Christian mythology is the body of myths associated with Christianity and the Bible. The term encompasses a broad variety of legends and stories, especially those considered sacred narratives. Mythological themes and elements occur throughout Christian literature, including recurring myths such as ascending to a mountain, the axis mundi , myths of combat, descent into the Underworld , accounts of a dying-and-rising god , flood stories , stories about the founding of a tribe or city, and myths about great heroes or saints of the past, paradises , and self-sacrifice.
Giant Speculations: The Bible and Greek Mythology
Various authors have also used it to refer to other mythological and allegorical elements found in the Bible , such as the story of the Leviathan. The term has been applied [ by whom? Multiple commentators have classified John Milton 's epic poem Paradise Lost as a work of Christian mythology. The term has also been applied to modern stories revolving around Christian themes and motifs, such as the writings of C. Lewis , J. Over the centuries, Christianity has divided into many denominations.
Not all of these denominations hold the same set of sacred traditional narratives. For example, the books of the Bible accepted by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches include a number of texts and stories such as those narrated in the Book of Judith and Book of Tobit that many Protestant denominations do not accept as canonical.
Christian theologian and professor of New Testament , Rudolf Bultmann wrote that: . The cosmology of the New Testament is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three storied structure, with the earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beings -- the angels. The underworld is hell, the place of torment. Even the earth is more than the scene of natural, everyday events, of the trivial round and common task.
It is the scene of the supernatural activity of God and his angels on the one hand, and of Satan and his demons on the other. These supernatural forces intervene in the course of nature and in all that men think and will and do. Miracles are by no means rare. Man is not in control of his own life.
Evil spirits may take possession of him. Satan may inspire him with evil thoughts. Alternatively, God may inspire his thought and guide his purposes. He may grant him heavenly visions. He may allow him to hear his word of succor or demand. He may give him the supernatural power of his Spirit. History does not follow a smooth unbroken course; it is set in motion and controlled by these supernatural powers. That end will come very soon, and will take the form of a cosmic catastrophe.
It will be inaugurated by the "woes" of the last time. Then the Judge will come from heaven, the dead will rise, the last judgment will take place, and men will enter into eternal salvation or damnation.
In its broadest academic sense, the word myth simply means a traditional story.
However, many scholars restrict the term "myth" to sacred stories. In classical Greek , muthos , from which the English word myth derives, meant "story, narrative. Lewis and Andrew Greeley. Lewis , have described elements of Christianity, particularly the story of Christ, as "myth" which is also "true" "true myth". Christian tradition contains many stories that do not come from canonical Christian texts yet still illustrate Christian themes.
These non-canonical Christian myths include legends, folktales, and elaborations on canonical Christian mythology. Christian tradition has produced a rich body of legends that were never incorporated into the official scriptures. Legends were a staple of medieval literature. A case in point is the historical and canonized Brendan of Clonfort , a 6th-century Irish churchman and founder of abbeys. Round his authentic figure was woven a tissue that is arguably legendary rather than historical: the Navigatio or "Journey of Brendan".
The legend discusses mythic events in the sense of supernatural encounters. This voyage was recreated by Tim Severin , suggesting that whales , icebergs and Rockall were encountered. Folktales form a major part of non-canonical Christian tradition. Folklorists define folktales in contrast to "true" myths as stories that are considered purely fictitious by their tellers and that often lack a specific setting in space or time.
One widespread folktale genre is that of the Penitent Sinner classified as Type A, B, C, in the Aarne-Thompson index of tale types ; another popular group of folktales describe a clever mortal who outwits the Devil. Christian tradition produced many popular stories elaborating on canonical scripture. According to an English folk belief, certain herbs gained their current healing power from having been used to heal Christ 's wounds on Mount Calvary.
In this case, a non-canonical story has a connection to a non-narrative form of folklore — namely, folk medicine. Examples of 1 Christian myths not mentioned in canon and 2 literary and traditional elaborations on canonical Christian mythology:.
Some scholars believe that many elements of Christian mythology, particularly its linear portrayal of time, originated with the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism.
Zoroaster was thus the first to teach the doctrines of an individual judgment, Heaven and Hell, the future resurrection of the body, the general Last Judgment, and life everlasting for the reunited soul and body.
These doctrines were to become familiar articles of faith to much of mankind, through borrowings by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Mircea Eliade believes the Hebrews had a sense of linear time before Zoroastrianism influenced them. However, he argues, "a number of other [Jewish] religious ideas were discovered, revalorized, of systematized in Iran". These ideas include a dualism between good and evil, belief in a future savior and resurrection , and "an optimistic eschatology, proclaiming the final triumph of Good".
The concept of Amesha Spentas and Daevas probably gave rise to the Christian understanding of angels and demons.
In Buddhist mythology , the demon Mara tries to distract the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama , before he can reach enlightenment. Huston Smith , a professor of philosophy and a writer on comparative religion, notes the similarity between Mara's temptation of the Buddha before his ministry and Satan's temptation of Christ before his ministry. In the Book of Revelation , the author sees a vision of a pregnant woman in the sky being pursued by a huge red dragon.
The dragon tries to devour her child when she gives birth, but the child is "caught up to God and his throne". This appears to be an allegory for the triumph of Christianity: the child presumably represents Christ; the woman may represent God's people of the Old and New Testaments who produced Christ ; and the Dragon symbolizes Satan, who opposes Christ.
Mythology and the book of job bible
Academic studies of mythology often define mythology as deeply valued stories that explain a society's existence and world order: those narratives of a society's creation, the society's origins and foundations, their god s , their original heroes, mankind's connection to the "divine", and their narratives of eschatology what happens in the "after-life".
This is a very general outline of some of the basic sacred stories with those themes. The Christian texts use the same creation myth as Jewish mythology as written in the Old Testament. According to the Book of Genesis, the world was created out of a darkness and water in seven days.
Book of Job
Unlike a Jew, a Christian might include the miracle of Jesus' birth as a sort of second cosmogonic event  Canonical Christian scripture incorporates the two Hebrew cosmogonic myths found in Genesis and Genesis In the first text on the creation Genesis , the Creator is called Elohim translated "God".
He creates the universe over a six-day period, creating a new feature each day: first he creates day and night; then he creates the firmament to separate the "waters above" from the "waters below"; then he separates the dry land from the water; then he creates plants on the land; then he places the sun, moon, and stars in the sky; then he creates swimming and flying animals; then he creates land animals; and finally he creates man and woman together, "in his own image".
On the seventh day, God rests, providing the rationale for the custom of resting on Sabbath. The second creation myth in Genesis differs from the first in a number of important elements. Here the Creator is called Yahweh elohim commonly translated "Lord God", although Yahweh is in fact the personal name of the God of Israel and does not mean Lord.
This myth begins with the words, "When the L ORD God made the earth and the heavens, and no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth It then proceeds to describe Yahweh creating a man called Adam out of dust.
Yahweh also creates animals, and shows them to man, who names them. Yahweh sees that there is no suitable companion for the man among the beasts, and he subsequently puts Adam to sleep and takes out one of Adam's ribs, creating from it a woman whom Adam names Eve.
A serpent tempts Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and she succumbs, offering the fruit to Adam as well. As a punishment, Yahweh banishes the couple from the Garden and "placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden the cherubim with a fiery revolving sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life". He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever" Genesis Although the text of Genesis does not identify the tempting serpent with Satan , Christian tradition equates the two.
This tradition has made its way into non-canonical Christian "myths" such as John Milton's Paradise Lost. According to Lorena Laura Stookey, many myths feature sacred mountains as "the sites of revelations": "In myth, the ascent of the holy mountain is a spiritual journey, promising purification, insight, wisdom, or knowledge of the sacred".
The Book of Job
Many mythologies involve a "world center", which is often the sacred place of creation; this center often takes the form of a tree, mountain, or other upright object, which serves as an axis mundi or axle of the world.
In his Creation Myths of the World , David Leeming argues that, in the Christian story of the crucifixion, the cross serves as "the axis mundi , the center of a new creation". According to a tradition preserved in Eastern Christian folklore, Golgotha was the summit of the cosmic mountain at the center of the world and the location where Adam had been both created and buried. According to this tradition, when Christ is crucified, his blood falls on Adam's skull, buried at the foot of the cross, and redeems him.
Many Near Eastern religions include a story about a battle between a divine being and a dragon or other monster representing chaos—a theme found, for example, in the Enuma Elish. A number of scholars call this story the "combat myth". According to David Leeming, writing in The Oxford Companion to World Mythology , the harrowing of hell is an example of the motif of the hero's descent to the underworld , which is common in many mythologies.
This story is narrated in the Gospel of Nicodemus and may be the meaning behind 1 Peter Many myths, particularly from the Near East, feature a god who dies and is resurrected ; this figure is sometimes called the " dying god ".
In his homily for Corpus Christi , Pope Benedict XVI noted the similarity between the Christian story of the resurrection and pagan myths of dead and resurrected gods: "In these myths, the soul of the human person, in a certain way, reached out toward that God made man, who, humiliated unto death on a cross, in this way opened the door of life to all of us. Many cultures have myths about a flood that cleanses the world in preparation for rebirth.
According to Sandra Frankiel, the records of "Jesus' life and death, his acts and words" provide the "founding myths" of Christianity. Christian mythology of their society's founding would start with Jesus and his many teachings, and include the stories of Christian disciples starting the Christian Church and congregations in the 1st century. This might be considered the stories in the four canonical gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
The heroes of the first Christian society would start with Jesus and those chosen by Jesus, the twelve apostles including Peter, John, James, as well as Paul and Mary mother of Jesus. Rank includes the story of Christ's birth as a representative example of this pattern.