Eurasian Myths of the Crucified Son

“The fox, having urinated into the sea, said ‘The whole of the sea is my urine.’”
-Sumerian Proverb

Mother of the Divine Son

Looking back at the third chapter of the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu, there is a portion of the tale that tells how Yeshu, knowing he would be stoned to death, “enchanted all wood when he was in possession of the name” so that none of the trees would be able to sustain his body after he was dead, which caused his followers to believe that the trees would not hold him because of his goodness. Let’s make an unlikely comparison of this story to the Norse myth of Balder, the god of innocence and peace and son to the Norse “All-Father” Odin. In this story, Balder’s mother, the goddess Frigg takes an oath from everything on the earth not to harm her son Balder except for the mistletoe, either because it seemed non-threatening or because it was too young to swear. Nevertheless, the “contriver of all fraud,” Loki, tricked Balder’s twin brother, the blind god, Hoder, to throw a spear -- the symbolic equivalent to the Spear of Longinus -- at Balder, killing him. Both stories portray the common tragic motif of enchanting nearly everything so as to protect the martyr figure, either from death or posthumous desecration of the body.

Odin was also said to have sacrificed one of his eyes and crucified himself with the holy spear Gungnir, on the World Tree, Yggdrasil, in order to receive divine wisdom. Yggdrasil, similar to other myths of a “world tree,” supports an ecosystem of animals that feed off of it, and is guarded by a giant serpent or dragon, which in Norse myth is called Nidhogg. In Voluspa, the first of a collection of poems known as the Poetic Edda, the three Norns water Yggrdrasil with water from the Well of Wyrd. The word Wyrd itself is the root to the English word “weird,” it’s original meaning being “fate” or “future.” They were also known to “spin fate” like thread, just like the three Fates of Greco-Roman mythology, called the Moirae in Greek and Parcae in Latin. Although Norse mythology has always been viewed as being particularly distinctive against that of Greek mythology as compared to other countries surrounding the Greek peninsula (Egypt, Turkey, Syria, etc.), the similarities have even been noted on the Disney cartoon series Hercules in which the satyr Phil (Philoctetes) accuses the Fates of “double dipping.” A Runic inscription carved into a piece of wood found in an old Borgund stave church in Norway dating back some time around the 1100’s shows evidence for the belief in Norns even after being Christianized. The carving, called called N 351 M, reads: “Thorir carved these runes on the eve of Olaus-mass, when he traveled past here. The Norns did both good and evil, great toil... they created for me.”

After the death of Balder, Frigg made an arrangement with the queen of the underworld, Hel, to release Balder if everything in the world wept for him, but a female giant named Thokk, which some sources say was Loki in disguise, refused to weep for him, and thus prevented his resurrection. This also enacted a chain of events that was to ultimately lead to Ragnarok, the Norse version of the Apocalypse. In later versions of the Norse myth, it is a bow and arrow which killed Balder, which also parallels a story from the apocryphal Book of Jasher, expanding on the Genesis story of Lamech. The smaller and far more enigmatic story from Genesis says only that Lamech had killed a young man and that he would be avenged of any other assassination attempt on the order of 77 times, which was on God’s earlier oath to Cain who was said by God to be avenged seven times if anyone killed him. Since Cain was the builder of the first city and thus the first king, it stands to reason that this was based on long-held beliefs of people who are cursed by the gods for committing regicide. In the Book of Jasher, Lamech is old and dim of eye (thus, symbolically blind) when Lamech’s son Tubal-Cain tricks his father into shooting their ancestor, Cain. When Lamech realizes what he’s done, he slaps his hands together in anger, accidentally killing his son and thus alienating his two wives.

The tragic motif of having one weak point is also exemplified in the story of the Greek hero, Achilles, whose mother, a sea-nymph goddess named Thetis, dipped him in the river Styx to enchant every inch of his body with magical protection except for the spot in which she held him by, the Achilles’ heel. An arrow would later find that one spot on his heel, from which he would bleed to death, an embarrassing fate for so heralded a warrior. Thus the story of Achilles’ protection spell can be shown to symbolically emphasize the tragedy of such an ignoble death happening to such a noble figure, just as enchanting all the trees emphasized the tragedy of Yeshu‘s ignoble death, a continual reemphasis which has gone so far as to replace the fish with the cross as Christianity’s premier symbol.

A variant of the Achilles story is told by the third century B.C. poet Apollonius in which Thetis instead covered Achilles with Ambrosia and cooked him over a fire in order to make him immortal. However, the enchantment was interrupted by Achilles’ father, Peleus, the king of Aegina, who cried out, causing Thetis to throw Achilles screaming to the ground and then leap into the sea. Another story of immortalizing a child through fire is told of the Demeter, who while looking for her daughter Persephone, was given shelter by King Celeus and Queen Metanira of Attica. When asked to nurse their son Demophon, Demeter anoints him with Ambrosia and attempts to make him immortal by burning his mortal spirit away. But when the queen walks in on them and screams, the ceremony is interrupted and Demeter laments that mortals are too foolish to understand the ritual. Instead of making Demophon immortal, she instead taught their other son, Triptolemus how plant and reap crops, and it was from him that the rest of Greece learned. Triptomeus also taught Lyncus, the king of the Scythians, but Lyncus refused to teach his people and then tried to kill Triptomeus so that he would be remembered as the one to invent farming, only to be turned into a lynx by Ceres, an ancient agricultural goddess with proto-Indo-European roots.

The reason Demeter was looking for her daughter Persephone was due to the young goddess being abducted by Hades while she was picking flowers out in the field. While Demeter was gone, the earth began to rot away without the grain goddess, and so Zeus forced his brother to return her, or in another version of the myth from the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Thracian goddess Hecate rescued her. However, having eaten six pomegranate seeds, Persephone was forced to spend six months of the year in the netherworld, during which time the vegetation of the earth would wither away and die, thus explaining the changing of the seasons. A similar story has the love goddess Aphrodite seducing the young god named Adonis but then lent him to Persephone only to have the underworld goddess refuse to give him back. The argument was settled either by Zeus or the muse of epic poetry, Calliope, in which Adonis would spent four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone, and four months on his own. Aphrodite tried to keep him from hunting, but he was eventually killed while sporting by the jealous god of war Ares, goring him to death in boar form. When Aphrodite found him dying, she sprinkled nectar on his wounds, which brought forth blood-red flowers, thus the god of vegetation died and was reborn just as the plants of the earth died each year but were reborn. The cult of Adonis was known to have been practiced primarily by women and was said to have been fully developed by the followers of the poet Sappho, on the isle of Lesbos, around 600 B.C.

A proto-type of these stories is known to exist in Sumerian myth, written in the cradle of civilization, ancient Iraq, during the third millennium B.C. Like Persephone, the goddess Ereshkigal became queen of the netherworld against her will when she was kidnapped by Kur, again, a name synonymous with the netherworld. The god of wisdom Enki defeated Kur and Enki’s son Dumuzi was married to Ereshkigal’s younger sister, Inanna. In the Sumerian story of Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld, Inanna tries to take over the netherworld, but is forced to disrobe more and more of her clothes as she passes Kur’s seven gates, imitating the morning star growing dimmer and dimmer as it journeys downwards. When Inanna confronts her older sister in the seventh circle of Kur, she is naked and defenseless. Ereshkigal exposes her desire to the rest of the Anunnaki gods and is crucified by being hung on a stake. Enki, however, sends some servants down to rescue her, although when a substitute was demanded by the galla demons who released her, Inanna chose her husband Dumuzi because he failed to mourn for her adequately. When the demons take him, he is sitting underneath a tree, which is emblematic of the way other fertility gods such as Adonis and Attis died on a tree. It even brings about a ring of familiarity from the verse from 1 Corinthians: “None of the archons [rulers; demons] of this age understood it [God’s wisdom], for if they had, they would not have stauroo [staked; crucified] the Lord of glory.” (2:8). Inanna came to regret the decision and mourned for her husband so that he would be raised up, just as her worshippers would mourn for him every year so that his resurrection would bring a fertile crop.

In another version of the tale, called Inanna and Bilulu, Dumuzi is killed in raid by Bilulu, who appears to be a feminine form of the storm god Enbilulu, and her son Girgire, whose name means “the flash of lightning,” while he is shepherding sheep in the desert, and his fiancé Inanna laments greatly for Dumuzi and then avenges him by turning Bilulu into a waterskin, proving herself to be Dumuzi’s equal. Thorkild Jacobsen and Samuel Noah Kramer interpret the myth in their article from the Journal of Near Eastern Studies called The Myth of Inanna and Bilulu as linking thunderstorms to the lambing and milking season, as well as the “deep antagonism between shepherd and farmer, which is ever present in ancient cultures…”

Mesopotamian cylinder seals copyrighted by Kramer and Dinae Walkstein provide images that are widely believed to be portrayals of Inanna and Dumuzi. One dated between 2320 and 2150 B.C. shows a multi-horned goddess welcoming a multi-horned god holding a scepter as he exits out of the bottom of a tree, probably rising from the dead, a man feeding sheep. Another dated between 3200 and 3000 shows a man, probably Dumuzi, standing like the bark of a tree, holding out branches to feed sheep, just as in the story of Inanna and Bilulu, the goddess praises Dumuzi, saying, “Rising with the sun you stood guard over my sheep(?), lying down by night only, you stood guard over my sheep(?)!" A third seal dated between 2000 and 1600 shows a naked goddess with multiple horns, wings, and bird claws, standing in prayer with a tree rising up between her legs with it’s leaves forming the goddess’ pubic hair, allegorizing the uterus as a symbol for the Tree of Life.

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seal
Mesopotamian cylinder seal dated between 2320 and 2150 B.C.
A goddess with a multi-horned crown, probably Inanna, welcoming another god,
probably Dumuzi rising from the dead
© S. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer 1983:40

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seal
Mesopotamian cylinder seal dated between 2320 and 2150 B.C.
A man, probably Dumuzi, feeding sheep between two standards
© S. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer 1983:85

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seal
Mesopotamian cylinder seal dated between 2000 and 1600 B.C.
Multi-horned and winged goddess with bird claws, probably Inanna,
stands praying in the center with her uterus symbolizing the Tree of Life
© S. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer 1983:51

Dumuzi, whose name means “Righteous Son,” was associated with both shepherding and fishing just as Jesus is in the gospels. In later times called Tammuz, and even in Ezekiel’s time, women were still “weeping for Tammuz” at the Jerusalem Temple, much to the prophet’s own lament (8:14). In the Latin Vulgate, St. Jerome identified this Tammuz as being identical with the Adonis of Syrian and Greek fame, as do most contemporary scholars. Although the feminine sect associated with Tammuz was an anathema to Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and the Torah, the month of his resurrection continued on the Hebrew calendar, much like Pagan gods continue to live on in the names of the months in our own calendar. The relationship of a guardian mother weeping over her son/lover is also prefigured into the myth of Cybele and Attis in modern Turkey, in Aphrodite and Adonis in Greece, Astarte and Ba’al in Canaan, Phoenicia and Syria, and, according to several ancient writers, in Isis and Osiris in Egypt. The Galatian heretic Montanus, whose sect Tertullian later joined, was himself accused of being a former initiate of Cybele. The symbol of Tammuz was the Tau Cross, also called St. Anthony’s Cross, the Egyptian Cross, or the Old Testament Cross, and its use was continued in the worship of Attis. The cross continued to be used as a solar symbol through ancient history, along with a large number of variances. A Hittitle seal dated to 2000 B.C. portrays a priest holding up a cross towards a winged being with a staff and knife, along with other astral symbols and the Egyptian ankh. Another seal, dated to 1380 B.C., shows oxen plowing underneath a multi-layered cross above them, seeming to represent the sun.

Hittite sealHittite seal
Hittite seals dated to 2000 B.C. and 1380 B.C. respectfully

Ba’al is a title meaning Lord or husband that often precedes localized names such as Ba’al-Peor, “the Lord of Peor,” and Ba’al-Zebub, the local deity of the Philistine city of Ekron. It is thought by many scholars that Ba’al-Zebub (“Lord of the flies” or “Lord of things that fly”) is a purposeful corruption of the name Ba’al-Zebul (“Lord of the High Places”), just as the Biblical Ashtoreth is beleived to be a combination of the Phoenician goddess Ashtart (who is equivalent to Inanna, Ishtar, and Astarte) and the Hebrew word boshet, meaning “shame.” In one of the few surviving Ugaritic texts, known as the Ba’al Cycle or Epic of Ba'al, Ba’al is a storm god whose given name is Hadad. Hadad was originally the name a very minor storm god in the Sumerian pantheon, equivalent to Enbilulu, but he took a far more central role in Canaanite and Phoenician worship. The Phoenicians called him Adon, which also means Lord, and is related to the name Adonai, which Jews use in replacement for the divine name Yahweh since the divine name was not allowed to be spoken outside the Temple. Ba’al Hadad was often given the title “Rider of Clouds,” which has been compared to the verse in Psalm 68: “Sing to Elohim, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides the clouds -- his name is Yahweh -- and rejoice before him.” In the fragmentary Epic of Ba’al, the storm god has a silver and gold temple built made from cedars from Mount Lebanon and Sirion and threw a feast there for all the gods. The craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis, whose transliterated name “Skillful-and-wise” associates him with Enki, eventually convinces Ba’al to send thunder and lightning out of his window. When the god of drought and the underworld, Mot, is invited, he is insulted when Hadad serves him bread and wine instead of human flesh and blood. Hadad is then either killed or imprisoned by Mot, possibly after fathering a calf through a cow and dressing it up in clothes in order to fool Mot into believing it to be a human sacrifice. Hadad’s sister and lover, Anat, finds a corpse, possibly that of the calf, and buries it with a funeral feast. Word spreads of Hadad’s death, causing even El to weep. Anat then avenges him much the same way Inanna does for Dumuzi, by killing many gods favored by El including the seven-headed serpent equivalent to Levaithan, Yamm, and Hadad’s slayer, the embodiment of death, Mot. After that she burned Mot’s body, grinding it up with millstones, and scattered the pieces for the birds. Even then, the drought caused by Hadad’s death does not subsist until Shapash, a feminine form of the Sumerian sun god Shamash, returns or resurrects Hadad. When Mot returns seven years later, he attacks Ba’al again until Shapash tells him that Hadad is now supported by El.

In a different story, Anat tries to buy a bow from an infant named Aqhat which Kothar-wa-Khasis had intended for her, but when the boy is offered immortality he calls her a liar since death is inevitable, and asks what a woman would want a bow anyway. In retaliation, Anat complained and threatened El until he allowed her to set her servant Yatpan against Aqhat in hawk form but accidentally killed him. The bow is lost to the sea and Aqhat’s sister unknowingly hires Yatpan to avenge his death. The story is similar to a myth about Artemis killing a famous Theban hero named Actaeon, either for his boasting that he was a better hunter than her, or for spying on her as she was bathing. Artemis was also to said to have sent the boar that killed Adonis, either because he boasted of being a better hunter, in revenge, or to get back at Aphrodite for the death of Hippolytus.

The worship of Anat was brought to Egypt by foreign invaders in the 1600’s B.C. by the Hyksos, which Josephus and many modern scholars associate with the Hebrews, an identification corroborated by Hebrew/Canaanite names. She was sometimes identified with the Egyptian war goddess Neith, was considered to be the daughter of either Ra or Ptah, and along with the goddess Ashtart was married to Set, who was identified with Hadad. Like Inanna and the Virgin Mary, she was called the “Queen of Heaven.” She had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris, Memphis, and in Beth-Shan in Canaan. In the New Kingdom, Ramses the Great made Anat his personal guardian, naming his daughter “Bint-Anat,” or “Daughter of Anat.” Even his pets were named after her, his dog being named “Anat-in-vigor” and his horse “Anat-is-satisfied.” He also enlarged her temple in Pi-Ramses, one of the two cities that the Book of Exodus says the Hebrew slaves built. In an inscription from Cyprus, Anat is also identified with Athena Soteira Nike, the Athenian goddess of wisdom who seems to have some association to the Toldoth quote in which Yeshu claims to have been conceived from the top of Wisdom’s head, just as Athena was born from the head of Zeus. As mentioned in the first chapter, Jewish mercenaries from around 410 B.C. on the Elephantine, an island within the Nile on the southern border of Nubia now called Aswan, mentioned that a goddess named Anat-Yahu, which is equivalent to Anat-Yahweh, was worshipped in the temple to Yahweh that was originally built by Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah. Another find from the 700’s B.C. refers to Asherah as Yahweh’s wife, although in Canaanite mythology she was one of El’s two wives. The brother-sister team of Hadad and Anat was also probably the origin of the Greek twin gods of Apollo and Artemis. Anat’s huntress qualities seem to have been transferred over to Artemis, whose magical arrows brought instant death. Homer, likewise, spoke of Apollo as god of the plague, killing people with his silver bow. Although Homer shows Apollo and his twin sister to be quite vicious towards people, the sun god later became a god of healing.

The original Hippocratic Oath, hypothesized to have been written by the Pythagoreans, begins with a promise to Apollo and the demi-god of healing and medicine, Asclepius, to honor the one who taught the oath-taker and to spread knowledge of the art without fee. The oath taker also swore never to prescribe a deadly drug or vaginal pessary to induce an abortion. Asclepius is believed to have lived around 1200 B.C., and was said to have been taken from the womb of his mother, Coronis, after she started having an affair with the son of a Lapith chieftan from Thessaly named Ischys. When Apollo was informed of this by the white crow, he had his sister Artemis kill her, and then turned the crow’s feathers black either through a curse or by burning her body in a funeral pyre. The child she had been pregnant with, Asclepius, was either taken from her body by Apollo performing a Caesarian section or was given birth to by Hermes, but in either case was given over to Chiron, the stereotypical centaur trainer and raiser of heroes, who in other myths was said to have trained or otherwise inspired Achilles, Actaeon, Aristaeus, Jason, Medus, Patroclus, and Peleus. Coronis’ father Phlegyas burned Apollo’s temple in Delphi in revenge and was subsequently killed by Apollo. As Asclepius grew up Chiron taught him how to perform surgery and, according to the Pythian Odes of the sixth century B.C. poet Pindar: the use of drugs, love potions, and incantations as well.

Asclepius married and fathered nine children, including two sons that Homer says helped heal some of the Greeks heroes of the Trojan war. He was killed by a lightning bolt from Zeus for various reasons. In Bibliotheca, written some time in the first two centuries A.D., Athena had given him Gorgon blood taken from the right side of the body, which could bring the dead back to life, while the left side acted as a poison that killed, and in this version Zeus kills him for selling the blood. In another version, he is killed for agreeing to resurrect the god Hippolytus for Artemis. Apollo takes revenge on Zeus for the death of his son by killing those who fashioned his thunderbolts, the Cyclopes, and according to Euripides’ play Alkestis, was forced into servitude for nine years.

Asclepius was later identified by the Greeks with the Egyptian god-man of medicine, Imhotep, even though Imhotep was believed to have lived around 2600 B.C., some 1400 years before Asclepius, during the reign of the Third Dynasty king Djoser. An inscription dating back some time around the first two centuries B.C. in Upper Egypt, called the Famine Stela, tells of how the ancient Egyptian king Djoser told in priests of Imhotep to go to Hermopolis on account of a seven-year drought and consult the archives in the temple of Thoth, the god of wisdom who the Greeks identified with Hermes. Imhotep reports that the Nile had its origins in a land consecrated to Khnum and gave an account of the building materials available on the island of Elephantine. King Djoser then had a dream that Khnum promised to end the drought if he would build a temple to him on Elephantine. The common elements of a seven-year famine and the pharaoh’s dream has led Londoner Emmet Sweeney to argue in his book The Genesis of Israel and Egypt that Imhotep and Joseph are the same person even though Joseph’s era is usually thought to have lived much later, since the Masoretic chronology of the Bible dates him back to 1745 B.C. In the very least, it gives evidence for elements of the Imhotep legend being used in the story of Joseph.

Asclepius had several medical sanctuaries, called Ascleieions, the most famous one being in Epidaurus, in the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece, with others in Trikala, Gortys, Pergamum, and on the island of Kos, where the “father of medicine” Hippocrates was born in 460 B.C. Non-venomous snakes were used in the healing rituals of these temples and left to crawl on the floor where the patients slept. The cult grew very popular in the 300’s B.C., causing many people to sleep in the temples overnight and have priests interpret their dreams in order to prescribe the cure the next day, including visits to the baths or a gymnasium.

Zeus, having realized Asclepius’ importance, was said to have created the constellation Ophiuchus, also known by the Latin name Serpentarius, both meaning “snake-holder.” The title referred to his staff, the Rod of Asclepius, which had a single serpent wrapped around it, an ancient symbol for healing. The symbol is similar to that of the staff of Hermes, called the Caduceus, showing two mating serpents in a double-helix on a winged staff, which in modern times is seen on the back of many ambulances. Although it was traditionally known as the symbol of Hermes, it has also been said that Hermes traded the staff to Apollo in return for a virgin nymph named Syrinx. Depictions of the Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus are among the most common themes depicted in ancient Mesopotamian art. One of the earliest depictions of the Caduceus is on the libation cup showing the Caduceus inscribed by the “Neo-Sumerian” King Gudea of Lagash from some time between 2200 and 2025 B.C. The libation cup was dedicated to Ningishzida, whose name means “Lord of the Tree of Good,” and who in later Kassite mythology was said to have guarded the gates of heaven alongside Dumuzi. Two griffons or cherubim (the later Babylonians called them lamassu) are shown holding giant swords, stand guard on either side. In the Book of Exodus, the 83-year-old Aaron throws down his staff, turning it into a snake, and although the Egyptian magician were able to do the same, Aaron’s snake ate the other snakes (7:6). In the Book of Numbers, and even older Moses is said to have healed the Israelites of snake bites by raising up a pole with a bronze snake to heal the Israelites (21:9). The Gospel of John makes a reference to this, saying, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (3:14).

Statue of AsclepiusLibation CupDrawing of Libation Cup
Statue of AsclepiusLibation Cup of Gudea of Lagash, dedicated to Ningishzida

The most famous hero from Sumerian mythology was Gilgamesh, who was said to have been born from the goddess Ninsun, meaning “Lady Wild Cow,” and considered to be two parts god and one part man, having being conceived by a phantom (or something) while his stepfather Lugal-Banda was campaigning in Aratta (possibly Iran). In the Sumerian story of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, Inanna is said to have nursed her haluppu tree until it was taken over by a snake, an anzu bird, and lilitu-demon, after which Gilgamesh (or Bilgamesh, according to the earliest texts) was said to have helped her by killing the snake, and driving the anzu bird and lilitu-demon away. He then cut down the tree and created a throne for Inanna. My interpretation of this part of the story is that it symbolizes how Gilgamesh defeated the snake cult of the southern marshlands, the bird cult of the eastern Elamites in Iran, and succubae of the northern Akkadians, then rebuilt and adorned Inanna’s temple in Uruk. The Sumerian story goes on to say that Gilgamesh used the wood to carve out a pikku and mukku, normally translated as a drum and drumstick, which are lost to the netherworld when the people of Uruk begin rising up against Gilgamesh for taking the city’s boys for conscription into the army and their girls for concubines. Gilgamesh tells his friend Enkidu the rules for the underworld, such as not to eat anything or talk to anyone, but Enkidu when travels to the underworld, he breaks the rules and so is trapped becomes trapped in the netherworld. Gilgamesh is able to appeal to the god of wisdom, Enki, to let him meet the shade of Enkidu, but had to meet him halfway down into the underworld, where Enkidu told the king of the rewards of those who have many children who remember them and the punishments of those who have few or no children.

Thus, we can draw a theme of Enkidu acting as a surrogate who dies in Gilgamesh’s place just as Dumuzi dies as a surrogate for Inanna. Enkidu also seems to die as a surrogate for Gilgamesh in the later and far more famous Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, in which it is decided by the gods that one of them has to die for killing the Bull of Heaven, which was released by Inanna on Uruk after Gilgamesh refused to marry her, and that person ends up being Enkidu The Sumerian king lists have two kings named Dumuzi, the second one reigning immediately before Gilgamesh but after Gilgamesh’s stepfather Lugal-Banda, insinuating some kind of kinship with Dumuzi. Dumuzi may then be a title or incarnation associated with Enkidu. There is some resemblance between the two characters: Enkidu is portrayed as a nomadic beast-man and Dumuzi is made out to be “country bumpkin,” causing Inanna to initially reject her parents’ engagement. The king list also says that the second Dumuzi came from the village of Kuara which was next to Eridu, which was the water-god Enki’s home. Enkidu likewise had the title “son of the fish.” Despite the initial rejection by Inanna, the love between Dumuzi and the Queen of Heaven became the subject of many Sumerian love poems, a style duplicated in the Song of Songs, traditionally ascribed to David’s son, the wise king Solomon, who 1 Kings says was brought to polytheism by his many wives and died a very wealthy pagan.

The earliest myths call Enkidu a slave of Gilgamesh, but whether king or slave or both, the theme of the fertility goddess Inanna being both a nurturer and bringer of death prevails throughout all of these myths. After Gilgamesh spurns the goddess Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk sings a song about how she has had a long history of using young men and ultimately spelling out their doom. The same story also portrays Enkidu as being involved with a priestess of Inanna named Shamhat who “domesticates” the beast-man through an act of sex, followed by a Communion of bread and beer. When Enkidu begins to meet a slow, bedridden death, she is temporarily blamed for leading him on the path to his death, but Gilgamesh convinces his friend that his adventurous life was worth having being introduced to civilization, and so Enkidu repents his curse and dies. The death however, greatly distresses Gilgamesh and he attempts to travel to the Sumerian version of the Garden of Eden, the island of Dilmun. There, he meets the ark-builder of the flood story, called Ut-Napishtim. Gilgamesh attains a plant of everlasting life, only to have it stolen by a snake, paralleling the Garden of Eden story. Thus failing to gain immortality, Gilgamesh returns home and take comfort in being remembered for building the walls of Uruk.

In the 100’s A.D., the Greek rhetorician Aelian wrote a book called, On the Nature of Animals, in which a “king of Babylonia” named Seuechoros had been warned that the man destined to overthrow him would be born of his virgin daughter. Seuechoros, who is identified with the Sumerian king Enmerkar, thus locked his daughter up in his “tower,” which probably refers to a ziggurat, a great temple the Sumerians built that most likely inspired the Tower of Babel. But the young princess was nevertheless impregnated with Gilgamesh by “some obscure man,” the Greek term literally meaning “invisible.” The vagueness of the concept seems to match the one expressed in the Sumerian king list, which says his father was a Lillu, a word that has been translated as “phantom” or “nomad.” The same comparison can be made to Yeshu, who himself is conceived from a “nobody” like Panthera. In Aelian’s story, the boy borne to her was then thrown out of the tower but saved by an eagle who brought him to a gardener to raise. Gilgamesh then returned and defeated Enmerkar, rescued his mother, and became king of the city.

Otto Rank wrote in 1909 of the reoccurring themes found in stories on the birth of a national heroes: that the hero is born of the parents of the highest station, but due to an oracle, is placed in danger by his father, which in many cases involved being placed in a casket and being delivered to the waves as a part of theme of being exposed to the elements. The child is then saved and suckled by animals or poor people, and after many adventures overcomes the father and becomes king. Sigmund Freud believed that these concepts were linked to the Oedipus Complex, but in some cases were used to elevate the patent of nobility of the hero, such as alien invader fostering himself as the “lost” grandchild of the king he defeated. The examples he used were Cyrus and Romulus, but Gilgamesh fits this mold as well.

This theme of being raised by a gardener is also present in the biography of King Sharru-Kin, or Sargon the Great, an Akkadian king who conquered most of the Fertile Crescent in the 2300s B.C. An Akkadian writing known as the Legend of Sargon claims to have been written by the emperor, saying that he was born of a “changeling,” that is, a temple prostitute, and then cast into the river in a basket of rushes, only to be taken in by the royal water-gatherer of the Akkadian city of Kish a water-drawer and appointed as gardener. “When I was a gardener the goddess Ishtar [Inanna] loved me, And for four years I ruled the kingdom. The black-headed peoples [Sumerians] I ruled, I governed;” the legend says. Aside from the story being an obvious parallel to the later infancy story of Moses, Sargon may also be the inspiration behind the Biblical Nimrod, who is said to have ruled over a number of cities that Sargon is known to have conquered, including Agade, a city which Sargon claimed to have built himself to found the first and only Akkadian dynasty (10:10). Genesis makes him out to be a “mighty hunter before Yahweh,” possibly a reference to Sargon’s use of the composite bow or the fact he was the first known emperor in history, but despite the seemingly positive reflection Genesis gives of him, he was demonized in later apocrypha, and made to be the enemy of Abraham, who supposedly lived some 400 years later. This, however, may come to be expected since it was Sargon II of Assyria who conquered Israel in the 700s. Calah, which today is called Nimrud, is another city mentioned in Genesis, as well as the capital from which Sargon II launched his invasion, and in the Book of Micah, Assyria is called the “land of Nimrod with drawn sword.” The first known author of human history, Enheduanna, refers to herself as a daughter of Sargon, and although she was a high priestess to the moon god Nanna/Suen in Ur, and called herself the embodiment of the moon’s god’s wife Ningal, although her greatest praises went to Inanna, who she honored above all other gods.

In his book third book in the Masks of God series, Occidental Mythology, Joseph Campbell writes:

“For on a deeper level of the past than that of the shuttle play of Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, Islam, and, later, Europe, the legacy of the Bronze Age supplied many of the basic motifs of Occidental, as well as Oriental, mythological thought. Moreover, the origins of this legacy were neither in India, as many still suppose, nor in China, but in the Near East, the Levant, where the spades of recent archaeological investigation have uncovered a background of preparation going back to 7500 B.C. At about that time, in the high, rotected mountain valleys of Asia Minor, Syria, northern Iraq, and Iran, the arts of agriculture and stock-breeding were developed, and these produced an epochal mutation in both the character of human existence and its potentialities for development. Whereas earlier mankind had lived only precariously by food-collection (the hunt and vegetable gathering), men now became substantial tillers of the earth. Self-sustaining villages appeared, and their number, steadily increasing spread in a broad band eastward and westward, arriving simultaneously at both oceans, about 2500 B.C. Meanwhile, the developed zone of origin, the nuclear Near East, a second epochal mutation occurred c. 3500 B.C., when in the river land of Mesopotamia the fundamental arts of high civilization were invented: writing, mathematics, monumental architecture, systematic scientific observation (of the heavens), temple worship, and dominating all, the kingly art of government. The knowledge and application of these reached Egypt with the first pharaohs of Dynasty I, c. 2850 B.C., Crete and the Indus Valley, c. 2500 B.C., China, c. 1500 B.C., and c. 1000-500 B.C. passed to Mexico and Peru.

“Now in the Neolithic village state of this development and dispersal, the focal figure of all mythology and worship was the bountiful goddess Earth, as the mother and nourisher of life and receiver of the dead for rebirth. In the earliest period the cult (perhaps c. 7500-3500 B.C. in the Levant) such a mother-goddess may have been thought of only as a local patroness of fertility, as many anthropologists suppose. However, in the temples even of the first higher civilizations (Sumer, c. 3500-2350 B.C.), the Great Goddess of highest concern was certainly much more than that. She was already as she is now in the Orient, a metaphysical symbol: the arch personification of the power of Space, Time, and Matter, within whose bound all beings arise an die: the substance of their bodies, configurator of their lives and thoughts, and receiver of their dead. And everything having form or name -- including God personified as good or evil, merciful or wrathful -- was her child, within her womb.*

“Toward the close of the close of the Age of Bronze and, more strongly, with the dawn of the Age of Iron (c. 1250 B.C. in the Levant), the old cosmology and mythologies of the goddess mother were radically transformed, reinterpreted, and in large measure even suppressed, by those suddenly intrusive patriarchal warrior tribesmen whose traditions have come down to use chiefly in the Old and New Testaments and in the myths of Greece. Two extensive geographical matrices were the source lands of the insurgent warrior waves: for the Semites, the Syro-Arabian deserts, where, as ranging nomads, they herded sheep and goats and later mastered the camel; and, for the Hellenic-Aryan stems, the broad plains of Europe and south Russia, where they had grazed their herds of cattle and early mastered the horse.” -Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology, p. 6-7.

Campbell identifies this ancient mother goddess with the earth, and this is true for Balder’s mother Frigg, the Phrygian goddesses Cybele of Turkey, and her Roman equivalent Magna Mater, but many of the ancient goddesses are connected to the primeval sea. They include: the Sumerian Nammu, who was mother to all the gods; her Babylonian equivalent Tiamat; Eos, the primordial goddess of the night in Greek mythology who gave birth to the Fates and the Hesperides nymphs and who tended the blessed garden in the far edges of Oceanus; the Etruscan Thesan, the Latin Aurora, and the Hindu Ushas, all of whom are believed to be equivalent to Eos; the Canaanite Asherah, who is given the epithet “she who treads the sea;” the Egyptian Neith, another goddess of the primeval sea whose name means “water;” the Hindu Danu, another goddess of the primeval waters, and who some think may be related to the virtually unknown Irish goddess of the same name. If each of these myths are branches of the same Proto-Indo-European tree, it would explain why the theme of the surrogate martyr found throughout ancient mythology has been so heavily linked to the protective mother/sister motif and goddess worship.

Looking at the great amount of time and distance from which is drawn these same cultural motifs, it could be argued that they are all branches of an earlier, worldwide religion that permeated the prehistoric Indo-European cultures. Evidence of this comes in the form of a goddess statue that has been found throughout Europe and Asia, dating as far back as 27,000 B.C. Although the majority of them have been dated between 23,000 B.C. and 21,000 B.C, the most modern figurines found date to about 12,000 B.C., which means that the same kind of goddess statuette was being carved for at least 15,000 years. These “Venus” figurines have been found in: France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Israel, the Middle East, Russia, and as far east as Mal’ta (a little north of China). The most famous one is called the Venus of Willendorf, named after where it was found in Germany. Early statues of Inanna have a striking resemblance to them, especially regarding the wide hips and the clutching of breasts which mimic the common trait among Venus statuettes of having their hands resting on top of oversized breasts. This seems to indicate that the Inanna cult took some at least some inspiration from this most ancient of all religions. The overwhelming predominance of feminine statuettes over masculine ones before 5000 B.C. is strong evidence that the principal representation of God for the majority of homo sapien history has been that of a woman.

Venus of Willendorf
Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Lespugue
Venus of Lespugue

Inanna figurines shows wide hips and hands-on-breasts exhibited by Venus figurines

The First Adam

According to the Sumerian king lists, the first king of Eridu was Alulim, who ruled for 28,000 years. In later times, Alulim was said to have had an advisor named Adapa, whose name, like Adam, means “man.” The Myth of Adapa has been found in both the Armana tablets of the monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaton (1300’s B.C.), and in Nineveh library of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (600’s B.C.), and was also known to the Kassites and the Babylonians. The tablet begins by saying, “Ea made broad understanding perfect in Adapa, to disclose his design of the land. To him he gave wisdom, but did not give eternal life,” which is immediately recognizable as being the central theme behind the Garden of Eden. A Babylonian priest named Berossus reinvigorated interest in the figure during the 200’s B.C., using the name of Oannes, a corruption of U-an, another name of Adapa’s. Written in the Semitic language of Akkadian, the name of Enki is changed to Ea, which in the Sumerian language was the name of his temple (E-a, “House of Water”). Adapa is referred to as an abgallu, or “water-great-man,” and a sage descended from the gods. He is often listed as the first of the famed “Seven Sages” who brought civilization, arts, and crafts to humankind. The theme of the “Seven Sages,” which first appears in Sumerian texts, would resonate in Hindu, Chinese, and Greek myth, although who these sages were identified with were completely different in each version of the myth. So, instead of being the first man, Adam appears to have been the first priest and exorcist of Eridu, and is depicted as wearing a giant fish costume, as are many priests in Sumerian carvings and statues.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is the god of wisdom, who like Enki in the Sumerian creation stories, forms humans out of clay and who introduces the fruit of wisdom to mankind through the advent of civilization. His name meant Forethought, while his brother Epithemeus meant “Afterthought,” a name he lived up to by giving away all the natural defenses to the animals and leaving known for humans. There was a cult to Prometheus known to have existed in Athens as well as three other main cities in central and southern Greece. A very similar character to Prometheus is also found in the Yazidi religion, founded in the 1100’s A.D. by Sheikh Adi ibn Mustafa but heavily influenced by Sufi Islam, and made up primarily of ethnic Kurds centered in Iraq.

According to Greek myth, Prometheus was the son of the titan Iapetus, who has long been equated with the Noah’s son Japheth, long believed to be father of white Europeans, due to their names being nearly identical when translated. Prometheus saw how men were suffering in the cold, so he stole fire, as well as all the other arts of civilization from Athen’s premier couple, Hephaestus and Athena, in order to give to mankind. Zeus was outraged by this and had Prometheus bound to a rock on Mount Caucasus for all eternity, forced to watch Zeus punish man for his misdeeds as his liver was torn out each morning. The Caucasus mountain range is located in a stretch of land between the Black and Caspian Seas, bordered by modern Turkey, Russia, and Iran, and is the root of the word Caucasian, marking the link between Iapetus and Japheth. It is also relatively close to the location where Noah’s ark is believed to have first banked after the great flood, Mount Ararat in Armenia.

The story is also similar to the story of the “fall of Satan” as described in the Book of Enoch and the Book of Revelation. The Book of Enoch elaborates on the myth mentioned in Genesis in which the son of Elohim married the daughters of men and gave birth to “heroes or old, man of renown.” (6:1) Enoch says that angel Samyaza led 200 rebel angels down, married them and fathered a race of giants, and that the angel Azazel taught mankind how to make swords, knives, shields, breastplates, mirrors, bracelets, ornaments, makeup, eyeliner, stone-working, and dyes, “so that the world became altered.” As mentioned in the second chapter, the Book of Leviticus marks the Day of Atonement by the releasing of two goats, one for Yahweh, and one for Azazel, the second of which bore the sins of the Israelites, just as Jesus is believed to be the scapegoat for all mankind (16:8). The Book of Giants, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, identifies Gilgamesh as one being of the giants born from angels and man, indicating that the days of when the heroes of old walked the earth is a reference to the Sumerian Heroic Age, identified by Kramer as the first dynasty of Uruk, circa 2800 to 2540 B.C. The word hubris, a word used to describe the sin of both Prometheus and Satan, is normally translated as pride, often referred to as the devil’s favorite sin, and comes from the Greek word hybris, meaning violence or presumption against the gods.

To punish man, Zeus had Haphaestus mix “the loveliest, the sweetest, and best” with the opposite of each to form Pandora, the first woman, whose name means “all-gifted.” Zeus breathed life into her, similar to how Adam has life breathed into him (2:7), and Pandora is given as a bride to Epithemius despite Prometheus’ warning to him not to accept anything from the Olympian gods. The two are married and are showered with gifts from the gods, including from Zeus a box, or more likely, a jar, that was not to be opened under any circumstance. Pandora’s natural curiosity causes her to open the jar though, just as Eve was tricked to eat the apple, unleashing all the pain and misery of the world (3:6). But when Pandora returns to the symbolic womb, there is still one force left, that of Hope, and she releases it as well.

Like Prometheus, Enki is said to have been reluctant in allowing Pandora’s box to be opened. In the Sumerian story of Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Erech, Inanna goes to Enki’s temple in the Abyss, where she gets him drunk and seduces him into giving her the secret arts called me’s. Each me represented some kind of cultural art, but also included many different abstract concepts, including: heroism, power, righteousness and wickedness, forthright and deceitful speech, rejoicing and lamenting, priestly and kingly offices, shrines and taverns, various jobs, rituals, inventions like the sword and the club, the plundering of cities, arts of love-making, cultic and non-cultic prostitution, music, and most notably, the kindling of fire. Inanna loaded these me’s into her Boat of Heaven and takes them to Uruk despite Enki sending 50 giants out to stop her. Although Enki is at first angry when Uruk receives the magical arts and begins to practice them, he eventually relents and decides to declare a festival in Uruk. The Book of Enoch and other Dead Sea Scrolls give a very similar interpretation as well, identifying weapons, cosmetics, jewelry, and other tools of burgeoning civilization as being the cause for the primal Fall of Man.

The motif of an island paradise with four rivers where there is no death is found in a wide range of mythologies through Europe and Asia. The English word “paradise” is rooted in the word pairidaêza, the word for an enclosed garden in the Eastern Old Iranian language, which in Zoroastrian mythologies also had four rivers going in each direction, as was Plato’s Atlantis. The Garden of Hesperides was also known as a far away island that held golden apples which bestowed immortality on those who ate of them, and procuring some of these apples was one of labors of Heracles. Dante’s Comedy and John Milton’s Paradise Lost both associate the Garden of Eden with the meadows of Enna, in Sicily, where Prosperine, the Roman Persephone, is said to have collected flowers before she was carried away by Dis, or Hades/Pluto. The other-worldly island Avalon of Arthurian myth is believed to have been named after the Celtic word for apple: abal. A book of Irish mythology called the Book of Invasions (c. 800 A.D.), an early Welsh Arthurian myth called the Spoils of Annwyn (c. 900), and the story of Bran the Blessed in the later Mabinogion (c. 1000) all tell stories of a campaign against a crystal tower in the middle of the ocean, in which the protagonists lose all their men and escape with only seven survivors. In the latter two, the object of desire is a magical cauldron with life-giving powers, which probably inspired the later quests for the holy grail of later Arthurian literature.

The Sumerian Eden, Dilmun, has long been linked by historians with the island of Bahrain, but India, Lebanon, and Southern Iraq have also been suggested. The rock musician-turned-Egyptologist David Rohl has identified the location of Eden as Northern Iran, near Mount Ararat, by associating the Pishon river “where there is gold,” with the Uizhun, known locally as the Golden River because of its golden mineral deposits, and the Gihon, the river that “winds through the entire land of Cush,” with the Aras river in Turkey, which flows into the Caspian Sea (2:10). Other theories have placed it in Israel and the Sinai and in Russia. But one of the most popular theories on the location of Atlantis is on Santorini, within the Mediterranean Sea itself, just north of Crete. Crete had been the center of Europe’s ancient Minoan civilization that flourished between 2700 and 1450 B.C. The sinking of Atlantis is believed to have come from the massive volcanic eruption in Santorini that occurred over 3500 years ago. This explosion was the largest on earth in thousands of years and caused the volcano to collapse in on itself, which would not only fit in with the story of Atlantis sinking, but also provide a historical event from which the flaming sword from Genesis may symbolize (3:24). The Book of Ezekiel also speaks of Eden being “brought down” to the underworld (31:15). The Roman historian Tacitus, writing from the early 100’s A.D., claimed that the Jews were originally refugees from Crete who settled to a remote corner of Libya when “Saturn was driven from his throne by the aggression of Jupiter,” that is, when the Golden Age of Zeus’ father Kronos ended. While the Jews are said to have “wandered the desert” for 40 years in the Torah, Tacitus says that they “traveled on for six days without a break, and on the seventh they expelled the previous inhabitants of Canaan, took over their lands and in them built a holy city and temple.” Assuming Tacitus is relaying a legitimate Jewish tradition that has since been lost, the Seven-Day creation story in Genesis can be seen as paralleling the seven day journey from Egypt to Canaan, in which a person works all week and then finally rests on their Sabbath day, Saturday, the holy day of Saturn/El, in thanks for victory over the Canaanites over what they believed to be their holy land. Tacitus goes on to say that even the name “Judaei” comes from a “barbarous lengthening of ‘Idaei,’” Mount Ida in Crete, where Zeus was said to have been raised. The Ipuwer papyrus, discovered in Egypt, describes natural disasters and the state of social collapse, in which the rich become poor and poor rich, and speaks a “river of blood” reminiscent of one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt in Exodus.

In Dante’s Inferno, written in the early 1300’s A.D., Virgil also refers to Crete as a fallen paradise, including the signature four rivers, and likewise links it to the Greek myth that Zeus’ mother made the mountain into a cradle for her son:

‘In the middle of the sea lies a ruined country,’ he said then, ‘which is named Crete, under whose king the world was once chaste. There is a mountain called Ida there that once was happy with water and greenery; but now it is deserted like an empty thing. Rhea chose it once as the faithful cradle for her son and, to hide him better, when he cried, she made the people shout. Within that mountain an old man stands straight up, who turns his shoulders toward Damiata and gazes at Rome as in a mirror. His head is formed from fine gold, and his arms and torso are pure silver, and he is brass down to where the body is forked. From there down all is choice iron, except for the right foot which is clay, and he stands erect on that one, more than on the other. Every part, other than the gold, is ruptured by a fracture that drops tears, which, gathered together, ear through that cavern. Their course rishes down into this valley; these tears make Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon; then they go down through this narrow channel, until over there where they fall no further and make Cocytus: and you will see what that daed lake is; so I do not explain it.” -Inferno, Canto 14:94-120

The statue of the Old Man represents the Fall of Man, and his tears forming rivers seems reminiscent of Tiamat’s tears forming the Tigris and Euphrates, which are two of Eden’s rivers in Genesis. Dante’s four rivers are instead mythical rivers that flow through Hades, which Dante associates with Purgatory. Each of the four metals originally represent the four ages of mankind in Greek mythology. In 380 A.D., the Latin father St. Jerome, author of the Vulgate, attempted to map these four ages in his Chronicon, placing them from 1710 to 1103 B.C. Hindu mythology likewise divided the human history into four successive eras, or yugas, of increasing corruption, although they are said to have lasted hundreds of thousands of years. The motif of the statue that Dante is citing comes from the Book of Daniel, written in the mid-100's B.C., which compares the Macedonian Empire, symbolized by the iron legs and clay foot to emphasize both its strength and its fragility, as the final tyranny in a succession of Oriental Empires leading back to the Chaldeans, symbolized by the golden head. Dante in turn reused the motif as a parallel to his own time, which he felt had declined in the political world from the Golden Age of Caesar Augustus.

Archaeology has shown Minoan religion to be dominated by goddess statues, which have led many to picture their culture as matriarchal. Women wore robes that opened to leave their navel and breasts exposed, with short sleeves and layered flounced skirts, while men wore loincloths and kilts. In this way, the story of Eve biting the apple to “become like gods” first may project the historical reality that women were the first to project themselves as gods on earth, and only later when the more male-dominated Babylonian theology became popularized did “Adam,” or Adapa, the first Mesopotamian priest, take the bite. The symbol of the woman giving the apple of wisdom to man may reflect a transfer of power or cultural dispensation from Eridu to Uruk, and gives an important context for the snake and the story of the Tree of Wisdom of Good and Bad. Enki’s son Dumuzi and his mother Nammu are both associated with the serpent and/or sea dragon, and a Sumerian story called the Myth of Etana seems to confirm that the snake totem originated from Eridu’s culture. Snake or lizard-headed clay figurines have been found dating back to the Ubaid culture of the 4000’s in Eridu and Ur. Although Nammu is both mother to all the gods and mother to humankind as well, there is a notable lack of information available on her from Sumerian texts than on the younger gods, who tend to be are more male-oriented. This suggests that at a previous time, perhaps during the previous Ubaid period, the culture was more matriarchal and that by the time the myths that were found were written, the culture had become more patriarchal.

The First Noah

The oldest surviving creation myth ever found, dated to around 2600 B.C., comes from the Mesopotamian city of Nippur and includes a version of the story of the ark and the flood found in Genesis. In it, the flood is caused by An, the god of heaven, and his son Enlil, the god of the air and lord of Nippur. However, the one to warn the Sumerian Noah was Enlil’s half-brother, Enki, whose domain was the watery abyss, and whose city was the first city, Eridu, which in Genesis is called Enoch. The ark-builder in this story was the son of a king and priest to Enki named Ziusudra (“Life of Long Days”), and he did not bring all the animals with him. Another version of the flood story, dating to the Babylonian period in the 1600’s, gives the name of the ark builder as Atra-Hasis (“Extra-wise”), and amplifies the earlier story from being a river flood to a world flood. A heavily damaged version of the three-tablet story was also found in the library of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, who lived in the 600’s B.C. But all of these were discovered rather recently. It wasn’t until 1853, when the Epic of Gilgamesh was found in a library in the ruins of Nineveh, including a flood story in which the ark-builder was named Ut-Napishtim, that the originality of the Bible’s flood story first began to be questioned. Then in 1886, the flood story in Genesis itself came to be shown to be a combination of two different flood stories by the German scholar Julius Wellhausen: one in which God is referred to as Yahweh, dubbed J, and the other by a priest dubbed P, who referred to God as Elohim and had the flood last a year rather than 40 days.

However, Christendom need not have waited until the 1850’s to learn that ark story did not originally come from the Hebrews. There was already an ark-builder in Greek myth named Deucalion, and there are no less than three Hindu flood myths which also provide ample correlations with the flood story. The Mahabharata, a Hindu flood epic written in Sanskrit, was compiled some time around the first century A.D., but is made up of core material believed to date back to the 500’s B.C. Like the Sumerian and Babylonian versions, it is the sky god, Brahma, who decides to flood the earth, and it is another god, Vishnu, the god of preservation, that saves humankind from destruction. The Matsya Purana, or “Fish Chronicle,” is the considered the oldest of all the Hindu texts, possibly dating back as far back as 300 A.D., and is believed to have first been recited by Vishnu, who like Enki, is associated with the fish symbol.

After the flood, Satyavarman is said to have had three sons: Shem, Sham, and Jyapeti, who in the Bible are referred to as Shem, Ham (or in Hebrew, Cham), and Japheth. They are considered to be the fathers of the three main world-races: Semitic, African, and European. In the Hindu myth, all three are said to have been brave men of high morals. Pleased with their devout meditation, Satyavarman readied them for governing. But one day Satyarvarman grew drunk with mead and fell asleep naked. When he woke up, he remembered that Sham had seen him and laughed at his nakedness, and so Satyavarman cursed him saying that he would be the servants of servants. The same events happen to Noah, as he too gets drunk and is covered by his sons, save for Ham, who is then cursed to be the lowest of slaves among his brothers (9:25). Later Rabbis, disturbed by the idea of such a devastating curse being given for such a small shortcoming, would elaborate on the story, saying that Ham had either sodomized or castrated his father, even though the original text says that Noah did not realize what had happened to him until he woke up the next day. Early Americans would later use the Bible verse as a justification for slavery.

In one of the Hindu flood myths, the ark-builder is called to Dyaus-Nahusha, and it has been suggested that this is possibly the origin of the name Dio-Nysus. The invention of wine, which was traditionally credited to Dionysus, could be seen as symbolic of fertility in the context of Deucalion’s preservation of all life. Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer from the 100’s A.D., tells a Laconian version of the Dionysus myth in which Dionysus and his mother Semele are locked into a giant chest and cast into the sea by Semele’s father Cadmus, who does not believe Semele was impregnated by Zeus. Instead of being killed by Zeus’ true image, Semele dies on the ark before it wanders to Laconia, in southern Greece, where Dionysus is adopted by her sister Ino.

Balder, also, was said to have owned the greatest ship ever built, called the Hringhorni, and according to the Tricking of Gylfi, written by the poet Snorri Sturluson in the early 1200’s A.D., Balder was laid to rest on a funeral pyre along with his wife, Nanna, who died of grief, and a dwarf named Litr, who was kicked into the fire by Thor.

In the Finno-Ugaric version of the flood story, centered around Finland, Hungary, and Russia, the sky god Numi-Tarem tries to use a “holy fiery-flood” to destroy the prince of the dead, Kulya-ter. For the gods he built an iron airship, and for the people he created a covered raft. While the sky god builds the ships, he tells his wife to create a new substance called beer, and to bring it to him. He then gets drunk and Kulya-ter overhears Numi-Tarem telling his wife about a flaming deluge. The prince of the dead sneaks into the sewing box of Numi-Tarem’s wife and is able to escape his fate. The gods then fly up as the fiery flood comes, and all but the last seven layers of the raft are burned up. A plague of insects then came along as well, devouring everything in their path.

Aside from being the sculptor of man and the giver of fire, Prometheus is also said to have fathered the Greek Noah, Deucalion, who in turn married Pyrrha, the daughter of Epithemeus and Pandora, namesake to Thessaly, and the first mortal who was born. In some versions of the story, Pyrrha would have a daughter who was also called Pandora, and she would become mother of Graecus, father of the Greeks, and Latinus, father of the Latins. In the story of Deucalion‘s ark, Zeus decides to bring the flood because he was disgusted by the cannibalism and human sacrifice that he saw in Arcadia, in Peloponnese peninsula of Greece, under the guise of being a mortal. Unlike Noah and Satyavarman, there is no surviving myth of Deucalion creating wine, although his name does mean “New wine sailor,” which brings to mind both the story of Noah being the inventor of wine (9:20) and the “new wine-flasks,” as spoken of in the Gospel of Mark (2:22), or the wine of the New Covenant in Luke (22:20). As mentioned in a previous chapter, Acts has the apostle James decree that Gentiles need only follow laws very similar to the laws of Noah (15:20).

Kingship in Heaven

In 700 B.C., Hesiod wrote one of the greatest inspirations to Greek mythology, Theogony, which means, “Birth of the Gods.” In the beginning there was only Chaos, which gave birth to Eros, “Love,” and Gaia, the Earth. Tartarus, both the netherworld deity and the netherworld place, came into being alongside Desire. Choas also gave birth to Erebus, “Darkness,” and Nyx, “Night,” who together produced Aither and Hemera, meaning “Brightness” and “Day.” Gaia gave birth to the Uranus, the “Sky” or “Heaven,” as well as Ourea and Pontus, representing the mountains and the sea. The Heaven and Earth joined and they had twelve children, including Kronos, the god of time and air, who the Romans called Saturn and whose role and lineage resembles that of the Sumerian god of the air, Enlil. Uranus predicted his children would try and overthrow him, so he tried to imprison them in Gaia, but this caused her pain, and so asked her children to overthrow their father. She gave Kronos a diamond scythe which he used to castrate his father, and the blood from it came down on the earth, creating the Giants, Meliai, and Erinyes, or Furies. Kronos took the testicales and threw them in the ocean, and the resulting foam created Aphrodite. For this, Uranus called his sons titenes, or Titans, meaning “straining ones.” After Uranus had been castrated, Gaia mated with Pontos and gave birth to a line of sea nymphs, sea gods, and hybrid monsters. She then mated with Tartarus to produce the snake-bodied Typhoeus, or Typhon, who in turn fathered multi-headed dogs, the Orthos and well-known hell-dog Cerebus, as well as multi-headed dragons like the Hydra and Chimera. Orthos in turn fathered the Sphinx and a monster that Heracles killed called the Nemean Lion. In the Orphic tradition, Typhon led the Titans to attack and kill Dionysus.

After Kronos became king of the gods, he re-imprisoned the hundred-armed Hecatonchires, Giants, and Cyclopes in Tartarus, and married his sister Rhea, who in early tradition was associated with the Phrygian goddess Cybele. The time of his rule was known as the Golden Age, when there was no such thing as immorality and man did not have any need for laws. Sumerian myth likewise begins the history of man soon after the separation of Heaven and Earth, “After An had carried off heaven, after Enlil had carried off earth.” When Kronos received a prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi that a son would overthrow him, he began to swallow each of his children. Rhea then asked Gaia and Uranus for help in substituting a rock for the baby Zeus, who was taken to be nurtured on Mount Ida in Crete. Zeus has a potion concocted that forces Kronos to disgorge the other gods and then led his siblings in a 10 year war against Kronos and the Titans and Giants. Zeus released the Hecatonchires from Tartarus, helping him in his battle, and then imprisoned the Titans in the underworld, except for Prometheus, who had joined the Olympians’ side.

The name Kronos may be related to krounos, the Greek word for Spring, or from keras, which means horn. Thus, he seems to be related to the same bull-worship that characterized Sumerian, Akkadian, and Canaanite mythology, and can be seen as being the equivalent of El the Bull. He may also have be equivalent to the Celtic horned god worshipped some time around the 300’s B.C. A carving of the horned god with a Parisii inscription discovered in France gives the name of this horned god as “[C]ernunnos,” but the first letter had been scraped off. The letter C has been reasonably substituted because carnon or cernon means “antler” or “horn” in Gaulish, which goes back to the proto-Indo-European root *krno, from which the Latin word for horn, cornu, and the Germanic *hurnaz comes from. The name may also be related to the evil god Kroni, who in Ayyavazhi sect of Hindu mythology is said to have gone on an eating rampage that was going to threaten the entire universe, similar to how Kronos eats his children. Mayon, another name for Vishnu, is said to have appeared in six different eras in order to slice Kroni into six different pieces and save the universe.

Samuel Noah Kramer suggested in his book, The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character, that the name ‘Shem,’ father of the Semites, may be rooted in the name Sumer, although it is the later Akkadian language that holds the linguistic relation to Hebrew. There is a similar puzzle in that the Canaanite god El can be successfully traced to both Enlil, whose city Nippur was in Akkad, and Enki, whose city Eridu was in Sumer, although it is of course possible that it was the early Canaanites who influenced the Mesopotamians or that they are both extensions of a common origin. According to Sanchuniathon, a Phoenician author who only survives through paraphrases by Eusebius of Caesarea of a translation by Philo of Alexandria, El had three wives, all sisters or half-sisters: Aphrodite/Astarte, Rhea/Asherah, and Dione/Ba’alat Gebal. Ba’alat Gebal was the tutelary goddess of Byblos, a city in Lebanon that not only may have given its name to the Bible by virtue of it being the Phoenician port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece, but is said to have been the been the first city on earth, founded by El. As it so happens, Byblos is generally accepted to be the oldest continuously-inhabited city on earth, with carbon dating placing it as being first inhabited around 5000 B.C., some 700 years before Damascus was founded. A bilingual inscription from Palmyra, a Syrian oasis about 130 miles northeast of Damscus, and dated to the first century A.D., equates El-Creator-of-the-Earth to Poseidon, the god of the sea. This matches fairly well with another bilingual inscription from the Taurus Mountains in Turkey that equates El-Creator-of-the-Earth to the Babylonian Ea (Enki), lord of the watery abyss below the earth. So, as it is, both Enlil and Enki have been identified in ancient times as the predecessor to El, even though he was the god of heaven in Canaanite mythology, which best corresponded to the Sumerian god An and the Akkadian/Babylonian god Anu.

Eusebius recorded how in ancient times people sacrificed the most beloved of their children in order to divert disaster, and that the king of the Phoenicians, Elus, “had by a nymph of the country named Anobret an only begotten son, whom they on this account called Iedud, the only begotten being still so called among the Phoenicians; and when very great dangers from war had beset the country, he arrayed his son in royal apparel, and prepared an altar, and sacrificed him.” After Elus died, he was deified as Saturn, the Roman equivalent of Zeus’ cannibalistic father, Kronos. Ancient Babylonian astrologers identified Saturn with Enlil’s son Ninurta, but the planet may have originally belonged to Enlil. As mentioned in an previous chapter, the Roman festival of Saturnalia was replaced by the birthday of Sol Invictus in the 200’s A.D. and then by the birthday of Jesus in the late 300’s.<

Just as Eusebius’ mention of child sacrifice to Elus bears a striking resemblance to the motif of Kronos eating his own children, Elohim is likewise said to have asked Abaraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (22:2). The fact that the story is preceded by the birth of Isaac’s older brother Ishmael is a testament to it having originally been a separate story that was later appended (16:15). Although the story as it is told in Genesis, Abraham is stopped by an angel before he sacrifices Isaac, there is another version of the story from the Midrash that says Isaac was sacrificed and then resurrected, which many scholars believe reflects an earlier version that was rewritten for obvious reasons.

According to the traditional understanding of Genesis, Abraham was born in Mesopotamia, in “Ur of the Chaldees,” which has traditionally been identified with the city of the same name, although this has met with more contention in modern times. The Third Dynasty of Ur, which is considered the Sumerian Renaissance, occurring after a long period of Akkadian and Gutian rule, brought about a resurgence of Sumerian language and culture, although virtually all the names of the royal family and new towns that arose during that time all had Akkadian names, showing that the “Neo-Sumerians” were actually a mixture of old Sumerian and Akkadian culture. The Ur III Empire went into its final decline when the city was sacked in 2002 by the Elamites from Iran, which became the subject of many Sumerian laments, and ushered in a new era dominated by the cities of Larsa and Isin. In Genesis, Abraham’s father Terah leaves the city of Ur for unspecified reasons to travel to Canaan, although he instead decided to settle in the city of Harran, in Southern Turkey, which is the same name of his son who died in Ur. Terah dies in Harran, but Abraham is called by Yahweh to go to Canaan with his nephew Lot, the son of Haran. Yahweh tells Abraham that his descendants would inherit Canaan, but following a famine, the patriarch and his nephew continued on to Egypt. The Biblical story may reflect a mass migration across the Fertile Crescent from Mesopotamia to Turkey, which could possibly have been a result of the fall of Ur. The name Harran itself is rooted in the Akkadian word harranu, meaning journey. The temples in both Ur and Harran were dedicated to the moon god, Suen.

Although the Sumerian language would never make a comeback after the Neo-Sumerian decline, it survived somewhat as a cultic language in some ancient temples in the same way Latin was maintained long after it ceased being a common language. What replaced it was the Akkadian language, spoken by the Amorites, migrants probably coming from Arabia, who founded the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. The first Babylonian emperor was the “White King,” Hammurabi, or Khammurapi, who allied himself with several other powerful kings from the region in order to lay dominion over Mesopotamia before turning on them himself, backstabbing his way to an empire. Hammurabi’s famous Code, which is often described as being a beacon of justice, is actually so full of horrid laws based on inequity and superstition, with nearly every one of them being punishable by death. And it is also with the Babylonian Empire that the earliest known myth of Adapa rejecting the gift of immortality came to be known.

Hammurabi is probably also the Biblical Amraphel, who appears in a story of Genesis and is generally agreed to be an independent tradition of the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah that provides the historical background behind the later story of their destruction by fire and sulfur (14:1). In this story, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, along with two other cities rebel against Amraphel, causing the Mesopotamian king to invade with an alliance of five kings. When Abraham’s nephew Lot was kidnapped, Abraham is said to have routed Amraphel and his allies during the night and rescued Lot and the other prisoners from Sodom and Gomorrah. He then gave a tenth of the plunder to King Melchizedek of Salem, which would later be called Jerusalem.

Sargon gave reverence to all the gods of Sumer and Akkad but Hammurabi established a virtually unknown god to the very center of Babylonian mythology in the creation myth called the Enuma Elish, and this god is shown to inherit all the titles and qualities of the old gods. The ancient Sumerian conception of the Divine Council, which even found its way into some verses of the Old Testament, was replaced by a King God. In it, Enki is said to have saved mankind from destruction by enchanting the father of the gods, Apsu, with a sleep spell before killing him. Apsu’s wife, Tiamat, representing the salt water ocean just as Apsu represented the freshwater abzu, had told Enki of Apsu’s plan in order to stop him, but in grief she turned on Enki and the other gods and planned to destroy them all in revenge. The gods promise Marduk kingship over the gods if he can defeat the multi-headed dragon Tiamat, who is equivalent to the Sumerian Nammu. Thus Marduk splits the primeval sea goddess in two and makes the earth and the heavens out of her carcass, and took from her the Tablets of Destiny, which controlled the universe.

Hadad, as well as his sister Anat, were also said to have slain a multi-headed dragon representing the primeval sea, Lotan, who is either controlled by or is the same as the sea god Yam, who in the Ba’al epic is renamed Yaw, possibly identifying Yahweh as Hadad’s enemy. Apollo, whose name is believed to have been derived from the Hurrian/Hittite god Haplu, also killed a great serpent, the Python of Delphi. Marduk also went by the title of Ba’al, which meant “lord” or “prince,” a title which the Canaanites adapted for their god Hadad. Instead of each city having a particular patron god and/or goddess, the storm god Marduk was made into a national god centered in the city of Babylon, which was eventually sacked by the Hittites in 1595 B.C.

The Hurrian/Hittite creation myth Kingship in Heaven tells how Anu’s son Kumarbi bites off his father’s genitals just as Kronos castrated Uranus with a diamond scythe in Hesiod’s Theogony. Just as Zeus takes revenge on his father Kronos, so too does Kumarbi’s son Teshub take revenge on him. Although the name of Enlil is mentioned off-handedly in the text, his role as the premier son of Anu seems to have been taken by Kumarbi. An earlier Sumerian story also has a Zu-bird, a mythological storm-griffon or cherubim, steal the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil while he was taking a bath. There is also evidence in the Enuma Elish that Enlil was originally the god who killed Tiamat, which further insinuates that the storm god “defeated” Enlil in a metaphoric since by replacing him as head of the divine hierarchy. A similar appropriation can be seen in how Judean god Yahweh became identified with the Israelite god Elohim, first with David and Solomon’s empire, and then again when Assyria conquered Israel and refugees escaped into Judea. Like Marduk, the storm gods Ashur, Hadad, Teshub, Zeus, and Jupiter also became national gods, giving their divine assistance to the empire just as the Titans had acted as patriarchs to the city-state.

As mentioned in the first chapter, the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scroll version of the Book of Deuteronomy also speaks of El Elyon (“God Most High”), Elohim, and Yahweh the national god, in the same father-to-son mythological pattern as Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter (32:7). The Books of Enoch and Daniel likewise conceptualizes three major spiritual beings in their heavenly visions: the Ancient of Days (Anu), The Lord of Spirits (Enlil), and the Son of Man (Tammuz). Although far different than the later Orthodox conception of the Trinity, the similarities to the three-fold analogies to Father, Holy Spirit, and Son are striking, showing that the Enochian triad may have served as its prototype.

In Hebrew astronomy, the name for Jupiter is Zedek, which is also the West Semitic name for “Justice” or “Righteousness.” Judging from the names of the kings of Jerusalem, Melchi-Zedek and Adoni-Zedek, Zedek also seems to have been the name of the national god of the Jebusites. It may also be related to the Hebrew word of the same meaning, zadok, which is also the name of a man who was appointed high priest over the descendants of Aaron by King David shortly after the Judean king conquered Jerusalem. As with most conquerors, David would have been heavily influenced to either pay homage to the original patron god of Jerusalem, or to identify his own god with him. David also appointed Abiathar, a descendant of Eli of the Shiloh priesthood, who were themselves descendants of Moses from Israel who worshipped Elohim, but when Abiathar sided with Solomon’s half-brother Adonijah after David’s death, he was banished by Solomon, leaving only Zadok, from Aaron’s line, the high priest. Although Moses and Aaron are described as brothers in the Torah, many scholars believe that the concept of them as being literally sons of the same parents is only a product of later rewriting of the myth, written by a Levite priest descended from Aaron who wrote a large portion of the Torah, including the second half of the Book of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and the first half of Numbers, some times after the 700’s B.C. In contrast to other parts of the Torah, this “Priestly source,” also known as P, refers to the famed staff that turned into a snake as “Aaron’s staff” rather than Moses’ staff, and extendeds authority over the Temple and over other Levite priests to the sons of Aaron. Thus, Aaron may have been a descendant of Moses, or completely unrelated, but became joined with him in the story as a symbol of the Davidic joining between of the Shiloh with the Zedek priesthood. And so after the Shiloh priesthood was ejected with Abiathar, the Zadokites remained in control of the Temple, even up to and following the Babylonian Captivity, until the Maccabean era when it was taken away from the Onias dynasty, first by the Seleucids of Syria and then by the Hasmoneans of their home country. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls give the “sons of Zadok” such a central role in the community, it has been suggested that members of Onias or another Zadokite house may have founded the Qumran community. This would not only explain why Melchizedek holds such a special role in their belief system despite the relatively small role he plays in Genesis, but also provide a background for the tradition of the Essene Messiah figure, Moreh ha-Zadok, or “Teacher of Righteousness,” and the apostle Ya’akov ha-Zadok, or “James the Just.”

With the coming of the Persian Messiah Cyrus, who freed the Jews from captivity, and the predominance of the Achaemenid Empire, Zoroastrianism began to flourish throughout the Middle East, providing a great amount of influence on many different cultures throughout the Mediterranean, including Judaism. Belief in the afterlife, which is all but vacant from the Old Testament before Daniel, was a far more emphasized tenant in Zoroastrianism, and their belief that the soul remains in the body for three days before ascending to heaven parallels the three days that Jesus’ soul spent inside “Jonah’s whale” before resurrecting. The legend that a savior would be born from of virgin does not come from the original Hebrew version of Isaiah, as suggested by the Gospel of Matthew suggests, but it is a part of Zoroastrian eschatology. Like the Greeks, Hindus, and the author of Daniel, they believed that time was divided into four ages, each darker than he next. Zoroastrians taught that there would be three saviors, each separated by a thousand years, who would be born from fifteen year old virgins who would be bathing in the lake where Zarathustra’s seed had been preserved. Unlike anything from the Old Testament, the books of Enoch and Daniel and the New Testament replaced the nationalistic god with an abstract god of supernatural purity and light, like Zarathustra’s god Ahura Mazda, and enthroned in the heavens and far out of reach, like Anu. Like Daniel, Enoch, and the New Testament, Zoroastrianism was highly dualistic. Like Jesus, Zarathustra was also tempted to renounce his faith by the devil, Angra Mainyu.

With God now taking a mysterious role in the background of the narrative, Enoch, Daniel, Jesus, and Paul replace Yahweh of Armies as the central role within the narrative. Although angel-like “messengers” do appear in Genesis and other parts of the Old Testament, Enoch and the New Testament separate them between angels and demons, just as Zoroastrianism separated the old Iranian gods, “ahuras,” who were seen as servants to Ahura Mazda, from the “daevas” of Hindu mythology, represented as servants of the evil Angra Mainyu. These daevas, which were connected to the elements of the natural world, were just like the “satans” of Enoch and the “daimonions” (demons) of the New Testament, whose only equivalent in the Old Testament are “shades” of ruin, which are mentioned briefly in Deuteronomy (32:17) and Pslams (106:37). Hinduism in turn considered the “asuras” to be a group of power-mad deities, opposed by the angelic “devas.” Angels to some, demons to others. Besides the more well-known Roman cult of Mithras, there was also some synchronization between Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, in which God became known as Buddha-Mazda.

The Twin Brother Motif

In a large Byzantine historical encyclopedia dated to the 900’s A.D., known as the Suda, there is a quote from Prometheus saying, “According to the Judges of the Judaeans, Prometheus was known amongst the Greeks [as the one] who first discovered scholarly philosophy. He it is of whom they say that he molded men, inasmuch as he made some idiots understand wisdom. And Epimetheus, who discovered music.” The reference may refer to the duality of the Apollonian reason and Dionysian music, or perhaps the twin motif in Genesis to the sons of Lamech: Jabal, the father of tent dwellers and livestock, and Jubal, the father of harp and flute players (4:21). Although the Book of Jasher says that it was Cain and Tubal-Cain who were killed by Lamech’s bow, it would make more sense in the context of the Genesis story that it be one of both of his sons who were killed. As mentioned in the first chapter, the Ugaritic god El is also said to have fathered twin sons. In the Ugaritic text, Shahar and Shalem, El finds two goddesses, possibly Asherah and Rahmaya, who are bobbing up and down in the sea. He roasts a bird for them and asks if they would prefer to salute him as father or husband, to which they answer husband. Both of them then give birth to two sons, Shahar and Shalem. Shahar, the “Shining One,” is elsewhere known as father of Helel, the Promethean “light-bearer” of Babylonian and Canaanite mythology, and Shalem, whose name means “Peace,” is the root word of both Jerusalem, which was known as Salem (Shalem) before David conquered it, and David’s son Solomon. Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu are also said to be twin brothers in the Zurvanist sect of Zoroastrianism as well as some modern day versions of Zoroastrianism.

These kinds of stories seem to be based off of the common themes of brotherly conflict over who is to succeed the father figure and become the next king, a variation of the father-son conflict inherent in the Hittite and Greek mythologies. The earliest story that fits this theme is the Sumerian myth of Enten and Emesh, or Winter and Summer, two sons of Enlil who have a dispute over their choice of sacrifice in the same vein as Cain and Abel. Like Cain, Enten is a farmer, and like Abel, Emesh is a shepherd, but in the Sumerian version of the story, it is the farmer’s sacrifice that is more appreciated. When the twins of Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus, were arguing over where to build their city, they agreed to augur a “competitive sacrifice” as well, one in which each took a seat on the ground next to each other. In a vision, Remus envisioned six vultures (or eagles), but Romulus saw twelve, and Remus became enraged at the victory. The losing brother then ridiculed and obstructed his brother’s work building the trench for the new city, and jumped over it to prove how easy it could be traversed. For transgressing his boundary, Romulus killed Remus on the spot and decided to name the city after himself, Rome. Just like in Sumerian myth, Rome’s hero was Cain. Yet the Cain of Genesis was repentant of his deed, in the same tradition as Balder’s brother Holder, and Enkidu’s seemingly guiltless “brother” Gilgamesh. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas too also repentant upon betraying his teacher, which is the reason he hangs himself.

A variant of the twin theme can also be found in the Tosfeta Sanhedrin (9:7), which says:

“Rabbi Meir used to say, What is the meaning of [Deuteronomy 21:23], ‘For a curse of God is he that is hung?’ [It is like the case of ] two brothers, twins, who resembled each other. One ruled over the whole world, the other took to robbery. After a time the one who took to robbery was caught, and they crucified him on a cross. And everyone who passed to and fro said, ‘It seems that the king is crucified.’ Therefore it is said, ‘A curse of God is he that is hung.’”

In the canonical gospels, Jesus is crucified alongside robbers, creating a similar analogy to the crucified king versus the crucified robber. Although Matthew and Acts contradict each other on the details, both of them link Judas to a potter’s field called the Field of Blood. In Matthew, the chief priests uses the money Judas gave back to them to buy it as a burial ground for foreigners, which is why it was called that, while in Acts, it is Judas who bought the field in which he would “fall headlong” and “spill out his intestines,” from which the field supposedly derived its name. This field of death may be a correlation to Judas’ garden in what seems to be the only common denominator between Matthew, Acts, and the Toldoth.

Like the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu, the Gospel of John places the burial of Jesus in a garden, but unlike the Toldoth, John says that the burial is in a sepulcher within a garden purchased for him by a rich but otherwise unknown follower named Joseph of Aramethea (19:41). Although Joseph buries Jesus alone in the Synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John has him aided by Nicodemus, a follower of Jesus previously mentioned in John but not found in any other gospels. As I’ve argued previously, Dr. Randel McCraw Helms in his book Who Wrote the Gospels?, presents the argument for two previous layers of editing within the Gospel of John, which he calls Signs, John 1, and John 2. The middle layer, John 1, has been shown to be connected to the Gnostic arch-heretic Cerinthus, who came from Alexandria to spread his gospel around Ephesus, in modern day Turkey. I believe that this earlier Gospel of Cerinthus had Judas acting out the role of Judas the twin, a Gnostic tradition referred to in the Gospel of Thomas. As in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu, he is also the gardener who Mary Magdalene mistakes for Jesus, insinuating that it was Judas, not him, who was crucified, a tradition that reappears in Islam, and which may also have led to the tradition picked up by Matthew that Judas was hung on a tree. In the Gospel of Cerinthus, Mary Magdalene symbolizes the Sophia, confusing Jesus for his twin brother as a metaphor for the Sophia mistaking the Demiurge for the Father God, Bythos. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the story in the Gospel of Luke of Mary Magdalene being possessed by seven demons is paralleled by the Sophia being attacked by a seven-headed dragon in the Pistis Sophia and the Book of Revelations, the latter of which is said by the Alogi and Caius the Presbyter to have originated from Cerinthus, the same-said Gnostic arch-heretic who St. Epiphanius argued was not the author of John’s gospel.

Like John’s gospel, the Gospel of Peter also has Jesus buried in a sepulcher inside a garden belonging to Joseph of Aramathea. In the book, Who Killed Jesus?, John Dominic Crossan points out that in the Gospel of Peter it is not Joseph but Jesus’ enemies who remove the body from the cross just before the earth began to rumble (6:22). Crossan argues that an earlier stratum of the Gospel of Peter, which he calls the Cross Gospel, had Jesus buried by his enemies and that the Gospel of Peter was later edited to reflect the canonical gospels, which, beginning with Mark, has Joseph of Aramathea introduced so that he can be buried by friends. The tradition of burial, Crossan argues, is based off the law in Deuteronomy in which those “hung on a tree” were to be buried before sunset so as not to defile the land (21:22). The Temple Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls shows this was still an expectation of that time, but in practice it was very rare since the purpose of Roman crucifixion was to terrorize those who saw the bodies. Thus, to Crossan, the burial of Jesus “does not seem to be based on any knowledge of what actually happened but is rather a hope for what surely must have happened. Jesus’ companions had fled after his arrest and were not there to see what happened. Their ultimate terror was that he was left unburied. So the process of negating that awful possibility began.” (p.171). If the earliest stratum of the Synoptic tradition had Jesus buried by enemies in a garden, then this would match up with the Toldoth tradition of Yeshu being buried by Judas in Judas’ own garden. That the garden was owned by Judas would then have been inherited by Cerinthus, who turned Judas into Judas Thomas and had him die in Jesus’ place. John the Elder then expunged that story, and rewrote Judas Thomas as a different disciple, insuring his readers that he was “not Judas Iscariot” (14:22), but left in a portion of the story in which Mary Magdalene mistook the gardener for his twin brother Jesus (20:15).

Does this have anything to do with the garden themes in the legends of Sargon, Gilgamesh, and Eden? Comparing it to other hero myths, it is not so much the hero’s stepfather being a gardener that is so recurrent as the stepfather having a very poor profession, such as Oedipus being raised by shepherds, Perseus being raised by a fisherman, or Jesus’ stepfather Joseph being a Galilean craftsman. But one possibility is that the gardener is meant to be associated with Cain, a farmer who killed his brother the shepherd, Abel, known in Classical times as being the first martyr. Another possibility is that, assuming both the Toldoth and Gospel of Cerinthus (John 1) were using a common theme of Gnosticism, the gardener theme could arguably have been reinterpreted as an allegory for the Creator god, the blind Demiurge who grew the first plants in the Garden of Eden, just as Uranus’ son Kronos ruled over the Golden Age in Greek mythology. Going by the common elements of the motif, the king is born of a divine mother and is displaced in fear of his coming greatness to be raised by someone of humble origins who works the earth. But in the case of Yeshu, his betrayers were the ones who worshipped the God of the earth, or to use a Gnostic term from the Gospel of John, “the prince of this world,” (12:31) or from 2 Corinthians, “the god of this age,” who has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” (4:4).

As we’ve seen, there are reoccurring themes within the hero mold of being placed in danger at birth but saved and raised in humble isolation until returning to overcome his father figure, which can be found is found in part or in whole in the stories of Oedipus, Heracles, Perseus, Paris, Karna, Telephos, Gilgamesh, Sargon, Amphion, Zethos, Zeus, and Moses. But in contrast to the warrior hero is the divine martyr figure, who is even more often born of a divine mother than the hero figure. The mothers of Balder and Achilles, “the woman clothed in sun” in Revelation, and the Athena-like goddess of wisdom spoken of by Yeshu all represent the same overarching theme of a protective mother or sister goddess watching over her Savior son/lover, who always dies tragically but is then reborn. This can be seen in the cults of Dumuzi, Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Dionysus, and Balder. Many of them are connected to the flood story, which seems to have spread itself from Finland to India.

The duality between Dumuzi/Tammuz and Hadad/Zeus can likewise be seen within the matrix of the twin aspect: both were essentially gods of rain, plant growth, and fertility, but Dumuzi as the god of nomadic Bedouins took on a sheepherding aspect while Hadad, the god of city farmers, focused more on the rainstorm aspect since it was so important to crop growth. The city farmer was naturally stronger than the nomadic shepherd, and so it should come as no surprise that it is the storm god and not the shepherd god that portrays the warrior aspect. Since warfare is a typically male-dominated phenomenon, it is noteworthy that Hadad carries on a kind of love-hate relationship with his father figure, El, while it is his sister-lover Anat who takes on a very male-role as warrior-avenger. Dumuzi, in contrast, holds a closer love-hate affiliation to the mother, representing the goddess cult, which is shown by his strong connections to Innana and Geshtin-Anna. Thus Dumuzi/Tammuz is a part of the ancient matriarchal religion that predates civilization while Hadad/Zeus is part of the newer patriarchal religion. Never a warrior, Dumuzi is always portrayed as trying to escape the demons by having his sister Geshtin-Anna hide him or is otherwise killed by storm gods. Inanna, like Anat, takes vengeance, but does so by changing the storm goddess into a waterskin instead of violently chopping the killer into pieces. The storm god in turn takes on the violent nature of the storm as a part of the dynamic of the nation-state, which is to continuously conquer and annex. The Gnostic twin motif may have been an attempt to contrast these two hero caricatures, the farmer/gardener/warrior and the shepherd/winemaker/martyr.

In his role as a Jewish Cynic, the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels denies civilization, the original fruit of wisdom, by denying Satan’s temptation to own all the cities in the world, by telling his followers to “be as wise as serpents and as meek as doves,” and by expounding the ultimate concept of the goodness as giving up everything one owns to the poor and to follow him as he travels through the cities as a nomad. When asked about taxes, he similarly points out that it is Caesar’s face on the coins, and instructs them to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to Theos [Zeus/God] what is Theos’.” The twin motif can also be seen in the story of how Pilate offers the people of Jerusalem a decision whether to free either the peaceful Jesus, who cynically asked in Mark, “Am I leading a rebellion?”, or Barabbas, a rebel insurrectionist and murderer. Barabbas’ name in Hebrew, Bar Abba, means “son of the father,” a notable contrast to Jesus, who was son of the divine father. There are some early Syriac manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew even refer to Barabbas as “Jesus bar Abbas,” further illuminating the comparison, although Origen is known to have supported the more common translation. The symbolic gesture was meant to foreshadow the choice the people of Jerusalem made in the face of the Titus’ armies: they chose to have James the Just killed and stand behind the rebellion, and thus the punishment, as described by Matthew’s gospel, is inserted directly into the peoples’ mouths: “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” (27:25).

There is only one Jew who is known to have carried the surname and that is Rabbi Tanchuma bar Abbas, who lived in the mid-300’s A.D., but nevertheless makes an appearance in the Toldoth as the one to alert Judas of the queen’s threat on the other Pharisees and who helps bring back his body to be dragged before the streets and shown before the queen. In the Sanhedrin chapter of the Babylonian Talmud, Tanchuma bar Abbas is said to have been offered by an emperor to become one people with the Christians, to which he replied, “Yes, but since we are circumcised we cannot become like you; whereas you, by having yourself circumcised, may become like us.” The emperor then replied, “You have answered me correctly; but he who worsts the king must be thrown to wild beasts.” Although he was thrown into the lion’s den, the wild animals do him no harm, just like in the story of Daniel (39a). Probably the best explanation for his appearance in the Toldoth is that some editor must have replaced the name of Barabbas from an earlier version of the Toldoth story with the name of Tanchuma, either out of confusion or to make a comparison between the freedom fighter Barabbas and the Bar Abbas who stood against the conversion tactics of a Christian ruler.

In Chapter 6 of Flaccus, the Jewish philosopher Philo, a contemporary of the gospel Jesus, writes of a madman named Carabbas who spent all his days and nights naked in the roads despite the weather. Young men would often drive him to the public gymnasium, where they would play a mock coronation on him as a charade very similar to the one Jesus receives in the gospels. Carabbas is crowned with a leaf of papyrus, cloaked with a doormat, and given a stick instead of a scepter. The young men then stood by his side with sticks like bodyguards as others came up to salute or plead their cases, before the multitude cried out “Maris!” the name which Syrian kings took in the style of Agrippa. Thus a comparison was made by the authors of Mark and Matthew between Jesus Carabbas, son of the heavenly Father, a peaceful martyr who has denied the physical world, and Jesus Barabbas, son of the earthly father, a rebel, terrorist, and murderer.

The Nabataean’s Sumerian Heritage

In the book, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, originally written in 1894, the Victorian scholar Reverened Sabine Baring-Gould tells how a Mesopotamian from the 900’s A.D. named Ibn Wahshiya “the Chaldean” devoted his life to translating a large collection of Nabataean writings saved from Islamic iconoclasm, three books of which have survived to today. The Nabataians were traders from Jordan and northern Arabia who controlled Antioch during the Apostolic Age, and whose king, Aretas IV, was said to have tried to have Paul arrested while he was in the city, according to 1 Corinthians. Although Wahshiya was himself a fourth generation Muslim, he “hated the Arabs, and cherished the same feeling of national jealousy towards them as the Persians also entertained against their conquerors,” as Ernset Renan says in Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabataean Agriculture. One of the surviving books is the Book of Nabataean Agriculture, written by Kuthami the Babylonian, which says:

“The contemporaries of Yanbushadh assert that all the seka’in of the gods and all the images lamented over Yanbushadh after his death, just as all the angels and seka’in lamented over Tammuzi. The images (of the gods), they say, congregated from all parts of the world to the temple in Babylon, and betook themselves to the temple of the Sun, to the great golden images that is suspended between heaven and earth. The Sun image stood, they say, in the midst of the temple, surrounded by all the images of the world. Next to it stood the images of the Sun in all countries; then those of the Moon; next those of Mars; after them, the images of Mercury; then those of Jupiter; after them, those of Venus; and last of all, of Saturn. Thereupon the images of the Sun began to bewail Tammuzi, and the idols to weep; and the image of the Sun uttered a lament over Tammuz and narrated his history, whilst the idols all wept from the setting of the sun till its rising at the end of the night. Then the idols flew away, returning to their own countries. They say the eyes of the idol of Tehama (in South Arabia), called the eagle, are perpetually flowing with tears, and will continue, from the night wherein it lamented over Tammuz along with the images of the Sun, because of the peculiar share that it had in the story of Tammuz. This idol, called Nesr, they say, is the one that inspired the Arabs with the gift of divination, so that they can tell what has not yet come to pass, and can explain dreams before the dreamers state what they are. They (the contemporaries of Yanbushadh) tell that the idols in the land of Babel bewailed Yanbushadh singly in all their temples a whole night long till morning. During this night there was a great flood of rain, with violent thunder and lightning, as also a furious earthquake (in the district) from the borders of the mountain range of Holwan to the banks of the Tigris near the city Nebarwaja, on the eastern bank of that river. The idols, they say, returned during this flood to their places, because they had been a little shaken. This flood was brought by the idols as a judgment upon the people of the land of Babel for having abandoned the dead body of Yanbushadh, as it lay on the bare ground in the desert of Shamas, so that the flood carried his dead body to the Wadi el-A’hfar, and then swept it from this wadi into the sea. Then there was drought and pestilence in the land of Babel for three months, so that the living were not sufficient to bury the dead. These tales (of Tammuz and Yanbushadh) have been collected and are read in the temples after prayers, and the people weep and lament much thereupon. When I myself am present with the people in the temple, at the feast of Tammuz, which is in the month called after him, and they read his story and weep, I weep along with them always, out of friendly feeling towards them, and because I compassionate their weeping, not that I believe what they relate of him. But I believe in the story of Yanbushadh, and when they read it and weep, I weep along with them, very differently from my weeping over Tammuzi. The reason is this, that the time of Yanbushadh is nearer to our own that the time of Tammuz, and his story is therefore, more certain and worthy of belief. It is possible that some portions of the story of Tammuz may be true, but I have my doubts concerning other parts of it, owing to the distance of his time from ours.”

The “idols” spoken of here are probably a reference to the Sumerian gods who, in the earliest myths, are said to have been greatly “shaken up” by the experience of the deluge, just as Kuthami says. But what is different is that instead of the flood being blamed on humans being too “noisy,” which is possibly a metaphor for injustice, just as Abel’s blood “cried” out to Yahweh (4:10). A comparison may yet be made, however, to the Akkadian version, the Epic of Atra-Hasis, which would later be used as a source in the Epic of Gilgamesh. In this Semitic version of the story, the servants of the gods, called the Igigi, rebel against Enlil for having to work so hard digging the Tigris and Euphrates out for thousands of years. When they surround his home, Enlil asks for help from the other gods, so that Enki and the earth goddess Ninmah formed mankind out of clay to act as the new servants to the gods. However, a sacrifice must be made, and so the god of Intelligence, Geshtu-E, was killed and his blood mixed with the clay before it was heated in the oven of the womb of the Mistress of All Gods, called Mami, and identified as being equivalent to Nammu and Tiamat.

The name of the town in Arabia, Tehama, from which the crying idol is from, is also believed to be derived from the word for primeval waters, related to both the name Tiamat and the Hebrew word tehom, which is translated as “deep” in the second verse of Genesis: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Tigris and Euphrates are similarly said to have been filled with the tears of Tiamat after she was slain by the national god Marduk in the Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish. Just like in Genesis, the Epic of Atra-Hasis describes the deluge as the primeval waters being opened up from a window, due to the ancient oriental belief that rain came from space and flowed through the clouds to a flat earth which it completely surrounds. Just like in Genesis, the world is destroyed by the same primeval waters which from which the world was created (1:6, 7:11). The Epic of Atra-Hasis also includes famines and droughts being brought on by Enlil, but the cause is still made out to be due to overpopulation rather than the death of Gesthu-E. Yet the details surrounding the sacrifice motif could easily have been changed over time.

After this quote from Kuthami the Babylonian, Ibn Wahshiya adds some commentary, saying:

Says Abu Bekr A’hmed ibn Wa’shiya. This month is called Tammuz, according to what the Nabathaeans say, as I have found it in their books, and is named after a man of whom a strange long story is told, and who was put to death, they relate, several times in succession in a most cruel manner. Each of their months is named after some excellent and learned man, who was one, in ancient times, of those Nabathaeans that inhabited the land of Babel before the Chaldaeans. This Tammuz was not one of the Chaldaeans, nor of the Canaanites, nor of the Hebrews, nor of the Assyrians, but of the primeval Iambanis… All the Ssabians of our time, down to our own day, wail and weep over Tammuz in the month of that name, on the occasion of a festival in his honor, and make great lamentation over him; especially the women, who all rise, both here (at Bagdad) and at ‘Harran, and wail and weep over Tammuz. They tell a long and silly story about him; but, as I have clearly ascertained, not one of either sect has any certain information regarding Tammuz, or the reason of their lamenting over him. However, after I translated this book, I found in the course of my reading the statement that Tammuz was a man concerning him there was a legend, and that he had been put to death in a shameful manner. That was all; not another word about him. They knew nothing more about him than to say, ‘We found our ancestors weeping and wailing over him in this way at this feast that is called after him Tammuzi.’ My own opinion is, that this festival which they hold in commemoration of Tammuz is an ancient one, and has maintained itself till now, whilst the story connected with him has been forgotten, owing to the remoteness of his age, so that no one of the Ssabians at the present day knows what his story was, nor why they lament over him.

The Sabians, who are divided into non-Gnostic and Gnostic, initiate people through the practice of falling backwards into water, similar to the Baptist practice. The submersion is intended to be a reminder of the great deluge which cleansed man’s sinful nature from the earth. The word Sabian itself has been arguably linked to the Syriac root S-b-’, referring to conversion through submersion. They go back to the 600’s A.D. at the latest and may have been precipitated by the Mandeans, who go back to the first century.

Ibn Wa’hshiya also talks about the Festival of St. George, which was celebrated in April, who was said to have been put to death several times but was continuously restored back to life several times before finally dying a martyr, usually on the seventh try. Wa’hshiya said that the story of St. George is the same as the story of Tammuz, taking it from Agriculture and another book: “how he summoned a king to worship the seven (planets) and the twelve (signs), and how the king put him to death several times in a cruel manner, Tammuz coming to life again after each time, until at last he died; and behold! It was identical with the legend of S. George that is current among the Christians.”

Baring-Gould points out that the story is also identical to the apocryphal story of how Nimrod tried to use different torturous methods put Abraham to death but that he was miraculously preserved by God, which can be found in the Book of Jasher. Baring-Gould also says that there is an Arabian legend of a god named El Koudir, which had become adapted in post-Muhammed times to that of St. George “because they found that the Christians had already taken this course, and had fixed the ancient myth on the martyr of Nicomedia.” Baring-Gould points out that “In Babylonia it had already passed to Yanbushadh; and it was made to pass further to Gherghis, much as in Greece the story of Apollo and Python was transferred to Perseus and the sea-monster…” Even in the 1300’s the Greek historian John Kantakuzenos remarked on the devotion Muslims put into the shrines erected to St. George. He also compares the myth to Phaethon, Heracles, and Achilles, “a humanized sun-god” that “was vulnerable in his heel, just as the Teutonic Sigfried could only be wounded in his back: this represents the sun as retiring from the heavens with his back turned, struck by the weapon of darkness, just as Ares, the blind God, with his tusk slew Adonis, or sightless Hodr with his mistletoe shaft smote Baldur.” He then compares the fable of St. George to these myths, saying, “we have the martyr, like Memnon or Herakles, on the fire, and transfixed, like Achilles and Ajax; exposed in a brazen bull on a fire, that is, hung in the full rain cloud over the western blaze; cast down a hill, like Phaethon; plunged into boiling metal, a representation of the lurid vapors of the west.”

Baring-Gould makes the following conclusion in a chapter on the "Legend of the Cross":

“And for my own part, I see no difficulty in believing that [the legend of the cross] formed a portion of the primeval religion, traces of which exist over the whole world, among every people; that trust in the Cross was a part of the ancient faith which taught men to believe in a Trinity, in a War in Heaven, a Paradise from which men fell, a Flood, and a Babel; a faith which was deeply impressed with a conviction that a Virgin should conceive and bear a son, that the Dragon’s head should be bruised, and that through Shedding of blood should come Remission. The use of the cross, as a symbol of life and regeneration through water, is as widely spread over the world as the belief in the ark of Noah. May be, the shadow of the Cross was cast further back into the night of ages, and fell on a wider range of country, than we are aware of.

“It is more than coincidence that Osiris by the cross should give life eternal to the Spirits of the Just; that with the cross Thorr should smite the head of the Great Serpent, and bring to life those who were slain; that beneath the cross the Muysca mother should lay their babies, trusting by that sign to secure them from the power of evil spirits; that with that symbol to protect them, the ancient people of Northern Italy should lay them down in the dust.”