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PAGANISM UNPARALLELED TO JESUS pt1: Tammuz


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By: Pastor Manny

“Most Christians do not bother to trace the origins of their religion, much less their beliefs and rituals. If they do, they might be in for the shock of their lives.
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This column is not for people who are satisfied with what Church officials tell them. As the saying goes, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Rather, this is for those who are intellectually curious and discontented.”
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The quotation above is provided by a columnist who is working for Inquirer.net [1]. In his column, he made statements such as Christians will be shocked, and that his article is for those who are “intellectually curious.” The reason why he said those bold statements is because he claimed that the story of Jesus is nothing but a copy of existing pagan stories, and according to him, the parallelisms that he discovered would prove this case. He provided four examples of the pagan gods, and we will look first at the example of Tammuz. For some people who are unaware, the columnist described Tammuz (also known as Dumuzi) as a Mesopotamian god of fertility from the year 2,000 B.C. Below are the six points that I highlighted including the response that I will be providing.
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First point:
His father was the Sumerian God Enki and his consort the goddess Inanna (Ishtar).
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Response:
So, it seems to me that the first connection that he attempted to use is that Tammuz is the son of Sumerian god Enki and goddess Inanna (also known as Ishtar) just as how Jesus is the Son of God the Father and the son of the Mother of God (Mary). The problem here is that the earlier example is similar to tritheism or the belief in three gods. However, Christians reject tritheism, but we accept Trinity. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC),
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“The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity” [2]”.
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Also, Mary being the Mother of God doesn’t mean that she is a goddess just as how Mary is not portrayed as a goddess in the Bible even if she was called as the Mother of the Lord (Lord, another title for God) as seen in Luke 1:43. In fact, the Church doesn’t say that the divinity of Christ was derived from Mary, but the reason why she’s called as the Mother of God is that the Word (who was God) was born from her [3]. Another problem is that there are other sources that consider Tammuz (or Dumuzi) as the husband of Inanna, not son and one example of those sources include “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi [4].”
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Second Point:
March and April mark the death of Tammuz.
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Response:
Other than the fact that he contradicted himself as I will explain later, he tried to make a connection by claiming that Tammuz died on the same month that Jesus died since we celebrate the Easter during late March or early April. However, this is not supported by evidence and in page 73 of the book “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia”, it says that the 6th month of the year (not 3rd or 4th) was named after the festival of Tammuz as a ritual lamentation for his death [5].
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Third Point:
Tammuz died at the hands of Inanna, but she eventually brought him back to life.
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Response:
The author of the article got it right, at least a half-right. There seems to be evidence that Tammuz died at the hands of Inanna. In an ancient pagan work “Descent of Inanna”, it says that “Inanna fastened on Dumuzi the eye of death” [6]. To fasten here could mean to hold in place, but what the columnist got wrong is the idea that Inanna brought him back to life.
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One reason why the idea of Tammuz or Dumuzi being resurrected is rejected by the vast scholarship is that the “Descent of Inanna” did not mention anything about Tammuz’ resurrection. The pagan work did not use the words “ascended from the underworld” as used to Inanna and the only example that I can think of from that work is when the demons could not hold him in the underworld and that he escaped. Below are the quotations from the “Descent of Inanna”.
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“He changed the hands of Dumuzi into snake hands. He changed the feet of Dumuzi into snake feet. Dumuzi escaped from his demons. They could not hold him…. [6].”
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Going back to the parallelism, the Bible does not indicate that Jesus was being held by the demons. He was not even in hell but in the Paradise (Luke 23:43). Also, after Jesus resurrected from the dead, He did not become snake just as how Dumuzi’s body parts were changed.
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Fourth Point:
He died to save people from starvation and death.
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Response:
I’m sorry, where in the world can this columnist find a connection to Jesus from Tammuz’ intention of saving people from “starvation and death”. SERIOUSLY??? Rather, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). The closest connection that I can think of is death, but Jesus did not save us from physical death but from spiritual death or sin.
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Fifth Point:
Like Jesus, Tammuz was called a shepherd.
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Response:
There are two ways of understanding this. It could be that Tammuz is a human shepherd or the god of shepherds, and both don’t make any connection at all. First, there is no indication that Jesus is a literal shepherd in the Bible. We can find some clues that He’s a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) or that He’s a fisherman (Matthew 4:18), but nowhere can we find any clue of Jesus working as a shepherd. In the Bible, Jesus used the title Good Shepherd of Himself because His sheep (symbolism of the believers) listens to His voice, and just as a shepherd who dies for the sheep just to defend it from wolves, Jesus dies for the sheep (symbolism for believers) (John 10:14-15).
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Second, Jesus is not the god of the shepherd as if He is a pagan god who is limited. And, I think that this is one of the main difference between the pagan gods and the Christian God. The pagan gods are limited, and that’s why we have “god of the sea”, “god of war”, “god of thunder”, etc. The pagan gods were not omnipotent or all-powerful, and their divinity is limited in comparison to God of the Bible whose “…ETERNAL POWER and DEITY, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made… (Romans 1:20) [emphasis added].”
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Sixth Point:
He died during the summer solstice but lived again in winter. He spent half a year in the underworld and the other half among the living.
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Response:
I hope that you see how he just contradicted himself in a matter of four sentences. Remember that he earlier said as I quoted that Tammuz died on March or April, and then later, he said that he died during the summer solstice or somewhere in June. There is no doubt that this is a clear contradiction on his part. Then, even if he argued that Tammuz was resurrected, Jesus did not resurrect after 6 months. Jesus resurrected on the third day (Luke 24:7). Also, if the columnist is arguing that date of Christmas is copied from the resurrection in winter, I think that it’s clear that there is a difference between resurrection during winter (which written historical sources did not mention) and birth during winter. Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth in late December, not His resurrection in late December. For people who wanted to see some historical writings about December 25 that existed before other pagan accounts and for those who wanted to see the biblical calculation of Christmas, I would be recommending my previous articles as linked below [7] [8].
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References:
[1] https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/316940/pagan-parallels-of-jesus-christ/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR3mCuxbXuZuo4wyheAOwAoghhu-YYgBkY7evDQWfIVP4ZQgOaQEQAuYHic#Echobox=1544477416
[2] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p2.htm
[3] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm
[4] http://jewishchristianlit.com/Texts/ANEmrg/Inanna&Dumuzi.html
[5] https://www.scribd.com/doc/115326532/Gods-Demons-and-Symbols-of-Ancient-Mesopotamia, page 73
[6] http://people.uncw.edu/deagona/myth/Descent%20Of%20Inanna.pdf
[7] https://www.facebook.com/dcfvanguardsoftruth/posts/2439122922978661
[8] https://www.facebook.com/dcfvanguardsoftruth/posts/2444104865813800

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