Theories of Myth
January 29, 2010
Theories of myth and creation myths, how do they work together? That is what I will discuss in this paper. Unlike most papers, where you do a lot of research and have a few scholarly references, in this one I will base my information form the text book readings alone.
In the beginning of studying myths, I asked myself, “What is a myth”? A myth is an ancient narrative; a word; a story; it is not static artifacts. In early Christian mythology the word mythos came to mean make believe; fantasy and the word logos came to mean something like transcendent truth. The two words had switched connotative places.
First, I would like to share with you some theoretical approaches that mythologist use to better understand myths. Let us begin with linguistic theory. This theoretical approach looked at the different types of languages used in myths. This scientific approach to language study gave direction, method, and legitimacy to the search for the original Volk from whom all European culture and achievement emanated.
Next, we have comparative mythology, which was sought using methods from linguistic theory, to identify myth types and trace them back to their presumed original versions. Some theorist used comparative methods to identify the environmental cause of a given peoples’ myths. Some theorists argued that mythology, until World War II, was closely and openly identified with the “science” of race. Comparative mythology was a matter of locking ones self in a library and reading.
The last theory that we will look at is anthropology. Anthropology came to view myths as primarily a living, oral, cultured preserving phenomenon. Emphasis switched from textual comparisons and blood and soil interpretive theories to discovering the ways in which myths function in living societies.
There are more theoretical approaches than the ones that I have mentioned. Just like everything else in...
References: S Leonard, M Mcclure, (2004). Myth & Knowing: Introduction to World Mythology. : McGraw-Hill.
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