The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors
The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors (or Christianity Before Christ) is an 1875 book written by Kersey Graves. It asserts that Jesus was not an actual person, but was a creation largely based on earlier stories of deities or god-men saviours who had been crucified, and descended to and ascended from the underworld. Parts were the reprinted in The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read edited by Tim C. Leedom in 1994, and was republished in its entirety in 2001.
The book is often used as a source for many Jesus myth hypothesis writers, including Dorothy M. Murdock, Tom Harpur and John G. Jackson. Many of the same theories espoused in the book are repeated in the documentaries The God Who Wasn't There, The Pagan Christ, Zeitgeist: The Movie and Religulous.
Graves, often citing Godfrey Higgins as his source, asserts in the book that the following messiah-like "saviors" were crucified on a cross or tree before ascending into heaven.
- Chrishna of India (Krishna), 1200 B.C.
- Alcestos (Alcestis) of Euripides, 600 B. C.
- Atys (Attis) of Phrygia, 1170 B. C.
- Bali of Orissa, 725 B. C.
- Budha Sakia of India, 600 B. C.
- Crite of Chaldea, 1200 B. C.
- Hesus or Eros (Esus), 834 B. C.
- Iao of Nepaul, 622 B. C.
- Indra of Thibet, 725 B. C.
- Mithra (Mitra) of Persia, 600 B. C.
- Prometheus or Æschylus of Caucasus, 547 B.C.
- Quexalcote of Mexico, 587 B. C.
- Quirinus of Rome, 506 B. C.
- Thammuz (Tammuz) of Syria, 1160 B. C.
- Thulis of Egypt, 1700 B. C.
- Wittoba (Vithoba) of the Bilingonese, 552 B. C.
He also lists a number of other holy figures who took the form of men and then ascended into heaven, including Salivahana of Bermuda, Zulis or Zhule of Egypt, Osiris of Egypt, Oru of Egypt, Odin of the Scandinavians, Zoroaster of Persia, Baal of Phenicia, Taut, "the only Begotten of God," of Phenicia, Bali of Afghanistan, Xamolxis of Thrace, Zoar of the Bonzes, Adad of Assyria, Deva Tat (Savitr) of Siam, Sammonocadam of Siam, Alcides of Thebes, Mikado of the Sintoos, Beddru of Japan, Bremrillah of the Druids, Thor son of Odin of the Gauls, Cadmus of Greece, Hil of the Mandaites, Feta of the Mandaites, Gentaut of Mexico, Universal Monarch of the Sibyls, Ischy of the Island of Formosa, Divine Teacher of Plato Holy One of Xaca, Fohi (Fu Xi) of China, Tien (Tian) of China, Adonis son of the virgin Io of Greece, Ixion of Rome, and Mohamud or Mahomet (Muhammad) of Arabia.
The book claims that a number of these deities or god-men shared at least some traits of Jesus as described in the New Testament, drawing the strongest similarities with Krishna. For example, some figures had miraculous or virgin births, were sons of supreme gods, were born on December 25, had stars point to their birthplaces, were visited by shepherds and magi as infants, fled from death as children, exhibited traits of divinity in childhood, spent time in the desert, traveled as they taught, had disciples, performed miracles, were persecuted, were crucified, descended into hell after death, appeared as resurrections or apparitions, or ascended into heaven. Graves also devotes chapters to the pagan roots of baptism and the eucharist, and concludes that Jesus was not a real person.
Richard Carrier, a supporter of the Christ myth theory, has written online about his concerns with The Sixteen Crucified Saviors. For example, Price argues that Graves often omits citations, uses dubious sources, mixes opinions with facts, and draws conclusions beyond the evidence presented. However, according to Carrier, there is no comprehensive rebuttal of the book, and although many of his facts are wrong, others assertions such as a December 25 birthdate among Greco-Roman sun gods are now acknowledged to be correct. Carrier argues there is a better case for the resurrection of Thracian god Zalmoxis (also called Salmoxis or Gebele'izis) and the crucifixion and resurrection of Sumerian goddess Inanna (also known as Ishtar), neither of whom are mentioned by Graves.
- Maurice Casey Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? T&T Clark 2014 p21-22