The contemporary world has been shaped by two important and potent myths. Karl Jaspers' construct of the "axial age" envisions the common past (800-200 BC), the time when Western society was born and world religions spontaneously and independently appeared out of a seemingly shared value set. Conversely, the myth of the "dark green golden age," as narrated by David Suzuki and others, asserts that the axial age and the otherworldliness that accompanied the emergence of organized religion ripped society from a previously deep communion with nature. Both myths contend that to maintain balance we must return to the idealized past. In Convenient Myths, Iain Provan illuminates the influence of these two deeply entrenched and questionable myths, warns of their potential dangers, and forebodingly maps the implications of a world founded on such myths.
Iain Provan is the Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College. He lives in the Vancouver, Canada area.
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1 The Turning Point of HistoryThe Axial Age2 Serious People, Bad IdeasAn Inquisition on the Axial Age3 Procrustes and His BedMutilating the Facts to Fit a Theory4 Happy Hunting (and Gathering)The Dark Green Golden Age5 Hard Times in the PaleolithicConstant Battles and Unequal Rights6 Ecologically Noble Ancestors?Why Spiritual People Don't Necessarily Look after Their Living Space7 You Can't Always Get What You WantDesire (and Need) and the Past8 The Past ReloadedA Brief History of Ancient Time9 On Loving Your Dead NeighborViolence, Knowledge, and History10 On Truth and ConsequencesWhy Myths about the Past MatterNotesBibliographyIndex