Why are believers so caught up with sheep and flocks?John M. Allegro
(d. 1988) was an expert in ancient Near Eastern languages including Sumerian. Allegro was a respected translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
He noticed that many Sumerian words are Indo-European and Semitic. Not just words from linguistic evolution but also borrowed words in successor civilizations such as Babylon and Israel. A lot of these were ecclesiastic words. In an example of how history repeats itself, rural Americans would often call church services the Sunday meeting and the church the meeting house. Ekklesia is Greek. It is a usage from very early Christianity and means meeting house. The Pope has inherited the ancient Roman title Pontifex Maximus not that he counts Julius Caesar, who was for a time the pagan Pontifex Maximus of the Roman Republic, to be a predecessor.
Allegro eventually distorted the theories of Gordon L. Wasson about the amanita muscaria, the psychedelic mushroom of the Old World, as being the origins of Christianity. His only solid evidence is a painting in the Catacombs of Adam & Eve eating the Forbidden Fruit and it's not an apple. It's an amanita mushroom. Okay, that proves that some
early Christians were getting high but the considered opinion that it was a splinter heresy so tiny it never even left a name to be denounced.
Not according to Allegro. I read most of his book, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross
and was fascinated until about 3/4 way thru I said to myself, "Hey, come on!" His theory was that Christianity was a hippie sex and drug cult using a psychedelic drug that could produce really bum trips, man. To, like, control these bum trips you should call on the Son of God (the sacred mushroom of course) by some of His names so you'd only have a good trip.
The cult started in India and went to Sumer and remained as an underground religion, finally surfacing as a corrupted version of Judaism. It reached its culmination when Nero did the right thing and killed off all those hippy scum. Then some remnants who had never been insiders picked up the remaining Gospels and completely misunderstood them and created historical Christianity.
In his last chapter (I skipped to the last page) he declared he had debunked Christianity and generously welcomed Christians to concede.
Do I have to point out the holes in it? Colleagues thought Allegro was indulging himself in some far out speculation. Allegro became more and more insistent that he was right and was frustrated that Christians didn't even feel a need to denounce him. Just bemusement. Former friends decided he had gone out of his mind.
The basis of his theory was that since Sumerian words and phrases appear in later religions it meant they were using their doctrines. For the sex aspect of it, he depended on the fact that the Sumerian word for sperm is "U" and a "U" often mutates to an "O" and -- hold your hats -- those 2 vowels appear in the New Testament. He figured that Yeshu was a code word meaning smeared with semen, ignoring that it was already a common Jewish name.
Now that I've told you the silly parts I'll tell you that there are some sound parts. Assuming Jesus was speaking Aramaic when he dictated the Lord's Prayer, translating "Our Father Who art in Heaven" from Greek to Aramaic gives:
ABBA DEBBA REQIYA
Sumerian prayers often started by addressing a God as "Oh Father, powerful ruler" which would be
ABBA TABBA RIGI
Either or both are the origin of ABACADABRA which in the Middle Ages was regarded as a secret like the design of an atom bomb. Some of the witch hunters published it in correspondence so the secret got out.
Another is the Mahdi who was a radical Moslem in the 19th century. Mahdi is one of the Arab words for prophet. It is an unmodified Sumerian word. The word magus for magician is from Greek magos and appears in Sumerian as MAKUSH. Both of those are cognate with the Indo European words we know in magnify, magnificent, make, mighty and maharajah. That is the root word means big.
Another is in another book I have History Begins at Sumer: 39 Firsts in Recorded History
(1988) by Samuel Noah Kramer. I can't remember but I think it is in there that it says that 2 of the epithets Sumerian kings like to give themselves to show their kindly rule were as one king put it, "I am the Great Gardener, I am the Good Shepherd".
So the odd assumption that we would all react to the sheep metaphors were a cultural tradition with over 3000 years of background at the time that Jesus coopted them.
I am sorry. I really should dig up the quotes from the books to document this. Y'know, "Extraordinary claims, etc". Please trust me on this. I don't have the time and I don't want to buy another copy of Allegro, etc.