82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 8, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesEaster: Myth, Fact And Truth

Easter: Myth, Fact And Truth

April 12, 2009 — Some truths are too big to be contained by facts. That’s what myths are for.
A myth is a traditional, usually ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes. "Myth" does not necessarily mean "untrue." A myth may contain elements of fact, but the function of "the facts" is to serve as a vehicle for the Truth, which is usually impossible to separate from the elaborations and variations that accumulate around the story like barnacles on the hull of an old ship.
Universal myths strike a common human chord that transcends time and crosses cultural boundaries.
Easter is a universal myth.
The word is of pagan origin, from Astarte or Oestre, the Babylonian goddess of fertility. In celebrating what they believed was the literal resurrection of Jesus from physical death, the early Christians chose to do so on a date which coincided with the Jewish Passover, which coincided with the pagan rites of spring with roots in the fog of pre-history.
Immortality, not being subject to permanent death, fascinated human minds as far back as 2200 BCE when the Gilgamesh Epic was written about the quest of a hero to become immortal.
The belief in an afterlife as an immortal soul is a fundamental tenet of many branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, among others.
Many disparate myths have developed around the theme of "Eternal Life" with the corollary theme of "Resurrection." There seems to be an almost universal instinctive/intuitive human sense of the idea of immortality. If anything lasts forever, it must be life itself; at least something in us wants it to be so.
The idea of a perpetual life of human happiness has an understandable universal appeal, expressed in such contemporary American folk songs as "When We All Get to Heaven" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
Precisely what form an unending human life or soul would take has been a subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate. Most religious beliefs in the idea of human immortality do the concept a terrible injustice.
Original writers of the Bible texts, and biblical literalists in all ages, have gone to convoluted lengths to explain some of the more grotesque elements of the biblical account of Jesus’ coming back from death. Perfectly plausible to those for whom the story was initially directed, some strands of Christian teaching through the ages have required everyone at all times and in all places to also suspend their rationality to also accept them as literal fact.
The Bible account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was written long after organized Christianity had made the literal physical resurrection of Jesus an article of faith, and appears to have been inserted into the text to demonstrate that Jesus held power over death. If he had to die all over again one has to wonder if Jesus did Lazarus a favor.
If I’m going to be resurrected I want to come back 6-feet 4-inches tall with a head of permanently thick wavy blonde hair and a physique like Mr. Atlas — forever.
English poet John Masefield, in his dramatic "The Trial of Jesus," has Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate, questioning the Roman Centurion who reported the tomb was empty. In great agitation Procula asks, "Do you think he is dead"? And the soldier replies "No, Lady, I don’t." "Then where is he?" she asks. "Loose in this world, lady, loose in this world."
But that’s just a story. Or is it?

Editor's note: W. Jackson "Jack" Wilson is a psychologist, an Episcopal priest, a sometime academic and a writer living in Colorado. He writes with humor, whimsy, passion and penetrating insight into the human condition. And in Pushkin, Russia, a toilet is named in his honor.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
April 12, 2009 -- Some truths are too big to be contained by facts. That’s what myths are for.
A myth is a traditional, usually ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes. "Myth" does not necessarily mean "untrue." A myth may contain elements of fact, but the function of "the facts" is to serve as a vehicle for the Truth, which is usually impossible to separate from the elaborations and variations that accumulate around the story like barnacles on the hull of an old ship.
Universal myths strike a common human chord that transcends time and crosses cultural boundaries.
Easter is a universal myth.
The word is of pagan origin, from Astarte or Oestre, the Babylonian goddess of fertility. In celebrating what they believed was the literal resurrection of Jesus from physical death, the early Christians chose to do so on a date which coincided with the Jewish Passover, which coincided with the pagan rites of spring with roots in the fog of pre-history.
Immortality, not being subject to permanent death, fascinated human minds as far back as 2200 BCE when the Gilgamesh Epic was written about the quest of a hero to become immortal.
The belief in an afterlife as an immortal soul is a fundamental tenet of many branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, among others.
Many disparate myths have developed around the theme of "Eternal Life" with the corollary theme of "Resurrection." There seems to be an almost universal instinctive/intuitive human sense of the idea of immortality. If anything lasts forever, it must be life itself; at least something in us wants it to be so.
The idea of a perpetual life of human happiness has an understandable universal appeal, expressed in such contemporary American folk songs as "When We All Get to Heaven" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
Precisely what form an unending human life or soul would take has been a subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate. Most religious beliefs in the idea of human immortality do the concept a terrible injustice.
Original writers of the Bible texts, and biblical literalists in all ages, have gone to convoluted lengths to explain some of the more grotesque elements of the biblical account of Jesus’ coming back from death. Perfectly plausible to those for whom the story was initially directed, some strands of Christian teaching through the ages have required everyone at all times and in all places to also suspend their rationality to also accept them as literal fact.
The Bible account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was written long after organized Christianity had made the literal physical resurrection of Jesus an article of faith, and appears to have been inserted into the text to demonstrate that Jesus held power over death. If he had to die all over again one has to wonder if Jesus did Lazarus a favor.
If I’m going to be resurrected I want to come back 6-feet 4-inches tall with a head of permanently thick wavy blonde hair and a physique like Mr. Atlas -- forever.
English poet John Masefield, in his dramatic "The Trial of Jesus," has Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate, questioning the Roman Centurion who reported the tomb was empty. In great agitation Procula asks, "Do you think he is dead"? And the soldier replies "No, Lady, I don’t." "Then where is he?" she asks. "Loose in this world, lady, loose in this world."
But that’s just a story. Or is it?

Editor's note: W. Jackson "Jack" Wilson is a psychologist, an Episcopal priest, a sometime academic and a writer living in Colorado. He writes with humor, whimsy, passion and penetrating insight into the human condition. And in Pushkin, Russia, a toilet is named in his honor.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.