For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
A PROFUSION of evidence is furnished at every step, along the devious pathway of sacred history, tending to show that all the systems of worship which have existed in the past have had a dip in "the halo of the heavenly orbs," and hence shine with a light derived from that source.
We find the stars acting directly a conspicuous part at the births of several of the Saviors, besides figuring in some cases by marking important events in their subsequent history.
Mr. Higgins remarks that "Among the ancients there seems to have been a very general idea that the arrival of Gods and great personages who were expected to come, would be announced by a star." And the cases of Abraham, Caesar, Pythagoras, Yu, Chrishna, and Christ, may be cited in proof of this declaration. A star figured either before or at the birth of each, according to their respective histories.
And it is a historical fact that should be noted here that the practice of calculating nativities by the stars was in vogue in the era and country of Christ's birth, and had been for a long period previously in various countries. "We have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him." (Matt. ii. i.) Now mark, here, it was not the star, nor a star, but "his star;" thus disclosing its unmistakable astrological features. Mr. Faber (in his " Origin of Idolatry," vol. ii. p. 77) reports Zoroaster (600 B.C.) as prophetically announcing to "the wise men" of that country that a Savior would be born, "attended by a star at noonday." For a fuller exposition of this case see Chapter II.
In the history of the Hindoo Savior Chrishna, we are told that "as soon as Nared, who, having heard of his fame, had examined the stars, he declared him to be from God; i.e., the Son of God. The Roman Calcidius speaks of it a wonderful star, presaging the descent of a God amongst men." (See Maurice's Indian Skeptics Refuted, p. 62.) Quite suggestive of the star "apprising the wise men" of Christ's descent from above. And a star is said to have foretokened the birth of the Roman Julius Caesar. The Chinese God Yu was not only heralded by a star, but conceived and brought to mortal birth by a star.
In Numbers xxiv. 17, it is declared "There shall come a star out of Jacob," etc. This is a text often quoted by Christian writers as having a prophetic reference to the Christian Messiah. But the same text declares further, "It shall destroy the children of Seth," a prediction which no rational interpretation can make apply to Jesus Christ. And then we find this star of Jacob or Judah (the same) represented on astronomical maps as a prominent star in the constellation Virgo (the Virgin), fancifully termed by the Hebrew Ephraim.
It was known in the Syrian, Arabian and Persian Systems of astronomy as Messaeil (suggestive of Messiah), and was considered the ruling genius of the constellation.
The "star of Jacob," then, was simply a figure borrowed from the ancient pagan systems of astronomy, in which they fancifully represent a virgin rising with an infant Messiah (Messaeil) in her arms. Messaeil is, when analyzed, Messaeh-el (Messiah-God), and is found in the constellation Virgo, which commences rising at midnight, on the 25th of December, with this "star in the east" in her arms -- the star which piloted "the wise men." The whole thing, then, is evidently an astronomical legend.
Albert the Great, in his "Book on the Universe," tells us, "The sign of the celestial virgin rises above the horizon, at the moment we find fixed for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ." To which we will add the declaration of Sir William Drummond, who, in his "CEdipus Judaicus," p. 27, most significantly remarks, "The anointed of El, the male infant, who rises in the arms of Virgo, was called Jesus by the Hebrews, ... and was hailed as the anointed king or Messiah" -- still further proof of the astrological origin of the story.
Dr. Hales, in his "Chronology," calls Christ "the star of our salvation, the true Apollo, the sun of righteousness" -- all of which are astronomical terms.
And here we may recur to the fact that some of the early inhabitants of the earth regarded a star as a thing of life, because it appeared to move, and acted as though controlled by a living spirit. And this fetchic idea we observe lurking amongst the borrowed orientalisms of the Jewish Old Testament. The representation of the morning stars joining in a chorus and singing together (see Job xxxviii. 9), is an instance of this kind of fetchic conception.
And then we find a much stronger and more conclusive case in the New Testament, where Matthew represents a star as breaking loose from its orbit, and traveling some millions of miles, in order to stand over the young child Jesus, as he lay amongst the oxen and asses in a stable. (See Matt. ii. 7.) Wonderfully accommodating star indeed! How did its inhabitants feel while thus traveling with the velocity of lightning? This achievement would not only require life, but an active intelligence, on the part of the star, as it is represented as being an act of the planet itself.
"All nations," says Mr. Higgins, "once believed that the planetary bodies or their inhabitants controlled the affairs of men, and even their births." Hence the cant phrases, My stars," "He is ill-starred," etc., in use then, and still in use at the present day. The good or ill luck of a person was attributed to the good or evil stars which it was believed ruled at the hour of his birth.
We find a counterpart to the story of Matthew's traveling star in Virgil's writings, who declares (60 B.C.) that a star guided AEneas in a journey westward from Troy. In the days of Pliny (see his "Natural History," Book II.), the people of Rome fancied they saw a God in a star or comet in the form of a man. The Apocryphal book of Seth relates that a star descended from heaven and lighted on a mountain, in the midst of which a divine child was seen bearing a cross. Christ betrays the same ignorance of astronomy, when he speaks of "the stars falling from heaven to the earth." (See Matt. xxiv. 29.) For if there could be any falling in the case, the falling would be in the other direction and the earth would fall to the stars, as larger bodies always attract smaller ones.
As shown above, the stupendous orbs of night were represented by Jew, Pagan and Christian as breaking away from their orbits, and running hither and thither, like a fly on a ceiling, or a ball from a sky-rocket, being regarded as mere jack-a-lanterns, that could appear anywhere at any time creative fancy might dictate or require; while science teaches that the stars are stupendous orbs, some of them a thousand times larger than the planet on which we live, and that they could not depart one rod from their accustomed orbits without breaking up the whole planetary system, and destroying the universe.
And then observe the absurdity in Matthew's story, which teaches that the wise men followed the star in the east, when they, coming from the east, were, as a matter of course, traveling westward, which would place the star to their backs. That must be a 'sui generis' pilot or guide which follows after, instead of going before. Omitting further citations from history, we will only observe further that the ancient Hindoos, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Syrians, Mexicans, etc., took great account of stars, and employed them on all important occasions, especially on long journeys and at the births of Gods and great personages -- a circumstance which aids in explaining the star chapter in the gospel history of Christ.