Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Divine Child

  • David A. LeemingEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_175

The myth of the divine child is ubiquitous in religious traditions. The child is a potential savior for a society in need. He or she represents radical change, the possibility of a new beginning. As such, he is a threat to the status quo, and the representatives of the status quo – wicked kings and demonic monsters – therefore fight the child.

To represent the idea that the child is associated with divine intentions, his father is often divine. To emphasize that he is also of this world, he must be born of a human female. But the conception of the child is often miraculous – out of the ordinary – to signify his divine nature and to suggest that he belongs to the whole society rather than to any one family.

In ancient Egypt, the so-called Delta cycle of the Osiris myth contains the story of Isis conceiving a son, Horus, by her dead husband, the god-king, Osiris. Isis flees the usurper king, Seth, the brother and killer of Osiris, and gives birth to Horus in the hidden swamps of the...

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Bibliography

  1. Campbell, J. (1968 [1956]). The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Jung, C., & Kerenyi, C. (1951). Introduction to a science of mythology: The myth of the divine child and the mysteries of Eleusis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  3. Leeming, D. (1998). Mythology: The voyage of the hero (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Rank, O. (1959). The myth of the birth of the hero and other writings. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA