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Christian mythology

From Academic Kids

A myth is a story with 'deep explanatory or symbolic significance,' and thus, without addressing any issues of core beliefs of Christianity, Christian mythology is therefore a body of stories that explains or symbolizes Christian beliefs. Christian mythology includes the body of legendary stories that have accumulated around New Testament figures and elaborates upon the lives of the Saints, to emphasize, explain, or embody Christian beliefs. The legendary details of the career of Pontius Pilate are prime examples of Christian mythology. Many of the common themes in hagiographies are among the conventions of Christian mythography.

These stories include many that do not come from canonical Christian texts and still do illustrate Christian themes. Other stories that are intended to foster Christian values, or address specifically Christian spiritual traditions, may be included in Christian mythology. These stories are considered by some Christian journalists, theologians, and academics (see citations below) to constitute a body of Christian mythology. Stories which were once taken as true but are no longer accepted by most Christians are most easily identified as Christian mythology, such as the tale of Saint George or Saint Valentine.

Though describing as myth essential Christian mysteries and New Testament narratives considered true by Christians is generally taken as an attack on Christian belief, even describing in terms of myth those beliefs of folk Christianity that are not based in Scripture, nor in Church history nor in developed doctrine may sometimes be taken by some Christians as an attack on Christianity in general.

In theological and academic studies, describing a story as myth does not imply falsehood: see the entry Myth. A true story can also be symbolic and explanatory. However in common usage a myth is a story that is not true. Therefore, it is important to include stories in the Bible as part of the more general idea of Christian mythology, as it is generally agreed that those stories contained in the Bible hold great significance to those of the Christian faith.

A selection of such stories with mythic content might include:

Narrative fictions with Christian content may fall within the category of Christian mythology. A case in point is the historical and canonized Brendan of Clonfort, a 6th century Irish churchman and founder of abbeys. Round his authentic figure was woven a tissue that belongs more to legend than mythology, the Navigatio or "Journey of Brendan". In this narrative Brendan and his shipmates encounter sea monsters, a paradisal island and a floating ice island inhabited by a holy hermit: literal-minded devot�s still seek to identify "Brendan's islands" in actual geography.

Many fictions written to personalize Christian themes are better regarded as allegory. Examples of these might include:

Some Christians read Christian themes into The Lord of the Rings and other works by J.R.R. Tolkien. However Tolkien adamantly denied that his story was to be taken as an allegory, Christian or otherwise.


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