Myth and Reality in the Old Testament

Myth and Reality in the Old Testament

Myth and Reality in the Old Testament

Myth and Reality in the Old Testament

Excerpt

This book is written in the conviction that the problem of myth in the Old Testament is essentially the problem of the Old Testament's understanding of reality. The thesis developed is that myth and the Old Testament have as their ultimate concern an understanding of reality; however, their concepts are at variance with one another. Because of a new understanding of the redemptive activity of God, the Old Testament developed a concept of reality which came into conflict with the mythical. There followed a struggle in which the Old Testament attempted to alter the form of myth so as to be able to use it for its own witness.

The development of this thesis begins with the problem of defining myth and determining its function in the understanding of reality. The writer then attempts to show the conflict of the myth with the Old Testament's concept of reality and how the conflict is solved. This is done on the basis of a close exegetical study of several typical passages. This evidence leads to an investigation of the categories of Old Testament thinking concerning time and space in which the contrast to the mythical is demonstrated. Finally, on the basis of this study the theological problem of myth and its relation to the Old Testament's understanding of reality is discussed.

Many of the basic problems of Biblical theology are at stake in this study. In recent times we have heard much about revelation within the Bible being communicated not in the form of ideas but as event. It has become a common practice to speak about God's acting in history. We hear much about Old Testament revelation as a Heilsgeschichte (history of redemption). However, it appears that confusion exists as to the exact nature of 'event' and of 'history'. Bultmann criticizes Cullmann for his failure to define precisely his use of the word Heilsgeschichte: 'I cannot . . .

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