Inanna and Jesus both travel to a big city, where they are arrested by soldiers, put on trial, convicted, sentenced to death, stripped of their clothes, tortured, hung up on a stake, and die. And then, after 3 days, they are resurrected from the dead.
Now there are, to be sure, a number of significant differences between the stories. For one thing, one story is about a goddess and the other is about a divine man. But this is a specific pattern, a mythic template. When you are dealing with the question of whether these things actually happened, you have to deal with the fact that there is a mythic template here.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t a real person, Jesus, who was crucified, but rather that, if there was, the story about it is structured and embellished in accordance with a pattern that was very ancient and widespread.
People were telling this story almost four thousand years before the death and resurrection of Jesus.
They also discuss the similarities between Jesus and Inanna’s husband, Dumuzi:
Dumuzi is the prototype of the non-aggressive, non-heroic male; he cries easily; he is the opposite of the warrior-god in the ancient pantheon. The summer month which corresponds to our month of July is named after him in both the Babylonian and Hebrew calendars, and during this month each year his followers, mostly women, mourn his death. From this myth we are talking about, and from a few other references, we also know that he is resurrected. But unlike Jesus, who dies and is resurrected once, he is imagined to die and be resurrected over and over, each year.
There are other major differences. However, there really are a lot of similarities between the personalities and the stories of Jesus and Dumuzi. They both are tortured and die violent deaths after being betrayed by a close friend, who accepts a bribe from his enemies. They both have a father who is a god and a mother who is human. Dumuzi’s father, the god Enki, also has many similarities to Yahweh, the father of Jesus.
What I find most interesting is that Dr. Tony Nugen is a Presbyterian minister and considers himself a Christian, even though he realizes the resurrection of Jesus is bunk:
I consider myself to be a Christian in a spiritual sense, not in a doctrinal sense. This means my Christianity is defined by values, spiritual practices, and faith rather than belief in a specific set of doctrinal agreements….
If the resurrection of Christ didn’t literally happen, that shouldn’t have any bearing on whether life now is worth living or how we live. From my vantage point, where values and practices are the heart of Christianity, the contradiction lies in people like our recent president who think it’s ok to practice torture and yet call themselves Christians….
From the standpoint of my Christianity, right-wing evangelical fundamentalism is really the opposite of what Christ was about. Those who subscribe to an intolerant, arrogant, inhumane form of Christianity are following a religion that is literally antichrist.
I wish there were more Christians like Dr. Nugen! I think we’d get along quite well.