fain | fān | archaic

fain | fān | archaic: adjective: 1. pleased or willing under the circumstances, eager. 2. obliged. adverb: gladly

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Review of "The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?"

 In this book review of The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? by John N. Oswalt, I find the contrasts between the myths of ancient literature with the Genesis account fascinating.

An excerpt from the review:
I have asked in the past how the ancient Hebrews could have been so far ahead of their time. The Bible Among the Myths extends the question: how could they have been so utterly different from every other culture in history? For the contrasts are great. Oswalt identifies these common (if not universal) features of myth, contrasted with the Genesis view:
  • Cyclical time: there is a lack of definite beginning and no clear direction to reality (with no one to give it direction). The Bible speaks of history with a beginning, with progress, and with a destination.
  • Nature symbolizing the divine. The Bible specifically rejects this.
  • The significance of magic, specifically the use of ritual and/or manipulations of matter to cause predictable results in the realm of deity. This, too, is nowhere to be found in biblical religion.
  • Obsession with fertility and potency, often expressed in religious (temple-based, even) prostitution of every base description. God is not sexual, nor is the religion he revealed.
  • Polytheism: obviously not the case for biblical theism.
  • The use of images in worship: expressly forbidden in the Ten Commandments.
  • Eternity of chaotic matter: see above; not so in the Bible.
  • Low view of the gods, who are more powerful than humans but no better ethically; the Bible depicts God as perfectly holy, just, loving, and righteous.
There is considerably more: I would rather leave you wanting to know more than thinking you had the gist of it covered here. These differences in substance obtain in spite of certain similarities of form between the Bible’s account and others.

Read the full review on the Thinking Christian Blog.

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