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Can Myths Be True and Meaningful?

Yesterday I received this interesting comment on my most recent post.  It embodies a view that a lot of other members of the Blog have, and so I thought I should respond to it.  It is about whether there can be meaningful myths in the Bible.  Here is what the reader says. Imaginative stories by definition are false. To say something is myth and by extension imaginative, is asserting that it is false. For us to say something is a myth, we have to be sure that it is entirely false. Or is it not the case? I addressed a similar issue in the conclusion of my most recent book Jesus Before the Gospels.  There I take a different stance on whether non-historical accounts (which would include myths) can be meaningful to us or not, whether they can be “true” in any sense.  Here is what I say there (with respect more to the NT than the OT, but the same reasoning applies. ****************************************************************** Like most authors, I get a lot of email from people [...]

Appreciating the Myths of the Bible

When I came to see that there are mistakes in the Bible, I did not jettison it all as a waste of time.  Not at all.  On the contrary, I continued to value and cherish it, as a book that could reveal truths about God.  Yes it had discrepancies, contradictions, historical errors, glaring scientific mistakes, and so on.  Of course it did.  But that for me was not the ultimate point.  The Bible It was a product of its own time, a very human book.   Even so, it was a book through which God continued to speak. I came to think that the Bible was more important for the valuable lessons it conveyed than for the factual (or problematic) information it contained.  This view worked on two levels.  For one thing, I came to see it was important to realize that even for ancient readers what mattered about the Bible was not its factual accuracy in its details, but for the ideas that it was trying to present.  And for me personally, it was important [...]

Does It Mean What It Says? More Problems with the King James

In my previous post I pointed out that the King James Version sometimes uses words and phrases that no longer make sense to most speakers/readers of the English language today.  That obviously makes it use complicated.  Why would you want to use a study Bible that doesn’t communicate in common English – or in this case, in English that no longer makes sense?   I can understand – and heartily support – those who want to read the King James for its sheer beauty and historical significance.  But if you want to study what the Bible actually means, it’s not the best place to go.  In fact, it’s a rather awful place. An even bigger problem comes from the fact that sometimes the King James uses a word or phrase that does in fact make perfectly good sense in modern English.  But the word means something very different now from what it meant in 1611, since the language (and hence the meanings of words) has changed over the past four hundred years.  Here are a few [...]

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