What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1: 9)
I have selected two books dealing with ancient Sumerian and Akkadian myths dating back over 2,000 years BCE as recycled in New Testament .
Jesus’ Descent to Hell and his Resurrection
From the Gospel of Matthew and the Epistle of 1 Peter:
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt. 12: 40)
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. (1 Peter 3 18 – 20)
The goddess Ishtar was a Sumero-Babylonian goddess whose cuneiform texts date from the time of Sumer (2,200 BCE) of which the latest text is from the seventh century BCE.
The Neo-Assyrian Myth of Ishtar's Descent and Resurrection
From the books introduction:
“An edition of the myth commonly known as Ištar’s Descent was first published in 1901. // The title, Ištar’s Descent and Resurrection, is a reminder that Ištar’s descent to the netherworld was not a one-way trip, but that she also re-ascended to heaven. Beyond the critical edition, there is also extensive commentary that ties in the Sumerian version of the myth, Inanna’s Descent, as well as later parallels from Gnostic texts such as The Exegesis of the Soul and The Hymn of the Pearl.”
Hell has Gates
From the Gospel of Matthew 16: 18:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
By comparison, in the poem of Ishtar’s descent, she must pass through seven gates:
O gatekeeper, open they gate,
Open thy gate that I may enter!
If thou openest not the gate so that I cannot enter,
I will smash the door, I will shatter the bolt,
I will smash the doorpost, I will move the doors,(verses 14 - 18)
Concerning a General Resurrection of All People
The New Testament’s theology of a general resurrection of all the dead:
The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (Matthew 27: 52)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4: 16)
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelation 20: 11 – 13)
A parallel general resurrection from the Poem of Ishtar’s Descent to Hell (also like Matthew's Zombies)
I will raise up the dead, eating the living, So that the dead will outnumber the living.> (verses 19 -20)
Finally, the stories of Jesus’ casting out demons in the Gospels also have a long ancient Sumerian-Akkadian history.
Demons as the Cause of All Afflictions
A few examples from the Gospels:
“and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1: 34)
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (Mark 5: 15)
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. (Luke 11: 14)
Demons as the cause of all afflictions in Sumerian and Akkadian texts as stated in the book’s introduction:
“Everyone knows that all the ills of life, from headaches to athlete's foot and from minor annoyances (like a broken shoelace) to major catastrophes (like a fallen soufflé) are the result of evil demons at work. Call them what you will — gremlins, goblins, imps, afrit, rakshasas, poltergeists, whatever — these supernatural creatures together account for all the world's misfortunes.
The ancient Sumerians and their cultural heirs, the Assyrians and Babylonians, knew this as well as anyone, and so they made an extensive collection of incantations to ward off or counteract the effects of evil demons. These incantations were recited by the exorcist (a-šipu), doubtless accompanied by the appropriate ritual, to cast out the demon causing the problem. Indeed, the miraculous cures of Jesus were attributed to casting out demons and he passed this ability on to his disciples (Mark 16:17). So the casting out of demons has a lengthy history in the ancient Near East and continues to this day.”
Though these two books deal with cuneiform texts written by ancient cultures east of Israel, another post could be written as to how Greco-Roman cultures to the west of Israel were also plagiarized for their major theological themes such as in the case of the Virgin Birth of Jesus.