When they say that Christian beliefs about Jesus are derived from pagan mythology, I think you should laugh. Then look at them wide-eyed and with a big grin, and exclaim, “Do you really believe that?” Act as though you’ve just met a flat earther or Roswell conspirator. You could say something like, “Man, those old theories have been dead for over a hundred years! Where are you getting this stuff?” Tell them this is just sensationalist junk, not serious scholarship. If they persist, then ask them to show you the actual passages narrating the supposed parallel. They’re the ones who are swimming against the scholarly consensus, so make them work hard to save their religion. I think you’ll find that they’ve never even read the primary sources.
-William Lane Craig
Here I have found two gods, one Greek and one Roman, who bear striking similarities to Jesus. I have cited primary sources (translations of the original ancient texts) all of which you can read for yourself via Tufts University’s Perseus Project or through equally reputable University resources.
Written about by Titus Livius (who died in 17 CE) in his book “The Early History of Rome” and by Plutarch in “Numa Pompilius”(written circa 75 CE, around the same time Mark’s gospel was written).
The Parallels:Romulus is born of a vestal virgin, which was a priestess of the hearth god Vesta sworn to celibacy (Early History of Rome, 1.3-1.4). His mother claims that the divine impregnated her, yet this is not believed by the King (there is a certain irony to this since Romulus is later hailed as “God and a Son of God”, meaning that his mother’s seemingly far-fetched tale was true after all). Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, are tossed in the river and left for dead (A “slaughter of the innocents” tale which parallels that of Matthew 2:13-16).
Romulus is hailed as the son of god. He is “snatched away to heaven” by a whirlwind (It is assumed that the gods took him), and he makes post mortem appearances (See The Early History of Rome 1.16). In his work Numa Pompilius, Plutarch records that there was a darkness covering the earth before his death (Just as there was during Jesus’ death according to Mark 15:33). He also states that Romulus is to be know afterwards as ‘Quirinus’; A god which belonged to the Archiac Triad (a “triple deity” similar to the concept of the Trinity). This information may be found in the second paragraph of the translation of Numa Pompilius (hyperlinked above).
Written about by Diodorus Siculus in the "Library of History" Book 4. Diodorus lived from 90 to 21 BCE (According to his entry in Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia).The Parallels:Heracles is the Son of a god (Zeus).In Library of History 4:9:1-2, it is recorded that Zeus is both the father and great-great- great grandfather of Heracles, just as Jesus is essentially his own grandpa, being both “The root and offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16) as he is part of the triune God which is the father of Adam and eventually of Jesus. Both are doubly related to the Supreme God.
Diodorus writes that,"For as regards the magnitude of the deeds which he accomplished it is generally agreed that Heracles has been handed down as one who surpassed all men of whom memory from the beginning of time has brought down an account; consequently it is a difficult attainment to report each one of his deeds in a worthy manner and to present a record which shall be on a level with labours so great, the magnitude of which won for him the prize of immortality."-Library of History, 4:8:1
Jesus is also said to have done a very large number of good works. John 21:25 says that: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."
Hera tries to kill Heracles as an infant by sending two serpents after him (Library of History, 4:10:1) yet Heracles survives by strangling them. This parallels Herod's slaughter of the innocents in an attempt to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13-16).
Heracles makes a descent into Hades and returns from it with Theseus and Peirithoüs (4.26.1), just as Jesus descends into the “lower parts of the earth” or Hades (Ephesians 4:7-8); Though Jesus does not bring anyone up from it.Heracles' body is not found and he is assumed to have been taken by the gods:"After this, when the companions of Iolaüs came to gather up the bones of Heracles and found not a single bone anywhere, they assumed that, in accordance with the words of the oracle, he had passed from among men into the company of the gods." (Library of History, 4:38:5)