SUBMITTED TO DR. LARUE STEPHENS
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE COURSE, OBST 590-B02
BOILING SPRINGS, NC
FEBRUARY 3, 2013
The Bible Among the Myths: Introduction
John N. Oswalt has long thought about the issue at hand regarding the bible and it’s relation, if any, to the study of myths. Beginning first in a course at Asbury Theological Seminary and evolving later through studies about the Mediterranean at Brandeis University, Oswalt has intently studied the topic and cultural impact over a significant period of time. This intentional period of study has lead Oswalt to the position posed through this book; “is the religion of the Old Testament essentially similar to, or essentially different from, the religion of its neighbors?” In particular within the contemporary study of both history and myth, does the Bible fit within a particular definition?
The book will seek to clarify the distinct difference of the Bible and myth in regards to the nature of divinity and evaluate the impact mythology has on such an understanding. Additionally the question will be posed as to the historical accuracy of Old Testament writings and whether such an understanding is a necessity for Christians today. Particularly Oswalt will seek to determine whether our historical viewpoint of Scripture has an inseparable impact on our theological understanding of it.
While Oswalt concedes that his viewpoint presented within this book is not definitive and all encompassing the argument is for the Bible to determine the starting place of such an investigation. Essentially, that, the Bible is quite capable of answering many of it’s own questions and evidence that supports the Bible’s claim to have been brought about through revelation be given the attention in which it deserves. In contrast, Oswalt argues that the fundamental disbelief to even such a possibility should have no place within the very discussion. The Bible and Myth: The Bible in its World
Diving in, the first chapter presents a discussion regarding the very nature of the Bible and it’s impact upon the world, particularly within the way we view reality. It begins to look into the Bible’s impact, along with the impact of the Greek and Hebrew people, on Western worldviews. In regards to the Grecian influence, their type of thinking had a significant impact upon society. In particular there are three primary contributions are believed to be: 1) the belief in a “universe” instead of a “polyverse,” 2) the idea of simple cause and effect, and 3) non-contradiction. In addition the Hebrew people played as significant a role through their impact on the worldview. Their foundational monotheistic belief indeed leaves a lasting impact but their other foundational concepts of God did to. The fact that God served a primary role in creation, that He exists apart from the creation, made himself known to people, made his desires known to people, and that He rewards our punishes people for following or disobeying his will also served to leave a lasting impact. Through the combination of their varying approaches, the Greeks’ rational thought merged with the monotheism of the Hebrew people, along with the Grecian belief in the law of non-contradiction merged with the Hebrew belief in God being separate and distinct from creation, are foundational to our contemporary worldview and the argument of logic presented by Oswalt. It is in this argument that Oswalt presents man, in addition to things like science and logic, to be self-destructive without the transcendent role of God. The Bible and Myth: A Problem of Definition
It’s in the second chapter that Oswalt begins to define a foundational term to the understanding of nature of his argument, and that is a definition of myth. While he attempts to find suitable replacements for the word along with a definition that best embodies the terms complexities, he...