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The Birth-place Of Christ Jesus
The writer of that portion of the Gospel according to Matthew which
treats of the place in which Jesus was born, implies, as we stated in
our last chapter, that he was born in a house. His words are these:
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of
Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east" to
worship him. "And when they were come into the house, they
saw the young child with Mary his mother."[154:1]
The writer of the Luke version implies that he was born in a stable,
as the following statement will show:
"The days being accomplished that she (Mary) should be
delivered . . . she brought forth her first-born son, and
wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger,
there being no room for him in the inn."[154:2]
If these accounts were contained in these Gospels in the time of
Eusebius, the first ecclesiastical historian, who flourished during the
Council of Nice (A. D. 327), it is very strange that, in speaking of the
birth of Jesus, he should have omitted even mentioning them, and should
have given an altogether different version. He tells us that Jesus was
neither born in a house, nor in a stable, but in a cave, and that
at the time of Constantine a magnificent temple was erected on the spot,
so that the Christians might worship in the place where their Saviour's
feet had stood.[154:3]
In the apocryphal Gospel called "Protevangelion," attributed to James,
the brother of Jesus, we are informed that Mary and her husband, being
away from their home in Nazareth, and when within three miles of
Bethlehem, to which city they were going, Mary said to Joseph:
"Take me down from the ass, for that which is in me presses to
Joseph, replying, said:
"Whither shall I take thee, for the place is desert?"
Then said Mary again to Joseph:
"Take me down, for that which is within me mightily presses
Joseph then took her down from off the ass, and he found there a cave
and put her into it.
Joseph then left Mary in the cave, and started toward Bethlehem for a
midwife, whom he found and brought back with him. When they neared the
spot a bright cloud overshadowed the cave.
"But on a sudden the cloud became a great light in the cave,
so their eyes could not bear it. But the light gradually
decreased, until the infant appeared and sucked the breast of
Tertullian (A. D. 200), Jerome (A. D. 375) and other Fathers of the
Church, also state that Jesus was born in a cave, and that the
heathen celebrated, in their day, the birth and Mysteries of their
Lord and Saviour Adonis in this very cave near Bethlehem.[155:2]
Canon Farrar says:
"That the actual place of Christ's birth was a cave, is a
very ancient tradition, and this cave used to be shown as the
scene of the event even so early as the time of Justin Martyr
(A. D. 150)."[155:3]
Mr. King says:
"The place yet shown as the scene of their (the Magi's)
adoration at Bethlehem is a cave."[155:4]
The Christian ceremonies in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem are
celebrated to this day in a cave,[155:5] and are undoubtedly nearly
the same as were celebrated, in the same place, in honor of Adonis,
in the time of Tertullian and Jerome; and as are yet celebrated in Rome
every Christmas-day, very early in the morning.
We see, then, that there are three different accounts concerning the
place in which Jesus was born. The first, and evidently true one, was
that which is recorded by the Matthew narrator, namely, that he was
born in a house. The stories about his being born in a stable or in
a cave[155:6] were later inventions, caused from the desire to place
him in as humble a position as possible in his infancy, and from the
fact that the virgin-born Saviours who had preceded him had almost
all been born in a position the most humiliating--such as a cave, a
cow-shed, a sheep-fold, &c.--or had been placed there after birth. This
was a part of the universal mythos. As illustrations we may mention
Crishna, the Hindoo virgin-born Saviour, was born in a cave,[156:1]
fostered by an honest herdsman,[156:2] and, it is said, placed in a
sheep-fold shortly after his birth.
How-Tseih, the Chinese "Son of Heaven," when an infant, was left
unprotected by his mother, but the sheep and oxen protected him with
Abraham, the Father of Patriarchs, is said to have been born in a
Bacchus, who was the son of God by the virgin Semele, is said to have
been born in a cave, or placed in one shortly after his birth.[156:5]
Philostratus, the Greek sophist and rhetorician, says, "the inhabitants
of India had a tradition that Bacchus was born at Nisa, and was
brought up in a cave on Mount Meros."
AEsculapius, who was the son of God by the virgin Coronis, was left
exposed, when an infant, on a mountain, where he was found and cared for
by a goatherd.[156:6]
Romulus, who was the son of God by the virgin Rhea-Sylvia, was left
exposed, when an infant, on the banks of the river Tiber, where he was
found and cared for by a shepherd.[156:7]
Adonis, the "Lord" and "Saviour," was placed in a cave shortly after
Apollo (Phoibos), son of the Almighty Zeus, was born in a cave at
Mithras, the Persian Saviour, was born in a cave or grotto,[156:10]
at early dawn.
Hermes, the son of God by the mortal Maia, was born early in the
morning, in a cave or grotto of the Kyllemian hill.[156:11]
Attys, the god of the Phrygians,[156:12] was born in a cave or
The object is the same in all of these stories, however they may
differ in detail, which is to place the heaven-born infant in the most
humiliating position in infancy.
We have seen it is recorded that, at the time of the birth of Jesus
"there was a great light in the cave, so that the eyes of Joseph and
the midwife could not bear it." This feature is also represented in
early Christian art. "Early Christian painters have represented the
infant Jesus as welcoming three Kings of the East, and shining as
brilliantly as if covered with phosphuretted oil."[157:1] In all
pictures of the Nativity, the light is made to arise from the body of
the infant, and the father and mother are often depicted with glories
round their heads. This too was a part of the old mythos, as we shall
The moment Crishna was born, his mother became beautiful, and her form
brilliant. The whole cave was splendidly illuminated, being filled with
a heavenly light, and the countenances of his father and his mother
emitted rays of glory.[157:2]
So likewise, it is recorded that, at the time of the birth of Buddha,
"the Saviour of the World," which, according to one account, took place
in an inn, "a divine light diffused around his person," so that "the
Blessed One" was "heralded into the world by a supernatural
When Bacchus was born, a bright light shone round him,[157:4] so
that, "there was a brilliant light in the cave."
When Apollo was born, a halo of serene light encircled his cradle,
the nymphs of heaven attended, and bathed him in pure water, and girded
a broad golden band around his form.[157:5]
When the Saviour AEsculapius was born, his countenance shone like the
sun, and he was surrounded by a fiery ray.[157:6]
In the life of Zoroaster the common mythos is apparent. He was born in
innocence of an immaculate conception of a Ray of the Divine Reason. As
soon as he was born, the glory arising from his body enlightened the
whole room, and he laughed at his mother.[157:7]
It is stated in the legends of the Hebrew Patriarchs that, at the birth
of Moses, a bright light appeared and shone around.[157:8]
There is still another feature which we must notice in these narratives,
that is, the contradictory statements concerning the time when Jesus
was born. As we shall treat of this subject more fully in the chapter on
"The Birthday of Christ Jesus," we shall allude to it here simply as far
The Matthew narrator informs us that Jesus was born in the days of
Herod the King, and the Luke narrator says he was born when
Cyrenius was Governor of Syria, or later. This is a very awkward and
unfortunate statement, as Cyrenius was not Governor of Syria until some
ten years after the time of Herod.[158:1]
The cause of this dilemma is owing to the fact that the Luke narrator,
after having interwoven into his story, of the birth of Jesus, the
old myth of the tax or tribute, which is said to have taken place at
the time of the birth of some previous virgin-born Saviours, looked
among the records to see if a taxing had ever taken place in Judea, so
that he might refer to it in support of his statement. He found the
account of the taxing, referred to above, and without stopping to
consider when this taxing took place, or whether or not it would
conflict with the statement that Jesus was born in the days of Herod,
he added to his narrative the words: "And this taxing was first made
when Cyrenius was governor of Syria."[158:2]
We will now show the ancient myth of the taxing. According to the
Vishnu Purana, when the infant Saviour Crishna was born, his foster
father, Nanda, had come to the city to pay his tax or yearly tribute
to the king. It distinctly speaks of Nanda, and other cowherds,
"bringing tribute or tax to Kansa" the reigning monarch.[158:3]
It also describes a scene which took place after the taxes had been
Vasudeva, an acquaintance of Nanda's, "went to the wagon of Nanda, and
found Nanda there, rejoicing that a son (Crishna) had been born to him.
"Vasudeva spoke to him kindly, and congratulated him on having a son in
his old age.[158:4]
"'Thy yearly tribute,' he added, 'has been paid to the king . . . why do
you delay, now that your affairs are settled? Up, Nanda, quickly, and
set off to your own pastures.' . . . Accordingly Nanda and the other
cowherds returned to their village."[158:5]
Now, in regard to Buddha, the same myth is found.
Among the thirty-two signs which were to be fulfilled by the mother of
the expected Messiah (Buddha), the fifth sign was recorded to be, "that
she would be on a journey at the time of her child's birth."
Therefore, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophets," the virgin Maya, in the tenth month after her heavenly
conception, was on a journey to her father, when lo, the birth of the
Messiah took place under a tree. One account says that "she had alighted
at an inn when Buddha was born."[159:1]
The mother of Lao-tsze, the Virgin-born Chinese sage, was away from
home when her child was born. She stopped to rest under a tree, and
there, like the virgin Maya, gave birth to her son.[159:2]
Pythagoras (B. C. 570), whose real father was the Holy Ghost,[159:3]
was also born at a time when his mother was away from home on a journey.
She was travelling with her husband, who was about his mercantile
concerns, from Samos to Sidon.[159:4]
Apollo was born when his mother was away from home. The Ionian legend
tells the simple tale that Leto, the mother of the unborn Apollo, could
find no place to receive her in her hour of travail until she came to
Delos. The child was born like Buddha and Lao-tsze--under a
tree.[159:5] The mother knew that he was destined to be a being of
mighty power, ruling among the undying gods and mortal men.[159:6]
Thus we see that the stories, one after another, relating to the birth
and infancy of Jesus, are simply old myths, and are therefore not
[154:1] Matthew, ii.
[154:2] Luke, ii.
[154:3] Eusebius's Life of Constantine, lib. 3, chs. xl., xli. and xlii.
[155:1] Protevangelion. Apoc. chs. xii., xiii., and xiv., and Lily of
Israel, p. 95.
[155:2] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. pp. 98, 99.
[155:3] Farrar's Life of Christ, p. 38, and note. See also, Hist.
Hindostan, ii. 311.
[155:4] King: The Gnostics and their Remains, p. 134.
[155:5] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 95.
[155:6] Some writers have tried to connect these by saying that it was a
cave-stable, but why should a stable be in a desert place, as the
[156:1] Aryan Myths, vol. ii. p. 107.
[156:2] See Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 259.
[156:3] See Amberly's Analysis, p. 226.
[156:4] See Calmet's Fragments, art. "Abraham."
[156:5] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 321. Bell's Pantheon, vol.
i. p. 118, and Dupuis, p. 284.
[156:6] See Taylor's Diegesis, p. 150, and Bell's Pantheon under
[156:7] See Bell's Pantheon, vol. ii. p. 218.
[156:8] See Ibid. vol. i. p. 12.
[156:9] Aryan Mythology, vol. i. pp. 72, 158.
[156:10] See Dunlap's Mysteries of Adoni, p. 124, and Aryan Mythology,
vol. ii. p. 134.
[156:12] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Beliefs, p. 255.
[156:13] See Dunlap's Mysteries of Adoni, p. 124.
[157:1] Inman: Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 460.
[157:2] Cox: Aryan Mythology, vol. ii. p. 133. Higgins: Anacalypsis,
vol. i. p. 130. See also, Vishnu Purana, p. 502, where it says:
"No person could bear to gaze upon Devaki from the light that invested
[157:3] See Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 43, 46, or Bunsen's Angel-Messiah,
pp. 34, 35.
[157:4] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 322, and Dupuis: Origin of
Relig. Belief, p. 119.
[157:5] Tales of Anct. Greece, p. xviii.
[157:6] Bell's Pantheon, vol. i. p. 27. Roman Antiquities, p. 136.
[157:7] Inman: Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 460. Anacalypsis, vol. i. p.
[157:8] See Hardy: Manual of Buddhism, p. 145.
[158:1] See the chapter on "Christmas."
[158:2] It may be that this verse was added by another hand some time
after the narrative was written. We have seen it stated somewhere that,
in the manuscript, this verse is in brackets.
[158:3] See Vishnu Purana, book v. chap. iii.
[158:4] Here is an exact counterpart to the story of Joseph--the
foster-father, so-called--of Jesus. He too, had a son in his old age.
[158:5] Vishnu Purana, book v. chap. v.
[159:1] Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah, p. 34. See also, Beal: Hist. Buddha,
p. 32, and Lillie: Buddha and Early Buddhism, p. 73.
[159:2] Thornton: Hist. China, i. 138.
[159:3] As we saw in Chapter XII.
[159:4] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 150.
[159:5] See Rhys David's Buddhism, p. 25.
[159:6] See Cox: Aryan Myths, vol. ii. p. 31.
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