Here’s how my mind leaps around. I was mooning about and trying to figure out what I wanted to write for this blog when I picked up one of the books in the stack at the other end of the couch. I bought The Mythology of Eden by Arthur George and Elena George because I’d read the thoughtful review by Judith Laura, a Goddess scholar I know and respect.
In their introduction, the Georges present a paragraph by biblical scholar Millar Burrows that explains that myth is:
a symbolic, approximate expression of truth which the human mind cannot perceive sharply and completely, but can only glimpse vaguely, and therefore cannot adequately or accurately express. … It implies not falsehood, but truth; not primitive, naïve misunderstanding, but insight more profound than scientific description and logical analysis can ever achieve. The language of myth in this sense is consciously inadequate, being simply the nearest we can come to a formulation of what we can see very darkly. … The procedure is quite legitimate if [we] understand what is being done (p. xii). (Burrows’ book is An Outline of Biblical Theology, published in 1946.)
Mind leap: Wow, I said to myself, does this describe the revisionist fairy tales I write? I try to see through that dark glass more clearly and recast old ideas in new ways. (I hope this doesn’t sound too pretentious. I don’t mean it to.)
Mind leap: And, I further said to myself, we scholars who write for Feminism and Religion often write about myth, though we don’t always acknowledge that our religious stories are indeed myths. It’s like the old joke—“If I believe it, it’s religion. If you (or they) believe it, it’s myth.” Even though we sometimes call our myths the inerrant word of this god or that goddess, the stories in all of our holy books are our instructive myths. Read Burrows’ definition again. Continue reading “Scholars of Mythology by Barbara Ardinger “