Interpret that metaphorically

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by John3v36, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. John3v36

    John3v36
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    If you can not take the Bible literally. How do you know If you take something metaphorically?
    And How do you know what it means?

    This is for all You non-literal types.
     
  2. rsr

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    Most of the time, by common sense.

    Job 30:22
    You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
    you toss me about in the storm. " ESV

    Would you consider this literal?

    There are some tougher passages, but metaphor abounds in the Bible.
     
  3. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    John,

    First of all, just because something is not taken literally does not mean that it is taken metaphorically. It could be seen as a wide spectrum of things. If you think about the way you talk, you employ a variety of figures of speech, hyperboles, images, etc.

    The major tip for taking a passage as figurative is to understand the text in its proper genre. If a psalm is poetry, you read it as poetry; not as an epistle. If a the book of Job is a play, you don't read it as if it is the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. If Revelation is apocalyptic, we shouldn't read it as a gospel.

    We don't help the Bible by being dogmatic about what it doesn't intend to say.
     
  4. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Ah yes!... The metaphorically and symbolic interpretation of scripture... Don't you just love it?... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  5. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    No Glen, I am not Catholic. I don't need the official interpretation given to me by the authoritarian church. The method is subjective. It is no wonder people are so off base.
     
  6. John3v36

    John3v36
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    You have a point but when I see thing like:

    :Yet for thousands of years when the Bible said that God "stopped the sun" that was interpreted literally. Now that we are certain that we live in a heliocentric universe, our extra-biblical reason has led us to interpret that metaphorically."
    Said by Rev. Joshua, in "Theological Method: Is sola scriptura possible?"

    It seems statements are made sometimes just because. I take the sun stopped to tell me it did not move though the sky. I understand ther are type in the Bible and figure of speach.
     
  7. Johnv

    Johnv
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    One word: Context.
     
  8. tyndale1946

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    Preach the word I have not the foggiest idea what you are talking about? :confused: Are not the scriptures full of metaphors and symbolisms?... What does Catholicism have to do with anything?... Clarify what you mean I'm a Primitive Baptist and don't understand what you are so upset about?... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  9. Bartholomew

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    Ah, but Rev. Joshua's problem is that he's been decieved by over-simplified philosophy, masquerading as science. There's no reason to take this any way other than literally. Although science used to say that the sun couldn't go around the earth, it's come back to its senses and shown that in fact it can. I thoroughly argued this on the ETs thread:

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=001129;p=1

    from page 3 onwards. I don't want to hijack this thread to talk about the same thing, so go there if you're interested in the subject.

    Overall I'd say, "Take the Bible literally". Nobody ever reads baptist board threads and decides the author really meant to highlight the spiritual battle between good and evil (or something similar); rather than just literally meaning what he wrote. So, neither should we do this with the Bible.

    OK, there are metaphors, but these are always in a literal context, and they are probably all obvious to identify (although their meaning isn't always obvious).

    Of course there are parables, but the text is still literally true because it usually says, "Then he said" (or something similar) beforehand. The speaker literally said that. And of course, the parable always teaches literal truth.

    Finally, there are symbols in, say, the book of Revelaion. But the Bible is still literal, because John literally did see what he said he did. The symbols are usually obvious, because they are often said to be such; and the interpretation of the symbol is also often given (though sometimes more clues can be found in the Bible's interpretation of similar symbols elsewhere in the Bible). Thus when John sees a beast with ten horns, and the horns are said to be 10 kings, then there is no problem: He literally saw the beast's horns, but these were symolic of ten literal kings. To make the Bible's interpretation of the symbol itself symbolic (i.e. to make the kings symbolic of something else) makes a mockery of the text. If the interpretation of at least part of the symbol isn't given, it could well be that it isn't a symbol at all.

    Thus, if in doubt, take it literally!

    Your friend and brother,

    Bartholomew
     
  10. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Bartholomew,

    Your reason is clouded. According to your logic, something could be literal if it is literally a metaphor. :confused:

    Understanding a text's genre does not demand that the truth of the text be clouded. Instead, understanding a text in its historically conditioned genre is literally the only way of correctly interpreting a text, whether we are intended to read it as a literal fiction (wow that's an interesting term) or a literal history (I would contend that this is a misnomer equal to a literal fiction).
     
  11. John3v36

    John3v36
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    Ah, but Rev. Joshua's problem is that he's been decieved by over-simplified philosophy, masquerading as science. There's no reason to take this any way other than literally. Although science used to say that the sun couldn't go around the earth, it's come back to its senses and shown that in fact it can. I thoroughly argued this on the ETs thread:

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=001129;p=1

    from page 3 onwards. I don't want to hijack this thread to talk about the same thing, so go there if you're interested in the subject.

    Overall I'd say, "Take the Bible literally". Nobody ever reads baptist board threads and decides the author really meant to highlight the spiritual battle between good and evil (or something similar); rather than just literally meaning what he wrote. So, neither should we do this with the Bible.

    OK, there are metaphors, but these are always in a literal context, and they are probably all obvious to identify (although their meaning isn't always obvious).

    Of course there are parables, but the text is still literally true because it usually says, "Then he said" (or something similar) beforehand. The speaker literally said that. And of course, the parable always teaches literal truth.

    Finally, there are symbols in, say, the book of Revelaion. But the Bible is still literal, because John literally did see what he said he did. The symbols are usually obvious, because they are often said to be such; and the interpretation of the symbol is also often given (though sometimes more clues can be found in the Bible's interpretation of similar symbols elsewhere in the Bible). Thus when John sees a beast with ten horns, and the horns are said to be 10 kings, then there is no problem: He literally saw the beast's horns, but these were symolic of ten literal kings. To make the Bible's interpretation of the symbol itself symbolic (i.e. to make the kings symbolic of something else) makes a mockery of the text. If the interpretation of at least part of the symbol isn't given, it could well be that it isn't a symbol at all.

    Thus, if in doubt, take it literally!

    Your friend and brother,

    Bartholomew
    </font>[/QUOTE]Thanks Bartholomew

    [​IMG] Saint John
     
  12. Bartholomew

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    If something is literally a metaphor, then you take it as a metaphor. And if you take it as a metaphor, you don't take it literally. Instead, you read it as a comparison (used by saying one thing "is" another), conveying literal truth as it describes the literal scene.

    For example, "The man was a lion in the fight". Here, "lion" is literally a metaphor. You take it as meaning the man was like a lion, in that he was ferocious. There was a literal man and a literal fight.

    I know of no Bible signposts saying, "Hey, don't take me literally because I'm a different genre!" Who decides the genre? Psalms is poetry, yet it contains vast amounts of literal truth, even literal prophecy. Daniel is apocalyptic, yet it contains a vast amount of literal truth, even literal prophecy. I think the genre question is a bit of a red herring.

    Your friend and brother,

    Bartholomew
     
  13. weeping prophet

    weeping prophet
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    Context also, the whole of the revelation.WP
     
  14. Deacon

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    Bartholomew writes:
    In the book of Amos (9:13), he writes, “… the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God. Is this to be taken literally or metaphorically? Is it so obvious???
     
  15. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Bartholomew,

    Genre is only a red herring when you refuse to see its implications. Of course there are no signposts, the scriptures are culturally condition literary works. Maybe we should find a strongly debated example so we can get out of this abstract debate to something more concrete (you might say from this figurative discussion to a literal example [​IMG] ).

    "When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers . . . (Psalm 8:3a)"
    This is an example of a poetic image that we should take figuratively. It must be taken figuratively for two reasons: 1) God has no fingers (now we have many passages throughout the OT with theophanies that should be taken figuratively), and 2) Genesis 1 says that God spoke and things happened (he didn't use his fingers, although one could contend that Genesis 2 is another case).

    We have some other very important examples of genre being the major battle. Is Jonah a true story or a literary fiction?
     
  16. M Wickens

    M Wickens
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    Where common sense makes sense, seek no other sense.
     
  17. John3v36

    John3v36
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    That makes sense [​IMG]

    [​IMG] Saint John3v36
     
  18. Bartholomew

    Bartholomew
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    I'd say literally. Why can't (at least some of) the hills melt when Christ returns? Also, if lots of grapes are growing on the mountains, then it's quite likely that some of the juice will spill onto the mountains, and drop off. It doesn't say mountains will produce sweet wine; only drop it. But then, since the grapes would be grown from nutrients and water from the mountains, then the mountains would be producing the sweet wine as well. Why not take it literally?
     
  19. Bartholomew

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    Sorry bro - I don't agree. What reason is there to think God doesn't have fingers, etc. (other than man's tradition)? He clearly does - lots of passages attest to the fact. Just because God is a spirit is no reason - Samuel came back from the dead as a spirit (when he spoke with Saul), and he not only had human form but also a cloak! If spirits can have clothes, they can certainly have fingers.
    "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also." (Genesis 1:14-16)

    Notice the words, "And God made"; but it does not say how they were made. Yes he spoke, but Genesis does not say this directly made the moon and stars. Psalm 8 shows he actually used his fingers.

    "And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,"

    Besides, this next verse shows he set them in the heaven - he could have done that with his fingers!!!
    It is literal history. If Jonah is fiction, what else can you decide is fiction? Who decides what genre something is? What is the "fiction genre"? This seems a non-biblical method of interpretation.

    Your frined and brother,

    Bartholomew
     
  20. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Bartholomew,

    You simply don't see how entirely absurd what you are saying is. There was a post about common sense earlier, maybe this would apply better than anything I could say. You are taking good literature and making it into a highly developed sciece or philosophy text.

    Why can't we read scripture like we read everything else, in a nuanced and commonsensical way. The thing about the mountains dripping with wine: I laughed out loud so hard I fell out of my chair [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] . This is a poetical way of talking about bounty. As far as the creation stuff, you are taking two poems and making them say the same thing. Your approach says much more about your position than the theology of scripture.

    What does it hurt to take Jonah as a fiction?

    Who decides what genre something is? The author did, now it is the job of a trained eye mixed with a lot of common sense to recognize it. I have spent so much time working with biblical literary and rhetorical criticisms that in most cases I can recognize it immediately. Within scholarly circles, there is not that much disagreement over genre issues (unless you are talking about something like Jonah or Daniel).
     

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