What is the relationship between myth and religion

difference between religion and mythology | Andrew Neuendorf

what is the relationship between myth and religion

If mythology is filled with gods, God, goddesses or such deities, then the mythologycan also become the religion because the people worship. KEYWORDS: myth, historiography, mythography, religion, ritual. The relationship between 'myth' and 'religion' is an old and much-discussed topic. Though a. Religion is a system of beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least To expand on the link between religion and symbolism in breadth.

Hero's journey The similarities between cultures and time periods can be useful, but it is usually not easy to combine beliefs and histories from different groups. Simplification of cultures and time periods by eliminating detailed data remain vulnerable or flimsy in this area of research. Contrasts between different religious mythologies[ edit ] Though there are similarities among most religious mythologies, there are also contrasts.

Many mythologies focus on explanations of the universe, natural phenomena, or other themes of human existence, often ascribing agency to one or more deities or other supernatural forces.

what is the relationship between myth and religion

However, some religions have very few of this kind of story of cosmic explanation. For instance, the Buddhist parable of the arrow warns against such speculations as "[Is] the world eternal or not eternal? For example, in Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, English professor Howard Schwartz writes, "the definition of 'mythology' offered here does not attempt to determine if biblical or subsequent narratives are true or false, i.

He understood this as a prophetic aspect of the Church's ministry to the world. Altizer, for example, maintained [this] boldly by stating, "Throughout its history Christian theology has been thwarted from reaching its intrinsic goal by its bondage to a transcendent, a sovereign, and an impassive God".

In the 20th century, many scholars have resisted this trend, defending myth from modern criticism. He spoke of "God up there" when theologians such as J.

Robinson were busy with erasing the mythical language of [a] three-storied universe that underlies the early Christian thought and experience. Similarly, Joseph Campbell believed that people could not understand their individual lives without mythology to aid them.

By recalling the significance of old myths, he encouraged awareness of them. My favorite definition of religion: Bernhard Le Bovier de Fontenellea French scholar, compared Greek and American Indian myths and suggested that there was a universal human predisposition toward mythology. In his view, expressed in such works as Comparative Mythologythe mythology of the original Indo-European peoples had consisted of allegorical stories about the workings of nature, in particular such features as the sky, the sun, and the dawn.

For instance, one Greek myth related the pursuit of the nymph Daphne by the god Phoebus Apollo. Scholarly interest in myth has continued into the 20th century.

Many scholars have adopted a psychological approach because of interest aroused by the theories of Sigmund Freud. Subsequently, new approaches in sociology and anthropology have continued to encourage the study of myth.

Allegorical An example of an allegorical interpretation would be that given by an ancient commentator for the Iliad, book 20, verse Referring to an episode in which the gods fight each other, the commentator cites critics who have explained the hostilities between the gods allegorically as an opposition between elements—dry against wet, hot against cold, light against heavy. Thus, the gods Apollo, Heliosand Hephaestus represent fire, and the god Poseidon and the river Scamander represent water.

This approach tends to limit the meaning of a myth, whereas that meaning may in reality be multiple, operating on several levels. Romantic In the late 18th century artists and intellectuals came increasingly to emphasize the role of the emotions in human life and, correspondingly, to play down the importance of reason which had been regarded as supremely important by thinkers of the Enlightenment.

Those involved in the new movement were known as Romantics. The Romantic movement had profound implications for the study of myth. Myths—both the stories from Greek and Roman antiquity and contemporary folktales—were regarded by the Romantics as repositories of experience far more vital and powerful than those obtainable from what was felt to be the artificial art and poetry of the aristocratic civilization of contemporary Europe. Ossian is the name of an Irish warrior-poet whose Gaelic songs were supposedly translated and presented to the world by James Macpherson in the s.

Religion and mythology - Wikipedia

Although largely the work of Macpherson himself, these songs made a colossal impact when they were published. In Herder abandoned his job as a schoolteacher and took a boat from Riga, on the Baltic, to Nantes, on the Atlantic coast of France. In everything [on board ship] there is experience to illuminate the original era of the myths.

what is the relationship between myth and religion

In other words, for Herder ancient myths were the natural expressions of the concerns that would have confronted the ancients; and those concerns were the very ones that, according to Herder, still confronted the Volk—e.

Comparative Since the Romantic movement, all study of myth has been comparative, although comparative attempts were made earlier. The prevalence of the comparative approach has meant that since the 19th century even the most specialized studies have made generalizations about more than one tradition or at the very least have had to take comparative works by others into account.

Indeed, for there to be any philosophical inquiry into the nature and function of myth at all, there must exist a body of data about myths across a range of societies. Such data would not exist without a comparative approach.

Mannhardt saw sufficient analogies and similarities between the ancient and modern data to permit use of the latter in interpreting the former. Like Herder, he saw the source of mythology in the traditions passed on among the Volk. He collected information not only about popular stories but also about popular customs.

Other people who examined myth from the folklore standpoint included Sir James Frazer, the British anthropologist, the brothers Grimm Jacob, who influenced Mannhardt, and Wilhelmwho are well-known for their collections of folklore, and Stith Thompson, who is notable for his classification of folk literature, particularly his massive Motif-Index of Folk-Literature Their importance stems in part from the academic diligence and meticulousness that they brought to the recording and study of popular tradition.

Collecting and classifying mythological themes have remained the principal activities of the folklore approach.

Get literate in myth, religion and theology

In his Essai sur le don ; The GiftMauss referred to a system of gift giving to be found in traditional, preindustrial societies. Observing that there was a mass of complex data on the subject, Mauss continued: In these total social phenomena, as we propose to call them, all kinds of institutions find simultaneous expression: In his introduction to the English edition Edward Evans-Pritchard commented on that passage: The exchanges of archaic societies which he examines are total social movements or activities.

They are at the same time economic, juridical, moral, aestheticreligious, mythological…phenomena. Both ask not what the origin of any given social behaviour may be but how it contributes to maintaining the system of which it is a part.

In this view, in all types of society, every aspect of life—every custom, belief, or idea—makes its own special contribution to the continued effective working of the whole society. Functionalism has had a wide appeal to anthropologists in Britain and the United States, especially as an interpretation of myth as integrated with other aspects of society and as supporting existing social relationships. Structuralist Structuralist approaches to myth are based on the analogy of myth to language.

Just as a language is composed of significant oppositions e. Structuralist analysis aims at uncovering what it sees as the logic of myth.

Religion and mythology

It is argued that supposedly primitive thought is logically consistent but that the terms of this logic are not those with which modern Western culture is familiar. This logic is usually based on empirical categories e. Beginning with complex kinship systems and later exploring other taxonomiesstructuralists argue to the opposite conclusion: Another pattern Burkert explains in a similar way is found in myths about the driving out of the scapegoat. This pattern, Burkert argues, stems from a real situation that must often have occurred in early human or primate history; a group of humans, or a group of apes, when pursued by carnivores, were able to save themselves through the sacrifice of one member of the group.

The persistence of these patterns through time is explained, according to Burkert, by the fact that they are grounded in basic human needs—above all, the need to survive. Functions of myth and mythology Explanation The most obvious function of myths is the explanation of facts, whether natural or cultural. One North American Indian Abenaki myth, for example, explains the origin of corn maize: Obviously, a myth such as this one functions as an explanation, but the narrative form distinguishes it from a straightforward answer to an intellectual question about causes.

The function of explanation and the narrative form go together, since the imaginative power of the myth lends credibility to the explanation and crystallizes it into a memorable and enduring form. Hence myths play an important part in many traditional systems of education. Justification or validation Many myths explain ritual and cultic customs.

In a mysterious manner Hainuwelea girl with extraordinary gift-bestowing powers, appeared. The people killed her at the end of their great annual celebration, and her dismembered body was planted in the earth. Among the species that sprang up after this act of planting were tubers —the staple diet of the people telling the myth.

With a certain circularity frequent in mythology, the myth validates the very cultic celebration mentioned in the myth. The cult can be understood as a commemoration of those first events. Hence, the myth can be said to validate life itself together with the cultic celebration.

Comparable myths are told in a number of societies where the main means of food production is the cultivation of root crops; the myths reflect the fact that tubers must be cut up and buried in the earth for propagation to take place. Ritual sacrifices are typical of traditional peasant cultures.

In most cases such customs are related to mythical events. Among important themes are the necessity of death e. In every mythological tradition one myth or cluster of myths tends to be central. The subject of the central mythology is often cosmogony origin of the cosmos. In many of those ceremonies that each society has developed as a symbol of what is necessary to its well-being, references are made to the beginning of the world.

Examples include the enthronements of kings, which in some traditions as in Fiji or ancient India are associated with a creation or re-creation of the world. Analogously, in ancient Mesopotamia the creation epic Enuma elishwhich was read each New Year at Babylon, celebrated the progress of the cosmos from initial anarchy to government by the kingship of Marduk; hence the authority of earthly rulers, and of earthly monarchy in general, was implicitly supported and justified.

Ruling families in ancient civilizations frequently justified their position by invoking myths—for example, that they had divine origins. Elites have also based their claims to privilege on myths. And in every known cultural tradition there exists some mythological foundation that is referred to when defending marriage and funerary customs.

It may be that the educational value of myths is even more bound up with the descriptions they provide than with the explanations. In traditional, preindustrial societies myths form perhaps the most important available model of instruction, since no separate philosophical system of inquiry exists. Healing, renewal, and inspiration Creation myths play a significant role in healing the sick; they are recited e. Thus, healing through recitation of a cosmogony is one example of the use of myth as a magical incantation.

The poetic aspect of myths in archaic and primitive traditions is considerable. Societies in which artistic endeavour is not yet specialized tend to rely on mythical themes and images as a source of all self-expression.

Mythology has also exerted an aesthetic influence in more modern societies. An example is the prevalence of themes from Greek and Roman Classical mythology in Western paintingsculpture, and literature. Myth in culture Myth and psychology One of the most celebrated writers about myth from a psychological standpoint was Sigmund Freud. The equivalent for girls was the Electra complex. According to Freud, this phenomenon was detectable in dreams and myths, fairy tales, folktales—even jokes.

Similarities in Afterlife Myths ACROSS Civilizations?

Later, in Totem und Tabu ; Totem and TabooFreud suggested that myth was the distorted wish-dreams of entire peoples. That subsequent generations refrained from doing so was, Freud suggested, due to a collective bad conscience. His anthropological theories have since been refuted e. Another theorist preoccupied with psychological aspects of myth was the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jungwho, like Freud, was stimulated by a theory that no longer has much support—i.

Jung evolved a theory of archetypes. Broadly similar images and symbols occur in myths, fairy tales, and dreams because the human psyche has an inbuilt tendency to dwell on certain inherited motifs archetypesthe basic pattern of which persists, however much details may vary. But critics of Jung have hesitated to accept his theory of archetypes as an account of mythology. Among objections raised, two may be mentioned.

First, the archetypal symbols identified by Jung are static, representing personal types that conflate aspects of the personality: Second, Jungian analysis is essentially aimed at relating myth to the individual psyche, whereas myth is above all a social phenomenon, embedded in society and requiring explanation with reference to social structures and social functions.

People are not born with a "culture"; they learn "culture" through the process of enculturation. People develop and maintain cultures to deal with basic problems like survival and other issues geographical, social, economic, philosophical, etc. To take root and survive, a culture must satisfy the basic needs of people who live by its rules, develop means to ensure its transmission and continuity across generations, and provide an orderly existence for members of the society.

Successful cultures are dynamic, rather static: Religion, Myth and Stories -- i. Narratives, both sacred and secular -- Art and Aesthetics, Language and Language Arts including Oral Arts, Literature, and Film are all important expressions of a people's culture. All cultures have religions, which are powerful and dynamic forces in human society.

To overcome limitations, people often turn to supernatural beings and powers: Through ritual religion in action —e. Most cultures have religious specialists—e. Creation or origin myths explain how the world came to be in its present form, and often position "the cultural group telling the myth" as the first people or the "true" people "Myth" Such sacred stories, or narratives, concern where a people and the things of their world come from, why they are here, where they are going.

To undertake serious, open-minded cross-cultural study of world religions, Huston says we must do two things: All cultures create and tell stories, and myth-making is an important human creative activity.