Monday, March 05, 2007

Dying and Rising Gods

J. G. Frazer's classic work on the history of religions, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, asserted that much of Christian doctrine can be traced back to ANE myths of dying and rising gods (e.g. Adonis, Osiris, Baal). This view has fallen on hard times in recent years with several works questioning the existence of a uniform myth about dying and rising gods that was reading and waiting in the wings to provide the propulsion behind Christianity, not to mention the methodological objections in making a straight forward comparison between the rituals, texts, and narratives of one or more religions. See further:

Jonathan Z. Smith, ‘Dying and Rising Gods,’ Encyclopedia of Religion (New York, 1987), 4.521-27

Mark S. Smith, ‘The Death of Dying and Rising Gods in the Biblical World,’ Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 12 (1998): 257-313

A more balanced approached has been that of Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: “Dying and Rising Gods” in the Ancient Near East (ConBOT 50; Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001) who accepts the existence of ANE myths about dying and rising gods but notes their diversity and remains agnostic about their application to Christian origins.

On the internet there are some good reasons to note as well:

Peter Goodgame, The Saviours of the Ancient World which gives a good overview of these dying and rising gods of Egypt and the ANE.

David Frankfurter, ‘Review of Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection,’ in Bryn Mawr Classical Review(2002.09.07) for a good overview of Mettinger and how he relates to Smith and Frazer.

No comments: