Have you noticed that there has been a recent surge of Bible based movies coming out? You’re not alone. According to this article (http://bit.ly/1fKlDuQ) there has been a rapid increase in the amount of movies made from Bible stories and that there are plenty more still to come. The article speaks of how Hollywood has always been attentive to specific interest groups, feminism or environmentalism for example, but has only just recently discovered the power of targeting the Christian viewership in America. The article also describes how Hollywood studios have targeted the pastors of large mega churches to endorse their movies in hopes that their multi-thousand congregation will respond by viewing the movie. Such was the case when Rev Billy Graham endorsed Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, which helped make it such a great success, and one of the first movies to show just how strong the audience for Bible movies is.
With all of this public interest surrounding Biblical stories it raises the classic question of, “Just how much fiction is there in the Bible?” Some theologians, such as Rudolph Bultmann have relied on a concept called demythology. This is a system of interpreting texts, specifically religious texts, that seeks to separate cosmological and historic claims from philosophical, ethical and theological teachings. In other words, it seeks to find what is fact, faction or metaphor. Many practicing Christians may (and do) take offence to the idea that the stories they have grown up with are considered to be myths. However, they can take comfort in the knowledge that not all myths are false. A useful definition for a myth is, “a story with culturally formative power that functions to direct life and thought.” In that definition there is nothing saying that the story must be false. In fact by this definition, many historical stories that are known to be true can be considered myths because of their ability to shape the way people think.
Based on that definition I believe that it is quite clear that many (if not all) of the Bible stories are myths, because of their culturally formative power. Most Christians will tell you that the Bible has had some amount of impact on the way they live their life. Take the story of Noah for example. The Bible says that God put a rainbow into the sky as a sign that He would never destroy the earth with water again. Many Christians believe that that is why we see a rainbow after it rains. The story of Noah has affected the way people think, therefore it is a myth.
With regards to whether or not these Bible stories are true or not, I believe that I am in the same camp as most North Americans, I do not know, but I am curious to find out. It is this curiosity that is feeding Hollywood’s production of these movies, as more and more Americans try to find out for themselves whether these myths are fact or fiction.