The story of Jesus is not original, much less historical:
Modern skeptics of the field of comparative religion, with its claims of close correspondence between the elements of the Jesus story and a multitude of precurors in the mystery and salvation religions of the era, may have a case of sorts to make when they dismiss such parallels as being often unclear, exaggerated or unfounded. The primary sources for such things are a wide and uncoordinated array of texts and fragments of texts, artifacts, frescoes, uncertain records of oral traditions and rituals, excavated temples and places of worship (some ruined by Christian depredations), many requiring interpretation and a careful gleaning of their significance. There have no doubt been parallels suggested, or even declared with confidence, between Jesus and this or that 'savior god' in ancient cultures, which rest on shaky ground or have turned out to be erroneous. Christian apologists are ever at pains to point out these uncertainties and errors. But a few overstated claims and an inevitable degree of ambiguity where some features are concerned does not destroy the entire case, and serves only to provide some handy red herrings for determined apologists. The overall picture is not significantly compromised and is indeed beyond question. There are enough common features between Jesus and antecedent savior figures and their mythologies to make the principle valid. The story of Jesus is not original, much less historical. It owes its life blood—and many of the moles on its skin—to mythical motifs and far more ancient ideas that are found not only throughout the Near East but literally around the world, often in cultures that had no direct contact with those now familiar to us, making such expression endemic (some might say 'epidemic') to the human mind.... Earl Doherty (author, The Jesus Puzzle)
Attempts to divorce Jesus from his fellow cultic saviors:Orthodox scholars have long recognized the danger presented in the picture of a Christian genesis out of pagan salvation religion, and have done their best to squelch it. I have encountered no better debunking of this very biased (and even dishonest) campaign than that of Robert Price in his Deconstructing Jesus. As I say in my website review of that book:
Jonathan Z. Smith ("Dying and Rising Gods" in Encyclopedia of Religion) and Gunter Wagner (Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries) are only two of many offenders who have naively or arrogantly twisted, misread and misrepresented the Greek mysteries and Pauline Christianity in order to divorce Jesus from his fellow cultic saviors: Dionysos, Attis, Osiris & Co. No one can read these pages [88-91] and ever again allow such special pleading tactics any credence. Earl Doherty
Christians borrowing from myths was known at the time:
Celsus accused the Christians of having nothing new, of borrowing or stealing everything from the widespread myths of the time. Then we have Christianity's own apologists like Justin and Tertullian being forced to deal with such accusations, not by denying that the mysteries had possessed such features before Christianity came along, but by admitting that while they did predate Christ, they were the responsibility of Satan and his demons who counterfeited them ahead of time. (We laugh at such rationalizations today, but some modern apologetic antics aren't much better.) Earl Doherty
No one is claiming that the story of Jesus is a mirror image of every aspect of savior god mythology, and certainly not of any one particular god's mythology. Rather, what we see is a commonality of themes and basic ideas, not all of which are universally shared. Christianity emerged from a broad cultural segment of the ancient world, with Jewish elements of one form or another as a prime component. Judaism itself was not monolithic ..., and some Jewish circles outside Judea were significantly hellenized. The degree of commonality of themes and elements, including specifics, between Jesus and the pagan myths is extensive, even striking; they are enough to justify the conclusion that in many respects they are indeed cut from the same cloth. Earl Doherty
Stars appeared at their birth... healed the sick... cast out demons... performed miracles... celebrated communal meal with bread and wine representing savior's flesh and blood... resurrected on the third day... ascended into heaven.
The above list can hardly be denied as widespread mythemes of the ancient world, variously applying to gods, heroes or "divine men." As for Adonis himself, Everett Ferguson (Backgrounds of Early Christianity, p.239) notes: "The Adonis myth perhaps most clearly indicates the resuscitation of a god, but even here it is not strictly a resurrection. These beliefs are more closely allied to the cycle of nature, and the mysteries seem to have had their origin in the agricultural cycle." Earl Doherty
More About Parallels:
There are naturally inevitable differences in origins and cultural influences between the pagan salvation mythology and that of Christianity. The mysteries are ancient because their roots go back into prehistory and are dependent on the agricultural cycle of yearly death and rebirth. The myths of the savior gods symbolized these processes and guaranteed rebirth in an afterlife for the initiate. And that afterlife, as Greek philosophy progressed, became the survival of the soul or spirit only, not the body. In contrast, Christianity was not directly rooted in the agricultural cycle, and the Jewish presence in Christianity introduced an element of physical resurrection (anathema to the Greeks). This too, however, underwent a progression from a "spiritual body" (Paul said that flesh and blood couldn't enter the kingdom of heaven) to a raising of the body in flesh, reflected in a similar progression for Christ, as early thought about Christ raised in spirit was supplanted by the Gospels' portraying him raised in flesh. Christianity also had a particular focus on sin and its forgiveness, which the pagan cults scarcely shared, so Christ's features were adapted to those interests. Because of divergent factors like these, it is entirely unrealistic to look for lockstep parallels.
But as Justin recognized, they did have common themes, and often common details for those themes, if only because there are only so many ways the human mind, and sectarian circumstance, will translate those themes into specific traditions and linkages with the god or founder. Baptism is a universally 'cleansing' rite, in one way or another. At a 'sacred meal' what else are the devotees to do but eat and drink, and it is inevitable that these things will be given a sacred significance, usually traced to the god and attributed to him in a mythical inaugurating ceremony. Great men's births must be accompanied by some portent; and their careers will be opposed by those, god or man, whom such careers will threaten. The features of those careers will tend to follow common patterns, whether relating to miracles, disciples or conflicts with others. And they will usually meet some unpleasant fate, with that experience embodied in story lines which have universal elements to them. And so on. Our brains tend to operate along similar lines in much of what they come up with, no matter what the variety of culture and specific interests we may have; parallels and similarities are what we should expect to find, and the various expressions of them will feed off each other. But for one of those religious expressions to claim that its version of things has nothing to do with any of the others, but just happens to be historical reality while the rest are mere myth, is myopia in the extreme. In the case of Christianity, when we also see that its particular translation of the mythemes are in conformity with specific passages in the scriptures, the claim to historical reality becomes naive in the extreme. Earl Doherty
...To simply declare that they are [coincidences], in order to make the parallel legitimate between the two cases, is once again to beg the question. In fact, it would be almost impossible to make the case that the parallels between Jesus and the savior gods can be put down to coincidence. That a set of multiple circumstances relating to birth, events surrounding that birth, upbringing, career, death burial and resurrection, would happen solely by chance to coincide with sets of themes and even some minute features found in savior god mythology, Hellenistic romance novels, and scriptural passages, and yet nonetheless be historical—even if some of those features in regard to the mystery deities are set aside as overenthusiastic—strains the bounds of credibility. Earl Doherty