The Jesus Parallels

(1st edition, 2007)

by Roger Viklund Umeĺ, Sweden  

 

 

Svensk version

The present essay is principally a translation of one chapter out of 30 from my book written in Swedish, Den Jesus som aldrig funnits (in English: The Jesus That Never Was). You can also find the original Swedish article, Jesusparallellerna, at my Swedish web site. Apart from the Introduction and the Summary, which I have partly rewritten, I have made only some minor changes; I have removed some things and added others. In addition, I have enlarged the footnotes with actual quotes from the original sources, materials that due to lack of space are not included in the book. I would be much obliged to get feedback on errors, factual or linguistic, found in this essay. I would also appreciate information on important material that ought to be included.

 

 

 

 

My intention

Modern scholarship tends to disregard the similarities between Jesus of the Gospels and other demigods. Defenders of the Christian faith, so-called apologists, often say that the similarities are far-fetched. They say that the differences are bigger than the similarities; that the only similarities that exist are structural; and if anyone borrowed anything, pagans borrowed from Christians.

In this essay, I have compared the life of Jesus according to the Gospels with the lives of other sons of God. I have focused on six characters: the Greek healing god Asclepius, the saviour figure and miracle-worker Apollonius of Tyana – a contemporary of Gospel Jesus, the Greek hero and son of god Heracles, the god of wine Dionysus, the Roman mystery god Mithras, and Siddhârtha Gautama Buddha from India. I have also treated of the virgin birth, the resurrection and the miracles, and in connection with these I have investigated Adonis, Attis and Osiris.

My intention is …

1)    to point out all the relevant similarities. Similarities that are not included here are such as I am not aware of, or have not been able to track down.

2)    to include the quotes from the original sources, as far as possible, for everyone to be able to form their own opinion.

3)    to show that many conceptions actually antedate Christianity.

 

My own belief is that there was no Jesus of Nazareth; that the Jesus who is portrayed in the Gospels never existed. Of course, the Jesus parallels alone do not lead me to that conclusion. They are but one detail in a much larger pattern, only one piece in a big jig-saw puzzle.

In my treatment of the six divine characters, I have, needless to say, excluded many details from their lives that have no correspondence in the Gospel stories. Obviously, each son of God needed his own unique expression to suit the needs of the different peoples.

 

I am not necessarily saying that other cultures or mythologies influenced Christianity. That might of course be the case in many instances, but hardly always. A better explanation is that they all draw from a common heritage. However, simply because everything is not necessarily borrowed from the pagans, this does not imply that the story told of Jesus in the Gospels is true. It does imply, however, that each story told of each son of God is a mythic story, and the story of Jesus as well. It seems unlikely that “every” Saviour God should have led his life in approximately the same way as all the others. That suggests to me that the Gospels are fictitious documents.

 

Vegetation Gods

Probably the oldest type of religion is nature-religion. From time immemorial, man has tried to interpret the reality in which he lives. The benevolence of nature has been a constant necessity for man’s survival. Small wonder then that man constantly searched for ways to appease nature, so that it brought rain, warmth, coolness, protection, food and so on, corresponding to his needs. Some time in the distant past, our ancestors began to personify the forces of nature. In the oldest religions, the gods were strongly connected to nature, and therefore they can be regarded as vegetation gods.

Christians have constantly called into question the existence of the vegetation gods. They claim that there actually are no unambiguous proofs that people ritually celebrated the death and resurrection of such gods, since the evidence for this in most cases derive from Christian sources and accordingly are late. However, not every source is late, and there is unequivocal pre-Christian evidence for most of these conceptions. We have to realize that we lack a complete understanding of ancient cultic ceremonies, not least because of the systematic destruction of displeasing documents which the Christian Church indulged in for several centuries. In addition, these cultic ceremonies were often held within the so-called mystery religions, which by their nature did not admit the uninitiated nor divulged their teachings to them. But as will be demonstrated, most of the evidence seems to indicate that the belief in a dying and rising god was a real phenomenon, above all in the eastern Mediterranean area and in Mesopotamia. The deeds of the vegetation gods followed the cycles of nature; and very early, festivals were arranged in honour of the gods at the time of sowing and harvesting. The god died in the hot late summer when nature dried up and lost its life, and he was born anew in the spring as vegetation returned. Later, during the era of the mystery religions, these gods were worshipped as having been raised from the kingdom of the dead.

To simplify the issue somewhat one might say that there were two types of vegetation gods – female and male. The former were in most cases earth-goddesses who ruled everything that had to do with vegetation, all the crops that fed the people in the agricultural societies. The latter were the horned gods who took care of all the livestock that gave clothing, meat, milk and other animal products.

 

Sun Gods

The sun gods are another category of gods. The people’s ideas of the lives of these gods were closely connected with the movement of the sun in the heavens. Often the god was both a vegetation god and a sun god. The shortest day of the year (the winter solstice), which also is the turning-point whereupon the days become longer, fell according to the Julian calendar on December 24, and the following day was considered not only the birthday of Jesus, but also that of Mithras and of other sun gods.

According to our current calendar, the winter solstice falls either on December 21 or 22. In the year 46 BCE the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) introduced a new calendar. The old one had ten months of approximately 30 days each; with a winter rest put in just before the beginning of the New Year. In order to correct flaws in the previous calendar, the new one was given 12 months of 365 days in all, and an intercalary day every fourth year. The new Julian calendar was adjusted 90 days as compared with the old one, so that the New Year began on January 1. This was a definite improvement on earlier efforts to compensate for the discrepancy accumulating in the course of time. The winter solstice was moved to December 24, which means that December 25 was made the day on which the light was thought to return. On this day, the possibly greatest pagan festivals were held to honour the return of the sun and, in consequence, to celebrate the birth of the sun gods.

However, the new calendar was almost 11 minutes longer than the actual year; and for that reason, the winter solstice gradually occurred earlier and earlier, so that it was displaced an entire day for every 128 years. But the ancients continued to celebrate their festivals on the days they had fixed. The great Roman feast was Saturnalia, which took place on December 17 and lasted to December 24. And in the year 274 CE, Emperor Aurelian introduced the celebration of “the birth of the invincible sun” (natalis solis invicti) on December 25, which coincided with the celebration of the birth of the Roman mystery god Mithras.

The earliest information to say that also Jesus was born on December 25 comes from Hippolytus (who lived c. 165-235).[1] And a calendar from the year 354 contains a testimony from the year 336 to the effect that Jesus was born on December 25.

As the years went by, the Julian calendar became increasingly inaccurate, and by the end of the 16th century, it was twelve days off compared to the time when it was introduced. In the year 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reformed the calendar by removing 10 (not the needed 12) days and restored it to the order prevailing in the middle of the fourth century CE when Jesus’ birthday was fixed on December 25, and it was decided that in each 400 years to come, three intercalary days should be removed.

At the winter solstice, the sun begins its journey to the north. Two thousand years ago, the constellation of Virgo rose on the eastern horizon at every winter solstice. In the old sun-worshipping societies, people could observe the Sun being born again, and every year it was “born” in Virgo. Indubitably, many nations have regarded the sun as a god. It is equally certain that the return of the sun at the winter solstice was an important event accompanied with ceremonial festivals. Therefore, it must be reasonable to assume that people in the sun-worshipping societies interpreted the sun’s rising in the constellation of Virgo as if the Virgin gave birth to the Sun, which was worshipped as a god. Consequently, the Virgin gave birth to the God or to the Son of God.

It might also be said that the Son of God had twelve companions, or disciples if you like, in the shape of the twelve zodiacal constellations which the sun passes on its journey in the sky. The Sun God Mithras is in most cases depicted together with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The two equinoxes (vernal and autumnal) and the two solstices (summer and winter) form a cross in the circle of the zodiac (mentioned by Plato), and so the Sun God can be said to be fettered on this cross, as he must constantly follow the path of the cross. All these ideas are probably the basis of the corresponding Christian conceptions.

 

Virgin Births

In most of the pre-Christian religions, there are stories told of a god impregnating a mortal woman, often a virgin, who then bears him a son. In this respect, Christianity differs in no way from the religions antedating it. According to the Gospels, Mary was still a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. She conceived Jesus through the action of the Holy Spirit, who according to the Christian doctrine is part of the deity. Thereby Jesus came to be seen as a “Son of God”.

Christian apologists claim that only Jesus is born of a virgin, and thus his mother Mary is the only virgin in history to have given birth to a child. They simply reject any other tale of prominent men and demigods who were conceived by gods and born of mortal women.

They say, for example, that Zeus had intercourse with the women while the Holy Spirit in a miraculous way made Mary pregnant while her maidenhead was still intact. One Catholic idea is that the Holy Spirit reaches Mary’s womb through her ear. Nor was Mary married, whereas most of the other childbearing “virgins” were married. Therefore they could not have been virgins. But what does the Bible actually say?

 

And in the sixth month was the messenger Gabriel sent by God, to a city of Galilee, the name of which [is] Nazareth, to a virgin, betrothed to a man, whose name [is] Joseph, of the house of David, and the name of the virgin [is] Mary. (Luke 1:26-27 YLT)

 

Obviously, Joseph and Mary were not married. However, betrothal often meant that the girl had not yet reached the age of 12 years when she was allowed to be married. And although not part of the normal procedure, sexual intercourse could be allowed during the betrothal period. Moreover, the Bible says that Jesus had sisters as well as brothers, who in that case must have been born after Jesus. In any case, Mary could not have remained a virgin her whole life, although the Catholics claim that the children mentioned were Jesus’ cousins and not his siblings.

 

And Mary said unto the messenger, ‘How shall this be, seeing a husband I do not know?’ And the messenger answering said to her, `The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also the holy-begotten thing shall be called Son of God… (Luke 1:34–35, YLT)

 

The Holy Spirit accordingly descends or comes upon Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadows her and she becomes pregnant. Note that in the Christian faith, the Holy Spirit is thought to be part of the Deity, and therefore technically it is God who comes upon Mary. The actual course of action of how the divine boy is produced is not described in the Bible. But neither are there any descriptions of the procedures resorted to when the other sons of god are begotten. It seems odd, however, that the gods always beget the mortal women by penetrating their vaginas, except just when it comes to Mary. Reasonably, it ought to have been the simplest way to get to the womb. And of course there is no difference. A mortal woman becomes pregnant without having had intercourse with any mortal man and instead the father is said to be a god.

The myths of virgin births are without any doubts a result of the demand of the woman’s chastity. A woman who is sexually active can never be chaste enough to give birth to a divine being. Therefore, a male divine being must beget the virgin. For obvious reasons, this can happen only in an inexplicable way.

The mother of Gautama Buddha was Queen Mâyâ, and the mother of Krishna was Devaki. Both were of royal birth. Later they were both adored as virgins. In Phrygia, Attis was thought to have been born of the virgin Nana, and the future Persian saviour, Saoshyant, was expected to be born of a virgin. Rhea Silvia gave birth to the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. Livy writes that while she was a Vestal Virgin she was impregnated by the god Mars.[2] Another god who had sons here on earth was Apollo. Pythagoras,[3] Plato[4] and Emperor Augustus[5] were all regarded as sons of Apollo and human mothers. Zeus was said to have begotten Dionysus, Heracles, Scipio Africanus and Alexander the Great.[6] Also Adonis, Zarathustra (Zoroaster), Tammuz and Perseus were said to have been born of virgins:

 

And if we even affirm that He [Jesus] was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus. (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 22, written 150-160 CE)

 

Christian apologists have tried to explain away these facts, very troublesome for Christianity, by asserting that there is no evidence that these conceptions existed before the Gospels were written. However, there is every indication that the conception of a son of god being born of a mortal virgin is very old, and that it goes way back in time; long before the Christian era.

 

The Resurrection

Also the Christian idea that the Saviour rose from the dead after three days or on the third day was borrowed from older religions in the eastern Mediterranean area. It was a widely spread conception that the gods were born at the winter solstice (at Christmas) and died in spring in connection with the vernal equinox (Easter). The people experienced a short period of grief, whereupon, on the third day or after three days, they rejoiced and celebrated the resurrected god.

The model for the Gospel view that Jesus rose on the third day existed as early as in the Egyptian cult of the god Osiris. Before Christianity entered the religious scene, the people of Egypt regarded Osiris as a god who suffered and died for humanity only to rise on the third day.[7]

Among other gods who were thought to have risen from the dead were Dionysus, Asclepius, Apollonius of Tyana, Heracles, Tammuz from Babylonia, Adonis of Phoenicia and Attis of Phrygia (who rose on the third day).

Since there are accounts preserved from the time before the advent of Christianity, and the archaeological finds indicate that these ideas existed earlier, it is reasonable to assume that the image the gospellers drew of Jesus is largely a modified copy of a very old conception.

One early apologist, Justin the Martyr (c. 150 CE), realized the embarrassing resemblance there was between the pagan and the Christian ideas. He solved this problem by simply claiming that the devil had imitated the prophecies about Jesus and spread them to the pagans in order to deceive the Christians.[8] However, the pagan conceptions are older than the Christian one. It was therefore an unprecedented exploit of the devil to imitate the Christian ideas to such perfection even before they appeared in Christianity.

 

Adonis

The Sumerian Dumuzi (in Syria Tammuz) and the Canaanite god Baal are two examples of vegetation gods. In the Sumerian Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World, we are told about the siblings Geshtinanna and Dumuzi who take it in turns to spend one half of the year in the Nether World and the other half on earth. Each winter, when drought killed vegetation, Dumuzi died. And when vegetation returned in spring, he was regarded as having been born anew.

The god Adon was worshiped in Phoenicia (present Mediterranean coast of Lebanon and Syria).[9] In Greece, he went by the name Adonis. This is probably the same god as Dumuzi and Tammuz.[10] His life and death is depicted in two different tales. According to the one, a pre-Christian story, Adonis is killed by a boar during hunting. Aphrodite finds the dying Adonis and bursts out in grief: “every year an imitation of your death will complete a re-enactment of my mourning.”[11]

According to the other tale, Adonis is born of Smyrna, who after she is turned into a tree is also called Myrrha. One of the oldest types of worship is that of trees. One example is Dionysus, who often was depicted as hung on a tree or of being the tree. Being hung on wood or on a tree is to be equated with being affixed to a cross. Actually, there is no word in Greek for crucifixion. In the New Testament, Jesus is either said to have been impaled (Greek: stauros = an upright pale, stake or pole; the verb stauroo = to affix to a stauros) or to have been hung on wood (Greek: xylon = a piece of wood, or timber). The Greek word stauros has no connotation of crossbeam. The idea that Jesus was nailed to a cross and not to a stake is a mere assumption from our belief that the Romans at the time used two-beamed “crosses”. However, this is never explicitly said in the New Testament. Consequently, there is no difference between the Christian and the pagan conception, as they are expressed in the writings.

The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, puts the new-born Adonis in a chest, takes him to the queen of the underworld, Persephone, and asks her to take care of the child for a while. But when Persephone sees how beautiful Adonis is, she refuses to give him back to Aphrodite. The drama ends with Zeus having to mediate and he decides that Adonis will spend winter in the underworld with Persephone and summer on earth, among the living, along with Aphrodite. The rest of the time he may stay where he wants, and he chooses the light and the warmth above. Each winter Adonis is forced to descend to Persephone in the Kingdom of the dead and each spring, as vegetation returns, he is born anew as he ascends from the Kingdom of the Dead. Afterwards, he is killed by a boar.[12]

This story is approximately contemporary with the Gospels, but it is based upon the Greek poet Panyassis,[13] who wrote in the early fifth century BCE, and we know that the myth is old since it is reproduced in an image on a mirror found in Orbetello; a mirror dated back to the third century BCE or earlier.[14]

Almost all testimonies of Adonis come from classical sources, which are often late. In the Greek version of the myth, there is no resurrection. Adonis, who has ordinary mortal parents, dies in a hunting accident and he is buried. In annual funeral festivals in Athens and probably also in other places in Greece, his death was mourned. Very early sources report how the women pounded their chests in despair.[15] The cultic celebration took place during the dry period when vegetation died (the later part of July) and there was possibly a celebration in spring as well.

But Adonis has his abode in the eastern Mediterranean area. Unfortunately, there are no unambiguous sources from this area. The name Adonis contains the West Semitic word Adon, which means “Lord”, the same word the Jews used and still use for their God. Remains in Byblos from the 10th century BCE and an allusion in one of the Amarna letters (nr. 84) from the 14th century BCE, might indicate that Adonis was seen as a god who rose from the dead.[16] This seems plausible also since Adonis is so closely connected with vegetation. The Greek poet Theocritus, who flourished during the first half of the third century BCE, identifies Adonis with the grains of corn and says that Adonis spends six months inside the earth along with Persephone and six months on earth with Aphrodite.[17] But Adonis is above all a god who was linked to barrenness and death.

According to Origen, the Greek Adonis was the same god as Tammuz of the Jews and the Syrians. He claims that...

 

... they say that for a long time certain rites of initiation are conducted: first, that they weep for him, since he has died; second, that they rejoice for him because he has risen from the dead. (Origen, Comments on Ezekiel, 8:12; quoted by Richard Carrier)

 

Porphyry (c. 233-309 CE) says that Adonis is a symbol of the harvest of ripe fruit.[18] In the East, the cultic celebration seems to have taken place in July. Also the celebration of Dumuzi took place in July. We find the oldest unambiguous proof of the resurrection of Adonis in De Syria dea, written in the second century CE, possibly by Lucian. There it says that the cult participants...

 

... in memory of that misfortune [Adonis’ death] every year they beat their breasts and mourn and perform the ceremonies, making solemn lamentations throughout the country. And when the breast-beating and weeping is at end, first they make offerings to Adon as if to a dead person; and then, on the next day, they proclaim that he is alive and fetch him forth into the air, and shave their heads as the Egyptians do when Apis dies. (Lucian of Samosata [c. 120-185 CE], De Syria dea, 6)

 

According to this report, Adonis’ resurrection was celebrated annually. The symbolic resurrection seems to have occurred on the second day. But Tryggve Mettinger, like previously Wolf Wilhelm Graf von Baudissin, interprets De Syria dea 6 in such a way, that the third day was possibly intended.[19]

Therefore, it may be regarded as an established fact that in the East, the followers of the cult of Adonis asserted that their god had resurrected from the dead and that everything indicates that this conception is pre-Christian.

 

Attis

One of the more dominant Mother Goddesses of Asia was Cybele. The centre of the cult of Cybele was in Phrygia in contemporary Turkey. The cult was prominent also in the neighbouring country of Lydia. Cybele’s lover and son is the young shepherd Attis.

Attis, too, exhibits all signs of being a vegetation god. Two different stories of his life are extant. According to one myth (from Lydia), Attis is a castrated priest in the service of the goddess Cybele and he initiates people into the cult. Attis is later killed by a boar, as was the case with Dumuzi or Tammuz, Adonis and also the Egyptian god Osiris.[20]

In the other version, the Phrygian one, the goddess Agdus (Cybele disguised as a rock) is raped by Zeus and gives birth to a hermaphroditic being named Agdistis. In another version, Zeus is said to have spilled his seed upon the ground, which then bears Agdistis. This creature, a daemon, is so violent that the other gods cut off its male organ, turning it into the female Mother Goddess Cybele. From the blood flowing from Agdistis an almond-tree, or possibly a pomegranate-tree, grows. Later the fresh-water nymph Nana, daughter of a river spirit, picks the fruit (or the almonds) and puts it in her bosom, where it disappears at once. She becomes pregnant and in due course of time gives birth to Attis.[21] From a technical point of view, this is a paranormal conception. Zeus impregnates Nana without her having any sexual contact with any man, and so she can be considered a virgin who gives birth to a Son of God.

Attis grows up and Cybele (that is, the castrated Agdistis) falls in love with him. This leads Attis into love problems. Attis castrates himself (or makes Cybele castrate him) and he falls down under a pine tree and dies. According to one legend, he is turned into a tree.[22]

Obviously, the notion of Cybele and Attis came to form a cult which reached Rome in 204 BCE at the latest.[23] According to Livy (59 BCE-17 CE), in that year an image of the goddess Cybele was brought to Rome and put in a temple in her honour.[24] In the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 CE), the cult was raised to the status of an official government cult among others.

According to inscriptions found in Rome and in the Phrygian city of Pessinus, the high priest was named Attis. The big festivals in honour of Cybele and Attis were held at the end of March at the time of the vernal equinox. The actual entertainment was bloody. A bull was slaughtered, and his blood was sprayed over the participants in some kind of ritual act, which could be compared to a baptism. There are depictions of how the priests cut their arms, and probably there occurred castrations of priests as well as of other initiates.

On March 22, a tree was brought to the sanctuary of Cybele. In view of the fact that Attis was regarded as a tree, we might guess that this symbolised Attis (hung on a tree). The next day, the second day, they blew the trumpets. The third day (March 24) was called the day of the blood, and now they cut their own arms and sacrificed their own blood. When darkness fell the great festival of joy, “Hilaria”, began and it went on till the next day, March 25, which was also regarded as the vernal equinox.

The proofs that these elements in the celebration of Attis existed before Christianity came into being are principally archaeological. The earliest written testimonies date from the first or the second century CE. Unfortunately, very scanty written material about Attis has been preserved to our time. The Christian Church in particular has been thorough in its systematic destruction of undesirable texts. Christian apologists assert that there is no evidence that Attis’ resurrection from the dead has been celebrated.

If that were the case one might wonder what on earth they were celebrating with such great joy on the third day just after having mourned. There is no doubt that Attis was a dying god and that his death was celebrated every year. Reasonably, he must have risen from the dead to be able to die again. The Neo-Platonist Damascius says in The Life of Isidorus that the festival of Hilaria “discloses the way of our salvation from Hades”.[25] However, Damascius wrote this as late as the beginning of the sixth century CE. In the first half of the fourth century CE, Firmicus Maternus reports that “he whom they had buried a little while earlier [Attis] had come to life again.”[26]

We can easily see the entire pattern of the Jesus character. A god in human shape is born of a virgin. He chooses voluntarily to die, to shed his blood, to be hung upon a tree (cross) and then he rises from the dead. We also know from Justin the Martyr and others that in the middle of the second century at the latest, Christians were tremendously inconvenienced by the fact that not only Jesus, but also other gods were said to have been virgin-born, to have risen from the dead and gone to heaven.

 

Osiris

Osiris is an Egyptian god whose existence is confirmed as early as in the third millennium BCE. He ruled the kingdom of the dead. We know that the cult of Osiris had reached Greece in the fourth century BCE at the latest, because in 333 BCE a temple in Athens was dedicated to Osiris and his consort Isis.[27] The religion made its entrance in Rome in the first century CE, although most likely it had then assumed a partially different shape.

In the entire Egyptian literature, there is not a single complete rendering of the Osiris myth, a connected narrative of his life, death, and resurrection. Scholars usually interpret this in such a way that the myth was so well known by the Egyptians that they did not need to have it documented in its entirety. Therefore, our most important source of information about Osiris is Plutarch, who wrote in approximately 100 CE. But valuable information is given also by Lucius Apuleius (slightly later than 150 CE) and by Julius Firmicus Maternus (fourth century CE). More or less the same myth seems to be told in the hieroglyphs carved on the pyramid walls. Plutarch writes that the god Hermes impregnates Rhea and that she gives birth to Osiris, who is proclaimed “The Lord of All” and a “mighty and beneficent king”. Osiris is raised by Zeus himself.[28]

Osiris is killed by his brother Set, his body is mutilated and the parts of his body are scattered. Later Osiris’ wife Isis collects all the parts (except the genitals, which are nowhere to be found) and the gods put them together, whereupon Osiris is resurrected. He travels to the underworld and becomes the Lord of the dead. As early as the middle of the second century CE Jesus, too, was believed to have descended to the kingdom of the dead after his resurrection and before he went to heaven. However, there is an important difference between Osiris and the other gods. Osiris is resurrected in the kingdom of the dead only, and he never again lives among the mortals. He remains a dead god all the time but leads an active life in the kingdom of the dead. Despite this, Plutarch asserts that Osiris left the kingdom of the dead and went “into the realm of the invisible and the unseen, the dispassionate and the pure”, where also the souls migrate.[29]

You should also be aware of the fact the Kingdom of death in the Nether world is not to be equated with the Christian hell. Everyone who died came to the Kingdom of the dead, which therefore more resembles the Christian heaven. And of course Jesus was the ruler of heaven, judging the dead also from the Kingdom of the dead.

Osiris was killed by being enticed into lying down in a chest, whereupon the lid was fastened by nails and the chest sent out on the Nile. According to Plutarch, this happened on the seventeenth day of the month Athyr.[30] When Plutarch wrote, Athyr 17 ought to have corresponded to November 13. In Egypt, Osiris was thought to have disappeared in the month of Athyr, and on Athyr 17 a period of mourning began. On Athyr 19 the chest is brought down to the Nile, water is poured into it, whereupon loud shouts of joy are raised, because Osiris is found.[31] Osiris died accordingly on Athyr 17, as the period of grief was initiated on that day. Consequently, that day was seen as the first day. This means that Athyr 19 was the third day and that therefore Osiris like Jesus was considered to have risen from the dead on the third day. Remember that Jesus died on a Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday, the third day.

Also outside of Egypt, in Greece, there was a cultic celebration of Osiris. Plutarch states “Osiris is identical with Dionysus”.[32] In the autumn, a great festival was held in honour of Osiris, a celebration of his death, resurrection, and rebirth:

 

Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 35)

 

In connection with this festival, called “Inventio Osiridis”, where the people along with “Isis” mourned Osiris, the priesthood offered salvation from hell,[33] from sorrow, and suffering.[34] The people were also offered comfort and help,[35] all due to Osiris’ voluntary death.[36]

Osiris and Isis had a son named Horus. Horus was a sun god, and as such he was thought to have been born on December 25, at the winter solstice.[37] At least, that is the interpretation James George Frazer made in The Golden Bough on the basis of inscriptions and other objects.[38]

 

The Miracles of Jesus

The Jesus character possesses a power which Paul is unaware of but the gospel writers bring out into the light. That is Jesus’ ability to perform miracles. The entire story in the Gospel of Mark is constructed on the miracles, and this to such an extent that the story does not keep together if the miracles are eliminated. According to the gospels, Jesus cures the sick, the deaf, the blind, the lame and the mute. He performs exactly what the coming Messiah in Isaiah is predicted to accomplish:

 

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. (Isaiah 35:5-6, NIV)

 

Jesus also expels daemons, turns waters into wine, produces food by magic, calms storms and walks on water. He even resurrects people from the dead.

The models existed in the prophets Elijah and Elisha already. Like Jesus, Elijah spends forty days and forty nights without any food in the desert (1 Kings 19:4-8). Elijah feeds for a long time an entire family with only a handful of flour and a little oil (1 King 17:10-16). Elisha satisfies one hundred men with twenty loaves of barley bread, along with some heads of new grain, and nevertheless there is food left (2 Kings 4:42-44). They both raise people from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-23, 2 Kings 4:17-37). Elisha cures people of their leprosy (2 Kings 5:6-14) and turns bad water into fresh and wholesome (2 Kings 2:19-22). Elijah, while still alive, is taken up into heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).

In the Gospel of John, Jesus performs only seven miracles, which are called signs. Each miracle is founded upon the previous. The raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44), the holy seventh sign, constitutes the climax and is the promise of Jesus’ own resurrection to come.

The content of the miracle-stories clearly bear the stamp of conceptions generally held at the times. Jesus simply worked such miracles as the people of the time though that prophets were able to perform. Today, a divine character of that kind would not need to expel daemons. And as it turns out, there actually are parallels in contemporary literature to every miracle Jesus is said to have performed.

 

The Gospel Jesus

The father of Jesus was the supreme god YHWH, his mother the mortal woman Mary. Despite that she is betrothed to the mortal man Joseph, YHWH makes her pregnant by making his holy spirit come over her. Therefore, Jesus is considered to be the son of God. An angel appears to both Joseph and Mary and tells them that Mary’s child has come into being through divine conception and that Mary is still a virgin.

Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Mary gives birth to the Jesus child in a stable, a house, or a cave. The child’s birth is accompanied by heavenly miracles including angels and a star that guides Magi to the child. Also shepherds visit the new-born, who lies in a manger. In order to escape a despot, the family is forced to wander to Egypt, and afterwards they all return to Nazareth.

When Jesus is twelve years old, he teaches the Jewish scribes in the temple, and they are amazed at his great wisdom. Later, when Jesus has grown up, his forerunner, John the Baptist, baptizes him in the river Jordan. Jesus spends 40 days and nights fasting in the desert and is tempted by the devil. Jesus resists the temptations, however, and then begins his mission.

Jesus chooses twelve disciples three of whom are considered superior and one is beloved. Jesus and his disciples wander around Galilee, and Jesus teaches the people, mainly in parables. He often confronts those versed in the Scriptures.

Jesus also helps people in need. He cures all kinds of diseased people, the deaf, the blind, paralytics and lepers. He expels daemons and raises people from the dead. He can also perform other miracles, such as producing wine and food, walking on water and calming storms.

Jesus is transformed before his foremost disciples (his “transfiguration” on the mount). Jesus is a “god” who suffers, and he anticipates his destiny, which he also voluntarily chooses, since it is inevitable.

Along with his disciples he walks to Jerusalem, entering the city riding on an ass while the crowd is rejoicing. He visits the temple and expels the hawkers. He spends his days in the city, where he challenges the Pharisees and makes enemies. He spends his nights along with his disciples just outside of the city. Before the Passover, he eats a Passover meal together with his closest disciples.

The disciple Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus by informing on him to the Jewish High Council. The Jews interrogate Jesus and they find him guilty of blasphemy and to have proclaimed himself god. They deliver Jesus up to the Roman governing power, and he is again interrogated, this time by the Governor Pilate, who finds him innocent. Despite this, Jesus is executed by crucifixion and his body is brought to a tomb in the vicinity of the execution place. On the third day, he rises from the dead and shows himself to his disciples. Then he ascends to his Father in heaven.

 

Asclepius

According to Greek mythology, Asclepius is the father of medicine. He could cure people from their diseases and even raise them from the dead. For doing this Zeus put him to death. However, Asclepius rose from Hades (the kingdom of the dead)[39] and was made a god and immortal.[40]

On an inscription found in Epidaurus and dating from the early third century BCE, a certain Isyllus writes that Asclepius’ mother, the [mortal] woman Aegla – who [because of her beauty] also is called Coronis – was deflowered by the god Apollo. The outcome of their brief intercourse was Asclepius, and Coronis gave birth in Apollo’s sacred temple.[41] According to Pindar, princess Coronis, while probably still a virgin, has a love affair with the god Apollo and becomes pregnant with the god’s child. Still Coronis lives together with her lover Ischys, an ordinary mortal man.[42] Accordingly, also Asclepius is a son of God. Pausanias, writing in the second century, says that Coronis gave birth to Asclepius when travelling to Epidaurus. Dazzling light encompassed the child and warned a shepherd, who was the first to arrive on the spot, not to touch him.[43]

The cult of Asclepius existed in Greece as early as in the sixth century BCE, and it spread considerably during the following two centuries. People made pilgrimages to the temples of Asclepius, which were a kind of health resources of the Antiquity. In the beginning, Asclepius was considered only a healer and a saviour god, but as time went by, he was to be considered Lord,[44] God of light, rescuer, helper and universal saviour, just like Jesus.[45]

It is uncertain whether or not Asclepius was seen as a god who was dying and rising from the dead. He was closely connected to the Phoenician healing god Eshmun, however, and the two were believed by the Greeks to be the same god. Eshmun was a vegetation god, and like Attis he is mutilated to be restored later. This does not necessarily mean that Eshmun was a dying god, but he was probably still considered a dying god, since the memory of a cult place named “The Tomb of Eshmun” seems to have been preserved in a place-name.[46] Moreover, according to the Iranian scientist and historian al-Biruni, who wrote in the beginning of the eleventh century CE, the Greek physician Galen, living at the end of the second century CE, wrote “that Asclepius was raised to the angels in a column of fire, the like of which is also related with regard to Dionysus, Heracles, and others”.[47] It is therefore possible, but far from certain, that people thought also of Asclepius as of a god who died and later rose from the dead.

The many miracles the Gospels claim that Jesus carried out are but copies of Asclepius’ miracles. Asclepius wrought numerous healing miracles by touching the sick. Sometimes he did this by reaching out his hand, sometimes by putting his hand on the sick person, or pressing his finger into the diseased body part.[48] Sometimes, the sick person had to believe in order to be healed.[49] This was also the case when Jesus healed the sick.[50]

According to inscriptions from Epidaurus and other testimonials (among others that of Justin Martyr), Asclepius healed people who suffered from diseases of all kinds, the paralytics,[51] the dumb[52] and the blind.[53] He could heal people at distance as well. After he had healed the sick people, they went away carrying their beds. Asclepius healed the old as well as the young, the poor as well as the rich, women as well as men, slaves as well as freemen and friends as well as enemies.[54]

Moreover, Asclepius raised people from the dead.[55] This is also confirmed by the early church father Justin Martyr (c. 150 CE), who writes:

 

And when he [the devil] brings forward Aesculapius as the raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise he has imitated the prophecies about Christ? (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 69).

 

In the tales told about the five (or possibly six) people Asclepius called back to life,[56] we find many details that correspond with what the Gospels tell us about the three times Jesus did the same.[57] For example, many witnesses were present, non-believers assumed that the ones raised to life were only apparently dead; the ones raised to life were given something to eat, and so on.[58]

It must have been embarrassing for the early Christians to realize that every miracle they claimed that Jesus had performed had already been wrought by Asclepius, and besides even more magnificently. The soul of Asclepius, like that of Heracles, “survived and enjoyed eternal life”.[59]

 

Apollonius of Tyana

Apollonius was a great miracle-worker and a contemporary of the Gospel Jesus (perhaps 2 - 99 CE). He was born in Tyana, a town situated in modern south-central Turkey, not far from Paul’s birth town, Tarsus. Through the years, several writers have brought forth the view that Apollonius was the real Jesus. This idea was evidently so powerful in the beginning of the fourth century that Eusebius of Caesarea had to write Against Hierocles. In this writing, he turns against Hierocles, a Neoplatonic who asserts that the Gospels were plagiarism mainly of notes made by Apollonius’ disciple Damis. And it is not very remarkable that the two characters, Apollonius and Jesus, were confused, since they undeniably are suggestive of one another.

At the beginning of the third century, Philostratus (c. 170-245 CE) wrote the story of the life of Apollonius, “Vita Apollonii”, and dedicated his opus to Empress Julia Domna.[60] It is considered that he based his work on notes made by a certain Damis who was a follower of Apollonius. However, Apollonius is said to have written some books all by himself, and a few authors, including Porphyry, have actually quoted from these.[61] There are also a large number of letters that Apollonius is said to have written. It is unlikely, however, that Apollonius should have written any of these. References to Apollonius are found in several writers, including Dio Cassius, Lucian of Samosata and Anastasius Sinaiticus.[62]

According to Philostratus’ biography, Apollonius was a Pythagorean (Vita Apollonii 1:7). Apollonius wore a beard, had long hair and was a clean-living man, a teetotaller and a vegetarian. He walked barefoot, was dressed only in a linen raiment (1:8).

Even Apollonius’ birth is a miracle accompanied by heavenly revelations (1:5).[63] While his mother is still pregnant, the god Proteus reveals himself to her and announces that he is the father of the child (1:4).[64] Therefore, Apollonius, too, was a Son of God. It is not clear from the text, however, if Apollonius was born of a virgin.

At the age of 14, he travels to the temple of Asclepius at Aegae. There he enters into philosophical discussions with Platonists, Pythagoreans, and others, and they are amazed at his great wisdom (1:7). He knows even more than the priests and the prophets (1:19, 5:5).[65] As he grows up, he attracts to himself many disciples. They are called Apollonians (8:21),[66] and they follow him on his wanderings. He preaches in Asia Minor, Syria, Greece and Rome and he also travels to India; his teaching is on a high level of culture; he readily speaks in parables (4:9), and he is considered to be omniscient (7:14, 3:18). He knows the goal and origin of his “soul’s past and future transformations” (8:7:7); he is compassionate (1:15, 6:39); he interprets dreams and events (1:23, 4:34); he knows all languages (1:19) and understands even that of animals (1:20, 3:9, 4:3). He knows people’s thoughts (1:19, 7:22) and for example immediately sees through a bad person who gives large gifts in the temple of Asclepius (1:10). He shows a rich young man the uselessness of wealth (5:22), and he intervenes against bloody sacrifices (1:1ff,10,31ff, 3:41, 4:19, 5:25).

The people consider him to be sent by God and to be a God (1:2, 3:50). He performs miracles similar to those Jesus is said to have wrought. On his pilgrimage through life, he helps the people he meets by healing them. The wise men he associates with cure the lame, the paralyzed and the blind (3:39).[67] He expels evil spirits (4:20), cures a boy from rabies (6:43) and, like Jesus (Luke 9:11-17), he interrupts a funeral of a young girl and raises her from the dead by touching her (4:45).[68] At those days, stories of miracle-workers who interrupted funerals and resurrected the dead were common.[69]

Apollonius knows what is happening at other places (5:30), knows that the Emperor Domitian is murdered (8:26),[70] can immediately transfer himself from one place to another (8:5ff) and can also hover above the ground (3:15,17). Moreover, he is able to control nature, as he prevents earthquakes (6:41) and storms at sea (4:15).

To his friends he predicts that he is going to be captured, and he tells them of his future destiny (7:10). In Rome, he is arrested, interrogated, accused of being a wizard and of having put himself on a par with the gods, and he is imprisoned (7:16-22). They cut off his beard and hair (7:34), strip him naked and put him before the court at the palace of Emperor Domitian.

The accuser is bribed with money. Like Jesus, who hardly responded to Pilate’s questions (John 19:9, Matt 27:14); Apollonius totally ignores the Emperor’s presence. And like Pilate, who considered Jesus to be innocent (John 18:38, 19:4-6, Luke 23:4), the Emperor considers Apollonius to be innocent. Apollonius says, as Jesus said to Pilate (John 19:11), that the Emperor does not have any power over him[71] and then he vanishes miraculously (8:3-5).

Apollonius lives on for several years and travels to Olympia and other places. At Olympia, all of Hellas honours him (8:15). Finally, he dies, although Philostratus does not know when, where and how, and he ascends to heaven from the temple of Dictynna on Crete (8:30). After his death, he appears before a doubting disciple (8:31). Like doubting Thomas in John 20:24ff this disciple, too, becomes convinced that the son of God has really risen from the dead and that the soul is immortal.

Many writers have considered Philostratus’ portrayal of Apollonius as an attempt at copying the life of Jesus; that Roman officials, as a reaction against the Christian faith, chose to romance together a fairytale about a pagan Saviour character. By depicting Apollonius as an equal of Jesus, they wanted to show that Jesus was in no way unique. This is hardly likely to have happened, however, since when Philostratus wrote his book, Christianity was scarcely such a powerful movement that Roman officials would have wasted time on such a mission.

It is also obvious that several components of the tale, such as Apollonius carrying out miracles, were well-known long before. If you nevertheless are willing to accept this line of thought, in the name of honesty you must also accept that the Jesus character of the Gospels has come into existence in a similar way. Because Gospel Jesus is in many parts a replica of earlier saviours. An obvious example of such a Saviour is Heracles.

 

Heracles

The Greek God Heracles is mostly known by his Latin name Hercules. The legend has it that he performed twelve great labours. It is less known that a religion worshipping him existed as early as in the sixth century BCE – a cult of Heracles as the saviour of the world.[72]

Melqart (king of the city) is a very old divinity of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. He was worshipped also in Carthage. Melqart can be considered a sun god as well as a vegetation god. There is a close relationship between Melqart and Heracles. The facts are that the Greek authors most often refers to Melqart as the Tyrian (or Phoenician) Heracles. It is not always easy to decide which god they have in mind, since they sometimes write only Heracles and yet mean Melqart. In many ways, the two gods have coalesced.

From the very beginning, Heracles was seen as the reconciler of humanity and the Son of God. As time went by, the tales told of his life were expanded and even more idealised by the Stoics, and others. At the beginning of our Common Era, the faith of Heracles was spread in large parts of the Mediterranean area, such as Greece, Syria and Rome.

There are points of close similarity between the life of Jesus and the life of Heracles. Heracles’ mother, a woman named Alcmene, becomes pregnant through a union with the god Zeus, and she gives birth to Heracles.[73] Heracles is consequently a Son of God. Just like Jesus, Heracles has a mortal stepfather named Amphitryon. But like Joseph (Matthew 2:4ff), Amphitryon does not have sexual intercourse with his wife until the divine conception has taken place and she still is a virgin.[74] Heracles’ mortal parents make a trip from their hometown Mycenae[75] to Thebes where Zeus makes Alcmene pregnant and she gives birth to Heracles.[76] It was commonly held that virgin sons were born during flights or travels, and that was the case when Isis gave birth to Horus.[77] While Jesus, according to the Gospels, was born in Bethlehem, he was still known as Jesus of Nazareth. Also Heracles was known to hail from his father’s hometown, despite the fact that he was born in Thebes.[78]

When Heracles is born, the goddess Hera, Zeus’ wife, is told that a king of her tribe is born. Knowing that Zeus is the father, and enraged by jealousy and fear of losing her power to the new king, she attempts to kill Heracles. Jesus’ parents fled with Jesus to Egypt in order to escape Herod’s persecution, and after Herod’s death, they returned to Palestine. Heracles’ mother Alcmene leaves Heracles in the woods to escape Hera’s wrath and persecution. Athena rescues Heracles and eventually she brings him back to Alcmene.[79]

Before Heracles begins his public mission, he spends – just like Jesus – a long time by himself. During this period, he is tempted, and like Jesus, he overcomes the temptations.[80] The god Hermes shows Heracles the realms of the king and the tyrant from a high mountain.[81] Jesus also meets this fate, when the Devil shows him the glory of the kingdoms of the earth from a high mountain, and promises that he can rule them all (Matthew 4:8).

Both Jesus and Heracles have received a mission from their heavenly father, and both fulfil their fathers’ will.[82] The mission is confirmed by way of prophecy, in the case of Heracles a prophecy by the oracle, in the case of Jesus a prophecy from the book of Isaiah.[83] They will both choose a path of suffering.[84] Heracles is called The Saviour.[85] Like Jesus, he walks on water,[86] and he raises Alcestis from the dead,[87] but his true feat is to overcome death, and his death leads to eternal life.[88] Heracles’ second wife Deianira causes his death by accident, and like Judas Iscariot she is overcome by horror and remorse, and hangs herself.[89]

There are two traditions concerning Melqart’s or Heracles’ death, both of which are pre-Christian. According to one, he is killed by the hundred-headed monster Typhon,[90] according to the other he is burned to death on a pyre on a mountain. Sophocles gives testimony that Heracles died in a fire on Mount Oeta.[91] Diodorus Siculus gives the same information, and he also tells us about Heracles’ ascension.[92]

There was also a cultic celebration of Melqart or Heracles. According to an inscription from approximately 500 BCE found in the Etrurian (Italian) town of Pyrgi, they ritually buried an unnamed god, who probably was Melqart, in the month of krr (probably July).[93] Josephus tells us that they celebrated the awakening of the Tyrian Heracles in the month of Peritius (the middle of February to the middle of March).[94] There are many indications that people of Tyre celebrated Heracles’, or rather Melqarts resurrection from the dead.[95] And Bishop Zenobius (c. 330-417 CE) quotes Eudoxus of Cnidus (c. 408-c. 355 BCE), who, he says, wrote that the Tyrian Heracles was raised after having died in a fire.[96] Bishop Zenobius, again quoting Eudoxus of Cnidus, also says that Heracles was resuscitated by the aid of a quail, and ascended to heaven in a cloud.[97] This indicates that Melqart, or Heracles, was seen as a vegetation god who spent one part of the year in the upper regions on earth, and the other in the Nether World. We also have the testimony of Justin Martyr, writing in the middle of the second century CE:

 

And when they tell that Hercules was strong, and travelled over all the world, and was begotten by Jove of Alcmene, and ascended to heaven when he died, do I not perceive that the Scripture which speaks of Christ, ‘strong as a giant to run his race’, has been in like manner imitated? (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 69)

 

Jesus is crucified on Golgotha, a small hill outside of Jerusalem. Heracles is burned to death on the mountain Oeta. When Heracles is dying, both his mother[98] and a beloved disciple are present.[99] According to John 19:25f, the conditions were the same when Jesus died. Before Heracles dies, he invokes his heavenly Father:

 

I pray you admit this spirit of mine to the stars – – – See, my father is summoning me now and opening heaven. I come, father!

 

… spiritum admitte hunc, precor, in astra – – – vocat ecce iam me genitor et pandit polos; venio, pater (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1703–4, 1724–6, Loeb)

 

According to Luke 23:46 (NASB), Jesus cries out: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” As both Sons of God are dying, they say: “it is completed” or “It is finished”.[100] When Heracles as well as Jesus dies, both an earthquake and a solar eclipse occur.[101] After his death, Heracles still can communicate with this world (he is resurrected?) and calls out: “Mother, now cease your wailing ... I must go up now into the heavenly climes”, which he is also said to have done.[102] The resurrected Jesus says to his Mary Magdalene: “Woman, why are you weeping? ... I ascend to my Father and your Father (John 20:1517 NASB). Even the information that the most beloved disciple cared for the Saviour’s mother is found in the legend of Heracles.[103]

The author of the Gospel of John in particular seems to have borrowed a lot from the cult of Heracles. The concept of “Logos”, which is so important in the Prologue to the Gospel of John, is borrowed from the Stoics, and was also part of the religion of Heracles. Compare John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”, to Cornutus, who in the first century wrote: “For the Logos [the word] is not there to harm or to punish, but to save”.[104]

 

Dionysus

Dionysus was above all the god of wine and drunkenness. However, he was also a god who comforted the dying. He was seen as a bringer of peace,[105] but also as a god who suffered, died and was resurrected from the dead.[106] The cult of Dionysus had a significant influence in Greece as early as in the seventh century BCE, and the oldest evidence reaches back to the Linear-B-tablets found in Crete and dating from the thirteenth century BCE. In the centuries that followed, the cult expanded in many places in the Mediterranean area.[107] In Rome, for instance, there were in 186 BCE seven thousand followers of Dionysus.[108]

Dionysus had the same father as Heracles, that is to say the father of all gods, Zeus. His mother was the mortal woman Semele.[109] It is nowhere said that Semele was a virgin, only that Zeus made her pregnant.[110] On the other hand, neither the opposite is said, and Zeus is supposed to have made her pregnant by throwing his lightning bolt, so that it struck her womb.[111] In the same way as the divine force of the supreme Roman god Zeus made Semele pregnant, also the divine force of the Jews’ supreme god YHWH made Mary pregnant, by letting his holy spirit come upon her (Luke 1:35).

We are familiar with the representation of the Jesus child lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes (see Luke 2:12ff). This is a well-known theme. The divine child Hermes is portrayed in swaddling clothes,[112] and Zeus’ mother Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes in order to make Cronus believe that it was her new-born child Zeus.[113] At the great festivals in honour of Dionysus, also his idol was carried about in a manger (a winnowing fan).[114]

Dionysus was regarded as a physician who healed the sick, and as a God comforting those who were dying. He was known as the Lord,[115] the child of God,[116] the son of God[117] in human form[118] and the true God.[119] In Euripides’ play The Bacchants, Dionysus is portrayed as the suffering vine.[120] Dionysus suffered, but he hardly suffered for the sake of others. Instead, he suffered for his own sake. Here, Christianity differs, as Jesus was said to have died for the salvation of mankind. This, however, is a religious belief and really has nothing to do with the story in itself. Jesus, as well as other sons of God, suffered and died.[121] Dionysus is sometimes described also as a redeemer, a Saviour, but he never saves people from sins.[122]

On paintings — often on vases — on coins and in sculptures, Dionysus is depicted as riding on an ass, often in procession where the crowd (satyrs) is waving with branches of ivy. Like Jesus, Dionysus is portrayed as a beautiful youth, as well as an elderly bearded man.[123]

Dionysus and the wine. Dionysus was closely connected with the wine and was called “the vine”.[124] The author of the Gospel of John makes Jesus call himself the true vine” (John 15:1 NIV), probably in a deliberate polemic against the cult of Dionysus.

John also writes that Jesus at the wedding at Cana, turned the water in six hundred litre jars into wine (Joh 2:1ff). Five hundred years before, Euripides writes that the land is flowing with wine when Dionysus appears.[125] Several sources, almost all of which are slightly older than, or contemporary with the Gospels, say that Dionysus brings forth wine from water and other substances. In the middle of the first century BCE, Diodorus writes that at certain fixed times wine flows from a well in Teos, and that according to the inhabitants of Teos, this is proof that Dionysus was born in their City.[126] In the year 1 CE, Ovid writes that the Italian god Liber (who was the same god as Dionysus) gave Anius’ daughters the ability to turn everything they touched into wine and other things.[127] Pliny the Elder, writing in the year 77 CE, tells us that there is a spring in the temple of Dionysus on the island of Andros in Greece. Each year on January 5 on the festival of Theodosia, that well flows with wine.[128] A few years earlier, Plutarch (c. 46-c. 120 CE) writes that nurses washed the new-born Dionysus in a water that was now clear, wine-coloured and very tasty.[129] And in the middle of the second century CE, Pausanias writes about the priests of Dionysus in Elis, telling us that the priests used to leave three empty pots in a sealed room over the night, and in the morning, they were “filled with wine”.[130]

The cultic celebration. In the Gospel of John we read:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (John 6:53–55, NIV)

 

This is an odd statement which can hardly be taken literally. In a sacramental act, however, the adherents of Dionysus tore a piece of flesh apart and ate it raw, in order to gain immortality.[131] Moreover, in one version of the Dionysus myth, the Titans dismember the little Dionysus child and boil his body-parts, whereupon they where brought together and Dionysus resuscitated.

 

… the sons of Gaia [the titans] tore to pieces the god, who was a son of Zeus and Demeter [that is Dionysus], and boiled him, but his members were brought together again by Demeter and he experienced a new birth as if for the first time, such accounts as this they trace back to certain causes found in nature. (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 3:62:6 [Loeb]; quoted by Beck Sanderson)

 

Diodorus speaks accordingly of “a new birth” and he says furthermore that this can be traced “back to certain causes found in nature.” Dionysus is presented as “the twice-born” (Dimetor) since he is a god of vegetation. The first birth is “when the plant [the vine] is set in the ground and begins to grow” and the second “when it becomes laden with fruit and ripens its clusters”. Dionysus therefore is “considered as having been born once from the earth and again from the vine”.[132]

And like Jesus, who was consumed as wine and bread, also Dionysus and the goddess of growing plants, Ceres, was thought of as the divine substance of wine and bread which was consumed when eaten.[133]

Dionysus’ resurrection. Dionysus was believed to have risen after his death. On the island of Thasos, in north-eastern Greece, an old inscription speaks of Dionysus as a god who each year renews himself and returns rejuvenated.[134] After doing this he was thought to have ascended to heaven. The Christian apologist Justin Martyr confirms about 150 CE the existence of these ideas, but at the same time, he denies that the events described actually had occurred and he claims that the devil had forged the writings of the Greeks:

 

For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter’s, that is Zeus’] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 69)

 

 

Crucifixion, or being put on a stake, hung on wood or on a tree, seems to be part of many mythological tales. Like Marsyas of Phrygia and Prometheus of Caucasus[135] also Dionysus was a crucified god. Even before the Christian era, people worshipped a “crucified” Dionysus. The wine on the cross is a familiar subject, and Dionysus vas the wine.[136] He is portrayed on several vases, including this vase from c. 420 BCE, hung on a tree (or possibly being the tree) above a (communion-) table. There are vessels of wine on the table (and another vase shows something similar to bread) that probably was intended to be used to celebrate the mysteries of Holy Communion.[137] Dionysus was not merely a crucified god, but also a crucifying one, since he crucified his competitor Lycurgus from Thrace.

 

… and caught Lycurgus alive, stung out his eyes and inflicted him each possible damage and then crucified him. (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 3:65 [Loeb])

 

Jesus is not depicted as crucified in art until late in history. Our oldest evidence dates from the fifth century CE. There is however, a very famous wall scribble found in Rome, known as the Alexander graffito. It was made sometime during the period from the first to the third century CE. The image represents a man with a head of an ass, hung on a cross-like stand. Below stands a boy. The scribble is sometimes interpreted as a malicious portrait of Christians worshipping a crucified ass, meaning Jesus. However, this interpretation is strained.

First, there is no evidence that Jesus was ever depicted as crucified in art until the fifth century CE. Secondly, there was an old tradition saying that the Jews worshipped an ass, or the head of an ass. From the third century BCE up to the second century CE, both Greek and Roman authors repeatedly throw this accusation at the Jews. In the second century, the accusation is transferred also onto the Christians whom the vast majority still looked upon as Jews.

Another circumstance is the sign of Y in the picture’s upper right corner. The Gnostic Sethians, who worshipped the god Typhon-Seth, used the head of an ass as a symbol and in the many instances where the god Typhon-Seth’s ass head occurs in Rome, most often also the symbol Y is inscribed to the right of the ass head.[138]

But above all, the ass can be connected with the cult of Dionysus or Bacchus. The ass is often depicted along with Dionysus and was considered holy. It was a symbol of the fact that the bodily passions ceased through death.

Up until World War II, there was in the museum of Berlin a small amulet representing a crucified Dionysus. The amulet is dated to the third century CE, and if that is correct, then it is older than every known representation of Jesus on the cross (earliest fifth century CE). However, several pre-war experts suspected that the amulet was a forgery.[139] Since it is now lost and we only have the casting left, there is no way we can settle whether it was a forgery or not.

Justin Martyr knew of several pagan sons of god (for example the sons of Zeus) whose respective death each was filled with agony and suffering and in his opinion was in that respect similar to the death of Jesus. He asserts, however, that the sons of god died in various ways and that the pagans did not imitate the crucifixion, since they considered it symbolic.[140] Whether they are symbols or not, Dionysus the Vine is depicted on a tree and the wine is said to be hung on the cross. As a consequence, the legend of Jesus’ crucifixion may be seen as a development of the legend of Dionysus’ crucifixion.[141]

 

Mitra, Mithra and Mithras

In ancient India, in the old Persian empire, and later in the vast Roman empire, there were three cults, all worshipping a god with a similar name. In the Indian Vedas, he is called Mitra and in the Persian Avesta, he goes by the name of Mithra. In both these cases, the god is a personification of the sun, and in all likelihood it is the same god. The oldest written source mentioning Mitra is from approximately 1400 BCE, but the cult of this god is probably much older.

Mitra and Mithra. The Indo-Persian Mithra was from the start a minor divinity but worked himself up to become one of the major gods. He was considered a peaceful and benevolent god,[142] a guardian of truth,[143] a light of the world,[144] the Lord of wide pastures[145] and everybody’s friend.[146] He was an all-seeing and all-knowing god. The sun was his eye, and with this eye, he observed the world when travelling by his chariot across the sky.[147] Later he took a slightly more warlike shape and got the role of mediator between the spiritual twin brothers Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda), who represented good, and Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), who personalized evil (the precursor of the Jewish-Christian Devil). At this stage, Mithra was entrusted with the mission of bringing the souls to Paradise and was thus technically seen a Redeemer or a Saviour.[148]

The origin of Mithras. Later in the Roman Empire, a mystery cult of the saviour Mithras emerged. According to Plutarch, Sicilian pirates revered Mithras, and the soldiers of General Pompey in 67 BCE brought the cult of Mithras to Rome.[149] Roman sources allege that the Mithras cult came from Persia.[150] However, many present-day scholars doubt that information for several reasons. They consider it a new movement and that Mithras only has some few features in common with the Persian Mithra, including the name. Instead, some scholars suspect that the god Perseus was the proper Mithras. Despite the information that the cult was introduced in the year 67 BCE, the first signs of the dawning cult of Mithras are from the end of the first century CE (approximately at the same time as the Gospels were written) in the form of sculptures and inscriptions. Since this was a mystery religion, the teaching was kept secret from the profane, and therefore our knowledge of the cult is principally based on archaeological remains and to some extent on the surviving writings of its critics.

By all accounts, the Roman cult of Mithras was a rival of the early Christian Church. Thus the Mithras cult shared the fate of the Gnostic movement. When in the fourth century, the Christian Church emerged the victor; the Mithras cult was eventually suppressed, and was later forbidden. Its followers were persecuted, its temples destroyed, and Christian churches were erected upon the ruins. If the Mithraic Church ever possessed any writings, they have not survived.

The birth of Mithras. Since Mithras was considered a Sun God, he was thought to have been born on the day after the darkest day of the year, the winter solstice. In the third century CE his birth was celebrated on the 25th of December according to the Julian calendar then in use. This day was later, in the fourth century, appointed the birthday of Jesus by the Christian Church. Mithras was believed to have been born in or from a rock, and so he was called “the Rock-Born”.[151] Consequently, he was worshipped in caves or in temples built to resemble caves. According to early Christian beliefs, also Jesus was born in a cave. Justin Martyr attests this belief already in the middle of the second century CE. Origen and the apocryphal Gospel according to James also say so.[152] The word Rock (Greek: Petros, Latin: Petrus, Aramaic: Kephas) was according to Paul the name of one of the leaders of the Jerusalem Church. In the Gospels, Peter is Jesus’ foremost disciple. Paul even calls Christ “Rock” (1 Cor 10:4).

Mithras is born an adult. When he is born, he, or possibly the rock, radiates a divine light. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the star of Bethlehem led some Magi from the East to the Jesus child. Magi from the East points unambiguously to Persia, from where Mithra derived his origin. Moreover, the Jesus child is visited by shepherds. Mithras’ birth is supervised by shepherds, and they give Mithras fruit and their flocks, as can be seen on ancient monuments that have been preserved.

The deeds of Mithras. The Roman Mithras wrought one miracle, namely making water pour out of a rock. However, most interpretations of Mithras deal with the bull. Mithras wrestles down the bull, whereupon he drags it to his cave. In the next scene, he has conquered the bull and sits on top of it with his dagger ready to stab. Then Mithras sacrifices the bull by stabbing it while turning his head away. In the next scene, we see the sun god Helios kneeling before Mithras. After that, Mithras eats a last supper together with Helios, where they drink the blood and eat the meat of the bull. Thereupon, Mithras and Helios go up into the heavens in a chariot.

The sacraments. There were several sacraments within the Roman cult of Mithras. Since there were seven degrees of initiation,[153] it seems reasonable to conclude that there were also seven sacraments. There were at least a baptism with water through which the adherents were delivered from sins,[154] a confirmation, and a holy Communion where as a ritual act they ate bread and drank water from a cup.[155] The leader was called Pater Patrum (the fathers’ father) and he had, as later the Catholic pope (Latin: Papa = father), his residence in Rome.[156] Within Mithraism there was a belief in the immortality of the soul and probably also in a resurrection.[157] An inscription, presumably from the latter part of the second century and found in a Mithraeum, suggests that the followers were ensured immortality: “us too you have saved by blood eternally shed [from the bull]”.[158]

The resurrection of Mithras. It is often said that there is no evidence of a conception where Mithras rose from the dead, since there are no proofs that Mithras was a dying god, and he had to die in order to rise again. In almost all mystery religions, however, the initiates underwent a symbolic death and rebirth. This was the case with the Mithras cult as well, as can be inferred from The Chronicles of Emperor Commodus (ruled 180-192 CE), where it says that Commodus …

 

... polluted the Mithraic rites with real homicide, whereas the custom in them is only to say or to pretend something that creates an appearance of fright. (Aelius Lampridius, [early fourth century CE] Vita Commodi Antonini)[159]

 

That is, he really killed, instead of participating in an enactment. Moreover, Tertullian states that “an image of a resurrection” was introduced into the celebration of the Roman Mithras.[160] If both a ritual death and a ritual resurrection were enacted in the cult of Mithras, it is hard to draw any other conclusion than that they thought that Mithras had first died and then risen. Furthermore, if Mithras actually is Perseus, it is even more plausible that he was considered to have risen, since Justin Martyr claims that the pagans assert that Perseus had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.[161]

The star chart. The most important event within the Roman cult of Mithras is that of Mithras killing the bull. The reason for the bull slaughtering is to be found on the firmament.[162] It so turns out that the cult of Mithras was built on astrology. On so-called tauroctonies, a sort of star charts engraved on stone tablets, Mithras is depicted on top of the bull. He is surrounded on all sides by the twelve signs of the zodiac, which almost always accompany a Sun God.

Christianity, on the other hand, talks of Jesus’ twelve disciples who are derived from the twelve tribes of Israel which in turn probably are an interpretation of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Below is a representation of Mithras accompanied by the bull (the constellation Taurus) and also by a dog, a snake, a cup, a raven, a scorpion and a lion, all of which correspond to specific constellations.[163]

The period c. 4000 BCE to c. 2000 BCE was the age of Taurus. At the vernal equinox, when all over the world days and nights are equally long; our ancestors saw the sun rising in the sign of Taurus. Mithras was intimately connected with the sun and was actually a sun god. During this epoch and at the time of the vernal equinox, the aforementioned constellations, and only these, were situated along an imaginary line in the sky corresponding to the earth equator, above or below the orbit which the sun and the moon seem to follow across the vault of heaven. The exception is Leo, which then was at the place of the summer solstice. It is possible that the cup does not refer to Crater (Latin for “wine bowl”), but instead to Aquarius (the water carrier), which at that time was at the winter solstice (when both Jesus and Mithras were thought to have been born).

The unique relation here described, therefore, prevailed only in the age of Taurus. As a consequence of the precession of the equinoxes (see the “more detailed description”) the conditions of 4000 years ago (c. 2000 BCE) had changed in such a way that the sun at the vernal equinox rose in Aries instead of in Taurus. At some point in history, our ancestors must have made this discovery, and this probably was the basis of the widely spread idea about the killing of the bull. When they made this discovery, they killed a bull as a symbol of the entrance into a new era or perhaps only in order to appease the heavenly gods. The bull (Taurus) died and the ram (Aries) was born.

In addition, the Indian Vedas mention that a bull was slaughtered and that all plants and animals grew from its body. However, no Persian text says that Mithra slew a bull. Instead, it is Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), the force of cosmic evil, who does the actual killing of the bull.[164] In the Indian Vedic literature, Mitra is invited to participate in the killing and he ends up assisting the other gods killing the bull.[165] Evidently, this idea, one way or another, lived on much later in the Roman mysteries of Mithras, or was it adopted from other bull-killing cults. On star charts (tauroctonies) Mithras, who incidentally is situated where the constellation of the god Perseus is found,[166] stabs his dagger into the bull at a spot corresponding to the constellation of the Pleiades.

At the dawn of Christianity, the vernal equinox had moved yet another sign, from Aries to Pisces. It seems likely that people at that time had the lamb (Aries) slaughtered and that the fish became the symbol of the new (Piscean) age. This is probably the basis of the bull (Taurus) slaughter done by Mithras and the reason why Jesus (the lamb or Aries) is slaughtered on the cross.

The sacrificial lamb. At the Jewish traditional Passover celebration, before the destruction of the temple in 70 CE, a lamb was slaughtered as a thank-offering to God. At the very beginning of the Christian movement, Jesus was looked upon as a sacrifice for the world’s salvation, the lamb sacrificed for the world. In the book of Revelation, the common picture of Jesus is that of a sacrificial lamb. John 1:29 says: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. And even before the Gospels were written, Paul claims: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7).

The supreme Sun God. Mithras is often depicted together with the Sun God Helios, who symbolises the sun. Therefore, Mithras reasonably cannot have been the actual sun. A convincing hypothesis presented by David Ulansey suggests that Mithras represents another sun. While Helios is the sun god, Mithras is called “Sol Invictus”, “the invincible sun”.

Plato seems to have assumed that there were two suns, the generally known visible one, as well as a so-called “Hypercosmic” sun, which exists in a higher sphere.[167] This higher sphere is situated outside of the cosmos, and on the hypothesis that Mithras is to be identified with this, the highest sun god, he will be watching the cosmos from outside. This would also explain the fact that in all depictions, the bull is inverted compared to the constellation Taurus on the sky. As seen “from outside” it is turned the right way round. Therefore, the rock from which Mithras is born would be the cosmos, out of which Mithras escapes like a chicken from an egg. People are entrapped in the cave (cosmos) where Mithras was born and out of which he has now escaped. He is watching the cosmos from outside.[168] There is an obvious correspondence between the myth of Mithras and Plato’s parable about the people trapped in the cave, a dark “prison” out of which only one person manages to escape to see the light.[169]

 

Buddha

Trade between India and above all the Near East but also Greece, flourished even at the time of Alexander the Great. There was also missionary activity, and Buddhism was well-known in Rome as early as in the second century BCE. Although you should not push the parallels between the lives of Jesus and Buddha too far, it is plausible that people in the West were familiar with many of the Buddhist legends at the dawn of Christianity.[170] The similarities between the lives of these sons of God lead us to one important conclusion, namely that many of the tales are well-known myths, universal to all cultures.

The legends of the Buddha’s life were first recorded in the Pali language and the Sanskrit language and were early translated into Chinese, Tibetan and other languages. Indian writings are very difficult to date. The Indians themselves have never cared much for dating their literary works. Most often, the texts are anonymous, and even when we know who authored them, we seldom know exactly when that person lived.

In the following summary of Buddha’s life, I have used texts that are earlier and some that are later than the Gospels. The first of the three parts of the extensive Pali Tipitaka is Vinayapitaka. It contains seven books, including Mahâvagga and Cullavagga. The second part of the Tipitaka is Suttapitaka, containing five Nikâyas (collections), out of which I used four, Digha-, Majjhima-, Samyutta-, and Anguttara-Nikâya. All of these antedate Christianity. The Mahâyânasűtras are of later date. Saddharmapundarîkasűtra (the Lotussűtra) is written some time between 100 BCE and 100 CE. Vimalakîrtinirdeshasűtra seems to have been written some time before the middle of the second century CE. The Lalitavistârasűtra was probably written in the third century CE.

Other scriptures: The Buddhacharita probably dates from the beginning of the second century CE. The Jâtaka and the Nidânakathâ (a Buddha legend that constitutes the introduction to the big Jâtaka Commentary) were all probably written in the third or fourth century CE. However, you must always remember that every text, every statement, probably existed as common cultural traditions long before they were put down into writing. Generally speaking, ancient Indian literature does not consist of any new individual innovative literature. All texts are founded upon older material, sometimes upon manuscripts that are no longer extant and, not least, upon very old oral traditions.

One can therefore assert that the scriptures have a prehistory, where materials were collected and at some stage were recorded and eventually achieved authority. With these reservations, I shall compare some of the Gospel stories with what can be found in ancient Indian literature.

The birth the Buddha.[171] The most famous Buddha is known as Siddhârtha Gautama.[172] He is supposed to have lived some time in the period from late seventh century BCE to early third century BCE. Like Jesus he dwelt as a spiritual being in heaven before his arrival on earth. He incarnated voluntarily in order to save the world. His mother was Queen Mâyâ who was later regarded as a virgin. She was believed to have been impregnated by a divine being in the shape of a white elephant who entered her through her right side.[173] Buddha’s birth can therefore be considered a virgin birth, as Mâyâ’s husband Suddhodana, like Joseph, was only stepfather and not the real father of Buddha. Mâyâ also had no sensual thoughts of men, was inaccessible to them and lived as a virgin for thirty-two months.[174] Jerome (c. 347-420 CE) says that Buddha “had his birth through the side of a virgin”.[175] Consequently, the Buddha was regarded as the Son of God (devaputra).

The Buddha child is born while his mother is making a journey to visit her parents.[176] At Buddha’s birth, angels (devas) or gods announces to Queen Mâyâ that she has given birth to a mighty and powerful son.[177] The Buddha child radiates a dazzling light and receives homage from heaven.[178] Wise men recognize in him the signs of a god or superman (mahâpurisa). He is seen as a World Saviour who saves people from suffering and he is sought after in wide areas and receives veneration.[179]

Buddha’s childhood. Buddha is a prince of a royal family. Jesus, although not of a royal family, still is descended from King David. As a little boy, the Buddha is revered in the palace by an old wise man named Asita. Also Jesus was revered in the temple by a wise man, a righteous and devout man by the name of Simeon.

 

Luke 2:25 - 34

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts… Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” … “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel …

Suttanipata 689ff

The longhaired sage looked at the baby and with great joy he picked him up… a man who now, filled with delight, raised his voice to say these words: ‘there is nothing to compare with this: this is the ultimate, this is the perfect man!’ Just then the hermit remembered that he was going to die quite soon – and he felt so sad at this that he began to cry… This prince will come to the fulfilment of perfect enlightenment. The religious life will be fully expounded. He, seeing the utmost purity, will set rolling the Wheel of Dhamma through sympathy for the welfare of many. His holy life will spread far and wide.”

 

The story of twelve-year-old Jesus is told in Luke 2:41ff. His parents lose him on a journey and later find him in the temple courts, teaching the teachers. Even as a young boy Siddhârtha is very wise. He is revered in the temple,[180] and at school he proves to master all spoken and written languages.[181] When travelling in company with adults, they lose him, and when they finally find him, he is in deep meditation.[182]

The baptism and the temptation. Also Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan and his temptation in the wilderness have their direct parallels. Siddhârtha bathes in the river Nairańjana, and then sits down under a tree and experiences an inner awakening that causes “the dwellers in heaven [to] burst into unequalled joy”.[183] When Jesus had been baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and ...

 

... opened to him were the heavens, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him, and lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, `This is My Son -- the Beloved, in whom I did delight.’ (Matthew 3:16-17 YLT)

 

After the baptism, Jesus fasts for forty days in the wilderness and is afterwards tempted by the devil. Following a forty-nine days long fast,[184] also Siddhârtha is tempted in his solitude by Mâra, the Evil One, who promises to make him a world emperor, if he renounces becoming a world saviour.[185] Just as Jesus, the Buddha resists the temptation, and he is praised as a conqueror by gods and animals, just as angels came and attended Jesus.[186]

Buddha’s disciples. When Siddhârtha begins his mission, he is like Jesus about 30 years old.[187] He has many disciples, but according to later visual art, the principal disciples are twelve.[188] Siddhârtha’s two first lay disciples are brothers (Tapussa and Bhallika), and they come to him when he is sitting under the Rajâyatana tree, having recently moved from the bo tree (a fig-tree, Ficus religiosa — a Buddhist symbol), where he attained Enlightenment (Bodhi).[189] In addition, Jesus first two disciples, Simon Peter and Andrew, are brothers (Mark 1:16-18). Moreover, according to John 1:48, Jesus finds his disciple Nathanael under a fig tree. Buddha also has a pair of noble principal disciples, Shâriputra (Pali: Sâriputta) and Maudgalyâyana (Pali: Moggallâna), where Shâriputra like Simon Peter is the chief disciple (aggasâvaka) who will succeed Buddha when he is gone.[190] Buddha — like Jesus — also has a most beloved disciple. He is called Ânanda.[191]

Just as John the Baptist sends out two of his disciples to ask whether Jesus is the awaited Messiah, Pokkharasati sends out Ambattha to learn whether Sâkyamuni really is the promised Buddha.[192] Both Buddha and Jesus are transfigured in the sight of their disciples, so that their bodies radiate a dazzling light.[193] Moreover, like Jesus, Buddha sends out his disciples into the world to preach his message.[194]

The teaching of Buddha. Buddha, as well as Jesus, teaches that you shall primarily consider your own life rather than blame others. They both preach by means of parables. They use a language of rich imagery, such as light and darkness, sun and rain, fertility and infertility.

 

Buddha

“Consider others as yourself.”  (Dhammapada 10:1)

“Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good”. (Dhammapada 1:5 and 17:3)

 

“If anyone would strike you with his hand, with a stick or cut you with a knife, you should restrain yourself and say no evil.” (Majjhimanikâya 21:6)

“The faults of others are easier to see than one’s own” (Udânavarga 27:1)

 

“Even as the great cloud, Kâsyapa, after expanding over the whole universe, pours out the same water … As the light of the sun and moon, Kâsyapa, shines upon all the world, upon the virtuous and the wicked, upon high and low … as their beams are sent down upon everything equally, without inequality (partiality); so, too, Kâsyapa, the intellectual light of the knowledge of the omniscient, the Tathâgatas, the Arhats, the preaching of the true law proceeds equally in respect to all beings in the five states of existence…” (Saddharma-pundarika 5)

Jesus

“… love your neighbour as yourself”  (Matthew 19:19)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” (Matthew 5:44)

“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:39)

 

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

“… that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

 

The miracles. The Buddha possesses great powers and works miracles. He knows the thoughts and deeds of others in beforehand.[195] He heals the sick, makes the blind see again, makes the deaf hear, the lame and the paralytic well again, restores reason to the deranged,[196] and expels evil spirits.[197] When Jesus feeds five thousand men with only five loaves and two fishes and there nevertheless is twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish left (Mark 6:30ff), Buddha, together with his disciple Maudgalyâyana (Moggallâna) feeds five hundred monks with bread baked from dough for one bread only. And despite the fact that everyone eats until they are full, equally many breads remain.[198] Like Jesus, Heracles and others,[199] also the Buddha walks on water.[200] He can appear and disappear at will, and walk through walls.[201] He even stills storms and makes a flood cease.[202]

Also his disciples work similar miracles. A chosen disciple named Sâriputta walks on the river Aciravati in an ecstasy of faith, and all the time he thinks of the Buddha. But when he sees the waves, he for a moment looses his faith and begins to sink. However, by an act of will he regains his former faith and continues the walk to the other side of the river.[203]

According to Mark, Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ favourite disciple Peter walks on water (Matthew 14:22-33). Peter does this by order of Jesus, after Jesus inspired him with courage. But when Peter sees the wind, he is afraid and begins to sink, whereupon Jesus helps him up and accuses him of having little faith.

Luke tells about a woman who praises the mother of Jesus, saying: “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you” (11:27). In Nidânakathâ, a noble virgin, when seeing The Buddha, burst forth: “Full happy now that mother is … who owns this lord so glorious!” However, neither the Buddha nor Jesus pays regard to the real purpose of such glorification. Instead they give it a deeper religious interpretation.[204]

In Mark (12:41-44) and Luke (21:1-4) there is a story of a poor widow, who comes to the temple and as a gift offers two mites (very small coins). Jesus honours her in front of the disciples, as she donated more than all the other, who gave out of their wealth, while she gave all she had to live on. This tale is also documented by Ashvaghosha, an Indian writer who is believed to have lived at the beginning of the second century CE, that is, approximately at the same time as the Gospels were written. Evidently, the same tradition (legend) was known in both India and the Mediterranean area.

Ashvaghosha tells us about a poor widow (or poor unmarried woman), who comes to a religious assembly. She sees that the others give precious gifts, while she has nothing to give. However, she remembers that she found earlier two small coins in a dungheap and donates them to the community with pleasure. Then the high priest honours her in front of the other priests. He disregards the rich gifts of others, and the woman realizes that he is right, since what she has done is as difficult as it is for a rich man to give away all that he has.[205]

Buddha’s mission and death. In his teaching, the Buddha is opposed traditional rigid laws, rebukes intolerance, dogmatism, ritualism, and priestly hypocrisy. He censors the unquestioning adherence to the Vedas and criticizes the bloody sacrifices of the Brahmins.[206]

Voluntarily he leads a life of utmost simplicity as a beggar – a life of renunciation – and mixes mostly with the lowly in society.[207] He accepts an invitation to eat in the house of a prostitute, for which he is criticized by the prominent people of the town.[208] He is called the Seer (prophet), the Master, the Blessed One, the Enlightened One, the Lord and “the Awakened One”[209] and he calls himself Tathâgata (Sanskrit and Pali: “The One thus-come [to Truth]. Peter’s threefold denial of his Master Jesus, has its equivalent in Buddha’s favourite disciple Ânanda’s threefold failure to ask the Buddha to stay on for the rest of the aeon.[210] The Buddha also has an enemy, his wicked cousin and once his disciple, a traitor by the name of Devadatta. He makes three attempts at the Buddha’s life but fails every time. Just like Judas Iscariot, he meets a deplorable end, as he is swallowed by the earth and goes to hell, boiling for an eon.[211] Jesus converted a robber on the cross. The Buddha turns a robber (Angulimâla) from his evil ways and makes him his devotee.[212]

The Buddha eats a last meal,[213] dies, and attains (pari)nirvâna. His death is presaged by a solar eclipse,[214] a great earthquake and a thunderstorm:

 

And when the Blessed One had passed away, simultaneously with his Parinibbana there came a tremendous earthquake, dreadful and astounding, and the thunders rolled across the heavens. (Suttapitaka, Dîghanikâya [Mahâparinibbânasutta], 16:6:12; also 16:3:10)

 

Buddha is said, in a probably post-Christian scripture, to have risen after his death, and opened the coffin and spoken to his mother who came to visit him from “heaven”.[215]

The crucified Buddha. A probably pre-Christian and rather unnoticed text in Sanskrit is “The Story of Gautama, the Progenitor of Ikshvâku”, which is found in Sanghabhedavastu.[216] Here we find a remarkable parallel to the crucifixion scene of the Gospels.

Gautama abandons his life as heir to the kingdom and turns to the ascetic hermit Krishnadvaipâyana who like John the Baptist subsists only on what wild nature produces, in this case fruits, roots and water. Just as Jesus, Gautama thinks that his teacher’s life is too ascetic, and he seeks a less ascetic life, a sort of middle course.

A harlot is murdered and Gautama is innocently accused of the murder. He is brought before the king who is persuaded by the crowd of his guilt and sentences Gautama to death by crucifixion (literally: to be put “on a stake”). In the Gospels, Governor Pilate is persuaded by the crowd and crucifies (stauroo) the wrongfully convicted Jesus.

They announce Gautama’s crime and sentence, a parallel to the inscription at Jesus’ cross.[217] Then they put a garland of oleanders around Gautama’s neck, just as they put a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head. Gautama is driven out of the city through the southern city-gate and he is fixed “on a stake while still alive”. We are told that Gautama “has been pierced”, so that his “joints have been loosened” and that he is suffering from “severe pains” but that his mind is not injured.

Gautama’s ascetic teacher Krishnadvaipâyana is worried about Gautama who has not had time to engender any offspring, a fact that probably will give him bad karma. He therefore persuades Gautama, while still hanging on the stake, to produce two drops of semen which mixed with blood falls to the ground and are transformed into two eggs. These eggs crack in the sun and two princes are born. Gautama dies as the sun rises, but resurrects indirectly in his offspring. His teacher sees the eggshells near the stake and realizes that the two boys (princes) must be the sons of Gautama. Each of the princes in succession is made an “anointed king”. To be anointed king is the exact meaning of the Hebrew word Messiah (the anointed).

Moreover, in the place where they crucified Gautama lie the crushed eggshells. These eggshells are called kapâlâni in Sanskrit, the word kapâla (kapâlâni in the plural) meaning eggshell as well as skull or cranium. Jesus was executed on Golgotha (In English Calvary; in Aramaic Gulgolta) which means “the skull”. The place is also referred to as “place of a skull” and possibly the hill resembled a cranium.

 

 

 

The table in PDF format

 

Yet another son of God created

When the Gospels were written (in my opinion about 100 CE) and “Jesus of Nazareth” for the first time was thought of as a real physical being, there were already many conceptions of how the life of a Son of God should turn out. The Gospel writers were of course heavily influenced by Jewish attitudes, but — as clearly have been shown — also of non-Jewish beliefs.

Two thousand years ago, there were widely spread conceptions of gods thought of as born by mortal virgins made pregnant by gods; of dying gods, tree gods who were adored hanging on trees and who rose from the dead, sometimes on the third day; of vegetation gods who followed the succession of the seasons, and sun gods who followed the phases of the sun in the sky; of gods who were born at the winter solstice and died at the vernal equinox.

I have portrayed six characters (mythical or real) whose life stories in broad outline correspond to the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. These six are not the only examples that can be found. But they are those six lives that (at least according to my knowledge) most resemble the Jesus story of the Gospels.

Obviously, the Gospel writers considered the common legends to be too fascinating not to be used in their description of the newly born Son of God. The modern controversy regarding which scriptures are the older ones, the Christian or the non-Christian, is not crucial, since in many of these cases it probably is not a matter of direct borrowing from the one group to the other. Instead, comparisons made lead one to the conclusion that the material is legendary, and provided that God has not sent many of his sons and instructed them all to live their lives in approximately the same way, these tales should be relegated to where they belong, to the department of fairy tales and myths. We can only conclude that yet another Son of God had been created.

 

Copyright © Roger Viklund, Röbäck, Umeĺ, Sweden, 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES


[1] “The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the Kalends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, 5500 years from Adam.” (Hippolytus, Commentary on Daniel, 4:23) Doig’s Biblical Chronology. Also Julius Africanus (c. 220 CE) in Chronographiai claims that Jesus was born on December 25. Of course, these passages could be later interpolations.

[2] “But the Fates had, I believe, already decreed the origin of this great city and the foundation of the mightiest empire under heaven. The Vestal was forcibly violated and gave birth to twins. She named Mars as their father, either because she really believed it, or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it.” (Livy [Titus Livius], Ab Urbe Condita, From the Founding of the City, 1:4)

[3] “However, the soul of Pythagoras came from the realm of Apollo, either being a heavenly companion or ranked with him in some other familiar way, to be sent down among men; no one can deny this. It can be maintained form his birth and the manifold wisdom of his soul ... He was educated so that he was the most beautiful and god-like of those written about in histories.” (Iamblichus of Chalcis [c. 245–c. 325 CE], On the Pythagorean Life, 8-9; quoted in Florida State University, Divine Men).

[4] “And Speusippus, in his book which is entitled the Funeral Banquet of Plato, and Clearchus in his Panegyric on Plato, and Anaxilides in the second book of his History of Philosophers, say that the report at Athens was that Perictione was very beautiful, and that Ariston endeavoured to violate her and did not succeed; and that he, after he had desisted from his violence saw a vision of Apollo in a dream, in consequence of which he abstained from approaching his wife till after her confinement.” (Diogenes Laertius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book III, Plato, 1)

[5] “I have read the following story in the books of Asclepias of Mendes entitled Theologamena. When Atia had come in the middle of the night to the solemn service of Apollo, she had her litter set down in the temple and fell asleep, while the rest of the matrons also slept. On a sudden a serpent glided up to her and shortly went away. When she awoke, she purified herself, as if after the embraces of her husband, and at once there appeared on her body a mark in colours like a serpent, and she could never get rid of it; so that presently she ceased ever to go to the public baths. In the tenth month after that Augustus was born and was therefore regarded as the son of Apollo. Atia too, before she gave him birth, dreamed that her vitals were borne up to the stars and spread over the whole extent of land and sea, while Octavius dreamed that the sun rose from Atia’s womb.” (Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars: Augustus, 94, written c. 121 CE).

[6] “All are agreed that Alexander was descended on his father’s side from Herakles through Karanus, and on his mother’s from Ćakus through Neoptolemus. We are told that Philip and Olympias first met during their initiation into the sacred mysteries at Samothrace, and that he, while yet a boy, fell in love with the orphan girl, and persuaded her brother Arymbas to consent to their marriage. The bride, before she consorted with her husband, dreamed that she had been struck by a thunderbolt, from which a sheet of flame sprang out in every direction, and then suddenly died away. Philip himself some time after his marriage dreamed that he set a seal upon his wife’s body, on which was engraved the figure of a lion. When he consulted the soothsayers as to what this meant, most of them declared the meaning to be, that his wife required more careful watching; but Aristander of Telmessus declared that she must be pregnant, because men do not seal up what is empty, and that she would bear a son of a spirited and lion-like disposition. ... We are told that Philip after this portent sent Chairon of Megalopolis to Delphi, to consult the god there, and that he delivered an oracular response bidding him sacrifice to Zeus Ammon, and to pay especial reverence to that god: warning him, moreover, that he would some day lose the sight of that eye with which, through the chink of the half-opened door, he had seen the god consorting with his wife in the form of a serpent. The historian Eratosthenes informs us that when Alexander was about to set out on his great expedition, Olympias told him the secret of his birth, and bade him act worthily of his divine parentage. Other writers say that she scrupled to mention the subject, and was heard to say ‘Why does Alexander make Hera jealous of me?’” (Plutarch, Life of Alexander 2–3).

[7] In many ancient religions, a god is thought to suffer. Osiris of course suffered when his body was ripped apart, as Jesus suffered when his body was pierced. The pieces of Osiris’ body were then brought together and restored whereupon Osiris resurrected. “When Isis recovered Osiris ...” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 40). His suffering was seen as voluntary and was used in the festivals as a mean to comfort and offer salvation. See the footnotes in the part dealing with Osiris.

[9] In dealing with Adonis, I have consulted Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: ”Dying and Rising Gods” in the Ancient Near East, (Stockholm 2001), p. 113–154.

[10] Origen in Selecta in Ezechielem, 8:12 and Jerome in Explan. in Ezech, 3:8:14 claim that Tammuz and Adonis are the same god. (Mettinger, p. 129)

[11] “Immediately the fierce boar dislodged the blood-stained spear, with its crooked snout, and chased the youth, who was scared and running hard. It sank its tusk into his groin, and flung him, dying, on the yellow sand. .. When, from the heights, she saw the lifeless body, lying in its own blood, she leapt down, tearing her clothes, and tearing at her hair, as well, and beat at her breasts with fierce hands, complaining to the fates. ‘And yet not everything is in your power’ she said. ‘Adonis, there shall be an everlasting token of my grief, and every year an imitation of your death will complete a re-enactment of my mourning. But your blood will be changed into a flower.” (Ovid [43 BCE–18 CE], Metamorphoses, 10:708ff [written in 1 CE])

[12] “And Adonis, while still a boy, was wounded and killed in hunting by a boar through the anger of Artemis. Hesiod, however, affirms that he was a son of Phoenix and Alphesiboea; and Panyasis says that he was a son of Thias, king of Assyria, who had a daughter Smyrna. In consequence of the wrath of Aphrodite, for she did not honor the goddess, this Smyrna conceived a passion for her father, and with the complicity of her nurse she shared her father’s bed without his knowledge for twelve nights. But when he was aware of it, he drew his sword and pursued her, and being overtaken she prayed to the gods that she might be invisible; so the gods in compassion turned her into the tree which they call smyrna (myrrh). Ten months afterwards the tree burst and Adonis, as he is called, was born, whom for the sake of his beauty, while he was still an infant, Aphrodite hid in a chest unknown to the gods and entrusted to Persephone. But when Persephone beheld him, she would not give him back. The case being tried before Zeus, the year was divided into three parts, and the god ordained that Adonis should stay by himself for one part of the year, with Persephone for one part, and with Aphrodite for the remainder. However Adonis made over to Aphrodite his own share in addition; but afterwards in hunting he was gored and killed by a boar.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 3:14:4) The writer is said to be Apollodorus and he was previously thought to be Apollodorus of Athens, who was born around 180 BCE. But modern scholarship believes Bibliotheca was written by an unknown author in the first–second century CE.

[13] “... and Panyasis says that he was a son of Thias, king of Assyria, who had a daughter Smyrna.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 3:14:4)

[14] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 119-120.

[15] In the sixth century BCE, the Greek female poet Sappho speaks of the mourning women (fragment 140a). So does also Aristophanes in the year 411 BCE (Lysistrata 387–396). Ovid (43 BCE–18 CE) “refers to an annual celebration in memory of Adonis’ death”. Plutarch in Alkibiades 18:2–3, describes the mourning of Adonis in the fifth century BCE. (Mettinger, p. 116-117)

[16] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 115, 126, 137-146, 148.

[17] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 131; refers to “Scholia in Theocritum III, 48 (Wendel 1914: 131)”.

“Ah, and himself - Adonis - how beautiful to behold he lies on his silver couch, with the first down on his cheeks, the thrice-beloved Adonis, - Adonis beloved even among the dead. ... O Aphrodite, that playest with gold, lo, from the stream eternal of Acheron they have brought back to thee Adonis - even in the twelfth month they have brought him, the dainty-footed Hours. ... Before him lie all ripe fruits that the tall trees’ branches bear, and the delicate gardens, arrayed in baskets of silver, and the golden vessels are full of incense of Syria. And all the dainty cakes that women fashion in the kneading-tray, mingling blossoms manifold with the white wheaten flour, all that is wrought of honey sweet, and in soft olive oil, all cakes fashioned in the semblance of things that fly, and of things that creep, lo, here they are set before him. ... But lo, in the morning we will all of us gather with the dew, and carry him forth among the waves that break upon the beach, and with locks unloosed, and ungirt raiment falling to the ankles, and bosoms bare will we begin our shrill sweet song. ... Thou only, dear Adonis, so men tell, thou only of the demigods dost visit both this world and the stream of Acheron. ... Be gracious now, dear Adonis, and propitious even in the coming year. Dear to us has thine advent been, Adonis, and dear shall it be when thou comest again. ... Farewell, beloved Adonis, may you find us glad at your next coming!” (Theocritus, Idyls 15. “It describes the visit paid by two Syracusan women residing in Alexandria, to the festival of the resurrection of Adonis.”)

[18] “Attis, too, and Adonis are related to the analogy of fruits. Attis is the symbol of the blossoms which appear early in the spring, and fall off before the complete fertilization; whence they further attributed castration to him, from the fruits not having attained to seminal perfection: but Adonis was the symbol of the cutting of the perfect fruits.” (Porphyry, On Images, fragment 7)

[19] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 215.

[21] “But the current view about Attis is different, the local legend about him being this. Zeus, it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a demon, with two sexual organs, male and female. They call the demon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ. There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Sangarius, they say, took of the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but was tended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis fell in love with him.” (Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio, Description of Greece, 7:17:10–11)

[22] “the shaggy-topped pine tree, armed with needles, sacred to Cybele, mother of the gods, since Attis exchanged his human form for you, and hardened in your trunk. Among the crowd came the cypress, formed like the cone-shaped meta, that marks the turning point in the race-course: once a boy, but now a tree: loved by the god who tunes the lyre, and strings the bow.” (Ovid [43 BCE–c. 18 CE], Metamorphoses 10:103-111)

[23] The cult of Attis is mentioned by the Roman writers Lucretius (c. 98–54 BCE), Catullus (c. 84–54 BCE), Varro (116–27 BCE) and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (c. 60 BCE–?). (Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth).

[24] “When they had conveyed the goddess to Rome, they must take care that the best man at Rome should receive her to his hospitality.’ They came to Pergamus to the king, who received the ambassadors graciously, and conducted them to Pessinus in Phrygia, and putting into their hands a sacred stone, which the inhabitants said was the mother of the gods, bid them convey it to Rome. ... After the ship arrived at the mouth of the Tiber, Scipio, according to the directions given him, sailed out into the open sea, and, receiving the goddess from the priests, conveyed her to land. ... The matrons, passing her from one to another in orderly succession, conveyed the goddess into the temple of Victory, in the Palatium, on the day before the ides of April, which was made a festival, while the whole city poured out to meet her; and, placing censers before their doors, on the way by which she was conveyed in procession, kindled frankincense, and prayed that she would enter the city of Rome willingly and propitiously. The people in crowds carried presents to the goddess in the Palatium; a lectisternium was celebrated, with games called the Megalesian.” (Titus Livius [59 BCE–17 CE], Ab urbe condita, From the Founding of the City, 29:10–14)

[25] Quoted in Jessie L. Weston, From Ritual to Romance, p. 147.

[26] Julius Firmicus Maternus, De Errore Profanarum Religionum (On the Error of Profane Religions) 3. (Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth).

[27] “An inscription found in Piraeus, the port of Athens, records a temple to Isis / Osiris already there in 333 BC.” (Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth).

[28] “They say that the Sun, when he became aware of Rhea’s intercourse with Cronus, invoked a curse upon her that she should not give birth to a child in any month or year; but Hermes, being enamoured of the goddess, consorted with her. Later, playing at draughts with the moon, he won from her the seventieth part of each of her periods of illumination, and from all the winnings he composed five days, and intercalated them as an addition to the three hundred and sixty days. The Egyptians even now call these five days intercalated and celebrate them as the birthdays of the gods. They relate that on the first of these days Osiris was born, and at the hour of his birth a voice issued forth saying, The Lord of All advances to the light. But some relate that a certain Pamyles, while he was drawing water in Thebes, heard a voice issuing from the shrine of Zeus, which bade him proclaim with a loud voice that a mighty and beneficent king, Osiris, had been born; and for this Cronus entrusted to him the child Osiris, which he brought up.” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 12).

[29] “But he himself is far removed from the earth, uncontaminated and unpolluted and pure from all matter that is subject to destruction and death; but for the souls of men here, which are compassed about by bodies and emotions, there is no association with this god except in so far as they may attain to a dim vision of his presence by means of the apperception which philosophy affords. But when these souls are set free and migrate into the realm of the invisible and the unseen, the dispassionate and the pure, then this god becomes their leader and king, since it is on him that they are bound to be dependent in their insatiate contemplation and yearning for that beauty which is for men unutterable and indescribable.” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris,78).

[30] “Typhon, having secretly measured Osiris’s body and having made ready a beautiful chest of corresponding size artistically ornamented, caused it to be brought into the room where the festivity was in progress. The company was much pleased at the sight of it and admired it greatly, whereupon Typhon jestingly promised to present it to the man who should find the chest to be exactly his length when he lay down in it. They all tried it in turn, but no one fitted it; then Osiris got into it and lay down, and those who were in the plot ran to it and slammed down the lid, which they fastened by nails from the outside and also by using molten lead. Then they carried the chest to the river and sent it on its way to the sea through the Tanitic Mouth. Wherefore the Egyptians even to this day name this mouth the hateful and execrable. Such is the tradition. They say also that the date on which this deed was done was the seventeenth day of Athyr, when the sun passes through Scorpion, and in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Osiris; but some say that these are the years of his life and not of his reign.” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 13)

[31] “The story told of the shutting up of Osiris in the chest seems to mean nothing else than the vanishing and disappearance of water. Consequently they say that the disappearance of Osiris occurred in the month of Athyr, at the time when, owing to the complete cessation of the Etesian winds, the Nile recedes to its low level and the land becomes denuded. As the nights grow longer, the darkness increases, and the potency of the light is abated and subdued. Then among the gloomy rites which the priests perform, they shroud the gilded image of a cow with a black linen vestment, and display her as a sign of mourning for the goddess, inasmuch as they regard both the cow and the earth as the image of Isis; and this is kept up for four days consecutively, beginning with the seventeenth of the month. ... On the nineteenth day they go down to the sea at night-time; and the keepers of the robes and the priests bring forth the sacred chest containing a small golden coffer, into which they pour some potable water which they have taken up, and a great shout arises from the company for joy that Osiris is found. Then they knead some fertile soil with the water and mix in spices and incense of a very costly sort, and fashion therefrom a crescent-shaped figure, which they clothe and adorn, thus indicating that they regard these gods as the substance of Earth and Water.” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 39).

[33] “For the keys of hell and the guarantee of salvation were in the hands of the goddess, and the initiation ceremony itself took the form of a kind of voluntary death and salvation through divine grace.” (Lucius Apuleius, Metamorphoses, The Golden Ass, 11:21 [chapter 48]; quoted in Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth)

[34] “Be of good cheer, O initiates, for the god is saved, and we shall have salvation for our woes.” (Julius Firmicus Maternus, The Error of Pagan Religions, 22:1; quoted in Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth)

[35] The Goddess Isis says: “I have come with solace and aid. Away then with tears. cease to moan. Send sorrow fleeing. Soon through my providence shall the sun of your salvation rise.” (Lucius Apuleius, Metamorphoses, The Golden Ass, 11:5; quoted in Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth)

[36] “None of their company was so abandoned or indeed set on his own destruction as to dare to perform this ceremony unless personally ordered to do so by his mistress; that would be a reckless act of sacrilege and a crime carrying sentence of death. For the keys of hell and the guarantee of salvation were in the hands of the goddess, and the initiation ceremony itself took the form of a kind of voluntary death and salvation through divine grace. Such as might be safely entrusted with the great secrets of our religion, when they had passed through life and stood on the threshold of darkness, these the power of the goddess was wont to select and when they had been as it were reborn return them to a new lifespan.” (Lucius Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11:21 [chapter 48])

[37] “In the sacred hymns of Osiris they call upon him who is hidden in the arms of the Sun; and on the thirtieth of the month Epiphi they celebrate the birthday of the Eyes of Horus, at the time when the Moon and the Sun are in a perfectly straight line, since they regard not only the Moon but also the Sun as the eye and light of Horus. ... Moreover, at the time of the winter solstice they lead the cow seven times around the temple of the Sun and this circumambulation is called the Seeking for Osiris, since the Goddess in the winter-time yearns for water; so many times do they go around, because in the seventh month the Sun completes the transition from the winter solstice to the summer solstice. It is said also that Horus, the son of Isis, offered sacrifice to the Sun first of all on the fourth day of the month, as is written in the records entitled the Birthdays of Horus.” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 52)

The Egyptians had a solar calendar of twelve 30-day lunar months and a five-day intercalendary period, giving a total year of 365 days (Isis and Osiris, 12). When Plutarch wrote, Epiphi should have corresponded to approximately July and Phaophi to October. However, as the Egyptian year was circa Ľ of a day shorter than the actual year, the calendar lost about one day every four years. This means that over time, Epiphi occurred in every period of the year. And in the month of the winter solstice, they led a cow around the temple of the Sun [Horus was the eye of the sun] and Horus “offered sacrifice to the Sun”.

[38] “The ritual of the nativity, as it appears to have been celebrated in Syria and Egypt, was remarkable. The celebrants retired into certain inner shrines, from which at midnight they issued with a loud cry, “The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing!” The Egyptians even represented the new-born sun by the image of an infant which on his birthday, the winter solstice, they brought forth and exhibited to his worshippers. No doubt the Virgin who thus conceived and bore a son on the twenty-fifth of December was the great Oriental goddess whom the Semites called the Heavenly Virgin or simply the Heavenly Goddess; in Semitic lands she was a form of Astarte. ... Now Mithra was regularly identified by his worshippers with the Sun, the Unconquered Sun, as they called him; hence his nativity also fell on the twenty-fifth of December.” (James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, Ch. 37, Oriental Religions in the West).

[39] THOSE WHO, BY PERMISSION OF THE PARCAE, RETURNED FROM THE LOWER WORLD “Asclepius, son of Apollo and Coronis.” (Gaius Julius Hyginus [c. 64 BC-17 AD], Fabulae, 251). Possibly written by some unknown author in the second century CE.

[40] “Hippolytus’ wounded body was carried along, till he gave up his spirit, to Diana’s great anger. ‘There’s no need for grief,’ said Aesculapius: I’ll restore the pious youth to life, free of wounds, and sad fate will yield to my skill.’ Quickly he took medicines from an ivory casket ... he touched his breast three times, three times spoke words of healing: the youth lifted his head from the ground. Hippolytus hid in his own sacred grove, in the depths of Diana’s woods: he is Virbius [The reborn, that is immortal, Hippolytus was in Roman mythology called Virbius] of the Arician Lake... Phoebus, you complained: but Aesculapius is a god ...” (Ovid [43 BCE-c. 18 CE], Fasti, 6:735).

MORTALS WHO WERE MADE IMMORTAL “Asclepius, son of Apollo and Coronis”. (Hyginus, Fabulae, 224).

[42] “His [Asclepius’] mother [Coronis], the daughter of Phlegyas with his fine horses, before she could bring him to term with the help of Eleithuia who attends on childbirth, was stricken by the golden arrows of Artemis in her bedroom and descended to the house of Hades, by the skills of Apollo. The anger of the children of Zeus is not in vain. But she made light of Apollo, in the error of her mind, and consented to another marriage without her father’s knowledge, although she had before lain with Phoebus [a byname for the god Apollo] of the unshorn hair, and was bearing within her the pure seed of the god … Such was the strong infatuation that the spirit of lovely-robed Coronis had caught. For she lay in the bed of a stranger who came from Arcadia; but she did not elude the watcher... Knowing even then of her sleeping with Ischys, son of Elatus, and of her lawless deceit, he sent his sister, raging with irresistible force ...” (Pindar [c. 518–438 BCE], Pythian Odes 3:8-34).

“But some affirm that Aesculapius was not a son of Arsinoe, daughter of Leucippus, but that he was a son of Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas in Thessaly. And they say that Apollo loved her and at once consorted with her, but that she, against her father’s judgment, preferred and cohabited with Ischys, brother of Caeneus.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus [first-second century CE], The Library, 3:10:3).

“When Apollo had made Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas, pregnant, he put a crow in guard, so that no one should violate her. But Ischys, son of Elatus, lay with her, and because of this he was killed by the thunderbolt of Zeus.” (Hyginus [c. 64 BC-17 AD], Fabulae 202).

[43] “When he [Coronis’ father Phlegyas] went to the Peloponnesus, he was accompanied by his daughter, who all along had kept hidden from her father that she was with child by Apollo. In the country of the Epidaurians she bore a son, and exposed him on the mountain called Nipple at the present day, but then named Myrtium. As the child lay exposed he was given milk by one of the goats that pastured about the mountain, and was guarded by the watch-dog of the herd. And when Aresthanas (for this was the herdsman’s name) discovered that the tale of the goats was not full, and that the watch-dog also was absent from the herd, he left, they say, no stone unturned, and on finding the child desired to take him up. As he drew near he saw lightning that flashed from the child, and, thinking that it was something divine, as in fact it was, he turned away. Presently it was reported over every land and sea that Asclepius was discovering everything he wished to heal the sick, and that he was raising dead men to life.” (Pausanias [second century CE], Graeciae Descriptio, Description of Greece, 2:26:3–5).

[44] “I begin to sing of Asklepios, son of Apollon and healer of sicknesses. In the Dotian plain fair Koronis, daughter of King Phlegyas, bare him, a great joy to men, a soother of cruel pangs. and so hail to you, lord: in my song I make my prayer to thee!” (Homeric Hymn 16 to Asklepios; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Asklepios).

[45] “The god [Apollon] can not only save life but is also the begetter of Asklepios, man’s saviour and champion against diseases.” (Aelian, On Animals, 10:49; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Asklepios).

“To Asklepios, Fumigation from Manna. Great Asklepios, skilled to heal mankind, all-ruling Paian, and physician kind; whose arts medicinal can alone assuage diseases dire, and stop their dreadful rage. Strong, lenient God, regard my suppliant prayer, bring gentle health, adorned with lovely hair; convey the means of mitigating pain, and raging deadly pestilence restrain. O power all-flourishing, abundant, bright, Apollon’s honoured offspring, God of light; husband of blameless Hygeia (Health), the constant foe of dread disease, the minister of woe: come, blessed saviour, human health defend, and to the mortal life afford a prosperous end.” (Orphic Hymn 67 to Asclepius; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Asklepios).

Also Aelius Aristides [117–180 CE], Discorsi Sacri, Sacred Discourses,1:2, 4:4.

[46] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 157, 159, 165.

[47] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 160.

“Galenus says in his commentary to the apothegms of Hippocrates: ‘It is generally known that Asclepius was raised to the angels in a column of fire, the like of which is also related with regard to Dionysos, Heracles, and others, who laboured for the benefit of mankind. People say that God did thus with them in order to destroy the mortal and earthly part of them by the fire, and afterwards to attract to himself the immortal part of them, and to raise their souls to heaven.’” (al-Biruni, India, p. 168).

[48] “‘I’ll restore the pious youth to life, unwounded, and the grisly fates will yield to my art.’ At once he takes some herbs from an ivory box. They worked before on the ghost of Gluacus, when an augur resorted to herbs he’d noticed, and a serpent used the help of a serpent. He daubed his breast three times, thrice spoke healing words. The youth raised his drooping head from the ground.” (Ovid, Fasti, 6:735; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Asklepios).

[49] Carl Schneider, Geistesgeschichte des antiken Christentums, book 1, p. 55; refers to inscriptions from Epidaurus, “Rudolf Herzog, Die Wunderheilungen von Epidauros”.

[50] Luke 8:44, Mark 5:27f, 7:33 Matthew 9:18–20.

[51] “A man whose fingers, all but one, were paralyzed. He came to the god looking for help, but when he read the tablets set up in the temple he gave no credence to the healings and made fun of the inscriptions. But as he slept, he had the following dream. It seemed to him that he was playing dice in the temple and was about to make a throw. The god appeared to him, and spring upon his hand and stretched out his fingers. Then he got up and, still in his dream, the man clenched his fist and opened it, stretching out one finger after another. After he had stretched them all out, the god asked him if he still refused to believe what the inscriptions related, and he said ‘No.’ ‘Well then,’ answered the god, ‘since you formerly refused to believe what is not unbelievable, you shall henceforth be known as ‘the Doubter.’ When it was day, he came out cured.” (Epidaurus Tablet 3, trans. F.C. Grant, Hellenistic Religions, 56-57).

[52] “A Dumb Boy He came to the sanctuary seeking to recover his voice. As he was presenting his first offering and performing the usual ceremony, the acolyte who bears the fire (for the sacrifice) to the god turned and said to the father of the boy, ‘Will you promise, if you get your wish, between now and the end of the year to bring the offering you owe as a fee for the healing?’ At once the boy cried to out, ‘I promise!’ The father said it again and was made whole from that moment.” (Epidaurus Tablet 5, trans. F.C. Grant, Hellenistic Religions, 56-57).

[53] “Ambrosia from Athens, who was blind in one eye. She came to the god seeking help, but as she went about the temple she mocked at the many records of cures; ‘It is unbelievable and impossible that the lame and the blind can be made whole by merely dreaming!’ But in her sleep she had a dream. It seemed to her that the god came up and promised to make her whole; only in return she must present a gift offering in the temple- a silver pig, in memory of her stupidity. After saying this he cut open her defective eye and poured some drug. And when it was dry, she went forth cured.” (Epidaurus Tablet 4, trans. F.C. Grant, Hellenistic Religions, 56-57).

Karlheinz Deschner, Abermals krähte der Hahn, p. 69.

“Asclepius, that gentle craftsman who drove pain from the limbs that he healed, that hero who cured all types of diseases. … And those who came to him afflicted with congenital sores, or with their limbs wounded by gray bronze or by a far-hurled stone, or with their bodies wasting away from summer’s fire or winter’s cold, he released and delivered all of them from their different pains, tending some of them with gentle incantations, others with soothing potions, or by wrapping remedies all around their limbs, and others he set right with surgery.” (Pindar, Pythian Odes, 3:6-53).

“Presently it was reported over every land and sea that Asclepius was discovering everything he wished to heal the sick, and that he was raising dead men to life.” (Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio, Description of Greece, 2:26:5).

[54] Carl Schneider, Geistesgeschichte des antiken Christentums, book 1, p. 56; refers to inscriptions from Epidaurus, “Rudolf Herzog, Die Wunderheilungen von Epidauros, Epidaurus tablets nr. 21, 25 and 35.

[55] “Stesichorus in his Eriphyle says that he [Asklepios] raised from the dead some of those who fell at Thebes.” (Greek Lyric III Stesichorus, Frag 194; quoted in Greek Mythology: ASKLEPIOS God of Medicine).

“Asklepios healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and for this reason it was believed that he had brought back to life many who had died.” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90–21 BCE], Library of History, 4:71:1 [Loeb]).

“And having become a surgeon, and carried the art to a great pitch, he not only prevented some from dying, but even raised up the dead”. (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library 3:10:3).

“Gold shining in his [Asclepius’] hand turned even that man, for a handsome price, to bring back from death a man who was already caught.” (Pindar, Pythian Odes 3:55-56)

[56] The five (or possibly six) people are Capaneus, son of Hipponous; Glaucus, son of king Minos of Crete (and perhaps Androgeon, also son of Minos); Hippolytus, son of king Theseus of Athen; Lykourgos, son of Pronax; and finally King Tyndareus of Sparta.

“It is said Asklepios was enticed by gold to raise up the dead Hippolytos; others say he raised Tyndareus, others Kapaneus, others Glaukos, the Orphics Hymenaios, while Stesichorus speaks of Kapaneus and Lykourgos.” (Greek Lyric III Stesichorus [seventh or sixth c. BCE], Frag 147; quoted in Greek Mythology: ASKLEPIOS God of Medicine).

“Zeus killed Asklepios with his thunderbolt, according to the author of the Naupactica and Telestes in his Asklepios and Kinesias the lyric poet, because he raised Hippolytos from the dead at Artemis’ request; according to Stesikhoros in his Eriphyle, it was because he raised Kapaneos and Lykourgos.” (Greek Lyric V Cinesias, Frag 774, from Philodemus [first c. BCE], On Piety; quoted in Greek Mythology: ASKLEPIOS God of Medicine).

“… that when Hippolytos was killed, owing to the curses of Theseus, Asklepios raised him from the dead”. (Pausanias [second c. CE], Graeciae Descriptio, Description of Greece, 2:27:4)

“Aesculapius, son of Apollo, is said to have restored life either to Glaucus, son of Minos, or to Hippolytus, and Jupiter because of this struck him with a thunderbolt.” (Hyginus, Fabulae 49).

“For when Aesculapius was among men, he so fare excelled the rest in the art of medicine that it wasn’t enough for him to have healed men’s diseases unless he could also bring back the dead to life. He is said most recently, according to Eratosthenes to have restored to life Hippolytus who had been killed by the injustice of his stepmother and the ignorance of his father. Some have said that by his skill Glaucus, son of Minos, lived again.” (Hyginus, Astronomica, 2:14).

“… the god of Epidaurus [Asklepios] by his Cretan herbs restored the lifeless Androgeon to his father’s [Minos of Krete’s] hearth.” (Propertius, Elegies 2:1; quoted in Greek Mythology: ASKLEPIOS God of Medicine).

[57] Mark 5:35ff, Matthew 9:18ff, Luke 8:49ff, 7:11ff, John 11:1ff.

[58] Carl Schneider, Geistesgeschichte des antiken Christentums, book 1, p. 56; refers to inscriptions from Epidaurus, “Rudolf Herzog, Die Wunderheilungen von Epidauros”.

Lucius Apuleius tells us in Florida 19 (second Century CE) how Asclepius (Actually, he writes Asclepiades and we cannot be certain who he had in mind) rose a man from the dead, a story very similar to the one where Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43):

“The famous Asclepiades, who ranks among the greatest of doctors, indeed, if you except Hippocrates, as the very greatest, was the first to discover the use of wine as a remedy. It requires, however, to be administered at the proper moment, and it was in the discovery of the right moment that he showed especial skill, noting most carefully the slightest symptom of disorder or undue rapidity of the pulse. It chanced that once, when he was returning to town from his country house, he observed an enormous funeral procession in the suburbs of the city. A huge multitude of men who had come out to perform the last honours stood round about the bier, all of them plunged in deep sorrow and wearing worn and ragged apparel. He asked whom they were burying, but no one replied; so he went nearer to satisfy his curiosity and to see who it might be that was dead, or, it may be, in the hope to make some discovery in the interests of his profession. Be this as it may, he certainly snatched the man from the jaws of death as he lay there on the verge of burial. The poor fellow’s limbs were already covered with spices, his mouth filled with sweet-smelling unguent. He had been anointed and was all ready for the pyre. But Asclepiades looked upon him, took careful note of certain signs, handled his body again and again, and perceived that the life was still in him, though scarcely to be detected. Straightway he cried out ‘He lives Throw down your torches, take away your fire, demolish the pyre, take back the funeral feast and spread it on his board at home’. While he spoke, a murmur arose: some said that they must take the doctor’s word, others mocked at the physician’s skill. At last, in spite of the opposition offered even by his relations, perhaps because they had already entered into possession of the dead man’s property, perhaps because they did not yet believe his words, Asclepiades persuaded them to put off the burial for a brief space. Having thus rescued him from the hands of the undertaker, he carried the man home, as it were from the very mouth of hell, and straightway revived the spirit within him, and by means of certain drugs called forth the life that still lay hidden in the secret places of the body ...” (Lucius Apuleius, Florida 19).

[59] “Human experience moreover and general custom have made it a practise to confer the deification of renown and gratitude upon distinguished benefactors. This is the origin of Hercules [Herakles], of Castor and Pollux [the Dioskouroi], of Aesculapius [Asklepios] ... And these benefactors were duly deemed divine, as being both supremely good and immortal, because their souls survived and enjoyed eternal life.” (Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 2:24; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Apotheothenai, deified men & women).

[60] Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, Translated by F.C. Conybeare.

[61] Porphyry, On abstinence, 2:34 (Jona Lendering, Apollonius of Tyana, Apollonius’ books).

[63] “But the people of the country say that just at the moment of the birth, a thunderbolt seemed about to fall to earth and then rose up into the air and disappeared aloft; and the gods thereby indicated”. (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, 1:5).

[64] “To his mother, just before he was born, there came an apparition of Proteus, who changes his form so much in Homer, in the guise of an Egyptian demon. She was in no way frightened, but asked him what sort of child she would bear. And he answered: ‘Myself.’ ‘And who are you?’ she asked. ‘Proteus,’ answered he, ‘the god of Egypt.’” (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, 1:4).

[65] In addition, Philostratus says that he has relied upon a book written by Maximus of Aegae, who wrote about the young Apollonius in the temple of Asclepius. (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, 1:3).

[66] In some translations: “the company of Apollonius”.

[67] “There also arrived a man who was lame. He was already thirty years old and was a keen hunter of lions; but a lion had sprung upon him and dislocated his hip so that he limped with one leg. However when they massaged with their hands his hip, the youth immediately recovered his upright gait. And another man had had his eyes put out, and he went away having recovered the sight of both of them. Yet another man had his hand paralysed, but left their presence in full possession of the limb.” (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, 3:39).

[68] “A girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bridegroom was following her bier lamenting as was natural his marriage left unfulfilled, and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius witnessing their grief, said: “Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are shedding for this maiden.” And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought that he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered as much to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death; and the girl spoke out loud and returned to her father’s house, just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules.” (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, 4:45).

[69] Compare this to note 58, and what Lucius Apuleius tells us in Florida 19, about Asclepius (Asclepiades) interrupting a funeral procession to raise a man from the dead.

[70] Although slightly differently depicted, the same story about Apollonius is told by Dio Cassius (c. 150–235 CE):

“The matter of which I spoke, saying that it surprises me more than anything else, is this. A certain Apollonius of Tyana on that very day and at that very hour when Domitian was being murdered (as was afterwards accurately determined by events that happened in both places) mounted a lofty rock at Ephesus (or possibly it was somewhere else) and having called together the populace, uttered these words: “Good, Stephanus! Bravo, Stephanus! Smite the bloodthirsty wretch! You have struck, you have wounded, you have slain.” This is what actually happened, though one should doubt it ten thousand times over. Domitian had lived forty-four years, ten months and twenty-six days, and had reigned fifteen years and five days. His body was stolen away and was buried by his nurse Phyllis.” (Dio Cassius, Romaďka [Rome’s History], 67:18:1).

[71] “Apollonius, however, ignored the Emperor’s presence so completely as not even to glance at him … and the latter [the Emperor] deeming the audience to have borne witness in favor of the accused, and also not a little impressed himself by the answers he had received, for they were both firm and sensible, said: ‘I acquit you of the charges; but you must remain here until we have had a private interview.’ … [“Apollonius:] Accord me also, if you will, opportunity to speak; but if not, then send someone to take my body, for my soul you cannot take. Nay, you cannot take even my body, For thou shalt not slay me, since - I tell thee - I am not mortal.” (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius, 8:5).

“‘What is truth?’ Pilate asked. … With this he went out again to the Jews and said, ‘I find no basis for a charge against him. … Where do you come from?’ he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. ‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’” (John 18:38-19:11).

[72] The section about Heracles relies to some extent upon Tryggve Mettinger’s, The Riddle of Resurrection: ”Dying and Rising Gods” in the Ancient Near East (Stockholm 2001) p. 83–111, Friedrich Pfister’s Herakles und Christus (Leipzig 1937) and Karlheinz Deschner’s Abermals krähte der Hahn: Eine kritische Kirchengeschichte von den Anfängen bis zu Pius XII, (Stuttgart 1971) and Der gefälschte Glaube: Eine kritische Betrachtung kirchlicher Lehren und ihrer historischen Hintergründe, (München 1988).

[73] “And Alemena was joined in love with Zeus who drives the clouds and bare mighty Heracles.” (Hesiod [eighth Century BCE] Theogony, 943-944)

[74] “Wishing to avenge his sons’ death, Electryon purposed to make war on the Teleboans, but first he committed the kingdom to Amphitryon along with his daughter Alcmena, binding him by oath to keep her a virgin until his return. ... Amphitryon went with Alcmena and Licymnius to Thebes and was purified by Creon and gave his sister Perimede to Licymnius. And as Alcmena said she would marry him when he had avenged her brothers’ death, Amphitryon engaged to do so, and undertook an expedition against the Teleboans, and invited Creon to assist him. Creon said he would join in the expedition if Amphitryon would first rid the Cadmea of the vixen; for a brute of a vixen was ravaging the Cadmea. ... But before Amphitryon reached Thebes, Zeus came by night and prolonging the one night threefold he assumed the likeness of Amphitryon and bedded with Alcmena and related what had happened concerning the Teleboans. But when Amphitryon arrived and saw that he was not welcomed by his wife, he inquired the cause; and when she told him that he had come the night before and slept with her, he learned from Tiresias how Zeus had enjoyed her. And Alcmena bore two sons, to wit, Hercules, whom she had by Zeus and who was the elder by one night, and Iphicles, whom she had by Amphitryon.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 2:4:6-8).

“... Alcmenę, who in turn was wooed by Zeus, who deceived her, and bore Heracles. ... Consequently, desiring to give legality to his embraces, he did not choose to offer violence to Alcmenę, and yet he could not hope to persuade her because of her chastity; and so, deciding to use deception, he deceived Alcmenę by assuming in every respect the shape of Amphitryon.” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90-21 BCE], Library of History, 4:9:1 [Loeb]).

[75] “When Electryon reigned over Mycenae … Wishing to avenge his sons’ death, Electryon purposed to make war on the Teleboans, but first he committed the kingdom to Amphitryon along with his daughter Alcmena, binding him by oath to keep her a virgin until his return.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 2:4:6).

[76] “Even Zeus, who they say is the greatest of the gods and men, was blinded by her, when Hera, a mere female, with her cunning tactics, deceived him that very day Alcmene was to give birth to mighty Hercules, in Thebes, city with the splendid walls.” (Homer, The Iliad, 19:93-99 [Loeb]). Another translation of The Iliad by Ian Johnston.

[77] Aset/Isis appears textually earliest within the Pyramid Texts. … Khemmis, referred to in the Pyramid Texts as the place where Isis fled to bear Horus, the son of Osiris, was in the Delta. Also known as Akhmim, Isis hid there with Her son until he grew old enough to put forth his claim to the Kingship as heir to His father Osiris/Wesir.”: “The Great One has fallen in Nedit, the throne is released by its occupant (?). She who is in Iseion raises you, the god is released. Heru [Horus] comes forth from Chemmis; Pe attends on Heru and he is purified there. Heru comes pure that he may protect his father….. (Pyramid text, Utt. 701, sect 2188-2195, Aset in the Earliest Ancient Texts). ”O you plebs, look on me, the son of Isis; I was conceived in Pe and born in Chemmis;...” (Spell 286, Excerpts of Coffin Texts Referencing Aset/Isis).

[78]Occasionally, Heracles is known as an inhabitant of Argos. According to Friedrich Pfister, Herakles und Christus, p. 47 a Greek inscription, “Carmina epigraphica”, 22, refers to Heracles as “Argivus” (greek: Argeioi). The name Argives (Αργει̃οι) were often given to inhabitants, not only of Argos, but also from the surrounding cities of Mycenae (where his parents came from). Other sources say Tirynthius, “Heracles Tirynthius”. This could mean that the Mycenaean city of Tiryns was Heracles’ birthplace: “There is a cavern yawning dark and deep, and there a falling track where Hero Tirynthius [Heracles] dragged struggling, blinking …” (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 7:412; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Kerberos).

Though Jesus had God as his father, he still was known as “son of Joseph”. Heracles had Zeus as his father, but was also known as son of his step-father Amphitryon: “He first gave thanks to that son of Amphitryon …” (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15:49).

[79] “...whereupon Hera, who was filled with jealousy ... After Alcmenę had brought forth the babe, fearful of Hera’s jealousy she exposed it at a place which to this time is called after him the Field of Heracles. Now at this very time Athena, approaching the spot in the company of Hera and being amazed at the natural vigour of the child, persuaded Hera to offer it the breast. But when the boy tugged upon her breast with greater violence than would be expected at his age, Hera was unable to endure the pain and cast the babe from her, whereupon Athena took it to its mother and urged her to rear it.” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90-21 BCE], Library of History, 4:9:4,6 [Loeb]).

[80] By his public mission, I mean his twelve Labours:

“For we cannot all have the experience of Hercules, as we find it in the words of Prodicus in Xenophon; ‘When Hercules was just coming into youth’s estate (the time which Nature has appointed unto every man for choosing the path of life on which he would enter), he went out into a desert place. And as he saw two paths, the path of Pleasure and the path of Virtue, he sat down and debated long and earnestly which one it were better for him to take.’” (Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), De Officiis, 1:118).

“When Heracles was emerging from boyhood into the bloom of youth, having reached that season in which the young man, now standing upon the verge of independence, shows plainly whether he will enter upon the path of virtue or of vice, he went forth into a quiet place, and sat debating with himself which of those two paths he should pursue; and as he there sat musing, there appeared to him two women of great stature which drew nigh to him. ... ‘I see you, Heracles, in doubt and difficulty what path of life to choose; make me your friend, and I will lead you to the pleasantest road and easiest. This I promise you: you shall taste all of life’s sweets and escape all bitters. ... But just then the other of those fair women approached and spoke: ‘Heracles, I too am come to you, seeing that your parents are well known to me, and in your nurture I have gauged your nature; wherefore I entertain good hope that if you choose the path which leads to me, you shall greatly bestir yourself to be the doer of many a doughty deed of noble emprise; and that I too shall be held in even higher honour for your sake, lit with the lustre shed by valorous deeds. I will not cheat you with preludings of pleasure, but I will relate to you the things that are according to the ordinances of God in very truth. ... At this point, (as Prodicus relates) Vice broke in exclaiming: ‘See you, Heracles, how hard and long the road is by which yonder woman would escort you to her festal joys. But I will guide you by a short and easy road to happiness.’” (Xenophon [c. 430-355 BCE], Memorabilia, 2:1:21-33).

[81] The father of Heracles [Zeus] is worried about the temptations that might “entice a youth of fine natural qualities [i.e. Heracles] away from his true nature and his principles even against his will.” He therefore sent his messenger god Hermes to Heracles and Hermes “led him over a secret path untrodden of man till he came to a conspicuous and very lofty mountain-peak whose sides were dreadfully steep.” But there are actually two peaks, “rising from a single base”. “The one of them bore the name Peak Royal and was sacred to Zeus the king; the other, peak Tyrannous, was named after the giant Typhon.” Only one path leads to Peak Royal, and it is “safe and broad”. On that peak, which was much higher sat Lady Royalty together with some other people, and they represented Justice, Civic Order, Peace and Law. The path to the peak of Tyranny “was narrow, crooked and difficult” to walk. But in fact the mountain peak was “undermined on every side and tunnelled” and there were many “unseen and hidden corridors”, which according to Chrysostom, no doubt led “up to the very throne, and that all the passages and bypaths were smeared with blood and strewn with corpses.” On that throne, which was “far loftier and more splendid”, sat Tyranny. At her side, she had “Cruelty, Insolence, Lawlessness and Faction”. Also “Flattery was there”. Hermes then “asked him which of the two scenes pleased him and which of the two women.” And Heracles said that he would gladly thrust Tyranny “down from this peak and put an end to her”. “Hermes commended Heracles for this utterance and repeated it to Zeus, who entrusted him [Heracles] with the kingship of all mankind as he considered him equal to the trust.” (My summary of Dio Chrysostom [c. 40–c. 120 CE], Orations, 1:64-84 [Loeb], Compare this to Matthew 4:8-11).

[82] “But nothing more dear to him [Hercules] than God. For this reason it was believed that he was the son of God, and he was. In obedience to God, then, he went about purging away injustice and lawlessness.” (Epictetus, [c. 50-120 CE], The Discourses, 2:16).

“And still earlier it was the fortune of Hercules to visit all the inhabited world … but it is the father who takes care of all men always and continuously. For it was not as mere report that he [Hercules] had heard that Zeus is the father of for he thought that Zeus was his own father, and he called him so, and to him he looked when he was doing what he did. Therefore he was enabled to live happily in all places.” (Epictetus, [c. 50-120 CE], The Discourses, 3:24).

“At such a turn of affairs Heracles fell into despondency of no ordinary kind; for he felt that servitude to an inferior was a thing which his high achievements did not deserve, and yet he saw that it would be hurtful to himself and impossible not to obey Zeus, who was his father as well.” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90-21 BCE], Library of History, 4:11:1, [Loeb]; Compare this to Luke 4:43, 22:42 and Matthew 6:10).

[83] “… whereupon Heracles journeyed to Delphi, and on inquiring of the god regarding the matter he received a reply which stated that the gods had decided that he should perform twelve Labours at the command of Eurystheus and that upon their conclusion he should receive the gift of immortality.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4:10:7 [Loeb]); compare this to Luke 4:16ff.

[84] Heracles: ‘The god has been remorseless to me; so I will be the same to the gods.’ Theseus: ‘Hush! lest your presumption add to your sufferings.’ Heracles: ‘My ship is freighted full with sorrow; there is no room to stow anything further.’ Theseus: ‘What will you do? Where is your fury drifting you?’ Heracles: ‘I will die and return to that world below from which I have just come.’” (Euripides, [c. 480-406 BCE], Heracles, 1243-1247).

“For what offspring of the gods could have toiled through such hazardous, toilsome, and painful Labours save only Heracles, the son of Zeus? But it was one arrogant man who imposed upon Heracles the task of capturing lions, of pursuing wild boars, of frightening off birds so that he might not have time to go about performing greater deeds, such as punishing men like Antaeus and stopping creatures like Busiris from their abominable murders.” (Plutarch, De Fortuna Alexandri, 2:11), Compare to Mark 8:31, Matthew 16:21, Luke 9:22.

[85] “And so wherever Heracles discovered a tyranny and a tyrant, he chastised and destroyed them, among Greeks and barbarians alike; but wherever he found a kingdom and a king, he would give honour and protection.’ This, she maintained, was what made him Deliverer [Greek: σοτηερα, soter; Saviour, Deliverer, Preserver] of the earth and of the human race, not the fact that he defended them from the savage beasts­—for how little damage could a lion or a wild bear inflict?—nay, it was the fact that he chastised savage and wicked men, and crushed and destroyed the power of overweening tyrants. And even to this day Heracles continues this work and you have in him a helper and protector of your government as long as it is vouchsafed you to reign.” (Dio Chrysostom [c. 45-120 CE], Orationes, 1:84 [Loeb]).

[86] “I do not think it was really a cup, but my belief is that he himself walked on the sea as though it were dry land. For what was impossible to Heracles?” (Emperor Julian [331 or 332-363 CE], Orations, 7:219 D [Loeb]).

[87] “… at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death; and the girl spoke out loud and returned to her father’s house, just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules.” (Philostratus [c. 170–c. 245 CE], The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 4:45).

Admetus: O gods, what shall I say? Here is a wonder past all hoping. Is this truly my wife I see here, or does some delusive joy sent by a god steal my wits? Heracles: It is none other: the woman you see here is your wife. Admetus: Perhaps it is some ghost from the Underworld. Heracles: No raiser of spirits is the man you made your guest-friend. Admetus: But do I see my wife, whom I buried? … O noble son of mighty Zeus, may good fortune attend you, and may the father who begot you preserve your life! For you alone have raised up my fortunes. How did you bring her up from below to the light of day? Heracles: I fought with the divinity who controlled her. … Admetus: But why on earth does she stand silent? Heracles: You are not yet allowed to hear her speak to you, not until she becomes purified in the sight of the nether gods when the third day comes. But take her in.” (Euripides, Alcestis, 1123-47).

[88] Enter HERCULES just returned from the lower world: … “The chaos of everlasting night, and something worse than night, and the grim gods and the fates – all these I saw and, having flouted death, I have come back. What else remains? I have seen and revealed the lower world. If aught is left to do, give it to me, O Juno; too long already dost thou let my hands lie idle. What dost thou bid me conquer? But why do hostile soldiers guard the shrine and dreadful arms beset the sacred portal?” (Seneca, [ca 4 fvt-65 vt], Hercules Furens, 610-617).

“Thereafter he obtained immortality” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 2:7:7). “This is the origin of Hercules ... And these benefactors were duly deemed divine, as being both supremely good and immortal, because their souls survived and enjoyed eternal life.” (Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 2:24; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Apotheothenai, deified men & women) “… he should receive the gift of immortality.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4:10:7 [Loeb]).

HERCULES: Now I have reached the realms of the starry sky and have finally been granted my place in heaven, why do you force me by your mourning to taste death? Refrain! My valour has paved a way for me now to the stars and the very gods. ALCMENE: Whence is that sound that strikes my affrighted ears—that shout that forbids my weeping? Now I recognise: he has conquered the chaos! Son, you return from the Styx once more to me, crushing grim death for a second time; again you have conquered the region of darkness and the gloomy waters of the underworld vessel. Is Acheron sluggish and crossable now, or is return possible only for you—even after death can the fates not hold you? (Seneca, [c. 4 BCE-65 CE], Hercules Oetaeus, 1940-52 [Loeb]).

[89] “... but Deianeira was so stricken by the magnitude of Heracles’ misfortune that, being consious of the error, she ended her life by hanging herself” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90–22 BCE), Library of History, 4:38:3 [Loeb]).

“From him Deianira learned about Iole, and fearing that Hercules might love that damsel more than herself, she supposed that the spilt blood of Nessus was in truth a love-charm, and with it she smeared the tunic. So Hercules put it on and proceeded to offer sacrifice. But no sooner was the tunic warmed than the poison of the hydra began to corrode his skin; and on that he lifted Lichas by the feet, hurled him down from the headland, and tore off the tunic, which clung to his body, so that his flesh was torn away with it. In such a sad plight he was carried on shipboard to Trachis: and Deianira, on learning what had happened, hanged herself.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 2:7:7).

Deianira: “The death alone shall be a place of refuge (actually: port) for my worries. I am calling the flaming wheel of the brilliant Phoebus and the Gods as my witnesses: Hercules still on earth, I am leaving dying.” Or: DEIANIRA: The only haven granted my troubles will be death. Witness bright Phoebus’ fiery chariot, witness the gods above: in going to my death I leave Hercules still here on earth. (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1020-24 [Loeb]).

[90] “And Eudoxus the Cnidian, in the first book of his Description of the Circuit of the Earth, says that the Phoenicians sacrifice quails to Hercules, because Hercules, the son of Asteria and Jupiter, when on his way toward Libya, was slain by Typhon and restored to life by Iolaus …” (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae [The Banquet of the Learned at Dinner], 9:392 [c. 200 CE]. He refers to his source Eudoxus of Cnidus, who lived c. 408–c. 355 BCE).

[91] Heracles: Good, then do you know the summit of Oeta, Zeus’s sacred mountain? Hyllus: I know it. I have often stood on that height to sacrifice. Heracles: Then, you must carry my body there after raising it up in your own hands, aided by as many of our friends as you require; and when you have cut many a branch from the deep-rooted oak and chopped down many a sturdy wild-olive, you must lay my body on them and with a flaming pine-torch burn it.” (Sophocles [c. 496–406 BCE], The Trachiniae, 1191-1198).

[92] “And immediately lightning also fell from the heavens and the pyre was wholly consumed. After this, when the companions of Iolaüs came to gather up the bones of Heracles and found not a single bone anywhere, they assumed that, in accordance with the words of the oracle, he had passed from among men into the company of the gods.” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90–22 BCE), Library of History, 4:38:4-5 [Loeb]).

Also Silius Italicus (c. 26–101 CE) gives testimony of Heracles’ death in the flames, and he almost certainly means Melqart (Tryggve Mettinger, p. 87):

“In foribus labor Alcidae: Lernaea recisis anguibus hydra iacet, nexuque elisa leonis ora Cleonaei patulo caelantur hiatu. at Stygius saeuis terrens latratibus umbras ianitor, aeterno tum primum tractus ab antro, uincla indignatur, metuitque Megaera catenas. iuxta Thraces equi pestisque Erymanthia et altos aeripedis ramos superantia cornua cerui. nec leuior uinci Libycae telluris alumnus matre super stratique genus deforme bimembres Centauri frontemque minor nunc amnis Acarnan. inter quae fulget sacratis ignibus Oete, ingentemque animam rapiunt ad sidera flammae.” (Silius Italicus, Punica, 3:32-44).

[93] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 104, 108.

[94] “Menander also, one who translated the Tyrian archives out of the dialect of the Phoenicians into the Greek language, makes mention of these two kings, where he says thus: “When Abibalus was dead, his son Hiram received the kingdom from him, who, when he had lived fifty-three years, reigned thirty-four. He raised a bank in the large place, and dedicated the golden pillar which is in Jupiter’s temple. He also went and cut down materials of timber out of the mountain called Libanus, for the roof of temples; and when he had pulled down the ancient temples, he both built the temple of Hercules and that of Astarte; and he first set up the temple of Hercules in the month Peritius…” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 8:5:3 or 8:144–146).

[95] Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection, p. 90.

[96] “Galenus says in his commentary to the apothegms of Hippocrates: ‘It is generally known that Asclepius was raised to the angels in a column of fire, the like of which is also related with regard to Dionysos, Heracles, and others, who laboured for the benefit of mankind.” (al-Biruni, India, p. 168).

[97] Iolaus resuscitated Heracles by burning a quail, “and because of the smoke, Heracles returned to life”. (Zenobius, Centuria Sexta, 5:56; according to Mettinger, p. 86, 93, 106) Also Heracles’ ascension to heaven in a cloud is described by Zenobius (Centuria 1:33).

[98] ALCMENE: [Entering] What lands must Alcides’ [Hercules’] wretched mother seek out? Where is my son, where in the world? If my sight is sure, see he lies there, panting and tossing feverishly; he groans: he is finished. Let me embrace your limbs for the last time, my son, and gather your fleeting life-breath with my lips; accept my embracing arms. Where are those limbs? Where that star-bearing neck that supported heaven? Who has left you so small a remnant of yourself? HERCULES: It is indeed Hercules you behold, mother, but a shadow and paltry whatever of myself. (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1337-47 [Loeb]).

[99] Philoctetes, who lit the fire of the pyre as Heracles entered it, is according to Pfister, Heracles und Christus, p. 42. by “the Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius”, called “eromenos Herakleons” [Greek: ἐρόμενος]. Young boys who had a very strong and loving (but not necessarily sexual) relationship with a grown up man were called eromenos, or in English: beloved. According to Seneca, also Heracles’ son Hyllus is there, and after Heracles’ death he (or Philoctetes) becomes protector of Heracles’ mother Alcmene, just as Jesus told his beloved disciple to take care of his mother.

[100] “Habet, peractum est, fata se nostra explicant”, or “Bene est, peractum est, fata se nostra explicant”. It is death (enough), it is completed, my (our) fate unfolds itself. (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1472 [Loeb]); “Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’” (John 19:30).

[101] Hercules: Bright Titan, turn around your panting horses, release the night! Let the world lose this day of my death, let heaven be roiled with black clouds: block my stepmother’s view! Now, father, blind chaos should be restored; both poles should be smashed, the firmament shattered from end to end. Why spare the stars? You are losing Hercules, father. Now, Jupiter, look to every quarter of heaven, lest some Gyges hurl Thessalian peaks, and Othrys prove a light weight for Enceladus. … My death, father, will put the entire realm of the sky at risk for you. Before you are completely despoiled of the heavens, hide me, father, in the utter ruin of the cosmos, smash the sky that you are losing. (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1131-50 [Loeb]).

[102] “iam parce, mater, questibus”: „laß nunmehr ab von deinen Klagen, Mutter!”Refrain now from lamenting, mother”. (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1965 [Loeb]).

“Me iam decet subire caelestem plagam”: „Ich muß nunmehr in himmlische Gefilde eingehen”. “Now I must ascend to the heavenly regions”. (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1975 [Loeb]).

“After this, when the companions of Iolaüs came to gather up the bones of Heracles and found not a single bone anywhere, they assumed that, in accordance with the words of the oracle, he had passed from among men into the company of the gods.” (Diodorus Siculus, The Library, 4:38:5).

“While the pyre was burning, it is said that a cloud passed under Hercules and with a peal of thunder wafted him up to heaven. Thereafter he obtained immortality …” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 2:7:7). Compare this to John 20:15,17.

[103] According to Seneca (Hercules Oetaeus, 1832–39) Heracles’ son Hyllus is there; and after Herakles’ death, either Hyllus or Philoctetes becomes protector of Heracles’ mother Alcmene.

Possibly chorus or Hyllus but probably Philoctetes: “Mother of glorious Alcides; hold back your tears, deserved as they are by your son. One who by his valour has denied doom access is not to be mourned nor weighed down with the heaviness of death. His deathless valour forbids weeping for Hercules; the brave forbid mourning, the ignoble require it.” Alcmene: Shall I quiet my laments as a mother, after losing the one who protected land and sea, where the gleaming sunlight looks on both oceans from its bright chariot?  (Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus, 1832-39 [Loeb]). Compare this to John 19:26-27 NASB:

[104] Carl Schneider, Geistesgeschichte des antiken Christentums, book 1, p. 142; refers to Cornutus, Lucius Annaeus, Theologiae Graecae compendium, 16:21 and 31:62.

[105] “… and, in a word, he composed the quarrels between the nations and cities and created concord and deep peace where there had existed civil strives and wars.” (Diodorus Siculus [c. 90–22 BCE], Library of History, 3:64:6, [Loeb]).

[106] “That Osiris is identical with Dionysus who could more fittingly know than yourself, Clea? … Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysus rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysus wake the God of the Mystic Basket. To show that the Greeks regard Dionysus as the lord and master not only of wine, but of the nature of every sort of moisture, it is enough that Pindar be our witness, when he says ‘May gladsome Dionysus swell the fruit upon the trees, The hallowed splendour of harvest time.’ For this reason all who reverence Osiris are prohibited from destroying a cultivated tree or blocking up a spring of water.” (Plutarch [c. 45–120 CE], Isis and Osiris, 35).

[107] Karlheinz Deschner, Abermals krähte der Hahn, p. 72.

[108] “Many names were handed in, and some of these, both men and women, committed suicide. It was asserted that more than 7000 of both sexes were implicated in the conspiracy.” (Livy [Titus Livius; 59 BCE–17 CE], Ab urbe condita, From the Founding of the City, 39:17).

[109] “I, Dionysus, son of Zeus, born to him from Semele, Cadmus’ daughter, delivered by a fiery midwife—Zeus’ lightning flash. Yes, I’ve changed my form from god to human ... Here I plead the cause of my own mother, Semele, appearing as a god to mortal men, the one she bore to Zeus ... the son of Semele, a child of Zeus!” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 1-4, 40-42, 581, [c. 405 BCE]).

“The inhabitants have a story, found nowhere else in Greece, that Semele, after giving birth to her son by Zeus, was discovered by Cadmus and put with Dionysus into a chest, which was washed up by the waves in their country. Semele, who was no longer alive when found, received a splendid funeral, but they brought up Dionysus.” (Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio, Description of Greece, 3:24:3).

“And Semele, daughter of Cadmus was joined with him [Zeus] in love and bore him a splendid son, joyous Dionysus,--a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods.” (Hesiod, Theogony, 940-941).

“… there was Semele, and Alcmena in Thebes by whom I begot my lion-hearted son Hercules, while Semele became mother to Bacchus [Dionysus] the comforter of mankind.” (Homer, The Iliad, 14:325).

[110] “Zeus had become enamoured of Semele and often, lured by her beauty, had consorted with her … Zeus, at the request of Semele that she be shown the same honours as Hera, appeared to her accompanied by thunder an lightning, but Semele, unable to endure the majesty of his grandeur, died and brought fourth the babe before the appointed time.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 3:64:3-4).

[111] “I, Dionysus, son of Zeus, born to him from Semele, Cadmus’ daughter, delivered by a fiery midwife—Zeus’ lightning flash. His mother dropped him early, as her womb, in forceful birth pangs, was struck by Zeus’ flying lightning bolt, a blast which took her life.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 1-4, 88-93 [c. 405 BCE]).

[112] “Maia, the eldest, as the fruit of her intercourse with Zeus, gave birth to Hermes in a cave of Cyllene. He was laid in swaddling-bands on the winnowing fan, but he slipped out and made his way to Pieria and stole the kine which Apollo was herding. … Having discovered the thief by divination, Apollo came to Maia at Cyllene and accused Hermes. But she showed him the child in his swaddling-bands. So Apollo brought him to Zeus, and claimed the kine” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 3:10:2 or 3:112).

“Then glorious Hermes went hurriedly to his cradle, wrapping his swaddling clothes about his shoulders as though he were a feeble babe, and lay playing with the covering about his knees; but at his left hand he kept close his sweet lyre. ... Fear not, little swaddling baby, son of Zeus and Maia.” (Homeric Hymn IV to Hermes, 151-154, 301).

[113] “[Cronus] wedded his sister Rhea; and since both Earth and Sky foretold him that he would be dethroned by his own son, he used to swallow his offspring at birth. His firstborn Hestia he swallowed, then Demeter and Hera, and after them Pluto and Poseidon. Enraged at this, Rhea repaired to Crete, when she was big with Zeus, and brought him forth in a cave of Dicte. She gave him to the Curetes and to the nymphs Adrastia and Ida, daughters of Melisseus, to nurse. So these nymphs fed the child on the milk of Amalthea; and the Curetes in arms guarded the babe in the cave, clashing their spears on their shields in order that Cronus might not hear the child’s voice. But Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes and gave it to Cronus to swallow, as if it were the newborn child.” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library, 1:1:5-7).

[114] Plutarch writes in Isis and Osiris 35 about a festival in Delphi called “The Awakening of the Liknites”: “The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysus rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysus wake the God of the Mystic Basket.” Actually, for “God of the Mystic Basket”, Plutarch uses the word Liknites, which translates as “he of the winnowing fan” (John H. Wells, Thiasos lucius). In the Orphic Hymn to Trietęrikos, Dionysus is given the epitet “Dionysos Liknitęs”, i.e. “Dionysos of the Winnowing Fan Cradle” (Names and Epithets of Lord Dionysos). A winnowing fan is a “large open shovel-shaped basket, which down to modern times has been used by farmers to separate the grain from the chaff by tossing the corn in the air. This simple agricultural instrument figured in the mystic rites of Dionysus; indeed the god is traditionally said to have been placed at birth in a winnowing-fan as in a cradle: in art he is represented as an infant so cradled; and from these traditions and representations he derived the epithet of Liknites, that is, ‘He of the Winnowing-fan.’” (James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, p.338).

[115] “Do you see, Dionysus, child of Zeus, your followers fighting their oppression? Come down, my lord, down from Olympus … Io! Io! Lord and master! … O my lord Bromius [an epithet of Dionysos], Now your divine greatness is here made manifest! … Lord god Bromius, born into this family … Lord Dionysus has inflicted such brutal terror on your house.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 550-554, 582, 1031-32, 1250, 1375).

[116] “Do you see, Dionysus, child of Zeus … I o! Io! I’m calling out again— the son of Semele, a child of Zeus!” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 550, 580-81).

[117] “I, Dionysus, son of Zeus … Bring home Bromius, our god, son of god, great Dionysus … for we must serve Bacchus, son of Zeus … This god, son of Zeus … This god, son of Zeus, for our master [Lord], Zeus’ son, moves now … Dionysus, son of Zeus, born in full divinity, most fearful and yet most kind to men … Yes, I am Dionysus, son of Zeus.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 1, 83-84, 367, 417, 466, 601, 859-61).

[118] “Yes, I’ve changed my form from god to human … That’s why I’ve transformed myself, assumed a mortal shape, altered my looks, so I resemble any human being.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 4, 53-54).

[119] “He’ll come to acknowledge Dionysus, [true] son of Zeus, born in full divinity, most fearful and yet most kind to men.” (Euripides, The Bacchae 859–861).

[120] Dionysus is the vine: “He introduced it among mortal men. When they can drink up what streams off the vine, unhappy mortals are released from pain. … PENTHEUS: How did you escape your chains and get here? … DIONYSUS: It was the one who cultivates for men the richly clustering vine. … The people say, so I’ve heard, he gives to mortal human beings that vine which puts an end to human grief.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 278-80, 648, 651, 772-73).

And Dionysus suffers: “What punishment am I to suffer? What harsh penalties will you inflict? … He sees my suffering now – and from near by. … Though I’m suffering badly at your hands, I say you shouldn’t go to war against a god. PENTHEUS: It’s useless trying to argue with this stranger – whatever he does or suffers, he won’t shut up. … Yes. For at your hands I suffered, too – and dreadfully.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 492, 500, 788-89, 800-801, 1376).

[121] Dionysus was a god who suffered badly. His life was a life of suffering and, like Jesus, his death was painful while his limbs were torn apart. Actually, the tragedies were said to be an invention of Dionysus, who inspired the Greek tragedian Aeschylus to write tragedies: “Aeschylus himself said that when a youth he slept while watching grapes in a field, and that Dionysus appeared and bade him write tragedy. When day came, in obedience to the vision, he made an attempt and hereafter found composing quite easy.” (Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1:21:2).

[122] In a hymn found at Delphi, Dionysus is said “to bring salvation”: “With thy wine cup waving high, with thy maddening revelry, to Eleusis’ flowery vale comest thou – Bacchos, Paean, hail! Thither thronging all the race come, of Hellas, seeking grace of thy nine-year revelation, and they called thee by thy name, loved Iacchos [an epithet of Dionysus], he who came to bring salvation, and disclose his sure haven from all mortal woes.” (Harrison, Jane Ellen, 1991, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, p. 541; according to Wikipedia, Iacchus and Dionysus).

“Hear, O blessed son of Zeus and of two mothers, Bacchos of the vintage, unforgettable seed, many-named and redeeming daimon ... O lovely-haired Epaphian, you are a redeemer and a reveler whose thyrsus drives to frenzy and who is kind-hearted to all, gods and mortals, who see his light. I call upon you now to come, a sweet bringer of fruit.” (Orphic Hymns to Dionysus, 50. TO LUSIOS-LENAIOS).

“I call upon you, blessed, many-named and frenzied Bacchos, bull-horned Nysian redeemer, god of the wine-press, conceived in fire.” (Orphic Hymns to Dionysus, 52. TO THE GOD OF TRIENNIAL FEASTS).

[123] Diodorus Siculus (c. 90–22 BCE] says that Dionysus was thought to have two appearances, one as an effeminate youth, the other as an older bearded man:

“He was thought to have two forms, men say, because there were two Dionysoi, the ancient one having a long beard, because all men in early times wore long beards, the younger one being youthful and effeminate and young, as we have mentioned before.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4:5:2).

[124] Karlheinz Deschner, Abermals krähte der Hahn, p. 72f. Carl Schneider, Geistesgeschichte des antiken Christentums, book 1, p. 140.

“Others, plucking the benignant fruits of earth-born plants, called grain Demeter, as the Athenians, and the vine Dionysus, as the Thebans.” (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, 2).

“I swear by the cluster-bearing delight of Dionysus’ vine” (Euripides, The Bacchae 535; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Dionysos God of) I tell you, you’ll find joy in grape-filled vines from Dionysus.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 534-35).

“Then [as Dionysus appear] in an instant a vine, running along the topmost edge of the sail, sprang up and sent out its branches in every direction heavy with thick-hanging clusters of grapes, and around the mast cloud dark-leaved ivy, rich in blossoms and bright with ripe berries, and garlands crowned every tholepin.” (Homeric Hymn 7; quoted in Sannion’s Sanctuary, The Miracles of Dionysos).

[125] “The land flows with milk, the land flows with wine, the land flows with honey from the bees.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 142-44).

[126] “At fixed times in their city a fountain of wine, of unusually sweet fragrance, flows of its own accord from the earth.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 3:66:3; quoted in Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth).

[127] “Bacchus Liber gave my female offspring other gifts, greater than those they hoped or prayed for. All that my daughter’s touched turned into corn or wine or the grey-green olives of Minerva, and employing them was profitable.” (Ovid [43 BCE–c. 18 CE], Metamorphoses, 13:650-654).

[128] “In the island of Andros, at the temple of Father Bacchus [Dionysus], we are assured by Mucianus, who was thrice consul, that there is a spring, which, on the nones of January, always has the flavour of wine; it is called dios theodosia [God’s Gift Day].” (Pliny the Elder [23–79 CE], Natural History, 2:106).

[129] “… by the fountain which is called Cissusa; here they tell the story that the nurses washed the infant Bacchus after his birth; the water of it is of a bright wine color, clear, and most pleasant to drink …” (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Lysander, [written c. 75 CE]).

[130] “Of the gods the Eleans worship Dionysus with the greatest reverence, and they assert that the god attends their festival, the Thyia. The place where they hold the festival they name the Thyia is about eight stades from the city. Three pots are brought into the building by the priests and set down empty in the presence of the citizens and of any strangers who may chance to be in the country. The doors of the building are sealed by the priests themselves and by any others who may be so inclined. On the morrow they are allowed to examine the seals, and on going into the building they find the pots filled with wine. I did not myself arrive at the time of the festival, but the most respected Elean citizens, and with them strangers also, swore that what I have said is the truth. The Andrians too assert that every other year at their feast of Dionysus wine flows of its own accord from the sanctuary.” (Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio, Description of Greece, 6:26:1–2).

[131] It is mainly inscriptions that provide the proof of the fact that the early followers of Dionysus ate raw meat. But late in the second century, Clement of Alexandria gives a vivid illustration of their rites:

“The bacchanals hold their orgies in honour of the frenzied Dionysus, celebrating their sacred frenzy by the eating of raw flesh, and go through the distribution of the parts of butchered victims, crowned with snakes… “The mysteries of Dionysus are wholly inhuman; for while still a child, and the Curetes danced around [his cradle] clashing their weapons, and the Titans having come upon them by stealth, and having beguiled him with childish toys, these very Titans tore him limb from limb when but a child, as the bard of this mystery… and the Titans who had torn him limb from limb, setting a caldron on a tripod, and throwing into it the members of Dionysus, first boiled them down, and then fixing them on spits, ‘held them over the fire.’” (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, 2).

[132] “Dionysos was named twice-born (dimetor) by the ancients, counting it as a single and first birth when the plant is set in the ground and begins to grow, and as a second birth when it becomes laden with fruit and ripens its grape-clusters - the god thus being considered as having been born once from the earth and again from the vine.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 3:62:5; quoted in THEOI PROJECT, Dionysos God of).

[133] “And while they were eating, Jesus having taken the bread, and having blessed, did brake, and was giving to the disciples, and said, `Take, eat, this is my body;’ and having taken the cup, and having given thanks, he gave to them, saying, `Drink ye of it -- all; for this is my blood of the new covenant, that for many is being poured out -- to remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28 YLT).

“When we speak of corn as Ceres [the goddess of growing plants], and of wine as Liber [Dionysus], we use, it is true, a customary mode of speech, but do you think that any one is so senseless as to believe that what he is eating is the divine substance?” (Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), On The Nature of the Gods, 3:16).

[134] “… a single inscription from Thasos that describes D as ‘a god who renews himself and returns every year rejuvenated’ [Col.VFG, 280]” (J. P. Holding, Dealing Down Dionysus).

[135] “But Hephaestus is nothing to Prometheus. Who knows not the sorrows of that officious philanthropist? How he too fell a victim to the wrath of Zeus, and was carried into Scythia, and nailed up on Caucasus, with an eagle to keep him company and make daily havoc of his liver?” (Lucian of Samosata [c. 120–190 CE], De sacrificiis, 6).

[136] “Everywhere we find the vine overtopping the elm even, and we read that Cineas, the ambassador of King Pyrrhus, when admiring the great height of the vines at Aricia, wittily making allusion to the peculiar rough taste of wine, remarked that it was with very good reason that they had hung the parent of it [i.e. Dionysus] on so lofty a gibbet.” (Pliny the Elder [23–79 CE], Natural History, 14:3).

“Apart from wine, there is no cure for human hardship. He, being a god, is poured out to the gods, so human beings receive fine benefits as gifts from him.” (Euripides, The Bacchae, 282-285).

[137] Freke, Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, image number 5, between p. 152 and 153. Karlheinz Deschner, Der gefälschte Glaube, p. 52. The vase is in a museum in Naples: Museo Archeologico Nazionale, 2419: Dinos Painter’s stamnos.

[138] “From the circumstance that at the right of the ass’s head (see p. 222) there stands a Y, Wünscn deduces that it is a symbol of the Typhon-Seth worship, for on the numerous curse-tablets in Rome the same symbol always stands at the right of the ass’s head of Typhon-Seth. It is the religious symbol of the Gnostic sect of the Sethinai (from Seth, son of Adam; but also from Seth, the surname of the Egyptian god Typhon); and they in their turn derived the ass’s head—as shown in the above-cited quotation from Epiphanius—from the representation of the ‘Jewish god Sabaoth.’ Wünsch is therefore inclined to consider the cult of the ass as having foundation in fact and not merely in calumny.” (Jewish Encyclopedia)

[139] By referring to Johannes Reil and Robert Zahn, Otto Kern believes that the amulet probably is an Italian forgery.

“Wenn Ich hier die Freude habe, ein neues Denkmal an die Spitze aller Orpheusdarstellungen zu setzen, muß ich ein anderes, das mir fast als das jüngste aller monumentalen Zeugnisse für die orphische Bewegung erschien, streichen und bekennen, daß ich allein daran die Schuld trage, daß es nach der Publikation in den Orphicor. Fragm. S. 46 test. 150 von R. Eisler und anderen, jetzt auch von Guthrie, ohne Bedenken als Glaubwürdiges Dokument gewertet wird. Diesem ist offenbar entgangen, daß das Amulett mit dem Bilde des Crucifixus und der Inschrift OPΦEOΣ BAKKIKOΣ im Kaiser Friedrich-Museum zu Berlin höchst wahrscheinlich eine Fälschung ist. Solchen hervorragenden Kennern dieser Materie wie Joh. Reil und Rob. Zahn, die dies im ‘Άγγελος 2, 1926, 62ff. ausgesprochen haben, muß man Glauben schenken, und es ist daran kein Anstoß zu nehmen, daß auch dieser italienische Fälscher wie so viele – das Amulett stammt aus Italien, kam aus Ed. Gerhards Nachlaß in das Berliner Museum – gelehrte Kenntnisse hatte und von der Beziehung des Orpheus zu Bakhos wußte.” (Gnomon, 1935, p. 476)

My translation of the German text: “As I here have the joy to set a new monument at the fore of all other depictions of Orpheus, I must discard another one which appeared to me as being almost the youngest of all monumental testimony for the Orphic movement, and admit that I alone am to blame for the fact that after the publication in the Orphicor. Fragm. S. 46 test. 150, it was without hesitation valued as a trustworthy document by R. Eisler and others, now also by Guthrie. It obviously escaped the latter’s notice that the amulet carrying the image of the crucifix and the inscription OPΦEOΣ BAKKIKOΣ in the Kaiser Friedrich-Museum in Berlin most probably is a forgery. You must have confidence in such prominent experts on this material as Joh. Reil and Rob. Zahn who have expressed their views on this in ‘Άγγελος 2, 1926, 62ff., and there is no offense in mentioning that these Italian counterfeiters as so many others - the amulet originates from Italy, came from the property left by Ed. Gerhard to the museum of Berlin – had scholarly knowledge and knew about Orpheus’ relation with Bacchus.”

[140] “But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated. For their sufferings at death are recorded to have been not all alike, but diverse…” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 22).

“But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 55).

[141] Hermann Raschke, Das Christusmysterium, p. 97, 190.

[142] “Auspicious and adorable, this Mitra was born with fair dominion, King, Disposer. May we enjoy the grace of him the Holy, yea, rest in his propitious loving-kindness.” (Rig Veda, hymn 59:4, Mitra)

“We sacrifice to Mithra of wide cattle pastures, who gives an abode of joy, and a good abode to the Aryan countries.” (AVESTA: KHORDA AVESTA, Mihr Niyayesh [Litany to Mithra], 13)

[143] “’We sacrifice unto Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, who is truth-speaking, a chief in assemblies, with a thousand ears, well-shapen, with ten thousand eyes, high, with full knowledge, strong, sleepless, and ever awake” (Avesta: Khorda Avesta, 10, MIHR YASHT [Hymn to Mithra], II, 7)

“We sacrifice to Mithra of wide cattle pastures, whose word is true ... the ever wakeful. … May he come hither to us to grant us possession of Truth.” (AVESTA: KHORDA AVESTA, Mihr Niyayesh [Litany to Mithra], 11, 14)

[144] “I will show thee the land of Bactria, where divine Mithra had his birth, the Assyrian lord of light in Persis.” (Nonnus of Panopolis [ca 5th Century CE], Dionysiaca XXI. 246 ff; Quoted in The Complete Online Library of Ancient Sources).

“… the Vedic Mitra and the Iranian Mithra have preserved so many traits of resemblance that it is impossible to entertain any doubt concerning their common origin. Both religions saw in him a god of light, invoked together with Heaven”. (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra [1903] p. 1)

“For the ancient Magi, Mithra was, as we have seen, the god of light, and as the light is borne by the air he was thought to inhabit the Middle Zone between Heaven and Hell, and for this reason the name of μεσίτης was given to him.” (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra [1903] p. 127)

“We have seen that the theology of the Mysteries made of Mithra a ‘mediator’ equivalent to the Alexandrian Logos. Like him, Christ also was a μεσίτης, an intermediary between his celestial father and men, and like him he also was one of a trinity. These resemblances were certainly not the only ones that pagan exegesis established between the two religions, and the figure of the tauroctonous god reluctantly immolating his victim that he might create and save the human race, was certainly compared to the picture of the redeemer sacrificing his own person for the salvation of the world. On the other hand, the ecclesiastical writers, reviving a metaphor of the prophet Malachi, contrasted the ‘Sun of justice’ with the ‘invincible Sun,’ and consented to see in the dazzling orb which illuminated men a symbol of Christ, ‘the light of the world.’” (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra [1903] p. 191-93)

[145] “May he come to us for help! May he come to us for ease! May he come to us for joy! May he come to us for mercy! May he come to us for health! May he come to us for victory! May he come to us for good conscience! May he come to us for bliss! he, the awful and overpowering, worthy of sacrifice and prayer, not to be deceived anywhere in the whole of the material world, Mithra, the lord of wide pastures.” (Avesta: Khorda Avesta, 10. MIHR YASHT [Hymn to Mithra], I, 5).

[146] “And I shall sacrifice to that friendship which is the best of friendships, that between the Moon and the Sun.” (AVESTA: KHORDA AVESTA, Khwarshed Niyayesh [Litany to the Sun], 15)

[147] “To Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, who has a thousand ears and ten thousand eyes” (Avesta: Khorda Avesta, SIROZA 1:16).

“’We sacrifice unto Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, .... sleepless, and ever awake; ’Who drives along on his high-wheeled chariot, made of a heavenly substance, from the Karshvare [keshwar] of Arezahi to the Karshvare of Xwaniratha, the bright one; accompanied by the wheel of sovereignty, the Glory made by Mazda, and the Victory made by Ahura; ’Whose chariot is embraced by the great Ashi Vanguhi; to whom the Law of Mazda opens a way, that he may go easily; whom four heavenly steeds, white, shining, seen afar, beneficent, endowed with knowledge, swiftly carry along the heavenly space” (Avesta: Khorda Avesta, 10, MIHR YASHT [Hymn to Mithra], XVII, 67-68).

[148] “In company with Sraosha and Rashnu, he [Mithra] protects the soul of the just against the demons that seek to drag it down to Hell, and under their guardianship it soars aloft to Paradise. This Iranian belief gave birth to the doctrine of redemption by Mithra, which we find developed in the Occident.” (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra [1903] p. 5).

“Ahura Mazda answered: ’When the man is dead, when his time is over, then the wicked, evil-doing Daevas cut off his eyesight. On the third night, when the dawn appears and brightens up, when Mithra, the god with beautiful weapons, reaches the all-happy mountains, and the sun is rising: ’Then the fiend, named Vizaresha, O Spitama Zarathushtra, carries off in bonds the souls of the wicked Daeva-worshippers who live in sin. The soul enters the way made by Time, and open both to the wicked and to the righteous. At the head of the Chinwad bridge, the holy bridge made by Mazda, they ask for their spirits and souls the reward for the worldly goods which they gave away here below. ’Then comes the beautiful, well-shapen, strong and well-formed maid, with the dogs at her sides, one who can distinguish, who has many children, happy, and of high understanding. ’She makes the soul of the righteous one go up above the Hara-berezaiti; above the Chinwad bridge she places it in the presence of the heavenly gods themselves.” (Avesta, Vendidad, Fargard 19:28-30).

“It was Mithra, the protector of truth, that presided over the judgment of the soul after its decease. It was he, the mediator, that served as a guide to his faithful ones in their courageous ascent to the empyrean; he was the celestial father that received them in his resplendent mansion, like children who had returned from a distant voyage.” (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra [1903] p. 145)

[149] “Now the piratical ships had increased to above a thousand, and the cities captured by them were four hundred. They attacked and plundered the asyla and sacred places which had hitherto been unapproached, such as those of Claros, Didyma, Samothrace, the temple of Chthonia in Hermione, the temple of Ćsculapius in Epidaurus, and those of Neptune at the Isthmus and Tćnaros and Kalauria, and those of Apollo at Actium and Leucas, and that of Juno in Samos, and in Argos, and Lacinium. They also performed strange rites on Olympus and celebrated certain mysterious ceremonies, among which were those of Mithras and they are continued to the present time, having been first introduced by them.” (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Life of Pompey, 24).

[150] “For according to Eubulus, Zoroaster first of all among the neighbouring mountains of Persia, consecrated a natural cave, florid and watered with fountains, in honour of Mithras the father of all things: a cave in the opinion of Zoroaster bearing a resemblance of the world fabricated by Mithras.” (Porphyry, On the Homeric Cave of the Nymphs, 6).

[151] “The pass-word of a second mystery cult of foreign origin is the ‘god from the rock.’” … “θεὸς ἐκ πέτρας -- a god from the rock” (Firmicus Maternus, Errors of the Pagan Religions, 4:2 and 20:1; quoted by Roger Pearse, Mithras: literary references) “Another pagan sacrament has the key word theos ek petras [‘God from a rock’].” (Julius Firmicus Maternus, On the Error of Profane Religions, 20, Mithra/s). Compare to Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 70:1ff, 78:15. The unconquered one was born from a rock, if he is regarded as a god.” (The Instructions of Commodianus in Favour of Christian Discipline. Against the Gods of the Heathens, 12)

[152] “But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 78).

“With respect to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, if any one desires, after the prophecy of Micah and after the history recorded in the Gospels by the disciples of Jesus, to have additional evidence from other sources, let him know that, in conformity with the narrative in the Gospel regarding His birth, there is shown at Bethlehem the cave where He was born, and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes.” (Origen, Against Celsus, 1:51)

“And he found a cave there, and led her into it… And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? … And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. … And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. … And the Magi went out. And, behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood over the top of the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with His mother Mary …” (Infancy Gospel of James, 18-21).

[153] 1) Corax (raven), 2) Nymphus (bridegroom), 3) Miles (soldier), 4) Leo (lion), 5) Perseus (Persian), 6) Heliodromus (sun-courier), and the highest rank, 7) Pater (father). Superior to all of these seems to have been Pater Patrum (the fathers’ father), a sort of mithraic pope.

[154] “The question will arise, By whom is to be interpreted the sense of the passages which make for heresies? By the devil, of course, to whom pertain those wiles which pervert the truth, and who, by the mystic rites of his idols, vies even with the essential portions of the sacraments of God. He, too, baptizes some--that is, his own believers and faithful followers; he promises the putting away of sins by a layer (of his own); and if my memory still serves me, Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers; celebrates also the oblation of bread, and introduces an image of a resurrection, and before a sword wreathes a crown.” (Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics, 40).

[155] “… that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;’ and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, ‘This is My blood;’ and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66). Vermaseren suggests in Mithras the Secret God, (1963), p 103, that the formula Justin says were used in the mysteries of Mithras, could have been preserved in a medieval text, where Zarathustra is said to have stated: “He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made one with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation....” (see also the abstract from Mithras the Secret God)

[156] “At Dura-Europos we encounter an antipatos, possibly a preliminary grade to that of Father, while in Rome there are the pater sacrorum, the Father of the mysteries, and the pater patrum. This Father of Fathers is the great shephered, for an inscription records a ‘Father of the Fathers from amongst the ten superiors’.” (Abstracted from Vermaseren’s, Mithras the Secret God)

[157] “O initiates of this our power … which the great god Helios Mithras ordered to be revealed to me by his archangel, … first beginning of my beginning, ... spirit of spirit, the first of the spirit in me, ... now if it be your will, ... give me over to immortal birth and, following that, to my underlying nature, so that, after the present need ... I may gaze upon the immortal beginning with the immortal spirit, ... that I may be born again in thought ... Then say again: ‘Silence! Silence! (the prayer) I am a star, wandering about with you [Mithras or Helios], and shining forth out of the deep’ … For when you have done this, you will see a youthful god, beautiful in appearance, with fiery hair, and in a white tunic and a scarlet cloak, and wearing a fiery crown. At once greet him with the fire-greeting: ‘Hail, O Lord, Great Power, Great Might, King, Greatest of gods, Helios, the Lord of heaven and earth, God of gods: mighty is your breath; mighty is your strength, O Lord. If it be your will, announce me to the supreme god, the one who has begotten and made you: that a man -- I, [your name] whose mother is _______ who was born from the mortal womb of _______ and from the fluid of semen, and who, since he has been born again from you today, has become immortal … Now when they take their place, here and there, in order, look in the air and you will see lightning-bolts going down, and lights flashing, and the earth shaking, and a god descending, a god immensely great, having a bright appearance youthful, golden-haired, with a white tunic and a golden crown and trousers, and holding in his right hand a golden shoulder of a young bull: this is the Bear which moves and turns heaven around, moving upward and downward in accordance with the hour. … O Lord, while being born again, I am passing away; while growing and having grown, I am dying; while being born from a life-generating birth, I am passing on, released to death”. (The ”Mithras” Liturgy. From the Paris Codex [Papyrus 574, early fourth century CE]. Edited and Translated by Marvin W. Meyer)

[158] The inscription “us too you have saved by blood eternally shed” is from the Santa Prisca Mithraeum in Rome. The reading is not certain, and only ’by blood shed’ is sure (Beck, p. 2029). (Mithraism)

[159] James G. Frazer, The Worship of the Sun Among the Ancient Romans, Chapter 12 of The Worship of Nature, 5. The Worship of the Sun among the Ancient Romans.

“Sacra Mithriaca homicidio vero polluit, cum illic aliquid ad speciem timoris vel dici vel fingi soleat (‘He desecrated the rites of Mithras with actual murder, although it was customary in them merely to say or pretend something that would produce an impression of terror’; SHA, Commodus IX,6; translation Loeb, D. Magie).” (OSTIA --- MITHRAEA)

[160] “The question will arise, By whom is to be interpreted the sense of the passages which make for heresies? By the devil, of course, to whom pertain those wiles which pervert the truth, and who, by the mystic rites of his idols, vies even with the essential portions of the sacraments of God. He, too, baptizes some - that is, his own believers and faithful followers; he promises the putting away of sins by a layer (of his own); and if my memory still serves me, Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers; celebrates also the oblation of bread, and introduces an image of a resurrection, and before a sword wreathes a crown.” (Tertullian [c. 160–220 CE], The prescription against heretics, 40)

[161] “And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Aesculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 21).

“And when they heard it said by the other prophet Isaiah, that He [Christ] should be born of a virgin, and by His own means ascend into heaven, they pretended that Perseus was spoken of.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 54).

[162] The following concerning Mithras is to some extent relying on David Ulansey’s book, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World (New York 1989).

[163] Canis Major, Hydra, Crater, Corvus, Scorpio, Leo.

[164] The bull-slaying scene in the Avesta was elaborated in the Bundahishn, which date from c. 900 CE, but is “a redaction of much earlier works”. “Ahriman, the eternal opponent of Ahura-Mazda, kills a bull, from which in turn sprouts a cornucopia of healing and rejuvinative plants, starting the cycle of life and death on earth” (Walter M. Shandruk, Mithraism in History and Archaeology)

“The theme of Mithra as bullslayer although not specifically attested to by Zoroastrian literature can, however, be traced to a possible pre-Zoroastrian mythology. The reconstuction is highly circumstantial, but plausible, considering that there is firm evidence that the creation myth of Zoroastrianism changed the interpretation and character of several significant elements in the tripartite creation story whose major events are nonetheless intact in both the Bundahisn and Vedic literature, indicating that the source for these stories not only reaches back prior to the Zoroastrian reformation, but had a contradictory interpretation of the three phases of creation, especially that of the second, which bares most relevance to an understanding of ancient, eastern Mithraic mythology.” (Walter M. Shandruk, Mithraism in History and Archaeology)

[165] “In Indian writings such as the Veda … Mithra again appears as the attendant of the Lord of Heaven, Varuna. He is closely connected with the power of light and the sun, which is itself called ‘the eye of Mitra and Varuna’. The connection between Mitra and the bull—which later became the focal point of the Mithras cult …—is perhaps even clearer in the Veda than in the Avesta. Thanks to Professor H. Lommel, a number of Vedic texts have been translated and can, so he believes, be associated with Mithras, the bull-slayer. Lommel’s starting-point is the god of life, Soma, who is the same as Haoma and represents the rain which springs from the moon. He gives life to plants and so nourishes human beings and animals alike. In creatures of the male sex the sap of the plant is changed into fertile seed, in the female to milk. At death the life so given returns again to the moon and during the waxing of the moon Soma recovers this life force, refilling himself as if he were a bowl and so becoming the gods’ monthly portion of immortality. In the myth Soma, as rain, is both the semen of the sacred bull who fertilises the earth, and the milk of the all-nourishing heavenly cow. The gods, wishing to partake of the portion because of its gift of immortality, devise a plan to murder the Soma-plant which is in fact Soma himself. The Wind-god Vayu agrees and Mitra too is invited to become an accomplice in the murder. The gods speak to Mitra (‘he, whose name means “friend” ’): ‘ “We wish to kill King Soma.” He said: “Not I, for I am friend to all.” They said to him “Still we will slay him.” ’ In the end Mithra, having been promised a share in the sacrifice, assists in the murder after all, but as a result he runs the risk of losing his ascendancy over the cattle, for the beasts turn against him with the words: ‘Though he is friend (Mitra) he has done a terrible deed.’ Even Varuna takes a hand in the killing of Soma, who is murdered by being crushed under a weight of stones as in one of the cult ceremonies when the juice is extracted from the stem of the Soma-plant.” (Vermaseren, M. J., Mithras, the secret god [London 1963], p.17-18; quoted [with a few errors] in Mithraism)

[166] According to many of today’s interpreter of the Roman Mithraic mysteries (foremost: David Ulansey), the bull-slayer does not represent Mithras, but instead the god Perseus. This they believe, because on the stone tablets (tauroctonies) he is located on a spot, which very accurately match the constellation of Perseus in the sky. The constellation of Perseus is just above the constellation of Taurus. As Perseus, he always wears a Phrygian cap, and almost always turns his head away from the bull. If so, the reason he still was called Mithras, would be that in the mysteries they wanted to keep the name a secret. To protect their god, they would make the uninitiated believe his name was Mithras. Perseus resembles the word Perses (means Persian, from where Mithra came) which was the name of the fifth Mithraic rank of initiation.

[167] The Hypercosmic sun is first mentioned in the second century CE in the Chaldaean Oracles. Plotinus (c. 205–270 CE) speaks of an “intelligible sun” which he says lies next to the normal visible sun. (David Ulansey, Mithras and the Hypercosmic Sun). But already Plato seems to presuppose a Hypercosmic sun in a heaven above the heavens:

“But of the heaven which is above the heavens, what earthly poet ever did or ever will sing worthily? It is such as I will describe; for I must dare to speak the truth, when truth is my theme. There abides the very being with which true knowledge is concerned; the colourless, formless, intangible essence, visible only to mind, the pilot of the soul. The divine intelligence, being nurtured upon mind and pure knowledge, and the intelligence of every soul which is capable of receiving the food proper to it, rejoices at beholding reality, and once more gazing upon truth, is replenished and made glad, until the revolution of the worlds brings her round again to the same place.” (Plato, Phaedrus).

[170] Robert M. Price, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, p. 62.

[171] The part concerning Buddha is mainly relying upon Hellmut v. Schweinitz, Buddhismus und Christentum, (München 1955), Bengt Lidforss, Kristendomen förr och nu: en populärvetenskaplig framställning, (Malmö 1923), G. A van den Bergh van Eysinga, Indische Einflüsse auf evangelische Erzählungen, (Göttingen 1904), Marcus Borg, Jesus and Buddha; the parallel sayings. (Berkeley, California 1997). Also from the Internet: “Christmyth: Buddha, Jesus Christ, A Copied Myth from Buddha?“ and “CHAPTER 11.0: BUDDHIST FAITH“.

[172] “Siddhârtha” means “he who has attained his goals”.

[173] “At such a time the Bodhisattva, the eldest in the three regions, and adored of creation, seeing that the proper season had arrived, that the moon was on the 15th day of its age and in perfect fullness, renounced the mansion of Tushita [a heaven of the joyful devas], and, calling to mind the tradition, entered in the form of an elephant, of a yellowish white colour, having six tusks, crimson veins, golden teeth and perfect members, the womb of his mother who had been purified by the rite of Poshadha. Entering the womb of the mother, he occupied the right side, and lay on that side, never turning to the left. Máyá Deví, sleeping peacefully on an excellent bed, dreamt a dream [which she described thus]: ‘A noble elephant, white as silver or snow, having six tusks, well proportioned trunk and feet, blood-red veins, adamantine firmness of joints, and easy pace, has entered my belly.” (Lalitavistâra 6)

“Having brought concord to the Sangha, he rejoices for an aeon in heaven.” (Itivuttaka 19)

[174] “Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. ‘ânanda, from the day the one aspiring enlightenment, descended to the mother’s womb, sensual desires about men did not arise in the mind of his mother. She had risen above attachment to thoughts of any man’” (Majjhimanikâya, 123:10)

”She [Mâyâ] is of tender years, endowed with beauty and youth, yet childless … faithful to her marriage wow, free from thoughts of men other than her husband. … She alone is worthy of becoming the mother of the Bodhisattva. … Neither tinged by passion, nor tainted by fault … She abided in penances like a hermit, always performing penances along with her consort. Having obtained the sanction of the king, she had not entertained carnal wishes for thirty-two months. … There was not a god, nor a demon, nor a mortal, who could cast his glance at her with a carnal desire” (Lalitavistâra, 3)

[175] “To come to the Gymnosophists of india, the opinion is authoritatively handed down that Budda, the founder of their religion, had his birth through the side of a virgin.” (Jerome, Against Jovinianus, 1:42).

[176] “So also queen Mahâ-Mâyâ carried the Future Buddha in her womb, as it were oil in a vessel, for ten months; and being then far gone with child, she grew desirous of going home to her relatives, and said to king Suddhodana,—‘Sire, I should like to visit my kinsfolk in their city Devadaha.’ ‘So be it,’ said the king … he sent her away in great pomp. Now between the two cities, and belonging to the inhabitants of both, there was a pleasure-grove of sal-trees, called Lumbini Grove … So her delivery took place while she was standing up, and keeping fast hold of the sal-tree branch. At that very moment came four pure-minded Mahâ-Brahma angels bearing a golden net, and, receiving the Future Buddha on this golden net, they placed him before his mother and said,— ‘Rejoice, O Queen! A mighty son has been born to you.’” (Jâtaka 1:47:21, Nidânakathâ)

“That beautiful chariot was set off, by the king’s orders … Máyádeví proceeded forth attended by her suite. … having entered the [Lumbiní] park and descended from her chariot … came near the waved-leaved fig tree … extending her right hand … held a branch … the Bodhisattva … forth from the right side of his mother, he issued, with full memory, knowing everything, and undefiled by any uterine dirt, such as usually attaches to others.” (Lalitavistâra 7)

[177] “Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. ‘ânanda, when the one aspiring enlightenment, was born in this world, before he placed a foot on earth, four gods accept him and placing him in front of the mother said, queen be happy, you have given birth to a powerful son.’ … ‘and men, Mŕras, Brahmŕs, recluses and brahmins there arose an immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods. Even the dark uncoveredrecesses between the world systems where the resplendent moon and sun do not shine there arose an immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods. Beings born there saw each other on account of that effulgence and knew that there were other beings born there. The ten thousandfold world system shivered and trembled on account of that immeasurable effulgence transccending the splendour of the gods’” (Majjhimanikâya, 123, [Acchariyabbhuttasutta])

[178] “They took the hermit and showed him the newborn prince. He was shining, glowing and beautiful. It was like seeing molten gold in the hands of a master craftsman as he takes it out of the furnace. To see the prince was to see brightness – the brightness of the flames of a fire; the brightness of the constellations crossing the night sky; the brightness and clarity of the autumn sun shining on a cloudless day. It was a sight that filled the hermit with joy, and he experienced great delight. In the sky above, invisible beings were holding up a vast canopy. From its center stretched over a thousand spokes.” (Suttanipata, 686–88 [Nalakasutta]; quoted in Borg, p. 219 and in BUDDHIST FAITH).

“It is the rule, monks, that when a Bodhisattva descends from the Tushita heaven into his mother’s womb, there appears in this world with its devas, Maras and Brahmas, its ascetics and Brahmins, princes and people an immeasurable, splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful devas. And whatever dark spaces lay beyond the worlds end, chaotic, blind and black, such that they are not even reached by the mighty rays of sun and moon, are yet illumined by this immeasurable splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful devas.” (Dîghanikâya 14, Mahâpadânasutta)

[179] “At that time there was among the assembly a great Brahma king named Great Compassion who on behalf of the multitude of Brahma kings, spoke in verse form, saying: What cause is in operation that such a sign should be manifest? Our palaces display a brilliance never known before. Is it because of the birth of some heavenly being of great virtue, or because the Buddha has appeared in the world? We have never seen such a sign and with a single mind we seek the reason. Though we must travel a thousand, ten thousand a million lands, together we will search out the cause of this light. Likely it is because a Buddha has appeared in the world to save living beings in their suffering.” (Saddharmapundarîkasűtra, chapter 7)

[180] “Thus did king Suddhodana, amidst a mighty host of kings, with royal magnificence and kingly majesty, take the Prince to the temple, and enter it. Now, when the Bodhisattva set his right foot on the floor of that temple, all the inert images of the Devas … rose from their respective places, and fell at the feet of the Bodhisattva. Thereupon, men and gods by hundreds of thousands burst into derisive laughter … Celestial flowers fell in showers … And the gods whose images were in the temple made manifest their respective shapes, and recited these Gathas: ‘Never does the great mountain Meru, the king of mountains, salute a mustard seed … How can then the great master of merit, one born in the race of knowledge and virtue, salute the Devas?” (Lalitavistâra 8)

[181] ”Then, Bhikshus, when the Prince had duly grown up, he was taken to the writing school under a hundred thousand auspicious arrangements. … Then he entered the school. Now Vis’uámitra, the school master, feeling the beauty and glory of the Bodhisattva to be insufferable, fell prostrate on the ground. … [A Devaputra:] ‘Whatever S’ástras are currentin the regions of the Devas, all figures and writings and calculations, all roots, all arts in their immensity current on earth, were learnt by him many millions of ages (kalpas) ago.’ Now Bodhisattva, taking up a tablet … thus addressed the tutor Vis’vámitra: ‘which is the writing, sir, which you wish to teach me? (1) Is it the … [he names sixty-four kinds of writing] Out of these sixty-four kinds, which is it, sir, that you wish to teach me? The schoolmaster Vis’vámitra … ‘On coming to the school he has learned writings of which I do not know even the names. … how can I teach him who has already acquired every style of writings” (Lalitavistâra 10)

[182] “On one occasion he went, along with other boys, sons of ministers, to visit an agricultural village. After seeing the agricultural works he entered a garden. There, rambling around, alone without a second, he beheld a pleasant, nice-looking Jambu tree. He sat under its shadow. When he was seated his mind was absorbed into one point … King Suddhodana, who was never at ease in the absence of, and without seeing, the Bodhisattva, enquired ‘where is the prince gone? I do not see him here.’ Then a large party went forth in search of the Prince. A minister saw the Prince seated on a couch under the Jambu tree, and engaged in contemplation.” (Lalitavistâra 11)

Or quoted in Borg, p.225 and in BUDDHIST FAITH: “Meanwhile, the King, having noticed that the Bodhisattva was missing, inquired concerning his absence, asking: ‘Where has the young prince gone? I do not see him anywhere.’ So a great crowd of people spread out in all directions to look for the prince. Shortly, one of the King’s advisors caught sight of the Bodhisattva in the shade of the jambu tree, seated with his legs crossed, deep in meditation.”

[183] “And having bathed, thin as he was, slowly came up the bank of the Nairańganâ … he himself became capable of gaining the highest knowledge, all his six senses being now satisfied. The seer, having his body now fully robust, together with his glorious fame, one beauty and one majesty being equally spread in both, shone like the ocean and the moon… Accompanied only by his own resolve, having fixed his mind on the attainment of perfect knowledge, he went to the root of an Asvattha tree [Ficus religiosa or pipul tree], where the surface of the ground was covered with young grass. Then Kâla, the best of serpents, whose majesty was like the lord of elephants, having been awakened by the unparalleled sound of his feet, uttered this praise of the great sage, being sure that he was on the point of attaining perfect knowledge … he, having made his resolution, sat down to obtain perfect knowledge at the foot of the great holy tree … Then the dwellers in heaven burst into unequalled joy; the herds of beasts and the birds uttered no cry; the trees moved by the wind made no sound, when the holy one took his seat firm in his resolve.” (Ashvaghosha, Buddhacharita 12:105–118).

A similar tale is found in Lalitavistâra, 18.

[184] „Dies war nämlich für ihn, während er nach Erlangung der Buddhawürde siebenmal sieben Tage in der Erleuchtungsfläche verweilte, für neunundvierzig Tage seine Nahrung; so lange Zeit hindurch gab es für ihn keine andere Speise noch ein Bad noch Abwaschen des Gesichts noch eine Pflege des Körpers, sondern im Glück der Ekstase, im Glück des Weges und im Glück der Frucht lebte er nur.“ (Nidânakathâ §B2.8 [Der Tag der Erleuchtung]), or …

“And he took no further nourishment until the end of the seven weeks, or forty-nine days, which he spent on the throne of wisdom after he had become a Buddha. During all that time he had no other nourishment; he neither bathed, nor rinsed his mouth, nor did he ease himself; but was wholly taken up by the delights of the Trances, of the Paths, and of the Fruits. (Buddhist Writings, The Attainment of Buddhaship, Translated from the Introduction to the jâtaka, i. 685).

[185] “Then the Lord sat cross-legged in one posture for seven days at the foot of the tree of awakening, experiencing the bliss of freedom.” (Vinayapitaka, Mahâvagga, 1:1:1; quoted in Borg, p. 227 and in BUDDHIST FAITH) Or …

“At that time the blessed Buddha dwelt at Uruvelâ, on the bank of the river Nerańgarâ at the foot of the Bodhi tree (tree of wisdom), just after he had become Sambuddha. And the blessed Buddha sat cross-legged at the foot of the Bodhi tree uninterruptedly during seven days, enjoying the bliss of emancipation.” (Vinayapitaka, Mahâvagga, 1:1:1)

“I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Kosalans in a wilderness hut in a Himalayan district. Then, as he was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in his awareness: ‘Is it possible to exercise rulership without killing or causing others to kill, without confiscating or causing others to confiscate, without sorrowing or causing others sorrow — righteously?’ Then Mara, the Evil One, knowing with his awareness the train of thought in the Blessed One’s awareness, went to him and on arrival said to him: ‘Exercise rulership, Blessed One! Exercise rulership, O One Well-gone! — without killing or causing others to kill, without confiscating or causing others to confiscate, without sorrowing or causing others sorrow — righteously!’ … ”Lord, the Blessed One has developed the four bases of power, pursued them, handed them the reins and taken them as a basis, given them a grounding, steadied them, consolidated them, and undertaken them well. If he wanted to, he could resolve on the Himalayas, king of mountains, as gold, and it would become a mountain of gold.’ [The Buddha:] The entirety of a mountain of gold, of solid bullion: even twice that wouldn’t suffice for one person. Knowing this, live evenly, in tune with the contemplative life. When you see stress, and from where it comes, how can you incline to sensual pleasures? Knowing acquisition to be a bond in the world, train for its subduing. Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, ‘The Blessed One knows me; the One Well-gone knows me’ — vanished right there.” (Samyuttanikâya, 4:20, [IV Mârasamyutta, Rajjasutta])

“During the six years that the Bodhisattva practiced austerities, the demon followed behind him step by step, seeking an opportunity to harm him. But he found no opportunity whatsoever and went away discouraged and discontent.” (Lalitavistâra, 18; quoted in Borg, p. 103 and in Jesus Tempted Thrice)

[186] “When the great sage, sprung from a line of royal sages, sat down there with his soul fully resolved to obtain the highest knowledge, the whole world rejoiced; but Mara, the enemy of the good law, was afraid. … The less the saint feared the frightful hosts of that multitude, the more did Mara, the enemy of the righteous, continue his attacks in grief and anger. Then some being of invisible shape, but of preeminent glory, standing in the heavens--beholding Mara thus malevolent against the seer--addressed him in a loud voice, unruffled by enmity: ‘Take not on thyself, O Mara, this vain fatigue--throw aside thy malevolence and retire to peace; this sage cannot be shaken by thee any more than the mighty mountain Meru by the wind. … Having listened to his words, and having seen the unshaken firmness of the great saint, Mara departed dispirited and broken in purpose with those very arrows by which, Oh world, thou art smitten in thy heart. … When the flower-armed god thus fled away vanquished with his hostile forces and the passionless sage remained victorious, having conquered all the power of darkness, the heavens shone out with the moon like a maiden with a smile, and a sweet-smelling shower of flowers fell down wet with dew. When the wicked one thus fled vanquished, the different regions of the sky grew clear, the moon shone forth, showers of flowers fell down from the sky upon the earth, and the night gleamed out like a spotless maiden.” (Ashvaghosha, Buddhacharita 13) Also Lalitavistâra 18. Compare this to the temptation of Jesus: “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:11, NIV)

[187] According to traditional accounts, he spent his first twenty-nine years living a family life as a prince, before he went on his mission.

[188] The twelve disciples are said to have been Ânanda, Aniruddha, Devadatta, xkashyapa, Mahakatyayana, Maudgalyayana, Nadikashyapa, Purna, Rahula, Shariputra, Sudhuti, Uruvilvakashyapa

[189] “The elder brother was named Tapussa; the younger, Bhallika. … It was at that time Gotama Buddha had won Perfect Enlightenment, had passed seven times seven days of abiding in the attainment of Cessation, and was about to enter into the eighth seven-days period of abiding in the attainment of Cessation at the foot of a ’Linlun’ tree, (the Sapium baccatum). The two brothers put their alms-food into the Buddha’s alms-bowl. (The Buddha ate the food.) After the Buddha finished eating it the brothers offered water for drinking and washing. Then they made obeisance to the Buddha and sat in a suitable place. The Buddha gave them a discourse at the end of which both the two brothers were established in the ’Two Refuges’ (The story of the establishment of the two brothers in the Two Refuges (dve vacika saranagamana) has been described in the Great Chronicle, Volume Two.) … On another occasion when the Buddha was residing at the Jetavana monastery and conferred titles of distinction on lay disciples accordingly to their merit, he declared ‘Bhikkhus, among my lay disciples who have taken refuge earliest in the Buddha and the Dhamma the merchant brothers Tapussa and Bhallika are the foremost.’” (Summarized in The Story of the Brothers Tapussa and Bhallika).

The “story of the brothers Tapussa and Bhallika [are] based on the Commentary on the Anguttaranikâya and the Commentary on the Theragatha, the Ekaka nipata.” The Commentary on the Anguttaranikâya is called Manorathapurani, and it was composed by Buddhaghosa, an Indian commentator and scholar living in the fifth century CE.

[190] “I myself now have the pair of noble disciples Shariputra and Moggallana.” (Dîghanikâya 14, Mahâpadânasutta)

“Bhikkhus, I do not know of any other person who could follow up the teaching proclaimed by the Thus Gone One other than Sŕriputta. Bhikkhus, Sŕriputta follows up the teaching proclaimed by me.” (Anguttaranikâya, 1:13, Ekapuggalavagga)

“The Blessed One said: Sela, this incomparable wheel of righteousness rolled by me, will be rolled afterwards by Sŕriputta, born after the Thus Gone One.” (Majjhimanikâya, 92:557)

[191] “he has a pair of noble disciples, Shariputra and Moggallana; he has one assemblies of Disciples, one thousand, two hundred and fifty monks, who are all Arahants; his chief personal attendant is Ánanda”. (Dîghanikâya 14, Mahâpadânasutta)

[192] “And Pokkharasati said to Ambattha, ‘Ambattha, my son, the ascetic Gotama … is staying in the dense jungle of Icchanankala. And concerning that Blessed Lord a good report has been spread about, ‘This Blessed Lord is an Arahant, a fully enlightened Buddha, perfected in knowledge and conduct, a well-farer, knower of the worlds, unequalled trainer of men to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha, a Blessed Lord.’ Now you go to see the ascetic Gotama and find out whether this report is correct or not, and whether the Reverend Gotama is as they say or not.” (Dîghanikâya 3:1:4, [Ambatthasutta]; Compare to Luke 7:19).

[193] “But when the set of robes was arranged upon the body of the Blessed One, it became as though faded, and its splendor dimmed. And the Venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: ‘Marvellous it is, O Lord, most wonderful indeed it is, how clear and radiant the skin of the Tathagata appears! This set of golden-hued robes, burnished and ready for wear, Lord, now that it is arranged upon the body of the Blessed One seems to have become faded, its splendor dimmed.’” (Dîghanikâya, 16:4:37-38)

[194] “Go ye now, O Bhikkhus, and wander, for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the gain, and for the welfare of gods and men, Let not two of you go the same way, Preach, O Bhikkhus, the doctrine which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious at the end, in the spirit and in the letter; proclaim a consummate, perfect, and pure life of holiness. There are beings whose mental eyes are covered by scarcely any dust, but if the doctrine is not preached to them, they cannot attain salvation.” (Vinayapitaka, Mahâvagga 1:11:1).

“Having spoken thus, that Brahma made obeisance to the Lord Buddha, and passing by to his right, vanished there and then. So the Lord Buddha Vipassi, emerging from the seclusion of his Rest Period told the Monks what had occurred. ‘I allow you, monks, to wander abroad for the good of the many, for the welfare and happiness of Devas and Humans. Do not go two together monks, but teach the Dhamma that is lovely in the beginning, lovely in its middle, and lovely in its ending, both in the letter and in the spirit and display the holy life fully complete and perfect.” (Dîghanikâya 14, Mahâpadânasutta)

[195] “Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti thought to himself, ‘I am sick, lying on my bed in pain, yet the Tathágata, the saint, the perfectly accomplished Buddha, does not consider or take pity upon me, and sends no one to inquire after my illness.’ The Lord knew this thought in the mind of Vimalakirti and said to the venerable Shariputra, ‘Shariputra, go to inquire after the illness of the Licchavi Vimalakirti.’” (Vimalakîrtinirdesha, 3).

[196] “As soon as the Bodhisattva was born, […] the sick were cured; the hungry and thirsty were no longer oppressed by hunger and thirst. Those maddened by drink lost their obsessions. The mad recovered their senses, the blind regained their sight, and the deaf once more could hear. The halt and the lame obtained perfect limbs, the poor gained riches, and prisoners were delivered from their bonds.” (Lalitavistâra, 7; quoted in Borg, p. 163 and in BUDDHIST FAITH)

“During the short aeons of maladies, they [the true bodhisattvas] become the best holy medicine; they make beings well and happy, and bring about their liberation. During the short aeons of famine, they become food and drink. Having first alleviated thirst and hunger, they teach the Dharma to living beings.” (Vimalakîrtinirdesha, 8).

“At that time the Venerable Maha Kassapa who was living in the Pipphali Cave, was afflicted with a disease, was suffering therefrom, and was gravely ill. ... Thus seated the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Maha Kassapa: ... Thus said the Buddha, and the Venerable Maha Kassapa glad at heart approved the utterances of the Buddha. Thereupon the Venerable Kassapa recovered from that affliction, and that affliction, of the Venerable Kassapa disappeared.” (Samyuttanikâya, 46:14 [Gilanasutta])

[197] Buddha said: “If by giving up small pleasures great happiness is to be found, the wise should give up small pleasures seeing (the prospect of) great happiness.” (Dhammapada, verse 290) According to the Dhammapada Commentary written by Buddhaghosa in the fifth century CE, the Buddha “uttered Verse (290) of this book, with reference to the power and glory of the Buddha as witnessed by many people on his visit to Vesali.” A summary of the Commentary:

“Once, a famine broke out in Vesali. It began with a serious drought. Because of drought, there was almost a total failure of crops and many people died of starvation. This was followed by an epidemic of diseases and as people could hardly cope with the disposal of the corpses there was a lot of stench in the air. This stench attracted the ogres. The people of Vesali were facing the dangers of destruction by famine, disease and also by the ogres. In their grief and sorrow they tried to look for a refuge. They thought of going for help from various sources but finally, they decided to invite the Buddha. … The Buddha knew that this visit would be of much benefit to many people, so he consented to go to Vesali. … As soon as the Buddha reached the other bank of the river heavy rains fell in torrents, thus cleansing up Vesali. The Buddha was put up in the rest-house which was specially prepared for him in the central part of the city. Sakka, king of the devas, came with his followers to pay obeisance to the Buddha, and the ogres fled. That same evening the Buddha delivered the Ratana Sutta and asked the Venerable Ananda to go round between the threefold walls of the city with the Licchavi princes and recite it. The Venerable Ananda did as he was told. As the protective verses (parittas) were being recited, many of those who were sick recovered and followed the Venerable Ananda to the presence of the Buddha. The Buddha delivered the same Sutta and repeated it for seven days. At the end of the seven days, everything was back to normal in Vesali.”

So, the Buddha “delivered the Ratana Sutta” “at Vesāli, on the occasion of the Buddha’s visit there at the invitation of the Licchavis, who begged him to rid the city of the various dangers which had fallen upon it. According to the Commentaries (SNA.i.278ff.; DhA.iii.436ff.; KhpA.164f), the Buddha first taught the sutta to Ananda and asked him to go round the city, accompanied by the Licchavi princes, reciting the sutta and sprinkling water from the Buddha’s bowl. Immediately all the evil spirits fled from the city and the people recovered from their diseases.” (Ratanasutta)

[198] “Now in the early morning, the Master had said to the Elder Great Moggallāna,--‘Moggallāna, this Miser Millionaire in the town of Jagghery near Rājagaha, wanting to eat cakes himself, is so afraid of letting others know, that he is having them cooked for him right up on the seventh story. Go thither; convert the man to self-denial, and by transcendental power transport husband and wife, cakes, milk, ghee and all, here to Jetavana. This day I and the five hundred Brethren will stay at home, and I will make the cakes furnish them with a meal.’ Obedient to the Master’s bidding, the Elder by supernatural power passed to the town of Jagghery, and rested in mid-air before the chamber-window, duly clad in his under and outer cloths, bright as a jewelled image. The unexpected sight of the Elder made the Lord High Treasurer quake with fear…. So he said to his wife, ‘My dear, cook one little cake and give it to the sage to get rid of him.’ So she mixed quite a little dough in a crock. But the dough swelled and swelled till it filled the whole crock, and grew to be a great big cake! ‘What a lot you must have used!’ exclaimed the Treasurer at the sight. And he himself with the tip of a spoon took a very little of the dough, and put that in the oven to bake. But that tiny piece of dough grew larger than the first lump; and, one after another, every piece of dough he took became ever so big! Then he lost heart and said to his wife, ‘You give him a cake, dear.’ But, as soon as she took one cake from the basket, at once all the other cakes stuck fast to it … ‘Lord High Treasurer,’ said the Elder, ‘the All-Wise Buddha with five hundred Brethren sits in the monastery waiting a meal of cakes. If such be your good pleasure, I would ask you to bring your wife and the cakes with you, and let us be going to the Master.’ … Then husband and wife came before the Master and said meal-time had come … Then the Lord High Treasurer poured the Water of Donation over the hands of the Brotherhood with the Buddha at its head, whilst his wife placed a cake in the alms-bowl of the Blessed One. Of this he took what sufficed to support life, as also did the five hundred Brethren. Next the Treasurer went round offering milk mixed with ghee and hooey and jagghery; and the Master and the Brotherhood brought their meal to a close. Lastly the Treasurer and his wife ate their fill, but still there seemed no end to the cakes. Even when all the Brethren and the scrap-eaters through-out the monastery had all had a share, still there was no sign of the end approaching. So they told the Master, saying, ‘Sir, the supply of cakes grows no smaller.’ ‘Then throw them down by the great gate of the monastery.’ So they threw them away in a cave not far from the gateway; and to this day a spot called ’The Crock-Cake,’ is shown at the extremity of that cave.” (Jâtaka 78)

Also in The Dhammapada Commentary of Pupphavagga, verse 49, written by Buddhaghosa in the fifth century CE.

[199] Lucian tells us:

“I saw him” soar through the air in broad daylight and walk on water …” (Lucian, The Lover of Lies, 13; quoted in Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth)

“… we came in sight of many men running over the sea, like us in every way, both in shape and in size, except only their feet, which were of cork: that is why they were called Corkfeet, if I am not mistaken.” (Lucian, A true Story, 2:4).

[200] “He walks upon the water without parting it, as if on solid ground.” (Anguttaranikâya 3:60, quoted in Borg, p. 149 and in BUDDHIST FAITH; also Ashvaghosha, Saundarananda, 3:23). He walks across the river Ganges (Mahâvastu 3:328:6, Lalitavistâra 528)

“When he arrived at the city Sârathi, the citizens volunteered to be charioteers in his service; thence he came to the Ganges, and he bade the ferryman cross. ‘Good man, convey me across the Ganges, may the seven blessings be thine.’ ‘I carry no one across unless he pays the fee.’ ‘I have nothing, what shall I give?’ So saying he went through the sky like the king of birds; and from that time Bimbisara abolished the ferry-fee for all ascetics.” (Ashvaghosha, Buddhacharita, 15:98-100)

[201] “He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, & mountains as if through space. He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun & moon, so mighty & powerful. He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.” (Anguttaranikâya, 3:60 [Sangaravasutta]. Also Dîghanikâya, 11, Kevattasutta, Anguttaranikâya, 3:100 [“Pansadhovakasutta” and “Nimittasutta”], Majjhimanikâya 1:6:14 [Akankheyyasutta])

[202] “Now at that time a great rain fell, and a great flood resulted. Then the Lord (Buddha) made the water recede all around, and he paced up and down in the middle on dust-covered ground.” (Vinayapitaka, Mahâvagga, 1:20:16; quoted in Borg, p. 151). Or …

“At that time a great rain fell out of season; and a great inundation arose. The place where the Blessed One lived was covered with water. Then the Blessed One thought: ‘What if I were to cause the water to recede round about, and if I were to walk up and down in the midst of the water on a dust-covered spot.’ And the Blessed One caused the water to recede round about, and he walked up and down in the midst of the water on a dust-covered spot.” (Vinayapitaka, Mahâvagga, 1:20:16)

[203] “This story the Master told whilst staying in Jetavana, about a believing layman. This was a faithful, pious soul, an elect disciple. One evening, on his way to Jetavana, he came to the hank of the river Aciravatī, when the ferrymen had pulled up their boat on the shore in order to attend service; as no boat could be seen at the landing-stage, and our friend’s mind being full of delightful thoughts of the Buddha, he walked into the river. His feet did not sink below the water. He got as far as mid-river walking as though he were on dry land; but there he noticed the waves. Then his ecstasy subsided, and his feet began to sink. Again he strung himself up to high tension, and walked on over the water. So he arrived at Jetavana, greeted the Master, and took a seat on one side.” (Sîlanisamsajâtaka, 190)

[204] From the Nidânakathâ; according to G. A van den Bergh van Eysinga, Indische Einflüsse auf evangelische Erzählungen, p.41-42 and Bengt Lidforss, Kristendomen förr och nu: en populärvetenskaplig framställning, p. 49.

“But the Future Buddha in his splendid chariot entered the city with a pomp and magnificence of glory that enraptured all minds. At the same moment Kisâ Gotamî, a virgin of the warrior caste, ascended to the roof of her palace, and beheld tile beauty and majesty of the Future Buddha, as he circumambulated the city; and in her pleasure and satisfaction at the sight, she burst forth into this song of joy:-- ‘Full happy now that mother is, Full happy now that father is, Full happy now that woman is, Who owns this lord so glorious!’ On hearing this, the Future Buddha thought, ‘In beholding a handsome figure the heart of a mother attains Nirvana, the heart of a father attains Nirvana, the heart of a wife attains Nirvana. This is what she says. But wherein does Nirvana consist? ”And to him, whose mind was already averse to passion, the answer came: ”When the fire of lust is extinct, that is Nirvana; when the fires of hatred and infatuation are extinct, that is Nirvana; when pride, false belief, and all other passions and torments are extinct, that is Nirvana. She has taught me a good lesson. Certainly, Nirvana is what I am looking for. It behooves me this very day to quit the household life, and to retire from the world in quest of Nirvana. I will send this lady a teacher’s fee.” And loosening from his neck a pearl necklace worth a hundred thousand pieces of money, he sent it to Kisâ Gotamî. And great was her satisfaction at this, for she thought, ”Prince Siddhattha has fallen in love with me, and has sent me a present.” (Jâtaka, Nidânakathâ, 271)

[205] Samuel Beal, Buddhist Literature in China, p. 170–2, refer to Ashvaghosha, Ta-chwang-yan-king-lun, sermon 21, a Chinese translation of Mahâlamkarasűtra Shastra (Book of Great Glory).

There was once a widow who was very destitute, and having gone to the mountain she beheld hermits holding a religious assembly. Then the woman was filled with joy, and uttering praises, said, ‘It is well, holy priests! but while others give precious things such as the ocean caves produce, I have nothing to offer.’ Having spoken thus and having searched herself in vain for something to give, she recollected that some time before she had found in a dungheap two coppers, so taking these she offered them forthwith as a gift to the priesthood in charity. The superior of the priests, a saint who could read the hearts of men, disregarding the rich gifts of others and beholding the deep faith dwelling in the heart of this poor widow, and wishing the priesthood to esteem rightly her religious merit, burst forth with full voice in a canto. He raised his right hand and said, ‘Reverend priests attend!’ and then he proceeded: ‘The coppers of this poor widow to all purpose are more worth than all the treasures of the oceans and the wealth of the broad earth. As an act of pure devotion she has done a pious deed; she has attained salvation, being free from selfish greed.’ The woman was mightily strengthened in her mind by this thought, and said, ‘It is even as the Teacher says: what I have done is as much as if a rich man were to give up all his wealth.’” (The Gospel of Buddha, Compiled from ancient records by Paul Carus, The Widow’s Two Mites)

[206] And Kutadanta planned a great sacrifice: seven hundred bulls, seven hundred bullocks, seven hundred heifers, seven hundred he-goats and seven hundred rams were all tied up to the sacrificial posts. … Then Kutadanta thought: ‘I have heard that the ascetic Gotama understands how to conduct successfully the triple sacrifice with its sixteen requisites. … ‘In this sacrifice, Brahmin, no bulls were slain, no goats or sheep, no cocks and pigs, nor were various living beings subjected to slaughter, … The sacrifice was carried out with ghee, oil, butter, curds, honey and molasses. … ‘But, Reverend Gotama, is there any sacrifice that is more profitable than these four?’ ‘There is, Brahmin.’ ‘What is it, Reverend Gotama?’ ‘Brahmin, if anyone with a pure heart undertakes the precepts - to refrain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from sexual immorality, from lying speech and from taking strong drink and sloth-producing drugs - that constitutes a sacrifice more profitable than any of these four.’ … And, Reverend Gotama, I set free the seven hundred bulls, seven hundred bullocks, seven hundred heifers, seven hundred he-goats and seven hundred rams.” (Dîghanikâya 5, Kutadantasutta)

[207] He helps lepers: “Then the Blessed One, having encompassed the awareness of the entire assembly with his awareness, asked himself, ‘Now who here is capable of understanding the Dhamma?’ He saw Suppabuddha the leper sitting in the assembly, and on seeing him the thought occurred to him, ‘This person here is capable of understanding the Dhamma.’” (Suttapitaka, Khuddakanikâya, Udâna, 5:3 [Kutthisutta])

He helps outcasts: “In a lowly family I was born, poor, with next to no food. … People found me disgusting, despised me, disparaged me. … Then I saw the One Self-awakened, arrayed with a squadron of monks … I approached him to do reverence. He — the supreme man — stood still out of sympathy just for me. … The compassionate Teacher, sympathetic to all the world, said: ‘Come, monk.’ That was my formal Acceptance.” (Suttapitaka, Khuddakanikâya, Theragatha, Thag 12:2, [Sunita the Outcaste])

[208] “Then the courtezan Ambapâlî, when she understood that the Blessed One had accepted her invitation, rose from her seat, respectfully saluted the Blessed One, and, passing round him with her right side towards him, went away. … Then the Likkhavis snapped their fingers (exclaiming), ‘We are outdone by this woman! we are out-reached by this woman!’ … ‘I have promised, O Likkhavis, to dine to-morrow with Ambapâlî the courtezan.’ … Sitting near him the courtezan Ambapâlî said to the Blessed One: ‘I give up this Ambapâlî grove, Lord, to the fraternity of Bhikkhus with the Buddha at its head.’ The Blessed One accepted the Ârâma. Then the Blessed One, after having taught, incited, animated, and gladdened the courtezan Ambapâlî by religious discourse, rose from his seat and went to the Mahâvana.” (Vinayapitaka, Mahâvagga 6:30).

“Then the Blessed One proceeded with a great number of brethren to Vesali, and he stayed at the grove of the courtesan Ambapali. … When the courtesan Ambapali heard that the Blessed One was staying in her mango grove, she was exceedingly glad and went in a carriage as far as the ground was passable for carriages. There she alighted and thence proceeding to the place where the Blessed One was, she took her seat respectfully at his feet on one side. … Then she rose and said to the Blessed One: “Will the Blessed One do me the honour of taking his meal, together with the brethren, at my house tomorrow?” And the Blessed One gave, by silence, his consent. … Then the Licchavi, expressing their approval of the words of the Blessed One, arose from their seats and bowed down before the Blessed One, and, keeping him on their right hand as they passed him, they departed thence; but when they came home, they cast up their hands, saying: ‘A worldly woman has outdone us; we have been left behind by a frivolous girl!’” (THE COURTESAN AMBAPALI; also Mahâparinibbânasutta 2:16ff)

[209] Buddha actually means “the awaken one”. At many places in the New Testament, alertness and watchfulness is encouraged: Matthew 24:42, 44, 25:13; Mark 13:33–37; Luke 12:35–40, 21:36; Ephesians 5:14; Rome 13:11; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.

[210] And the Blessed One said: ‘Whosoever, Ananda, has developed, practiced, employed, strengthened, maintained, scrutinized, and brought to perfection the four constituents of psychic power could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it. The Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.’ But the Venerable Ananda was unable to grasp the plain suggestion, the significant prompting, given by the Blessed One. As though his mind was influenced by Mara, he did not beseech the Blessed One: ‘May the Blessed One remain, O Lord!. May the Happy One remain, O Lord, throughout the world-period, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men!’ And when for a second and a third time the Blessed One repeated his words, the Venerable Ananda remained silent. Then the Blessed One said to the Venerable Ananda: ‘Go now, Ananda, and do as seems fit to you.’ ... At these words the Venerable Ananda spoke to the Blessed One, saying: ‘May the Blessed One remain, O Lord! May the Happy One remain, O Lord, throughout the world-period, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men!’ And the Blessed One answered, saying: ‘Enough, Ananda. Do not entreat the Tathagata, for the time is past, Ananda, for such an entreaty.’ ... ‘But you, Ananda, were unable to grasp the plain suggestion, the significant prompting given you by the Tathagata, and you did not entreat the Tathagata to remain. For if you had done so, Ananda, twice the Tathagata might have declined, but the third time he would have consented. Therefore, Ananda, the fault is yours; herein you have failed.” (Dîghanikâya, 16:3 [Mahâparinibbânasutta]).

[211] Many Jâtakas depicts the story of Devadatta’s hatred of the Buddha and of his wickedness. So also Vinayapitaka, Culavagga, 7:3 and 7:4. Also:

“When Devadatta and his party reached the pond in the Jetavana monastery compound the carriers put down the couch on the bank of the pond and went to take a bath. Devadatta also rose from his couch and placed both his feet on the ground. Immediately, his feet sank into the earth and he was gradually swallowed up, Devadatta did not have the opportunity to see the Buddha because of the wicked deeds he had done to the Buddha. After his death, he was reborn in Avici Niraya, a place of intense and continuous torment.” (Dhammapada, [1 Yamakavagga], verse 17 [Devadatta Vatthu])

“But if the contemplative Gotama, thus asked, answers, ‘The Tathagata would not say words that are unendearing & disagreeable to others,’ then you should say, ‘Then how, lord, did you say of Devadatta that ‘Devadatta is headed for destitution, Devadatta is headed for hell, Devadatta will boil for an eon, Devadatta is incurable’?” (Majjhimanikâya, 58 [Abhayasutta])

“But Devadatta, mad with rage, because he was ensnared by his own wickedness, At first by power miraculous able to fly, now fallen, dwells in lowest hell”. (The Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King, 1733-34).

[212] “The Buddha performed a feat of such supernormal power that the bandit addressed him thus: … ‘I will indeed renounce evil forever.’ So saying, the bandit took his swords and weapons and flung them in a gaping pit. Then the bandit worshipped at his feet and uttered this exclamation … ‘Who once did live in negligence and then is negligent no more, he illuminates the world like the moon freed from a cloud.’” (Majjhimanikâya, 86:5,6,18, [Angulimâlasutta] quoted in Borg, p. 109 and in BUDDHIST FAITH). Or …

“Then the Blessed One willed a feat of psychic power such that Angulimala, though running with all his might, could not catch up with the Blessed One walking at normal pace. … So Angulimala the bandit addressed this verse to the Blessed One: … ‘I will go about having abandoned evil.’ So saying, the bandit hurled his sword & weapons over a cliff into a chasm, a pit. Then the bandit paid homage to the feet of the One Well-gone, and right there requested the Going-forth.” (Majjhimanikâya, 86)

[213] “At this time a certain householder’s son whose name was Kunda, invited Buddha to his house, and there he gave him, as an offering, his very last repast.” (Ashvaghosha, Boddhisattva: The Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king: a life of Buddha, Varga 25, Parinirvâna, 1946-47).

[214] “Leaving the state of Samâdhi, his soul without a resting-place (a house to lodge in), forthwith he reached Nirvâna. And then, as Buddha died, the great earth quaked throughout. In space, on every hand, was fire like rain (it rained fire), no fuel, self-consuming. And so from out the earth great flames arose on every side (the eight points of the earth), Thus up to the heavenly mansions flames burst forth; the crash of thunder shook the heavens and earth, rolling along the mountains and the valleys, Even as when the Devas and Asuras fight with sound of drums and mutual conflict. A wind tempestuous from the four bounds of earth arose--whilst from the crags and hills, dust and ashes fell like rain. The sun and moon withdrew their shining; the peaceful streams on every side were torrent-swollen; the sturdy forests shook like aspen leaves, whilst flowers and leaves untimely fell around, like scattered rain.” (Ashvaghosha, Boddhisattva: The Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king: a life of Buddha, Varga 26, Mahâparinirvâna, 2104-2108).

[215] In the Mahâmâyâsűtra it says that “Maya descended from the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods. Wishing to view the body for the last time, she approached the coffin. At that moment it opened, a thousand luminous Buddhas, emanations of Shakyamuni, appeared, and mother and son were reunited.” (Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism). The scripture tells us that while “Maya was crying and clutching his bowl and cane to her breast, Sakyamuni, by his divine power, opened the coffin, rose up and told her of the transiency of life. Then he lay down again in the coffin and closed the cover over himself.” (Kyoto National Museum, Buddhist Paintings “Shaka (Sakyamuni) Rising from the Gold Coffin“). The painting of Sakyamuni Rising from the Gold Coffin, is from the 11th Century CE.

The Mahâmâyâsűtra (or Mâyâsűtra) was translated from Sanskrit to Chinese during the Ch’i dynasty (479-502 CE). The text alludes to events in c. 200 CE, and so the original must have been written some time between c. 200 and 500 CE. (Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism).

[216]The Story of Gautama, the Progenitor of Ikshvâku“ is found in Sanghabhedavastu, which is the 17th and Last Section of the Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadin. Translation from Sanskrit by Lars Adelskogh. “The Gilgit Manuscript of the Sanghabhedavastu, Being the 17th and Last Section of the Vinaya of the Műlasarvâstivâdin”, Part I. Edited by Raniero Gnoli with the Assistance of T. Venkatacharya. Roma, Istituto italiano per il medio ed estremo oriente 1977.”

In an e-mail answer to my question concerning the date of the Sanghabhedavastu, Dr. Burkhard Scherer (Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University, U.K.) says:

“The Buddhist Gilgit manuscripts are 6/7th century copies of Buddhist texts mainly Buddhist Hybrid or Mixed Sanskrit. They contain among others the vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadins (Vin.Msv), containing a chronological Buddha biography. Sanghabhedavastu (SBV) is the second part of the Vin.Msv. The Msv-school is a relatively late attested sub-school (independent: Frauwallner) of the Sarvastivadins (Sv), a sect of the third century Before Common Era (BCE). The Vin.Msv is thought to be for the largest part identical to that of the Sv; however the Buddhabiography is most commonly dated as a later insertion into the first century Common Era (CE), see Lamotte, Revue d”Hist. des religions, 1948; Klimkeit passim). However, the hagiographical motifs within the Vin.Msv./SBV most certainly predate the first century CE. In some cases, iconographical material attests pre-Christian existence of motifs of the Buddha legend.

Summary
Stories - predate Christianity
Stories written down in SBV - around first Century CE
part of the Vin.Msv - ca. 300CE
Gilgit Manuscripts - 6/7th Century CE”

[217] INRI, “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” (Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews).

”Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.” (John 19:19-20).

 

 

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