So some naratives of the bible actually sound like mythology. Can someone explain what is their purpose on the bible since they are not actual events?
The same as all the parables, metaphors, and poetic stories. The purpose is to point someone towards the truth. Fiction does not mean that the story equals a deceitful lie.
Think of how we often teach small kids something that makes them get filled full of wonder. Sometimes we feel the subject is to serious for them. If a small kid asks where do babies come from we almost never enter into sexually explicit conversations built around anatomy and desires. We may say well if two people are married and love each other and are ready for a kid they will be given one by a stork. The purpose of the story is not to lie to them. It’s purpose is to not share something over their heads but something they can understand. After all love, marriage, and being ready has nothing to do with it. But we are not going to tell a 6 year old about how pregnancy could also come from two teens having sex and so on while drunk or any or the other thousands of possibilities. It may just be that well a stork accidentally brought her a baby and she wants it so it’s hers now. As the kid get older they can learn more and be ready for more actual truth and so on.
So we see examples of mythology from Santa to storks and so on in human life often coming from parents to kids. It just seems that when God is doing it through the prophets and it’s not something commonly taught as a parable, people can get confused by it. But mankind was not in the place it needed to be to understand sciences that we are still figuring out in depth to day. So back then it was probably easier to just simply build off paradigms already shaped by common belief.
@christy has some great references, I think, on what C S Lewis described as “true myth.” It was the idea that the Bible was myth that made him initially lose faith in it, but after he found that it was a different, true kind, he realized it was uniquely true.
I will have to do some digging to find the more extensive works he has, but here’s a summary quote of what he found. You would also enjoy, I think, his autobiography in “Surprised by Joy.”
"Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: i.e., the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’.”
Bold of him to explain that the story of Christ is a “true myth”. Jesus was a historical person period.
So many today see “myth vs. truth” as a zero-sum game. To the extent that our subject earns one of those labels, we deem it can’t be the other (or so the modern mind insists). I think this competition is what Lewis was poking at. Myth, and what we think of as truth (our version of what we declare historical or scientifically verifiable) are two potentially overlapping sets. And in fact, even the myth that is not historical may still shape us in very important and truthful ways by what it teaches, (e.g. a parable or fiction being used to teach a solid truth). So in Lewis’ view, to refer to Christianity or any of its teachings as mythical was not a demotion of any kind whatsoever. And on the strength of Randy’s quote from Lewis above, Lewis was hastening to add that calling it so doesn’t even imply it didn’t happen - especially in the case of Christ, his life, teachings, death, and resurrection.
Sorry I obviously did not explain it well. He once said that myth is a story that once you’ve heard it, everybody realizes that they have already known. In other words, it’s a truth, but it’s relevant to everybody. He completely agreed that Christ was a person that existed. He also said that he was God. So, Lewis was very Orthodox in that way. by the way, I agree with that too.
He spends some time defining his terms and he is not using myth as “fictional story” but as an attempt to explain the unexplainable about what is truly important to humanity. So, Lewis is saying that the story of Christ is not merely history, it’s more. It has the ability to explain who we are and what we need.
The first definition of myth in a dictionary:
a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.
You will notice that it says nothing about whether or not it is true. So C.S. Lewis was not misusing the word (especially since he was a scholar of English literature ). We just reflexively hear ‘myth’ as denoting fiction or superstition, since that is the context in which it is typically used.
Joseph Cambell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces goes deep into the question of why and how all human cultures use myths and symbols to help us through the turning points of life’s journey. What’s interesting is the similarity in motifs across a wide range of cultures and religions and time frames. The struggles of the human heart are universal, and our need to express those struggles finds a home in the imagery and poetry of myth. Without myth, we are diminished.
Here’s an interesting lecture, by Andrew George (whom I sat next to the other day in a lecture), where he explains Mesopotamian cosmology. He also explains the difference between myths, legends and folktales. Technically, very little of the Bible is a myth (exceptions being parts of the Psalms), because myths are stories about the workings of the gods. The Bible, being a monotheistic text, does not have a pantheon to focus on. It’s story is rather human focused:
Well although a Christian a donkey speaking isnt a very human focused thing. I could go on with the examples
Aesop would find that view to be quite odd. He thought his talking animals were very important for understanding the human condition. George Orwell would be equally confused if someone told him he was crazy for thinking talking animals could take over a farm.
First of all, the Bible is not just mythology any more than it is all history. It is great deal more than either of these things.
The question is what is mythology? Let’s consider some prevalent myths…
When we say that these are myths does that mean these people did not exist? Certainly not! We know for a fact that most mythical of these, Santa Claus, was a real person. Saint Nicholas of Myra lived from 270 AD to 343 AD. It does mean that many of the stories about them wander considerably far from the historical facts. The historical facts behind the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood are far less certain. So what does “myth” really mean? It means that we have stories that reach so far into the past we have no way of verifying all the facts. It usually also means that the stories serve far more purposes than that of history only, but also that of entertainment and teaching examples.
Besides Santa Claus we have quite a few other examples of historical persons who have become somewhat mythical also – certainly Julius Caesar but also George Washington and even Abraham Lincoln has become a favorite for the telling of stories for entertainment.
Agreed but since we do not hold any historical accounts of some narratives of the bible doesnt that make it a myth? Like the donkey one i stated before
PLe4ase let me share my take on the discussion of myth. First let me state that the word myth comes directly from the Greek word “mythos.” The best way to understand what is a mythos is to juxtapose it to another Greek word logos.
Both mythos and logos can be translated “word,” but mythos means “traditional word,” and logos means “rational word.” The myths were how the Greeks traditionally understood reality. Philosophy was how the Greeks rationally understood reality. They accepted both the Myths and Philosophy as true, until Christianity came along and they saw that the myths were false and Christianity was true.
Christianity cannot be a myth, because Jesus is the Logos, the Rational Word, John 1:1, not the Mythos. If He were the Mythos, John would have said so. If Jesus were the Mythos, then we would have know He was the Son of God because God told us so.
YEC and Wayne Grudem say that the universe was created in 6 days because they regard Genesis as a Myth, whole God meant it as a Logos.
Lewis was right in saying that a myth is not per se false, although almost certainly is. It means that it is accepted as true based on the authority of tradition, not by rational examination and testing. The Greeks said that evil came into this world because Pandora opened a box, while Christians say it was because early humans rebelled against God.
Scientists say that there is no empirical evidence to support the existence of “Adam and Eve” and we know that no one recorded the event. However I think we can make a finding as to which of these two stories is the more convincing, and I would say that the Genesis account is the best understanding the nature of evil available, so it w3ill have to do until something new shows up. That is how Logos works.
But isnt that leaves no room for the supernatural? Hence the idea of God? By it i refer to [quote=“Relates, post:15, topic:41995”]
rational examination and testing
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