Friday, December 9, 2011

Murdock's Desperation

Poor Acharya S. Things are so bad for her these days that it seems she'll grasp at any straw. A reader pointed out this amusing example, which seems to be making the rounds of the wacko Internet fringe:

Moreover, it is erroneously asserted that because Mithraism was a "mystery cult" it did not leave any written record. In reality, much evidence of Mithra worship has been destroyed, including not only monuments, iconography and other artifacts, but also numerous books by ancient authors. The existence of written evidence is indicated by the Egyptian cloth "manuscript" from the first century BCE called, "Mummy Funerary Inscription of the Priest of Mithras, Ornouphios, Son fo Artemis" or MS 247.

In reality, that's just an excuse to explain away what the real Mithraic scholars (like Ulansey) have been saying is the real issue. In a social setting where 95% illiteracy was the norm, it's hardly a wild supposition to guess that a particular cult might leave little or no literary evidence -- especially one like Mithraism that wasn't evangelistic and so would see no advantage in the portability of a manuscript, especially given its expense. Destroyed? Um, no. But a very convenient explanation, since it happens to leave no proof or evidence by which it can be verified.

Not that it matters. You can read more about this item at the link below. You'll also see a nice picture -- this one:

Looking at this thing, you have to ask what the heck Murdock is getting so giggly about. The Mithraic scholars have actually said, mind you, not that Mithraism left no written record per se, but that it left behind no scriptures. One look at this thing will tell you it's not a scripture, or a canonical document of Mithraism. In fact that site says:

Commentary: Apart from this MS, no documents or scriptures seem to be extant on Mithra.

From the picture, all you can see if at most 5 or 6 lines, most of which are washed out badly. We certainly don't have the Mithraic version of John 3:16 here (or 1 Cor. 10:4, as Shmuel Golding would prefer). In fact what we have, as the description itself indicates, is a funerary inscription with dates on it -- the value ascribed to this is not having to do with Mithraism, but with the chronological aspect (hence, it is called with "calendars and almanacs" on this manuscript collection site).

In other words, Acharya -- there's nothing here to help you with your fantasies, I'm afraid. Sorry, Dorothy, but you're not in Kansas any more.


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