Entries in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Edited by Bron Taylor. NY:Continuum. 9 pp.
The Fall story of Genesis 1-11 is not only a theological text. It is also an etiological narrative (a story about origins) concerning the rise of civilization in the late Neolithic period. Since the mid-19th century the modernist-fundamentalist culture war in North Atlantic Christianity has generated two highly polarized approaches to the biblical creation story: one that insists upon its putative historico-scientific content, and the other that views it as legend/folktale with no historical value. To move beyond this historicist straightjacket we might instead consider this story in terms of myth-as-memory. Might it be similar in character to origins-narratives of indigenous peoples, which postmodern anthropology is finally beginning to appreciate as legitimate “testimony” about prehistoric life?
Until recently there were few anthropological alternatives to post-Enlightenment evolutionary positivism’s perspective on origins. There is no grander narrative in modern culture than the myth of “Progress,” and this ideology is grounded in the story of humanity’s emergence from the swamp of ignorant homo erectus and Neanderthal to the triumph of increasingly rational, technologically-adept and socially complex cultures of Homo sapiens sapiens. Recent revisionist paleoanthropological reconstructions of human "pre-history," however, are challenging assumptions about the intrinsic nobility (or inevitability) of the so-called “Ascent of Man.”
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by Ched Myers
All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.