Ancient Myths and Biblical Faith: Scriptural Transformations

Ancient Myths and Biblical Faith: Scriptural Transformations

Ancient Myths and Biblical Faith: Scriptural Transformations

Ancient Myths and Biblical Faith: Scriptural Transformations

Synopsis

In tracing the development of three mythological themes - the conflict between the god of order and the chaos of the sea, the rhythm of fertility and sterility in terms of divine and human sexuality, and that quality of space known as the sacred mountain - Foster R. McCurley examines religious texts from Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Egypt, cultures which had direct contact with ancient Israel. The use of these themes in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is discussed, with the thematic development providing a basis for exploring the relationship between myth and history in biblical faith.

Excerpt

Myths and systems of mythology transcend time and space. Myths seek the meaning of things—patterns of weather and cycles of seasons, or the events that have unfolded in a people's history. They function to instill values and hope for communities and individuals by interpreting observable events in terms of their existential impact.

When I received the invitation from Fortress Press to republish this book in their ex libris line and to write this Preface, I was thrilled to consider the new context in which readers more than twenty years after its first appearance might appreciate the role of myths. My mind raced through the new insights about the universe in just the past two decades, and I considered how I would now state the issues of mythology in light of the exciting discoveries in contemporary astronomy.

The ancient civilizations studied in this book developed their mythology within the view of a three-storied universe. the earth was the center of their universe, and the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets paraded across the firmament in regular cycles. People of long ago had no idea that when they looked into the night sky, they were observing only one half of our home galaxy called the Milky Way.

Now at the beginning of the twenty-first century we see hundreds of billions of galaxies. We can measure how fast the distant galaxies stretch the space among them while simultaneously discerning the closing of space among galaxies within local clusters. Some planets out there, many people expect, harbor some forms of life.

Yet while we search for life-bearing planets in the utter vastness of space, our sense of responsibility for our own planet's future remains somewhat obscure. Many of us attribute global warming simply to natural climate cycles and disavow any role we might have played to contribute to the problem. Perhaps we have lost sight of the importance of myth.

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