Sacred Narrative: Parable and Myth




1.    Metaphor is a distinctive form of symbolic communication

a.    The Lord is My Shepherd – involves a comparison.  Moves from the know to the unknown.

b.    A tension between the “is” and “is not” – strikes insight by creating something new, smt similar and dissimilar.

2.    Parable: an extended metaphor.

a.    Definition: A parable is a metaphor or simile, drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought. (C. Dodd)

b.    A homely way of communicating truth.  But the surprise and vividness comes from the unexpected use to which the commonplace image evokes.  The difference evokes insight.

                                     i.     Example: Prodigal son

                                   ii.     Parables as subversive: gets at the narrative quality of experience.

3.    Parable is a story – as in personal past, legend, myths, drama, history.

a.    It articulates with our experience of human life as temporal

b.    Stories embody and shape our self of ourselves, our links with others.




1.    Myth as “untruth”

2.    Definition of Myth: Myth is to be defined as a complex of stories – some no doubt fact, and some fancy – which, for various reasons, human beings regards as demonstrations of the inner meaning of the universe and human life. (Malinowski)

a.    Science as myth?

3.    Myths are indispensible to us in responding to the deeply human issues that confront us and lie outside of the realm of science and technology.

a.    A primary and unique way of charting the natural and human order.

b.    Great writers of modern literature who draw on myth

4.    Everyday lives witness the reappearance of archaic myths and patterns in popular culture:  Star Wars, Ring Trilogy, Harry Potter

5.    Functionalist approaches myth

a.    A psychoanalytic approach myth – Jung. 

                                     i.     Collective Unconscious

                                   ii.     Archetypes

                                 iii.     Individuation

6.    Myth and Doctrine – first and second order, symbolic and non-symbolic truth