For those who have been following my blog know I am historian with a specialist interest and knowledge in ancient history. So, the content of this article may not come to you as a surprise. As today is Good Friday, I thought it would be an opportunity to write about the origins of this Holy event beginning with resurrection.
Most people know about Easter, the Christian story of Jesus who was killed on what is now Good Friday and was resurrected on Easter Sunday. The concept of resurrection goes back to the Egyptian god and goddess Osiris and Isis, and to the Sumerian goddess, Inanna or better known as Ishtah.
For those not familiar with the Egyptian myth, Osiris, god of the dead and ruler of the underworld was tricked and killed by his envious brother, Set. Set was jealous of his brother’s success, and to make matters worse, his wife Nephthys disguised herself as Isis, seduced Osiris and later became pregnant with the god Anubis. Well Set wasn’t going to let that slide, so he built a beautiful box, then had a party daring people to lay in it, and who ever it fitted could have it as a gift. No guessing who it was made for. Osiris lay in the box, and Set nailed him in and threw it into the Nile. The river carried the box with the trapped Osiris into Byblos and that was later entombed into a tamarisk tree. The King of Byblos and his wife Astarte, admired the tree, had it cut down and turned into a pillar to be placed in the court of his palace. Osiris imprisoned, died.
Meanwhile, Isis searches all of Egypt for Osiris, then heads into Byblos was taken in by Astarte, who takes her on as a nursemaid for her sons. Astarte then comes across Isis burning her youngest son with the intention of making him immortal (this parallels with the story of Demeter and the Eleusinian mysteries). In turn, the king and queen offer her anything she wanted to stop her from harming their son and she asks for the pillar. Isis revived Osiris and they later had a son, Horus.
According to the Sumerian myth, Inanna’s husband dies and, in her grief, she followed him to the underworld. Inanna goes through seven gates where she was challenged each time to remove her royal garments until she is “naked and bowed low”. She was then killed and hung on a stake. She later resurrected by two androgynous demons, who followed the orders of her father. There is more to the myth of Inanna, taken from the Sumerian poem The Descent f Inanna, circa 1900-1600 BCE. For your interest, the myth of Demeter and Persephone was based on this legend, and the Ancient Greeks amended to suit their culture and purpose.
These legends are worth reading, and what I have given is a snapshot of the two great epic myths and where the resurrection of Jesus has stemmed from.
For those who follow the Christian tradition, I wish you and your families a Happy Easter, and those who do not, enjoy the time with your family.
Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.