Myth and Scripture: An Evangelical Perspective

The meaning of the term “myth” is heavily disputed, with several disciplines claiming it as a part of their domain of inquiry. As a result, there is great confusion regarding “myth”, leading some scholars to label it as nothing more than an ad hoc scholarly category, consisting of whatever meaning and content a given theorist invests it with. All of this is to say nothing of the rampant misunderstanding of the term which uses the term as a near synonym with “fairytale” and “fiction.” Even so, the Bible is inextricably linked to the study of myth. As religious literature hailing from the Ancient Near East and Greco-Roman world, the bible contains significant parallels with the kinds of religious literature one finds among the various people groups who were the contemporaries of the biblical authors. While some scholars have attempted to minimize the connections between the Bible and external mythologies, the sheer number of recent publications regarding the issues surrounding the relationship between Scripture and various myths demonstrate that this is an enduring and important issue in Biblical Studies.

In this paper, I will approach this issue from a conceptual perspective, addressing the relationship between the general category of “myth” and the Christian Scriptures. To accomplish this, I will first establish a working definition of the term “myth.” Then, I will define the term “Scripture” from an evangelical perspective and delineate its unique properties. After defining both terms, I will address the continuities and discontinuities between these two categories. It is my hope that by addressing the conceptual issues involved in the relationship between the Scriptures and “myth” I may chart a way forward that enables the fruitful use of the category myth without compromising the integrity of Scripture.