For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
MANY cases are related by their respective sacred narratives of the ancient Saviors, and other beings possessing the form of man, and previously recognized as men, reappearing to their disciples and friends, after having been consigned to the tomb for three days, or a longer or shorter period of time, and of their final ascension to the house of many mansions.
It is related of the Indian or Hindoo Savior Chrishna, that after having risen from the dead, he appeared again to his disciples. "He ascended to Voiacantha (heaven), to Brahma," the first person of the trinity (he himself being the second), and that as he ascended, "all men saw him, and exclaimed, 'Lo! Chrishna's soul ascends to his native skies.'" And it is further related that, "attended by celestial spirits, ... he pursued by his own light the journey between earth and heaven, to the bright paradise whence he had descended."
Of the ninth incarnation of India, the Savior Sakia, it is declared, that he "ascended to the celestial regions;" and his pious and devout disciples point the skeptic to indelible impressions and ineffaceable footprints on the rocks of a high mountain as an imperishable proof of the declaration that he took his last leave of earth and made his ascent from that point.
It is related of the crucified Prometheus, likewise, that after having given up the ghost on the cross, "descended to hell" (Christ's soul was "not left in hell," see Acts ii 31), "he rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven."
And then it is declared of the Egyptian Savior Alcides, that "after having been seen a number of times, he ascended to a higher life," going up, like Elijah, in "a chariot of fire."
The story of the crucifixion of Quexalcote of Mexico, followed by his burial, resurrection and ascension, is distinctly related in the "holy" and inspired "gospels" of that country, which Lord Kingsborough admitted to be more than two thousand years old.
Of Laotsi of China, it is said that when "he had completed his mission of benevolence, he ascended bodily alive into the paradise above." (Prog. of Rel. Ideas, vol. 214.) And it is related of Fo of the same country, that having completed his glorious mission on earth, he "ascended back to paradise, where he had previously existed from all eternity."
It is related also in the ancient legends, that the Savior or God Xamalxis of Thrace, having died, and descended beneath the earth, and remained there three years, made his appearance again in the fourth year after his death, as he had previously foretold, and eventually ascended to heaven about 600 B.C. Even some of the Hindoo saints are reported in their "holy" and time-honored books to have been seen ascending to heaven. "And impressions on the rocks are shown," says an author, "said to be of footprints they had left when they ascended."
It is related both by the Grecian biographer Plutarch, in his life of Romulus, and by a Roman historian, that the great founder of Rome (Romulus) suddenly ascended in a tempest during a solar eclipse, about 713 B.C. And Julius Proculis, a Roman senator of great fame and high reputation, declared, under solemn oath, that he saw him, and talked with him after his death.
Before dismissing this chapter, we may state that, in common with most other religious conceptions, the doctrine of the ascension has in the ancient legends an astronomical representation.
Having said that a planet was buried because it sunk below the horizon, when it returned to light and gained its state of eminence, they spoke of it as dead, risen again, and ascended into heaven. (Volney, p. 143.) What is the story of the ascension of Christ worth in view of these ancient pagan traditions of earlier origin?
ASCENSION OF THE CHRISTIAN SAVIOR
- The different scriptural accounts of the ascension of Christ are, like the different stories of the resurrection, quite contradictory, and, hence, entitled to as little credit. In Luke (xxiv.), he is represented as ascending on the evening of the third day after the crucifixion. But the writer of Acts (i. 3) says he did not ascend till forty days after his resurrection; while, according to his own declaration to the thief on the cross, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise," he must have ascended on the same day of his crucifixion. Which statement must we accept as inspired, or what is proved by such contradictory testimony?
- Which must we believe, Paul's declaration that he was seen by above five hundred of the brethren at once (i Cor. xv. 6), or the statement of the author of the Acts (i. 15), that there were but one hundred and twenty brethren in all after that period?
- How would his ascension do anything toward proving his divinity, unless it also proves the divinity of Enoch and Elijah, who are reported to have ascended long prior to that era?
- As these stories of the ascension of Christ, according to Lardner, were written many years after his crucifixion. is it not hence probable they grew out of similar stories relative to the heathen Gods long previously prevalent in oriental countries?
- As these gospel writers could not have been present to witness the ascension, as it must have occurred before their time of active life, does not this fact of itself seriously damage the credibility of the accounts, and more especially as neither Mark nor Luke, who are the only reporters of the occurrence, were not disciples of Christ at the time, while Matthew and John, who were, say nothing about it? -- another fact which casts a shade on the credibility of the story.