The Truths of Muthos and Logos In Scripture: Part One

Though some people without understanding may consider myths to refer to that which is false (especially of the pseudoscientific variety) and may consider “logos theology” to be the origin of the second century heretic Justin Martyr, the Bible demonstrates great truth both by mythos and logos, provided those words are well understood.  It is the point of this particular note to examine the truthfulness of mythos and logos in scripture in the general.  In the second part of this post we will show how one particular truth, the unimportance of ethnic origin to God, is demonstrated through various means of scripture.  This note is not intended in any way to be exhaustive, but merely an illustration.  Let us no longer labor under any misconceptions about the truths of muthos and logos.

Muthos and Logos

Our words myth and logic spring from the Greek words muthos and logos.  Logos is familiar to us not only from the last phrase of John 1:1, which reads:  Theos en ho logos in the Greek (the word was God), but also from the Greek formal logic, where the truth of major and minor propositions led to a true conclusion.  Muthos, where myth comes from, also itself originally meant truth as being told through a story rather than through propositional reasoning [1].  History, for example, is myth–truth told through a story.  A theorem is logic, truth proved through reasoning.  The truth of one does not in any way negate the truth of the other.

If we have been inattentive to the Hebrew truths of scripture and too attracted by Greek truth, we may seek to pit logic and myth against each other [2].  This would be a perversion of truth.  After all, since the Bible was written as an example of Hebrew truth, we expect it to deal with the same truths told a variety of different ways.  And, if we look honestly at it, that is precisely what we find.  Both myth and logic and appropriate ways of dealing with truth, and each carries with it some important repercussions that I would like to examine at least briefly.

The validity of myth carries with it serious implications.  The word Gospel, that we use to describe the first four books of the Renewed Covenant Scriptures (otherwise known as the New Testament), comes from the Old English compound “God Spell” (or “good story”, a translation of the Greek word euangelion [3], from where we get words like Evangelist, someone who teaches the “good word” of the Bible to others, a job description for someone active in preaching the word of God rather than a title for someone who drinks fancy liquor, flies first class, and lives the aristocratic lifestyle from the tithes and offerings of believers [4]. God condemns idle words because words have power.  A history constructed of lies seeks to deny the respect and honor due to people for the deeds of their ancestors and seeks to cover up the sins of our fathers from being brought to light [5].  It is because words have power, and because there is truth in stories, that the Bible itself communicates deep truths through stories.

These stories, moreover, are greatly powerful.  It is not for nothing that the Gospel is called “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” or that its stories are repeatedly mined for novels (Philemon, Ruth, Esther, Moses, Joseph, Job, David, Elijah, Daniel, and many other biblical figures are the subjects of excellent films, novels, plays, and operas because of the stories in the Bible about their lives).  The Exodus is a great story–no wonder it is the subject of several notable films.  We therefore as believers of the Bible recognize without great controversy that the Bible itself contains stories about people and that those stories are true–even though all stories will select details for the purpose of the author and therefore omit details (compare, for example 1st and 2nd Chronicles with the books of Samuel and Kings, or the four Gospels) that others present.  We recognize that all of the Bible is true, filled with powerful examples written for our benefit, and yet tantalizingly incomplete, leaving us with a desire to know the rest of the story.

The Bible is also full of law and logic.  The Bible does not merely deal with stories, but it also seeks to demonstrate by propositions and laws the truth of its claims, whether it is through the parables of Jesus Christ, the sermons of Paul and Stephen, or the genealogical tables of Luke, Matthew, 1 Chronicles, and Genesis.  The Bible appeals to both emotion and reason, because God has a claim of ownership on both our minds and our hearts, our bodies and our spirit, and therefore neglects no part of the whole man.  If we therefore assume that the biblical faith is anti-intellectual or hostile to reason and evidence, we err, just as we err if we assume that the Bible is purely intellectual and not concerned with the flesh or the emotions at all.

Conclusion of Part One

Let us therefore neglect neither the powerful and moving stories of the Bible, stories in which we too are a part, whether as an echo or as a fulfillment of that which has come before us, nor the propositions and logic of the Bible that ruthlessly convicts us all of sin which we must repent of if we desire to be saved.  For the truth of logic does not negate the truth of the story, nor the contrary.  But rather the same truth may be expressed in a variety of different ways, so that each of us with our own particular interests and focus and perspective may be without excuse should we reject the truth for pleasant and vain illusion.

[1] Matthew Dickerson & David O’Hara, From Homer To Harry Potter:  A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy (Grand Rapids, MI:  Brazos Press, 2006), 32-33.

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/on-the-difference-between-greek-thought-and-hebrew-thought/

[3] Matthew Dickerson & David O’Hara, From Homer To Harry Potter:  A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy (Grand Rapids, MI:  Brazos Press, 2006), 55.

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/just-what-is-the-ephesians-4-model-for-a-healthy-congregation-anyway/

[5] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/with-pen-in-hand/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to The Truths of Muthos and Logos In Scripture: Part One

  1. Pingback: The Truths of Muthos and Logos In Scripture: Part One | thewikipress.com

  2. Pingback: The Truths of Muthos and Logos In Scripture: Part Two | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Psalm 111: In The Assembly Of The Upright And In The Congregation | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Sacred Stories | Edge Induced Cohesion

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