Valerie Tarico on Ancient Sumerian Origins of the Easter Story

What do you think?


busterggi said...

Why not?

The story of Moses is nothing more than a plagarism of the older story of Sargon of Akkad.

dvd said...

Not a good way to argue. I mean, there were movies pre-9/11 with the plot of planes flying into the World Trade Centers, and Terrorists of course.

just because something is similar in fiction previous, it does not negate the truthfullness of what actaully happened.

ZAROVE said...

John, you an educated man, you've been to college, and you have some experience in the History of Christianity.

So why are you posting this nonsense?

The story of Innana as relate dint he article is only vaugley similar to Jesus sin that both venture to an underworld and return form it. But this is too broad a theme. Am I to believe that all Broad Themes are somehow related?

If so, then any story of a General who beat a much larger army and overcame difficult and seemingly impossible odds would be seen as based on Alexanders early conquests, or those of Joshua.

But if you really stop and think about hte stories, you'd soon realise they aren't the same at all. Innana went to the Underworld in order to ressurect her lover, whereas Jesus died on the Cross to attone for the ins of the world. Innana didn't win forgiveness for those hwo killed her did she?

Also, the ld claim that the word Easter is derived from Ishtar and was originally a Pagan Holidya is just old hoakum. The name came from a Pagan goddess accordign to Bede, but not Ishtar. Oestera, who was a Celtic goddess. But, the reason Easter is named Easter is because the holidya just so happens ot fall in a month with the name of said goddess. At least according to Bede.

Other scholars dispute Bede, and claim its form an old Germanic word menaing "Ressurection".

The Pagan Parrallels and borrowing concept your advocating here is really from Alexander Hislop, who positioned this as a mean to overturn Cahtolsisim, and was late ruseds ot attack all Christians by others.

Surly tyou know the falsity of these claims, you know better.

Adrian Thysse, FCD. said...

"Who would Jesus waterboard?"

That should be bumper sticker.

IdahoEv said...

Meh. It's clear to me already that most of the ancient mythologies derive bits and pieces from each other - all are syncretic to some degree. While this particular hypothesis is interesting, I don't find it to be sufficiently convincing to produce a "wow" moment.

There are plenty of ancient myths invoking passages to the underworld and/or resurrections; this is standard fare for the mythology of that era. Saying this specific one is the singular inspiration for Jesus is taking it a bit far, I think.

There were thousands of gods of various tribes, and thousands of branches of evolving oral traditions, spanning millennia. Very few of these have survived intact into the scholarly era, so really we probably can't trace the specific origins of any one myth with any great accuracy.

Hylomorphic said...

The name came from a Pagan goddess accordign to Bede, but not Ishtar. Oestera, who was a Celtic goddess.

She was named Eostre, actually. Probably cognate with Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn.

Ostara was, IIRC, the name that a number of linguists guessed the German equivalent of Eostre would be. I don't know that any evidence of a goddess with that name has ever been found.

ZAROVE said...

My apologies. I took form memoy and sometimes this is faulty.

Still, the point is, the article on Huff is wrong.

Lee Randolph said...

I'd say the good doctor is right on the money, where he is wrong is in calling himself a christian.

He doesn't qualify as a christian according to criteria to be a christian. He just qualifies as a "good person".

I suppose he'd rather call himself a christian than a deist. I'm sure he gets more respect that way.

ZAROVE said...

Lee, your only sayign he's right becaus this undermines Christianity to you.

But the Pagan Parrallels arne't supporte dby real Scholarhsip. Easter wasn't Celebrated by the Sumarians, and has nothign to do with Ishtar.

By buyign into this, you prove what many of us have noted all along; that you don't care abotu real logic or reason and this isn't abotu any sort of higher truth, its about getting back at CHristianity.

Erlend said...

Lee asked me to make a comment on this article, so I have noted down some initial thoughts quickly which I hope some people will find interesting- and let me know if I am missing anything.

After a previous discussion here I feel the need to preface my remarks. I do believe there are clear parallels and derivation of Biblical stories from surrounding pagan cultures- especially in the Old Testament. Perhaps I can make a post on that here some time? But anyway, for the Jesus tradition I am a little bit more sceptical. Along with the position of most New Testament scholars I do not think there is any large scale borrowing from Graeco-Roman sources. This was, as many of you might now, a popular position from the mid 19 century to the 1950’s. After the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and greater attention paid to cited Graeco-Roman parallels it is now, generally, been put to the background. Most of the Jesus tradition can be seen as an amalgamation of a whole host of Jewish ideas and sociological factors interplaying with them.
I suggest people Nugent’s comments along with the text linked to in the original post, and my comments on what Nugent is saying.

First, of course, we need to note the differences. The recurring death and resurrection is a main difference, the changing of the seasons and harvests (etc....). But to the suggested parallels between Inanna and Jesus:

both travel to a big city.

I don’t really see that as a parallel though or a particular motif of this story. Nor, strictly, is there any travelling, she just ‘goes’. The synoptic gospels present the journey to Jerusalem at length and as a climax of the story. Also try to pick out any extended classical narrative where there is not travelling to a city. Anyway, that is a small point.

where they are arrested by soldiers, put on trial, convicted, sentenced to deathAll of this happened in the underworld, not the city. There are no soliders, after each gate the clothes are just said to be ‘removed’, there is no ‘ arresting’ this is, I presume, the normal entry into the underworld. Indeed, the page that the article posts to make this point, saying The mistress of the Place of Darkness bids Nedu to admit Ishtar in accordance with the ancient rites.
1. At the first gate he removes her splendid crown.
2. At the second gate he removes her necklace with the eight-rayed star.....
There is no indication of any force or anything of that nature- by her own command to the gatekeeper- and moving through gates. Can anyone let me know if I am missing something here? It isn’t precisely a trial, that makes it sound far too much like what Jesus went through, but there is a proclamation of guilt.

stripped of their clothes, tortured, hung up on a stake, and die. And then, after 3 days, they are resurrected from the dead.Nugent presents a wrong chronology. It is (1) removal of clothes, (2)death, then (3) put on a hook. Nugent mixes it up and makes it sound like the Biblical chronology. Inanna is dead and rotting, she is then put away and hung up.
Also she is hung up on a hook, not a stake, because she is said to be like a piece of meat- presumably like the butcher shop near me where they still keep their meat on hooks. Would the Jesus tradition have Jesus dying on a cross because that was the normal way to dispose of rebellious criminals or because- or because Inanna (once dead) was put on a stake?Now on the three days yes, I think we are seeing a common source between this myth and the Jesus tradition. I don’t think that the idea of three days for Jesus being buried comes from this source at all though. We all know the use of three days in the Bible- think Jonah. It was a period of time assigned with special significance, as days often were- think to all the references to 40 days for example. I believe even the Chinese word Pinyin means to bury up with earth after three days in the grave.

they are resurrected from the dead.I will defer the discussion to other peoples’ study of this text. Mettinger’s study of this passage. Mettinger ‘Resurrection Riddle’ chapter 7 deals with this text. He argues for bilocation between the domains of death and life. He also notes that it is part of a ritual procession of images- making it hard to claim he says that this is a myth of resurrection. Further (passim) he argues that the idea of ‘death’ is not being used in the same way for human death (again bilocation).

Mark Smith, ‘Origins of Biblical Monotheism’ notes ‘at the end of Inanna’s decent to the netherworld notes that the form of the resurrection is unknown. Noting that the verb points to a ritual where the dead were invoked and the manifest for temporarily- explaining the theme of agriculture, harvest and seasons then I presume.

I have more broader questions as well. Nugent seems to suggest this story has entered the Christian tradition after a being disseminated, changed and re-told over the centuries and geographical location. Now I agree this happens. But applying that process to this specific story is a little bit problematic because we can usually see this happening. Where is the evolution of this story in the historical sources? Where is it cited, paralleled, or alluded to in other literature in antiquity? He says it was popular. When? Where? What Graeco-Roman or Jewish writers mentioned it? In what G-R cults was this story used? Do we have papyri of this story dating anywhere near the 1 century C.E.? More specifically, how did it end up in an area of the ancient world with the least influence of syncretism [Palestine]? Did Gnostics used it? If there is any group that is connected to both the Jesus tradition and surrounding cultural myths it is them. To me, these are all questions that need to be engaged with before we can start assigning derivation.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Erlend,
i posted part of this on my "...Horror of Easter" article in defense of my position that there was no Adam, but it fits here.

A LIST OF PREMISES AS ARTICLES REFUTING GENESIS 1-11 AND ROMANS 5 SO FARP1. The Interconnectedness of The Ancients - Demonstrates the robust ancient civilizations at the time and that Canaan, Israel and Judah were central to them. Discusses trade routes, seafaring, the link between whales and the Leviathans of Mythology and how long it would take to get from one civilization to another by sea.

P2. Genesis 1:1-25 Is An Amalgam of Near Eastern Creation Myths. Demonstrates the prior existence of key elements of the story of the creation of the Universe that appears in Genesis.

P3.Genesis 1:26-1:27, Creation of Humans in Near Eastern Myths And The Paleolithic Era. Demonstrates that the physical evidence contradicts the story of the making of the first humans in Genesis.

P4.GENESIS 1:28-2:4a, Be Fruitful And Multiply, Founder Effect and Genetic Diversity. This Article shows that even if the physical evidence didn't refute the special creation of the first humans, Adam and Eve, in Genesis 1:27, the problem of Genetic Diversity known as the "Founder Effect" would eventually lead to crippling genetic mutations or extinction.

P5.Genesis 2:4b-20 Man Made From Earth Is Folklore, Conflated River Elements and the Myth of Adapa. This Article shows that the concept of man made from earth spans cultures and geographical boundaries, the rivers are confused between geographical areas and has many elements from pre-existing Near Eastern Myths such as "The Myth of Adapa.

P6. Genesis 2:21-25: Woman From Rib and Mother Goddesses of Near Eastern Myths. This Article shows that in the second creation story in genesis the concept of woman made from bone, earth and antler pre-existed the writing of Genesis, spanned cultures and geographical boundaries and that Eve shares aspects of Goddesses in Ancient Near Eastern Mythology.

Now you can see, though you may think I'm wrong, at least I've done some homework.

Erlend said...

Thanks Lee, yes I can see the effort you made and enjoyed reading it. As you can see from my introduction to my post here I agree that the Old Testament clearly borrows from surrounding cultures.

I still find most of Nugent's suggestion mostly, well, made up!

Lee Randolph said...

are you more of an expert than he is?

Erlend said...

Hi Lee,

You asked me what I made of the interview and I have responded to- spending about two hours actually looking up information behind this text. You didn't ask me what I thought about the person behind the argument. If all that mattered was who Nugent is then I needed have responded, should I? I could have merely noted that I can find more academics who disagree with him.

The fact that he makes at least three quite serious errors (though I would need to see the original text of the document he cites to see if the version I am using is accurate) and that the links he draws just aren't there, do not suddenly get magicked away by appealing to authority.

Lee, do you think he is right? Have I been wrong in my criticism? I know from reading your posts you are excellent at doing research and engage with these sorts of points. An appeal to authority doesn't solve anything. I really think the effort I made shouldn't just be dismissed.

As for dealing with your question directly. I don't know who Tony Nugent is. All I can find about him is that his phd dissertation was entitled Star-God: Enki/Ea and the Biblical God as Expressions
of a Common Ancient Near Eastern Astral-Theological Symbol System which hasn't been published as far as I can tell. Neither I can I find any published work by him, or a C.V, or him quoted in any academic source (I have used a journal search). Therefore I cannot judge what type of researcher or academic he is. But, given that he has a phd and has been a lecturer at a University, yes he has more credentials than me.
Suffice to say though I am though educated in the areas I have said, and by a proper, and ancient, U.K. University- not a crack-pot seminary(!) as you though I might be from.

But I should also say I do not know a lot, at all, about specifically ANE religions in their own right. I have never come across the text Nugent has referred to before either. So I am just as knowledgeable as anyone else on this board when dealing with Dr Nugent's comments.I still believe I can evaluate them though. I can't be fairer than that can I Lee?

Erlend said...

I want to add something, a little off topic- but not utterly. I hope it will interest some people anywa.

Last night I was reading John Taylor's 'Classics and the Bible: Hospitality and Recognition', 2007- for reasons unrelated to what we have been talking about here.

Now, when I had read this book before I only got to chapter three. But when I reached chapter five I noted he argues that the hero in Mark (Jesus) is framed around the Odyssey, and that Acts took influence from Thucydides, as well as suggesting that the material of the synoptic gospels shows influences of copying Homer. Now, he doesn't include dying-rising gods, and he doesn't claim that the ideas of the N.T. are ultimately derived but are framedfrom these sources [see my first post here for the history of thinking this]. Never-the-less he does show strong links. What does everyone else think? Interesting? Is this just as damaging as the Nugent's suggestions? (If you want to get the book it is a reasonably inexpensive book to purchase).

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Erlend,
your opinion is just as important as mine, but since Nugent works in the field, he is more credentialed so logically his opinion should carry more weight than ours.

appeal to authority is not a fallacy when there is a warrant. The warrant is that he is an expert in the field.

I think you are on the right the right track with John Taylor. Remember, I said that christianity could not be immune from influence of its environment. It developed from Judaism, which had at least a thousand year existence. You should look into the concept of the "Axial Age" if you haven't already. The middle east was sandwiched in between the greek philosophers and the eastern philosophers for quite a long time and that was prime territory. It was part of the fertile crescent.

IN fact lebanon was famous for its cedar and had on going with trade with egypt. It had three faces of robust influence, from the greeks, egyptians and persians.

syncretism not plagiarism.

Anthony said...

Erlend: the material of the synoptic gospels shows influences of copying Homer.The influence of Homer is the thesis of two books by Dennis R. MacDonald,

The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. Yale University Press (May 2000), 272 pages.

Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?: Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles. Yale University Press (December 1, 2003), 240 pages.