C.S. Lewis and Mythology

A great article on C.S. Lewis and myth:

On Sept. 19, 1931, Lewis vented his frustration to J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson, two Christians and fellow scholars whom he was entertaining in his rooms at Magdalen. Whenever I encounter a dying god story in mythology, Lewis told them, I am “mysteriously moved, even though no one knows where he is supposed to have lived and died; he’s not historical.” …Why, Lewis wondered, am I not similarly moved by the gospels’ historical accounts of Jesus’s death and resurrection?

The answer, Lewis’s colleagues told him, was to recognize that the gospel story was mythic and should be appreciated as such, “but with this tremendous difference that it really happened. . . . The dying god really appears—as a historical person, living in a definite time and place.”

Lewis was persuaded by his friends’ view, in part because it helped to resolve three other matters previously disturbing to him. One was the mundane literary style of the gospels, which he, like Saint Augustine, had previously found distasteful. Now Lewis realized that “if ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this,” combining “the matter of the great myths” with an “artless, historical style.”

Another was the seemingly inconsistent portrayal of Jesus in the gospels—”as real, as recognizable, through all that depth of time, as Plato’s Socrates or Boswell’s Johnson, . . .yet also numinous, lit by a light from beyond the world, a god.” …

Lewis was perhaps most grateful for a third insight that accompanied his conversion, namely, that Christians should hold other mythologies and religions in high regard. (This was, of course, the opposite of his early teachers’ views, which had turned him away from Christianity as a boy.) “Myth,” Lewis wrote, “is the isthmus which connects the peninsular world of thought with the vast continent we really belong to”—indeed, “it was through almost believing in the gods that I came to believe in God.”



“What could it mean—a “corn god” story without the promise of corn?”
From the link.
@gbrooks9 you might like this discussion of myth and pagan influence.

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I had an acquaintance called Rob, who chaired the school Christian Union before I did and whom I followed up to Cambridge, and then down to London when I went to Med School (where he has had a long career in education and charitable work).

We met for coffee at that time, and were discussing (for some reason) the early chapters of Genesis. “People say, ‘It’s just myth,’” he said. “But they don’t realise it IS Myth.”

The first introduction to the category of “true myth” for a natural science trained person like me, but it set me thinking for several years!


I’m lost. What does this mean?

it’s in your link. Lewis talk about the resurrection of mythological deity, and how he initially rejected Christianity because it seems so much like other myths. On the other hand, he came back to Christianity when he found that the mythical Christianity was real, because it just did not fit into the hopeful, Pie in the Sky, of the Pagan myths, because the Bible story fit too much into reality. It didn’t fit in with the changes of the season. It wasn’t just the corn God myth. Sorry, I should have put in quotes

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Thanks for the heads up. Im not sure i am able to do much with the story.

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Ah, I see:

Even more convincing to Lewis was what he did not find in the gospel accounts— namely, anything at all having to do with agriculture of fertility. What could it mean—a “corn god” story without the promise of corn?

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Sorry. Lousy at that today thanks for the review link

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Ah, now i understand what he meant about a “corn” god… the original meaning for the English “corn” was “grain”!