The notion of a man-god, or of a human being endowed with divine or supernatural powers, belongs essentially to that earlier period of religious history in which gods and men were still viewed as beings of much the same order, and before they are divided by the impassable gulf which, to later thought, opens out between them. Strange, therefore, as may seem to us the idea of a god incarnate in human form, it has nothing very startling for early man, who sees in a man-god or a god-man only a higher degree of the same supernatural powers which he arrogates in perfect good faith to himself. — Chapter vii: “Incarnate Human Gods”
James George Fraser (1854–1941) was a Scottish anthropologist whose Golden Bough (1890) is considered a landmark work of the relatively recent discipline of comparative religion studies. In it, he developed a theory that mankind’s belief underwent historical changes — from primitive magic to religion to science. The book also relates the birth-death-rebirth pattern present in many if not all major religions.