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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chesterton's Thomist View of Myth

G. K. Chesterton's magnum opus, The Everlasting Man, amounts to a theory of man in history from a Christian apologetic perspective.  The overarching theme is that what could be called the "methodology" of the Christian revelation--God's self revelation in Jesus rather than in a book--is remarkably "in tune with" human nature as we see it in history.  While it would be unwise to seek a complete theory of man in a book of apologetics--we cannot expect to find anything quite like Eliade's theory of archaic ontology--The Everlasting Man is, like so many of Chesterton's works, shot through with keen insights that repay careful study.  This is particularly true of Chesterton's reflections on the nature of mythology and its relation to Christianity, a topic that is central to his overall argument.  For Chesterton, to understand myth is to understand man, and in important respects this approach leads him to address these issues in ways that are both original and also shed greater light than other more familiar approaches.