Did you know that the Bible uses subversion regarding pagan imagination? Biblical writers took the same poetic imagery and description that the Canaanites used of Ba’al and they redeemed it by using that exact same language of Yahweh. This isn’t syncretism (mixing religions), like liberal scholars and other Bible-haters try to promote, this is subversion. Redemption of pagan imagination. See for yourself in this short video.
Some people think that Leviathan in the Bible is a whale or a sea dinosaur. It’s not. It’s a mythical sea dragon of chaos. And it appears in all the ancient Near Eastern religions, including Judaism and Christianity. Not only that, but it has multiple heads. I kid you not. Read the Bible a little closer with me in this presentation and you’ll discover what the Bible really says about Leviathan.
The pantheon of gods assembles to battle the chaos monster to protect their territory and kingdom. When the waters of the heavens part, the sea dragon of chaos breaks through and leaves destruction in its wake. The pantheon fights the sea dragon and its monster allies until it is stopped in its tracks by the mighty storm god.
Those who are educated in ancient Near Eastern mythopoeia will recognize this storyline as the Canaanite epic of Baal and Leviathan or the Babylonian epic of Marduk and Tiamat the sea dragon. But what they may not know is that it is also the storyline of the 2012 Marvel blockbuster movie, The Avengers. The purpose of bringing up this point is to call attention to the modern relevancy of this ancient narrative before we descend into the turbulent sea of ancient mythological memes and motifs that are too quickly written off as petty scholarly obsession with obscure archaic minutia that fail to connect to our lives in the modern world. Leviathan vs. the Storm God is still a tale we are retelling today in cultures both religious and secular.
The purpose of this post will be to take a closer look at that ancient Near Eastern narrative of divine combat as it was both appropriated and subverted by the Hebrew authors of the Bible as a polemic for their worldview. Continue reading →
In the last post, I looked at the most famous Biblical genealogy of Jesus Christ to prove that the Biblical notion of history is always very literary, but not always very literal. We must understand the Bible in its own ancient Near Eastern context, in the perspective of the original writers and readers to whom the text was given.
I believe that the Bible is God’s Word and as such, it is breathed out of God through the writings of men inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, while the Biblical writers are very human and therefore very much creatures of their time and culture, there is also another author who is operating providentially behind the writing of the text to communicate transcendent truth, and that is the author and finisher of our faith, God Himself.
How He actually does this, I am not sure, but the divine authorship does not reduce the human authorship to dictation or automatic writing. God uses the genre conventions and mindset of the ancient time period within which to communicate His transcendent truth. Continue reading →
Whenever I consider that I have something important to say about faith, imagination, and/or apologetics, I usually discover that C.S. Lewis has already said it long before I could, and he has said it better than I will. True to form, the title of my book Myth Became Fact, is actually the title of a famous essay by the late Lewis that describes the heart of Christianity as a myth that is also a fact. He comforts the fearful modernist Christian whose faith in the Bible as a book of doctrine and abstract propositions is suddenly upset by the frightful reality of the interaction of holy writ with legend, pagan parallels, and mythology.
Rather than deny the ancient mythopoeic nature of God’s Word as modern Evangelicals tend to do, Lewis embraced it as a reflection of God’s preferred choice of concrete communication over abstraction (the worshipped discourse of the modernist). He understood myth to be the truth embedded into the creation by the Creator in such a way that even pagans would reflect some elements of that truth. Thus, when God Himself incarnates truth into history in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is no surprise that it takes on mythopoeic dimensions reflected in previous pagan notions of dying and rising gods. Continue reading →