A: In part, possibly. But when I cite the parallels (and those are not the only ones, e.g. Osiris, like Jesus, was about thirty years old when he died, at least according to Luke 3:23 and Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 13.356c), I state that “I don’t know what to make of” them. Though I say they “seem an improbable coincidence,” that does not entail they are, as what seems to be the case often is not, especially when trying to estimate probabilities among nebulous data. My only significant reason for mentioning them was in support of my statement that the “third day motif was certainly widespread” in ancient deathlore. In other words, I do not argue that Mark got the third day motif from the Osiris myth, but from the zeitgeist of the time—the same place the Osiris myth got it from (that it is present is determinable from the narrative: Plutarch reports that Osiris dies on “the 17th” of the month, and then his resurrection is celebrated “on the 19th” of that month, thus on the third day, counting inclusively just as for Jesus).
Nor do I argue in The Empty Tomb that Mark got any of the other paralleled ideas from the Osiris myth. Though I may argue that in the future, as I stated quite plainly in The Empty Tomb, “I see no need for such a connection.” But I do remark upon them because they are odd. I still do not know what to make of them. Some or all of them could just be a coincidence, though I can’t be sure. Hence I do not use them to make any argument in The Empty Tomb. For example:
- Osiris and Jesus both die during a full moon. For as I note, Jewish Law entailed every Passover would fall on a full moon (Exodus 12, Leviticus 23:5-8, Psalm 81, and Mishnah, Rosh Hashshanah 1.3ff.) and Jesus dies during a Passover (e.g. Mark 14:16ff.). Is there a deliberate symbolism in a murdered-then-revived-and-exalted god dying on a full moon that both stories are emulating, or is it merely accidental that Passovers fall on full moons? Beats me.
- Plutarch reports that a conspiracy of 72 men brought down Osiris, and Mark says the Sanhedrin conspired with Judas to bring down Jesus (though notably in each case the killing is done not by them but by a greater hostile power: the Egyptian Set, the Roman Pilate), and we know a complete Sanhedrin court at the time was legally required to consist of 71 men (the Great Sanhedrin, the largest court in Jerusalem), and conspiring with Judas makes 72 (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 1.5-6, which I already cited in n. 276 on p. 220). Though in reality the whole court would only sit at certain major cases, one of those was the trial of a false prophet. Of course, Mark might not have known there were lesser courts, or not have cared about such details (he already disregards other legal realities, such as that capital trials must be deliberated for two whole days and never at night: Mishnah, Sanhedrin 5.5 and 4.1j-l). He may have simply assumed (along with his intended readers) that “the whole Sanhedrin” would encompass all the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:55 and 15:1). One could also argue that Mark implies (truthfully or not) that at least one of the crimes Jesus was tried for was false prophecy (see Convicted as a False Prophet?). The full court would also sit if Jesus were a high priest, which could have been a deliberate symbolic implication (given Hebrews 2:17, 3:1, 4:14, etc.). But if Mark thought or meant the full Sanhedrin would sit at Christ’s trial (for sound or unsound reasons), are both stories (one overtly, the other covertly) creating a conspiracy of 72 because this has some important symbolic meaning, or is it merely accidental that full Sanhedrins consisted of 71 members and adding Judas just happens to make 72 conspirators? Again, beats me.
- Being sealed in a chamber at one’s burial (whether a tomb or a sarcophagus) is also shared by both tales, but I am already quite certain (as I argue on pp. 360-64) that Matthew added the detail of a seal to emulate (and in fact call attention to) Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and thus obviously not Osiris (or any other god or hero who may also have been sealed in death in stories that don’t survive). Matthew is also alone in adding that detail (or even the story that generates the pretext for it), just as Luke is alone in mentioning the age of Jesus. But double and triple entendres were popular in mythography, and ancient rhetoric generally, so both connections could easily have been intended. But is that what Matthew was doing? Or is it just an accident that Osiris and Daniel (and thence Jesus) both had seals placed on their places of burial? Once again, beats me.