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View Diary: Easter: Was the Risen Jesus Originally Female? (10 comments)

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  •  A response from Dr. Nugent (0+ / 0-)

    I requested a response to your comment from Dr. Nugent.  Here it is:  

    What I am proposing for the relationship of the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection to the Mesopotamian Inanna-Dumuzi myth-complex is not “comparative mythology,” ala Frazer, but “connectional mythology.” The biblical tradition inherits and transforms Inanna-Dumuzian themes, and becomes itself an extension of this myth-complex. Like with the biblical flood myth, which is a version of the earlier Mesopotamian flood myth, the myth of the passion and resurrection of Jesus is a version of this earlier Mesopotamian mytheme. I am not recounting the numerous, close parallels between these stories to argue that they are instances of a common “universal” mythic theme, but rather to argue that there is a direct, genetic link between them. The Hebrew Bible, with its many literary figures which also carry Inanna-Dumuzi imprints (Lot, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Jonah, to name some), also provides a primary “missing link” between the New Testament and ancient Mesopotamian worlds.

    On another point, regarding the transition from woman-centric to male-centric thought, Yes! Ishtar, the Babylonian-Semitic link between the Sumerian Inanna and various Biblical-Semitic figures, demonstrates the transition, for she is androgynous, with some, mostly earlier, myths reflecting the female side and some, mostly later, myths the male side of this deity. And it is important to remember that both Dumuzi and Jesus represent mythic figures which run counter to the masculinization current running so strongly through the biblical tradition, for they are both very “feminine” men (or, mythically, “god-men,” for both combine the human and divine).

    “Dionysius” is also incredibly important, but he’s not really a “dying-rising” god, contrary to what Frazer says. Yes, he is a big part of the Hellenization of the biblical tradition, especially, of course, when it comes to the sacral drinking of wine (Dumuzi is also an alcoholic, but his drink is beer). But the Hellenic-Hellenistic contribution to the Judeo-Christian tradition, like the Egyptian contribution, comes about later than, and is mostly separable from, the Mesopotamian contribution.

    Finally, regarding “dubious philology,” not “holding up to the archaeological record,” and “generous extrapolation.” The philological links don’t hold up the argument by themselves, but they add to it—given the sharing of such major themes (such as death-and-resurrection and sacred marriage), as well as specific details (the “3-day period”, etc.), the philological link between Ishtar/Ashtar/Astarte—Esther—Eostre/Easter, for example, doesn’t look too shabby. For philological connections of god-names in the ancient Near East & Eastern Mediterranean regions, see work by John Pairman Brown and Michael Astour.

    Regarding the “archaeological record,” I find it interesting that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built on the site of Hadrian’s Temple of Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess, like Inanna/Ishtar, of the planet Venus, but I don’t think of this as a pillar of the argument.

    “Generous extrapolation”: I think the sheer amount of data relating to ancient Mesopotamia and other early cuneiform cultures (3/4 of a million cuneiform tablets written over a 3300 year period, thus far recovered through archaeological excavations), as well as the increasing understanding, translation, and publication of these texts (knowledge completely unknown 150 years ago) gives us many more “knowns”, so that extrapolation, while always necessary on the cutting edge of knowledge, can yield more and more to interpretation. The less one knows about a subject, of course, the easier it is to outright reject, or uncritically embrace, what someone proposes about that subject.

    Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.--Jacob Bronowski

    by ValerieTarico on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 12:47:21 PM PDT

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