The Greek word that gives us "myth" means "story." In my field, myth ends up meaning the patterns formed by groups of narratives (and that's what the Bible is, by the way, a bunch of disparate stories brought together--how they fit together defines the pattern they form). And stories in that sense that have real power have it because the pattern they set up give meaning to people's experiences. For instance, the pattern that the Old Testament sets up--apostasy followed by punishment in the form of exile followed by recruitment by a prophet followed by return to the promise followed by God's favor--establishes a pretty clear meaning as it gets repeated over and over and over in a whole bunch of stories. But if you ignore the meaning established by the pattern, then what you end up with is a plain old history of national identity, territorial aggression, vengeance for the aggression, and so on. Applying the pattern to the history makes the history make sense--it gives it meaning beyond the mere fact of historical accident. Whether that meaning is true or false depends on how you take the pattern. If you live inside the pattern, the myth is true. If you live outside the pattern, the myth is false. The Book of Job is terrific for seeing how that works, by the way. Job's problem is that, because of what has happened to him, he can't make the pattern fit his life any more, so his whole universe falls apart around him. The resolution of the story comes when Job once more accepts the pattern. And, to complete the pattern once he does that, God rewards him with double of everything Job has lost.<br><br>
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