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
[140:1] Matthew, ch. ii.
[141:1] Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 72.
[141:2] Vol. i. p. 145.
[141:3] See Knight: Ancient Art and Mythology, p. 52.
[142:1] Allen's India, p. 456.
[142:2] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 221.
[142:3] Ibid. p. 261.
[142:4] See Kenrick's Egypt, vol. i. p. 456.
[143:1] See Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, pp. 22, 23, 38.
[143:2] See Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 23, 33, 35.
[143:3] See Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 36.
[143:4] Williams's Indian Wisdom, p. 347.
[143:5] See Hist. Hindostan, ii. 336.
[143:6] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 561. For that of Crishna, see Vishnu Purana, book v. ch. iii.
[143:7] See Ibid. p. 618.
[143:8] Thornton: Hist. China, vol. i. p. 137.
[143:9] See Anac., i. p. 560, and Geikie's Life of Christ, i. 559.
[143:10] See Ibid., and The Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 72, and Calmet's Fragments, art. "Abraham."
[144:1] Baring-Gould: Legends of the Patriarchs, p. 149.
[144:2] Calmet's Fragments, art. "Abraham."
[144:3] Farrar's Life of Christ, p. 52.
[144:4] Tacitus: Annals, bk. xiv. ch. xxii.
[144:5] Amberly's Analysis of Religious Belief, p. 227.
[144:6] Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 73.
[145:1] Life of Christ, vol. i. p. 144.
[145:2] Matthew ii. 2.
[145:3] See Thomas Scott's English Life of Jesus for a full investigation of this subject.
THE SONG OF THE HEAVENLY HOST.
The story of the Song of the Heavenly Host belongs exclusively to the Luke narrator, and, in substance, is as follows:
At the time of the birth of Christ Jesus, there were shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And the angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and the angel said: "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host, praising God in song, saying: "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will towards men." After this the angels went into heaven.[147:1]
It is recorded in the Vishnu Purana[147:2] that while the virgin Devaki bore Crishna, "the protector of the world," in her womb, she was eulogized by the gods, and on the day of Crishna's birth, "the quarters of the horizon were irradiate with joy, as if moonlight was diffused over the whole earth." "The spirits and the nymphs of heaven danced and sang," and, "at midnight,[147:3] when the support of all was born, the clouds emitted low pleasing sounds, and poured down rain of flowers."[147:4]
Similar demonstrations of celestial delight were not wanting at the birth of Buddha. All beings everywhere were full of joy. Music was to be heard all over the land, and, as in the case of Crishna, there fell from the skies a gentle shower of flowers and perfumes. Caressing breezes blew, and a marvellous light was produced.[147:5]
The Fo-pen-hing relates that:
"The attending spirits, who surrounded the Virgin Maya and the infant Saviour, singing praises of 'the Blessed One,' said: 'All joy be to you, Queen Maya, rejoice and be glad, for the child you have borne is holy.' Then the Rishis and Devas who dwelt on earth exclaimed with great joy: 'This day Buddha is born for the good of men, to dispel the darkness of their ignorance.' Then the four heavenly kings took up the strain and said: 'Now because Bôdhisatwa is born, to give joy and bring peace to the world, therefore is there this brightness.' Then the gods of the thirty-three heavens took up the burden of the strain, and the Yama Devas and the Tûsita Devas, and so forth, through all the heavens of the Kama, Rupa, and Arupa worlds, even up to the Akanishta heavens, all the Devas joined in this song, and said: 'To-day Bôdhisatwa is born on earth, to give joy and peace to men and Devas, to shed light in the dark places, and to give sight to the blind."[148:1]
Even the sober philosopher Confucius did not enter the world, if we may believe Chinese tradition, without premonitory symptoms of his greatness.[148:2]
Sir John Francis Davis, speaking of Confucius, says:
"Various prodigies, as in other instances, were the forerunners of the birth of this extraordinary person. On the eve of his appearance upon earth, celestial music sounded in the ears of his mother; and when he was born, this inscription appeared on his breast: 'The maker of a rule for setting the World.'"[148:3]
In the case of Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, at his birth, a voice was heard proclaiming that: "The Ruler of all the Earth is born."[148:4]
In Plutarch's "Isis" occurs the following:
"At the birth of Osiris, there was heard a voice that the Lord of all the Earth was coming in being; and some say that a woman named Pamgle, as she was going to carry water to the temple of Ammon, in the city of Thebes, heard that voice, which commanded her to proclaim it with a loud voice, that the great beneficent god Osiris was born."[148:5]
Wonderful demonstrations of delight also attended the birth of the heavenly-born Apollonius. According to Flavius Philostratus, who wrote the life of this remarkable man, a flock of swans surrounded his mother, and clapping their wings, as is their custom, they sang in unison, while the air was fanned by gentle breezes.
At the time of the birth of "Hercules the Saviour," his father Zeus, the god of gods, spake from heaven and said:
When Æsculapius was a helpless infant, and when he was about to be put to death, a voice from the god Apollo was heard, saying:
"Slay not the child with the mother; he is born to do great things; but bear him to the wise centaur Cheiron, and bid him train the boy in all his wisdom and teach him to do brave deeds, that men may praise his name in the generations that shall be hereafter."[149:2]
As we stated above, the story of the Song of the Heavenly Host belongs exclusively to the Luke narrator; none of the other writers of the synoptic Gospels know anything about it, which, if it really happened, seems very strange.
If the reader will turn to the apocryphal Gospel called Protevangelion" (chapter xiii.), he will there see one of the reasons why it was thought best to leave this Gospel out of the canon of the New Testament. It relates the "Miracles at Mary's labor," similar to the Luke narrator, but in a still more wonderful form. It is probably from this apocryphal Gospel that the Luke narrator copied.
[147:1] Luke, ii. 8-15.
[147:2] Translated from the original Sanscrit by H. H. Wilson, M. D., F. R. S.
[147:3] All the virgin-born Saviours are born at midnight or early dawn.
[147:4] Vishnu Purana, book v. ch. iii. p. 502.
[147:5] See Amberly's Analysis, p. 226. Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 45, 46, 47, and Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 35.
[148:1] See Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 43, 55, 56, and Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 35.
[148:2] See Amberly: Analysis of Religious Belief, p. 84.
[148:3] Davis: History of China, vol. ii. p. 48. See also Thornton: Hist. China, i. 152.
[148:4] See Prichard's Egyptian Mythology, p. 56, and Kenrick's Egypt, vol. i. p. 408.
[148:5] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, p. 424, and Kenrick's Egypt, vol. i. p. 408.
[148:6] See Tales of Ancient Greece, p. 4.
[149:1] See Tales of Ancient Greece, p. 55.
[149:2] Ibid. p. 45.
THE DIVINE CHILD RECOGNIZED AND PRESENTED WITH GIFTS.
The next in order of the wonderful events which are related to have happened at the birth of Christ Jesus, is the recognition of the divine child, and the presentation of gifts.
We are informed by the Matthew narrator, that being guided by a star, the Magi[150:1] from the east came to where the young child was.
"And when they were come into the house (not stable) they saw the young child, with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshiped him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh."[150:2]
The Luke narrator—who seems to know nothing about the Magi from the east—informs us that shepherds came and worshiped the young child. They were keeping their flocks by night when the angel of the Lord appeared before them, saying:
"Behold, I bring you good tidings—for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
After the angel had left them, they said one to another:
"Let us go unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."[150:3]
The Luke narrator evidently borrowed this story of the shepherds from the "Gospel of the Egyptians" (of which we shall speak in another chapter), or from other sacred records of the biographies of Crishna or Buddha.
It is related in the legends of Crishna that the divine child [Pg 151]was cradled among shepherds, to whom were first made known the stupendous feats which stamped his character with marks of the divinity. He was recognized as the promised Saviour by Nanda, a shepherd, or cowherd, and his companions, who prostrated themselves before the heaven-born child. After the birth of Crishna, the Indian prophet Nared, having heard of his fame, visited his father and mother at Gokool, examined the stars, &c., and declared him to be of celestial descent.[151:1]
Not only was Crishna adored by the shepherds and Magi, and received with divine honors, but he was also presented with gifts. These gifts were "sandal wood and perfumes."[151:2] (Why not "frankincense and myrrh?")
Similar stories are related of the infant Buddha. He was visited, at the time of his birth, by wise men, who at once recognized in the marvellous infant all the characters of the divinity, and he had scarcely seen the day before he was hailed god of gods.[151:3]
A grey-haired saint, Asita, one whose ears,
Long closed to earthly things, caught heavenly sounds,
And heard at prayer beneath his peepul-tree,
The Devas singing songs at Buddha's birth."
Viscount Amberly, speaking of him, says:[151:4]
"He was visited and adored by a very eminent Rishi, or hermit, known as Asita, who predicted his future greatness, but wept at the thought that he himself was too old to see the day when the law of salvation would be taught by the infant whom he had come to contemplate."
"I weep (said Asita), because I am old and stricken in years, and shall not see all that is about to come to pass. The Buddha Bhagavat (God Almighty Buddha) comes to the world only after many kalpas. This bright boy will be Buddha. For the salvation of the world he will teach the law. He will succor the old, the sick, the afflicted, the dying. He will release those who are bound in the meshes of natural corruption. He will quicken the spiritual vision of those whose eyes are darkened by the thick darkness of ignorance. Hundreds of thousands of millions of beings will be carried by him to the 'other shore'—will put on immortality. And I shall not see this perfect Buddha—this is why I weep."[151:5]
He returns rejoicing, however, to his mountain-home, for his eyes had seen the promised and expected Saviour.[151:6]
Paintings in the cave of Ajunta represent Asita with the [Pg 152]infant Buddha in his arms.[152:1] The marvelous gifts of this child had become known to this eminent ascetic by supernatural signs.[152:2]
Buddha, as well as Crishna and Jesus, was presented with "costly jewels and precious substances."[152:3] (Why not gold and perfumes?)
Rama—the seventh incarnation of Vishnu for human deliverance from evil—is also hailed by "aged saints"—(why not "wise men"?)—who die gladly when their eyes see the long-expected one.[152:4]
How-tseich, who was one of those personages styled, in China, "Tien-Tse," or "Sons of Heaven,"[152:5] and who came into the world in a miraculous manner, was laid in a narrow lane. When his mother had fulfilled her time:
There was no bursting, no rending,
No injury, no hurt—
Showing how wonderful he would be."