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
The "taxing" which took place under Cyrenius, Governor of Syria (A. D. 7), excited the wildest uproar against the Roman power. The Hebrew spirit was stung into exasperation; the puritans of the nation, the enthusiasts, fanatics, the zealots of the law, the literal constructionists of prophecy, appealed to the national temper, revived the national faith, and fanned into flame the combustible elements that smoldered in the bosom of the race. The Messianic hope was strong in these people; all the stronger on account of their political degradation. Born in sorrow, the anticipation grew keen in bitter hours. That Jehovah would abandon them could not be believed. The thought would be atheism. The hope kept the eastern Jews in a perpetual state of insurrection. The cry "Lo here, lo there!" was incessant. Claimant after claimant of the dangerous supremacy of the Messiah appeared, pitched a camp in the wilderness, raised the banner, gathered a force, was attacked, defeated, banished, or crucified; but the frenzy did not abate.
The last insurrection among the Jews, that of Bar-Cochba—"Son of the Star"—revealed an astonishing frenzy of zeal. It was purely a Messianic uprising. Judaism had excited the fears of the Emperor Hadrian, and induced him to inflict unusual severities on the people. The effect of the violence was to stimulate that conviction to fury. The night of their despair was once more illumined by the star of the east. The banner of the Messiah was raised. , as of old, were seen in the sky; the clouds were watched for the glory that should appear. Bar-Cochba seemed to fill out the popular idea of the deliverer. Miracles were ascribed to him; flames issued from his mouth. The vulgar imagination made haste to transform the audacious fanatic into a child of David. Multitudes flocked to his standard. The whole Jewish race throughout the world was in commotion. The insurrection gained head. The heights about Jerusalem were seized and occupied, and fortifications [Pg 433]were erected; nothing but the "host of angels" was needed to insure victory. The angels did not appear; the Roman legions did. The "Messiah," not proving himself a conqueror, was held to have proved himself an impostor, the "son of a lie."[433:1]
The impetuous zeal with which the Jews rushed to the standard of this Messianic impostor, in the 130th year of the Christian era, demonstrates the true Jewish character, and shows how readily any one who made the claim, was believed to be "He who should come." Even the celebrated Rabbi Akiba sanctioned this daring fraud. Akiba declared that the so-called prophecy of Balaam,—"a star shall rise out of Jacob,"—was accomplished. Hence the impostor took his title of Bar-Cochabas, or Son of the Star; and Akiba not only publicly anointed him "King of the Jews," and placed an imperial diadem upon his head, but followed him to the field at the head of four-and-twenty thousand of his disciples, and acted in the capacity of master of his horse.
Those who believed on the meek and benevolent Jesus—and whose number was very small—were of that class who believed in the doctrine of the Angel-Messiah,[433:2] first heard of among them when taken captives to Babylon. These believed that just as Buddha appeared at different intervals, and as Vishnu appeared at different intervals, the avatars appeared among the Jews. Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, and Elijah or Elias, might in outward appearance be different men, but they were really the self-same divine person successively animating various human bodies.[433:3] Christ Jesus was the avatar of the ninth age, Christ Cyrus was the avatar of the eighth. Of the hero of the eighth age it is said: "Thus said the Lord to his Anointed (i. e., his Christ), his Messiah, to Cyrus, [Pg 434]whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations."[434:1] The eighth period began about the Babylonish captivity, about six hundred years before Christ Jesus. The ninth began with Christ Jesus, making in all eight cycles before Jesus.
"What was known in Judea more than a century before the birth of Jesus Christ cannot have been introduced among Buddhists by Christian missionaries. It will become equally certain that the bishop and church-historian, Eusebius, was right when he wrote, that he considered it highly probable that the writings of the Essenic Therapeuts in Egypt had been incorporated into our Gospels, and into some Pauline epistles."[434:2]
For further information on the subject of the connection between Essenism and Christianity, the reader is referred to Taylor's Diegesis, Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, and the works of S. F. Dunlap. We shall now speak of another powerful lever which was brought to bear upon the promulgation of Christianity; namely, that of Fraud.
It was a common thing among the early Christian Fathers and saints to lie and deceive, if their lies and deceits helped the cause of their Christ. Lactantius, an eminent Christian author who flourished in the fourth century, has well said:
"Among those who seek power and gain from their religion, there will never be wanting an inclination to forge and lie for it."[434:3]
Gregory of Nazianzus, writing to St. Jerome, says:
"A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said, not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated."[434:4]
The celebrated Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea, and friend of Constantine the Great, who is our chief guide for the early history of the Church, confesses that he was by no means scrupulous to record the whole truth concerning the early Christians in the various works which he has left behind him.[434:5] Edward Gibbon, speaking of him, says:
"The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related what might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of religion. Such an acknowledgment will naturally excite a suspicion that a writer who has so openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history, has not paid a very strict regard to the [Pg 435]observance of the other; and the suspicion will derive additional credit from the character of Eusebius, which was less tinctured with credulity, and more practiced in the arts of courts, than that of almost any of his contemporaries."[435:1]
The great theologian, Beausobre, in his "Histoire de Manichee," says:
"We see in the history which I have related, a sort of hypocrisy, that has been perhaps, but too common at all times; that churchmen not only do not say what they think, but they do say the direct contrary of what they think. Philosophers in their cabinets; out of them they are content with fables, though they well know they are fables. Nay, more; they deliver honest men to the executioner, for having uttered what they themselves know to be true. How many atheists and pagans have burned holy men under the pretext of heresy? Every day do hypocrites consecrate, and make people adore the host, though as well convinced as I am, that it is nothing but a bit of bread."[435:2]