Chapter

Why the Events Matter: 1. History, Meaning, and Myth

C. Stephen Evans

in The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith

Published in print April 1996 | ISBN: 9780198263975
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600579 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019826397X.003.0003
 Why the Events Matter: 1. History, Meaning, and Myth

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The English term ‘history’ can refer to an actual series of events, and also to the narrative or account constructed about those events; in looking at the links between Christian faith and the historical character of its founding narrative, it is crucial to distinguish these two senses of history and the different kinds of problems related to each. This chapter and the next address the question of why it matters that the events actually occurred: a question that is entirely distinct from the question of whether the events did in fact occur. Regardless of the answer to the factual question, an examination can be made of the significance the events would have had if they had occurred, and the cost that might have to be paid if belief in the historicity of the narrative had to be abandoned. The previous chapter distinguished two strategies for divorcing the religious meaning of the narrative from its historicity: the rationalist/moralist option and the romantic/existentialist option. Both claim that the religious functions of the narrative are independent of whether the events actually occurred, and to this end both sometimes characterize the narratives as mythical or at least as containing mythical elements. This chapter looks at the complex set of questions that are raised by the category of ‘myth’ in sections that address: the senses of myth; Søren Kierkegaard versus C. S. Lewis on Christianity and myth; the uniqueness versus the mythical character of the Gospel story; demythologizing and remythologizing the incarnational narrative; the essential historicity of the Gospel; and the appeal of the non-historical myth.

Keywords: Christian faith; demythologizing; events; historicity; history; incarnational; myths; religious meaning; remythologizing

Chapter.  12759 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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