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Resurrected one in garden (1)

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Topics (move over topic to see place in topic list)

04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

12 Assyrian Identity

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

4th century CE
Byzantine Empire
Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian Empires
Roman Empire
Akkadian poetry
Christian-Syriac philosophers and scholars
New Testament
Old Testament
Sumerian poetry

The Sumerian cultic song for Dumuzi or Damu, In the Steppe in the Early Grass, begins with a lament of the Mother Goddess for her lost son. In the first millennium sources, Inanna laments in the beginning for her husband Dumuzi, who has died and who is compared to the tamarisk, which drinks no water in the orchard bed, that is, to the garden of Adonis. Then begins the mother’s search in a series of sections in which she vainly seeks her son who has been seized. The mother is complaining: “There is no one at the young man’s place. The tears for him do not dry up. There is no one at Dumuzi’s place” (OBV, c+ 81-82). Afterwards, various views are put forward in the text as to how the young god died. During the goddess’ laments her dead son continually cuts in, trying to dissuade his mother from following, although it is clear that she cannot hear him or does not recognize his voice. In the Old Babylonian version, the goddess is prepared to descend to the netherworld and sets off in the dying daylight towards the mountains, symbolic of the realm of death.

This and similar religious images of ancient Mesopotamia can explain certain details in the resurrection story of the New Testament if one assumes a connection with ritual practices of the Tammuz or Adonis cult. This applies to the story in John 20:11-18 where Mary Magdalen stands weeping near the empty tomb of the crucified Jesus. It is located in a garden: “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’” When Mary turns around, she sees Jesus before her. She assumes him to be a gardener, but later recognizes him. Jesus says to her: “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father!” The garden in this description can be a reference to Ezekiel 8:14 and Tammuz-Adonis rituals. The garden can be a hypostase of an Adonis garden; Jesus has the role of Tammuz, who is loved and wailed by women; and Mary Magdalen is the wailing adorant. It may be relevant that in the Syrian Christian tradition there are two lines on the Maries at the tomb - both make the mother of Jesus present, but one, represented by Ephrem, substitutes her for Mary Magdalen. On Christ’s words at Cana, ‘My time is not yet come’, Ephrem sees that ‘time’ as the reunion of Christ with his mother in the garden: ‘thus after victory over Sheol, when his mother saw him, like a mother she wanted to caress him.’ (EC Arm. 5.5) Jesus’ address to Mary, which prohibits her from touching him in reference to his unexalted status seems to mean that Mary may be endangered by touching him. One can compare the advice given to Enkidu by Gilgameš in the 12th tablet of the Gilgameš Epic: “If this day you are going down to the netherworld, … Do not kiss the wife you loved, do not strike the wife you hated, do not kiss the son you loved, do not hit the son you hated, the outcry of the netherworld will seize you!”

Sources (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Ephrem Syrus, EC Arm. 5.5
Ezekiel 8:14
Gilgameš Epic (SBV) 12.11-27
In the Steppe in the Early Grass (OBV) c+ 81-82
John 20:11-18


Cohen 1988, II 679Cohen, Mark E. The Canonical Lamentations of Ancient Mesopotamia. 2 Vols. Potomac: CDL Press 1988.
Frahm 2003, 299Frahm, Eckart. “Review of Mettinger 2001.” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 93 (2003) 294-300.
Murray 1975, 330Murray, Robert. Symbols of Church and Kingdom. A Study in Early Syriac Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1975.
Penglase 1994, 31Penglase, Charles. Greek Mythology and Mesopotamia. Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. London, New York: Routledge 1994.

Links (external links will open in a new browser window)
Cf. The risen Christ and Mary (John 20) (1)

Amar Annus

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