For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
Extraordinary Revelations in History and Science
RECENT explorations in the field of oriental sacred history have revealed to the antiquarian some curious and deeply interesting facts appertaining to traditions founded on, and growing out of, astronomical phenomena and changes in the visible heavens, which throw much light on, and go far toward elucidating and furnishing a satisfactory explanation of many of the “mysteries” of the Christian bible. The works which we have consulted, containing the reports and results of researches of this character, tend to elucidate and establish the following conclusions: —
- That anciently, in religious countries, time was divided into Cycles, Aetas, or Neros.
- That these measures of time grew out of, and represented periodical changes, or periodically occurring phenomena in the astronomical heavens.
- That some religious nations had three Cycular periods of different lengths, representing three orders and degrees of miraculous births. In India the length of the first or shorter Cycle was thirty days, the length of one moon or month. Every change of the moon marked an important event in their religions history. Each change was supposed to denote the birth of some angel or celestial being, known as an Eon. The second Cycular period was of six hundred years’ duration, and was founded on a text of the sacred book of India, known as the Surya Sidhanta, which declares “the equinoctial point moves eastward one degree in thirty times twenty years” (thirty times twenty being 600). At every occurrence of this equinoctial change heightened by an eclipse of the sun or moon, or some other wonder-exciting phenomenon, a God was supposed to be born. Such a marvelous and terror-inspiring event, in the apprehensions of the credulous and superstitions populace of an unscientific age, could not be designed for anything less than the birth of a God or Divine Savior. Their theology teaches that such was the wickedness of man, that a God had to descend from heaven, and suffer and die for the people, in some way, every six hundred years.
And this period was announced by the God’s causing a collision of the sun and moon, or some other terror-exciting phenomena in the heavens above or the earth beneath. When one of these six hundred Cycular periods was about to expire, and another commence, every remarkable phenomenon in the heavens was watched and interpreted as being connected with it. And some person born at that period, who exhibited any remarkable or extraordinary trait of character, was certain to be promoted to the Godhead, as being miraculously born and brought forth for the special occasion. He was the Avatar Savior or Messiah for that Cycle. There were two extraordinary events to be counted for — one was the display of unusual and terror-exciting phenomena in the heavens, and the other the birth of extraordinary men on earth. And it was natural for an ignorant age to associate them together, and make one aid in accounting for the other. And as these celestial phenomena were only witnessed at intervals distant apart, the thought naturally arose, and the conclusion was easily established, that they came periodically, and for the special purpose of heralding the birth of a God.
And as tradition reported that similar events were witnessed six hundred years before the conviction was fixed in the popular mind, this was the established period intervening between these great epochs. And thus the six hundred year Cycular tradition became established in India, and finally spread through all the Eastern countries. We find traces of it in Egypt, Syria, Persia, Chaldea, China, Italy, and Judea. And the proof that the deification of great men in some countries grew out of this Cycular tradition is found in the fact that many of them were born at the commencement of Cycles. The Hindoos are able to recount the names of ten sin-atoning Saviors who made their appearance on earth at these regular intervals of six hundred years. The name of the first Avatar Mediator and Savior who forsook the throne of heaven to come down and die for the people was Matsa. Tradition and the sacred books fix his birth at about six thousand years B.C. The names and advent of the other sin-atoning Saviors occur in the following order: 2. Vurahay, 3. Kurma, 4. Nursu, 5. Waman, 6. Pursuram, 7. Kama, 8. Chrishna, 9. Sakia, 10. Salavahana. The last named Savior was contemporary with Jesus Christ. The God and Savior Sakia was born six hundred years B.C. “Our Lord and Savior” and “Son of God,” Chrisna, was immaculately conceived and miraculously born, according to Higgins, 1200 B.C.
A circumstance strongly confirming the conclusion that Cycular periods had much to do with the promotion of men to the dignity of Gods is, that most of the deified personages reported in history were, according to the best authorities, born near the commencement of Cycles. Recurring back to the eighth Cycle, we observe the advent of that period of Chrishna, Zoroaster 2d, Bali, Thammiiz, Atys, Osiris, and several ethers. At the commencement of the ninth Cycle. appeared Sakia, Quexalcote, Zoroaster 2d, Xion, Quirinus, Prometheus, Mithra and many others. The tenth Cycle brought in Jesus Christ, Salavhana, Apollonious, and others that might be named. Mahomet succeeded Jesus Christ just six hundred years (he was born in the year 600 A.D.), which inaugurated another Cycle. Many facts are recorded in history proving the prevalence and sacredness of the Cycle idea in different countries, The story in Egypt of the bird called the Phoenix, being hatched, according to tradition, just 600 years B.C., and living to be just six hundred years old, and having the power to renew itself every six hundred years, shows the prevalence of the Cyoular tradition in that country.
We have the statement upon the records of history that when the first six hundred years after the foundation of Rome were about to expire, the people became greatly excited with the apprehension that some extraordinary event must attend the occasion. And but for the influence of the philosophers, some extraordinary man would have been hunted up and promoted to divine honor as being the God born for that Cycle. The writings of Plato, Plutarch, Ovid, Cicero, Virgil, and Aristotle, all evince a belief in Cycles, and the belief that ten Cycles, or Aetas, were the measure, for the duration of the world. According to M. Faber, a new-born Savior was always expected to make his appearance at the commencement of one of these Cycles. Hence the deification of those personages above named, and many others that might be named. It is a remarkable circumstance that the Jewish bible should speak of Noah as being six hundred years old at the commencement of the flood, when it was a tradition amongst the ancient Egyptians that the ushering in of the six hundredth year Cycle was to be attended with a flood.
And the time antecedent to Noah after creation, was the measure of three Cycles, according to the chronology of the Samaritan bible, it being 600+600+600=1800 years from Adam to Noah. It is an interesting fact that those enigmatical figures made use of by Daniel, as also some of those found in the Apocalypse, are susceptible of a Cycular explanation. These occult prophecies, as they are supposed to be, which have puzzled and bewildered many thousands of Christian minds and bible expounders in their attempt to evolve their signification, are susceptible of a Cycular explanation. They are of easy solution on a Cycular basis, or with the Cycular key.
Take, for example, Daniel’s famous prophecy (so called) of the seventy weeks, as found in the ninth chapter, announcing the advent of a Messiah at the end of that period. We find by a calculation based on Tyson’s “Historical Atlas,” and Haskell’s “Chronology and Universal History,” that Daniel lived in the hundred and tenth year of the ninth Cycle, at which time the prefigure seems to have been used. Assuming this as a basis, and multiplying seventy weeks by seven, to convert it into years, as Christian essayists are accustomed to doing, and we have as the result 70X7=490, which being added to one hundred and ten, the year that gave birth to the prophesy, makes six hundred, which exactly completes the Cycle, and furnishes a simple and beautiful explanation of a mystical figure, on which many thousands of conjectures, speculations, and guesses have been founded, but on which they have failed to throw any light.
The 70X70=490 years, were wanting to complete the Cycle; and when this rolled away, it brought a new Cycle, and with it a new sin-atoning Savior was always expected in some countries (the country in which Daniel lived being one of this number); a new Messiah (or sin-atoning, Savior), and some great man born at that time, was fixed upon and deified as being that Messiah. Hence the Jews, in imitation of their neighbors, yielding to their strong proclivities to borrow from and copy after heathen nations, selected “the man Christ Jesus” as their Messiah and Savior. The mystical era of Daniel, signified by “a time, times, and the dividing of time” (Dan. vii. 25), or, as St. John has it, “a time, times, and a half time (see Rev. xii. 14) is explainable by the same Cycular key.
Some writers have conjectured that Daniel was a Chaldean priest. If so, he must have had a knowledge of their astronomical Cycle of two thousand one hundred and sixty years, which completed the period of the precession of the equinoxes. Explained by this Cycle, his “time, times, and dividing of time, or half time,” or “a time, another time, and a half time,” as some writers have rendered it, would be 2160+2160+1080 5400; nine Cycles exactly, as 600×9= 5400. Add this to the Cycle in which he lived, and we have 5400+600=6000, the great Millennial Cycle, when not only a new Savior and Messiah was to be born, but a new world also. Both the long and short Cycle (and one was a measure of the other) were expected to expire at that time, according to a Chaldean tradition. And thus is beautifully explained another “deep, dark and unfathomable mystery,” which thousands of devout minds have exhausted their ingenuity in trying to find a meaning for. Again, look at the frightful nightmare visions of Daniel and the author of the Apocalypse, in which they saw a monstrous beast with seven heads and ten horns, though Daniel mentions only the horns. The seven heads were, in all probability, the seven auspicious months of the year in which some of the nations revealed in the enjoyment of, and praised and celebrated their fruitful, bountiful blessings, the year being divided into two seasons, seven summer months and five winter months.
Now, let it be noted, St. John lived near the tenth Cycle, which answers to the ten horns of the beast. Hence is most forcibly suggested that interpretation of the figure. Daniel’s ten horns should have been translated eleven horns, as he lived in the ninth Cycle, though so near the tenth, that he probably constructed his figure on the tenth. And Daniel’s prophetic declaration (so considered), found in the eighth chapter, that it would be two thousand three hundred days until the sanctuary should be closed, is explainable in the same manner. According to Mr. Irving, Mr. Frere, and other writers, there was a large fraction over the three hundred days, making it nearer four hundred, and hence might have been so rendered, which would make 2000+400=2400; the exact length of four Cycles, 600X4=2400. And their are other mystical figures, frightful visions, and occult metaphors found in the Apocalypse susceptible of a Cycnlar solution. The Cycle is the true key for unlocking many of the ancient mysteries of various religions. The Chinese have always reckoned by Cycles of sixty years, instead of by centuries. (See New Am. Encyclop. vol. v.p. 105,)
We will now bestow a brief notice on the Millennial Cycle: the sacred period of 6000 years, composed of ten of the smaller Cycles, 600X10 = 6000. Dr. Hales says, “A tradition of Millennial ages prevailed throughout the east, and finally reached the west.” (Chron. vol. i.p. 44.) We are told by astronomers that if the angle which the plane of the ecliptic forms with the plane of the Equator had decreased gradually, as it was once supposed to do, the two planes would coincide in about six thousand years — a period which comprises ten of the smaller Cycles, 600X10=6000. And it was very easy and very natural for an ignorant and superstitions age to conclude that such a prodigious, astounding, and awful event as that of two stupendous orbits or planes coming in contact with each other, should be attended with some direful and calamitous event, and with a tremendous display of divine power. Nothing less than an entire revolution, if not the total destruction of the world, could comport with the majesty and magnitude of such an event.
And this great crisis was to bring down the Omnipotent Divine Judge from the throne of heaven; that is, the Almighty being who caused it was to come down, or send his Son to call the nations to judgment, and drown the world, or set it on fire. The first destruction according to the tradition of the Chaldeans, Persians, Assyrians, Mexicans, and some other nations, was to be by water, and the next by fire, when the oceans, seas, and lakes were to be converted into ashes. And Christ’s apostles seemed to have cherished this tradition. Peter says, “whereby the world that was then, being overflowed by water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgement,” (2 Peter iii. 6.) This was a pagan belief long prior to the era of Peter. Josephus says, “Adam predicted that the world would be twice destroyed, once by water, next by fire.” A writer says, “A glorious, blissful future attends the destruction of the world by fire, and the reappearance of Vishnu (i.e., eleventh incarnation of Vishnu) has been for several thousand years the hopeful anticipation of India.” “The last coming of Vishnu in power and glory,” says another writer, “to consummate the final overthrow of evil, sin, and death, is so firmly fixed in the minds of the devotees, that they have an annual festival in commemoration of their prophesy referring to it, at which they exclaim, in a loud voice, “When will the Divine Helper come? when will the Deliverer appear?”
At the consummation of this event, “a comet will roll under the moon and set the world on fire;” so affirms their bible. And the Persian bible, the Zend-Avesta, in like manner predicts that “a star, with a tail in course of its revolution, will strike the earth and set it on fire.” Seneca predicts that “the time will come when the world will be wrapped in flames, and the opposite powers in conflict will mutually destroy each other.”
Ovid prophesies poetically, —
“For thus the stern, unyielding Fates decree,
That earth, air, heaven, with the capacious sea,
All shall fall victims to devouring fire,
And in fierce flames the blazing Orbs expire,
Lucian, in a like spirit, exclaims, —
“One vast, appointed flame, by Fate’s decree,
Shall waste yon azure heavens, the earth and sea.”
The Egyptians marked their houses with red, to indicate that the world would be destroyed by fire. Orpheus, 1200 B.C., at the inauguration of the eighth Cycle, entertained fearful forebodings of the speedy destruction of the world by water or fire. Some nations held that the alternate destruction of the world by water and fire had already occurred, and would occur again. Theopompus informs us that some of the orientalists believed that “the God of light and the God of darkness reigned by turn every six thousand years (commencing with an astronomical Cycle of course), and that during this period the other was held in subjection, which finally resulted in “a war in heaven;” a counterpart to St. John’s story. (See Rev. chap. xii.)
This accords with Volney’s statement, that “it was recorded in the sacred books of the Persians and Chaldeans that the world, composed of a total revolution of twelve thousand periods, was divided into two partial revolutions of six thousand years each — one being the reign of good, and the other the reign of evil.” (Ruins, p. 244.) This belief was disseminated through most of the nations. One of these revolutions was produced, some believed, by a concussion of worlds, which displaced the ocean and seas, and thus produced a general flood, which drowned every living thing on the earth. The next revolution will be caused by a collision of worlds, which will produce fire, and burn the earth to ashes.
Now, let it be noted that all of these grand epochs were founded on Cycles, and accompanied by the tradition of a God being born upon the earth (conceived by a virgin maid), or descending in person; that is, men were promoted to the Godhead. And in this way Jesus Christ was deified. Volney explains the matter thus: “Now, according to the Jewish computation, six thousand years had nearly elapsed since the supposed creation of the world (according to their chronology). This coincidence produced considerable fermentation in the minds of the people. Nothing was thought of but the approaching termination. The great Mediator and Final Judge was expected, and his advent desired, that an end might be put to their calamities.” (Ruins, p. 168).
Mr. Higgins corroborates this statement, when he tells us that “about the time of the Caesars, there seems to have been a general expectation that some Great One was to appear. And finally, when the Cycle had passed, the people, the Jew-Christians, began to look about to see who that Great One was. Some fixed on Herod, some on Julius Caesar, and some on others. But finally public opinion settled on one Jesus of Nazareth, on account of his superiority in morals and intellect, while the Hindoos deified Salavahana, the Greeks Apollonious, &c. And thus science and history join hand in hand to explain most beautifully and conclusively the greatest mystery that ever brought two hundred millions of people daily upon their knees — the apotheosis, or deification of “the man Christ Jesus.”