Blame it all on metaphors

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  1. A.Villarasa profile image61
    A.Villarasaposted 7 years ago

    Humans, from way back when we started  language as a communication tool,  used  metaphors as a linguistic mechanism to express otherwise abstract ideas into something concrete. Linguists have argued that metaphorical expressions are surface  phenomena, organized and generated by mappings in people's mind, thus concluding that the reason why systematic and coherent metaphorical language exist is because people think metaphorically--- most of the time. Linguists  has claimed, based on empirical evidence, that  people  think metaphorically even in the absence of metaphorical language

    This conceptual-metaphor explanation suggests that we think of and understand abstract  concepts like affection or morality by metaphorically mapping them onto more concrete conceptual  realities ie affection as warmth, morality as cleanliness. In terms of utility, the conceptual-metaphor explanation is transformative because it allows us to communicate otherwise abstract ideas into concrete forms that are easily grasped and understood.

    So how does this apply to biblical narratives. I have always maintained in multiple discussions with folks on HubPages, that these biblical stories, some if not most of them, could and should be interpreted metaphorically rather than literally to get at  the TRUTH, in the same way I suppose that Jesus used parables to teach moral values.

    1. Dr CHE Sadaphal profile image59
      Dr CHE Sadaphalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      It applies to Biblical narratives in that if you interpret everything metaphorically, then nothing is literally true, but merely symbolic.

      It's one thing when Jesus sits down and tells people a parable which is clearly a metaphor but when this interpretative technique is taken out of context and applied to the Bible as a whole, it strips literal meaning.

      1. A.Villarasa profile image61
        A.Villarasaposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Are you then implying that the truth we uncover metaphorically is much less important or valid or joyful than the one we uncover literally because it is nothing more than symbolism?

        IMO truth is truth and truth can never be a symbol of anything except of itself. Now in the world where we materially/physically exist  there are  unknown truths but could become knowable be they by literal or metaphorical means. On the other hand there are unknown truths which could never be known by whatever mechanism until we are in front of it, not physically, but spiritually or transcendentally. If you believe in life after death, that's exactly the time when all truths are knowable.

        1. Dr CHE Sadaphal profile image59
          Dr CHE Sadaphalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

          I'm not implying anything. What I am literally saying is that if you search for and uphold metaphorical interpretation as the primary exegetical technique for extracting truth, the truth will very easily be diluted with subjectivism. People can extract divergent metaphors and thus disagree on the same original "truth."

          Example: Exodus 20:17 says, "Don't covet." The literal interpretation is: "Don't covet." It's just that simple. If this command is taken as a metaphor, one could invent very creative meaning as to what this text "really means."

          And because "truth is truth and truth can never be a symbol of anything except of itself" it is independent of how it makes you feel whether joyful, sad, or indifferent.

          1. A.Villarasa profile image61
            A.Villarasaposted 7 years agoin reply to this

            Can you give me examples of how you could interpret "Don't covet" metaphorically that could then lead to a lot of confusion and therefore truth is not uncovered because of that confusion?

            1. Dr CHE Sadaphal profile image59
              Dr CHE Sadaphalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

              I certainly can't and that's my point because there is no rational metaphorical interpretation of one commandment or the Decalogue. If a person did do that, it would amount to eisegesis by necessity.

              To validate that point check this article by someone who did use metaphor: … 022-389363

              Now "Do not covet" is magically transformed into "Do not be jealous of foreign religions."

              1. A.Villarasa profile image61
                A.Villarasaposted 7 years agoin reply to this

                The interpretation of anything obviously needs to be done or derived from whatever context the story or narrative or statement was made to begin with. And I'm not saying that metaphorical interpretation should be the primary method of looking for uncovered truths, but that if the story or narrative or statement is not amenable to literal interpretation because if it is done that way, the conclusion goes haywire I.e. beyond logic, reason, or empirical evidence, then metaphorical interpretation becomes a necessity.

                1. Dr CHE Sadaphal profile image59
                  Dr CHE Sadaphalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

                  Interpretation from context? Yes, and from the Biblical cannon as a whole. Ultimately what works best is when God is allowed to interpret His own words with His own other words (II Timothy 3:16). Therefore, when scripture interprets scripture, humans run less and less risk of telling God what in fact He really meant.

                2. wilderness profile image94
                  wildernessposted 7 years agoin reply to this

                  Why?  Why is it a necessity?  Why not simply accept that the story was wrong?

                  1. A.Villarasa profile image61
                    A.Villarasaposted 7 years agoin reply to this

                    So do you have evidence  that these biblical passages are wrong?

      2. Oztinato profile image78
        Oztinatoposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Look, everything is not a metaphor!
        A parable is a parable, a metaphor is a metaphor, a poem is a poem an historical account of a place name is an historical account of a place name etc.
        There are numerous grammatical devices other than just metaphors.

  2. Oztinato profile image78
    Oztinatoposted 7 years ago

    you are making very pertinent points here regarding the proper scientific study of ancient documents.
    Of course metaphor has to be understood as a crucial concept.

    Antiquated forms of speech and modes of thought HAD to be expressed via certain expressions and metaphors by the peoples of the past.

    I often use the example of "the Son of" which was a frequent expression (still in use!) by ancient Middle Eastern peoples. For example the "Son of the Desert", "Son of Jackal", or "the Son of Man" etc.

    It is truly baffling and entirely inexcusable for so called Biblical scholars (be they atheist of not) to forget the importance of metaphor and ancient expression. If a person fails to absorb this important point they are guilty of wilful ignorance and are merely trying to obfuscate.

  3. cheaptrick profile image71
    cheaptrickposted 7 years ago

    I Love Metaphors!...but they can be dangerous if you don't think them through.Take the 'Casting wheat' metaphor in the bible(seeds in weeds,seeds on hard path,seeds in good earth, etc);We all remember that one right...?...but think it through.
    What happens to a good healthy crop of wheat when it's harvested?It's ground up,cooked,eaten,and pooped out!!!EWE!!!
    I don't want to end up as holy sh#t! you?
    So think your metaphors through or you could get in trouble...just a tip from your uncle cheaptrick...or is it?


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