Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
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Of course we do realize that it is important not to propagate the myth that the Bible and its stories are the most ancient stories we have. The first book clubs would probably not have discussed Yahweh.
Indeed, one can imagine an earlier book club, although fewer people would get the joke. But if anyone wants to make a cartoon featuring earlier stories, I’d be happy to share it here!
True! At work, my Mahabharata jokes go over like a lead balloon.
I am very fortunate to work in an environment in which Mahabharata jokes would be not only understood but enjoyed!
The casual reader might misunderstand this comment thread. I don’t think anyone is claiming that the Mahabharata is older than the Yahwistic stories, right?
Hi Ken. There are several issues that it is important to distinguish. There certainly are people who claim that the Hindu epics are the most ancient stories in the world, just as some do with the stories in the Hebrew Bible. But you rightly perceived that meither I nor Sabio was making such a claim – and Sabio can correct me if i am wrong about his views on this.
Whether one could settle in any sort of definitive way the question of which stories are older is a real problem. The existence of the stories in oral form is largely untraceable. The composition of the stories into the books in which we now have them seems to have taken place in roughly the same time period, around the middle of the first millennium BCE.
The comment thread began with Sabio mentioning that the Torah is not the oldest book, and we then got onto the fact that mentions of other stories from other ancient civilizations, if included in a cartoon, would lead to most people not understanding the cartoon, much less finding it funny. I didn’t understand him to be claiming that the Indian epics can be definitively shown to be the world’s oldest books, and thus the ones around which the Oprahs of antiquity would have organized reading groups.
But just to be sure, let me ask Sabio whether since the last time we talked about this topic he has adopted the views of some of the Hindu nationalists and considers the full Mahabharata to be thousands of years older than I suggested. 😉
जय भारत (All Victory to Bharat (India))!!
Yes, I mixed up the timeline stuff with cultural stuff. My bad. I should have said, “My jokes about the Rigveda or the I Ching sink like a lead balloon.”
let’s not propogate the myth that when women assemble they talk only about men.
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