« הקודםהמשך »
Similar ideas of truth are often entertained under different names, and there is so much in the name, that what may be perfectly proper under a conventional title, is appalling when it has a radical appellative. But in the growing light of truth, such distinctions are effaced, and all imperfections of detail are lost in the perfection of the whole.
So we say again, that consciously or unconsciously those who take part in this church quarrel are fighting one of the battles of the ages, the significance of which will at some future day be clearly understood, even if it now appears too much in the light of a personal quarrel or a struggle of rival prelates.
If the result of this quarrel should be a separation from the Episcopal Church, we trust that Mr. Tyng will find, beyond its narrow pale, a Church that is broad enough to shelter and appreciate so noble a man and so true a worker.
There is perhaps never a prophet who comprehends fully the grandeur of his own prophecy, or a laborer who appreciates the richness of his own vineyard, but sooner or later the prophecy shall ripen and the vineyard bear fruit, and the prophet and the laborer shall find that they have worked better than they knew. We wait and sing with Tennyson :
“ For I doubt not through the ages
One increasing purpose runs ;
With the process of the suns."
The American Eeclesiastical Almanac for Min.
isters and Laymen ; by Prof. ALEXANDER J. SCHEM. New York, 1868. Fredk. Gerhard, Agr.
This is a small but very comprehensive work, in pamphlet form, and combines with a neat and well-arranged almanac, brief sketches of all the principal religious organizations of the world, showing their mode of government, church officers, number of members, etc., compiled from the most recent official publications of each society. The work commends itself to all interested in the present aspects of the religious world, and will be especially useful to those whose profession frequently requires accurate knowledge on subjects about which such knowledge is often unattainable.
James Mott.—A brief biographical sketch of this well-known and widely-honored friend, has been prepared by Mary Grew, of Philadelphia, and will soon be issued in a neat form, from the press of P. Tomlinson, publisher, 39 Nassau St., New York. This good man has been so warmly interested in all philanthropic movements, that he has a large circle of friends outside the narrow limits of the society to which he belonged; and those who have known of his loving works and words will be glad to have a simple record of his upright life, such as is now promised us. The truly good are so few on the earth that the remembrance of such lives as his is a continual re. freshment.
Note.—The committee of twelve appointed in the quarterly meeting to examine the case of John J. Merritt give notice, after a full hearing of the case, and three months of deliberation, that they are not yet prepared to report The committee is continued.
VOL. 111.-JUNE, 1868.- NO. 30.
THE FOUR GOSPELS.
ARTICLE XV. The MarvelLOUS NARRATIVES.
(II.-Direct application to Gospel Text. Idea of the Myth.) 3. The MYTHICAL System. In our last article we treated of two systems of interpretation-the supernatural and the naturalistic. The former we considered as refuted by our previous argument concerning the credibility of miracles, and the latter we endeavored 10 refute on the score of its being a mere tissue of assumptions, which may be admirable in themselves and of high ingenuity, but are entitled to no credit as history. As, therefore, if our view is correct, the marvellous or miraculous stories of the New Testament can neither be believed as they stand nor resolved into natural events deserving of any credit, and as it can scarcely be denied by a careful and candid reader that the writers intended these stories to be accepted in simple good faith as realities, it remains to ask: What are the miraculous narratives of the Gospels? How are they to be viewed and interpreted? Our answer is, They are myths; it is the purpose of the present article to describe and explain the idea of the myth.
It is the distinguishing characteristic of the mythical mode of interpretation, that it lays stress on the form of the narrative rather than its substance. Both the supernatural and naturalistic systems are concerned mainly with the contents of the record-the one declaring it literally and supernaturally true, as the writer intended it; the other rejecting the supernatural, and striving to elicit a substratum of natural fact, which may or may not be true, which is generally quite unimportant, and which the writer never dreamt cf. The mythical method, on the contrary, declares that there is no supernatural to believe, and little or no positive history to ferret out, but finds its facts or subject matter in the narrative itself, which it decides to be neither an idle tale of magic nor credible history, but a valuable repository of ideas, emotions, mental traits and national characteristics, the narrative form of which is to be explained by primitive exuberance of imagination, and to be paralleled by those naive stories of marvels and miracles which the early ages of all races, and all credulous and superstitious epochs exhibit. If we attend a moment to the true nature of history, considered as a progressive evolution of human nature, we shall see that the myth is really a kind of shadow or adumbration of actual history. For in historical development, incidents and ideas, as well as marked individual character, act and re-act on each other, and are all interfused in the progress of events; but, because history is all a development of human nature, it is all a manifestation or working-out-into-form of the thoughts and feelings which constitute the nature of man, and, though it trains the individual, it comes forth from the whole, the common nature, and is this nature in the form of fact or event. But ideas, traits and feelings may take on a form of fact or event which is fictitious as well as one which is actual ; and when this happens unconsciously in a primitive or imaginative society, and the resulting narrative is accepted and believed with simplicity, and can be assigned to no author, but is rather the spontaneous outgrowth of the time and its natural mode of expression, the product is the myth. Thus as history is the clothing of mental and moral traits in actual events, so the myth is the clothing of the same traits in narrative, or fictitious events—the crystalization of the sentiments and ideas of an age or people into the form of poetical and highly-colored narrative. But just as the people do not say, “Go to, now, let us make history," but rather evolve it naturally and necessarily by their simple living and acting, so no primitive time consciously makes myths, but evolves the stories inevitably out of its mental traits in connection with its outward experience, and accepts them implicitly, without the least sense of incongruity or improbability. A myth (uïdoc) originally signified a tale or story, either true or fictitious—a statement or current narrative; primarily it signifies anything spoken or delivered by word of mouth : this also is the primary meaning of hóyos, which, like põdos, also signified, originally, a narrative, without implying either that it was true or that it was false. But in later times the two words diverged, and even became opposed, in meaning-uūdos became generally restricted to an uncertified, fictitious or fabulous story ; while dóyos carried with it in general the idea of fact, or historical foundation. The Latin fabula resembles uõlos in its primary signi. fication of any narrative, true or false, or any spoken statement (fari, to speak), and in its more technical sense of a fictitious narrative ;* but the two senses appear to have been employed contemporaneously, and do not seem so definitely separated in time as in the Greek, in this resembling more the English story (historia, lotopia), which is at present used indifferently in its derivative sense of a true or historical narrative, and in its acquired sense of an uncertified or fictitious tale. The etymological history of these words (uūlos, lóyoc, fabula) contains, as if in embryo or in miniature, the nature and history of the myth. They all agree in the primary sense of a statement, order, or account delivered verbally ; and so also, in the society in which myths arise, we must—to use the words of Grote (Hist. Greece, vol. i., P. 341; Am. ed.) _“ suppose a public not reading and writing, but seeing, hearing and telling." These words also agree in a double sense-a true narrative and a fictitious narrative; and the Greek words in process of time tended apart, and became each generally restricted in sense-hóyos to the true or historical, jūdos to the untrue or fictitious. So also the myth, in its development and history, invariably and inevitably has its two stages of implicit belief and utter unbelief,—its time when it is simply and fondly believed and cherished by the primitive or imaginative people that produce it, and its period of decline in interest, when it is graduaily distrusted and finally rejected as untrue. So also a myth may have, but does not always have, a kernel of fact; and all primitive records and early annals abound in mythical stories, which may contain some fact, or be entirely untrue. In process of time, through the increase of knowledge, the rise of a purer morality, and the formation of a critical sense, these two elements, which at first are received with equal credit, tend apart, the Nóyos and the uūdos are separated, fact and fiction are discriminated with more or less success, and a historic doubt rests on all narratives which contain mythical traits, when criticism has no data by which to separate the accretions of legend and certify the residuum of history. Thus Pindar and Plato—among the earliest examples of a proper subjective criticism-were led to reject unconditionally many of the old Greek myths as being totally incompatible with the notion of deity, and needing no other refutation than the disgust of a moral being ; and Origen allegorized the record in Genesis because of the absurdity of the idea, that God literally walked and talked with Adam in a garden,
* See, for the literal sense, Hor. Ep. 1, 13, 9, “ Asinaeque paternum cognomen vertas in risum et fabula fias," and make it town-talk; Épod. 11, 8, “fabula quanta fui :” the English fable has exclusively the fictitious sense of fabula.
But what are the “mythical traits” the presence of which throws suspicion on a narrative, and may even outweigh by presumptive improbability any amount of evidence in its favor? They are several; a manifest aim or desire to shed renown on a country or a hero is suspicious ; as myths are not only highly-colored exaggerations or amplifications of facts (more properly, perhaps, to be called legends), but often pure fictions expressive of ideas or feel. ings, the presence of a philosophical air in a narrative, or a plain adaptation to the teaching of some doctrine, is very suspicious ; a narrative having a religious atmosphere or purpose is to be closely scrutinized; but most marked and most general of all is the trait of marvellous and miraculous character in the narrative. Into this last trait the others may be generally resolved, since marvellous and exceptional stories, in which the favoring power of heaven was most specially and strikingly displayed, would minister most effectually to
the pride of race or country, and to religious fear or devotion, while it would be also the garb in which a primitive and imaginative people would array its ideas and feelings in a narrative form. Supernatural wonders, accordingly, form the great staple of all mythical lore, and are at once the most constant, the most characteristic, and the most natural trait of the myth. It is always enveloped with an atmosphere of miracle; the Deity is brought near to in inexplicable, and often terrible, marvels. Did a pestilence fall on the Greeks :- Appollo was shooting arrows at them from the sky. Did a storm subside :-Neptune appears, and calms the waters with his trident. Did a fountain suddenly gush forth, or refresh a country from time immemorial, with its sweet waters :—it was a nymph changed into a brook to save her from the pursuit of her lover. Did a youth waste with grief at the loss of his beautiful sister :-he was changed into a flower called, after him, Narcissus. Did the Athenians look with pride upon their great and powerful capital :-in the old days Minerva and Neptune contended for the honor of being the patron and tutelary deity of the country, and the great Athena prevailed and pointed to the olive which she had made and planted for both the proof and the memorial of her ownership. Did the Jews separate themselves with intense pride from the polluted Gentiles : Jehovah filled the land of Egypt with noisome plagues, overwhelmed their enemies in the sea, caused the sun to stand still for their benefit, and rained food from heaven and poured water from the solid rock for their support, in proof and illustration of his favor. Did the early Christians remember with awe the greatness of their master, and tend of necessity to magnify him before an unbelieving world, but yet a world as credulous as themselves :-he was miraculously born, attested by articulate voices from heaven, transfigured on a mountain, raised bodily from the dead, and taken up visibly into the skies. And with such a catalogue we might go on through the Christian centuries down even to modern times, and with the utmost ease, and with abundance of varied illustration, down to the Reformation. The naive and simple character of primitive creative imagination we find it hard now to realize ; it is not to be found in civilized experience, and it is only with great difficulty reproduced in mental conception as a historical fact. “We can follow perfectly the imagination and feeling which dictated these tales, and we can admire and sympathize with them as animated, sublime, and affecting poetry; but we are too much accustomed to matter of fact and philosophy of a positive kind to be able to conceive a time when these beautiful fancies were construed literally and accepted as serious reality” (Grote's Hist, of Greece, vol. i., p. 341; Am. ed.). Yet children afford us instructive examples of that simplicity of be.ief and preponderating activity of imagination which are universally the characteristics of primitive times and people. To a certain extent every human being starts absolutely de novo, as if no other one had ever lived; i. l., there are certain traits which childhood always exhibits, and which are displayed with equal certainty and distinctness, no matter what its hereditary mental powers, or what the training