Apart from stating that I think it is reasonable to view historical
study of the Gospels or any other ancient literature as a non-theological
task that DOES, however, have theological implications, I must comment
on the append about Christianity being mythological. I hereby request
that all uses of the word myth be dropped from the English language.
Myth and its cognates are very problematic words becuase they are so
Humpdy-Dumptian words. As far as I can tell, they are used in
NT studies to mean anything the writer using the word does not
wish to view as historically possible while trying to maintain the
appearance of honoring Christianity as a religion, or some such
pedantic nonesense. Judasim, Islam and Christianity all claim to
have a firm basis in real history in our time-space continuum.
They are not centered around divine events like the Gilgamesh
Epic or the Hindu Scriptures but are very different in nature,
surely not in the same literary genre. That's first.
Second, by the slippery definitions given to myth in NT studies,
I can make a case for classifying everything from Cinderella
to the "factual" books I have on the Battle of Britain
to a tv episode of the A-Team as mythological but then the term
does not mean anything, does it, so it does not help us discover
new truth-claims by using it and therefore is not of any value
(to follow on from observations of Einstein and Polanyi, just so you
don't think I'm some myopic Fundamentalist with his head in the ground).
The use of myth in NT studies is not applied with any rigor or
scientific controls but is, as I suggsted above, a ploy to try to
maintain some vague attachment to Christian "principles" while
throwing out the core of what the NT writers insist happened
in time and space and must have happened in time and space
if those who believe in those events are not merely fools.
Paul is very clear in 1 Corinthians that whether the
Resurrection of Jesus took place as an historical event
and not just in the kerygma is very important and the modern
"Myth Makers" just don't seem to get that point for some
reason unknown to me, unless it's the Cartesian fallacy of
making the mind of the researcher superior to all else.
So let's just drop this slippery term right here. Let's be
honest enough to admit that the NT writers seem to think that
what "happened" as opposed to what did not "happen" is of crucial
importance and those who follow in that thinking are being faithful
to NT teaching. Whether one accepts that those events happened
or not is a faith issue, just like anything else (sorry Descartes,
there are no irreducible certainties). The NT writers are NOT
merely providing an interesting, religious story from which you
should glean truth regardless of whether those events happened.
Thst's a gross distortion of NT teaching. At least we should be
honest enough to take the writers' word for their interpretation
of their own writings instead of taking the position that
their own view is wrong and we can then freely substitute our
own speculative view that is anchored in the ether. Now, let's get
back to Biblical Greek.
IBM, San Jose, CA