Average Reading Time: 26 Minutes
Have you ever watched someone attempt to do something they aren’t good at and fail horribly, and then surprised to find out they think they nailed it? This is what it is like watching Godless Engineer (GE) attempt to find parallels to the life of Jesus. I recently did a video on Inanna and featured some of GE’s arguments in my video, just to show how bad the argument is that Jesus is connected in any way to Inanna. GE (to my amusement) decided to respond. It was so bad I had to post it to my Facebook page to share with followers. GE then got on there and started to converse we me in an attempt to clarify his position. It did not go well. None of us should be surprised by how bad this response was. After all, when GE made his original video on Inanna and posted it to his Facebook page, this is one of the things he said in the comment section:
I know, I’m bordering on an ad hominem, but I couldn’t resist because the worship of Ra dates back to the Old Kingdom and might be even older. So let’s dive into this wonderful response so we can see how well GE is able to defend a connection/influence between Inanna and Jesus.
He starts off in the typical lines I get from mythicists. He says I intentionally misrepresented him and Richard Carrier. Ironically, you will see that GE does the same to me later in his own video. It is never that two people can disagree or there may have been a misunderstanding. No, its always intentional misrepresentation by people who attack mythicists and purposefully being disingenuous. Head on over to Carrier’s blog and you can see what I mean. The fact of the matter is GE simply did not define what he meant and was very vague.
He takes offense because I attacked him for saying Inanna is a perfect skeleton of Jesus and I pointed out that is simply not true. They do not perfectly match in any way or in any structure. So GE in his response says what he meant by saying a “perfect skeleton” is just that, “some subsets of a story that primarily make it up are the same,” and he says he specifically cited the resurrection and passion narrative.
Now it should be obvious GE never actually defined this in his original video. Saying something is a skeleton typically means they follow the same plot. However, neither story (Jesus and Inanna) shares the same plot sequence or structure Which is why I had to call him out in my response.
However, now we can see that this was not what GE meant. This is a common tactic of his, where he is vague on purpose in order to never really commit to anything. If you think I’m exaggerating watch this debate he had with the Distributist where he could not even define what a religion or theocracy is:
But his new definition just makes things even stranger, because what specific subsets of the story are the perfect skeleton; the plot, the character, the lessons? I tried to press him on this on Facebook and all he said was this and gave me a link to a google search:
Ok, that doesn’t really help clarify what he means. So I looked at the first two links and they basically said all this means in the general plot or structure is seen as the same. When I told GE this, he clarified and said:
So a skeleton is not a plot, but a plot outline. That doesn’t really help either. A plot is a vague structure and sequence for a story. An outline of a plot is even vaguer. So is GE basically saying Inanna is a perfect skeleton, meaning a perfectly vague, generalized outline of Jesus? Yes, they are perfectly vaguely the same. That makes total sense!
Of course, I bet GE would probably say:
Because it is not that he is not clear about what he means, it is that when we ask him questions to define his terms and what he means we are purposefully being disingenuous, and then he runs away before you get a straight answer or a clear definition. GE spends a large amount of time during the rest of the video claiming I’m being disingenuous (like a broken record) and I’m going to ignore that because I really want to focus on Inanna and his attempts to connect her to Jesus. These were the parts that were quite enjoyable, and he doesn’t realize we can use his same reasoning to connect all sorts of unrelated stories.
GE then takes offense when I noted there is not a scholar who would agree with the claim Inanna is a perfect skeleton of Jesus and he says he rejects the authority on this matter and somehow thinks it is bad to appeal to authority. It is not. It is only fallacious when you appeal to an authority who does not specialize in this field. By rejecting legitimate authority you are basically saying your opinion is a better authority. So I would love to see where GE shows he is a better authority on Inanna than Sumerian scholars. Proclaiming boldly (as GE does) that he rejects authority looks foolish, not intelligent. Why should we take GE’s word over Sumerian or New Testament scholars?
GE goes on to say “all of the elements of the Inanna story are in the Jesus story.” This is just false as I pointed out in my video and will point out here in more detail.
After this is when things start to get bad. GE says, “there is indeed a solid link between Inanna and the Jewish people. . . these basic patterns affected the Jewish culture and people, and therefore influenced the later resurrection story they told about the Messiah.”
And how does he know this? Does he have documentation or inscriptions which show the Jewish Christians were influenced by Inanna? If you are going to make the positive claim of influence you need to show some direct connection. You can’t just assume influence when there is no paper trail or ancient manuscript claiming influence. You don’t get to just assume influence without evidence.
For example, both Socrates and Confucius where teachers of wisdom, rejected by the ruling authorities and had disciples carry on their teachings which made them famous. Clearly, Confucius is a “perfect skeleton” of Socrates. I don’t need to show any direct evidence of influence, I just need vague similarities, and clearly, I can show Socrates never existed and his legend was just influenced by Confucius. Both Thutmose III and Rameses II were long-reigning and wealthy pharaohs, both were military men that campaigned in Canaan, had successors that did not live up to their resumes, and fought against large northern empires. Clearly, Ramses II never existed and Thutmose III is the perfect skeleton for the myth of Ramses II.
If you realize how idiotic this reasoning is you can see why GE’s argument is bad. You don’t just get to claim influence, you have to show it. For example, we know Roman mythology was copied from Greek mythology because the stories are identical and authors like Cicero tell us this was happening. In other words, we have evidence of a connection. We don’t have this with Inanna and Jesus.
But wait, GE thinks he has evidence of this because in his original video he notes that the Jews were aware of Inanna/Ishtar because she is mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. The reason I didn’t mention this in my reply is that it doesn’t relate at all. The Jews were aware of Inanna/Ishtar worshippers. So what? The fact that they were aware of pagan deities, like Inanna/Ishtar doesn’t prove the gospel writers were influenced by the descent of Inanna or borrowed themes or elements from it. Ezekiel doesn’t say this. He doesn’t even mention the legend of the Descent of Inanna. What is GE’s point supposed to be here? Is it because the Jews were aware of Inanna that proves it influenced the life of Jesus or affected Jewish theology? How does that even follow? The acknowledgment of the existence of this goddess doesn’t follow that they decided to craft stories in themes they got from her, let alone that they were even affected by her. This is a non-sequitur at best and GE offers no evidence this myth affected the Jewish Christians. Again, you need evidence of borrowing. If all you have are generalized “subsets of a story” that you think are connected, you don’t have evidence.
GE then moves to try and support the connection of Jesus’ crucifixion to Inanna. First, he admits the Roman version of crucifixion did not exist in ancient Sumer but then makes the odd claim, “but that doesn’t mean some form of crucifixion did not exist at the time.” This is nothing more than an argument from ignorance. If we have no evidence of crucifixion in ancient Sumer you can’t assume it was practiced then.
The best part is, just after this, GE rants on about practices like impaling one on a stake, or how crucifixion originated in other cultures that pre-date Rome. However, for some odd reason, he seems to think this proves crucifixion could date back to ancient Sumer. None of that can logically follow, since all the cultures he listed came into existence centuries after ancient Sumer collapsed. This is also a non-sequitur and he fails to demonstrate any connection between crucifixion and ancient Sumer. Just pointing out the Roman did not invent crucifixion doesn’t magically mean Inanna was ever described as a crucified goddess, let alone provide any evidence such a practice existed in Ancient Sumer. So his claim at the end of his video (where he says that my claim that crucifixion just did not happen in ancient Sumer is factually false) just shows how little research he did (while he ironically claims I did not research the history of crucifixion). GE, yet again, has not provided adequate evidence for his claim, therefore all he has to argue that crucifixion was in ancient Sumer is an argument from ignorance.
Furthermore, Inanna was not even executed in any of these ways that GE mentions. So even if GE could dig up some evidence of crucifixion in ancient Sumer, that wouldn’t matter, because she was not impaled or crucified. She was just pronounced dead by the judges of the underworld. Therefore, her death doesn’t even match the crucifixion of Jesus. Her dead body was only placed on a hook after she was executed. The very deaths of this “perfect skeleton” don’t even line up.
GE realizes this and tries to get around this by saying, “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion.” Does GE cite any sources for this? Does he cite any scholars or ancient texts? No, he just claims this, ad hoc, and expects us to take his word on it. In reality, there is no evidence to support this. There is no evidence any hanging up (especially a dead body) would have been seen as an execution by crucifixion. Were criminals in Victorian England crucified when they were hanged by the neck? Are deer being crucified when hunters hang their corpses up to drain the blood? I should not even have to explain something so unbelievably obvious. There is not a dictionary, scholar, or ancient text that says any “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion.” There are other types of “hanging,” so to speak. Its possible crucifixion could be seen as a type of hanging, but not all hangings are crucifixions. GE just made up this baseless assertion to attempt to rescue his argument and I challenge him to back this up with a source. I want to see an ancient source that says a dead body that is hung on a hook is a crucifixion, and even if he could do that he still needs to show this is what is in the Descent of Inanna.
I checked his sources on this, and what he gives is a wikipedia article Captial and Corporal punishment which doesn’t say the hanging up of a dead body was seen as a crucifixion. Also, Wikipedia is not a credible source. Another link goes to an article by someone named Dan Hayden (who seems to just be a Christian theologian) who also doesn’t give any ancient sources claiming any hanging up of a living or dead person would have been deemed a crucifixion. So I am not sure where he got this claim, but as far as I can tell he just made it up.
After this GE says, “Whenever he [referring to me] says, “No historian would say that is was.” I mean I agree with you because no historian in their right mind would call that the Roman form of crucifixion.”
No, GE. The fact is no Sumerian or New Testament historian would call Inanna’s dead body on a hook a crucifixion. Even if GE is correct and being impaled is a form of crucifixion, hanging dead bodies on a hook is not a type of execution any more than a hunter hanging up a dead deer would be.
GE then unknowingly admits a problem with his theory when he says, “The Inanna story also doesn’t have to use words like resurrection or crucifixion because you can describe something and know what it is, like in the words that we use. Just because they didn’t use our words for things, doesn’t mean that is not what it was.”
No, GE, not only did they not use keywords like resurrection or crucifixion, they didn’t even describe these practices. That is the whole problem with your little theory. The Jewish idea of resurrection (anastasis) or an execution by crucifixion simply do not exist in the Inanna story and that blows your hypothesis out of the water that they are a “perfect skeleton.” The very themes you claim are connected are not part of the Inanna myth.
GE then makes a claim he doesn’t realize is meaningless and yet hilarious at the same time. He points out completely different Jewish works, like the Ascension of Isaiah, contains 7 heavens, just like the there are 7 gates to hell in the descent of Inanna.
So let me get this straight, because the descent of Inanna mentions seven gates to enter hell, and because some unrelated Jewish/later Christian texts mention seven heavens that means Inanna influenced the passion narrative of Jesus? In what realm of stupidity does this logic follow? The fact that some Jews/Christians believed in seven heavens doesn’t mean Gospel authors did, let alone that this idea came from a Sumerian idea of gates in the underworld. By his logic, the mentioning of seven seas in pirate literature must have been influenced by the descent of Inanna. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs must have been influenced by Inanna. Clearly, Snow White is the new Inanna, living in a dark forest (seen as a parallel to the underworld) with seven dwarfs, each representing a gate, just before the evil queen kills her and she is resurrected. See, I’ve found vague similarity. Surely that is enough to prove a connection or influence, right?
The reality is, Jesus didn’t traverse seven levels of anything in the Gospels, so how is this suppose to be evidence of his “perfect skeleton”? If you watch his video from 13:10 to 13:42 he rambles on about these 7 gates and then says, “It seems to fit.” Yet GE never actually says how these seven gates matchup in the gospels. How does this fit, GE? The Sadducees and Essenes were part of the same Jewish culture, yet clearly had different beliefs from each other and from the Christians. We have another non-sequitur from GE. He seems to have been wondering why I was laughing at his video when he shared my post of his video. This I can tell you is one of the main reasons. Especially since he rambles on about this for some time, not realizing he is not demonstrating how this is supposed to show influence on the Gospels.
After this GE says to me, “You seem to require an exact match for this to even make sense as a parallel.” To answer that, yes, that is correct. You don’t get to just find generalized patterns and claim influence without any evidence of influence. Again, scholars know the Roman pantheon was copied from the Greek pantheon because it is an exact match. We know the Hebrew Scriptures influenced the theology of the New Testament because the New Testament authors quote over three hundred times and directly tell us. We don’t think Socrates was copied from Confucius or that Ramses II was copied from Thutmose III because we can find some vague similarities.
Ironically, we can’t even find adequate patterns between Jesus and Inanna. Let’s review how bad this connection is so far. Jesus was executed by crucifixion on a cross, whereas Inanna was killed by judges then her body was placed on a hook. No match. Inanna traversed seven gates, Jesus did not. No match. Jesus was stripped once for execution. Inanna lost a piece of jewelry at each gate she chose to go through. No match. Where is this “perfect skeleton” we keep being told exists? I can only assume it is in GE’s imagination.
Don’t worry, because right after this GE explains how we know Inanna was dead for three days and three nights. As I said in my video, the descent of Inanna never said she was dead for three days and three nights, and a careful reading of the beginning of the story shows it corresponds to her trip down to the underworld and before her death. Instead of GE realizing this or offering a proper way to translate the beginning of the story (different than what scholars provide) he doubles down on his misreading of the story and says when I pointed this out to him in my video it was “blatantly obtuse” and, “this story is told in a linear fashion. There is no reason to think it was told in parallel.”
As you would expect GE gives no evidence for this claim. We are just supposed to take his word for it. The text itself doesn’t say Inanna was dead for three days and three nights. It connects this time period to the tasks of Nincubura. I am not sure if GE even knows what this story says. Inanna specifically tells Nincubura to wait until she arrives in the underworld.
Let’s recap what it says. In lines 32-36 Inanna tells Nincubura, “On this day I will descend to the underworld. When I have arrived in the underworld, make a lament for me on the ruin mounds. Beat the drum for me in the sanctuary. Make the rounds of the houses of the gods for me” (1)
Okay, pretty clear statement. Nincubura is to wait until Inanna gets to the underworld to start her lamentations on her behalf. We then read of Inanna descent and then we get back to Nincubura and it says in lines, 173-175, “After three days and three nights had passed, her minister Nincubura (2 mss. add 2 lines: , her minister who speaks fair words, her escort who speaks trustworthy words,) carried out the instructions of her mistress (1 ms. has instead 2 lines: did not forget her orders, she did not neglect her instructions).”
The story never connects “three days and three nights” to the death of Inanna. It is used in context with the tasks of Nincubura and the time period is of her waiting for Inanna to get to the underworld. There is no better way to say this, GE did not read what the actual source said and when I pointed this out he just ignored the problems with his theory and doubled down. Plus, it not just my word against his (in reality it is what the text says against his assertion), here is what an actual scholar has to say on Inanna:
“…it seems clear that Ninshubur’s delay is to allow sufficient time for Inanna to arrive within the nether world. The “three days (and) three nights” are intended to cover the time of travel to the chthonic depths.” (2)
Three days and three days refers to the length of the journey, which is actually a common theme in the ancient world. Now, I can already hear GE whining on how this is an appeal to authority as if it is a bad thing to refer to the experts. When GE just blatantly rejects what actual scholars have to say he is suggesting he is a better expert on the translations, and therefore he needs to explain why we should take his word over the word of actual historians. Anyone can read this story from start to finish and see the days correspond to the time it takes to get to the underworld, not the death of Inanna. The irony is GE has the audacity to say I am the one being disingenuous. He needs to just fess up and realize his mistake. Doubling down on this misreading of the text just makes him look like a poor researcher.
Finally, he gets the alleged resurrection connection. He says, “IP is requiring super-specific points in order to say, “oh, well this is a parallel.” But you see, the whole idea of a parallel is the fact that it is not super-specific points that perfectly match up.”
What, now? If we have no evidence of influence and if the points don’t match up you can’t claim they parallel. That should be obvious. If they don’t share the same theme, elements, or plot, you can’t claim influence. At best you are committing a hasty generalization, and mere association doesn’t show one influenced the other. You need evidence of a connection for that. What you find to be vague similarities doesn’t prove influence.
The fact is Inanna is not resurrected in the Jewish sense. If Jesus was (or at least this is what the Christians claimed) resurrected in the Jewish sense then it doesn’t parallel Inanna, because the Christians were drawing from a different culture and source material, namely the Hebrew Bible. Again, just because we see similarities between Socrates and Confucius does not mean one influenced the other. This is exactly why scholars do not see a connection between Inanna and Jesus, and as GE shows us, he never provides any evidence there was an influence. Hasty generalizations do not cut it.
GE then says, “The fact that she died and came back to life is resurrection.” Actually, it is not resurrection (anastasis) by what the Jews meant. To go through a resurrection (anastasis) you have to be human, die, and your mortal body has to come back to life immortal and glorified. People like Lazarus did not resurrect (anastasis), they simply resuscitated. The Jews and Christians had a very specific idea in mind and unless you can show they were getting this idea from Inanna you don’t have evidence. Just committing a hasty generalization doesn’t prove a connection. Resurrection (Anastasis) in the Jewish culture, does not just mean to bring something dead back to life. This is a case of a layman forcing his English definition onto a different culture’s meaning.
GE then contradicts himself from what he said at the beginning of his response. Early on, he rambled on about how he was only saying the passion story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is a “perfect skeleton” of Inanna. Then he admitted at 22:23 in his response video that Jesus is not depicted in the gospels as descending into hell as part of his passion story. But then he thinks (for some odd reason) that Jesus came back after his resurrection and revealed he went to hell. However, GE never gives a place where it says this in the New Testament. Jesus’ proclamation of victory over hell is actually not supposed to come in until after the ascension. So there is no clear evidence it is part of the passion story and therefore doesn’t fit his alleged, “perfect skeleton” for Jesus’ passion narrative.
Then the guy who has been whining the whole video about misrepresentation and being disingenuous says that I said Jesus’ descent into hell was a later invention of man, which I never said. So GE only proves here he is a total hypocrite about misrepresentation. He wonders why I was laughing so much at his video.
GE also claims there were several dying and rising gods as part of this motif, which is false. This is a fringe theory among Jesus Mythicists, but actual scholars do not take these claims seriously. If GE thinks they are wrong he has to show us why he a better authority than the experts, and he never does, he just assumes he is. He also tries to cite Osiris as a dying and rising deity, which only proves he has never studied ancient Egyptian mythology and what their word that we translate as “resurrection” actually meant to in their culture. See my series where we cover Osiris.
GE then says, “There is no evidence whatsoever to support the actual death of Jesus.” Except for the passage in Tacitus’ Annals, Josephus’ Antiquities, the passion narrative in Mark, and the letters of Paul, as well as a number of later sources, like Celsus. I’ll link to a great article by atheist and historian Tim O’Neill who debunked this nonsense. As Bart Ehrman has said, (paraphrasing) this nonsense that Jesus never existed might sound good to mythicists, but when you get out of that echo chamber no one is taking it seriously.
Let’s also remember the whole reason GE is doing this to somehow show Jesus never existed. What he doesn’t realize is it is a big waste of time on his part. Even if he could somehow show the Inanna cult influences the gospels it would not follow that Jesus never existed. New Testament scholars have speculated for years that the Gospels were written in a way to follow individuals and events from the Hebrew Bible. N.T. Wright argues Matthew is deliberately painting Jesus as a second Moses. Whereas, Luke is trying to make him look like another King David. Is this a problem for Christianity? Of course not, because ancient authors often looked to the past to see what was similar to the current events so they could draw connections. This doesn’t imply they simply made everything up.
Oral Tradition specialist, Albert Lord says, “Traditional narrators tend to tell what happened in terms of already existing patterns of story… When I say that an incident in the gospel narrative of Jesus’ life fits in a mythic pattern, there is no implication at all that this incident never happened. There is rather an implication that traditional narrators chose to remember and relate this incident because an incident of similar essence occurred in other traditional stories known to them and their predecessors. That its essence was consonant with an element in a traditional mythic (i.e., sacred) pattern adds a dimension of spiritual weight to the incident, but does not deny… the historicity of the incident.” (3)
Other ancient historians like Tacitus and Virgil also made use of this style, but never once have I heard a skeptic conclude that means they made things up. Dr. Rhiannon Ash says about Tacitus that he “…embeds such points in the very language which he uses,” and uses “linguistic echoes and structural similarities.” (4)
Jan Bremmer and Nicholas Horsfall note Virgil borrowed from Roman legends to paint current events of his day. (5)
Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh say, “To be able to quote the tradition from memory, to apply it in creative or appropriate ways . . . not only brings honor to the speaker but lends authority to his words as well . . . Luke 1:68-79 is an example. It is stitched together from phrases of Psalms 41, 111, 132, 105, 106, and Micah 7… The ability to create ouch a mosaic implied extensive, detailed knowledge of the tradition and brought great honor to the speaker able to pull it off.” (6)
So even if GE could prove beyond a shadow of doubt the Gospels authors were influenced by pagan cults that would not even prove his main point, that Jesus never existed. It would only show they connected events in Jesus’ life to something in pagan literature. His whole argument would at best show the story borrowed elements from paganism, not that it was entirely made up.
But as we have seen GE cannot even give an ounce of evidence there are any good connections demonstrating influence. He thinks the acknowledgment in Ezekiel about the existence of an Inanna cult somehow translates to evidence it influenced the gospels. He erroneously claimed “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion,” and he doesn’t give any sources to show this. He doesn’t demonstrate how Jesus traveled seven layers of anything in the Gospels, like Inanna. He doesn’t demonstrate how the Jewish idea of resurrection (anastasis) related to a fertility goddess coming back to life, he doubled down on his misreading of the Descent of Inanna on the use of “three days and three nights.” He did not show how Jesus descending into hell was part of the passion story. His argument is laughable, which is why I was happy to share his video. I hope he keeps it up so I can refer people to it when I need to show them how bad Jesus mythicists are at history.
- George M. Landes, The “Three Days and Three Nights” Motif in Jonah 2:1, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 86, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), pp. 446-450 Page 449
- B. Lord, “The Gospels as Oral Traditional Literature,” in The Relationship among the Gospels: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, Page 39.
- Rhiannon Ash, “Tacitus,” Pages 85, 87.
- Bremmer, Jan. Horsfall, Nicholas. Roman Myth and Mythology. University of London, 1987, 99-100
- Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, “Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels,” Pages 293-294