Maybe Hislop Wasn’t So Wrong After All

From F. F. Bruce: Babylon and Rome via Feileadh Mor:

Semiramis and Tammuz“It is worth noting that Hislop’s identification of Tammuz with Nimrod rests on a more secure basis than he knew. Nimrod the founder of cities is, according to Langdon, identical with the Sumerian god Ninurta (whose name also appears in the form Nimurta); and “like all gods who were ‘sons’, Ninurta was originally also Tammuz, son of the Earth-mother, and died each year with the perishing vegetation…. The cult of Ninurta spread to the West in early times, and a temple of Ninurta at Gebal is mentioned in the fifteenth century [B.C.]… it is obvious that not only the Adonis cult of Gebal was borrowed from the Tammuz cult of Sumer, but that Ninurta… has a direct connection with the Sumerian and Phoenician cults of the dying god” (Semitic Mythology, pp. 131 ff.).”

“This composite Mother-goddess took a powerful hold on the imagination of the peoples of the Empire. With the Christianisation of the Roman state, she ceased gradually to be worshipped as Cybele or Isis, but her worship continued to flourish none the less. In The Evangelical Quarterly for October, 1934, Professor C. B. Lewis in an article, “Survivals of a Pagan Cult”, argues convincingly that the Cybele cult survived in the poetry of the troubadours in the veneration for “the loved one far away”. Nor can it be seriously disputed that the worship (hyperdulia, to use the technical term) of the Virgin Mary in many of its features is but the continuation of the Mother-goddess cult under another name. We have already noted the coincidence of her festival on Lady Day with the Hilaria Matris Deum. “It is interesting to note in passing,” says Dr. T. R. Glover, “that the land which introduced the Mother of the Gods to the Roman world, also gave the name QeotÒkoj (Mother of God) to the Church”,37 and again, “There is evidence to show that the Madonna in Southern Italy is really Isis renamed”38 (The Conflict of  Religions in the Early Roman Empire, pp. 21, 23). The title Isis und Horos2 MK 1888“Star of the Sea” by which the Virgin is addressed in many hymns was given to Isis by her sailor devotees in the Roman Empire.39 And other parallels will occur to those who read the following account of Isis worship by Dr. W. R. Inge: “her worship… was organised upon a plan very like that of the Catholic Church. There was a kind of pope, with white-robed shaven priests. The toilet of the ‘Madonna’ was attended to every day. Daily matins and evensong were sung in her temples. There was a great festival in the autumn, at which the death of Osiris-Serapis was lamented, while there was rejoicing over his  resurrection”.40 The one discrepancy between this ritual and that of the Catholic Church is the date of the death and resurrection of the god. This fell in the autumn in Egypt, because the chronological framework of the Osiris myth in that land was based on the rise and fall of the Nile. Elsewhere, however, the death and resurrection ceremonies took place at the spring equinox. In Rome, for example, the death of Attis was celebrated on the 24th March, the dies sanguinis. Many elements in the Mass and in the Easter celebrations belong not to the Christian worship of apostolic days, but to the Mystery representations of the death and resurrection of the Dying God.”

““The truth that catholicism arose from a transformation of primitive Christianity in the atmosphere of the pagan mysteries is often denied”, says the Bishop of Birmingham, “but the known facts are decisive. It is to be regretted that detailed evidence is not as full as we could wish, inasmuch as documents describing the mystery-beliefs have largely perished. Their destruction was probably deliberate. Yet enough remains to show that the beliefs of Catholicism repudiated by a sound instinct at the Reformation were precisely those mystery religion accretions which were alien from the moral and spiritual simplicity of Christ’s teaching.”41”

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