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The Mythos of Mythology 
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Post The Mythos of Mythology
The Resurrection

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Did Jesus rise from the dead? From a scientific point of view, the answer is no. From a Christian point of view, yes. From a philosophical point of view, it may not matter. From a mythological point of view, the truth is embedded in the truth.

Once an animal is dead, it cannot be brought back to life. We know that. My wife died in 2008, and I could not put life back to her body. If my beloved cat dies, it's over; she cannot be brought back to life.

However, asked to believe that Jesus, after being tortured to death in one of the most the hideous ways devised by man--crucifixion--arose from his tomb and walked among people for several days, ate fish, caused a huge fish harvest and appeared to his disciples in the upper room where he celebrated his last supper with them hours before, is impossible for me unless I can see it as myth. Come on! How else could the story be acceptable to us?

Biblical scholars divide about the resurrection. Some, like Gary Habermas, PhD, a professor at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, who is a renowned expert of The Resurrection of Jesus, believes that The Resurrection is a fact of history and further notes that no resurrection of gods took place before Jesus' return to life. Perhaps, he is correct as far as resurrections in Greek mythology and Middle Eastern myth, but resurrections were many in religions throughout the world.

The term "dying god", discussed in the works of James Frazer, Jane Ellen Harrison, and their fellow Cambridge Ritualists, is important here. In their seminal works The Golden Bough and Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, Frazer and Harrison argued that "all myths are echoes of rituals, and that all rituals have as their primordial purpose manipulation of natural phenomena by means of sympathetic magic." Consequently, the rape and return of Persephone, the rending and repair of Osiris, the travails and triumph of Baldr, derive from primitive rites intended to renew fertility, withered land and crops. (Wikipedia, [i]Dying God[/i], [url=http://[url]en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_god[/url]

The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung argued that archetypal processes such as death and resurrection were part of the "trans-personal symbolism" of the collective unconscious, and could be used in the task of psychological integration. Jung's argument, combined with those of the Cambridge Ritualists, were developed by Károly Kerényi and Joseph Campbell. (Wikipedia, [i]Dying God[/i], [url=http://[url]en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_god[/url]

So, is Jesus' Resurrection simply a myth tied to a fertility rite or an archetype from Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious? Fact is, I think, no one knows. Evidence cannot point to its historicity, but evidence can show that it is, indeed, a myth created to show a human truth or perhaps an allegory of the life and death of the sun (son).

Here's Joseph Campbell:
[i]The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of things become, because he is. 'Before Abraham was, I AM.' He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the 'other thing'), as destroying the permanent with its change. 'Nothing retains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever makes up forms from forms. Be sure there's nothing perishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew its form.' Thus the next moment is permitted to come to pass.[/i]

[b]Biblical application[/b]: [i]Christ returns to the ordinary world after his resurrection, but not as an ordinary man. He can seem as others are, and interact with them, but his body is a "glorified" body, capable of assuming visible and palpable form, but freed from the bonds of space and time. He is now able to give life to others through his own death and resurrection. Other traditional examples of something similar are Elijah, Enoch, and Khidr, the "immortal prophet" of the Sufis.[/i] (Wikipedia, [i]Monomyth[/i], [url=http://[url]en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth[/url]

For what it's worth, what do I think? Although I am not a Christian or an adherent to any other religious persuasion, I do think possibly an amazing, charismatic man called Yeshua ben Yosef could have lived and preached in Palestine of the First Century, C.E. The New Testament tells us he was a Jew and perhaps was exceptionally intelligent because of his tremendous ability to link human life to the history of Judaism that promised a Messiah. His parables read like short stories. Of course, the authors of the so-called Gospel probably exaggerated a bit. Think?

If he existed, I believe his conception and birth were human in every way, not miraculous, and I believe when he died he was dead and remained dead.

But so remarkable was he that his adherents wanted to disseminate his words and used an ancient method employed by rabbis called Midrash. Now libraries of books explain Midrash, but simply put it employs allegory and what I call culturally familiar symbols, which are images embedded in a culture and known by almost all the people in the culture. For example, in our folk symbology, we link rugged individualism, which we admire, to our pioneers who braved the hardships and dangers of the wilderness to carve out a nation. Indeed, rugged individualism is rather hard to define objectively without symbolic references.

The New Testament employs Midrash to explain who Jesus was. One symbol defining Jesus as messiah is the Pascal Lamb, or the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb at Passover, and the Midrashim throughout the NT allude to this symbol to show Jesus as Messiah. The faithful readily understood the symbol and were able to understand what they experienced.

I think the Transformation is Midrash. Many thought Jesus might be Elijah returned. They considered that John the Baptist might be Elijah, who promised to return before the Day of the Lord, the day of Yahweh's judgment of human kind at the end of time. Jews revered Moses as Law Giver. If Jesus became the über-prophet, then showing him with such august companions was essential, especially to his closest Apostles Peter, James and John. Therefore, the authors of Matthew and Luke, probably borrowing from Mark, created a Midrash that followers of Jesus in the First Century could understand. What better symbols than Elijah and Moses with whom he talked on the Mount of Transfiguration and what better eye witnesses than those three Apostles.

Does that make the Transfiguration fiction, fantasy? Not at all: it make it a myth that reveals Jesus as a prophet equal to Judaism's greatest oracles.

Finally, I see the Jesus story as a myth following after the hero's path as introduced by Campbell. In the myth he is born miraculously, he preaches throughout his small geographic area, arrested for sedition and executed. He returns to life as a changed being and imparts knowledge of salvation for all people, and then leaves to live in another place. Therein lies the truths in the myth.

Yeshua ben Yosef, not the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament, could have lived. He was perhaps charismatic. People loved him, believed in him and followed him. However, we have seen other persons follow the hero's path and become venerated if not deified. Thomas à Becket, martyred and made a saint; Teresa of Calcutta, on her way to sainthood and Pope John Paul, canonized and on his way to sainthood. I dare say that the same honor could be bestowed on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I think someday it may.

Christians are reluctant to compare charismatic leaders as Other Christs. No one else is Jesus, they teach. He alone is the Son of God. Indeed, one has to believe in an entity called god that interacts with humankind to believe a mortal man living 2,000 years ago was the exclusive Son of God, who died, arose and granted forgiveness to all human kind. I cannot believe that. Yet, the myths surrounding his life call to me with their truths, and I find those truths among the best we have from all our religious faiths.

Perhaps the Jesus story is allegory. I'm ready to believe that. Christianity threw out the baby with the bath water and insisted that the story is historic. It's a lie perpetrated for the purpose of control of ignorant people, with the Church moving in to steal, kill, rape and pillage in the name of Christ. If Christianity has any use at all, the faithful must search its myths and study its allegory for universal truth, whatever that is. All religions have universal truths as well; Christianity is not exclusive.

My purpose in posting this essay is just one: I believe myths are extremely important to understand who we are. When we see myths only as folklore, legends and tall tales, we lose our identity as a species.



Last edited by Gaylordcat on Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:05 pm
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Post Re: The Mythos of Mythology
Gaylordcat wrote:
The Resurrection

Did Jesus rise from the dead? From a scientific point of view, the answer is no. From a Christian point of view, yes. From a philosophical point of view, it may not matter. From a mythological point of view, the truth is embedded in the truth.

Once an animal is dead, it cannot be brought back to life. We know that. My wife died in 2008, and I could not put life back to her body. If my beloved cat dies, it's over; she cannot be brought back to life.

However, asked to believe that Jesus, after being tortured to death in one of the most the hideous ways devised by man--crucifixion--arose from his tomb and walked among people for several days, ate fish, caused a huge fish harvest and appeared to his disciples in the upper room where he celebrated his last supper with them hours before, is impossible for me unless I can see it as myth. Come on! How else could the story be acceptable to us?

Biblical scholars divide about the resurrection. Some, like Gary Habermas, PhD, a professor at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, who is a renowned expert of The Resurrection of Jesus, believes that The Resurrection is a fact of history and further notes that no resurrection of gods took place before Jesus' return to life. Perhaps, he is correct as far as resurrections in Greek mythology and Middle Eastern myth, but resurrections were many in religions throughout the world.

The term "dying god", discussed in the works of James Frazer, Jane Ellen Harrison, and their fellow Cambridge Ritualists, is important here. In their seminal works The Golden Bough and Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, Frazer and Harrison argued that "all myths are echoes of rituals, and that all rituals have as their primordial purpose manipulation of natural phenomena by means of sympathetic magic." Consequently, the rape and return of Persephone, the rending and repair of Osiris, the travails and triumph of Baldr, derive from primitive rites intended to renew fertility, withered land and crops. (Wikipedia, Dying God, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_god.)

The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung argued that archetypal processes such as death and resurrection were part of the "trans-personal symbolism" of the collective unconscious, and could be used in the task of psychological integration. Jung's argument, combined with those of the Cambridge Ritualists, were developed by Károly Kerényi and Joseph Campbell. (Wikipedia, Dying God, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_god.)

So, is Jesus' Resurrection simply a myth tied to a fertility rite or an archetype from Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious? Fact is, I think, no one knows. Evidence cannot point to its historicity, but evidence can show that it is, indeed, a myth created to show a human truth or perhaps an allegory of the life and death of the sun (son).

Here's Joseph Campbell:
The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of things become, because he is. 'Before Abraham was, I AM.' He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the 'other thing'), as destroying the permanent with its change. 'Nothing retains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever makes up forms from forms. Be sure there's nothing perishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew its form.' Thus the next moment is permitted to come to pass.

Biblical application: Christ returns to the ordinary world after his resurrection, but not as an ordinary man. He can seem as others are, and interact with them, but his body is a "glorified" body, capable of assuming visible and palpable form, but freed from the bonds of space and time. He is now able to give life to others through his own death and resurrection. Other traditional examples of something similar are Elijah, Enoch, and Khidr, the "immortal prophet" of the Sufis. (Wikipedia, Monomyth, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth.)

For what it's worth, what do I think? Although I am not a Christian or an adherent to any other religious persuasion, I do think possibly an amazing, charismatic man called Yeshua ben Yosef could have lived and preached in Palestine of the First Century, C.E. The New Testament tells us he was a Jew and perhaps was exceptionally intelligent because of his tremendous ability to link human life to the history of Judaism that promised a Messiah. His parables read like short stories. Of course, the authors of the so-called Gospel probably exaggerated a bit. Think?

If he existed, I believe his conception and birth were human in every way, not miraculous, and I believe when he died he was dead and remained dead.

But so remarkable was he that his adherents wanted to disseminate his words and used an ancient method employed by rabbis called Midrash. Now libraries of books explain Midrash, but simply put it employs allegory and what I call culturally familiar symbols, which are images embedded in a culture and known by almost all the people in the culture. For example, in our folk symbology, we link rugged individualism, which we admire, to our pioneers who braved the hardships and dangers of the wilderness to carve out a nation. Indeed, rugged individualism is rather hard to define objectively without symbolic references.

The New Testament employs Midrash to explain who Jesus was. One symbol defining Jesus as messiah is the Pascal Lamb, or the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb at Passover, and the Midrashim throughout the NT allude to this symbol to show Jesus as Messiah. The faithful readily understood the symbol and were able to understand what they experienced.

I think the Transformation is Midrash. Many thought Jesus might be Elijah returned. They considered that John the Baptist might be Elijah, who promised to return before the Day of the Lord, the day of Yahweh's judgment of human kind at the end of time. Jews revered Moses as Law Giver. If Jesus became the über-prophet, then showing him with such august companions was essential, especially to his closest Apostles Peter, James and John. Therefore, the authors of Matthew and Luke, probably borrowing from Mark, created a Midrash that followers of Jesus in the First Century could understand. What better symbols than Elijah and Moses with whom he talked on the Mount of Transfiguration and what better eye witnesses than those three Apostles.

Does that make the Transfiguration fiction, fantasy? Not at all: it make it a myth that reveals Jesus as a prophet equal to Judaism's greatest oracles.

Finally, I see the Jesus story as a myth following after the hero's path as introduced by Campbell. In the myth he is born miraculously, he preaches throughout his small geographic area, arrested for sedition and executed. He returns to life as a changed being and imparts knowledge of salvation for all people, and then leaves to live in another place. Therein lies the truths in the myth.

Yeshua ben Yosef, not the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament, could have lived. He was perhaps charismatic. People loved him, believed in him and followed him. However, we have seen other persons follow the hero's path and become venerated if not deified. Thomas à Becket, martyred and made a saint; Teresa of Calcutta, on her way to sainthood and Pope John Paul, canonized and on his way to sainthood. I dare say that the same honor could be bestowed on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I think someday it may.

Christians are reluctant to compare charismatic leaders as Other Christs. No one else is Jesus, they teach. He alone is the Son of God. Indeed, one has to believe in an entity called god that interacts with humankind to believe a mortal man living 2,000 years ago was the exclusive Son of God, who died, arose and granted forgiveness to all human kind. I cannot believe that. Yet, the myths surrounding his life call to me with their truths, and I find those truths among the best we have from all our religious faiths.

Perhaps the Jesus story is allegory. I'm ready to believe that. Christianity threw out the baby with the bath water and insisted that the story is historic. It's a lie perpetrated for the purpose of control of ignorant people, with the Church moving in to steal, kill, rape and pillage in the name of Christ. If Christianity has any use at all, the faithful must search its myths and study its allegory for universal truth, whatever that is. All religions have universal truths as well; Christianity is not exclusive.

My purpose in posting this essay is just one: I believe myths are extremely important to understand who we are. When we see myths only as folklore, legends and tall tales, we lose our identity as a species.[/code]


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Robert Tulip, tat tvam asi
Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:11 pm
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Post Re: The Mythos of Mythology
And that's just it. That's the only true way to approach this issue. It's entirely possible that the gospel Jesus was based on the life of an historical person, but it's entirely possible that the gospel Jesus wasn't. That's essentially how NT scholarship should be addressing the issue to the general public. Anything less is less than sticking to the truth. Nothing is absolute in this equation and should never be presented as such, whether for or aganist the historicity of Jesus.

In CiE it is shown just how entirely possible it is for the entire myth to have been created out of previous myth with no historical core to the onion. But people should know up front that at no point is this presented as absolute in the way that the believer position is presented. It's simply an honest agnostic type of way of confessing that we simply do not not have enough evidence to move from a position of uncertainty to a position certainty.

My gut feeling on the matter has to do with the lack of anything at all from Philo or any other historian writing during the early first century in and around the region in question. No court records of a trial by the Romans, or a disruption among the people by any Yeshua Ben Yoseph that was put down and taken care of. This person must have been nearly invisible to the Jewish and Roman authorities, Philo, and every other historian traveling through and writing about the goings on in the holy land during the early first century, if such an historical core was ever present to begin with. We can not strip this onion down to any fixed historical core. So I prefer not to accept it as historical until proven beyond any reasonable doubt otherwise. We don't have enough evidence to move past an agnostic position on the matter. I have no concrete evidence to prove that no such person existed or could have existed, nor should I or anyone else ever assert that we do. What we have, as mythicists, is a strong feeling based on the available evidence and lack thereof.


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Last edited by tat tvam asi on Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: The Mythos of Mythology
I agree with Tat. Everything this supposed messiah did went totally unnoticed by the two strongest populations of his time, Romans & Jews....Believers in this god man love to throw up Josephus and Tacitus as confirming an historical jesus but we all know where that leads. I suspect that the creation of this god man was a counter by the early church to thwart the supposed Jewish character Joseph Ben Pandera. As far as the resurrection goes I also agree that living through a Roman crucifixion was highly unlikely. None of the Gospel accounts agree on who was where at the time, the length of time he was on the cross 3 hours or 3 days is in question.



Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:29 am
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Post Re: The Mythos of Mythology
http://www.truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm

There are many problems with accepting these non-Christian sources as valid evidence for the historicity of Jesus. The biggest problem being that they don't even name him in the first place and come too late to be considered contemporary as first hand eye witness accounts of an historical Jesus:

Quote:
"Meier considers the Tacitus passage to be "obviously genuine" and attempts to show it as a Christian interpolation to be "feeble."1 Yet, he also admits that Tacitus is of little value as an independent source and additionally remarks that "Josephus is our only independent non-Christian source of information about the historical Jesus in the first century."2 Nor does Meier consider Pliny and Suetonius of any value as independent witnesses, as "they are simply reporting something about what early Christians say or do… 3"

"References in the works of other non-Christian sources ... who doesn't even mention Jesus Christ by name—are far too late to serve as evidence of anything other than a tradition established by that time."

1 Meier, I, 90.
2 Meier, I, 92.
3 Meier, I, 91.

- "Who Was Jesus?" 97

Quote:
"Even if we were to accept these writings in the works of Jewish and Roman authors as genuine and relevant, they represent traditions and emerge too late to serve as eyewitness accounts demonstrating that any of the gospel events happened at any time in history. Indeed, these resources do not provide us with any biographical material useful in our quest to find out who Jesus was, an assessment also averred by Bruce and Meier, to name a few Christian scholars."

- Who Was Jesus?" 98


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Last edited by tat tvam asi on Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:58 pm
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