Ascension myths are myths about certain legendary heroes' last days on Earth before their departing to Heaven or some similar realm.
Richard Miller argues that several Greco-Roman ascension myths have several features in common:
- The hero is the Son of God
- Death accompanied by prodigies
- ...and land covered in darkness
- Corpse goes missing
- Receives a new immortal body
- New body occasionally radiant
- Meets followers on road from city
- Speech from a high place
- Message of resurrection or "translation"
- "Great Commission"
- Ascends to heaven
- Taken up into a cloud
- Explicit eyewitnesses
- Frightened by disappearance
- Some flee
- "Dubious alternative accounts"
- Occurs outside of a central city
- Followers initially in sorrow
- But resurrection story leads to belief, homage, and rejoicing
- Hero deified and cult paid
Jesus Christ is a good fit, as is Romulus and some other legendary heroes. Romulus even had a "great commission" message: to conquer the world (Livy, History of Rome, I:1.16).
- Richard Miller: Mark's Empty Tomb and Other Translation Fables in Classical Antiquity - Journal of Biblical Literature - Volume 129, Number 4 / Winter 2010 - Society of Biblical Literature
- Richard Carrier: Why the Gospels Are Myth: The Evidence of Genre and Content - YouTube -- he discusses ascension myths