by Elizabeth Evans
The Christ Myth
From the beginning of the Christian era
there have been in each generation many persons who refused to
believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and many others who, after
being educated in that belief, rejected it in maturer years.
some of these doubted or disbelieved the whole story; but the
question of actuality was not, formerly, a subject of discussion in
pulpit and in print.
Napoleon I, in his conversations with Wieland, expressed his
disbelief in the historical existence of Christ; but that
declaration seems to have made but little impression upon his
hearer, and was, apparently received without comment by later
readers of the statement, Napoleon not being considered an authority
in such matters, although his logical faculty and mathematical
genius were indisputable.
At present this question is vital and imperative. It lies at the
basis of the whole structure of Biblical criticism, and the answer
lurks between the lines in all the reports of modern investigation.
My own doubts were first awakened as far back as the year 1875,
being the result of studies in a department of Christian doctrine
having no connection with dogmas concerning the identity of Christ.
At that time I did not know that his "historical existence" had been
denied, although I had already, after a painful mental conflict,
given up my early belief in the Trinitarian creed.
Those persons who
have not always regarded Christ as a mere man cannot imagine the
shock experienced by a believer in his divinity when that faith
Few have believed so firmly and entirely as I; not many,
I trust, have suffered so intensely in renouncing that belief; and
it is because I have found joy and peace in disbelieving, that I
mention my personal experience in the hope of making the way easier
for other souls tormented by doubt and goaded by the compelling
power of Truth to be honest with themselves even at the sacrifice of
what were once vital convictions, but which, through wider
knowledge, have lost their meaning and influence.
Belief in Jesus, when analyzed, proves to be largely sentimental,
and differs in kind and degree with the disposition of the
The idea of a connecting link between Divinity and Man - a mediator
- is common to all primitive cults, as is also the idea of a third
Influence, a pervading Spirit, acting in harmony with the other two
sources of Eternal Being. The whole idea is the conception of an age
when the Universe was supposed to be governed by a God, or by gods,
capable of being propitiated by sacrifices and moved by prayers;
consequently it no longer applies to an age which has discovered
that the Universe is governed by immutable law.
ancient Egyptians the Sun, the earth fructified by the
sun, and the young, rising sun, constituted the Divine Family, as
represented by Osiris, Isis and Horus.
Osiris, the sun, disappearing every night and paling every winter,
is raised every morning and every spring as Horus, who is at once
the Son of God and God himself.
Krishna among the East Indians
among the Babylonians
Adonis, Hercules, Bacchus, among the Greeks,
...illustrate in like manner the changes of the seasons and personify
the sovereignty of the Sun.
The same idea, that of a divine Son, born of the union of the Sun
and the Earth, God and a woman, runs through all the myths which
have gradually been evolved out of the spiritual questionings of
The idea of a suffering God atoning by his death for the sins of
men, descending into the abodes of darkness and rising again to
bring life and immortality to light, is found in the oldest records
of the human race in every part of the world. It is originally in
all cases a personification of the Sun...
Extinct races show the cross upon the ruins of their temples:
Virgin Mother and the Divine Child sanctified the worship of
in Siam, ages before the Christian era, the Son
of God was incarnated for the salvation of mankind...
The Hebrews, after many experiments with the cults of neighboring
nations and victorious enemies, developed finally a strict
monotheistic religion, to which they have ever since adhered.
The Hebrew Scriptures which form the basis of the Jewish and
Christian faiths have been proved to be a mass of mingled history
and fable, largely borrowed from the records of older nations, and
showing no evidence of superhuman wisdom in the varied concepts.
Christ and the Gospels
...[T]here is no mention of Jesus in
contemporary literature, either Jewish or Pagan. Authentic
history is absolutely silent as to such a personality.
record of his supposed life on earth is found in the Gospels of
the New Testament, in certain epistles ascribed to Paul, in
certain statements by the earliest "Fathers" of the Christian
church, in certain legends contained in the miscellaneous
portions of the Jewish Talmud, and in a very few allusions by
But not one of these sources is contemporary with
the career of Jesus....
Christians are taught that the four
Gospels were written by the four disciples, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John, whereas those compositions were not known to the early
Christians nearly two hundred years after the supposed events which
If those disciples ever really existed they were certainly not alive
at that time, and there is no proof that they left any writings....
Recent discoveries seem to confirm the suggestion that nascent
Christianity took is rise from the ferment of Oriental and Grecian
ideas then beginning to be mingled with Jewish beliefs through the
rapidly increasing intercourse between the far East and the shores
of the Mediterranean, the intellectual impulse of which movement
centered at Alexandria and spread as far as Rome....
Doctrine of Divine Paternity
Every year, at Christmas, this fable [of Immaculate Conception] is
dinned into the ears of the Christian world...
But, nowadays, both clergy and laity must know,
that the same
distinction has been claimed for many persons, mythical and real
that the oldest religions are based upon exactly such an origin
that the deified founders of Oriental faiths were begotten by a god
and conceived by a virgin ...
Other Virgin-Born Saviors
Although there were so many examples of supernatural birth to serve
as a pattern for the fable of Jesus, still various circumstances in
the story of his life seem to suggest particular instances as the
chief sources of the imaginary details.
These instances are Krishna, Mithra, and Buddha....
The Magi belong to the story of Mithra, a deity of the ancient
Persians, originally a personification of the sun.
He was said to have been born of a virgin in a cave, on the
twenty-fifth of December, an allegorical representation of the
emergence of the sun from the darkness of the winter solstice. At
the period of the composition of the Gospels the cult of Mithra was
familiar to the Western nations, and had long been established in
The Roman catacombs contained a picture of the Virgin seated holding
the infant Mithra on her lap, and before them three men in Persian
dress are kneeling and offering gifts.
The Massacre of the Innocents is taken from the story of Krishna,
the favorite deity of India, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, and
also a personification of the sun....
The introduction of the shepherds by Luke is also a reminiscence of
Krishna. Immediately after Devaki, the sacred mother, had given
birth to Krishna, her husband, Vasudeva, carried away the infant to
a friendly shepherd named Nanda, whose wife, Yacoda, had just been
delivered of a daughter, and the children were exchanged. Nanda and
his wife were at that time in a village near Madura, whither they
had gone to pay their taxes...
Vasudeva, on his way to them with the newborn Krishna, was obliged
to cross a deep river, but the water was miraculously restrained so
that it did not reach above his ankles, a legend which suggests the
story of St. Christopher ["Christ-bearer"] carrying the Christ-child
through the flood. The errand of Nanda and his wife serves to
explain Luke's assertion respecting the object of the journey of
Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, which is contradicted by historical
Nanda and his wife carried the infant Krishna home with them, and he
grew up among the shepherds. Luke's account of the appearance to the
shepherds of the angel and the heavenly host with their rapturous
hymns of praise is also a reminiscence of Krishna, at whose birth
there was great joy in heaven; flowers were thrown down to earth,
and celestial music greeted the Incarnated One....
The character of these stories shows that they were older than the Christ-myth, and of native origin, whereas the Christian version
betrays foreign and anachronistic features at every point....
The choice of the Redeemer's birth-place can be traced to the same
source. Luke mentions a stable as the refuge of the Virgin, and
manger as the cradle of the new-born infant. There are pictures of
Krishna lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds and shepherdesses,
oxen and asses.
But other early writers, including several of
Fathers, decided upon a cave as the true place, a decision exactly
in accordance with the legend of Mithra, of a virgin, in a cave, on
the 25th of December, symbolizing the renewed birth of the sun after
the winter solstice....
The mythical stories concerning
Buddha resemble those relating to
Krishna; indeed, there is a family likeness in the presiding deities
of all races and all times, and those personifications go back to
the Sun - ALL OF THEM!
Buddha's mother was a virgin; Buddha was begotten through the power
of the Highest; heaven and earth rejoiced at his birth and
recognized in him the long-desired Savior. The wealth of Oriental
imagination is lavished upon descriptions of the celestial joy which
heralded that marvelous event and the terrestrial prosperity which
accompanied the arrival of the Redeemer of the World....
Soon after Buddha's birth the wisest and best men of the city went
in a body to the king and proposed that the Infant should be carried
to the Temple of the Gods in token gratitude for the blessing
The king accepted the suggestion:
the city was adorned for
crowds joined the procession
music filled the air;
flowers fell from the sky
one hundred thousand deities drew the
vehicles which carried the Divine Child
an earthquake announced the
arrival at the Temple
the shower of blossoms was renewed
images of the gods, even those of Indra and Brahma, descended from
their places and hastened to welcome the Long-desired,
magnificent ceremony ended with a hymn from the gods in praise of
The story of the Temptation, which, taken as an actual occurrence,
is full of impossibilities and absurdities, might be regarded as an
allegory, descriptive of the trials which the new sect had to
undergo in its opposition to the practices of the world.
is a probable way of accounting for this fable by comparing its
details with those of similar trials and similar victories in the
experiences of Zarathustra and of Buddha.
in both of these cases the devil appeared in person and offered the
pleasures of sense and the gratification of all forms of ambition as
the price of recognition of his sovereignty
in both cases he was
repelled and finally banished by quotations from Holy Writ
cases the conquerors were afterwards refreshed and comforted through
the ministry of angels....
Precocity, Prophecy, Celestial Rejoicing, Etc.
The story of Jesus being missed by his parents, who, after seeking,
found him in the Temple sitting among the doctors and discussing
with them has its parallel in a legend of Buddha, according to which
he was one day lost in a forest, and being sought for by his father
the king and a company of courtiers as found sitting under a tree
surrounded by Rishis (the saints and angels of the Indian heaven),
who had descended from the sky to sing his praises....
All such leaders are said to have been noted in childhood for their
Buddha taught the gods wisdom while still in his mother's
womb; as soon as he was born he set his feet towards the four
corners of the earth to show that his mission was to all the world;
in school he confounded his teachers by his universal knowledge, and
as a man he excelled all his contemporaries in physical
accomplishments and intellectual acquirements....
The Beatitude are, in their sentiments, a condensation of the wisdom
of Oriental thinking and Grecian philosophers and Roman moralists;
in their language they are almost word for word an echo of Buddha's
message when he announced himself as the savior of men.
was living in and near the city Radschagriha, his favorite resort
was a neighboring mountain... which, on account of his sermon upon
the seven conditions of salvation, was called "The Mount of the
Many Parallel Legends...
The Transfiguration finds a parallel in the light which streamed
from Buddha's body as he lay dying under a tree...
But a still more striking similarity is found in the
of Krishna before his beloved disciple Arjuna [John], as related
in the Bhagavad-Gita
The Gospel of Buddha contains the story of a Prodigal Son...
The story of the Woman of Samaria finds a striking parallel in a
Among the Krishna legends is one which tells of two sorrowful women
of the lowest caste, virtuous, indeed, but poor and despised, who,
in spite of opposition and reproof, succeeded in reaching the
presence of Krishna, and anointed his head with fragrant ointment...
Not only in a number of striking incidents is the connection between
the legends of Buddha and Jesus demonstrated, but the similarity
extends to the smallest particulars throughout the whole narrative.
Situations, discourses, cures, advice, parables, figures of speech,
even forms of expression, are so like as to imply copy and not
It is not and cannot now be known who wrote any of these [gospel]
The Apostles are not historical characters to begin with, and
they certainly were not the authors of the compilations which are
called by their names, and which bear evidence of having been
written at a much later period than the lifetime of persons
contemporary with the supposed career of Jesus....
Myth, Forgery and Human Credulity
Not only the Gospels, but also the Acts of the Apostles and
Epistles, were written long after the supposed occurrence of the
But, it will be asked, how could such a fable obtain credence and
become the foundation of a sect of believers so firm in the faith
that they could endure persecution and welcome martyrdom in its
To this it may be answered that, as history shows, there is no limit
to human credulity; also, it is evident that the fable was of
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
The Lord's Supper... is the most binding ceremony of every christian
community. It is believed to have been instituted by Christ himself
as an emblem of his broken body and shed blood, and is everywhere
received by the faithful with reverent gratitude and solemn awe....
A wider survey reveals the fact that the sacrament of the Eucharist,
as developed in the early church and handed down through the ages,
is a repetition of similar ceremonies of earlier origin among
ancient peoples, containing in each case the idea of death to sin
and resurrection to righteousness through a celebration of the
emblems of the awakening of nature to new life under the increasing
force of the sun's rays in spring.
Bread and wine were the
naturally-suggested emblems chosen for the rite.
the Greeks celebrated the mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus as bestowers and protectors of grain and grapes
the Aztecs partook
with solemnity of a sacred perforated cake
most similar of all
to the "Holy Communion" of the Christians, was the Haoma sacrifice
of the Persians,
...a resemblance so striking as to draw from the early
fathers of the church the complaint that the Devil had played a
trick upon Christ in teaching the Parsis to caricature the Eucharist
in their Soma sacrifice....
Christ Unknown to His Contemporaries
If such a man as the New Testament represents Jesus to have been had
really lived and labored at the stated times and places there would
have been some trace of his existence among the records of his
An insignificant brawler could not have aroused the
animosity of the Jewish Sanhedrin to the extent of demanding his
crucifixion, and the illegal condemnation and execution of a
celebrated teacher could not have taken place without protest from
honorable citizens and without notice or comment in the history of
Yet in the whole range of Jewish and Pagan literature of
that period there is not a word, not an allusion which applies to
the person of Jesus or to the events which are said to have happened
on his account....
Thus we have the formation of the fictitious character of Jesus
Christ as the chief divinities of the ancient Egyptian, Indian,
Greek, and Roman nations; the Logos of the early Greek philosophers,
and the Ideal of contemporary scholars....
The legends of Krishna and Buddha furnished the material for the
miraculous conception and birth of the Redeemer; the maxims of all
the great reformers are combined in his moral code; the career of
the Sun, which from the beginning has risen upon the evil and the
good, is demonstrated in that otherwise inexplicable sacrifice upon
the cross, with its impossible sequel of resurrection and ascension.
What Is There Left?
For a long time previous to the beginning of the christian era there
had been regular and frequent intercourse between Eastern nations
and the Roman empire.
The religion of Persia had established its
altars in Rome, and the religion of Buddha...was represented in city
and province by learned and cultivated priests whose influence was
felt by high and low among the people.
And Brahmans came also, with
their wealth of legends, and especially their story of God Krishna,
whose name suggested the Greek epithet for the Anointed One
[Christos], while his benevolent deeds and wise teachings answered
to the moral standards of the philosophers; in short, all forms of
human attempts to discover the Unknowable were concentrated in this
latest, and probably last, development of anthropomorphic
Just as the Brahmans represented their god Krishna as a crucified
man with a wreath of sunbeams around his head, just as the ancient
Assyrians represented their sun god Baal as a man surrounded by an
aureole, and with outstretched arms, thus forming a perfect cross,
so the Romans reverenced a crucified incarnation of the god Sol, and
many ancient Italian pictures of Jesus as a crucified Savior bear
the inscription "Deo Soli," which may mean "To the only God," or "To
the God Sol."
It is possible that some obscure man, "some Jewish peasant with a
genius for religions" (as many "liberal" Christians nowadays are
fond of saying), sat for the portrait of the idealized and deified
Jesus; but it is not likely, because if he had been so
insignificant as not to be distinguishable by the history of that
time he could not have challenged the revenge of the Jewish
theocracy and the severity of the Roman imperial power; whereas, if
he had been of so much importance as to create so great a ferment he
would have been known to history....
And, when we take away from this Person (as must be taken away) his
supernatural birth, his superhuman powers, his borrowed teachings, his unlawful
execution, his impossible
resurrection and ascension - what is there left?...