Myths that teach truths - homework for my daughter

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
My daughter has been asked to do an assignment on myths that teach truths (I think Genesis was the example used). How do I explain that Scripture does not really make use of this "model"?

In giving an example of a myth that is "used" I am unsure whether to use a fairy story such as Hansel and Grettle or one of the Scottish myths such as the silkie or Beowolf?

Help appreciated :D
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Eoghan,

I would explain to her how that the Bible (particularly the opening of Genesis) is not myth; I would also explain what myth is. As an example of a myth that teaches truth I would cite Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Another myth that teaches truth I think would be the legend of king Arthur. I would let her know that there are some people – those who do not know God, nor have had their minds and hearts illumined by His word and Spirit – who do think the Bible (specifically Genesis) is myth. I would let her know that, being blinded, they may laugh at those whom God has given to see, and may even treat us badly, as history has shown us, but that God wants us to treat them kindly, for His Son's sake.

This is a great teaching topic!
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
My daughter has been asked to do an assignment on myths that teach truths (I think Genesis was the example used). How do I explain that Scripture does not really make use of this "model"?

In giving an example of a myth that is "used" I am unsure whether to use a fairy story such as Hansel and Grettle or one of the Scottish myths such as the silkie or Beowolf?

Help appreciated
My first thought is tell her she should do her assignment on macro-evolution and show how it teaches Romans 1!
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
P.S. Eoghan, you might also point her to ancient pagan religions that had their own myths about a Great Flood – and these did teach a truth – but the Bible is not mythical, for it is history . . . yet "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14).
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
Marie, that's a great idea about using evolution as an example! It really is THE myth par excellence..

ancient pagan religions that had their own myths about a Great Flood
can those accurately be called "myths" do you think, -even though they got a lot of the details wrong?
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I think you could contrast almost any myth with Scripture and glean at least sub-Christian, as well as many pre-Christian (if one can put it so) truths. I know this is not adapted for children by any means, but here are some thoughts I had written down after reading the Gilgamesh myth for the first time (as told by Herbert Mason). Myth is for me one of the most constructive vehicles for understanding the incredible hope held out to us in the literal truth of Scripture.

~

Gilgamesh is a story of ‘revolt against death’ -- of a half human, half divine hero seeking eternal life and the recovery of something lost, and losing the plant of life to a serpent. Yet he gains, from another half divine figure, the wisdom to adjust to this fugitive existence snatched only briefly out of loss. He seeks out the wisest man on earth and learns from him what is in essence the wisdom of Ecclesiastes -- the wisdom of how to live ‘under the sun’. In every way, this story just falls short of Christ -- falls back from its climactic height into the abyss of death. Its last note is a low one of reconciliation to our human plight without a hero who can safely keep the plant of life.

Even the strange, free floating aftertale of the ‘Resurrected Enkidu’ shares this fundamental sub-Christian tenor with the rest of the story. ‘You must not touch me’ Enkidu warns, brought back insubstantially from the dust of death. ‘Treat me as Utnapishtim treated you.’ ‘He gave me a plant he knew I would lose!’ ‘He gave you the wisdom of your soul’ -- the wisdom to make peace with mourning and loss. So the vision of Enkidu disappears and Gilgamesh returns to his normal state of absorption in the affairs of this life. The resurrected Christ invites His friend to handle His physical hands and side -- to make peace with resurrection, and with joy. His disciples went back to their nets, back to the perishing course of life, when they thought He was dead. But when they come into contact the physical reality that He is alive, they go out to change the world.

Interestingly, this story with its half divine heroes and wise men grew up out of the same cradle of civilisation that produced the Tower of Babel -- it is fundamentally a tale about an attempt to construct a humanity that will reach heaven. But in falling short of Christ it falls short of heaven -- it returns to ruins. Christ our Wisdom teaches us a different reconciliation: because Christ as the fully human, fully divine hero, revolting against death, defeats the serpent.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi Jenny,

You may have a point. But as they are not the truth – in the context of the Biblical record – some withholding crucial information, such as God being the cause, and the warning of Noah's testimony, and interwoven with other non-Biblical stories, I refer to them as myths (see interesting comparison chart of such in the link below). One could also use the word legends.

Dict. definition: Myth – a traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

Abiogenesis and the Origin of Life

Being sort of slow-witted at times, I didn't see the beauty of MarieP's idea until Miss Marple drew my attention back to it. Like duh!
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Myth is for me one of the most constructive vehicles for understanding the incredible hope held out to us in the literal truth of Scripture.
Heidi, I also hold that myth is a rich vein to mine, to bring forth nuggets in which Biblical truth may be illustrated. I use Tolkien, and the Arthurian legend, and others legends to show how the truth of God's Story has been caught in mirage-images (legends and myths) and may be put to good use by the Christian poet and writer. To wit:


THE MIRAGE OF ARTHUR

I do not say legend as that is less
real
than a reflection of the real,
distorted or hazy as that may be
floating as it is in air
or consciousness
over the reflected

what, then, is the real
under the mirage of Arthur?

Take a king
of unique and mysterious birth
rising out of mean obscurity
to seize a sword of such unearthly power
— which none other can grasp and wield —
by it uniting disparate and warring peoples
into a unified kingdom
and by his prowess,
majesty of personhood
and true love of them
win such love from his people
they would as soon die as live
for love of him

the sword given by a woman
in whom rested the living waters
from a High Throne off-world,
from whence also was forged the blade
which had no beginning
gleaming always with the brilliance
of the child’s father

A king who died a mysterious death
and the word was
would return
and bring the kingdom again
in true and greater glory.

They live — even in this day —
who live by this
real-under-the-mirage joy,
Story-beneath-all-stories joy,
who dance and sing
in the king’s unending kingdom
while yet in Time,
for the glory of legends and such mirages
has overflowed into Time
and cannot any longer be contained
but must wash across the earth
till the whole is filled with it

even though the precious dispensing vessels
be first broken, blood like seed soaking the earth,
saints and martyrs all, for love,
for Arthur’s true image, and return.​
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
That is beautiful Mr. Rafalsky, thank you. Yes, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of this death as martyrs or merely as housewives, we shall fear no evil, for our eternal King is with us.
 
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