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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Stories People Want

Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (Sather Classical Lectures),
Averil Cameron, University of California Press, 1991, page 116

Writing about the widespread availability of non-canonical or apochryphal gospel, acts and letters in the early centuries of the common era, Cameron concludes:

These narratives are also important in terms of their relation to time, that is, the way they join the canonical books and other early Christian writings to place the developing Christian mythology within a chronological world-view, by "an embedding of the present in a total time-sequence" (Houlden, Connections, SPCK, 1986). Since Christian discourse was based on events perceived to have happened in historical time, it was itself inescapably anchored in time, and furthermore, in a concept of time that united wordly events with the mythic past and future.

People wanted stories - even if of a mythical nature - because people like stories and relate to/with stories. These stories joined up the dots and filled in the gaps and helped people to relate to the characters on the biblical narratives and made them part of their lives too.

Posted By Jonathan, 7:05am Comment Comments: 2

Thursday, 23 October 2014
Comment -

Surely that which is mythical is not that which we assume to be true whereas the gospels are clearly intended as factual accounts of a real person Jesus and as a record of actual historical events.

Posted By Simon Edwards 10:54am


Thursday, 23 October 2014
Comment -

I think that most of the answer here is that when theologians or historians use the word 'myth' they don't necessarily mean something that is untrue. They are using the word in a more technical sense, to mean something that has mythical qualities. Wikipedia defines 'myth' as, "a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events."

That definition can be accurately applied to the gospel narratives without implying falsehood, although I would agree that there are common 'untrue' overtones when 'myth' is used by the population at large. Something of the same problem also attached to the word 'story'.

Posted By Jonathan 12:18pm