2

Scripture consistently instructs against idols. It is the second of the Ten Commandments:

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God... (Exodus 20:4-5 ESV)

In writing on the role of myths in Gnosticism, Giovanni Filoramo makes this statement about Philo of Alexandria:

Philo's polemic against pagan mythology, under Platonic influence, turns principally on its patent immorality: the second commandment forbids not only the construction of idols, images, and statutes, but also the acceptance of mythic invention about births and marriages of gods, their innumerable scandals and the inexhaustible lasciviousness associated with them. 1

The Scripture clearly supports the immorality and danger of myths, but is the acceptance of a myth a violation of the second commandment? This would seem to elevate a written document (which was accepted as true or put in use) to the same status as a carved image.

Are there other scholars beside Philo and/or Rabbis who take the position accepting a myth would be a violation of the second commandment?


1. Giovanni Filoramo, A History of Gnosticism, translated by Anthony Alcock, Basil Blackwell, 1990, p 49.

  • Thank you for asking your question! Please note that in the Jewish tradition, the "ten commandments" are actually thought of as "ten pronouncements", and it is the third of those pronouncements that corresponds to what you have written above (the first is "I am the Lord your God..." and the second is "You shall have no other gods before me".) In the Jewish tradition, the second commandment is technically the commandment of circumcision, since this is the second commandment to appear within the Torah (Genesis 17). – Shimon bM May 17 '17 at 1:47
  • @ShimonbM I don't think it's a problem to say "Ten Commandments" -- everyone knows what we're talking about here. Also, i believe you're mistaken, the third pronouncement (or commandment) is "You shall not take God's name in vain". I'm going to revert the edit as it was more correct before. – Scimonster May 17 '17 at 8:26
  • Myths in general cannot be prohibited by the Rabbis since the Talmud is full of it (mythical creatures etc.). You should narrow down your question to mythical demi-gods and the like. – Bach May 17 '17 at 18:11
  • I don't understand the question. Is it about acceptance of the historicity of a myth, of the message of the myth, of a myth about other gods, or about some "written document"? – Micha Berger May 17 '17 at 18:12

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