For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
NEARLY all religious history is prophetic of the coming of Saviors, Messiahs, Redeemers, and virgin-born Gods. Most religious countries, and more than a score of religious systems, had a standing prophecy that a divine deliverer would descend from heaven and relieve them from their depressed state, and ameliorate their condition. And in most cases that prophecy was believed to have been fulfilled by the birth of a being, who, as he approached the goal of moral and intellectual manhood exhibited such remarkable proof of superiority of mind as to be readily accepted as the promised Messiah.
We can only find room for a few citations and illustrations in proof of this statement. Many texts have been hunted out and marked in the Christian bible, by interested priests, as prophetic of the coming and mission of Christ. But a thorough, candid, and impartial investigation will convince any reader that none of these texts have the remotest allusion to Christ, nor were they intended to have. On the contrary, most of them refer to events already past. The others are the mere ebullitions of pent-up feelings hopefully prayerful in their anticipation of better times, but very indefinite as to the period and the agencies or means in which, or by which, the desired reformation was to be brought about. A divine man was prayed for and hopefully expected. But no such being as Jesus Christ is anticipated, or alluded to, or dreamed of, by the prophecies. And it requires the most unwarrantable distortion to make one text refer to him.
But this perversion has been wrought on many texts. We will cite one case in proof. In Isaiah's "famous prophecy" so-called, the phrase "Unto us a child is born" (Isa. ix. 6), the context clearly shows, refers to the prophet's own child, and the past tense, "is born," is an evidence the child was then born. And the title "Mighty God," found in the text, Dr. Beard shows should have been translated "the Mighty Hero," thus proving it has no reference to a God. And "the Everlasting Father" should have been rendered, according to this Christian writer, "the Father of the Everlasting Age." And other texts often quoted as prophecies by biased Christian writers, the doctor proves, are erroneously translated, and have no more reference to Christ than to Mahomet.
It is true the Jews, in common with other nations, cherished strong anticipations of the arrival of a Mighty Deliverer amongst them; and this august personage some of them supposed would be a God, or a God-man (a demi-God). Hence, such prophetic utterances as "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness" (Isa. xxxii. i), "And all nations shall flow unto Zion" (Isa. ii. 2).
The Hindoo Buddhists long previously indulged similar anticipations with respect to the triumph of their religion. Hence, their seers prophesied that at the end of the Cali Yug period, a divine child (Avatar, or Savior) would be born, who would understand the divine writings (the Holy Scriptures) and the sciences, without the labor of learning them. "He will supremely understand all things." "He will relieve the earth of sin, and cause justice and truth to reign everywhere. And will bring the whole earth into the acceptance of the Hindoo religion." And the Hindoo prophet Bala also predicted that a divine Savior would "become incarnate in the house of Yadu, and issue forth to mortal birth from the womb of Devaci (a Holy Virgin), and relieve the oppressed earth of its load of sin and sorrow." Much more similar language may be found in their holy bible, the Vedas. Colonel Wilford tells us the advent of their Savior Chrishna occurred in exact fulfillment of prophecy found in their sacred books.
And the Chinese bible also contains a number of Messianic prophecies. In one of the five volumes a prophecy runs thus: "The Holy one, when he comes, will unite in himself all the virtues of heaven and earth. By his justice the world will be established in righteousness. He will labor and suffer much. ... and will finally offer up a sacrifice worthy of himself," i.e., worthy of a God. And a singular animal, called the Kilin (signifying the Lamb of God), was seen in the yard, with a stone in its mouth, on which was inscribed a prophecy of the event. And when the young God (Chang- ti) was born, in fulfillment of this prophecy, heavenly music, and angels and shepherds attended the scene." (See "History of China," by Martinus; also Halde's "History of China."
We will also give place to a Messianic prophecy of Persia. Mr. Faber, an English writer, in his "History of Idolatry," tells us that Zoroaster prophetically declared, that "A virgin should conceive and bear a son, and a star would appear blazing at midday to signalize the occurrence." "When you behold the star," said he to his followers, "follow it whithersoever it leads you. Adore the mysterious child, offering him gifts with profound humility. He is indeed the Almighty Word which created the heavens. He is indeed your Lord and everlasting King" (Faber, vol. ii. p. 92). Abulfaragius, in his "Historia Dynastarium," and Maurice, in his "Indian Skeptics Refuted," both speak of this prophecy, fulfilled, according to Mr. Higgins, by the advent of the Persian and Chaldean God Josa. And Chalcidus (of the second century), in his "Comments on the Timeas of Plato," speaks of "a star which presaged neither disease nor death, but the descent of a God amongst men, and which is attested by Chaldean astronomers, who immediately hastened to adore the new-born deity, and present him gifts."
We are compelled to omit, for the want of room, the notice of numerous Messianic prophecies found in the sacred writings of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mexico, Arabia, and other countries, all of which tend to show that the same prophetic spirit pervaded all religious countries, reliable only to the extent it might have issued from an interior spiritual vision, or have been illuminated by departed spirits. And we find as much evidence that these pagan prophecies were inspired, and also fulfilled, as those found in the Jew-Christian bible, thus reducing all to a common level. The possibility of the interior vision being expanded and illuminated by spiritual beings, so as to enable the possessor to forestall the occurrence of future events, we, however, by no means deny, since we have abundant proof of it in connection with the practical history of modern spiritualism. (See Chapter XXXIV, section 2).