By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Despite the clear evidence that New Testament Christianity was not influenced by the pagan religions, some still maintain that this is not the case.
Indeed, it is possible that some pagan religions before the time of Christ taught the idea that a Savior would be born of a virgin who would die for mankind and would be raised from the dead.
Even though such similarities do not necessarily prove that the copycat hypothesis took place (as was demonstrated in the first article of this series), it does raise the important question:
Where did the pagans get the notion of a virgin birth and a Savior Who would rise from the dead?
It is here that many conspiracy theorists who reject Christianity and who advocate the pagan influence theory miss a crucial factor in their equations: the influence of Judaism.
You see, prior to many of these pagan religions and concepts, the Jewish preachers had gone throughout the world preaching and teaching about the fact that the Savior from God would one day be born, would die for the sins of mankind, and would rise from the dead.
I remember one Bible study up I had with a young practitioner of witchcraft at a local restaurant.
She informed me that Christians had “stolen” the idea of the virgin birth from the pagans.
I said, “Well, where did the pagans get the idea from?”
She hesitated, and I said, “The pagans “stole” it from the Hebrews!”
Speaking of these contributing factors, we are told:
“The influence of ancient Judaism is evident throughout different cultures.85 Monotheism and the prophecies of a Savior, born of a virgin, sacrificed for sins, and resurrected can be found throughout the Old Testament documents. The first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, was recorded approximately 1446 BC (oral tradition likely preserving it for countless years prior to that date), and the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek around 250 BC, making it available in the common language of the Hellenistic empire that extended to the ends of the known world. Since the Old Testament prophesied of the virgin-born Messiah, it is not surprising that the story spread before Christ’s first advent. An Egyptian papyrus dated to 340 BC reveals, “Who is the author of Re-birth? The Son of God, the One Man, by God’s Will.”86 And from another source, dated to approximately the same time, “The Lord and maker of all . . . from himself made the second God, the Visible . . . whom he loved as his Son.” Although not in agreement with Christian doctrine as to the nature of the Son, these two writings predate Christianity and point to what can be considered a common knowledge. Old Testament history (both oral and written) provides a basis for the existence of mutual knowledge, since the cultural and religious practices of neighboring and distant nations is referenced several times by different authors. In light of these historical facts, the Savior myth can be seen as a common belief emerging from the similar nature of human beings, a diffusion of knowledge from a central base—the Middle East, and the direct result of the distortion of biblical prophecy. Common knowledge produced generally similar stories whose details were invariably different.” (Walter Martin, Jill Martin, Rische Kurt, Van Gorden, 112-113 (Kindle Edition); Nashville,, Tn; Thomas Nelson)
Without a doubt, one of the reasons why the pagan religions had the ideas of a virgin-born Savior was due to the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures were well known in the ancient world.
Far from paganism influencing Christianity, we see again that Judaism (from which Christianity eventually sprang) had greatly influenced paganism.
Within the teachings of the Old Testament were found the primeval promise of the great “Seed of woman” (Genesis 3:15), or the virgin born Son of God (Isaiah 7:14). This Savior would die for the sins of mankind and would rise from the dead on the third day after His death (Genesis 5; Hosea 6:1-6; Isaiah 53).
Indeed, all lines of evidence converge and point irrefutably to Jesus Christ.
Why not today believe on Him, my friends (Acts 16:31)? Bible faith includes obedience to God (Hebrews 5:8-9).
So why not repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess your faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to wash away your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16)?
If you are a child of God who has left the Lord, why not return to Him right now through repentance and prayer (Revelation 3:20)?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.