Legends of the Bible

Legends of the Bible

Legends of the Bible

Legends of the Bible

Excerpt

The word legend is derived from the Latin legenda meaning to be read. The term originally applied to narratives of the Middle Ages, such as lives of the saints, which had to be read as a religious duty. However what the word suggests need not be limited to its ecclesiastical usage. In a broader sense, legend may be taken to imply whatever will come to be read by successive ages into an event or record of the past: the ever-new and ever- changing rereading of old sources by new generations of men. Great events and great books have a posthumous story of their own. Each following period pours its inner life into the patient and pliant texts of old. In turn the familiar documents reward and surprise new inquirers with new answers.

Widely and reverently read, the books of the Bible have had an afterlife unique in the annals of history. Devout centuries wove endless fantasies around the characters and occurrences depicted in the holy Writ. Both folk imagination and scholar's wit coaxed and forced from its pages a multitude of tales and a host of fancies unforeseen and unsuspected by the writers of the Bible. This creative partnership of posterity, freshly and freely embellishing and embroidering the ancient design, has borne a rich crop of legends in which the biblical text has become disengaged from its first intention, revised and enriched by the faith and fantasy of innumerable readers throughout the ages.

The Bible has been the most widely read book of civilization, and its stories, even before they were written down, had moved the minds and hearts of men for centuries. So the legends of the Bible enshrine musings and meditations inspired by the contents or words of Scripture over the course of thousands of years. Behind these legends is the glory of a . . .

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