I Was Once Ignorant of Great Bones

In Flavius Philostratus, Heroikos 8.18, a character known as “the Phoenician” is told about the gigantic bones of various ancient heroes and demi-gods which had been found in various places.

After listening to the list, the Phoenician says that he didn’t formerly believe in such stories about Greek heroes and demi-gods, but does now on the basis of the ‘great bones” which have been discovered. And it gives rise to this great line:

ἐγω δε μεγαλα [ὀστα] μεν ἠγνοουν, ἀνοητως δε ἠπιστουν
“I was ignorant of such great bones, and out of ignorance I disbelieved.”

Adrienne Mayor argues in The First Fossil Hunters that the great bones which were found, and which were attributed to Greek heroes and demi-gods, were typically the remains of mastodons and whales.

However, none of these opinions of so-called modern science should pose any sort of problem for the true believer in giant heroes and demi-gods. As a believer in giant heroes and demi-gods, I don’t have the luxury of dispensing with things just because our culture thinks we should. Culture isn’t the final arbiter of truth. Revelation is. Sure, Adrienne Mayor may believe, based on the presuppositions of her materialist-naturalist worldview, that the giant bones of heroes and demi-gods are just “mastodons” and “whales”. But has anybody seen one of these so-called “mastodons”? No – so it equally depends on FAITH. We have different perspectives PRECISELY because I see life through the lens of faith in giant heroes and demi-gods and she does not. It is for this reason that our views on several issues differ…I simply recognize that, at the end of the day, we approach problems and issues from differing starting points.

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