David Marshall: Christ in the Rig Veda?

In Chapter 12 of Jesus and the Religions of Man, “The Bonfire”, one of David Marshall’s arguments is that the Indian Rig Veda predicts the coming of Christ, in that it yearns for a god who will sacrifice himself for people’s sins, as well as has sacrificial rituals that can easily remind one of Jesus: a goat without blemish, putting a bush around the goat’s head, binding the animal to a post, driving nails into the animal’s four legs, the four priests dividing the cloth covering the goat among themselves, the rule that the goat’s bones must not be broken, giving the goat soma juice, a belief that the slain animal is to be restored to life, and the eating of the animal’s flesh. Marshall in his article here refers to these things, as well as states that the Rig Veda affirms that the god became half mortal and half immortal.

Marshall does not cite the place in the Rig Veda where these elements occur, but he relies upon Indian Christian Mr. Mandapaka’s book, Sacrifice, as well as lists what Mr. Mandapaka cites as his original sources.  I read here, however, that these elements are found in the Purusha Hymn.  When I checked the Purusha Hymn (see here) and the summary of it on wikipedia (see here), however, I did not see anything about commands for goat sacrifice, and yet there was something about a god sacrificing himself.  But the death of that god is related to creation, since the cosmos is made out of his body parts.  That’s different from predicting a god who will some day come and sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity.  That concept may be in the Rig Veda (I don’t know), but I could not find it in the Purusha Hymn.

There are some who have offered arguments against Christian applications of the Rig Veda to Christ, maintaining that Christian apologists are misunderstanding those passages.  I cannot vouch for Dr. Johnson C. Philip and Dr. Saneesh Chertan, who wrote Nine Signs of Christ in the Rigveda?? (see here), for I do not know who they are.  But I think that their points should at least be considered when studying this issue, for they go into the alleged details of the goat sacrifice that Marshall mentions (though they don’t respond to Marshall, but others who have made those points), as well as present alternative interpretations of the Rig Veda.

This may be something for me to study in the future, since perhaps Mr. Mandapaka goes into detail about where he found the elements of the goat sacrifice that he discusses.  I wouldn’t be overly surprised if there are elements of Indian sacrifice that are similar to the ancient Israelite sacrificial system.  But I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are alternative interpretations of the passages in the Rig Veda that Christian apologists apply to Jesus, as is the case with the Hebrew Bible.

UPDATE: Here is an article by Mr. Mandapaka.  It’s a place to start, perhaps.

UPDATE 2: I found this post, which argued that Jesus is in the Vedas, but it actually provided specific references.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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