Bible Myths -

A Common Possession Of Many Religions

Taken from Bible Myths, by T. W. Doane

 

 

Birdman note: The point of the book whose Foreword and Table of Contents appear below is that Christianity is a religion whose 'holy scriptures' are a hodge-podge of myths from other earlier religions. One meaning that can be drawn from this is that Christianity is not the 'one true religion', but instead is just a creation of ordinary men. Another and more positive meaning which can be drawn is that there is some central core of stories on which many or most of the world's religions are based, a fact which suggests that these stories are representative of some historical truth which we know of only thru mythopoea. The question of whether the myths are true, however, does not tell us whether the religions which have adoped these myths are true, or are a good guide to behavior. My own view is that Christianity has been a dubious behavioral guide, with points both in its favor and against it, but that the church itself has often acted in a most un-Christian way, and that Christianity has been embraced by the Establishment if for no other reason than because it keeps the peons turning the other cheek instead of sticking pitchforks into the oft-deserving cheeks of their leaders. The Foreword, it may be added, is included here only to give a general description of the book, as it is not the most gripping of pieces ever written; but the Table of Contents is worth scrutinizing, as it indicates the range of myths from which the myths of Christianity are drawn.


BIBLE MYTHS, AND THEIR PARALLELS IN OTHER RELIGIONS
BEING A COMPARISON OF THE Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles
WITH THOSE OF HEATHEN NATIONS OF ANTIQUITY
CONSIDERING ALSO THEIR ORIGIN AND MEANING
BY T. W. DOANE
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
FOURTH EDITION (orig. edition 1882)
"He who knows only one religion knows none." -PROP. MAX MULLER.
" The same thing which is now called CHRISTIAN RELIGION existed among the
Ancients. They have begun to call Christianity the true religion which existed be-
fore," -ST. AUGUSTINE.
" Our love for what is old, our reverence for what our fathers used, makes us
keep still in the church, and on the very altar cloths, symbols which would excite
the smile of an Oriental, and lead him to wonder why we send missionaries to his
land, while cherishing his faith in ours." -JAMES BONWICK.

NEW FOREWORD BY
LESLIE SHEPARD
UNIVERSITY BOOKS
New Hyde Park, New York

Copyright 1971 by University Books, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 70-120900


Is the Bible true? Ever since Tom Paine's daring Age of Reason
at the end of the eighteenth century, Freethinkers have sought a
rational, nonmystical view of the universe, and their arguments
against dogmatic Christianity have often been reinforced by ap-
peals to pagan religions which contain myths paralleling the New
Testament stories and throwing doubt on their priority or his-
toricity. Banned for many years by narrow-minded bookshops and
libraries, Freethinkers wrote aggressive attacks on dogma. Now-
adays the cause of literary freedom and tolerance demands that
the Freethought case be properly heard. This is one of two impor-
tant Freethought classics now reissued.
Manufactured in the United States of America
This monumental comparison of the basic elements of
many different faiths shows unmistakably that the impor-
tant details of the Christian story have parallels in pre-
existing religions.
Like the companion work now reissued (The World's
Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Kersey Graves), it stemmed
from the powerful impact of Godfrey Higgins's masterpiece
Anacalypsis, a very rare work reprinted in limited edition
by University Books Inc., 1965. Higgins spent twenty years
of his life seeking the common thread of all languages and
religions, a secret tradition of the mysteries that he believed
had been obscured by priest cults and the privileges of es-
tablishment. Only the first volume had appeared when he
died in 1833; the second volume was published posthumously
three years later. This great work was drawn upon equally
by Freethinkers and Theosophists, and there are 136 refer-
ences to Anacalypsis in the present book.
Like Higgins, the author devoted many years to perfect-
ing this study, and consulted nearly a hundred authorities,
cited in the bibliography of "Authors and Books Quoted."
It is unfortunate that we know very little about the
author. Many of the early writers on Freethought have been
buried in a conspiracy of oblivion. Their books were ignored
by respectable journals, apart from an occasional pomposity
or outraged condemnation. Public libraries and bookshops
banned the books. The literature was prohibited in the mails
and frequently seized; the publishers were prosecuted. The
authors themselves were cold-shouldered and omitted from
standard reference works. Today it is extremely difficult to
glean even a few facts about some of these writers.
THOMAS WILLIAM DOANE was born in 1852. Like many
pioneers of Freethought, he is not listed in standard biogra-
phies. We know that his book became a classic of Free
thought for many decades, and that it was his sole literary
work. He died young, on August 8, 1885, at Boston, aged 34,
only three years after his book had first appeared. That is
all we know.
The book was first published by J. W. Bouton of New
York, the enterprising book dealer who later issued Madame
Blavatsky's sensational Isis Unveiled-a book which also
owed much to the Anacalypsis of Godfrey Higgins. Doane's
book joined company with [author] Kersey Graves' The World's
Sixteen Crucified Saviors as one of the most popular items in
the list of the old Truth Seeker Co. of New York, a trail-
blazer in Freethought literature.
The Truth Seeker journal and book agency was first
started by D. M. Bennett in 1873 at Paris, Illinois, with the
following subheading:
DEVOTED TO: Science, Morals, Free-Thought, Free Discussion, Liberation,
Sexual Equality, Labor Reform, Progression, Free Education, and What-
ever Tends to Elevate and Emancipate the Human Race.
OPPOSED TO: Priestcraft, Ecclesiasticism, Dogmas, Creeds, False The-
ology, Superstition, Bigotry, Ignorance, Monopolies, Aristocracies, Priv-
ileged Classes, Tyranny, Oppression, and Everything that Degrades or
Burdens Mankind Morally or Physically.
Bennett later moved to New York City. He issued cheap
editions of classic Freethought literature by writers like
Paine, Voltaire, Volney, Huxley, Bradlaugh, Winwood Reade,
and Robert G. Ingersoll. The Truth Seeker publications have
a special place in American history. They were the under-
ground literature of their day, but an underground dedicated
to noble ideals, unlike the tawdry sensationalism and hostil-
ity of today's permissiveness.
The present book is a careful and valuable compilation,
the first comprehensive and systematic collation of compara-
tive mythology using the Judeo-Christian Bible as a ground
plan. It appeared long before Comparative Religion became
a fashionable study at universities, and occupies a position
midway between scholarship and the popular polemics of
writers like Kersey Graves. It is still an excellent introduc-
tion to Comparative Religion, especially for broad-minded
Christians who are prepared to consider their faith in the
perspective of preexisting religions. Of course, there are mis-
takes and misunderstandings, but they stem from the
author's sources and from the scholarship and outlook of his
time. They are themselves part of the mythic process.
It is the unique problem of scholarship in this field that
the factual study of religion is forever dealing with the out-
side of things, and cannot be better than the measurement of
its time. Religion can never be an exact science because it is
constantly changing its form, and the real message of the
author's stupendously detailed comparisons is one which did
not occur to him-that certain basic symbols are archetypal
in the human situation and are reflections of the divine in-
finity from which man has his origin and to which he re-
turns. The religious person calls this great mystery "God,"
and the Freethinker and Atheist may call it "Nature" or
"Science" so long as they affirm the rituals and ethical codes
that will refine perception of it. Study alone will not enable
us to discover that transcendent happiness, that awe and
wonder at the marvel of life, which is the secret hope of
every human being.
If I want to understand how Arjuna felt in his marvel-
ous discussion with Shri Krishna in the Hindu religious
classic Bhagavad-Gita, I do not study the scholarly Harvard
translation by an impeccable scholar, but rather the four-
anna Gita (about two cents) mass-produced by a religious
temple in India and written by a believer, for here in this
cheap, warm-hearted paperback the original inspiration
comes alive in a way that dry scholarship could only envy.
The author of the present work pins much of his "Ex-
planation" on the then fashionable theory that religion
stemmed from man's response to natural phenomena like the
sun and the moon, and that all bibles and myths may be
reduced to simple allegories. Great scholars of the nineteenth
century like Max Muller and G. W. Cox believed something
like that and overtaxed etymology to prove it, but it is not so
simple.
Someone once said: "The whole of life is nothing more than
questions which have taken upon themselves shape-ques-
tions that are pregnant with their own answers." The physi
cal world surrounds us like the words of a gigantic riddle in
an unknown language-the shapes of nature, the wonder of
male and female, the mysteries of color and number, the
movement of the year, the pattern of the heavens, the sig-
nificance of days in the calendar. The novelist Charles Kings-
ley once wrote
"When I walk the fields I am oppressed every now and then with an
innate feeling that everything I see has a meaning, if I could but
understand it. And this feeling of being surrounded with truths which
I cannot grasp, amounts to an indescribable awe sometimes! Oh! how
I have prayed to have the mystery unfolded, at least hereafter. To see,
if but for a moment, the whole harmony of the great system! To hear
once the music which the whole universe makes as it performs His
bidding!"
There are archetypal themes and processes in nature that
tell one great story in a myriad different ways, and every
living thing is a symbol of the whole. We cannot explain this
great secret through the senses and intellect alone, since no
mind can contain the knowledge of all other minds-past
present, and future-the awareness of all interrelationships
in the cosmos.
Myth is the poetry of the spirit, where the emotions enter
into the mystery of being through shapes, colors, sounds,
and rhythms, and all religions have drawn upon the same
symbols through the mystical visions of shamans and
prophets. Through symbolic rituals of religion, social duties
are aligned with divine meaning and separate lives harmo-
nized in one pattern.
Mere theory is a pretty poor substitute for the insight
and experience of religion, and it need surprise no one that
the same myths are common to all. The story of the hero
birth of the patriarch Moses is also told of Sargon of Agade
in Mesopotamia in 2,350 B.C. Many religions have featured
the mysteries of earth and the serpent which crawls upon
it, the androgyne behind the division of the sexes, the
garden, the tree, and the first parents. Hindus and Gnostics
speak of the stages of divine emanation and return. You
may compare the Creation of Genesis with the Hindu Para-
brahman, origin of the universe, and the Tetragrammaton of
the New Testament gospel of St. John. Much of Jewish
Cabbala is foreshadowed in Hindu Tantra, and the beautiful
transcendentalism of Hassidic legends springs from the same
religious experience as the Zen Buddhist koans or the mysti-
cal poetry of the Sufis and Hindu bhakti cults. The myth-
ology of mysticism is a universal art, and the basis of true
religion. It has little to do with the politics of religious
establishment, which the Freethinkers rightly condemn.
No sincere Christian can afford to ignore the terrible
record of his own church-the holy wars, centuries of des-
potism, cruelty, fanaticism, and intolerance of religion turn
ing into politics. It is a tragic story which is not yet over.
Yet these things are not the true basis of religion and only
contaminate the name. The core of all religions is the mysti-
cal experience which reconciles the individual and the divine,
the transcendental with the social duties of everyday life.
Scholarship cannot validate any single scripture of any
one religion over and above that of another. There are his-
tory and pseudo-history entangled in all of them, but
historicity is not the measure. Their basic strength is myth
-the poetical truth which is the dark language of the spirit.
In modern times, men like Professor C. G. Jung have
found that the symbols of myth are the keys to religious ex-
perience. More recently Dr. Joseph Campbell has shown how
scholarship may be married to insight, and in his fine study
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (New York, 1949; 1956)
he has illustrated how all the myths treat of the same human
situation, a theme elaborated further in his tremendous work
The Masks of God (4 vols., New York, 1959-68). These are
books which valuably supplement the present work.
It is interesting to note that many of the old Freethinkers
whose quest for truth led them into infidel fields could not
resist the urge to discover a greater meaning in life than
mere theory or negative attacks on dogmatic Christianity.
D. M. Bennett, founder of The Truth Seeker, had orig-
inally spent many happy years in the Shaker community at
New Lebanon. He left reluctantly when faith declined. Dur
ing his later career as a Freethinker he became sympathetic
to Spiritualism. It should be remembered that the last two
decades of the nineteenth century were a golden age of
Spiritualism. It may sound highly irrational that down-to-
earth rationalists should be drawn to "spiritual" phenomena,
but liberal men and women were naturally attracted to any
new controversial science or pseudo-science that promised to
provide a nonsupernatural rationale for miracles, and thus
throw new light on the "superstitions" of the Bible. Bennett
was a man of great principle and suffered much in his pas-
sionate quest for truth. In 1879 he served a prison sentence
for circulating birth control literature, following the fanat-
ical persecutions of Anthony Comstock and his moralistic
associates, who conducted dishonest and ruthless campaigns
agrainst Freethinkers. Three years later Bennett joined the
Theosophical Society, thus affirming a strange cycle of belief
that led from the natural mysticism and anti-clericalism of
Godfrey Higgins to the enigma of Madame Blavatsky, new
priestess of Isis. There were other curious affirmations of
this cycle.
In 1877, Annie Besant was a Freethinker when she stood
trial with Charles Bradlaugh for disseminating a birth con-
trol book in England. She was a courageous, intelligent, and
broad-minded woman, and at that time had published a re-
markable book called My Path to Atheism (London, 1877).
A few years later, she too was drawn to investigate Spiritual-
ism. Finally, in 1889, like Bennett she joined the Theosophical
Society. Some time after the death of Madame Blavatsky
she became its president.
It seems, then, that tolerant Freethinking did not prevent
intelligent and sincere individuals from being drawn inex-
orably into mysticism. Whatever reservations one may have
about some aspects of the Theosophical movement itself, it
undoubtedly inspired many important writers, artists, and
other great men and women.
I do not think, therefore, that any modern library, already
planning its funds to meet the fashionable demands for pro-
test literature, student revolt, black studies, anarchism, pop
art, drugs, and sexual freedom, need fear the old stigma of
nineteenth-century Freethought. No devout Christian will
suffer loss of faith through knowing that other religions
have anticipated some of the noblest portions of the Christian
Bible-rather, I think, he may draw greater strength from
a sense of kinship with other great souls, past and present.
This book is a key reference work that will start many
readers on a new and exciting quest for the source of all
religions.
London, England LESLIE SHEPARD
1970

READING LIST
The following books will be of special interest for further
study in conjuction with the present work:
CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces 1949; 1956
The Masks of God 4 vols. 1959-68 (Primitive Mythology;
Oriental Mythology; Occidental Mythology; Creative Mythology)
FORLONG, J. G. R. Faiths of Man; Encyclopedia of Religions 3 vols.
1906; University Books Inc., 1964
GRAVES, Kersey. The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors; or Christianity
Before Christ 1875 etc.; University Books Inc., 1970
HIGGINS, Godfrey. Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of
Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and
Religions 1833-36; University Books Inc., 1965
LEGGE, Francis. Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity from 330 B.C.
to 330 A.D. 1915; University Books Inc., 1964
MAETERLINCK, Maurice. The Great Secret 1922; University Books Inc.,
1969
MEAD, G. R. S. Apollonius of Tyana. 1901; University Books Inc., 1966
. Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? 1903; University Books Inc., 1968
. Fragments of a Faith Forgotten 1900 etc.; University Books
Inc., 1964

CONTENTS. (with annotations by Wifey)

PART I,

INTRODUCTION......................................................xiii
LIST OF AUTHORITIES, AND BOOKS QUOTED FROM........................ xxi
CHAPTER I
THE CREATION AND FALL OF MAN.............................. .......1
(Persians-7,Greeks-10-11,Egyptians-12)
CHAPTER II
THE DELUGE....................................................... 18
(Hindoos-24-5,Greeks-26,Celts-27,Mexicans-27)
CHAPTER III.
THE TOWER OF BABEL............................................... 33
(Armenians-35)
CHAPTER IV.
THE TRIAL of ABRAHAM'S FAITH..................... ................ 38
(Hindoos-39,Phoenicians-39,Greeks-39)
CHAPTER V.
JACOB'S VISION OF THE LADDER....................................... 42
CHAPTER VI
THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT.................,.......................... 48
(Greeks-51)
CHAPTER VII.
RECEIVING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS..,............,................... 58
(Persians-59,Egyptians-60,Mexicans-60)
CHAPTER VIII.
SAMSON AND HIS EXPLOITS............................................ 62 (Greeks-Hercules-66-76,Hindoos-73,Assyrians-74,Babylonians-74,Scandinavians-75)
CHAPTER IX.
JONAH SWALLOWED BY A BIG FISH .........................77 (Greeks-78,Persians-79,Scandinavians-80,Mexicans-83)
CHAPTER X
CIRCUMCISION........ .................................. 85
(Egyptians-85,Mexicans-86)
CHAPTER XI
CONCLUSION OF PART FIRST..........................88


PART II.

CHAPTER XII.
THE MIRACULOUS BIRTH OF CHRIST JESUS ..............................111 (Hindoos-Crishna-113,Buddhists-115,Siamese-118,Chinese-119,Egyptians-Horus-122-3,Persians-123,
Greeks-Hercules-124,Romans-Romulus-126,Mexicans-129,Scandinavians-129)
CHAPTER XIII
THE STAR of BETHLEHEM......... .................................. 140
(Buddhists-143ff)
CHAPTER XIV.
THE SONG of THE HEAVENLY HOST.................................... 147
(Buddhists-147)
CHAPTER XV
THE DIVINE CHILD RECOGNIZED, AND PRESENTED WITH GIFTS.......... 150 (Indians-Crishna-151,Buddhists-151,Chinese-Confucius-152,Persians-Mithras-152,Greeks-Socrates-152
CHAPTER XVI
THE BIRTH-PLACE OF CHRIST JESUS.................................... 154
(many religions-156)
CHAPTER XVII
THE GENEALOGY OF CHRIST JESUS..................................... 160
(Buddhists-163ff)
CHAPTER XVIII
THE SLAUGHTER of THE INNOCENTS............................ 165 (Hindoos-166,Buddhists-168,Greeks-Hercules-170,Romans-Romulus-172)
CHAPTER XIX
THE TEMPTATION, AND FAST of FORTY DAYS ..................... ...... 175
(Buddhists-175-6,Mexicans-178-9)
CHAPTER XX.
THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST JESUS.................................... 181
(Hindoos-Crishna-186)
CHAPTER XXI.
THE DARKNESS AT THE CRUCIFIXION ................... ............... 206 (Greeks-207,Romans-Romulus-207,Mexicans-208)
CHAPTER XXII
"HE DESCENDED INTO HELL".......................................211
(many religions)
CHPATER XXIII
THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST JESUS.................215 (Egyptians-Horus-222,Mexicans-225)
CHAPTER XXIV
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST JESUS, AND THE MILLENNIUM.........233
(Indians-Crishna-236)
CHAPTER XXV.
CHRIST JESUS AS JUDGE OF THE DEAD................................. 244
(many religions)
CHAPTER XXVI.
CHRIST JESUS AS CREATOR, AND ALPHA AND OMEGA...................... 247
(many religions)
CHAPTER XXVII
THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST JESUS, AND THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS..........252 (Hindoos-Crisha-252,Buddhists-254,Persians-256,Egyptians-Horus-256,Romans-Apollonius-261)
CHAPTER XXVIII.
CHRIST CRISHNA AND CHRIST JESUS ...................... . .............278
(Hindoos-Crishna-278-88)
CHAPTER XXIX.
CHRIST BUDDHA AND CHRIST JESUS........ . . . . . . . . ... .... ..... 289
(Buddhists-289-3024
THE EUCHARIST OR LORD'S SUPPER.................................... 305 (Tibetans-305,Indians-306,Egyptians-306,Persians-307,Greeks-309,Mexicans-311,
CHAPTER XXXI.
BAPTISM.......................................................... 316
(Brahmans-317,Essenes-320,Greeks-320,Mexicans-322)("Baptism was practiced by the ascetics of Buddhist origin, known as the Essenes. John the Baptist was...a member of this order.",p. 320)
CHAPTER XXXII
THE WORSHIP of THE VIRGIN MOTHER................. ............... 326
(Chinese-327,Egyptians-327-30)
CHAPTER XXXIII
CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS................ ...............................339
(Egyptians-341,Greeks-342,Etruscans-344,Druids-346,Mexicans-347)
CHAPTER XXXIV.
THE BIRTH-DAY OF CHRIST JESUS......................................359 (Egyptians-Horus-363,Greeks-Hercules-364,Druids-366)
CHAPTER XXXV.
THE TRINITY............................. ........................ 368 (Chinese-371,Hindoos-371-388,Greeks-374,Scandinavians-377,Assyrians-388)
CHAPTER XXXVI
PAGANISM IN CHRISTIANITY.,.. ................................... 384
(relationship between Buddhism and Christianity,pp 400-402)
CHAPTER XXXVII
WHY CHRISTIANITY PROSPERED...... ................................ 419
(Essenes 419-23)
CHAPTER XXXVIII
THE ANTIQUITY OF PAGAN RELIGIONS................................. 450
CHAPTER XXXIX
EXPLANATION .....................466
CHAPTER XL.
CONCLUSION....................................................... 508
APPENDIX...........588

 

 

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