Let me tell you why I wrote the book, Sacred Strands, the Story of a Redeemer Woven Through History. As a mother, I was devastated when one of my children, after college, said he could no longer believe in Christianity. He also believed in evolution and I knew he had been introduced to the skeptics writings as early as junior high. This happened over twenty years ago. He is making inroads back to Christianity now.
So, as a mother, I searched and searched, as only a mother (or parent) can. I read some of the skeptics to see what they were saying. I looked at Paine, Dupuis, and Volney’s writings (so easy to find on the internet – alas). These works are old, 1800s or so. I was appalled by their irreverence and downright blasphemous language. One of the things I wondered about was their insistence (with examples) that Christ was a copy of various ancient myths. There are more recent skeptical writings such as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code which have some of the same ideas.
So I pondered this for many years. By the way, it seems many Christians are not very aware of this. I don’t know why because it is all over the internet. Meanwhile I read Christian apologetic books and I studied books both for and against evolution.
One Sunday morning in August our priest gave a talk on the image of Edessa and said it could possibly be the Shroud of Turin (burial garment of Christ). The Orthodox calendar celebrated Aug 16 as the day the “image made without hands” had been transported to Constantinople in 944. My husband and I had joined the Eastern Orthodox church in 2011, but our history is Mennonite and Evangelical, so I was almost completely unaware of the Shroud of Turin.
I immediately bought all the books on the Shroud that I could find. I became thoroughly convinced that the Shroud is authentic and not a fake. This study and realization strengthened my Christian faith. I was able to leave all doubts behind (and I am a somewhat skeptical person). I believe that the Shroud of Turin is a miracle for our times, because we now have the scientific equipment to examine it so thoroughly.
I asked myself, “Since God gave us the Shroud which we can physically examine with our eyes, I wonder if there is anything else we could actually see which would increase our faith in Christ?” I thought of a book I had read long before on the Gospel in the stars by D J Kennedy called The Real Meaning of the Zodiac and I pulled it off my library shelves and reread it. Then I looked at all the books in the back referenced by Kennedy and I ordered most of them. This is a fascinating study begun by Frances Rolleston (Mazzaroth, 1863). Many books since her time have been written on the Gospel in the Stars using her ideas, but some have criticized her methods.
Rolleston begins by telling us the object of this work was to show that the names of the stars and constellations were invented to transmit the earliest and most important knowledge possessed by the first fathers of mankind–the prediction of He who was “first promised to Adam as the seed of the woman and the conqueror of the serpent”. The constellations are old; secular scientists place them around 3000 bc. We find pictured in the constellations the symbolism we see in Genesis 3:15 — that of a woman born conqueror of the serpent. One constellation shows Hercules stepping on the head of Draco while holding up one heel as if hurt. Another shows Ophiuchus, struggling with a serpent while stepping on the head of the Scorpion and the Scorpion’s stinger tail is near the heel of Ophiuchus.
One thing that caught my attention in Rolleston’s book was the answer to the question I had long pondered–“why did the skeptics say that Christianity copied from the myths?” Rolleston writes (Part 1, p. 19) “Like others of the sceptic school, Volney reports everywhere in antiquity the existence of the tradition of the expected conqueror of the serpent, a divine person, born of a woman, who was to come; and sees this tradition reflected in the constellations, but why it should be there he does not say.” Rolleston shows that it is there because holy men of old put it there as they formed and named the constellations.
As I studied these things I saw what the mistake was that the skeptics of the 1800s had made and which is still being made today. Christianity did not copy off of those myths and mysteries of the ancient world, rather those myths and mysteries were a foretelling of the coming of the Redeemer, known from the beginning of time. Over the ages, many of the ideas became distorted as man tried to understand them. One way we trace these ideas is by the remarkable symbolism found in Genesis 3:15–that of a Redeemer bruising the head of the serpent while being bruised in the heel.
Christianity was not borrowed from pagan myths but rather those myths and mysteries contain a knowledge (though imperfect) of a Redeemer known from the earliest ages. The similarities between Paganism and Christianity are because both drew from the same Revelation to the Patriarchs.
So this is the long and the short of it – why I wrote the book, Sacred Strands, the Story of a Redeemer Written through History. You can buy it here. I was and am surprised that the Christian apologists of the day do not seem to write much on this subject. The accusation against Christianity of being borrowed from myths is very prevalent on the internet. I write a blog every week on www.sacredstrands.org. I am hoping that my book and my blog will be a witness for Christ.