Hey! I just realized something!
My Village Atheist was explaining to us rubes just the other day that the resemblance of Christ to various “pagan Christs” such as Osiris and Mithras is due entirely to the fact that Christianity borrowed motifs like death and resurrection and virgin birth from pagan mystery religions. It is not, of course, due to the fact that that the God behind the world was dimly perceived by the pagan mind which created portraits of dying and rising gods in reflection of that reality. Nope. There is no God who entered the world in the Incarnation. The apostles just got all het up about a rabbi they knew and somehow got the notion he rose from the dead in fulfillment, not only of his own words, not only of the Scriptures but of much in pagan imagination as well. Now I know I’d certainly be willing to die a grisly death for a literary parallel, and so would you. Why just the other day I saw a religious teacher named Benedict Groeschel in gray clothes with a beard who reminds me of Gandalf a little bit and I can hardly wait till he’s dead so I can announce his resurrection and spend the rest of my life in misery trying to convince people he is God incarnate and the savior of the world. So it’s only natural to presume the same of the apostles.
But now I discover just how deep their knowledge of comparative religion and literature was! For according to Amphibious Goat, Quetzlcoatl “was the god who, at the cost of some self-sacrifice, created the humans of this age. Not surprisingly, he was also a great patron to them, introducing them to many arts, crafts, and sciences for their benefit. So benevolent was this god that he became a man himself. (Note: the name “feathered serpent” is supposed to evoke the idea of a union between heaven and earth.) A young virgin found a feather that had descended from the heavens, and when she put it in her dress for safekeeping, she became pregnant. During his earthly life as a priest, Quetzalcoatl taught the people that sacrificing other humans had no spiritual benefit. Instead, they had to reform their own lives and learn to sacrifice themselves through ascetic practices. The other gods did not like this, so Tezcatlipoca disguised himself as an old man and tricked Quetzalcoatl into breaking his priestly vows and committing a sin. When Quetzalcoatl awoke from his stupor, he was overcome with sorrow, and sacrificed himself (to death) in order to atone for his sin and the sins of other humans. From death, he rose to new life in the heavens. (There are many variations to this story, both in nuances and in details. For more information, I recommend starting with Laurette Sejourne’s Burning Water: Thought & Religion in Ancient Mexico.)”
Of course, there is only one explanation for this: the apostles were profoundly influenced by Aztec religion and borrowed many of their religious images ideas from the Aztecs in inventing Jesus Christ. My Village Atheist is a genius!