The Bible consistently instructs against idols. It is the second of the Ten Commandments:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God... (Exodus 20:4-5 ESV)
In writing on myths Giovanni Filoramo makes this statement about Philo of Alexandria:
Philo's polemic against pagan mythology, under Platonic influence, turns principally on its patent immorality: the second commandment forbids not only the construction of idols, images, and statutes, but also the acceptance of mythic invention about births and marriages of gods, their innumerable scandals and the inexhaustible lasciviousness associated with them. 1
It seems logical myths, especially of the type Philo lists, would be wrong. However mythic invention (or believing them) strikes me as an action prohibited by the first commandment:
“You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3 ESV)
I believe Philo's position is a myth when written becomes tangible and therefore is the same as a statute: both are physical manifestations seeking to depict a false god, or false ideas about God.
- Is Philo's position consistent with sound hermeneutics and exegesis of the first and second commandments?
- Are there other scholars or writings which state myths were considered to be the construction of idols and/or a violation of the second commandment?
1. Giovanni Filoramo, A History of Gnosticism, translated by Anthony Alcock, Basil Blackwell, 1990, p 49.