Subject: The Original Easter Date: 20 Jul 90 15:01:34 GMT From 'Freethinker' magazine: A B

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From: ercn67@castle.ed.ac.uk (M Holmes) Subject: The Original Easter Date: 20 Jul 90 15:01:34 GMT From "Freethinker" magazine: A Babylonian Passion Play - R.J.Condon There was a time when it was fairly easy to acquire old books of biblical criticism, and many a curious volume found its way on to my shelves. One I still have is "The Sources of Christianity", by the Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Imam of the Woking Mosque which published it in 1924.As Muslims do, the author believes in a man Jesus who was a prophet of God, but he dismisses the gospels with contempt as so much astral mythology. His knowledge of the Babylonian play comes from the January 1922 issue of "Quest", a quarterly publication probably now defunct. The Imam writes: "The passion play of Baal, the babylonian sun-god, was in existence centuries before the birth of Jesus. It was acted as a popular mystery drama. The Jews were taken as prisoners by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, where they remained for generations. They saw the mystery drama acted every year at the beginning of spring on Easter Day. The captives, on their return, brought with them many traditions of sun-worship which one can easily trace in Jewish literature. They could not fail to have vivid memories and impressions of the passion play of Baal. The main features of the play have recently been deciphered from some tablets discovered in Babylonian ruins. There are two tablets, says "Quest", belonging to the cuneiform documents which were discovered by German excavators in 1903-4 at Kalah Shargat, the site of the ancient Assur. They belonged to the library of Assur, formed in the ninth century BC or even earlier. They are however, copies of still earlier Babylonian tablets. The tablets disclose astounding facts, perturbing thousands of honest minds in Christendom. It is not the similarity of some features of the stories of Jesus and Baal that excites their astonishment; the two are one and the same. The evangelical records are complete plagiarism. Let readers decide the point for themselves. Here is the synopsis of the play as given by "Quest": Bel, like Jesus, is taken prisoner. He is tried in the House on the Mount, as Jesus is tried in the House of the High Priest. Bel is smitten, Jesus is scourged. Bel is led away to the Mount, Jesus is led away to Golgotha, a mount. With Bel a malefactor is led away and put to death, while another is released. With Jesus two malefactors are put to death. Another, Barabbas, is released. After Bel goes to the Mount, the city breaks out into tumult. At the death of Jesus the earth quakes, the graves open, and the dead come forth. Bel's clothes are carried away. Jesus' robe is divided among the soldiers. A woman wipes away the heart's blood of Bel, flowing from where a weapon has been withdrawn; cf the lance thrust in Jesus' side and the flow of water and blood, together with the women washing and embalming his body. Bel goes down into the Mount and is held fast as a prisoner; Jesus descends into Hell (Apostles' Creed). Guards watch over Bel; guards are set over the tomb of Jesus. A goddess sits with Bel, as women sit before Jesus' tomb. A weeping woman seeks Bel at the Gate of Burial. A woman weeps before the empty tomb of Jesus. Bel is brought back to life (as the sun of spring). He comes out of the Mount. His chief feast, the Babylonian New Year at the vernal equinox, is celebrated as his triumph over the powers of darkness. Jesus rises from the grave, on a Sunday morning. His festival, approximately at the vernal equinox, is also celebrated as his triumph over the powers of darkness." For the authority behind this translation we turn to another odd book, "The Rock of Truth", by Arthur Findlay. Findlay was chairman of Psychic Press Ltd. who have kept his book in print since it was published in 1933. It consists of a fierce attack on Christianity followed by quasi-scientific apology for Spiritualism, which need not detain us. When Findlay learned of the Babylonian play he called on the curator of the Babylonian section of the British Museum to confirm its existence and correct translation. he writes: "I was told that the particulars....can be correctly considered as 'a list of parallel instances (which was drawn up by the late Professor Zimmern) found both in the story of the god Bel and of the Christ. Zimmern deduced the incidents of the story of Bel from ritual texts which seem to decsribe a primitive kind of religious play'". Heinrich Zimmern was Professor of Assyriology and Semitic Languages at the University of Leipzig, and a contributor to the "Encyclopedia Biblica". Herodotus, says Findlay, tells of an Egyptian play about the sufferings of Osiris. The Greek historian gives no details, but the play can be reconstructed from references to it in Egyptian religious literature. The raising of Asar (Osiris) in Het Annu, the temple of Heliopolis, has been reproduced virtually intact in John's gospel as the Raising of Lazarus in Bethany. But more of that another time.

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