Bible myths and their parallels in other religions (1910) by Thomas William Doane

Bible myths and their parallels in other religions

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



He who knows only one religion knows none."
 — Prof. 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 before." 
— 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.

Excerpt:
The idea of publishing the work here presented did not suggest itself until a large portion of the material it contains had been accumulated for the private use and personal gratification of the author. In pursuing the study of the Bible Myths, facts pertaining thereto, in a condensed form, seemed to be greatly needed, and nowhere to be found. 

Widely scattered through hundreds of ancient and modern volumes, most of the contents of this book may indeed be found; but any previous attempt to trace exclusively the myths and legends of the Old and New Testament to their origin, published as a separate work, is not known to the writer of this. Many able writers have shown our so-called Sacred Scriptures to be unhistorical, and have pronounced them largely legendary, but have there left the matter, evidently aware of the great extent of the subject lying beyond. 

As Thomas Scott remarks, in his English Life of Jesus: "How these narratives of the New Testament narratives), unhistorical as they have been shown to be, came into existence, it is not our business to explain / and once again, at the end of the task, as at the beginning and throughout, we must emphatically disclaim the obligation." To pursue the subject from the point at which it is abandoned by this and many other distinguished writers has been the labour of the author of this volume for a number of years. The result of this labour is herewith submitted to the reader, but not without a painful consciousness of its many imperfections. 

The work naturally begins with the Eden myth and is followed by a consideration of the principal Old Testament legends, showing their universality, origin and meaning. Next will be found the account of the birth of Christ Jesus, with his history until the close of his life upon earth, showing, in connection therewith, the universality of the myth of the Virgin- born, Crucified and Resurrected Saviour. Before showing the origin and meaning of the myth (which is done in Chapter XXXIX.), we have considered the Miracles of Christ Jesus, the Eucharist, Baptism, the Worship of the Virgin, Christian Symbols, the Birthday of Christ Jesus, the Doctrine of the Trinity, Why Christianity Prospered, and the Antiquity of Pagan Religions, besides making a comparison of the legendary histories of Crishna and Jesus, and Buddha and Jesus. The concluding chapter relates to the question, What do we really know about Jesus?

In the words of Prof. Max Muller (The Science of Religion, p. 11): " A comparison of all the religions of the world, in which none can claim a privileged position, will no doubt seem to many dangerous and reprehensible because ignoring that peculiar reverence which everybody, down to the mere fetish worshiper, feels for his own religion, and for his own god. Let me say, then, at once, that I myself have shared these misgivings, but that I have tried to overcome them because I would not and could not allow myself to surrender either what I hold to be the truth, or what I hold still dearer than truth, the right of testing truth. 

Nor do I regret it. I do not say that the Science of Religion is all gain. No, it entails losses and losses of many things which we hold dear. But this I will say, that, as far as my humble judgment goes, it does not entail the loss of anything that is essential to true religion, and that, if we strike the balance honestly, the gain is immeasurably greater than the loss " All truth is safe, and nothing else is safe; and he who keeps back the truth or withholds it from men, from motives of expediency, is either a coward or a criminal, or both."
 
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