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
Mr. Lundy, who seems to adhere to this once-upon-a-time favorite theory, illustrates it as follows:
"The young Isaac is his (Christ's) Hebrew type, bending under the wood, as Christ fainted under the cross; Daniel is his type, stripped of all earthly fame and greatness, and cast naked into the deepest danger, shame and humiliation." "Noah is his type, in saving men from utter destruction, and bringing them across the sea of death to a new world and a new life." "Orpheus is a type of Christ. Agni and Crishna of India; Mithra of Persia; Horus and Apollo of Egypt, are all types of Christ." "Samson carrying off the gates of Gaza and defeating the Philistines by his own death, was considered as a type of Christ [Pg 501]bursting open and carrying away the gates of Hades, and conquering His and our enemies by his death and resurrection."[501:1]
According to this theory, the whole Pagan religion was typical of Christ and Christianity. Why then were not the Pagans the Lord's chosen people instead of the children of Israel?
The early Christians were charged with being a sect of Sun worshipers.[501:2] The ancient Egyptians worshiped the god Serapis, and Serapis was the Sun. Fig. No. 11, page 194, shows the manner in which Serapis was personified. It might easily pass for a representation of the Sun-god of the Christians. Mr. King says, in his "Gnostics, and their Remains":
"There can be no doubt that the head of Serapis, marked as the face is by a grave and pensive majesty, supplied the first idea for the conventional portraits of the Saviour."[501:3]
The Imperial Russian Collection boasts of a head of Christ Jesus which is said to be very ancient. It is a fine intaglio on emerald. Mr. King says of it:
"It is in reality a head of Serapis, seen in front and crowned with Persia boughs, easily mistaken for thorns, though the bushel on the head leaves no doubt as to the real personage intended."[501:4]
It must not be forgotten, in connection with this, that the worshipers of Serapis, or the Sun, were called Christians.[501:5]
Mrs. Jameson, speaking on this subject, says:
"We search in vain for the lightest evidence of his (Christ's) human, individual semblance, in the writing of those disciples who knew him so well. In this instance the instincts of earthly affection seem to have been mysteriously overruled. He whom all races of men were to call brother, was not to be too closely associated with the particular lineaments of any one. St. John, the beloved disciple, could lie on the breast of Jesus with all the freedom of fellowship, but not even he has left a word to indicate what manner of man was the Divine Master after the flesh. . . . Legend has, in various form, supplied this natural craving, but it is hardly necessary to add, that all accounts of pictures of our Lord taken from Himself are without historical foundation. We are therefore left to imagine the expression most befitting the character of him who took upon himself our likeness, and looked at the woes and sins of mankind through the eyes of our mortality."[501:6]
The Rev. Mr. Geikie says, in his "Life of Christ":
"No hint is given in the New Testament of Christ's appearance; and the early Church, in the absence of all guiding facts, had to fall back on imagination."
[Pg 502]"In its first years, the Christian church fancied its Lord's visage and form marred more than those of other men; and that he must have had no attractions of personal beauty. Justin Martyr (A. D. 150-160) speaks of him as without beauty or attractiveness, and of mean appearance. Clement of Alexandria (A. D. 200), describes him as of an uninviting appearance, and almost repulsive. Tertullian (A. D. 200-210) says he had not even ordinary human beauty, far less heavenly. Origen (A. D. 230) went so far as to say that he was 'small in body and deformed', as well as low-born, and that, 'his only beauty was in his soul and life.'"[502:1]
One of the favorite ways finally, of depicting him, was, as Mr. Lundy remarks:
"Under the figure of a beautiful and adorable youth, of about fifteen or eighteen years of age, beardless, with a sweet expression of countenance, and long and abundant hair flowing in curls over his shoulders. His brow is sometimes encircled by a diadem or bandeau, like a young priest of the Pagan gods; that is, in fact, the favorite figure. On sculptured sarcophagi, in fresco paintings and Mosaics, Christ is thus represented as a graceful youth, just as Apollo was figured by the Pagans, and as angels are represented by Christians."[502:2]
Thus we see that the Christians took the paintings and statues of the Sun-gods Serapis and Apollo as models, when they wished to represent their Saviour. That the former is the favorite at the present day need not be doubted when we glance at Fig. No. 11, page 194.
Mr. King, speaking of this god, and his worshipers, says:
"There is very good reason to believe that in the East the worship of Serapis was at first combined with Christianity, and gradually merged into it with an entire change of name, not substance, carrying with it many of its ancient notions and rites."[502:3]
Again he says:
"In the second century the syncretistic sects that had sprung up in Alexandria, the very hotbed of Gnosticism, found out in Serapis a prophetic type of Christ, or the Lord and Creator of all."[502:4]
The early Christians, or worshipers of the Sun, under the name of "Christ," had, as all Sun-worshipers, a peculiar regard to the East—the quarter in which their god rose—to which point they ordinarily directed their prayers.[502:5]
The followers of Mithra always turned towards the East, when they worshiped; the same was done by the Brahmans of the East, and the Christians of the West. In the ceremony of baptism, the catechumen was placed with his face to the West, the symbolical representation of the prince of darkness, in opposition to the East, and made to spit towards it at the evil one, and renounce his works.
Tertullian says, that Christians were taken for worshipers of the Sun because they prayed towards the East, after the manner of those who adored the Sun. The Essenes—whom Eusebius calls Christians—always turned to the east to pray. The Essenes met once a week, and spent the night in singing hymns, &c., which lasted till sun-rising. As soon as dawn appeared, they retired to their cells, after saluting one another. Pliny says the Christians of Bithynia met before it was light, and sang hymns to Christ, as to a God. After their service they saluted one another. Surely the circumstances of the two classes of people meeting before daylight, is a very remarkable coincidence. It is just what the Persian Magi, who were Sun worshipers, were in the habit of doing.
When a Manichæan Christian came over to the orthodox Christians, he was required to curse his former friends in the following terms:
"I curse Zarades (Zoroaster?) who, Manes said, had appeared as a god before his time among the Indians and Persians, and whom he calls the Sun. I curse those who say Christ is the Sun, and who make prayers to the Sun, and who do not pray to the true God, only towards the East, but who turn themselves round, following the motions of the Sun with their innumerable supplications. I curse those person who say that Zarades and Budas and Christ and the Sun are all one and the same."
There are not many circumstances more striking than that of Christ Jesus being originally worshiped under the form of a Lamb—the actual "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." As we have already seen (in Chap. XX.), it was not till the Council of Constantinople, called In Trullo, held so late as the year 707, that pictures of Christ Jesus were ordered to be drawn in the form of a man. It was ordained that, in the place of the figure of a Lamb, the symbol used to that time, the figure of a man nailed to a cross, should in future be used.[503:1] From this decree, the identity of the worship of the Celestial Lamb and the Christian Saviour is certified beyond the possibility of doubt, and the mode by which the ancient superstitions were propagated is satisfactorily shown. Nothing can more clearly prove the general practice than the order of a council to regulate it.