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

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Hercules, the Saviour, was of royal descent.[163:9]

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Bacchus, although the Son of God, was of royal descent.[164:1]

Perseus, son of the virgin Danae, was of royal descent.[164:2]

Æsculapius, the great performer of miracles, although a son of God, was notwithstanding of royal descent.[164:3]

Many more such cases might be mentioned, as may be seen by referring to the histories of the virgin-born gods and demi-gods spoken of in Chapter XII.


[160:1] That is, a passage in the Old Testament was construed to mean this, although another and more plausible meaning might be inferred. It is when Abraham is blessed by the Lord, who is made to say: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice." (Genesis, xxii. 18.)

[160:2] Vol. ii. p. 214.

[161:1] Matthew, i. 17.

[161:2] Scott's English Life of Jesus.

[162:1] Matthew, xiii. 54; Luke, iv. 24.

[162:2] Mark, ii. 35.

[162:3] "There is no doubt that the authors of the genealogies regarded him (Jesus), as did his countrymen and contemporaries generally, as the eldest son of Joseph, Mary's husband, and that they had no idea of anything miraculous connected with his birth. All the attempts of the old commentators to reconcile the inconsistencies of the evangelical narratives are of no avail." (Albert Réville: Hist. Dogma, Deity, Jesus, p. 15.)

[162:4] The reader is referred to Thomas Scott's English Life of Jesus, Strauss's Life of Jesus, The Genealogies of Our Lord, by Lord Arthur Hervey, Kitto's Biblical Encyclopædia, and Barnes' Notes.

[163:1] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 130. Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 259, and Allen's India, p. 379.

[163:2] Hist. Hindostan, ii. p. 310.

[163:3] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 157. Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah. Davis: Hist. of China, vol. ii. p. 80, and Huc's Travels, vol. i. p. 327.

[163:4] Allen's India, p. 379.

[163:5] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 200, and Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Fuh-he."

[163:6] Davis: History of China, vol. ii. p. 48, and Thornton: Hist. China, vol. i. p. 151.

[163:7] See almost any work on Egyptian history or the religions of Egypt.

[163:8] See Lundy: Monumental Christianity, p. 403.

[163:9] See Taylor's Diegesis, p. 152. Roman Antiquities, p. 124, and Bell's Pantheon, i. 382.

[164:1] See Greek and Italian Mythology, p. 81. Bell's Pantheon, vol. i. p. 117. Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 118, and Roman Antiquities, p. 71.

[164:2] See Bell's Pantheon, vol. ii. p. 170, and Bulfinch: The Age of Fable, p. 161.

[164:3] See Bell's Pantheon, vol. i. p. 27. Roman Antiquities, p. 136, and Taylor's Diegesis, p. 150.

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Interwoven with the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus, the star, the visit of the Magi, &c., we have a myth which belongs to a common form, and which, in this instance, is merely adapted to the special circumstances of the age and place. This has been termed "the myth of the dangerous child." Its general outline is this: A child is born concerning whose future greatness some prophetic indications have been given. But the life of the child is fraught with danger to some powerful individual, generally a monarch. In alarm at his threatened fate, this person endeavors to take the child's life, but it is preserved by divine care.

Escaping the measures directed against it, and generally remaining long unknown, it at length fulfills the prophecies concerning its career, while the fate which he has vainly sought to shun falls upon him who had desired to slay it. There is a departure from the ordinary type, in the case of Jesus, inasmuch as Herod does not actually die or suffer any calamity through his agency. But this failure is due to the fact that Jesus did not fulfill the conditions of the Messiahship, according to the Jewish conception which Matthew has here in mind. Had he—as was expected of the Messiah—become the actual sovereign of the Jews, he must have dethroned the reigning dynasty, whether represented by Herod or his successors. But as his subsequent career belied the expectations, the evangelist was obliged to postpone to a future time his accession to that throne of temporal dominion which the incredulity of his countrymen had withheld from him during his earthly life.