Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is There A Connection Between Jesus and Inanna?

I've done several  blog posts on the Christ Myth, and I think that there is another one in order. The Christ Myth is the theory that what we believe about Jesus was cobbled together from myths and stories of  dying and rising gods from pagan sources predating Jesus. This time I want to look at the myth of Inanna. I researching on Ehteshaam Gulam on YouTube I came across the following video:

Recall that Ehteshaam Gulam has debated Mary Jo Sharp on the topic of whether or not Jesus died on the cross and lost miserably. Being the sore looser he seems to be, it seems that he has decided to attack another topic that Mary Jo Sharp has spent a great deal of her considerable skills fighting against - the Christ Myth. But rather than engage in a scholarly moderated debate (that she did offer to do with him), he made the video embedded above. Go Figure. Personally, I think it was because he doesn't want to be trounced again.

But be that as it may, in the video he makes the claim that three figures can be pointed out as being just like Jesus - died and rose again.

1. Inanna
2. Osirus - which I have already address here.
3. Apollonius of Tyana - which I have also already posted on here

I admit Inanna is a new one for me and surprise, surprise - Inanna is a she! I had never heard of her before I saw this video. I want to focus on Inanna on this post because I have seen the claims for Osius and Apollonius resoundly destroyed by Jame White, James P. Holding, Lee Strobel, and others. Ehteshaam Gulam claims that further information on Inanna can be found at: 

James Holding asks: "Who on earth would believe a religion centered on a crucified man?" Well, the Sumerians perhaps. One of their top goddesses, Inanna (the Babylonian Ishtar, Goddess of Love and "Queen of Heaven"), was stripped naked and crucified, yet rose again and, triumphant, condemned to Hell her lover, the shepherd-god Dumuzi (the Babylonian Tammuz). This became the center of a major Sumerian sacred story, preserved in clay tablets dating over a thousand years before Christ.[1] The corresponding religion, which we now know included the worship of a crucified Inanna, is mentioned by Ezekiel as having achieved some popularity within Jerusalem itself by the 6th century B.C. The "women weeping for Tammuz" at the north gate of the Jewish temple (Ezekiel 8:14) we now know were weeping because Inanna had condemned him to Hell, after herself being crucified and resurrected. So the influence of this religious story and its potent, apparently compelling allure upon pre-Christian Judaism is in evidence.[2]
Even so, my point is not that the Christians got the idea of a crucified god from early Inanna cult. There may have been some direct or indirect influence we cannot trace. We can't rule that out--the idea of worshipping a crucified deity did predate Christianity and had entered Jewish society within Palestine. But we don't know any more than that.[3] Rather, my point is that we have here a clear example of many people worshipping a crucified god. Therefore, as a matter of principle--unless Holding wants to claim that Inanna really was resurrected--it appears that people would worship a false crucified god. Therefore, Holding cannot claim this is improbable.
 I also think that  Ehteshaam Gulam should pay close attention to the third note:

[3] I caution strongly against overzealous attempts to link Christianity with prior religions--see my critical comment on "Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors" (2003); and for a good comparative study see Hans-Josef Klauck, The Religious Context of Early Christianity: A Guide to Graeco-Roman Religions (2000). But I can't deny there are some intriguing parallels, including those between this story of Inanna and the story of the Incarnation of the Lord told in the Ascension of Isaiah. There are many important differences, but it is curious that in the Sumerian story Inanna descends through the seven gates of Hell, with a different encounter at each stage, and her humiliation and crucifixion are at the bottom. Similarly, in the Jewish story the Savior (Jesus) descends through the seven heavens, with a different encounter at each stage, and his humiliation and crucifixion are at the bottom. Jesus also supposedly said he would be "three days and three nights" in the grave (Matthew 12:40), while Inanna herself was dead for three days and three nights. Of course, we are told Jesus was not actually dead for three nights, only at most two, but it is still curious why there would be a tradition of his saying otherwise, a tradition matching that of Inanna.
       I admit these parallels are worth noting, but they are too little to make much of. For instance, Jonah 1:17 also shares the three-days-and-nights motif (and Matthew 12:40 explicitly draws from it), which, as I explain elsewhere, probably derived from a common ancient concept of death. See Richard Carrier, "Jewish Law, the Burial of Jesus, and the Third Day" (2002). On the Jonah parallel specifically (as a motif for death and resurrection), see Evan Fales, "Taming the Tehom," in Jeff Lowder & Bob Price, eds., The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005). Therefore, the suggestion is not that the Christians "got the idea" of a third-day motif from Inanna cult (directly or by transmission through later religions), but that they "got the idea" from the same cultural concepts governing the construction of the Inanna myth.

 However this brings up some questions for me. What is mean here by "crucifixion"? The Sumarians did not crucify people and certainly not a thousand years before Jesus?

 Crucifixion was in use at a comparatively high rate among the Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD. In the year 337, Emperor Constantine I abolished it in the Roman Empire out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion.[2][3] It was also used as a form of execution in Japan for criminals, inflicted also on some Christians. (Wikipedia - Crucifixion)

I want to know how does the Ascension of Isaiah have anything to do with the Gospel narrative, given that  it's not canonical and post dates the four Biblical gospels. Gonna have to reach farther than that. So I decided to see if such evidence exists that Inanna was what is being alleged. The article does include some references but it turns out that there are multiple versions of Inanna's story.

One version can be found on Wikipedia - under Inanna's Descent to the Underworld and the other at Aren’t there some striking parallels between the Jesus and Inanna stories?

The versions of the story I looked at both agree that Inanna went to the underworld ornately dressed but by the time she reached the bottom she was naked. But she took off her clothes one by one - she was not stripped by force. The Wikipedia version of the story does not even mention any violence towards her. But the other article does describe her being put on a stake or meat hook.  Nothing like the crucifixion Jesus endured. Look at this from the second article.I'm going to bold the original text and annotate it with some some additional points:

Some parallels, but nothing striking.  Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, procreation, and war, was at times considered either a virgin or very promiscuous.  In some versions of the story, Inanna descends to the underworld to visit her sister Ereckigala, the goddess of death.  As she passes through seven gateways, she is forced to surrender all seven articles of her clothing, one item at a time, finally arriving at her sister's lair naked. 

No where in the Bible does it say anything about seven gates to hell or seven gates to heaven. The myths make Inanna seem schizophrenic.  There are also various reasons why Inanna even wanted go to hell. The being naked part by the time she reaches the final destination is consistent. I wonder why? Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

Ereckigala becomes furious and kills Inanna, then hangs her on a meathook or nail. 

 Inanna's minister, Nincubar, sends a pair of flies to Ereckigala to bargain for Inanna's release.  Ereckigala releases Inanna on the condition that she find someone to take her place.  Inanna is either reincarnated into a new body or is resurrected to life, ascends from the underworld, and finds that her consort, Tammuz, had taken over her throne.  She sends Tammuz to the underworld in her place. 
I just don't see how this is like the Gospels at all. Inanna did not die as a substitution for anyone. Someone else was substituted in her place. That's backwards. If Christians wanted to make something up based on the same ideas as Inanna, why flip it?

Critics claim that Inanna was crucified, though no cross or tree was involved, and, besides, she was already dead when placed upon the meathook or nail. 

That's a good point.

Critics claim that Inanna was resurrected, which is true in some pre-Christian versions of the story, so this is a valid similarity.  However, since the death and resurrection took place in the underworld, and not in ours, the similarity lacks much in the way of comparisons to Jesus.

Critics claim that Inanna was a savior.  She was not.

Exactly, her death and resurrection changed nothing on earth or had any meaningful effect on anyone else.  not directly involved in the story. If you need to appeal to the myth of Inanna to find a corresponding story of a dying and rising God to compare to Jesus Christ, you are really despersately scraping the proverbial bottom of the barrel .  Jesus is the one and only.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. You are wrong about the fact that the Inanna's death did nothing in Sumerian mythology. If you look at the list of mes (sacred thing in sumerian religion), descending and ascending from the underworld was a sacred journey. Since Inanna was the first to go to the underworld and return, her journey was to be taken by all humans. (You have to go to the underworld before you ascend to heaven.) Tammuzi was a sort of guide for humans since he came and went to the underworld on a yearly basis (like Persephone).
    Tammuzi figures into the cult of Adapa as well. When the son of Enki refuses eternal life to return to earth to be a priest in Eridu, Tammuzi had spoke on his behalf.
    Adapa in refusing the bread and water of life in heaven brought those gifts to humans in a transubstantiation. Human followers of Adapa would bless bread and water in the hopes of receiving the gift that Adapa refused.
    The god Enki is associated with Yahweh.
    The Sumerians called him Enki.
    The Akkadians called him Eyah.
    The Midians called him Yah.
    Moses was with the Midians when he met Yahweh.
    When God introduces himself to Moses, he says that his name is Eyah Asher Eyah.
    Asher is another name for Enki's son Marduk.
    Inanna is a character in the book of Revelations as well - the whore of Babylon (she is the goddess of sacred prostitution in babylon).
    In some versions of the book of Gilgamesh, when Gilgamesh dies he becomes the god Nergal and marries Ereshkigal and makes the underworld a better place.

  2. I agree very much with Quarkyphysicist on this, from my own research. There is also much more. With Jesus he associted with sinners, tax collectors, and whores (among many others) who were seen as low or impure as a gesture of love and acceptance. Let us keep that in mind for a moment when we look back at Inanna. She had and has a priestess and priest hood in part composed of those people born between the lines of gender, both male to female transgender and female to male transgender, who in the modern sense are looked down upon by many who have litle or no understanding of their plight as being practically pariahs'. That is one similarity that cannot be easily disputed, however, I will state that at the time transpeople were not looked down as they are today, they were seen as a gift of the Gods and Goddesses for being born the way they are. Now as for the lack of violence in where Inanna was stripped, the wiki among other common sources have a Very watered down version of what happened and make it practically sound like a stroll and leave out massively important pieces of information that close the wholes they leave in the story. Raven Kaldera, in his book 'Dark Moon Rising : The pagan BDSM and the ordeal path' goes into the full story. Inanna was raped and violated at each of the 7 gates. Any scholar of world religions can tell you, 7 is one of the most common and important numbers that repeats itself all over the world.

    I will post again later if I feel the need.
    Sincerely a scholar, poet, and humble priestess of the Goddess Inanna.

  3. Neither one of you have shown how Inanna's life, death, or "resurrection" changed anything for her worshipers. And also as bad as rape is (recognizing that the story is told in very different ways. How do you know which one is correct), I see no way that it's worse than the slow torturous death that was the Roman crucifixion process.

    I'd like to see some documentation for the statement:

    I will state that at the time transpeople were not looked down as they are today, they were seen as a gift of the Gods and Goddesses for being born the way they are.

    Where is the documentation for the following:

    The god Enki is associated with Yahweh.
    The Sumerians called him Enki.
    The Akkadians called him Eyah.
    The Midians called him Yah.

    Just because someone says that the God of the Bible is being referred to by another name does not make it true. Some people claim that the Yahweh of the Bible and the Allah of the Qur'an is the same deity, but you can't simultaneously believe both of them.

    I also think it is a huge reach to think that that the "whore of Babylon" in Revelations refer to the pagan goddess Inanna.

    In short, both of you are gonna have to do better than that.