Actually, the entire argument that Christianity borrowed dogmas from other religions was a very popular theory, called 'The History of Religions' theory, and it raged from around 1880-1920. It is now considered a theory that is utterly refuted. And yes, that includes the huge number of scholars who are atheists.
Acharya continues: The Death and Resurrection of Melqart-Heracles
That's right, Tat, this book is one of the greatest gifts I could have ever received. Rather than bolstering their preposterous claims, Mettinger completely dismantles the fallacious contentions of the Cult of Christian Apologetics ringleader J.Z. Smith regarding the dying-and-rising-god mytheme. Note that Mettinger also shyly adds that he believes this nonsensical (my word) stance is based on a Christian bias
, which we here can readily see from this entire thread and which consists of denials, dismissals, omissions and outright falsehoods by the cult members.
In any event, Mettinger proceeds to demonstrate that the hybrid god Melqart-Heracles, as well as his separate parts, also was a dying-and-rising god
The god Melqart is essentially Phoenician, and he was assimilated to the Greek god Herakles/Heracles/Hercules centuries before the common era. Melqart, in fact, is another Baal, which means "Lord," and his name is also transliterated as Melkart, which is a combination of the word "Melek" or "Molech," meaning "king," with the word for "city." In any event, Melqart is called the "Tyrian Herakles," after the Phoenician city of Tyre.
In a section entitled "1. References to the Death of the Deity," Mettinger first discusses the death of Hercules, whose bones were said to be at the city of Gades (modern Spanish city of Cadiz). Mettinger quotes the Greek writer Athenaeus (c. 200 CE) as relating the following from Eudoxus of Cnidus (4th cent. BCE) concerning Herakles/Hercules:
...the Phoenicians sacrifice quails to Heracles, because Heracles, the son of Asteria and Zeus, went into Libya and was killed by Typhon; but Iolaus brought a quail to him, and having put it close to him, he smelt it and came to life again.
Mettinger, RR, 86.
Mettinger next remarks:
...Zenobius, who cites the information from Eudoxus about the awakening of Hercules by means of burnt quail, expressly says that it is the Tyrian Heracles who was thus resuscitated.
Mettinger, RR, 86.
We thus possess two citations that this Herculean death and resurrection
was recorded at least as early as the fourth century BCE
. Hence, the entire notion that there are no dying-and-rising gods before the middle of the second century is false, period. Let us hear no more such nonsense and lies from the cult of Christian apologetics.
Continuing, Mettinger recounts the story related by Diodorus Siculus during the first century BCE
that Hercules died by fire on a pyre:
When the pyre was lighted, Heracles ascended to heaven in the flames.
Mettinger, RR, 86.
Let us hear no more nonsense and lies from the cult about there being no pre-Christian ascension to heaven.
In concluding this section, Mettinger remarks:
Whatever the details, it is clear that not only Heracles but already Tyrian Melqart were depicted as dying gods. The question is now whether we are also to assume notions of resurrection in connection with Heracles and Melqart. We have already found indications to this effect in Eudoxus of Cnidus, but is there perhaps further evidence to be dealt with?
Mettinger, RR, 87-88.
As a meticulous scholar using whatever primary sources he can find in as many original languages as he can read, Mettinger examines the evidence of Hercules being resurrected and concludes:
There are good reasons to believe that Josephus speaks of a cultic celebration of the resurrection of Heracles of Tyre (i.e. Melqart) in the month of Peritus which corresponds to mid-February to mid-March.
Mettinger, RR, 90.
Mettinger also says:
Our conclusion so far is that there are certain reasons to believe that there was, in the Phoenician mainland and in Palestine, in Hellenestic times, a cultic celebration referred to as the [egersis] of the god, a celebration in which some agent was referred to as [egerseitis], "the resuscitator of Heracles."...
Mettinger, RR, 91.
(a) As we have already seen, there is a firm tradition about the death of Heracles, and there are indications that Melqart died a death in fire. The notion of the resurrection of the deity would seem to fit well into such a context.
(b) We have already found some possible allusions to a resurrection of Melqart. Eudoxus of Cnidus, according to Zenobius, spoke of Iolaus bringing Tyrian Heracles back to life by burning a quail alive. The god was awakened by the smoke.
Mettinger, RR, 93.
Mettinger also cites the notion of a bodily resurrection as found in the Hebrew Bible (Isa 26:19; Hos 6:2), indicating a Semitic tradition that surely was not exclusive to the Jews. Indeed, Hosea 6:2 says:
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (KJV)
This passage sounds quite like what happens in the Egyptian religion - and it also could be claimed to have been used as a BLUEPRINT
in the creation of the Christ myth. The most illogical and unscientific perspective would insist that this concept of death and resurrection could only be found within the Jewish religion/tradition, and that it was fulfilled as prophecy in a "historical Jesus." Reason and logic dictate otherwise.
Mettinger also discusses the hieros gamos
or "sacred marriage," saying, "We know that features of the hieros gamos
sometimes occur in connection with deities who are believed to die and return to life." (Mettinger, RR
, 95.) That sounds like a whole lotta dying-and-rising gods!
After examining the evidence specifically as it concerns the Phoenician god Melqart, Mettinger concludes:
There is good evidence for the belief both in the death and in the resurrection of Melqart. There are two traditions of his death: according to one he was killed by a monster, and according to the other he died on a pyre on a mountain. The cultic celebration of his resurrection provides the background for both late Greek terminology, found in Josephus, and earlier Semitic evidence, found in Phoenician and Punic material.
Mettinger, RR, 97.
And in another reiteration - leaving no room for doubt as to his position, which he and I believe has proved
- Mettinger states:
From the evidence discussed above, we may conclude that the celebration of Melqart's death and resurrection was a stock theme of his cult.
Mettinger, RR, 106.
A "stock theme" would indicate that this god's death and resurrection
was commonly known and celebrated, long before the common era and the allegedly existence of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, Mettinger proceeds to offer up quite a list of where this death and resurrection were celebrated, indicating a fairly impressive popularity for this pre-Christian dying-and-rising god motif
Surveying the evidence for the celebration of the feast of Melqart's death and resurrection geographically, Lipinski gives the following enumeration: Tyre, Philadelphia-Amman, Cyprus..., Rhodes, Thasos, Delos, Rome, Northern Africa..., and Gades in Spain. We have to conclude that Melqart's feast was celebrated at all the places where Melqart was the tutelary deity or at least one of the main gods.
Mettinger, RR, 107-108.
As we can see, despite the falsehoods of the Cult of Christian Apologetics, there were dying-and-rising gods all over the place, and Jesus Christ is but a johnny-come-lately in a long line.
Next time: Adonis.