Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bible Geek on Ancient Myths

Here’s another one from Peter Mayer to enjoy while reading this short entry.

I made it on the Bible Geek last month. It’s really not that hard, he gets a few questions per week and answers them with audio. He always gives the question a lot of respect and is often entertaining. Unfortunately, they have cut off posts older than a few weeks, so it’s not there anymore. If it shows up in a archives list, I’ll you know. There was also a really good on called the “Metaphysics of Presence”.

My question was titled “Wanting to know more about ancient myths”. This question started brewing for me when a friend of mine directed me to the movie Zeitgeist. It’s free on the web. Among other things, it discusses the earlier dying and rising God myths that proceeded the time of the writing of the New Testament. Robert M. Price, The Bible Geek, has studied these extensively, and he agrees with the film makers that Jesus is just another myth. Price’s work is a bit more scholarly and a better place to start, IMHO, but the movie can be entertaining and an easy way to get started. Some may find the movie a bit over the top.

I tried to find out more about these other Gods and how they might have come to be mixed in with the Jewish traditions. I still have not found any direct historical links, but I don’t think you would find that with anything that old. I know a little of the stories of Osiris, Dyonisus and others, but not enough to say they do or do not overlap. A Zeitgeist response web site was a little help, but I wanted more. You can listen for yourself, but Robert basically said that these are archetypes, not copies. The earlier stories were “cardboard” characters, analogies of the changing of the seasons. Jesus was a much richer character, with the archetype of a virgin birth and resurrection included, and much more in between, including, in his opinion, new teaching from the rabbis of the time. He also gave me some titles that I hope to get to.

If you are really into philosophy, the “The Metaphysics of Presence” was really great. It’s going to take me a while to digest that one, so I may refer to it again, and hopefully it will be posted again. Among other things he said, no one owns the copyright on a religion. There are over 2,000 divisions of Protestantism, and within each some flexibility in their local churches is allowed, and every member is in a different place on their spiritual path and may be choosing to believe or not believe something that is not exactly in line with the church’s doctrine. So, to say that there is an “essence” of Christianity is a little silly. There are scriptures and teachings, and then there are people experiencing it. How it is taught changes over time, and how it is experienced by us is influenced by our time. Trying to get it right, and force one idea of what is right on others, just muddies the waters in my opinion, or as Prices says, “[Church/Spiritual experience] is helpful and beautiful and enjoyable, not that I think anyone is obliged to have it.”

It’s too much to cover in one blog, so just listen to Peter Mayer, and let all soak in.

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