The Mythic Christ
Frazer’s Dying God in C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces
by Dominic Manganiello
The Golden Bough, published in several volumes between 1890 and 1915, captivated the modern literary imagination at the very moment when, in Lionel Trilling’s words, “the most massive and compelling of all stories of resurrection had lost much of its hold upon the world.”1 For the high modernists, James Frazer’s epoch-making account of ancient myths about a dying and reviving god signalled the eclipse of biblical grand narrative and its gospel truth. Even the young C. S. Lewis at first imbibed the relativistic spirit of the new anthropology. “All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name,” he wrote in 1916, “are merely man’s own invention—Christ as much as Loki.” Christianity was therefore a supreme fiction, “one mythology among many.”2
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