Revelation and Myth

Revelation and Myth

The word revelation simply means an unveiling or the lifting of the veil.  We often use the word in a religious sense as an unveiling of the Uncreated One or the essence we call God, but the word God is a metaphor that points beyond itself to what is beyond and transcends human intelligence.  The word God itself is a revelation because it brings that mystical essence a step closer to our consciousness.  The word God to some degree enables us to communicate with each other about this mystical essence and our experiences of it[1].  We men have been analyzing and refining our knowledge of this Totally Other since the dawn of human consciousness.  Some have even pretended to be that consciousness when men had a corporal view of God.  It was the nation of Israel that first codified that God could not be imaged by the human mind, a revelation that could be traced back to Moses and his encounter with God on the sacred mountain.  The Uncreated One is not a creature that man has the right to name, as Adam named the animals brought before Him.[2]  Be careful about speaking of God.

It’s not hard to figure out how revelation worked.  In the past men experienced the Totally Other in various ways.  When they talk to others about their experience there seems to be a thread that connected these experiences, a thread that basically said that there was something beyond the mere physical.  Something so lofty that the human mind could not comprehend it.  It was this something that primitive man gave the title God.

This helps us to understand the ancient myths.  Myths mediated the presence of God to mankind through story and poetry.  It was through these forms of mediation that the foundation of all being began to reveal himself to mankind.  This is why we see a thread, though sometimes thin, of the same themes in myth and story throughout the world[3].

You could say that myths were the temples God used as a meeting places with men.  They were the bridge that spanned the chasm between the spiritual and the physical.  Myths are metaphors that come alive in story form.  Unfortunately, some men are metaphorically disadvantaged because of their concrete thinking which came about by a scientism that denies anything other than our sensorial experiences.

What about Jesus and revelation?  Well, Jesus is the image or revelation of God.  He said if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.  The apostle Paul refers to Jesus as “the image of the invisible God.”  Paul goes on to say that God packed into Jesus everything that humans could possibly know about God.  So, in that sense Jesus is THE revelation of God.  Jesus became a living metaphor that pointed to God.  That’s why John could say the Word (revelation) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  He goes to say, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known (John 1:17-18).  In the Word, the Forms and the Archetypes all took on a bodily form in Jesus.

[1] In his book “The Idea of The Holy: An inquiry into the Non-rational Factor in the idea of the Divine and its’ Relation to the Rational” Rudolf Otto gives an excellent overview of these mystical experiences and encounters with the Totally Other.

[2] Heb 1:1-3 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe”.

[3] “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James. Also, note the works of Joseph Campbell.