Thursday, November 2, 2017
Our Bible has many myths – a fact that confounds and angers those who believe it’s all factual and historical. Our problem is the definition of myth and our associating myths with the gods of Homer and the myths of Greek and Roman religions.
According to Harvey Cox, author of “How to Read the Bible” (2015) and Harvard Divinity Professor, “…myth is a narrative that, although not necessarily factually accurate, is nonetheless true in a deeper and more significant sense. A myth is essentially true because it is a symbol, and a symbol is something that points beyond itself to a truth that might be difficult or impossible to express in ordinary language. In this sense a myth is a narrated symbol just as a ritual is an enacted symbol.
For example, when we say the Adam and Eve story is a myth, we suggest it is a story that is not empirically factual, but one that nonetheless illuminates a profound truth about the human condition. Much of the difficulty we have in reading the Bible today results from literalism – when we mistakenly look for facts instead of recognizing and appreciating the profound truth of myth.”
Let’s try to be more comfortable with the myths of the Bible. They give us profound truths we all can appreciate and our children can understand.
I’ll still read about Apollo, Hera, Athena and all the rest of the gods and goddesses for enjoyment. But the Bible is another story(ies). That we all should read for many truth-giving myths – truths that testify to the human condition and the never-ending struggle we have between good and evil.
Deacon David Pierce