Articles on Religion + Mythology

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The virgin birth at the heart of Christianity has many corresponding versions in other ancient traditions. Detail from a panel by Conrad von Soest, 1403. Wikimedia Commons

Friday essay: virgin mothers and miracle babies

Biblical scholars and theologians have long discussed, debated and disputed the virgin birth of Jesus, with some arguing that there is no imperative to link it to the doctrine of the Incarnation.
Evidence to support the idea of a married Jesus is about as minimal as it ever has been. mnd.ctrl

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife can’t be taken as gospel

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife, once thought to be authentic, has been revealed as a fraud. How did critical scholarship uncover the truth, and how can it further biblical studies?
Greek tragedy remains the most modern form of drama, unafraid to question everything we value. Sarah Walker. Photo: Jane Montgomery Griffiths as The Leader and Aaron Orzech as Haemon.

Antigone now: Greek tragedy is the debate we have to have

Regardless of reasoning and the plethora of scholarship that exists, Greek tragedy remains the most modern form of drama. It is unafraid to question everything we value.
The discovery of Kepler-452b raises questions that go to the heart of religion. NASA/AAP/ Artist's impression of Kepler-452b.

Heavens above: what Earth 2.0’s discovery means for God

Kepler-452b's discovery last week has raised the perennial question: are we alone in the universe? While the find's scientific import is huge, it also poses questions that go to the heart of religion.
We have brutal sexual threats, made anonymously, against those who have “transgressed” a particular boundary. Sound familiar? Carole Raddato

Priapus is alive and well in cyberspace – the age-old art of trolling

Brutal sexual threats against perceived trespassers, made anonymously, with the expectation they will be seen as "humorous". Sound familiar? Modern-day trolls belong to a long, and troubling, lineage.
The method used, until recently, by a large proportion of scholars of the New Testament and Christian origins, is flawed. Roberto Urrea

Getting the gist of a ‘historical’ Jesus: the Jesus Seminar 30 years on

Traditions about Jesus cannot be separated out into the categories of early and late, primary and secondary, authentic or inauthentic, fact and interpretation. One might as well try and unscramble an omelette.
Like the myths that confounded the Greeks, the latest twist in Game of Thrones has challenged its audience. HBO. Game of Thrones airs on Foxtel's showcase channel

Game of Thrones has reignited the Greek tale of Iphigeneia

In recreating a perennial mythic tale in the latest episode, the creative taskforce behind Game of Thrones has cast us, the audience, as modern ancients. Warning: spoilers!
The earliest sources, including Paul’s letters, show very little interest in the mythological details of heavenly existence. Wikimedia Commons/ Probably Valentin de Boulogne: Saint Paul Writing His Epistles.

Paul’s Apocalypse gave us heaven and hell several times over

Interpretations of Paul the apostle's texts provided the basic fund of imagery that continues to inform popular opinion about what Christians mean when they talk about "heaven", or "hell".
There is not a female figure on Game of Thrones who does not have a medieval counterpart. © Home Box Office, Inc.

Game of Thrones and the fluid world of medieval gender

Game of Thrones never even approaches the slippery and surprising world of gender manipulation and redefinition that existed in medieval spirituality.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the spiritual and political head of IS, is a clever theologian and Qur’anic artisan. EPA/Islamic State Video

Believe it or not, we could actually learn something from Islamic State

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the spiritual and political head of IS, is a clever theologian and Qur’anic artisan. We would do well to better our own interfaith theological understanding.
The main dome of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. ninara/Flickr

Who is Allah? Understanding God in Islam

Allah, the divinity at the heart of Islam, has 99 names and is often poorly understood outside the faith. Islam recognises no god but Allah, who revealed scriptures to bothJewish and Christian prophets before Mohammed.
The proposition that Easter is a 100% Christian affair is manifestly unsustainable. Hartwig HKD

Easter scuppers the certainties of modern fundamentalists

The proposition that Easter is a 100% Christian affair is manifestly unsustainable. It shows an ignorance of history. Worse, it shows a failure to understand the way religious traditions work.
Conservative Christians and evangelicals might want to claim freehold over the Bible – but it’s a text for many readers, even atheists. Bobby McKay/Flickr

Religion par excellence: can the Bible be useful to atheists?

Why does an atheist literary scholar need to know about the Bible? It's a text with innumerable interpretative possibilities that allows readers to connect 'the apparently unconnectable'.
We need to move beyond assumptions that religion is simply about dogmatism. Daniel Montemayor

Get literate in myth, religion and theology

We need to move beyond assumptions that religion is simply about dogmatism, and should continue teaching religion within a secular educational structure.
The Muse allows us to avoid one of the great anxieties about the creative process. Richard Mortel

Conversing with the divine – why we still need our muses

Olivia Newton-John has a lot to answer for. Even now, after 35 years has passed, it is hard to forgive her for her role in Xanadu, a film consistently voted as the worst film of 1980. This is quite an…

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