Here is a comment I have just posted in response to the delightful spin. Note link to Witt
Robert Tulip wrote:
Thank you spin.
You're welcome, Robert Tulip. I knew that you would bleed about having your rubbish pointed out to be rubbish, but you have nothing better to offer. Assertions made in outdated texts are so..., well, typical of the new age nonsense you've been banging out here.
Although somewhat hesitant to engage with this mildly splenetic response from spin, I feel obliged to defend the connection between Mary and Isis. This material touches on some deep culture wars, both ancient and modern. I hope responses can steer away from emotional diatribes that fail to engage with evidence.
The ancient culture war can be seen in the description of religious change given by Robert Graves in his Introduction to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. Graves argues that a recurring theme in religious politics is that the myths of conquered societies attain ongoing life in subordination to the dominant mythology of the conqueror. We can see this process in operation in the gradual emergence of Christianity to its dominant position. The mythology of Egypt persisted for thousands of years until the successive conquests from Syria, Greece and Rome destroyed it. However, one of the beauties of myth is that very old stories have an inherent power by their very durability, having stood the test of time and proved their utility.
The archetype of the virgin mother, from Neith, Hathor and Isis, provided a fertile seed bed from which the Mary cult could draw. But an important part of Christianity was its intense misogyny, linked to an alienated supernatural monotheism in which all spirituality is controlled by a single patriarchal sky father. This meant that rather than seeing Mary as equal to Jehovah, as Isis was equal to Osiris, Christianity had to find a new way to recognise feminine spirituality. Placing the Isis virgin mother trope into the historical fiction of Jesus of Nazareth was the solution, while giving a clear nod to the Egyptian antecedents in the Lazarus story, and in the queen of heaven myth with her cosmic crown of twelve stars.
In the Bible, John gives new life to Osiris by lightly concealing him as Lazarus, while also giving Mary and Martha the same role as the Egyptian Mertae, Isis and Nephthys. As Massey argued, the structure and names of the two myths are too similar to be unconnected. Christianity borrowed the myth from Egypt.
The modern culture war relates to theosophy and fascism. Gerald Massey was hostile to theosophy because he thought it was too speculative and magical and lacked the basis in evidence that he saw as central. Massey wanted to place comparative religion within a scientific framework. However, the popular appeal of Madame Blavatsky and her theosophical followers meant that Massey was crowded out of the picture. Christians had been fuming since their defeat at the hands of Charles Darwin. But theosophy, and anything associated with it, was a much easier target than the science of evolution. So the cultural war over religion saw the church suffering a strategic defeat at the hands of science, but compensating with a small tactical victory over the recrudescent hermetic magic of theosophy. In the process, writers such as Massey were crunched.
The use by theosophy of the swastika symbol, and the appropriation of this symbol by Hitler, was the last straw. Theosophy faced a suspicion of association with extreme right wing racist views from which it has not recovered. We can see how this broad cultural politics meant that academic sympathy for theosophy, in an environment dominated by the success of the hard sciences, would be seen as irrational. Even more, the Nazi link gave theosophy an odor of the illiberal, reinforcing the disdain in which such material was held in the universities.
Against this framework, the work of Massey and others like him was quietly neglected, but never answered or refuted. Mainstream Egyptology has preferred instead to pursue safer empirical topics rather than the philosophical problem of the relation between Egyptian thought and Christianity. Just as Christians say the Christ Myth Theory has been refuted, but can never say exactly where, spin says Massey is obsolete but neglects to engage with his actual information about Isis.
Whoa, boyo. What facts are you talking about? Assertions aren't facts. Assertions based on mere appearances of names, are still assertions. Where are the facts in Massey's assertions?
As I quoted above, Massey asserts that “In the “discourse of Horus” to his Father at his coming forth from the sanctuary in Sekhem to see Ra, Horus says, “I have given thee thy soul, I have given thee thy strength, I have given thee thy victory, I have given thee thy two eyes (mertae), I have given thee Isis and Nephthys”, who are the two divine sisters, the Mary and Martha of Beth-Annu (Records, vol. 10, p. 163).” I have no reason to think Massey is misquoting his cited source, but assuming it is accurate, he provides here an Egyptian text in which Horus, Osiris, Isis and Nephthys have the same respective roles as Jesus, Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
Massey goes on to explain how the association between Isis and the throne appears as Mary sitting at the feet of Christ, while Nephthys’ position as a home goddess is recapitulated in Martha’s role as servant. You can read the other parallels in my long quote from Ancient Egypt The Light of the World
How many of the assertions that Massey makes have you checked out? Which ones did you check and where did you check them out?
I am happy to take Massey’s text here as reliable. If anyone wants to check his source be my guest. I cannot see why he would give this reference (Records vol 10) if others could not seek to falsify it. Others who have looked into this material (Kuhn, Harpur, Murdock) have strongly backed the argument. My internet searching shows that criticism is only from Christian apologists.
The headbang smiley is for your utter incomprehension of what reasonable source materials are, as demonstrated by your recycling new age shit.
Perhaps it is better not to wear emotional commitments so transparently upon your sleeve spin. The description of my ideas as “shit” reflects a lack of comprehension. It reminds me of Freud’s dream of Jung as upwelling mud. Scholarship has narrow irrational boundaries, as we see in the exclusion of Christ Mythicism. The exclusion of new age cosmology through hand-waving appeals to irrelevant comparisons to excrement says more about the excluders than about the material that is excluded.
The question of what constitutes “reasonable source materials” in this field is hotly contested. Already in this thread a range of ancient sources have been cited only to be dismissed with airy ignorance. Part of the culture war here is that the Egyptians saw their gods as allegory for natural entities and forces, especially the sun and moon. Two thousand years of stony sleep have allowed the Christian rejection of natural theology to ossify into deep subconscious cultural prejudice, overlaid with a shallow empiricism, such that the hidden continuation of natural theology within Christianity is denied.
I see no difference between christian sources and the schlock you are pretending is scholarly analysis.
”Schlock” is another charming term. There is no schlock needed to analyse pre-Christian virgin mother myths. In terms of natural cycles, we see that the sun appears to be born anew every day from the virgin mother night. The association between purity and fertility has a deep attraction. It is simply unimaginable that the extensive age-old veneration of this trope of the virgin mother in so many ancient societies would simply vanish, to be replaced by a similar historical myth using many of the same names and stories, but with no connection between them.
Christian sources are very different from what I am presenting, since they seek to defend established traditions whose factual basis is highly dubious. By contrast, I am looking at how the Mary myth could actually have evolved from its antecedents.
I have complained about the use of outdated sources from the 19th c. attempting to deal with a field whose scholarship has grown extremely through the 20th c., such that anything cited about Egyptology from the 19th c. is probably cited because the citer cannot supply any scholarly source for the material.
Scholars of the last century have largely ignored comparative mythology. The difficulty and sensitivity have made it largely too hot to handle, although scholars such as Witt belie this problem. Egyptology has simply moved on to more amenable empirical topics, after seeing with alarm the Gnostic implications of a rigorous study of the meaning of Egyptian religious texts.Isis in the Ancient World
by RE Witt, published by Cornell University Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, says Isis was “one of the most sublime deifications of motherhood and yet in the Osiris Hymn called the ‘Great Virgin’. Witt says Isis was known as ‘the Lady of Bread’. This name displays continuity with the Virgo motif of the star Spica, the ear of wheat.
A headbang smiley usually reflects the behavior of a poster it used in response to, not to any material input. If you think it is reasonable to consistently cite antiquarian works rather than scholarship, you deserve a headbang smiley, which is why I gave it to you.
I would have more respect for that argument if anything you had said in this thread amounted to more that the automatic gainsaying of the material I have cited, a la the John Cleese method. The ‘antiquarian’ canard simply reflects the cultural politics of ancient studies, and the fact that once the astrotheological content of Egyptian religion was revealed by writers like Massey, and Dupuis and others before him, it was quietly placed in the academic ‘too hard’ basket. The assertion that so-called antiquarian works should not be cited is evidence-free.
The opinions of Gerald Massey don't provide you with facts for discourse here.
I am not talking about Massey’s opinions, I am talking about the facts he cites from old Egyptian sources showing myths about Isis in the same story line as appears for Mary in the Lazarus story in the Gospel of John.
You need to start with a foundation of current Egyptological literature in order to have the least eclectic of views from which to depart into the more peripheral of materials.
If you can refer me to good recent work that analyses the archetypal relation between Isis and Mary I would be happy to read it. Witt is excellent. Unfortunately, Murdock’s Christ in Egypt
falls victim to the ‘no true Egyptologist’ fallacy, such that an interest in this topic excludes a researcher from the guild. Murdock is rigorous, but her research falls under the taboos of the culture wars.
Robert Tulip wrote:
But I think there are a few psychological brick walls among those who deny the abundant Egyptian antecedents incorporated into Christian myth.
Facile approaches to the complexity of relations between religions as seen in the migration of tropes from one to another is nothing new.
So you accept there is a migration of tropes. I imagine that admission would be enough to give conniptions to Jeffrey Gibson. In this case the migration of tropes is rather exact, with Egyptian figures having the same names and roles as their Christian counterparts. Yes it is a complex topic, but this example is simple, and hardly facile.
If you've read John Allegro's Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, you'd find another such simplistic, though entertaining, approach.
Shamanism would take us into a broader field. From the summary I have read of Allegro, I understand he does actually have an interest in how ancient religion sought to connect the earth to the heavens.
He wasn't interested in astrotheology, but mycotheology.
Allegro was shunned because of the illegal status of hallucinogenic drugs. Rather like Graham Hancock, Allegro’s efforts to respect ancient use of such natural substances elicited a hostile reaction. It bears comparison to astrotheology, because both assert the existence and value of significant lost traditions.
Others have tried the all our religions go back to India routine. I doubt that there are any easy solutions to systems that had been developing for thousands of years before we get to christianity.
I am not talking about easy solutions. Ancient mystery schools used oral teaching, and most of their ideas have been lost, or preserved only in distorted reflections in extant sources. But it is entirely possible and legitimate to look at the cracked mirror of the gospels to ask what ancient myths it actually reflects. The authors were working under profound political constraints, required to produce a text that would be historically believable and spiritually authentic. This meant the subordinated source deities had to be acknowledged in veiled form.
I do not doubt that there are significant astral aspects to some of the tropes: who are the king and queen of heaven? But then, what were the rites celebrated "under every green tree" that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel complain about?
That reminds me of the real ten commandments in Exodus 34
, where the first command of God is to destroy the sacred groves of Asherah, the queen of heaven. Asherah bears comparison to Isis. Opposition to astrotheology is at the foundation of the Judeo-Christian cosmology.
We return to Hamlet's response to his friend's simplicity: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." While you keep beating this astrotheology drum, you are going to seem like one of those orange-clad people banging gongs in the street.
Ah, you are so subtle spin! There is no question that astrotheology has a higher respect for Buddhist and Hindu religion than Christianity does. The intent here appears to be to imply that Indian religion is a byword for irrationality. Again, the extremely ancient origins of Indian myth gives its stories an archetypal power, as in Egypt. The exclusive limits of modern western rationality often like to point to an excluded other as a symbol of the irrational. Such summary dismissal of the myth of Isis is a shallow and inadequate response to material that deserves proper study.