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19 Cards in this Set

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What does mythological truth tell us?
Mythological/religious truth tells us that which is verifiable and accurate about what it means to be human and what it means to be human in relationship to God, others, and the environment
Psychological function
Myths assist people in moving through the various stages of human life.
* Rites of passage - a society's rituals identifying the movement from one stage to another.
monomyth
the general themes that you tend to find in stories of a particular kind
Religious function
Myths put individuals in the presence of the divine and make a religious experience possible.
* Experience is "Wholly Other" - so different from ordinary experience that we can't describe it.
* I can't tell you what it was, but I can tell you what it was like.
Cosmological function
Is an attempt to give a coherent structure to the universe and one's place within that universe.
* In order to be accepted, the structure must be in agreement with the best explanatory concepts of the day.
"Narrow Form" Definition
Myths relate the activities of the gods.
* Herman Gunkel
* Narrow definition because not all myths are concerned with the gods (e.g. Odyssey and Iliad)
Why would we begin our study of theology with mythology?
Myths tend to trace the history of religious thought - mythology was the first religion.
Sociological function
Myths act to both validate and maintain a specific social order - they authorize the moral code of a society and enculturate individuals into that society.
* Society uses myths to communicate the rights and expectations of individuals in that society.
Origin or Etiological Definition
Myths are an explanation for how an aspect of nature or a human activity first came into being.
* Mircea Eliade
* Used the term "in illo tempore"
In illo tempore
During the sacred time of beginnings when the gods, the saints, the angels, and the heroes did things for the first time and in doing so established absolute or apodictic truth.
* At the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread, establishing the precedent for our Eucharist today.
Sociological Definition
It is the function or purpose of myth to inform people in a society about what is held to be important in that culture.
* S. Malinowski
* Myths establish a social contract between the individual and the society.
Philosophical Definition
Myths are attempts to make sense of reality by giving experience meaning
* James Barr
* Help us understand the unknown by putting it in a familiar context.
Religious or Spiritual Definition
Myths are attempts to put religious experience into concrete language.
* Martin Buber
* A religious experience is one of a "mysterium tremendum et fascinans" - an experience of the tremendous, overpowering, that which fills us with awe.
Prescientific Definition
Myths answer questions for people who don't yet understand the scientific method.
* Maurice Bowra
* Work by associating an unknown experience with a known experience and suggesting a connection between them.
I. Departure
1. Call to adventure.
2. Refusal of the call.
3. Supernatural aid(e)
4. Crossing of the first threshold.
5. Belly of the whale.
II. Initiation
1. Road of trials.
2. Meeting with the goddess.
3. Atonement with the father.
4. Apotheosis of the hero.
5. The ultimate boon.
III. Return
1. The refusal of the return.
2. The rescue from without.
3. The magic flight.
4. The crossing of the return threshold.
5. The master of two worlds.
Misunderstanding or Misinterpretation Definition
States that it is the nature of language to divinize or spiritualize people or events over time until they are no longer recognizable as real people or events.
* Max Muller
* "Disease of language"
* Not accepted because there is no historical evidence.
Modern defintion
Combination of all the other definitions of myth.
* William Doty
* Covers a lot of ground, so it becomes very unwieldy and complicated.