@SilasThomas, Welcome! It’s great to hear that you are encouraged by the questions asked and the responses! Its just been wonderful to be a part of this community and find leads to questions both personal and academic on these forums. I appreciate @Jimmy_Sellers bringing my attention to your question. I am not a scholar but as a Christian who comes from a Hindu background would love to share what I have come across along my journey.
On the question of parallels between Jesus and mythical stories of other religions, a leading historian Dr. Mike Licona presents very good evidence to tackle these kind of claims. A few quick points that can be made are:
- Most of the pagan parallels post-date Christ
- Many of the claims of these examples are false ex. No account of resurrection of Krishna or Vishnu. Krishna is instead considered an incarnation of Rama. The puranas are actually dated much after Christ in the 5th - 7th century AD. Ascension of Krishna is not same as bodily resurrection.
- The dying and rising gods of other pagan religions are connected to agricultural cycles and had nothing to do with atonement
- The claims do not negate the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus
- The stories of pagan religions have parallels but that does not establish a causal connection to the resurrection of Jesus. T.N.D. Mettinger, Swedish scholar and professor at Lund University and member of the Royal Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities of Stockholm, who critically analyzed the dying and rising gods in antiquity, in his book, The Riddle of Resurrection , concludes that there are no parallels between the pagan myths and the resurrection of Jesus.
- The new converts to Jesus who had so many questions on the law as discussed in Acts 15, Rom 14, Col 2, 1 Cor 8 - 10 Hebrews etc. would not have come up with their own mythological construct of Jesus.
- There are several non-biblical sources for establishing historicity of Jesus.
There is a short article by Mike Licona refuting the claims of Acharya S book - Christ Conspiracy - The Greatest story ever sold on his website which I think is useful for our conversations with hindus. I cite that article not because the book makes some difficult claims that historians find difficult to refute but because those are the type of objections we tend to hear from lay persons. He responds to claim of astrology in the Bible, Christ is like krishna, Christ is like buddha, reliability of the gospels, reliability of Paul’s writings, non biblical sources etc.
A few books to study the historical evidence for Jesus and the Bible-
Dr. Licona’s book is very comprehensive and answers your question in depth but I have yet to read.
On the question of miracles, one way to approach it is to demonstrate evidence for the possibility of supernatural. It seems the Hindus you are encountering are Hindu by birth but their Hindu mindset is superimposed by the naturalistic view our modern education affords. Pure rationalism is often opposed in traditional Hindu approach to god. Lee Strobel’s book Case for Miracles is something to consider reading this aspect of your question.
Another great discussion on this topic is on ask away:
I will stop here for now! Please do feel free to post additional questions as needed!