Zeitgiest is a movie that gives scientific, logical arguments challenging common beliefs of Christianity, the disaster of Sept. 11, 2001 (911), and the Federal Reserve Bank. This study focuses on the portion of the movie that discusses Christianity.
The main premise of the Christianity segment is that there were other historical figures that lived before Jesus that had similar “stories” to His. The movie lists kings, pharaohs and other historical figures who are said to have been born of a virgin on December 25th, who had 12 followers, who were crucified, who died and rose after 3 days, and would return to earth one day. Because these figures lived before Jesus, the movie claims that the story of Jesus was plagiarized from one of these other stories. The movie concludes that since these other figures lived before the time of Jesus Christ that the story of Jesus must have been taken from these other stories, and that therefore the story of Jesus must not be true.
So, their argument is: if there is a story that sounds similar to a previously told story then it must be untrue and have been conceived with the existing story in mind. This would, though, also imply that all but one of the other stories must have been plagiarized from the first version of this story. If this is the case, then it would seem extremely important to determine which of these stories is the original story.
Which story came first? This would be the one that all of the others are copied from.
We can even find references in the Christian bible stating that the prophecy of the coming Savior has been prophesized since the beginning of the world:
The old testament of the bible contains many prophesies of the coming Messiah.
The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, Chaldeans all have records of these prophecies. Much of the ancient Egyptian symbols, hieroglyphics, and customs are based on these stories.
So yes, the movie is correct in that the story of a savior born in a lowly environment, having 12 followers, being killed, and rising after 3 days was known prior to the arrival of Christ. And yes , there are others who claimed to be this prophesized Messiah. There were even men living during the time of Jesus who were claimed by some to be this Messiah!
Since the story of the coming Messiah was well known by many cultures and many civilizations, it is no big surprise that after some rulers died their followers will claim that this person was the prophesized Messiah. It is also no surprise, that some rulers would make claims that they themselves were this Messiah.
The fact that others claimed to be the Savior does not determine whether or not Jesus is the actual Messiah. The Jews at the time of Jesus believed that the Messiah was coming one day, but they did not believe that Jesus was in fact that Messiah. Therefore many were/are still waiting for the Messiah to come. There have even been those who claim to be that Messiah as recently as this century! Sabbatai Zevi living in Israel in 1648 proclaimed himself to be the Messaih and had a larger number of followers.
So with all of these rulers, and men claiming to be the Messiah, how are we to determine which of these is the real Messiah?
"...take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God."
Gamaliel lived during the time of Jesus and didn’t believe that Jesus was the true Messiah. He also knew of others during his time who had claimed to be this Messiah. What he is saying is that there were many others who were said to be the Messiah, and that these others could not have been sent by God because not long after their deaths, all of their followers stopped worshipping them. He stated that there was no need to kill the apostles because if Jesus wasn’t the real Messiah that people would soon forget about him like they did the others.
So I ask: of all those men who have claimed to be the prophesized savior, which had you ever even heard of, and which of these “Messiah’s” are still worshipped to this day?