Meaning and Myth

This short video from N.T. Wright is a helpful discussion on understanding the use of the term “myth” as it relates to conversations around Gen. 1-3. Many people get hung up on terminology when they are trying to attach historicity concerns to literary elements of a narrative. If Genesis is a narrative about God’s creation, humankind, and sin, then we need to attend to those elements when considering its interpretation, not time-lines and modern notions of history.

Sources of Authority

 I read a good article in a book called Christianity in Jewish Terms. The author of the article, Miachael A. Signer did a good job of summarizing quite succinctly the differences that result from the various traditions of Christianity and Judaism.  Jewish interpretation is informed by the TaNaCh (Torah, Nevi’im-the prophets, and Ketuvim-the writings) as well as Oral Torah, the Mishnah which makes up the Talmud, their Scriptures and interpretation of Scriptures.  Christians view the Bible as the Old and New Testaments which consist of Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim but do not include the Oral Torah.  Thus, a split occurs based on sources of authority for Christian and Jewish communities.  Within the Christian community there are further divisions related to Scripture, tradition and theology.  Catholics and Protestants disagree on what constitutes Scripture.  Catholics include additional books as canonical, what Protestants call the Apocrypha.  Orthodox Christians view tradition as encompassing the writings of the church fathers and the decisions of the councils.  Catholics accept these along with believing the tradition is continued through the teaching office of the church (the Magisterium) in concert with theologians.  For Protestants, interpretation of Scripture is influenced for some in the mainline by church confessions, while many restrict authority to simply the text of the Bible itself, ipsissima verba, the words of God.  Theology is utilized in various ways by these three traditions.  The use of reason and philosophical method in theology is utilized by Catholics in combination with church fathers, church councils and papal documents.   Orthodox theology relies primarily on the early church fathers.  Protestants focus mostly upon Scriptural exegesis and reasoned philosophical methods.  With all these various approaches and sources of authority helping combine to provide interpretation of Scripture and in fact determine what is Scripture, it is no small wonder that interpretation varies so widely and simplistic views of all religions teaching the same thing dissolve into the complex realities of faith traditions.