JESUS CHRIST IS GOD (part 4)

"The following study will take a closer look into the claim of Skeptics that Christians copied the Virgin Birth doctrine from pagan religions which told of virgin-born gods and heroes. Firstly, to more detailed information concerning Buddha. One occasionally hears the claim that the Buddha was born of a virgin. But an examination of the legend surrounding his birth will reveal a different story. Buddhist legend tells us that the mother of the Buddha was a queen named Mahamaya. She and her husband, King Suddhodana Gotama, had tried for many years to have a child, but could not.” So much for the alleged virgin birth of the so-called Buddha. “One night, she dreamed that a white elephant holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, circled around her three times, striking her on her right side. The elephant then disappeared (some versions of the legend say that it entered her body through her side). When Queen Mahamaya awoke she told her husband about the dream. He asked the seers to interpret it, and they told him that the gods had chosen his wife to be the mother of a great, pure being. After that it was found that she had conceived, and later gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gotama, who would later be called ‘the Buddha’, or ‘enlightened one’. As you can see, this is not a ‘virgin birth’, for his mother was not a virgin! She had been married for many years and tried unsuccessfully to have children. The version of the dream where the white elephant enters her body need not signify a miraculous conception either. Buddhists believe in reincarnation; the white elephant may signify a very pure, exalted life force entering the child in her womb. At any rate, the story does not explicitly teach that Siddhartha's mother conceived him without intercourse. In contrast, Sacred Scripture clearly teaches that Mary had no relations with any man before Jesus' conception: ‘Then said Mary unto the angel, ‘How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?’ (Lk. 1:34). ‘Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, BEFORE they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost’ (Matt. 1:18). So the early Christians certainly did not get the idea of a virgin birth from Buddhism.

 

“The claims of Krishna’s virgin birth: Krishna, considered to be a major deity in Hinduism, is another personage sometimes said to have been born of a virgin. But once again, the story of his birth does not bear this out. According to Hindu legend, at the time of Krishna's birth a wicked tyrant named Kamsa was the king of Mathura. He had a sister named Devaki, who was married to a nobleman named Vasudeva. One day, Kamsa heard a voice from heaven telling him that his reign was almost over, because the eighth child of Devaki would kill him. Enraged and frightened, Kamsa imprisoned his sister and her husband. Devaki gave birth to seven children in jail, and Kamsa killed them all right after birth. When the time came for the eighth child to be born, Kamsa put more guards at the jail, to be sure this infant would also be killed at birth. But the guards fell into a deep sleep. When the baby Krishna was born at midnight, the god Vishnu miraculously released Vasudeva from the cell, telling him to go to the town of Gokul and exchange his newborn son for another baby. With Vishnu's help, Vasudeva made his way to Gokul, to the house of his friend, Nanda. There he found a woman named Yashoda asleep with her newborn girl by her side. He quickly switched babies and returned to the prison, where the guards were still asleep. The door of the cell locked behind him. The baby started to cry, which awoke the guards. Kamsa rushed to the jail to kill the infant, but was surprised to find that she was a girl....The story goes on from there, but enough has been cited to establish that Krishna was not born of a virgin. The legend clearly states that his mother had seven children before him, all obviously sired by her husband, who for some reason was imprisoned with her. Like the Buddha's mother, Devaki was clearly not a virgin. The Bible, however, tells us that Jesus was Mary's ‘firstborn son’ (Matt 1:25; Lk 2:7). So the myth of Krishna cannot be a source of the virgin birth doctrine either.

“The Saoshyants: The Zarathustri (Zoroastrian) religion looks forward to the coming of a future savior called the Saoshyant. Unlike the Buddha and Krishna, the Saoshyant is actually supposed to be born of a virgin. But how does this compare to the Christian doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Christ? (The following information has been culled from various Zarathustri websites, most notably the following article which has been paraphrased. Some Zarathushtris (Zoroastrians) believe there will be only one Saoshyant, while others believe there will be three. Each of these saviors is believed to be a future son of Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), the founder of their religion. According to the Zarathushtri religion, after his marriage to his wife Havovi, the prophet Zarathushtra had relations with her three times. The seed from these unions was miraculously preserved in the holy waters of Lake Kans (in modern day Iran). In the future three virgins will, during three different millenia, bathe in or drink these waters, and so miraculously conceive the sons of Zarathushtra. The first virgin's name will be Shemik-abu. She will conceive the first Saoshyant, Ukhshyat-ereta, by bathing in the waters of the lake at the age of fifteen. A millenium later, a virgin named Shapir-abu will bathe in those same waters and conceive Ukhshyat-nemangh, the second Saoshyant. Finally, at the end of time, the last virgin, named Gobak-abu, will conceive by drinking the sacred waters. She will give birth to Astvat-ereta, the final savior and true Saoshyant, who will defeat evil and bring righteousness to the earth. This last savior is anticipated by all Zarathushtri; those who believe in only one Saoshyant believe that this is he. The differences between these ‘virgin’ births and that of Christ are numerous: Each Saoshyant is the physical son of Zarathushtra himself, conceived by his seed. Jesus has no human father; Mary conceived Him without the seed of a man. The Word of God teaches that Mary conceived God the Son Incarnate. In contrast, Zarathushtri do not believe that the future virgins will bear God-Men. The Saoshyants are said to be human prophets empowered by Ahuramazda (the Zarathushtri concept of God) to do great miracles. They are not considered ‘Divine’. The Virgin Mary did not conceive Jesus by drinking or bathing in sacred waters. Though a miracle is said to be involved in the births of the Saoshyants, they are not conceived by the Holy Spirit in the same manner as Christ was. Jesus' conception was proclaimed beforehand by an angel; apparently no angelic annunciation is expected to occur before the conception of the Saoshyants. Christians have never believed in more than one virgin-born Saviour. The birth of Christ is utterly unique, never to be repeated. Zarathushtris look forward to several virginal births at the end of time; Christians believe that the virgin birth has already occurred, and that Jesus' Second Coming will not involve a birth at all.

“Here is the Scriptural account of Jesus' virginal conception, for comparison with the Zarathustri concept described above: “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Lk. 1:26-38). So the Christian concept of the virgin birth is clearly quite different from the Zarathushtri one. Reading both together, it is hard to see how one could be derived from the other.”

Does not the reader find it quite amazing that something completely different from something else, is said to have come from that ‘something else’. To say that the doctrines of Mary’s conception, and Christ’s virgin birth originated from the ludicrous, completely dissimilar teachings of paganism, is to say that the origin of truth is error, or that enlightenment begins, or springs from, and because of, ignorance, or is born of darkness. As the sun sheds its light on all, before it rises there is nothing but darkness, so too, before or without truth there is only ignorance. Truth does not come out of ignorance, but from a totally different direction. Only one number is the correct answer to the equation 2 + 2, and that is 4. Though every other answer is wrong, they are nonetheless numbers. But though every answer given in reply to the equation, is a number, there is only one number which stands out from the rest. That the true answer is also a number does not mean that it belongs with the group of numbers which are all erroneous when it comes to this particular equation. The true answer does not come from error, it comes from a totally different source: truth. Only one number, 4, which is totally and completely unique among all other numbers is the only true answer in this instance. Only one number which is in a group of its own, while all other numbers are in a completely separate group concerning our equation.  So too, there is only one true Saviour, one true Jesus, and there is only one true God. While the world and its inhabitants have worshipped millions upon millions of so-called Gods (Hinduism alone has over 300 million gods), the fact remains that there is only one true God, only one real Trinity and only one genuine virgin born Saviour. If one were completely ignorant of the correct method of calculation, if one had absolutely no idea of what the true answer to 2 + 2 is, then how would anyone, how could anyone ever arrive at the true answer? How could a person ever dismiss any number as being the true answer if they did not know what that true answer was? Such is the darkness in which lost man walks. Truth is the great leveller. Know the truth and you can easily recognize error. Know the truth and you can never be fooled by lies. Know the true God as He is revealed in His Holy Gospel, and you will never believe that lies can define or describe the true and only God and how He saves His people from their sins. The evidence for all these facts is readily available in the Word of God.

Returning now to our comparative study of paganism’s claims of alleged virgin births, and that unique and only true virgin birth taught in the Holy Scriptures: “Heroes and Kings: skeptics will point to the (alleged) miraculous births of Greco-Roman heroes like Perseus, Heracles and Romulus, or of deified kings like Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus and the Pharaohs, as alleged pagan parallels of the virgin birth of Christ. But an honest study of these myths will show that these are actually cases of a male god taking some physical (possibly human) form and impregnating a woman, either through actual intercourse or by some other physical penetration. This is not a true virgin birth either, for it involves sexual reproduction, and even intercourse! In contrast, the true God did not have relations of any sort with the Virgin Mary. Jesus is not conceived by intercourse of any kind; instead, the creative power of the Holy Spirit causes Mary to conceive miraculously, in a non-sexual manner. Jesus is born of a woman without the seed of man—or god!

“Many have read or said that the biblical idea of Jesus having been born of a virgin is not only paralleled in other cultures, but is drawn from one or other of these other cultures. The argument used is that, since the biblical idea is later than a similar idea in another culture, then the Gospel writers borrowed the idea from that earlier source.” What such doubters completely fail to reckon with is the fact that Christian truths did not begin to exist when they were revealed to man, nor did they come into existence after the birth of a lie, they never began to be after pagan doctrines, but were merely revealed, reported, or recorded, later. Many Christian truths may well have been reported after false pagan accounts, but all Christian truth was conceived by Almighty God in eternity. Just as God is eternal, so too, is His truth: “For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven” (Psa. 119:89), not only forever future, but also forever past; “But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:25 cf. Acts 8:25), not only forever future, but also forever past; “…the truth of the Lord endureth for ever…” (Psa. 117:2), not only forever future, but also forever past; The Lord Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35); “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand forever” (Isa. 40:8), not only forever future, but also forever past. One example of such common, but flawed, thinking which lies behind the lie that a later teaching must have been derived from a previous teaching, is seen in the following account: “A long time ago, someone wrote a story where the ghost of a prince's dead father appears to him to warn him that a conspiracy by those closest to the king had killed the young man's father, and so that he shouldn't trust anyone. Sound familiar? Shakespeare's Hamlet, perhaps? No, this is the Instructions of Amenemhat from around the year 1900 BC! Yet compare the similarities between this ancient Egyptian piece of wisdom literature and Hamlet Act 1, Scene 1. But certainly Shakespeare wasn't influenced by the Egyptian writing (nor, of course, the other way around), since the Instructions of Amenemhat was found around the 19th century, whereas Shakespeare was born in 1564! THIS WHOLE SITUATION IS VERY HUMAN IN ITS INCLINATION TO CONNECT THINGS WHERE NO CONNECTION EXISTS. This has become even more redundant because the authors regarding this subject have always been extremely eager to find dependence by Christianity on other religions. Another example of this inherent trait to connect unconnected things is when J.R.R. Tolkien heavily criticized a Swedish commentator who suggested that The Lord of the Rings was an anti-communist piece of literature, Sauron, the main evil character being Stalin. Tolkien's anti-Communist stance was well known by then, but he answered, saying, ‘I utterly repudiate any such reading, which angers me. The situation was conceived long before the Russian revolution. Such allegory is entirely foreign to my thought’.”

“The claim that Christian doctrines were formed after similar teachings in pagan culture, with its line of reasoning, has been extensively examined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by several scholars, the most accessible books being, possibly, James Orr, The Virgin Birth of Christ, 1929 and J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, 1958. These two writers highlight a few things about people who make the contention…First, they seem unaware of the fact that neither similarity of idea nor being later in time necessarily proves dependence or borrowing. Secondly, they have been unsuccessful in showing how Matthew and Luke (Jewish-Christian in world view, and thus averse to anything smacking of heathen idolatry), came to know of and be influenced by the alleged parallel from a heathen or pagan culture. Thirdly, and most critically, they have not been able to establish a single, real, historical case of virgin birth in other cultures. James Orr says, ‘With respect now to my main contention, it must strike you, I know, as strange to hear that the heathen world has no proper doctrine of a virgin birth so continually are you told that pagan mythology is full of parallels of this kind’. (The Virgin Birth of Christ, p.167). Orr then considers ‘the popular mythological conceptions of the Greeks and Romans’ such as ‘the fables of Hermes, of Dionysius, of Aesculapius, of Hercules, and the like’ and concludes, ‘A god, inflamed by lust, Zeus, is a chief sinner, surprises a maiden, and has a child by her, but it is by natural generation. There is nothing here analogous to the virgin birth of the Gospels’ (p.168). The central point is the absence from the literature — mythical, not historical — of a virgin giving birth.

“Next for consideration by Orr are ‘the fables set afloat about a philosopher like Plato, or rulers like Alexander or Augustus’. Apart from the fact that the fathers and mothers of these individuals were well known, the claims made for them are not so much that their mothers were virgins, but that each was sired by a god. Plutarch, (c AD 46 - c 120), in one of the accounts of Alexander's special birth, has his mother saying about her son's boast of being a child of Zeus, ‘Will not Alexander cease slandering me to Hera?’ Augustus promoted the idea that Apollo was his father. The claim was that his mother fell asleep in the temple of Apollo and was visited by the god in the form of a serpent. Concerning Plato, Plutarch suggests that the begetting was before marital intercourse between Plato's parents, but we are not sure of the mother's premarital behaviour. Diogenes Laertius (third century AD), drawing on the works of three writers before his time, including Speusippos, Plato's nephew and successor at his academy, says that they all mention a story circulating in Athens that Plato's father, Ariston, tried unsuccessfully to get his mother, Perictione, pregnant. The god Apollo succeeded. The central point again is the absence from the literature of a virgin giving birth! Orr closes by examining the unsuccessful attempts to find virgin birth parallels in Egypt, Babylon, Arabia and Persia (pp 172-176). With specific reference to Egypt, it must be noted that the mythical Horus was the son of the mythical Isis and Osiris, and the issue of a virgin birth for Horus does not arise in the Egyptian myth. Craig L. Blomberg, professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary, said in his written response to a published debate between William Lane Craig and Dominic Crossan, ‘...I remain unconvinced that the closest parallels to the accounts of Jesus' virginal conception and other miraculous elements of the Gospels are found in pagan mythology. With respect to the virgin birth idea being borrowed from paganism’s alleged virgin births, J. Gresham Machen disproved this theory with copious evidence more than sixty years ago, and he has not been refuted’. (In Paul Copan, ed, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? (1998, 106). Since 'virgin birth parallels' are missing, the careful reader of Matthew and Luke must deal with the virgin birth claim against the proven backdrop of the evangelists' credibility and reliability as writers of material purporting to be history. No, Christianity did not steal the concept of the virgin birth from any religion…God has revealed it to be true in His Word: 'Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us' (Matt. 1:22,23 cf. Isa. 7:14).”

Many have even attacked the verifiable, and historically proven fact that Jesus existed! They say that Jesus is a mere myth no different to the gods of ancient mythology. Even today, there are many who deny the very existence of a man called Jesus born in Bethlehem prophesied to be the Saviour of the world. Such people are known as mythicists. A Mythicist is someone who doubts the historical veracity of the Judaeo-Christian Bible, and is a believer in the non-historicity of Jesus Christ, as well as a host of other Biblical figures. “Professor Bart Ehrman, arguably the world’s leading skeptical New Testament scholar, asks, ‘What is driving the mythicist’s agenda? Why do they work so hard at showing that Jesus never really lived? I do not have a definitive answer to that question, but I do have a hunch. It is no accident that virtually all mythicists (in fact, all of them, to my knowledge), are either atheists or agnostics. The ones I know anything about are quite virulently, even militantly atheist’. Mythicism just has no currency in contemporary scholarship. Today just about every scholar in the relevant historical specializations unanimously rejects the notion that Jesus is a copy of pagan gods. It seems that the available evidence has persuaded them against these alleged parallels. For instance, T.N.D Mettinger of Lund University comments that ‘There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct…’ Professor Ronald Nash, a prominent philosopher and theologian agrees that the ‘Allegations of an early Christian dependence on Mithraism have been rejected on many grounds. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth—at least during its early stages’. Nash then goes on to say, ‘Today most Bible scholars regard the question as a dead issue’.

 

“As the once skeptical and influential professor of New Testament R.K. Bultmann penned, ‘Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community’. Paul Maier, a former Professor of Ancient History, likewise agrees. Maier emphasizes the depth of the historical evidence at the historian’s disposal that makes ‘The total evidence so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence’. Professor Craig Evans, a widely known and respected academic commentator in his writings on the historical Jesus, says that ‘No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria’. The Encyclopedia Britannica uses over 20,000 words to describe the historicity of Jesus; more than Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon Bonaparte. It states ‘the overwhelming number of independent accounts prove without question that in ancient times the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus. It was disputed for the first time, on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th century, and during the 19th and 20th’centuries.” Now, one can argue the details of an issue, but what FOOL would ever seek to deny, verified, proven, fact!

“Dr Simon Greenleaf, world famous and renowned Royal Professor of Law, later to become Dane Professor of Law, at Harvard University, was the driving force behind the rise to prominence of the Harvard Law School. Dr. Greenleaf wrote a three-volume work entitled, ‘A Treatise on the Law of Evidence’, which is still considered one of the greatest single authorities on the subject in the entire literature of legal procedure. Dr. Greenleaf, was a skeptic who believed the resurrection of Christ to be a hoax, often mocking the Christians in his classes. One day they challenged him to take the three volumes he had written on the laws of legal evidence and apply them to the resurrection. After much persuasion he decided to examine the historical evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to determine the truth using the principles of evidence management found in Dr. Greenleaf’s own book ‘A Treatise on the Law of Evidence’. After careful investigation, Dr. Greenleaf became a devout evangelical Episcopalian and went on to write a book about his search. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best-established, more provable events in history according to the laws of legal evidence. He stated, ‘The conclusion is clear, according to the laws of legal evidence used in the court of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ than for almost any other event in history’. Historian Michael Grant says, ‘To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars’. So, if anything, the claim that Jesus never existed as a historical figure is viewed as an absurd position held by those on the outer fringe. According to Richard Burridge there is an obvious absence of mythicism in professional scholarship, ‘I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that Jesus did not exist, anymore’. Frank Morrison, a rationalistic lawyer, believed that the Bible was full of fables and fairy tales, specifically the story of the Resurrection of Christ. He felt the story of Jesus was matchless without the story of the Resurrection ruining it. He felt he ‘owed it to himself and others to write a book that presented the truth about Jesus, and dispel the myth of the Resurrection once and for all time’. Upon studying the facts, however, he came to a different conclusion, and became convinced of the Resurrection of Christ being an undeniable fact of history. The sheer weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Morrison did write a book, but not the one he had planned to write. C.S. Lewis, Professor of Literature at Cambridge University, was a literary genius and scholar, who believed Christians were wrong. Being a hard and fast atheist, he sought to refute the claims of Jesus Christ and Christianity regarding the Resurrection of Christ. After thoroughly investigating the literary claims and evidence, Lewis concluded that other religions make no such historical claim as Christianity. Using his knowledge of literary principles and literary criticism, Lewis concluded that the Gospels were factual historical documents and not myths, fables, and fairy tales.” This all goes to show that one need not have a religious, or spiritual, experience in order to believe in the existence of the Lord God Jesus Christ. One does not need a pre-existent favourable inclination or prejudice to see and accept what cannot be denied: the truth. With copious evidence available, any secular mind belonging to an honest and unbiased person can discern the reality behind Christ’s existence, Deity and His miraculous Resurrection. Those who refuse to look, will never see.

Most of what we know of secretive pagan religions comes after Christianity, not before it. If it is true that most of what we know of these secretive religions postdates Christianity, then why are mythicists proposing the view that these texts predate Christianity? Why do they claim that the early Christian community copied elements of these secretive religions when they could not have? Professor Mettinger, alongside academic consensus, holds that there were no dying and rising gods before Jesus, or before the advent of Christianity in the early 1st century: ‘The consensus among modern scholars — nearly universal — is that there were no dying and rising gods that preceded Christianity. They all post-dated the first century’. Mettinger goes on to say that the particular references to a resurrection of Adonis ‘have been dated mainly to the Christian Era’, hence could not precede the Resurrection of Jesus. Scholar Edwin Yamauchi writes that ‘the supposed resurrection of Attis doesn’t appear until after AD 150’. And in the case of Mithra, professor Ronald Nash himself explains that ‘Mithraism flowered after Christianity, not before, so Christianity could not have copied from Mithraism. The timing is all wrong to have influenced the development of first-century Christianity’. Thus, the alleged copying on the part of the earliest Christians simply could not have occurred. In many aspects of Jesus’ life He was unique. This was evidently so compelling to those in His day that a number of groups, crowds, and individuals followed Him. Many would even follow Him even if it led to their deaths and a host of painful suffering. Today scholars continue to be surprised by Jesus, as historian Edwin Judge observes, ‘An ancient historian has no problem seeing the phenomenon of Jesus as an historical one. His many surprising aspects only help anchor Him in history. Myth and legend would have created a more predictable figure. The writings that sprang up about Jesus also reveal to us a movement of thought and an experience of life so unusual that something much more substantial than the imagination is needed to explain it’…name someone other than Jesus who lived in the first century (e.g., Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, etc.), who is mentioned by 17 writers who do not share his convictions, and who write within 150 years of his life. No first century person was as well attested as Jesus’.

“… some have argued that the pagan god Mithra was born of a virgin in the exact same manner as Jesus. However, Professor Manfred Clauss, a scholar of ancient history, explains that ‘The sequence of images from the mythical account of Mithras’ life and exploits begins, so far as we can make out, with the god’s birth. The literary sources here are few but unmistakable: Mithras was known as the rock-born god’. Unless rocks count as virgins we do not have a parallel of Christ’s virgin birth here. The literature of the world is prolific with narratives of unusual births, but it contains no precise analogy to the virgin birth in Matthew and Luke. Jesus’ ‘virgin birth’ is not ‘pagan’. Again, William Craig informs his readers that ‘The Gospel stories of Jesus’ virginal conception are, in fact, without parallel in the ancient Near East’. Despite this, some claim that Jesus is a copy of Mithras, they claim in the following comparisons that Mithras: 1. Sacrificed himself. 2. He was resurrected. 3. He had disciples. 4. That he was born of a virgin on December 25th. 5. He was called the Messiah. 6. He was born of a virgin. Firstly, this is questionable since very little is known about Mithraism because no texts have been found or none exist. What we know comes from archaeology in the form of hundreds of discovered mithraea artefacts, as well as in the writings of Christians and pagans in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Secondly, scholars have found no clear evidence of Mithraism until the mid to late 1st century, after Christianity was established. Therefore the early Christians could not have copied anything, as there was nothing to copy in the first place. Thirdly, the comparisons are spurious on all levels. As for starters Mithras did not sacrifice himself at all, and no-one actually knows if or how he died. Scholars seem to think that Mithras was killed by a bull. This killing of by the bull seems to be the source of the Mithraic ritual, known as taurobolium, of killing a bull and allowing the blood to drench the worshiper. Now, there may be parallels between this ritual and Jewish animal sacrifice, or the Lord’s Supper, but the earliest reference to the ritual is the middle of the 2nd century – these comparisons, even if accurate, are spurious, and post-date Christianity. As Ronald Nash observes, ‘Indeed, there is inscriptional evidence from the fourth century A.D. that, far from influencing Christianity, it was those who used the taurobolium who were influenced by Christianity’.

“As we have no record of Mithras actually dying, there is no record of him being resurrected either, especially not in the way of the claims surrounding Jesus. And the claim that Mithras had disciples is incorrect, there is no evidence that he existed as a historical figure, and there is no evidence that he had any disciples. He was seen as a god, and not as a human. Fourthly, Mithras was not born of a virgin, unless we count rocks as virgins. As Clauss, a professor of ancient history at the Free University of Berlin, in his book ‘The Roman Cult of Mithras‘ explains: ‘The sequence of images from the mythical account of Mithras’ life and exploits begins, so far as we can make out, with the god’s birth. The literary sources here are few but unmistakable: Mithras was known as the rock-born god’. I would encourage anyone to forward primary evidence that Mithras was referred to as the ‘Messiah’, because there is no evidence of this. As Professor Gary Lease has noted, ‘After almost 100 years of unremitting labor, the conclusion appears inescapable that neither Mithraism nor Christianity proved to be an obvious and direct influence upon the other’. Professor Edwin Yamauchi concludes, ‘We don’t know anything about the death of Mithras…We have a lot of monuments, but we have almost no textual evidence, because this was a secret religion. But I know of no references to a supposed death and resurrection’.

“That Jesus is a copy of Horus is also rejected by scholars.” Those who say that Jesus is merely a copy of the Egyptian god Horus, “…claim in the following comparisons that Horus was: 1. Born on December 25. 2. Mary, Jesus’ mother, is a copy of the Horus account. 3. Born of a virgin. 4. Three kings came to adore the new-born ‘saviour’. 5. Was a saviour. 6. He became a child teacher at the age of 12. 7. Like Jesus, Horus was ‘baptized’. 8. He had a ‘ministry’. 9. Had twelve ‘disciples’. 10. Was crucified, was buried for three days, and was resurrected after three days. Horus was born during the month of Khoiak, this would be either October or November, and certainly not December 25 as the mythicist claims. Secondly, Horus was born to Isis, and there is no mention in history of her being called ‘Mary’ at any time or place, or by anyone. Even worse for those using this as an alleged parallel is that ‘Mary’ is an Anglicized form of her real name which is actually Miryam or Miriam, therefore, ‘Mary’ was not even used in the original biblical manuscripts! Someone is clearly making up nonsense. Thirdly, Isis was not a virgin. Isis was actually the widow of Osiris and conceived Horus with Osiris. In fact, we read: that ‘[Isis] made to rise up the helpless members [penis] of him whose heart was at rest, she drew from him his essence [sperm], and she made therefrom an heir [Horus]’.(Encyclopaedia Mythica). This alleged parallel should be rejected.

“Though an exact date for Jesus’ birth is not known, it should be made clear that we do know  that it was not in the month of December, let alone on the 25th of December. We know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (see Lk. 2:7,8). Shepherds were not in the fields during the month of December. Luke’s Gospel ‘suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night, and not been out in the open fields’. Luke 2:7,8 argues against the birth of Christ occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night. Further evidence which shows that the Lord Jesus could not have been born in December is the fact that Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (see Lk. 2:1-4). Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating. Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, ‘the important fact then to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism’. If Jesus Christ wasn’t born on December 25, does the Bible indicate when He was born? The biblical accounts point to the Fall (Autumn) of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist. Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (see Lk. 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (see Lk. 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year. It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (see Lk. 1:8-13). After he completed his service and travelled home, Elizabeth conceived (see Lk. 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.

 

“There is no record of three kings visiting Horus at his birth. This becomes even more questionable when we find that the Gospel accounts do not even state the actual number of magi that came to see Jesus at his birth (see Num. 24:17; Matt. 2:1-12). Fifthly, Horus was not even a saviour by any means; he did not even die for anyone like Jesus did. Sixth, I would challenge anyone to produce a single piece of primary evidence that tells us of Horus being a teacher at the age of 12. There is none that scholars have ever found. Seventh, Horus was also not ‘baptized’, at least not like Jesus was at the hands of John the Baptist in the Jordan river. The only account of Horus that involves water is one story where Horus is torn to pieces, with Isis requesting the crocodile god to fish him out of the water. This does not sound much like a baptism. We have no account of Horus ever having a ‘ministry’, especially not one like Jesus. Horus also did not have 12 disciples. According to data, Horus had four demigods that followed him, and there are some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him. Subsequently, there are different accounts of how Horus actually died, but none of them ever involves a crucifixion. Lastly, we have no accounts of Horus even being buried for three days. We have no accounts of Horus being resurrected, and especially not in the bodily form as Jesus was. There is no account of Horus coming out of the grave with the body he went in with. Some accounts have Horus/Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and then becoming the lord of the underworld. All these alleged parallels are spurious at best.

“That Jesus was a copy of Dionysus is also rejected by scholars. Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Dionysus, they claim in the following comparisons that Dionysus was: 1. Born of a virgin.2. Born on the 25th of December. 3. Turned water into wine.  Again, point 2 can be dismissed because we know Jesus could not have born in the month of December. Secondly, there are two common stories of Dionysus’ birth. One story involves the god Zeus, who is his father, either impregnating the mortal woman Semele, or impregnating Persephone (the Greek Queen of the underworld). This has nothing to do with a virgin birth. In the other narrative there is also no virgin birth. However, the second narrative seems to be a copy of the Genesis biblical account because it appears to describe what the Book of Genesis said thousands of years before. In this narrative of Dionysus’ birth it describes fallen angels, and then impregnating human women (see Gen. 6:4). Either way, there’s nothing here to be a parallel of Jesus. We are all likely familiar with the miracle story of Jesus turning water into wine (see Jn. 2:1-11). But was it a copy from the pagan god Dionysus, as some have alleged? No. Firstly, Dionysus gave King Midas the power to turn whatever he touched into gold. Also, he gave the daughters of King Anius the power to turn whatever they touched into wine, corn, or oil. But this should hardly be surprising as Dionysus was the god of wine. However, there do seem to be stories where Dionysus supernaturally fills empty vessels with wine, but the actual act of turning water into wine does not occur. There is no parallel here either.

“That Jesus is a copy of the Hindu god Krishna is also rejected by scholars. Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Krishna, they claim in the following comparisons that Krishna was: 1. Born of a virgin. 2. That there was an infant massacre. 3. That there was a star in the East that guided the wise men to his birth. 4. Was crucified. 5.Was resurrected. 6. Krishna’s father was a carpenter, like Jesus’ ‘father’. Firstly, never is a virgin birth attributed to Krishna. In fact, as we previously noted, his parents had seven children prior to Krishna’s birth. Some mythicists claim that Krishna was born to the virgin Maia, however what we find is that this is incorrect as according to our Hindu texts Krishna is the eighth son of Princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. In the Gospels we read that King Herod felt threatened by Jesus’ birth, and that he resorted to killing the infants in Bethlehem. Yet, is this a copy from a narrative concerning Krishna? No, it isn’t. Instead what we find is that Devaki’s seven previous children were murdered by her cousin, King Kamsa, due to a prophecy foretelling his death at the hands of one of her children. This narrative tells us Kamsa only targeted Devaki’s sons, and never issued a command to kill all male infants, unlike the Gospel accounts. We read in ‘Bhagavata, Bk 4, XXII:7’ ‘Thus the seven sons were born to Devaki and Kamsa, too, killed those seven sons consecutively as they were born’. Thirdly, what about the star and the wise men? This is a questionable parallel since Krishna was born in a prison and not a stable. Further, his parents bore him in secret. Some have even alleged that Krishna was crucified like Jesus was, but crucifixion is never once mentioned in any Hindu text. However, we are told how Krishna dies. We read that he was meditating in the woods when he was accidentally shot in the foot by a hunter’s arrow. No crucifixion. What about a resurrection? Firstly, we have zero evidence that Krishna descended into the grave for three days and appeared to many witnesses like Jesus did, as the mythicist claims. Instead, the actual account says that Krishna immediately returns to life and speaks only to the hunter where he forgives him of his actions. Nevertheless, there are obvious differences between the resurrections of Jesus and Krishna’s appearance to the hunter who killed him. These are: Jesus’ Resurrection defeated the power of sin and death. Krishna’s resurrection had no real effect on mankind. Jesus appeared to approximately 500 eye witnesses in the New Testament. Krishna appeared only to the hunter. Jesus rose from the dead three days later. Krishna immediately returned to life. Jesus did not ascend into Heaven until after the Great Commission. Krishna immediately ‘ascended’ into the afterlife. Jesus was aware of what was to take place. Krishna had no foreknowledge concerning his death. Jesus ascended into a physical realm (Heaven). Krishna transcended into a mental state (or inconceivable region). The concepts between Heaven (Christianity) and Nirvana (Hinduism) differ greatly. Lastly, what about Krishna’s father? Was his father, Vasudeva, a carpenter like Jesus’ earthly father was? (see Matt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3). It is true that Krishna’s father was also said to be a carpenter, yet this is not suggested anywhere within our actual Hindu texts. What we are told is that Vasudeva was a nobleman in the courts of Mathura as he was married to Princess Devaki. However, when Krishna fled the wrath of Kamsa with his foster parents, we are told his foster-father Nanda was a cow herder: ‘Thou art the most beloved of Nanda, the Cow-herd’ (Bhagavata, Bk 8, I, pg 743). Again, no parallels.