Myth doesn’t mean not true

This is an interesting video by N. T. Wright on the early chapters of Genesis. The little blurb explaining the video says, “Bishop of Durham and leading New Testament scholar N.T. Wright offers his thoughts on how we should read the first two chapters of Genesis, and why myth does not mean the same thing as ‘not true’.” I’m not sure what you think about Macs or widgets, but my dictionary widget on my Mac gives me this definition for myth, “a widely held but false belief or idea.” In the 5 definitions offered at dictionary.com the words legendary, stories, invented, imaginary, fictitious, unproved, and false all appear. Hard to see how ‘myth’ and ‘not true’ are not related, if not synonymous.

Also, the BBC has an article that says depression is linked to internet addiction. Apparently cyber friends can’t take the place to real friends. A message for our times, and for our church.

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5 Responses to “Myth doesn’t mean not true”

  1. Gordon Says:

    A myth is something which is not true in itself but contains truth.

    For example: the parables of Jesus.
    If there was in reality no good Samaritan would it make the message of the story any less important? Not really. It would still mean the same thing and contain truth.

  2. luehrmann Says:

    Interesting. Containing truth is not part of the definition of a myth as far as I know. There are hosts of myths that contain no truth at all. As for myth and parable, there’s a difference between a story illustrating a principle as opposed to a story claiming to be history which explains our world. Two different things, myths and parables.

  3. Gordon Says:

    To paraphrase Joseph Campbell’s ideas: the reappearance of certain themes, time and again, in different mythologies, leads to the realization that these themes portray universal and eternal truths about mankind.

    Its a complex subject, but I have come to the conclusion that something does not need to be literally true in order to contain a true and important message.

    I used to be a Carrubberite by the way. I found your blog when loooking for an events list for Carrubbers.

    This might interest you if you have not already read it:

    The Carrubbers Close Mission by James Gall

  4. luehrmann Says:

    Thanks for the link to the Carrubbers book. I’ll pass it on to folks, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

    As for myths, just one question, if the creation account is a myth, what truth is it communicating? Many thanks.

  5. Gordon Says:

    I think what its doing is communicating that man, God and the created world are in a particular relationship to each other. They all have a place and when that relationship breaks down (by mans rebellion to that created order – the fall) this sets the scene for the redemption story which takes up most of the rest of the bible.

    I think you can get that message from it without it having to be literally true.

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