power than that of the Sun can recall vegetation to life, this child of the earth would be represented as buried in a sleep from which the touch of the Sun alone could rouse her.
Christ Jesus, then, is the Sun, in his short career and early death. He is the child of the Dawn, whose soft, violet hues tint [Pg 499]the clouds of early morn; his father being the Sky, the "Heavenly Father," who has looked down with love upon the Dawn, and overshadowed her. When his career on earth is ended, and he expires, the loving mother, who parted from him in the morning of his life, is at his side, looking on the death of the Son whom she cannot save from the doom which is on him, while her tears fall on his body like rain at sundown. From her he is parted at the beginning of his course; to her he is united at its close. But Christ Jesus, like Crishna, Buddha, Osiris, Horus, Mithras, Apollo, Atys and others, rises again, and thus the myth takes us a step beyond the legend of Serpedon and others, which stop at the end of the eastward journey, when the night is done.
According to the Christian calendar, the birthday of John the Baptist is on the day of the summer solstice, when the sun begins to decrease. How true to nature then are the words attributed to him in the fourth Gospel, when he says that he must decrease, and Jesus increase.
Among the ancient Teutonic nations, fires were lighted, on the tops of hills, on the 24th of June, in honor of the wending Sun. This custom is still kept up in Southern Germany and the Scotch highlands, and it is the day selected by the Roman Catholic church to celebrate the nativity of John the Baptist.[499:1]
Mosheim, the ecclesiastical historian, speaking of the uncertainty of the time when Christ Jesus was born, says: "The uncertainty of this point is of no great consequence. We know that the Sun of Righteousness has shone upon the world; and although we cannot fix the precise period in which he arose, this will not preclude us from enjoying the direction and influence of his vital and salutary beams."
These sacred legends abound with such expressions as can have no possible or conceivable application to any other than to the "God of day." He is "a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory (or brightness) of his people."[499:2] He is come "a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in him should not abide in darkness."[499:3] He is "the light of the world."[499:4] He "is light, and in him no darkness is."[499:5]
"Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, Adonai, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night."—Collect, in Evening Service.
God of God, light of light, very God of very God."—Nicene Creed.
[Pg 500]"Merciful Adonai, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church."—Collect of St. John.
"To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens, and all the powers therein."
"Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory" (or brightness).
"The glorious company of the (twelve months, or) apostles praise thee."
"Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!"
"When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou passest through the constellation, or zodiacal sign—the Virgin."
"When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of winter, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven (i. e., bring on the reign of the summer months) to all believers."
Just so surely as Apollo is the Sun, so is the Lord Christ Jesus the Sun. That which is so conclusive respecting the Pagan deities, applies also to the God of the Christians; but, like the Psalmist of old, they cry, "Touch not MY Christ, and do my prophets no harm."
Many Christian writers have seen that the history of their Lord and Saviour is simply the history of the Sun, but they either say nothing, or, like Dr. Parkhurst and the Rev. J. P. Lundy, claim that the Sun is a type of the true Sun of Righteousness. Mr. Lundy, in his "Monumental Christianity," says: