The word "myth," for most people today, holds a sinister quality. As early as the New Testament writings, myth "is used negatively to mean an invented story, a rumor, or a fable (1 Tim. 1.4; 4.7; 2 Tim. 4.4; Titus 1.14; 2 Pet. 1.16)." ("Myth," Oxford Bible Studies Online, http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/article/opr/t94/e1296 )
So it's no wonder that 20th century Christian biblical scholars have tried to "demythologize" the biblical texts. That is, they tried to separate the meaning of the Bible from its mythic story context.
But myth, understood rightly, has a central place in our life of faith! Sometimes we just need a good story to help us come to deeply encounter and inhabit the Word of God.
A myth is a story "that has as its main actors superhuman beings and that is typically set in otherworldly time and space." Oxford Biblical Studies Online goes on to say that "all myths ... communicate transcendent meaning within a culture, revealing its cosmic dimensions." Myths allow us to engage the mysteries of our faith at deeper levels than can typically be expressed in the ordinary language of explanation.
Next week, our "Bible Blog" will begin retelling some biblical stories in short mythic segments. These stories will attempt to bridge the gap between a) ancient symbols and meanings and b) current, accessible symbols and meanings. These will be stories, not lessons. They will not replace scripture reading but intend to bring out underlying themes that contemporary readers might otherwise miss.
It is our hope that these stories might encourage some folks to explore the biblical text itself more closely.