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"What Roles Do Myths Of Origin Play Within Religion And Society?"

2993 words - 12 pages

"What roles do myths of origin play within religion and society?"ContentsIntroductionThe Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Creation MythUnity versus DisunityExplanation versus ParadoxOppression versus LiberationThe New Testament Creation MythsTheir role in religionTheir role in societyConclusionBibliographyIntroductionWhat is myth? For rationalists such as Muller, they provide pre-scientific explanations of natural phenomena. For functionalists such as Malinowski they are a "codification of belief", explaining rites and justifying norms. For Jung, myth provides expressions of a collective unconscious. Barthes studied the process of mythification, Levi-Strauss' structuralists studied the structure of myths and form critics led by Bultmann advocated demythologising.This essay will compare myths of origin in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament and the New Testament. The cosmogonic myth of the Genesis creation narrative (Gen 1-3) has interwoven yet often paradoxical roles in Judaism, Christianity and society. The myths of origin of Jesus (Mt. 1:1-4:11, Mk 1:1-13, Lk. 1:5-4:13, Jn 1:1-34), however, have very different roles in religion and society. This essay will seek to examine what this reveals about the nature of myths of origin.The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Creation MythUnity versus disunityThe Priestly section (1:1-2:4) of the Genesis myth reveals much about the character and creativity of God. He is eternal, pre-existing all things and omnipotent . He is transcendent, hovering over the waters , yet immanent, speaking directly to Adam and Eve . He created the world and saw that it was good . He created humans , male and female in his image and likeness, and saw that it was very good . On these points, Judaism and Christianity agree.What does it mean to have been created in the image of God? What, therefore, does it mean to be human? Jonsson [1988:1] writes "it has been claimed that one's conception of the image of God in man (imago dei) determines the fate of every theology." The creation myth still affects the ethics of society. The notion of personal responsibility for one's actions is paramount in law and the sanctity of life is taken seriously. Reproductive technologies are carefully discussed and closely monitored by the HFEA . Such values have persisted through Judaism to Christianity into post-Christian societies.Yet whereas the creation myth unites Christians with Jews, it has provided a source of controversy within Christianity and between Christianity and society . Most of this dialogue has died down. Postmodernism teaches that no scientific methodology can lay claim to providing absolute truth. Christians tend towards a more sophisticated understanding of myth and are generally happy to accept that God somehow created the world.Yet creationists still exist, and creationists are still feared. Creation Matters held a public meeting in Byker on December 6th. The Guardian's campaign to expose Operation Christmas Child as manipulative and...

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