Comparative Religion

“For only words and forms divide the faiths of Mankind, and at heart the one object of our desires is Life.”
John Denham Parsons (1896)

Pre-Christian Greek demigod Orpheus Bacchus (Bakkikos) crucified.
Comparative Religion shows that the basic story of Jesus' one year ministry and the motif of a crucified savior already existed in numerous other religions prior to the alleged time of Jesus. I do not extensively discuss Comparative Religion here, as it is a topic which has already been thoroughly researched and documented. Instead I direct your attention to some of the excellent books which have been written on the subject. Some of the best books were written quite a long time ago.

Recommended Books to Read on Comparative Religion

If you have a college library that uses the Library of Congress Classification System then look at section BL75.

Christianity's Founding Fathers Admit Similarities
We have it on no higher authority than that of Christianity's founding fathers themselves that the Christian religion was very much like other older religions currently extant.

Other religions had their savior character, born of a miraculous nature, who performed miracles, cured sick people, and eventually died an untimely death, often by crucifixion.

So close did Christianity resemble these other religions that the Christian fathers resorted to the ludicrous explanation that the Devil himself had created these other near identical religions prior to the alleged time of Jesus to deceive the masses so they would reject the true religion of Christianity as being just a copycat of these already existing religions. Religious scholar Charles François Dupuis (1798) returns us to our sanity by eloquently stating the obvious: "There is not the slightest difficulty, without the intervention of the Devil, to perceive, that whenever two religions resemble each other so completely, the oldest must be the mother and the youngest the daughter."

Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) was the first and most distinguished apologist for the Christian religion.4 His first apology, The First Apology Of Justin, argues that Christianity should be accepted as any other religion because it is so similar to other preexisting religions. By arguing thus Justin inadvertently admits:

  1. Other religions and beliefs already existed which were quite similar to Christianity.
  2. Christianity was hated to such an extent that he had to write an apology for it demanding that it be accepted.
Here are the words of Justin Martyr, from his First Apology. Note how he repeatedly claims the reason other preexisting religions are so similar to Christianity is because demons made the previous religions:


And the Sibyl and Hystaspes said that there should be a dissolution by God of things corruptible. And the philosophers called Stoics teach that even God Himself shall be resolved into fire, and they say that the world is to be formed anew by this revolution; but we understand that God, the Creator of all things, is superior to the things that are to be changed. If, therefore, on some points we teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you honour, and on other points are fuller and more divine in our teaching, and if we alone afford proof of what we assert, why are we unjustly hated more than all others? For while we say that all things have been produced and arranged into a world by God, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of Plato; and while we say that there will be a burning up of all, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of the Stoics: and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence, we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers; and while we maintain that men ought not to worship the works of their hands, we say the very things which have been said by the comic poet Menander, and other similar writers, for they have declared that the workman is greater than the work.


And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; AEsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods. But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions. But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things. And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire.


Moreover, the Son of God called Jesus, even if only a man by ordinary generation, yet, on account of His wisdom, is worthy to be called the Son of God; for all writers call God the Father of men and gods. And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated. For their sufferings at death are recorded to have been not all alike, but diverse; so that not even by the peculiarity of His sufferings does He seem to be inferior to them; but, on the contrary, as we promised in the preceding part of this discourse, we will now prove Him superior--or rather have already proved Him to be so--for the superior is revealed by His actions. And if we even affirm that He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Ferseus. And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by AEsculapius.


But those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race. For having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ was to come, and that the ungodly among men were to be punished by fire, they put forward many to be called sons of Jupiter, under the impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the things which were said with regard to Christ were mere marvellous tales, like the things which were said by the poets. And these things were said both among the Greeks and among all nations where they [the demons] heard the prophets foretelling that Christ would specially be believed in; but that in hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error, we will make plain. The prophet Moses, then, Was, as we have already said, older than all writers; and by him, as we have also said before, it was thus predicted: "There shall not fail a prince from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until He come for whom it is reserved; and He shall be the desire of the Gentiles, binding His foal to the vine, washing His robe in the blood of the grape." The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and gave out that he was the discoverer of the vine, and they number wine [or, the ass] among his mysteries; and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, he ascended into heaven. And because in the prophecy of Moses it had not been expressly intimated whether He who was to come was the Son of God, and whether He would, riding on the foal, remain on earth or ascend into heaven, and because the name of "foal" could mean either the foal of an ass or the foal of a horse, they, not knowing whether He who was foretold would bring the foal of an ass or of a horse as the sign of His coming, nor whether He was the Son of God, as we said above, or of man, gave out that Bellerophon, a man born of man, himself ascended to heaven on his horse Pegasus. And when they heard it said by the other prophet Isaiah, that He should be born of a virgin, and by His own means ascend into heaven, they pretended that Perseus was spoken of. And when they knew what was said, as has been cited above, in the prophecies written aforetime, "Strong as a giant to run his course," they said that Hercules was strong, and had journeyed over the whole earth. And when, again, they learned that it had been foretold that He should heal every sickness, and raise the dead, they produced Aesculapius.


And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

—The above is from
Notice the comparisons Justin has just made:
  1. Christianity teaches the same things as the poets and philosophers. He cites Plato, Menander, Sibyl, Hystaspes, and Stoics.
  2. Jesus is similar to: the sons of Jupiter: Mercury; Æsculapius; Bacchus; Hercules; the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon. They were all produced without sexual union. They all suffered an untimely death. They all ascended into heaven.
  3. The Logos, or Word of God, an epithet of Jesus Christ, was also an epithet of Mercury. (John 1:1-4)
Note that Justin Martyr can offer no better explanation why Christianity is so similar to other preexisting religions other than declaring it to be the work of "wicked devils".

Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (1999)
"Although surprising to us now, to writers of the first few centuries CE these similarities between the new Christian religion and the ancient Mysteries were extremely obvious. Pagan critics of Christianity, such as the satirist Celsus, complained that this recent religion was nothing more than a pale reflection of their own ancient teachings. Early 'Church Fathers,' such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus, were understandably disturbed and resorted to the desperate claim that these similarities were the result of diabolical mimicry. Using one of the most absurd arguments ever advanced, they accused the Devil of "plagiarism by anticipation," of deviously copying the true story of Jesus before it had actually happened in an attempt to mislead the gullible!" 1

Joseph McCabe (1867-1955)
Firmicus Maternus was a Christian author of the fourth century. He wrote a book called "The Errors of the Profane Religions." He found that many of these pagan religions of the Roman world had Saviors or Redeemers. He learned that every year the birth of these gods was celebrated, often in mid-winter, and every year, often about the time of our Easter, the death and resurrection of the gods were celebrated. He discovered that in some of these religions bread and wine were used at the altar, and candles and incense and sacred water were part of the ritual. Poor Firmicus concluded that the devil had revealed or inspired these things to the pagan nations before Christ was born, in order to spoil the success of the Christian Church when it should be founded.2

Charles François Dupuis (1798)
"It is chiefly in the religion of Mithras or the God Sun, worshipped under that name by the Magi, that we find mostly those features of analogy with the death and resurrection of Christ and with the mysteries of the Christians. Mithras, who was also born on the 25th December like Christ, died as he did; and he had his sepulchre, over which his disciples came to shed tears. During the night the priests carried his image to a tomb, expressly prepared for him; he was laid out on a litter, like the Phœnician Adonis. These funeral ceremonies, like those on good Friday, were accompanied with funeral dirges and the groans of his priests; after having spent some time with these expressions of feigned grief; after having lighted the sacred flambeau or their Paschal candle and anointed the image with Chrism or perfumes, one of them came forward and pronounced with the gravest mien these words: “Be of good cheer, sacred band of Initiates (“initiés,”) your God has risen from the dead; his pains and his sufferings shall be your salvation.”

"[...]And it would really seem, in this instance, as if Firmicus, in his onset on the ancient religions, had set his heart on it, to collect all the traits of analogy, which their mysteries had with those of the Christians. He clings chiefly to the Mithraic Initiation, of which he draws a pretty uniform parallel with that of Christ, and to which it has so much resemblance, merely because it is one and the same sect. It is true, he explains all this conformity, which exists between these two religions, by asserting, as Tertullian and St. Justin did, that a long time before there were Christians in existence, the Devil had taken pleasure to have their future mysteries and ceremonies copied by his worshippers. This may be an excellent reason for certain Christians, such as there are plenty in our days, but an extremely paltry one for men of common sense. As far as we are concerned, we, who do not believe in the Devil, and who are not, like them, in his secrets, we shall simply observe, that the religion of Christ, founded like all the others on the worship of the Sun, has preserved the same dogmas, the same practices, the same mysteries or very nearly so; that everything has been in common; because the God was the same; that there were only the accessories, which could differ, but that the basis was absolutely the same.

"The oldest apologists of the Christian religion agree, that the Mithraic religion had its sacraments, its baptism, its penitence, its Eucharist and its consecration by mystical words; that the catechumens of that religion had preparatory trials, more rigorous than those of the Christians; that the Initiates or the faithful marked their foreheads with a sacred sign; that they admitted also the dogma of the resurrection; that they were presented with the crown, which ornamented the forehead of the martyrs; that their sovereign Pontiff was not allowed to marry several times; that they had their virgins and their laws of continence; finally, that they had everything, which has since been practiced by the Christians.

"Of course, Tertullian calls again the Devil to his assistance, in order to explain away so complete a resemblance. But as there is not the slightest difficulty, without the intervention of the Devil, to perceive, that whenever two religions resemble each other so completely, the oldest must be the mother and the youngest the daughter, we shall conclude, that since the worship of Mithras is infinitely older than that of Christ, and its ceremonies a great deal anterior to those of the Christians, that therefore the Christians are incontestably either sectarians or plagiarists of the religion of the Magi."3

[1] Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original jesus" a Pagan God? pg. 5 (1999)
[2] Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) The Story Of Religious Controversy Chapter 2
[3] Charles François Dupuis The Origin of All Religious Worship (1798) chapter IX, starting on page 214, titled, "An Explanation of the Fable, in which the Sun is worshipped under the name of Christ"
[4] Robert Taylor The Diegesis; Being A Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity (1829). pg. 184
Catholic Encyclopedia St. Justin Martyr
Justyn Martyr The First Apology Of Justin

Also see: In the segment provided below Bill Maher says that the story of the virgin-born savior who rose from the dead was popular around the Mediterranean for a "thousands years" before Christianity. Bill then relates that Horus raised "Lazarus" from the dead. Maher next attempts to raise "the Indian god Krishna," but he's cut off.

So far we have:
1.The story of Jesus is not a biography of a man because Jesus never existed.
2.The basic outline of the Jesus story, including the motif of a crucified savior, is found in many religions.
This leaves us with one last question. What does the story mean?
Solar Mythology answers this question.

NEXT: Solar Mythology and the Jesus Story

1.Deley (2003) Evidence that Jesus never existed
2.Edward Gibbon (1776) Irked by Silence of the Contemporaries
3.Robert Taylor (1829) Demonstration That No Such Person As Jesus Christ Ever Existed
4.Kersey Graves (1875) All History ignores Him
5.T.W. Doane (1882) Jesus Not Historical (Appendix D)
6.2 John (90 A.D.) Even in Biblical Times People Asserted Christ Never Existed
7.More Books, Web Sites, and Essays on the Non-Historical Jesus
1.Comparative Religion
1.Solar Mythology and the Jesus Story
2.Lessons on Solar Mythology and how it parallels the Jesus Story

Back to Solar Mythology and the Jesus Story