Myth does not mean a false story in the sense that I think Andrew Sullivan used it. I think it is the same sense of the word that we find in the writings of C. S. Lewis. For example, Lewis wrote:
[T]he story of Christ is simply a true myth; a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference, that it really happened, and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s Myth where the others are men’s myths
Wikipedia, under Mythology offers this:
The main characters in myths are usually gods, supernatural heroes and humans. As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion or spirituality. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, "true stories" or myths, and "false stories" or fables. Myths generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form, and explain how the world gained its current form and how customs, institutions and taboos were established.
The so-called truth of myth is not necessarily historical truth. In this sense the Tower of Babel is a myth. We cannot know if it was real, historically. There are some ancient ziggurat foundations, the Etemenanki ziggurat just south of modern Bagdad being one, that may be the foot of the biblical tower. Annie is right, Etemenanki is visible through the facilities of Google Earth.
It should be noted that the “Tower of Babel” is not mentioned in the Bible. It is the unnamed tower of the city of Babel or perhaps more correctly, Bāb-ilim, meaning gate of the gods, or maybe Balal, meaning confused or jumbled.
This discussion of myth makes me wonder if it would not be a good word to use for much of what we say about the shroud: the myth of flower images on the cloth; the myth of dematerialization; the myth that it is the real image of the real Jesus (or dare we say mythical Jesus).
oooo…. Mythical Jesus is a dangerous one, isn’t it.
Perhaps C.S. Lewis is right but it might be best to stick with the meaning of words as the common people understand them. Otherwise confusion is inevitable.
And, the meaning of words does evolve. In fact, words can evolve very quickly. Everyone uses the word “impacted” now but I really cannot tolerate it and refuse to use it even though it’s used quite a bit. This is because I’m a nurse and the medical meaning of the word impacted is just far too vivid for me. If I could have stopped that word in it’s tracks, I would have but obviously that’s impossible. I still cringe when I hear it. People started using it about 15 or 20 years ago now? Maybe less.
Or, the use of the words BAD, EVIL, WICKED are so reversed from their original meaning that I wonder if the original meanings will disappear altogether.
We enjoy a show called Bitchin Kitchen on the cooking channel, and my Mother is funny because she doesn’t want to say it out loud. We talked about it the other day and when she found out that “bitchin” is actually a compliment now-a-days, she decided maybe she could say it. But not to her grandchildren. :D
I think all this confusion over words makes it easy to understand what happened at the Tower of Babel. It is so hard for people to understand each other, even with all the words we use. Did this difficulty with communication begin at that time?? Maybe it had nothing to do with what they SAID, maybe it was how they HEARD it, and RESPONDED to it.
The Tower of Babel “myth” suggests that various languages began THEN, but I kinda think it was more a problem of being able to get along together. Because I think it’s still a major problem. Words are woefully inadequate, whether verbal or spoken: they simply do NOT do the JOB.
I look forward to heaven where it won’t be so hard for people to understand what I MEAN, and vice versa. The Bible does promise this, “for then I shall know, even as I am fully known.”
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