Re: Meri, Mary and the Mother of the Saviour

Meri, Mary and the Mother of the Saviour by Stephen J. Bedard

And my response:

Those are good criticisms. D.M. Murdock responds to them, but you’d have to be the judge of how well she does.

The main point probably is that, by the Christian era, Isis was one of the most (if not the most) well known Egyptian deity, and one of the most widely worshipped in the Roman Empire. So, it’s possible that the term Meri was beginning to be identified with her. However, Isis (and Isis syncretizations) were referred with meri and similar terms all the way through the centuries prior to Rome being Christianized.

Even though the Egyptian term Meri could refer to even inanimate objects, I don’t know if there is any evidence that Jews and Romans would’ve been familiar with that meaning. It probably would’ve been most known as an epithet or, as Murdock argues, maybe even as a name. Very few non-Egyptians could tell an ipethet or a name apart when it was stated both as Isis-Meri and Meri-Isis. Murdock sees evidence that Meri was beginning to be used by itself.

As for the second problem, Mary isn’t used exclusively for either Egyptians or for Jews. Mary was a common name for Pagan goddesses. So, it isn’t surprising that it was a popular name for people as well. As for the 6 Marys of the NT, Murdock mentions this and hypothesizes a possible connection to 6 Hathors (as Hathor was the goddess of love that became identified with Isis).

All of this is is just one tiny aspect of the mythicist theory. It doesn’t stand or fall on one single detail. Meri is just a possible connection that many reputable scholars have written about. There are many other possible connections that mythicists point out. As the possible connections increase so does the probability of those connections.

4 thoughts on “Re: Meri, Mary and the Mother of the Saviour

  1. herqlez253 – Have you actually read the books Murdock/Acharya has written? Or, like so many, are you speaking from ignorance? I’ve seen all the criticisms (ignorant and otherwise), and it takes enough of my time simply to respond to the more intelligent critics such as Bedard. When you demonstrate you understand even the basic elements of the mythicist theory, I’ll take your comments seriously.

    Isis was a virgin because that is what she was called. You can claim the Egyptians were liars for describing Isis as a virgin, but that is your problem. As I was telling Bedard, there is a difference between a myth and an evemerized myth. Did the historical story come first or the mythology? It is practically impossible to tell.

    Anyways, I’m not arguing for certainty about any of this. My interest is merely to consider possibilities and probabilities, and the deeper meanings implied. History can be interesting to study, but I don’t base my religious beliefs on historical figures.

  2. As I remember it, the possible Hathor and Mary connection was mostly a passing comment and not an argument that she fleshed out. She merely stated that the Hathors and Marys have similar attributes, but she didn’t give further details as I recall.

    I understand your objection about your saying they’re spread out. I’ve never studied this particular connection to any great extent, and so I don’t know if it is significant… just another possibility to be followed if one’s curiosity is piqued.

    However, there are some possible explanations to the issue you brought up.

    The gospels were collected by people who may have collected them because they noticed certain mythological motifs. Many early Christians would’ve been aware of these other myths. This would be especially true for those who were educated which would definitely include the type of person who collects texts.

    Many scholars (such as Ehrman) argue that many things were added to (and removed from) the early Christian scriptures. The Marys may have been added or the name Mary added to already existing characters or the Hathor attributes may have been added.

    I really don’t know. This specific aspect isn’t one that personally intrigues me. It’s just a possibility. If you don’t like, feel free (as you always are) to discard it.

    As for Mary goddesses, I’ve come across various mentions of this. But it is also something I haven’t looked much into. There are some Semitic goddesses named such as Mari-El and Mari-Anath. Some scholars have hypothexized Miriam comes from Egypt and possibly originated as Meri-Amu, and so Miriam may be an evemerized goddess. Mari is the main goddess of Basque mythology. Murdock said that early Christians were aware of Stella Mare. There is the Indian Mariamman, and the Indian mythology had major contact with the Egyptian and Graeco-Roman.

    I think Murdock mentioned some other examples, but you get the idea. This similarity maybe isn’t that surprising as many of the cultures in the Graeco-Roman world had been influencing eachother for thousands of years prior to Christianity.

  3. A comment from another post I thought should be placed here:
    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/response-to-bedards-laozi-jesus-and-the-virgin-birth/#comment-92

    …there are a number of respectable scholarly sources including the Catholic Encyclopedia that etymologically connect meri with Mary and Miriam. Also, meri was an epithet that increased with popularity in it’s use with deities including with Isis, and Isis popularity increased massively preceding and for centuries into the Christian era. Meri was used as an epithet and as a proper name.

    Meri is a known epithet of Isis and they’re found together in hieroglyphics. Isis was one of the goddesses referred to as meri directly prior to Christianity. It doesn’t really matter if it’s specifically found in a nativity if it was common knowledge and the connections are strong even without such a reference. Unfortunate for you, it is referenced in the Luxor birth narrative. The term mert was used referring to divine love. Mert is just another form of Meri. Specifically, this term describes Horus feeling divine love towards Isis.

    Meri means something like beloved or loving. This fits the characteristics typically applied to the Virgin Mary as well. Plus, there were numerous pre-Christian goddesses named Mari. At Philae, Mery is found in in a relief regarding the evemerized princess Arsinoe. This is important to note as the mythicist theory is that Mary is a evemerized deity. This explains the differences between deities as straight mythology that have weird elements such as emerging from a rock and an evemerized mythology that had been made more mundane. There are numerous such examples. Murdock wrote about evemerism in Suns of God:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=rey19p_ycHUC&pg=PA53&lpg=PA53&dq=evemerism&source=bl&ots=83EbImdjlX&sig=lCQfP0aJPb-TUNzzd7iwQJZPc84&hl=en&ei=VvvRSbKQI4bsnQf2q_jHBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result

    Isis and her sister Nephthys were known as the plural Merti which begins with the same Egyptian symbols as Meri. This is the Latin Mertae, the Hebrew and German Martha, and the Italian Marta. Like Isis and Nephthys, Mary and Martha were sisters of a resurrection figure.

    Another detail is that meri was an epithet but it was also a direct reference to the deity. It could come before or after the deity’s name. There are offering formulas where meri ends each line. There is evidence that Isis later on was sometimes referred to simply as Meri.

    According to Budge, one of the common titles of Horus in the Book of the Dead is “the Beloved Son” which is what Jesus is called. In fact, Merit was the coptic term for meri and was used in reference to Jesus. Horus’ father Osiris was also known as Osiris Merti.

    Horus’ sometimes mother was Hathor and she was referenced as Meri. Hathor was the Egyptian goddess of love and the Virgin Mary was worshipped by the Kypriotes by the name Aphroditissa. At Maturea, the sycamore-fig of Hathor, with the characters and name of Meri, is considered the tree of Mary and her child. Mary is often referred to as “the beloved” in Gnostic texts.

    Isis and Hathor became increasingly linked in the Greco-Roman period, and was also identified with Aphrodite, as was the Virgin Mary purportedly identified on Cyprus which is close to Egypt. The very popular Greek goddess Selene was linked with Isis and even called Isis-Selene, and was invoked as “O beloved mistress”. Plutarch referred to Isis as “wise and wisdom-loving”. By the second century CE, Isis was known as the “All-loving Mother”.

    Furthermore, Isis was called a virgin in Egyptian texts and she became connected with Greek virgin goddesses. There is also the Paschale Chronicle which refers to a pre-Christian Egyptian ritual with a virgin birth and nativity with a babe in a crib. This is just one of several Christian accounts admitting to these motifs from Paganism being pre-Christian. And the Book of the Dead refers to the “cradle of Osiris” where he renews his bith.

    This is all from Murdock’s Christ In Egypt. Besides what I provided, she has another 70 pages of references like this just about Isis and she goes into more detail about Luxor. Here is an adapted excerpt from the book:

    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/luxor.html

    Murdock criticized Carrier’s interpretation claiming he was mixing up inscriptions. Here is Earl Doherty talking about this disagreement about Luxor (scroll down):

    http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp13D.htm

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