|Fooled the Young Princess|
The oldest story on Earth has a lot in common with the greatest story every told. The oldest story, being, of course, The Epic of Gilgamesh and the greatest, the Bible, starting with the Book of Genesis. Both have strong male leads whose lives are in a state of proverbial bliss only to be disturbed by the love of a woman. In Gilgamesh, Enkidu is a wild man who gets drawn into Sumerian life through the love of a prostitute and in the Book of Genesis, Adam is seduced by Eve to break his bond with God and live by the sweat of the brow. When two stories use the same plot we some times call it "archetype" - a word used for a mythic element that speaks to a universal human experience.
Christmastime comes around each year and with it, age-old questions about life and lviing. One such question is about the historical Jesus. Did he exist or not? For many, it's as easy as pointing to a superhero comic book and saying, "No, of course, not." For others, they express loyalty to their religious convictions that attest to Jesus' superhuman feats. But a third answer emerges, which is my answer, that says it doesn't matter too much whether he existed or not. Here's why.
The parables of Jesus tend to be overlooked by secular readers. Everyone except the faithful or the scholarly pay any attention to them. Yet, they continue to be a source of fascination in terms of form and function. Professor Amy-Jill Levine is a Bible scholar who found new appreciation for the parables as a Jewish woman and scholar. Since the stories were based on her culture, she claims that she and others like her, are in a better position to interpret them. Her claim: In order to fully grasp the function of the parable, one must have understanding of the context in which they were used for these stories didn't contain universal symbols that could be be interpreted by anyone. The pearl, the sheep and even thief of the night had a meaning that Jews, living at the time of Jesus, could understand.