Many skeptics, such as Richard Carrier, strain to make the very existence of Jesus a myth. They believe the best way to combat God is to erase Jesus completely from the record books. The primary way they do this is to say that Christianity is a legend, borrowed from pagan stories of the time. They twist and turn the Gospels to find parallels between Christ and the gods and demigods of the Hellenized culture.
Drawing from ALL the gods, goddesses, and Demi-gods, Carrier creatively finds these similarities:
- Dying-and-Rising Gods:
Carrier discusses various deities from ancient cultures who die and are subsequently resurrected or reborn. Examples include Osiris from Egyptian mythology and Tammuz from Mesopotamian myths.
- Virgin Birth:
Carrier points out that virgin births or miraculous births are a common motif in ancient religions. Examples include the birth of Perseus in Greek mythology, where Danaë becomes pregnant by Zeus in the form of a golden shower.
- Son of God:
The concept of a deity having a divine or semi-divine son is not unique to Christianity. Carrier often mentions figures like Hercules, the son of Zeus and a mortal woman, as an example.
- Miracles and Healings:
Carrier notes that performing miracles, especially healings, is a common trait among divine or semi-divine figures in various cultures. Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, was renowned for his healing powers.
- Sacrificial Death:
The idea of a god or hero dying as a sacrifice for the greater good or for the redemption of others is a theme Carrier sees in various myths. The story of Attis, a Phrygian god who castrates himself and dies only to be reborn, is one such example.
- Celestial Beings:
Carrier posits the idea that Jesus might have originally been thought of as a celestial being who existed in the heavenly realms, similar to how other deities and heroes in ancient religions resided in realms outside of the earthly plane.
Applying Carrier’s method to other famous figures, I’ve drawn parallels between Elvis Presley and Orpheus (note, I limited myself to one mythological figure):
- Musical Prowess:
Elvis: Known for his unique voice and charismatic stage presence, Elvis revolutionized the music industry.
Orpheus: Famed for his divine musical talents, he could charm wild beasts and even divert the course of rivers with his lyre.
Elvis: A pioneer of rock and roll, he blended various genres, popularizing this new style of music.
Orpheus: Considered a pioneer in the realm of music and poetry in Greek mythology.
- Tragic Love:
Elvis: Marked by personal struggles, including a turbulent relationship with Priscilla Presley.
Orpheus: Known for his tragic love story with Eurydice, failing to retrieve her from the Underworld due to his impatience.
- Untimely Death:
Elvis: Died unexpectedly at a young age, leading to worldwide mourning.
Orpheus: Met an untimely death at the hands of the Maenads after failing to retrieve Eurydice.
Elvis: Remembered as the “King of Rock and Roll” with a lasting impact on music history.
Orpheus: His music and tragic hero legacy continue in Greek myths, inspiring countless retellings and adaptations.
By applying Richard Carrier’s method, one can find parallels between any two figures if they look hard enough. Be careful, or I will find a parallel for you and you will be no more.