What are myths?
Different people use the word ‘myths’ differently. Some people mean they are traditional stories with no historical basis. Some of those who have been responding, online and offline, to my post on the Four Points probably mean it in that way. Others have made other interesting criticisms. As I think you may want to know what they say and how I reply, I will post the arguments here and on subsequent blogs.
Why do they think the gospels are myths?
They say the people who wrote the four gospels never knew Jesus, but were people who lived centuries after his time on Earth. Many people say something similar about the rest of the Bible. This means we cannot regard those writings as true, let alone inspired by God. We are all free to believe what we want about them.
Why does anyone say the gospels are not myths?
- Archaeologists have found fragments of the gospels which clearly date to the first century. Someone had used parts of John’s gospel, among other pieces of scrap paper, to stuff a crocodile in a palace on an island in the Nile.
- The Acts of the Apostles is the second volume of Luke’s gospel, dealing with events immediately after Jesus’ life on Earth. There are several elements of it that that nobody would have written much later than the first century. The Romans reorganised the government of their empire around the end of that century. In the book of Acts, the old names for places and titles of officials are used. Nobody writing about Warrington today would refer to it as being in Lancashire. But someone writing in the early twentieth century would.
- Non-Christian writers, Jewish and Roman, in the first century refer to Jesus, not always very complimentarily. Josephus and Tacitus are the most famous.
- Various Roman emperors persecuted Christians, starting with Claudius in the middle of the first century. This shows there must have been enough Christians to upset the authorities. There is some information about them and their beliefs in a couple of letters between the write Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan in the early second century.
- The language of the book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible, suggests its author was a Hebrew who had been educated in Egypt – like Moses.
- We need to remember that in societies where literacy is not widespread, people pass on stories by learning them verbatim, to an extent we may find hard to believe, as we rely so much on writing.
Want to know more about truth and myths?
If your problem is with the Church rather than with God, try my book, How to Cope with the Church.
I will soon let you know what other comments I have had on The Four Points and how I respond to them.