For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
At the feast of the Passover, Christ is represented, while distributing bread to his disciples, to have said, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt. xxvi. 26); and while handing round the consecrated cup, he enjoined, “Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (xxvi. 27). Here is a very clear and explicit indorsement of what is generally termed “the Eucharist or Sacrament” And nothing can be more susceptible of proof than that this rite or ordinance is of pagan origin, and was practically recognized many centuries prior to the dawn of the Christian era.
So we observe, by the text above quoted, the Christian Savior and Lawgiver copied, or reproduced, an old pagan rite as a part of his professedly new and spiritual system, one of the most ancient and widely-extended formulas of pagandom. And stranger still, the catechisms of the Christian church represent this ordinance as having originated in the design and motive to keep the ancient Christian world in remembrance of the death and sufferings and sacrifice of Christ, while we find it existing long prior to his time, both among Jews and pagans, this being virtually admitted in the bible itself, so far as respects the pagans, thus proving that it did not originate with Christ, and therefore is not of Christian origin. For in Gen. viv. 18, we read, “And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, and he was the priest of the Most High God.” Because the Melchizedek here spoken of is represented as being “a priest of the Most High God,” and showed so much respect to Abraham, it is presumed and assumed, by Christian writers, that he was a Jewish priest and king; and Mr. Faber (vol. i.p. 72) calls him “an incarnation of the son of God.” But there is no intimation throughout the Jewish Scriptures of the Jews ever having had a king or priest by that name. And besides, Eupolemus (vol. i.p. 39), tells us that the temple of Melchizedek was the temple of Jupiter, in which Pythagoras studied philosophy. Then, again, according to some writers, the name is synonymous with Moloch, the God of war among the Greeks. Strange, then, that Melchizedek should be claimed as a priest and king among the Jews. Be this as it may, the case proves that the ceremony of offering bread and wine existed long before the era of Jesus Christ.
And then we have much more and much stronger proof of this fad than is here furnished. The Christian Mr. Faber virtually admits it, when he tells us, “The devil led the heathen to anticipate Christ with respect to several things, as the mysteries of the Eucharist, etc. “And this very solemnity (says St. Justin) the evil spirit introduced into the mysteries of Mithra.” (Reeves, Justin, p. 86.) Mr. Higgins observes, “It was instituted hundreds of years before the Lord’s death took place.” Amongst the ancient religious orders and nations who practiced this rite, we may name the Essenes, Persians, Pythagoreans, Gnostics, Brahmins and Mexicans. For proof of its existence and antiquity among the last-named nation, we refer the reader to the “Travels” (chap. ii.) of that Christian writer, Father Acosta. Mr. Marolles, in his Memoirs (p. 215) quotes Tibullus as saying, “The pagan appeased the divinity with holy bread.” And Tibullus, in a panegyric on Marcella, wrote, “A little cake, a little morsel of bread, appeased the divinities.”
And here we discover the idea which originated the ceremony. It was started, like annual sacrifices, for the purpose of appeasing the wrath or propitiating the favor of the angry Gods. Tracing the conception still further in the rear of its progress, and apparently to its primary inception, Mr. Higgins observes, “The whole paschal supper (the Lord’s supper with the Christians) was in fact a festival of joy to celebrate the passage of the sun across the equinox of spring.”
We find one pagan writer who had intelligence enough to ridicule this senseless ceremonial custom, called “the sacrament.” Cicero, some forty years before Christ, shows up the doctrine of the sacrament, or substantiation, in its true light. He asks, “How can a man be so stupid as to imagine that which he eats to be a God?” A writer quoted above says, “Mass, or the sacrifice of bread and wine, was common to many ancient nations.” (Anac. vol. ii. p. 62.) According to Alnetonae, the ancient Brahmins had a kind of Eucharist called “prajadam.” And the same writer informs us that the ancient Peruvians, “after sacrificing a lamb, mingled his blood with flour, and distributed it among the people.” Writers on Grecian mythology relate that Ceres, the goddess of corn, gave her flesh to eat, and that Bacchus, the God of wine, gave blood to drink. Nor is there any evidence that Christ and his followers made a better use, or different use, or a more spiritual application of the sacrament, or ceremonial offering of bread and wine, than the pagans did, though some have claimed this. It was a species of symbolism with both, notwithstanding Mr. Glover, a Christian writer, declares, that “in the sacrament of the altar are the natural body and blood of Christ, verily and indeed.” (See Glover’s Remarks on Bishop Marsh’s Compendious Review.) It may be noted here that the Persians, Pythagoreans, Essenes and Gnostics used water instead of wine, and that this mode of practice was less objectionable than that of the Christians, who (as sad experience proves) have too often laid the foundation for the ruin of some poor unsuspecting devotee, by luring him to the fatal fascination of the intoxicating bowl, by holding the sacred and ceremonial wine to his lips, while administering the sacrament or the Lord’s supper.