The Anatomy of Myth: The Art of Interpretation from the Presocratics to the Church Fathers
The Anatomy of Myth is a comprehensive study of the different methods of interpreting myths developed by the Greeks, adopted by the Romans, and eventually passed to Jewish and Christian interpreters of the Bible. Methods of myth interpretation are closely related to developments in Greekphilosophy, beginning with the Presocratics in the 6th century B.C.E. and continuing to the Neoplatonists in the fifth century C.E. Greek thinkers only rarely saw 'myth' as a category of thought in its own right. Most often they viewed myths as the creation of poets, especially Homer and Hesiod, orelse as an ancient revelation that had been corrupted by them. In the first instance, critics attempted to find in the intention of the authors some deeper truth, whether physical or spiritual; in the second, they deemed it necessary to clear away poetic falsehoods in order to recapture an ancientrevelation. Parallel to the philosophical critiques were the efforts of early historians to explain myths as exaggerated history; myths could be purified by logos (reason) and rendered believable. Practically all of these early methods could be lumped under the term 'allegory' - to intend somethingdifferent from what one expressed. Only occasionally did philosophers veer from a concern for the literal truth of myths; but a few thinkers, while acknowledging myths as fictions, defended their value for the examples of good and bad human behavior they offered. These early efforts were invaluablefor the development of critical thinking, enabling public criticism of even the most authoritative texts. The Church Fathers Church took the interpretative methods of their pagan contemporaries and applied them vigorously to their reading of the scriptures. Pagan Greek methods of myth interpretationpassed into the Middle Ages and beyond, serving as a perennial defense against the damaging effects of scriptural literalism and fundamentalism.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
1 The Paradigm of the Poets
2 What Makes a Work Authoritative?
3 PhysisRedefining the Gods
4 Flirting with Atheism
5 Attacking Poetry
6 The Beginnings of Allegory
7 Finding History in Myth
8 TheosRediscovering God
9 The Growth of Allegory
Other editions - View all
Alexandria allegory Anaxagoras ancient Aphrodite archē Aristotle Aristotle’s atheism Athens atomists Augustine believed Bible called Cambridge cave century b.c.e. Christian Cornutus cosmology cosmos created creation criticism divine doctrine earth Epicurus eternal etymology Euhemerus Euripides everything exegesis existence fable fourth century Genesis God Delusion God’s goddess gods Greek Hades Hecataeus Hephaestus Hera Heracles Heraclitus Heraclitus’s heroes Hesiod Homer Homer and Hesiod human idea Iliad interpretation Jewish Kronos later literal live matter meaning mind moral Muses mythology myths nature Neoplatonism notion Odyssey one’s origin Ouranos pagan paradigm passage personifications Philo philosophers physical Plato Platonists Plutarch poems Poetics poetry poets Porphyry Prodicus Psyche religion Roman Russell and Winterbottom scripture sixth century skepticism Socrates soul Stoic story symbols tale teachings Thales Theagenes Theogony theory Theseus things thinkers thought Timaeus tion trans translation Trojan Trojan War truth underworld University Press wisdom word writings Xenophanes Zeus