Myth as Metaphysics: The Christian Saviour and the Hindu Gods
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- Barua, A. SOPHIA (2012) 51: 379. doi:10.1007/s11841-011-0260-6
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A distinction which is often rehearsed in some strands of Christian writing on the ‘Eastern’ religions, especially Hinduism, is that while they are full of ‘mythological’ fancies, Biblical faith is based on the solid rock of ‘historical’ truth. I argue that the sharp contours of this antithesis are softened when we consider two issues regarding the relation between ‘myth’ and ‘history’. First, the decades–long attempts to separate the ‘historical’ facts about Jesus Christ from the interpretive elements in the Biblical narrative highlight the presence of ‘mythical’ imagination in Christian thought. Second, a comparative study of the Christian understanding of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate God and the Hindu conception of avatāras reveals a highly significant set of differences and analogies, and shows how the supposed equivalences between ‘historical as real’ and ‘mythological as unreal’ need to be reformulated.