2008-10-29

Other gods who healed the blind and raised the dead

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by Neil Godfrey

Marduk

You take by the hand and raise the injured from his bed

Ishtar

The sick man who sees your face revives; his bondage is released; he gets up instantly.

At your command, O Ishtar, the blind man sees the light,

the unhealthy one who sees your face, becomes healthy.

O deity of men, goddess of women, whose delights no one can conceive, where you look one who is dead lives; one who is sick rises up.

Nabu

Let the dead man revive by your breeze; let his squandered life become gain.

It’s reassuring to know Jesus has company. Like Ishtar, he did not need to rely on hocus pocus rituals to heal. A mere word or command, or simply taking one’s hand, is clearly enough to heal when a deity is directly involved. Maybe the last line relating to Nabu speaks of a metaphoric raising from the dead. Maybe that was the original meaning of the miracles of Jesus in the first gospel, too.

(Extracts from B. R. Foster, Before the Muses, vol.2, cited in Thomas L. Thompson’s The Messiah Myth, p. 329)


The Wisdom and Ethics of Israel’s Pagan Neighbours

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

For many believers the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, widely thought to be the Wisdom of Solomon, enshrined in holy black covers and gold embossed lettering, has the status of a unique, even god-breathed, collection of sayings. It is a pity that not many readers have easy access to collections of writings from non-Israelite cultures that would enable them to better understand the context and comparative nature of the Bible’s books, including the Book of Proverbs. Noble ethics can be misunderstood as somehow unique to one race or religion if they are thought to exist exclusively in the Bible. It is much healthier for self-understanding and appreciation of humanity generally if we can compare the wisdom and ethics in the Bible with similar writings from the regions of ancient Babylonia.

Here’s another extract from Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 1969:

Akkadian Proverbs and Counsels

On modesty and watching your tongue and temper:

As a wise man, let your understanding shine modestly,

Let your mouth be restrained, guarded your speech.

Like a man’s wealth, let your lips be precious.

Let affront, hostility, be an abomination unto you.

Speak nothing impertinent, (give no) unreliable advice.

Whoever does something ugly — his head is despised.

Hasten not to stand in a public assembly,

Seek not the place of quarrel;

On the golden rule:

Unto your opponent do no evil;

Your evildoer recompense with good;

Unto your enemy let justice [be done],

On shunning the immoral woman:

Do not marry a harlot whose husbands are six thousand.

An Ishtar-woman vowed to a god,

A sacred prostitute whose favours are unlimited,

Will not lift you out of trouble:

In your quarrel she will slander you.

Reverence and submissiveness are not with her.

Truly, if she takes possession of the house, lead her out.

On basic goodnes and kindness:

Give food to eat, give date wine to drink;

The one begging for alms honor, clothe:

Over this his god rejoices,

This is pleasing unto the god Shamash, he rewards it with good.

Be helpful, do good.

Speak no evil:

Do not slander, speak what is fine.

Speak no evil, tell what is good.

Whoever slanders (or) speaks evil,

As a retribution the god Shamash will pursue after his head.

From Akkadian Proverbs and Counsels (Translator: Robert Pfeiffer), p.426, ANET

The above was from Mesopotamia. Here’s one from Egypt (the New Kingdom period):

Instruction of Amenemopet

Do not laugh at a blind man,

nor tease a dwarf,

nor cause hardship for the lame.

Don’t tease a man who is in the hand of the god, nor be angry with him for his failings. Man is clay and straw. The god is his builder. He tears down; he builds up daily; He makes a thousand poor by his will; he makes a thousand men into chiefs . . . .

Do not pounce on a widow when you find her in the fields, and then fail to be patient with her reply.

Do not refuse your jar to a stranger; double it before your brothers.

God prefers him who honors the poor to him who worships the wealthy.

From W. W. Hallo, The Context of Scripture. Cited by Thomas L. Thompson in The Messiah Myth, p.327

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