(This is taken from M. M. Mangasarian's The Truth About Jesus - Is He a Myth?, originally published in 1909.)
Stories of gods born of virgins are to be found in nearly every age and country. There have been many virgin mothers, and Mary with her child is but a recent version of a very old and universal myth. In China and India, in Babylonia and Egypt, in Greece and Rome, “divine” beings selected from among the daughters of men the purest and most beautiful to serve them as a means of entrance into the world of mortals. Wishing to take upon themselves the human form, while retaining at the same time their “divinity,” this compromise—of an earthly mother with a “divine” father—was effected. In the form of a swan Jupiter approached Leda, as in the guise of a dove, or a Paracletus, Jehovah “overshadowed” Mary.
A nymph bathing in a river in China is touched by a lotus plant, and the divine Fohi is born.
In Siam, a wandering sunbeam caresses a girl in her teens, and the great and wonderful deliverer, Codom, is born. In the life of Buddha we read that he descended on his mother Maya, “in likeness as the heavenly queen, and entered her womb,” and was “born from her right side, to save the world.” In Greece, the young god Apollo visits a fair maid of Athens, and a Plato is ushered into the world.
In ancient Mexico, as well as in Babylonia, and in modern Korea, as in modern Palestine, as in the legends of all lands, virgins gave birth and became divine mothers.
But the real home of virgin births is the land of the Nile. Eighteen hundred years before Christ, we find carved on one of the walls of the great temple of Luxor a picture of the annunciation, conception and birth of King Amunothph III, an almost exact copy of the annunciation, conception and birth of the Christian God. Of course no one will think of maintaining that the Egyptians borrowed the idea from the Catholics nearly two thousand years before the Christian era. “The story in the Gospel of Luke, the first and second chapters is, “says Malvert, “a reproduction, ‘point by point,’ of the story in stone of the miraculous birth of Amunothph.”
Sharpe in his Egyptian Mythology, page 19, gives the following description of the Luxor picture, quoted by G. W. Foote in his Bible Romances, page 126: “In this picture we have the annunciation, the conception, the birth and the adoration, as described in the first and second chapters of Luke’s Gospel.” Massey gives a more minute description of the Luxor picture. “The first scene on the left hand shows the god Taht, the divine Word or Loges, in the act of hailing the virgin queen, announcing to her that she is to give birth to a son. In the second scene the god Kneph (assisted by Hathor) gives life to her. This is the Holy Ghost, or Spirit that causes conception....Next the mother is seated on the midwife’s stool, and the child is supported in the hands of one of the nurses. The fourth scene is that of the adoration. Here the child is enthroned, receiving homage from the gods and gifts from men.” The picture on the wall of the Luxor temple, then, is one of the sources to which the anonymous writers of the Gospels went for their miraculous story. It is no wonder they suppressed their own identity as well as the source from which they borrowed their material.
Not only the idea of a virgin mother, but all the other miraculous events, such as the stable cradle, the guiding star, the massacre of the children, the flight to Egypt, and the resurrection and bodily ascension toward the clouds, have not only been borrowed, but are even scarcely altered in the New Testament story of Jesus.
That the early Christians borrowed the legend of Jesus from earthly sources is too evident to be even questioned. Gerald Massey in his great work on Egyptian origins demonstrates the identity of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Isis, the mother of Horus. He says: “The most ancient, gold-bedizened, smoke-stained Byzantine pictures of the virgin and child represent the mythical mother as Isis, and not as a human mother of Nazareth.” Science and research have made this fact so certain that, on the one hand ignorance, and on the other, interest only, can continue to claim inspiration for the authors of the undated and unsigned fragmentary documents which pass for the Word of God. If, then, Jesus is stripped of all the borrowed legends and miracles of which he is the subject; and if we also take away from him all the teachings which collected from Jewish and Pagan sources have been attributed to him—what will be left of him? That the ideas put in his mouth have been culled and compiled from other sources is as demonstrable as the Pagan origin of the legends related of him.
Nearly every one of the dogmas and ceremonies in the Christian cult were borrowed from other and older religions. The resurrection myth, the ascension, the eucharisty, baptism, worship by kneeling or prostration, the folding of the hands on the breast, the ringing of bells and the burning of incense, the vestments and vessels used in church, the candles, “holy” water,--even the word Mass were all adopted and adapted by the Christians from the religions of the ancients. The Trinity is as much Pagan, as much Indian or Buddhist, as it is Christian. The idea of a Son of God is as old as the oldest cult. The sun is the son of heaven in all primitive faiths. The physical sun becomes in the course of evolution, the Son of Righteousness, or the Son of God, and heaven is personified as the Father on High. The halo around the head of Jesus, the horns of the older deities, the rays of light radiating from the heads of Hindu and Pagan gods are incontrovertible evidence that all gods were at one time—the sun in heaven.
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