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For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
IT is claimed by the disciples of Jesus Christ, that he was of supernatural and divine origin; that he had a human being for a mother, and a God for his father; that, although he was woman- conceived, he was Deity-begotten, and molded in the human form, but comprehending in essence a full measure of the infinite Godhead; thus making him half human and half divine in his sublunary origin. It is claimed that he was full and perfect God, and perfect man; and while he was God, he was also the son of God, and as such was sent down by his father to save a fallen and guilty world; and that thus his mission pertained to the whole human race; and his inspired seers are made to declare that ultimately every nation, tongue, kindred, and people under heaven will acknowledge allegiance to his government, and concede his right to reign and rule the world; that "every knee must bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
But we do not find that this prophecy has ever been or is likely to be fulfilled. We do not observe that this claim to the infinite deityship of Jesus Christ has been or is likely to be universally conceded. On the contrary, it is found. that by a portion, and a large portion of the people of even those nations now called Christian, this claim has been steadily and unswervingly controverted, through the whole line of history, stretching through the nearly two thousand years which have elapsed since his advent to earth.
Even some of those who are represented to have been personally acquainted with him -- aye! some of his own brethren in the flesh, children in the same household, children of the same mother -- had the temerity to question the tenableness of his claim to a divine emanation. And when we extend our researches to other countries, we find this claim, so far from being conceded, is denied and contested by whole nations upon other grounds. It is met and confronted by rival claims.
Upon this ground hundreds of millions of the established believers in divine revelation -- hundreds of millions of believers in the divine character and origin of religion -- reject the pretentious set up for Jesus Christ. They admit both a God and a Savior, but do hot accept Jesus of Nazareth as being either. They admit a Messiah, but not the Messiah; these nations contend that the title is misplaced which makes "the man Christ Jesus" the Savior of the world. They claim to have been honored with the birth of the true Savior among them and defend this claim upon the ground of priority of date. They aver that the advent of their Messiahs were long prior to that of the Christians', and that this circumstance adjudicates for them a superiority of claim as to having had the true Messiah born upon their soil.
It is argued that, as the story of the incarnation of the Christians' Savior is of more recent date than that of these oriental and ancient religions (as is conceded by Christians themselves), the origin of the former is thus indicated and foreshadowed as being an outgrowth from, if not a plagiarism upon the latter -- a borrowed copy, of which the pagan stories furnish the original. Here, then, we observe a rivalship of claims, as to which of the remarkable personages who have figured in the world as Saviors, Messiahs, and Sons of God, in different ages and different countries, can be considered the true Savior and "sent of God;" or whether all should be, or the claims of all rejected.
For researches into oriental history reveal the remarkable fact that stories of incarnate Gods answering to and resembling the miraculous character of Jesus Christ have been prevalent in most if not all the principal religions heathen nations of antiquity; and the accounts and narrations of some of these deific incarnations bear such a striking resemblance to that of the Christian Savior -- not only in their general features, but in some cases in the most minute details, from the legend of the immaculate conception to that of the crucifixion, and subsequent ascension into heaven -- that one might almost be mistaken for the other.
More than twenty claims of this kind -- claims of beings invested with divine honor (deified) -- have come forward and presented themselves at the bar of the world with their credentials, to contest the verdict of Christendom, in having proclaimed Jesus Christ, "the only son, and sent of God:" twenty Messiahs, Saviors, and Sons of God, according to history or tradition, have, in past times, descended from heaven, and taken upon themselves the form of men, clothing themselves with human flesh, and furnishing incontestable evidence of a divine origin, by various miracles, marvelous works, and superlative virtues; and finally these twenty Jesus Christs (accepting their character for the name) laid the foundation for the salvation of the world, and ascended back to heaven.
We have now presented before us a two-fold ground for doubting and disputing the claims put forth by the Christian world in behalf of "Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." In the first place, allowing the question to be answered in the affirmative as to whether he was really a Savior, or supernatural being, or more than a mere man, a negative answer to which seems to have been sprung (as previously intimated) at the very hour of his birth, and that by his kindred, his own nearest relatives; as it is declared, "his own brethren did not believe on him" -- a skepticism which has been growing deeper and broader from that day to this.
And now, upon the heel of this question, we find another formidable query to be met and answered, viz.: Was he (Christ) the only Savior, seeing that a multitude of similar claims are now upon our council-board to be disposed of?
We shall, however, leave the theologians of the various religious schools to adjust and settle this difficulty among themselves. We shall leave them to settle the question as best they can as to whether Jesus Christ was the only son and sent of God -- "the only begotten of the Father," as John declares him to be (John i. 14) -- in view of the fact that long prior to his time various personages, in different nations, were invested with the title "Son of God," and have left behind them similar proofs and credentials of the justness of their claims to such a title, if being essentially alike -- as we shall prove and demonstrate them to be -- can make their claims similar.
We shall present an array of facts and historical proofs, drawn from numerous histories and the Holy Scriptures and bibles appertaining to these various Saviors, and which include a history of their lives and doctrines, that will go to show that in nearly all their leading features, and mostly even in their details, they are strikingly similar.
A comparison, or parallel view, extended through their sacred histories, so as to include an exhibition presented in parallels of the teachings of their respective bibles, would make it clearly manifest that, with respect to nearly every important thought, deed, word, action, doctrine, principle, receipt, tenet, ritual, ordinance or ceremony, and even the various important characters or personages, who figure in their religious dramas as Saviors, prophets, apostles, angels, devils, demons, exalted or fallen genii -- in a word, nearly every miraculous or marvelous story, moral precept, or tenet of religious faith, noticed in either the Old or New Testament Scriptures of Christendom -- from the Jewish cosmogony, or story of creation in Genesis, to the last legendary tale in St. John's "Arabian Nights" (alias the Apocalypse) -- there is to be found an antitype for, or outline of, somewhere in the sacred records or bibles of the oriental heathen nations, making equal if not higher pretention to a divine emanation and divine inspiration, and admitted by all historians, even the most orthodox, to be of much more ancient date; for while Christians only claim, for the earthly advent of their Savior and the birth of their religion, a period less than nineteen hundred years in the past, on the contrary, most of the deific or divine incarnations of the heathen and their respective religions are, by the concurrent and united verdict of all history, assigned a date several hundred or several thousand years earlier, thus leaving the inference patent that so far as there has been any borrowing or transfer of materials from one system to another, Christianity has been the borrower.
And as nearly the whole outline and constituent parts of the Christian system are found scattered through these older systems, the query is at once sprung as to whether Christianity did not derive its materials from these sources -- that is from heathenism, instead of from high heaven -- as it claims.
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