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myth +‎ -icism. In occasional use since the 1840s.

The earliest use of the term was in Christian theology, in reference to the "Mythic Theory" of D. F. Strauss (1835). The more general sense appears from the 1870s.


mythicism (countable and uncountable, plural mythicisms)

  1. (theology) the scholarly opinion that the gospels are mythologically expansions of historical data
    • 1845: "Truly, if the caput mortuum of Christianity which mythicism leaves us, be all that is true of our religion, our feelings would tempt us to forgive the Evangelists who have so beautifully deceived, rather than the critics who so coldly disenchant us." (The Christian examiner, vol. 39, p. 160)
  2. the habitual practice of attributing everything to mythological causes; superstition, the opposite of rationalism, or of realism
    • 1911 "The Californias were an inaccessible and mysterious Occident, invested in the imagination of most mankind with almost Babylonian mythicism." (R. G. Badger, Don Sagasto's daughter)
  3. the creative potential for the creation of mythology; the faculty of mythopoeia
    • 1971 "Individual works are all potential myths, but it is their collective adoption that actualises - if such should be the case - their 'mythicism'." (Levi-Strauss)
    • 1998 "the playful animal familiars of the heroine [in Disney's Pocahontas] are real animals, because this is real mythicism, not pure imagination." (Ziauddin Sardar, Postmodernism and the other: the new imperialism of Western culture, p. 89)
  4. the view that a certain figure is unhistorical or mythical, chiefly in the context of pseudo-scholarship or conspiracy theories.
    1. (in particular) the opinion that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist in any way whatsoever

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