What Is Mytho-History?
Mytho-history is the name of a peculiar
genre of ancient literature that was identified by the great of assyriologist Thorkild Jacobsen. Jacobsen in analyzing a piece of Mesopotamian
literature that he called the Eridu Genesis. Eridu was a babylonian city.
[He] said that this narrative combines mythological motifs that were current in
ancient Mesopotamia along with a historical interest as it narrates the
succession of Sumerian Kings and the dates of their reigns. And this fusion or
combination of mythology and history Thorkild Jacobsen called mytho-history, and quite a number of Old Testament scholars have picked up on
this and said that this is what we have in Genesis 1-11; we have a historical
account of the pre-patriarchal heroes such as Adam and Enoch and Noah and
others, but these narratives are clothed with the garb of the figurative and
metaphorical language of myth, and therefore shouldn’t be pressed for a
sort of literal interpretation that would be foreign to this type of
literature. So that’s what’s meant by mytho-history and how it is a very
very important issue for the interpretation of these first few
chapters of the Old Testament.