Disambiguation: Legend, Myth, and More

Let’s straighten out some of the terms used in the study of religion, the supernatural, and related topics. There are colloquial definitions, but it’s good to know the scholarly distinctions.

We’ll begin with the big category, folklore. This is the traditional knowledge or forms of expression of a culture passed on from person to person. Folklore can be material (quilts, traditional costumes, the hex signs on Amish barns, or even recipes), behavioral (customs such as throwing rice at a wedding, what constitutes good manners, superstitions, etc.), or traditional stories.

Traditional stories is itself a large category, containing music, anecdotes, ghost stories, parables, popular misconceptions, and other things you might not think of.

Now on to the kinds of traditional stories that are most interesting to apologetics. These terms can overlap quite a bit, so consider these definitions approximations. First, let’s consider stories seen as true (or plausibly so) by their hearers.

  • Legends are grounded in history and can change over time. They can include miracles. Urban legends are a modern category of legends that don’t include miracles, are set in or near the present day, and take the form of a cautionary tale.
  • Myths are sacred narratives that explain some aspect of reality (for example: the myth of Prometheus explains why we have fire and the Genesis creation myth explains where everything came from). Epic poems such as Beowulf and the Odyssey are one kind of myth.

The difference between legends and myths is that a legend is set in a more recent time and generally features human characters, while myths are set in the distant past (“long, long ago”) and have supernatural characters. Some stories are mixtures of the two. For example, the Iliad tells the story of a real city, and the characters include gods, humans with supernatural powers, and ordinary humans.

Lady Godiva, King Arthur, William Tell, and Atlantis are examples of legends—the stories have human characters and are set in a historic past. Myths include the stories of Hercules and Zeus, Hindu mythology, the Noah story, and the creation stories of dozens of cultures—they have gods as characters and are set in a distant or undefined past.

Let’s take a brief detour to look at a few relevant terms that are not part of the category of traditional stories.

  • Religion starts with the sacred narratives of mythology and adds beliefs and practices. Myth and scripture are both sacred, but scripture is the writings themselves. Doctrine is codified teaching, and dogma is that mandatory subset of the doctrine that must be believed for one to be a member.
  • Superstition is any belief that relies on a supernatural (instead of natural) cause like astrology, omens to predict the future, magic, or witchcraft. It can also be defined as the unfounded supernatural beliefs of the other guy’s religion (not your own, of course). Merriam-Webster defines it as “a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.”

Finally, let’s consider stories understood by their hearers to not be true.

  • Fables have a particular kind of character: nonhumans such as animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that have human-like qualities. Fables end with a moral.
  • Fairy tales also have particular characters: fantasy characters such as fairies, goblins, and elves. Magic is also an element. There is no connection with historic time (it begins “Once upon a time …”).
  • Parables are plausible stories with plausible characters (no talking rocks, no magic) that are not presented as true. Parables illustrate a moral or religious principle.

If it can be destroyed by the truth,
it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.
— Carl Sagan

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/1/12.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • RichardSRussell

    Thanks for the useful definitions and distinctions, Bob. I’ve bookmarked this page for future reference, as I’m sure I’ll have lots of future occasions to use it.

  • Pofarmer

    kind of had a little epiphany today while running doing some errands. It’s nothing original, Robert G. Price got me to thinking about it with his ideas of Mark as allegorical, think about the Gospel of Mark. The apostles are bumbling idiots who don’t understand anything. “Judah” betrays Jesus. Then, after Jesus dies, the women run away and don’t tell anyone. What is the Gospel of Mark? The Gospel of Mark is telling the Jews, “look ya fuckin idiots, the Messiah was here and you killed him, so your temple and your country got destroyed. Too bad. No great commision, no later miracles, that’s the end of the story. The Gospel of Matthew adds that in later. Mark, at least, was a story about the destruction of Jerusalem, not a story about Jesus.

    • Greg G.

      I often think that but then i think of all the scripture and Christian literature Mark uses so I think he must have been a Christian. Then I think he may have been a former Christian. The chiastic structure suggests that there was more to the story. It may have been a punchline and that’s why it got “lost”.

      I saw an argument that Luke’s copy of Mark was missing four pages on two sheets. Luke 9:18 appears to jump from Mark 6:46 to Mark 8:27b in mid-sentence. That’s from after the Feeding of the 5000 where Jesus was going to pray after saying bon voyage to the disciples to a conversation with the disciples. About halfway between those points is the story where Jesus calls a Syro-Phoenician woman a bitch. Then I checked John 6 which follows Mark 6 to after the storm with Jesus walking on water. When they ask him to board, they are immediately transported to their destination. Perhaps John’s copy had that same story removed and all that was on either side of the pages so John had no idea what happened after Jesus was asked aboard. The next correspondence comes at Mark 8:23 for John 9:6 and Mark 8:29 for John 6:69.

      • Pofarmer

        Interesting thought about Mark maybe having a,different ending. Thing is, all through the Gospel of Mark the disciples aren’t understanding. Jesus is telling people not to tell about his miracles. The women run away from the empty tomb and tell no one. It’s almost as if the author is trying to explain why no one had heard about this Jesus character before.

        • Greg G.

          I think he may be ridiculing the Jerusalem Gang who were probably caught up in the destruction.

        • Pofarmer

          But if the disciples were idgits, how did Marks group get the story? It would seem there would need to be more to the story, indeed.

        • Greg G.

          Mark got it from the literature of the day; epistles, Old Testament, Greek writings, and such. I think the other apostles were very literate, not fishermen. Practically nothing in the Gospels are reliable.

        • wtfwjtd

          Now dammit Greg, next you’re going to be telling me that Homer’s Oddyssey isn’t reliable history either, and that cyclops are just made-up story elements for dramatic effect. What’s next, you gonna tell me Julius Caesar’s virgin birth is a myth as well?

        • Greg G.

          The Odyssey is the prophecy of Julius Caesar. The Cyclops story prophesied the famous quote “Eye came, Eye saw, I conquered.”

        • wtfwjtd

          And yet in one of the gospels (I forget which one), “large crowds” are following him around, rock-star style. Go figure.

        • Greg G.

          They all have the feeding of the 5000.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, even in Mark you’ve got the feeding miracles with thousands.

  • Greg G.

    Lady Godiva is a legend? I’m crushed.

  • Sophia Sadek

    How does “enhanced interrogation” fit in?

    • TheNuszAbides

      Depends on whether administrative apologists can be considered ‘scholars’.

      • Sophia Sadek

        How about scholars of spin?

  • R Vogel

    Happy Christmas to you and your family, Bob, if you celebrate. Happy Thursday if not. Thanks for all the great posts and conversation this year!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Many thanks! And a merry solstice season, regardless of the holida(ies) being celebrated, to everyone here!

      • Pofarmer

        Happy holidays.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And to you! Good luck with all the Catholic shenanigans in your life.

        • Pofarmer

          The thing is, when you sit there and hear it, day after day, I’m sure it sounds reasonable. God loves you so much that he was born and died for you. He loves you so much he comes down every day to be in this cracker and wine. It’s totaly an emotional appeal, as Greg here shows. They don’t even attept a rational argument.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Very much so. In my limited first- and extensive second-hand experience, the more you push questions or arguments, the higher the likelihood of a “well, if you just don’t want to be happy/saved/protected by Our traditionally infinitely powerful and infinitely vague Boss…” Response.

    • Guest

      Happy Holidays to all.

  • Greg K.

    Happy holidays to all. How dare I acknowledge that others don’t celebrate Xmas, or aren’t Christian. How dare I be inclusive. Terrible. Rotten. Horrible.

    • Greg G.

      You’re going to get a windmill in your stocking as coal could change the climare.

  • Pofarmer

    Whoops doggy. Went to christmas,Mass with the wife. I have the overwhelming urge to do a rebuttal. I don’t know if I would recognize all the buttons he was pushing if not for “the true believers.”

    • Greg G.

      I bet they would block your comments IRL, too.

      • Pofarmer

        Its almost surreal. The whole homily(sermon) is about how great it is that God came in the form of a human and died for us. It was the greatest thing he could do. And not only was he born of a virgin. But he comes to us everytime in the eucharist, in the real body and blood of Jesus. He read the geneology in Mathew, and I’m thinking “are you gonna give the competing one in Luke? He talks anout how no one came or knew of Jesus birth, and I’m thinking “hello, choirs of Angels and shepherds”? But, back to the main premise. The BEST, the very wisest and noblest and helpful thing that an all powerful God could do was show up in a backwater in Judea and get himself strung up? Really? And you can sense him getting the hooks in. “Well, if it’s sensible to believe in the Virgin birth, then it’s sensible to believe in transubstantiation, the body and blood of Christ nourish our soul.” It pains me to know that adults believe this crap, and can’t instinctively see through it. But, it’s powerful emotionsl mojo. Doesn’t make sense for shit, but it tugs on the heartstrings.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Like Judas said, “Israel in 4BC had no mass communication” (“Jesus Christ Superstar”).

        • Greg G.

          Christianity should reject Matthew’s genealogy just as Luke did. Matthew 1:17 makes a big deal of the numbers of generations being fourteen between specific events. The first group checks out in the OT. The second group skips four generations according to rhe OT. The third group doesn’t add up if you can count into the teens unless you count the Babylonian Exile as a generation. Luke is cooler: 77 generations with God being number 1 and Jesus being number 77. But that still means God was not the father of Jesus, he his 74th great-grandfather.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Hey, Mysterious Ways, why respect time or any linear form/frame?

        • MNb

          “The BEST, the very wisest and noblest and helpful thing that an all powerful God could do was show up in a backwater in Judea and get himself strung up?”
          It would have been better if he had done it twice, in two cultures that didn’t know each other. Imagine the conquistadores entering some area in South-America and then finding the Jesus story!

        • Pofarmer

          Going throught the whole birth and childhood thing would probably get a little annoying. Which, on my facebook feed this morning, is a post gushing about how incredibly wonderful and miraculous it is that God came into the world as a fertilized egg. Oh the fraptuous joy.

        • wtfwjtd

          Some of your facebook friends sound like some of my facebook friends. Ugh.

        • Pofarmer

          I am about to block each one who makes a proselytizing post. Should certainly cut down on my face book time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          And yet it’s good enough for some of our more pattern-hungry brethren that the name for Top Dog Spirit is remarkably similar across two [currently] continentally distinct cultures…

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, human sacrifice, then glorified with a ritual of cannibalism. How noble. I had to listen to the reading of the Luke xmas story again, and it sounds more ridiculous each time I hear it these days. Another thought hit me: You have a virgin birth, and Joseph is said to be of the “house of David”, and xtians everywhere claim that Jesus is a descendant of David. Well, pick one or the other; you can’t have it both ways. It’s just one of the many ways that Christianity is self-refuting.

        • Pofarmer

          Well yeah, he read the geneology that has the three sets of 14 generations. Then he reads the nativity with the shepherds, and explains the wise men must have showed up a couple weeks later, as a means to harmonize the two different stories. I wonder how many have actually read the two birth stories and realized they are mutually exclusive? You can’t harmonize them without leaving something out. Just like you can’t claim nobody new about the miraculous birth, and then sing “while shepherds watched their flocks by night”. Etc, etc. if you start thinking about it, it’s just incoherent, but it’s said with such emotion. “Little helpless baby Jesus, born of a poor scared virgin, who would grow up to be killed on the cross.” Oh, the humanity! I mean, its so damned clear which chains he’s yanking. And YOU look like an asshole if you mention anything.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, it’s all about emotional, and not rational, appeal. I really don’t know how I missed that for so many years.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, it’s one reason I think it’s ok to make emotional appeals for atheism. Christianity is one huge emotional appeal. And, it uses those emotions in too many instances to actively harm people. I dunno, they gave out a Matthew Kelly book after church. He is an evangelical turned Catholic, I believe. He was 23 when he wrote the book in 1997. The name of the book is “A call to Joy”. My wife had to work Christmas day, so she took it to work. I glaced at it a little last night. Here is the first paragraph.
          “Joy is not simply a feeling of happiness. Joy is the all-intoxicating feeling of becoming. It is the greatest of emotional and spiritual sensations. We experience Joy when we grow, and we grow when we live in the presence of God and listen to the promptings of the holy spirit. I have spent 23 years on this Earth, and just four years ago O heard the call to Joy. (Blech)

          How did he hear the call?

          This won’t be word for word. But he was laying in bed one night and felt the urge to pray, very strong. Got down on his knees and a voice said “Keep doing what you are doing.” Believe in yourself and believe on Me”.

          He looked around to see the source of the voice, but there was NO ONE THERE. At this point. I’m done. You know it’s going to be a bunch of nonsensical drek.

        • MNb

          “I think it’s ok to make emotional appeals for atheism.”
          I totally agree. Here is one:

          “We experience Joy when we grow”
          Start talking about joy with a Capital and I’m immediately put off.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Joy is becoming? Sounds like a deepity to me.

        • Pofarmer

          Well shit, this Matthew Kelly dude is a dishonest apologiest, to. He includes as “proof” for Jesus a historical description by Publius Lentulus, gov of Judea. He says it was written in aramaic on stone and found in an excavated city. What it actually is is a forged letter found late in a collection. So the guy is actually double dishonest. So, you have a dishonest charlatan tugging at peoples heartstrings, and if I go through and Fisk it, I’m the petty bad guy.

        • wtfwjtd

          So, evidence that’s forged is as good as the real thing? All for a good cause, they tell themselves–liars for Jesus.

          This whole bit about wine and Jesus, and then fundgelical turned Catholic, got me to thinking of one general distinction between Protestantism and Catholicism–Evangelicals in particular tend to be teetotalers and view it as a source of pride and moral superiority. In fact, growing up, you probably heard some of the same nonsense I did–how Jesus didn’t really turn water into wine, it was grape Kool-aid, etc. Oh, the contortions people knot themselves into when they decide what to believe first,mostly based on emotion,and then pick and choose evidence to support it.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno. My grandparents and parents are tee totalers, I picked up the habit of drinking in college. Drinking was just not something good Methodists did, never really thought about it much.

        • 90Lew90

          I do so hate religious non-drinkers. We have a small lexicon around drink in Ireland, being a fairly alcohol-soaked country. A pioneer is someone who has never taken alcohol and is abstinent, often ostensibly for religious reasons. A tee-totaller is someone who has given it up, usually because of alcoholism. The hypocrisy surrounding alcohol is stunning. I quite quickly got the idea that people (from here at least) who don’t drink are either alcoholics or come from alcoholic families (it does apparently run in families). It got borne out time and again when people were honest enough to answer a direct question about it. These people tend to be the most moralistic about drinking and god, does it wind me up.

          Alcoholics I can take, because they’ll have gone through hell to get to the point of abstinence, but they can’t seem to resist telling people who drink a lot (as I do) that they too are alcoholics and must join the club. Pioneers are the worst. There are a good few in my mother’s family and they present their abstinence as piety when really it’s fear (I suppose piety and fear are related). And they will judge you and judge you harshly if they see you drunk. One too many at a wedding? You’re a ne’er-do-well. I just want to go, ‘Look, just because I’ve had a full day’s drinking and opened my mouth when I shouldn’t have, doesn’t mean that I’m the psycho your father/mother/brother/sister was when they were waking up in their own piss. OK?!’ Pioneers also tend to be extremely boring, which is of course what they’ll say about people who drink. The only category worse than pioneers is pioneers who own pubs. I know a couple of them too and they’re complete shites.

        • Pofarmer

          My cousins are Baptists. Strict non drinkers. Good people, but really sheltered. There oldest son went to college and immediately joined a christian fraternity so he wouldn’t be around “bad influences”. Sheesh, i suppose in college I would have been the bad influence.

        • 90Lew90

          I would have been the “bad influence” by 14, which was around the time when I realised that the people I’d been warned about as being “bad” were some of the best I’d ever meet.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, the religious, especially fundgelicals, really get wound up about alcohol over on this side of the pond. I don’t personally touch it, but that’s because I come from a family of alcoholics, they kinda took all the fun out of it early for me. Since it does tend to run in families, as science reminds us, it just seems like an unnecessary risk for me. But I don’t see it as a moral issue, and you are absolutely right, the hypocrisy about it blows the mind. I’ve seen many turn to psychotropic drug use, in an effort to skirt around what they see as a moral failing on their part, they have the idea that if they have a few beers they’ll burn in hell but God is A-OK with the drugs, ’cause, you know, they aren’t prohibited in the bible. I never really understood exactly where in the bible fundgelicals believe that there’s an absolute prohibition on alcohol use, or that it’s a moral issue,but they make up some of the most fantastic nonsense in an attempt to justify it. Crazy, crazy stuff.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s not just a fundy thing. Irish catholics are just as bad when it comes to the politics of drinking.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In America, there’s the trope about people who would sell whiskey to the Indians. I imagine most of these entrepreneurs were Christian.

        • 90Lew90

          I’ve heard about that. Sorry for not getting back to you. Been seeing your posts but as always, no matter what I do to try to avoid the effing thing, Christmas has been busy. There’s another typical question people always put to you here: “How did ye get over Christmas?” Honest answers neither required nor expected. “Oh I just got fed up of my cookery channels being hijacked by people in Santa hats so I slew the whole family and now they’re in the freezer. How bout you?”

          Actually, this has been the best one for a few years for me. Just me and my father. Nice food (I’m quite a keen cook, and no, the family are not really in the freezer, but they might have been if they came), done at our own pace. Hope yours was good too. I always preferred New Year. Hard frost lately so when that lifts I can start planting again. I used to love winter but now I’m definitely a spring and autumn person. Anyway, best wishes for the New Year, L.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We’ve had more travel than expected due to some health issues with family members. But overall, it was a nice family time. Can’t complain!

          I like to cook as well, but it’s only desserts (unfortunately).

        • 90Lew90

          I’m the opposite, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but my father does so I’ve been turning my hand to sweet stuff more lately. Did a kickass tiramisu for our Christmas dessert. Damn good if I say so myself, but not as good as the beef wellington. That was special!

        • MNb

          I got over christmas the usual way – spending most time alone. The last three months of teaching had been very fatiguing and stressful for several reasons (three unfulfilled vacancies, one colleague on sick leave due to a broken hand that got infected, another colleague and me caught a nasty tropical disease called chikungunya plus I had a few personal problems) and December 23rd was my last day, so I was happy not getting disturbed and having a good rest. Still I started to grade a physics test, which I only finished today. I still have one math test ahead of me, which I plan to start tomorrow and finish the next year ….
          Have fun at the turn of the year.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like your cup runneth over, and not necessarily with good things. Best wishes for better luck in 2015.

        • MNb

          No, my cup hasn’t runneth over yet. Shit happens – to me as well. Thanks.

        • 90Lew90

          You too. Sorry to hear about the chikungunya. Nasty. Hope you’re well over that, and happy New Year.

        • MNb

          Yeah, my health is OK again. Thanks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Wow. Pioneers who run pubs. Stuff’ll kill ya, but it’s a living!

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, I doubt if he cares if the evidence is real or not. The vast, vast majority of people who read the book won’t bother to ever check. M

        • wtfwjtd

          Of course they won’t check it, as it confirms what they want to believe and, well, he wouldn’t lie about it, would he?Sheesh.

        • Pofarmer

          So, if you were a believer, would you care that in one chapter, on a few pages of his book he lies about his evidence? The rest of the book just looks to be several other fallacious arguments. Argument from Consequence, and Argument from Revelation, for starters.

        • wtfwjtd

          That just sounds like fluff for the already convinced believer, not a skeptic or even a fence-sitter. Weak-as-water, Lee Strobel-type nonsense.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, definately fluff. There are about two bolded deepities per page.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Having recently watched ‘kill the messenger’, this is resonating with the “some truth is too dangerous to be told” theme stressing my mind…

        • TheNuszAbides

          For one thing, because logic and rhetoric have fallen by the wayside in standardized education mills (and imo rhetoric is overwhelmingly the plaything of increasingly inconceivable advertising budgets)

        • Pofarmer

          The other thing is, Jews would have never instituted the Eucharist the way the Catholic Church practices it. That has to be a later Roman/pagan addition.

        • Greg G.

          You pointed out to me that the 1 Corinthians passage is probably an interpolation. It looks like Mark made it up from Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:12, then Luke embellished it with the “do this in remembrance of me”. The interpolator liked Luke’s flourish so much he used it twice. Voila!

        • Pofarmer

          There are other passages in the OT that talk about wine being “the blood of grapes” as well. Don’t exactly remember where. One of the early church fathers wrote that Jesus must have had wine in his veins instead of blood, trying to make sense of it.

        • wtfwjtd

          …and don’t forget about the priests of Dionysus being able to turn water into wine. Sometimes you have to add a little fun to a new religion to make it more appealing to a wider audience. Kinda makes you wonder if this whole Eucharist thing was added as a “tribute”, a fine excuse for a bunch of good ol’ boys to get together and have a few drinking games.Paul complains about this in Corinthians, and even claims it as a cause of death and illness.

        • Pofarmer

          It almost seems like Paul had a different tradition, where everyone got together for a meal, but things got a little too wound up.

        • Greg G.

          I can do a magic trick. I can turn wine into urine.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s not a magic trick … that’s a miracle!

        • Greg G.

          See

          Jeremiah 7:18
          18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.

          and

          Jeremiah 44:15-18
          15 Then all the men who were aware that their wives had been making offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you. 17 Instead, we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. We used to have plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no misfortune. 18 But from the time we stopped making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have perished by the sword and by famine.”

          The Jewish ancestors were baking something and pouring wine for Asherah, the Queen of Heaven.

        • wtfwjtd

          I guess “god” gets really pissed about those “drink offerings” to other gods, eh? Sounds like to me that somebody needs to get a life.

        • Greg G.

          God doesn’t drink unless you’re buying. And you better not buy for some other god!

        • TheNuszAbides

          Hey, he even admits he’s jealous. You knew what your foreskin was signing up for.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Ugh, how mind-numbing. Venerated for their timing and the endurance of their particular politics, not their explanatory power.

        • Kodie

          Joseph was a conduit of god at the time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Fossilized imagination. Occasionally trussed up in marionette strings when the flock gets listless or restless.

        • Kodie

          We have to go back to the birth. Allegedly, Jesus had to be born and grow up for 30 years before he became Jesus. With regards to the average lifespan of that period, most people alive when Jesus were born were dead before he hung on the cross. We have to go back to the flood. The Ark 8 were floating on a boat with animals for about a year? Half a year? Doesn’t matter. Things could not go back to normal until the water that drowned everybody else subsided, but for some reason an olive tree thrived underwater … when humans do stuff like this when a simpler solution exists, it’s called “over-thinking” and future projects are delegated to someone more sensible and competent.

  • Pofarmer

    Don’t people ever get tired of being emotionally manipulated? via HobbyLobby

    http://www.hobbylobby.com/assets/images/holiday_messages/current_message.jpg

    • Greg G.

      What would they have done with a child whose shadow was a torture/execution device?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Dang! That kid is picking up big spikes!

        He probably has a 666 birthmark and is named Damien.

    • TheNuszAbides

      But it feels so good to go with the flow…

    • Kodie

      Joseph finally arrives at a name for his child after smashing his thumb with a hammer.

  • Mister Two

    Well, I’m a bit late to this post, but it very much reminds me of the tagline on my own blog: “The Bible: A book of myths, legends, and embellished history.”

    • Mister Two

      To add to what I said, you don’t really list “legends” as being a thing in the Bible, but certainly some of the Hebrew bible is based on real characters, such as Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, with Nebuchadnezzar the embellished history is actually confused history (written as if it were prophecy, so I suppose it’s historical fiction), where the author mixes up the stories of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.

      And since you list King Arthur, et al, as legends, because their stories are set in history but they were not real people, wouldn’t the stories of Abraham and other OT characters be legends, as well?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Arthur himself might’ve been a real figure in history, but it’s the stories themselves that are legends, I’d think.

        As you suggest, I’ve heard speculation that Abraham and Moses weren’t real.