Narratives and Myths
There is a wide diversity of Protestant traditions. This means that not all major narratives and myths are recalled, understood and presented in a uniform manner across and within Protestant denominations. The following provides general information common across most Christian denominations.
Creation of the World
One of the main narratives among Protestant traditions is the creation of the universe by God. As detailed in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, the universe was created over a period of six days. In chronological order, the creation narrative begins with the creation of light, distinct from darkness (day 1). This was followed by the creation of sky (day 2), land and vegetation (day 3), the celestial lights of the sun, moon and stars (day 4), aquatic animals and birds (day 5), and lastly, land animals and humans (day 6). The seventh day God deemed as a holy day of rest (Sabbath). In most Protestant traditions, the Sabbath is dedicated as a day of rest and reflection held on a Sunday.
The primary narrative that explores humanity’s tendency to transgress from divine law (also known as sin) is found in Genesis 3-9. In this narrative, the first human beings, Adam and Eve, are convinced by a serpent to eat a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. The two humans are banished from paradise (known as the Garden of Eden) as punishment. This narrative seeks an answer to why humans are selfish by nature and also provides the basis for the theory of ‘original sin’.
Jesus of Nazareth
The Gospels record the life story of Jesus of Nazareth (later referred to as ‘Jesus Christ’), who is one of the most central figures in Christianity. Understood as the Son of God, Jesus is considered to be both divine and human. The stories of Jesus’ life have inspired various Protestant events, practices, symbolisms and beliefs. For instance, the miraculous birth of Jesus by his virgin mother (Mary) is described in books Luke and Matthew. Many Protestants commemorate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Other major influential narratives include the Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17), his teachings (such as the Sermon on the Mount) and the various miraculous actions performed throughout his adult life.
Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection
One of the most foundational narratives in Protestantism is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. As described in all four Gospels, Jesus was arrested, tried and condemned to execution. Jesus was then crucified (nailed on a cross). His deceased body was removed from the cross and buried in a rock tomb. The following day, Jesus rose again from the dead (referred to as his resurrection). After his crucifixion and resurrection, he came to be called Jesus Christ, to mean ‘Jesus the Anointed One’.
Many Protestant traditions interpret these events as Jesus willingly sacrificing himself on the cross to atone for humanity’s sinful nature, thus redeeming the broken relationship between humanity and God. Numerous narratives, doctrines, beliefs, practices and symbols in Protestantism flow on from this narrative. For instance, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is commemorated during Easter weekend.
The Last Supper
The story of the Last Supper recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke details the final meal shared by Jesus and his disciples prior to his crucifixion. According to the narrative, Jesus blessed the bread and wine. He broke the blessed bread and stated, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). Jesus then took the wine and declared, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin” (Matthew 26:27-28). This narrative is believed to mark the institution of communion.
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