For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
IN an age when Gods and men were on the most familiar terms, and when the character of one furnished a transcript for the other, and when each consented to act a reciprocal part towards elevating, honoring and glorifying the other, the birth of a God or Messiah was, as a matter of course, regarded as an event of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the earth, and even the denizens of heaven also.
And hence we find it related in the history of several of the God-begotten Saviors of antiquity, that as soon as they were born into the world they were visited by "wise men from a distance" (or Magi, as they were called by the Persians and Brahmins). And in some cases they were likewise waited upon and adored by the neighboring shepherds; and even celestial spirits are reported in some instances as leaving their star-gilt homes to wing their way to the humble mansion, the rude tenement, containing a new-born God, that they might honor and adore "the Savior of men, the Savior of the world."
The sacred biographies of both Confucius and Christ furnish examples of the angel host forsaking their golden pavilions in the skies to pay their devoirs to a Deity-begotten bantling, sent down by the "Father of Mercies," to save a guilt-laden world. And in both cases the Magi are reported as assembling to present their offerings to the infant God.
In the case of Confucius (born 598 B.C.), it is declared, "Five wise men from a distance came to the house, celestial music was heard in the skies, and angels attended the scene." (See the Five Volumes.) Now let us observe how strikingly similar to this ancient legend, in each of the several characteristics, is the Christian story. Matthew (ii. i) speaks of "wise men from the east" journeying to Jerusalem to visit the infant Christ, soon after his birth, amongst the mules and oxen in a stable, though he omits to state the number of itinerant adorers who presented themselves on the occasion.
The Persian story is more specific, as it gives the number of Magi who visited the young Savior of that country as five.
Luke (ii. 13) speaks of "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God," in gratulation of the birth of the Judean Savior. Now, when we bear in mind that one method of praising God, with the orientals, was by music, as we will at once observe that this is only another mode of proclaiming, as in the case of Confucius, that "celestial music was heard in the skies."
And "angels attended the scene" of Confucius' birth. So, likewise, Luke (ii. 15) relates that the angels, after rejoicing with the shepherds on the occasion of the birth of Christ, "went away into heaven."
How complete the parallel! and, but for the digression, and monopoly of space, we might trace it much further, and show that Confucius, like Christ, had twelve chosen disciples; that he was descended from a royal house of princes, as Christ from the royal house of David; that he, in like manner, retired for a long period from the noise and bustle of society into religious contemplative seclusion; that he inculcated the same Golden Rule of doing to others as we desire them to act toward us, and other moral maxims equal in importance to anything that can be found in the Christian Scriptures, etc.
But to the line of history. Other Saviors at birth, we are told, were visited by both angels and shepherds, also "wise men," at least great men. Chrishna, the eighth avatar of India (1200 B.C.) (so it is related by the "inspired penman" of their pagan theocracy) was visited by angels, shepherds and prophets (avatars). "Immediately after his birth he was visited by a chorus of devatas (angels), and surrounded by shepherds, all of whom were impressed with the conviction of his future greatness." We are informed further that "gold, frankincense and myrrh" were presented to him as offerings.
The well-known modern traveler, Mr. Ditson, who visited India but a few years since, uses the emphatic declaration, "In fact, as soon as Chrishna was born he was saluted by a chorus of devatas, or angels." In the evangelical narrative of the Christian Savior an angel is reported to have saluted his mother thus: "Hail, thou that art highly favored; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." (Luke, i. 28.) And in the next chapter the angel is reported as joining with "the heavenly host" "in praising God." A similar report is found in the Hindoo bible (the Ramayana), appertaining to the mother of the eighth Savior, of whom it is declared "Brahma and Siva, with a host of attending spirits, came to her and sang, 'In thy delivery, O favored among women, all nations shall have cause to exult.'" And when the celestial infant (Chrishna) appeared (it is related in a subsequent chapter), "a chorus of heavenly spirits saluted him with hymns; the whole room was illuminated by his light, and the countenance of his father and mother shone with brightness and glory (by reflection), their understandings were opened so that they knew him to be the Preserver of the world, and they began to worship him." The last text here quoted brings to mind Luke xxiv. 45, which declares, "Then he (Christ) opened their (his parents) understandings."
The ninth avatar of India (Sakia) furnishes to some extent a similar parallel. According to the account of an exploration made in India, and published in the New York Correspondent of 1828, "There is on a silver plate in a cave in India an inscription stating that about the time of the advent of Buddha Sakia (600 B.C.), a saint in the woods learned by inspiration that another avatar (Messiah or Savior) had appeared in the house of Rajah of Lailas. Learning which, he flew through the air to the place, and when he beheld the new-born Savior he declared him to be the great avatar (Savior or prophet), and that he was destined to establish a new religion" -- the New Covenant Religion.
We next draw on the history of Greece. It is authentically related of Pythagoras (600 B.C.) that his fame having reached Miletas and neighboring cities, men renowned for wisdom (wise men) came to visit him. (Progress of Religious Ideas, vol. i.) In the Anacalypsis we are told that Magi came from the East to offer gifts at Socrates' birth, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh," the same kind of offering as that presented to the two divine infants Chrishna and Christ, according to their respective "inspired" biographers. (See Matt. ii. 4, and the Ramayana).
And the legend of Mithra, of Persia, might also be included in our category of comparison, if we had space for it. All the four Saviors last named (if Socrates may be called such) are reported as having been honored and enriched with aromatic offerings at their respective births. And we have the statement from Mr. Higgins, that the same assortment of spices (with the gold) constituted the materials offered as gifts to the sun, in Persia more than three thousand years ago; and likewise in Arabia near the same era. And it may be stated here, that an ancient historic account of Zoroaster of Persia (6,000 B.C., according to Pliny and Aristotle), speaks of his having also been visited by Magi, or "Magia," at the period of his earthly advent.
And it is, perhaps, well to note in this place, that "Magi" is the term used in the Apocryphal Gospels, to designate the "wise men" who visited Christ at birth; and that Magi, Magic and Magician are but variations of the same word, at least derivations from the same root, all suggesting a wisdom correlated to the Gods. Osiris, an incarnate deity of Egypt, we may cite as another case of an infantile God receiving signal honors and eclat at birth, as he was visited while yet in the cradle by a host of admiring adorers. "People flocked from all parts of the world to behold the heaven- born infant." Such a world-wide fame must have had the effect to attract, with the numerous crowd who thronged to see and worship him, no small number of "wise men."
At this stage of our historical exposition, we will suggest it as rather a singular circumstance that the divine Father, in his infinite wisdom, should have chosen to reveal the intelligence of the birth of his son Jesus Christ to a set of nomadic heathen idolaters hundreds of miles distant (though known as "wise men" because of their skill in astrology) before he made it known to his own "chosen people" (the Jews), who had ever regarded themselves as the recipients of his special favors. And perhaps it is still more singular that these pagan pedestrians should have been denominated "wise men," while men of God's own election, according to the Christian bible, were often stigmatized and denounced as "fools," a "generation of vipers," etc. But it so happens that "human reason" finds many incongruities in "Divine Revelations."