Friday, February 18, 2011

One Opposition to a Mythical Interpretation

Yesterday i wrote about a literal/historical understanding of scripture as opposed to a more mythical understanding and asked your thoughts. I also alluded to the fact that I consider some accounts in the bible as mythical rather than historical.

As you can imagine, there are many who oppose this view and present to me many different arguments which most of the time come down to issue of absoluteness, inspiration, inerrancy, or the authority of scripture.

One argument of opposition I get from others who take a more literal approach in their understanding of the Bible is that you can not take part of it literal and part of it mythical. I think there is a real fear of a slippery slope here and not having that absolute foundation that so many base their faith upon. (Absolute and faith usually don't go together)

While I have no problem with someone interpreting the bible literal, I do think this argument (which I've heard many times) holds no weight and i actually find it quite funny. I find it funny because most who would make such an argument also believe that heaven is a real place with streets of gold you can see though, a pearly gate, and a foundation made from twelve different precious stones.

This description, which many take literal, is found in the book of Revelation and is often portrayed in churches as what Heaven actually looks like, throw in some mansions from a poorly interpreted passage found in John, and you have yourself a pretty awesome, exciting view of the afterlife.

However, also found in the book of revelation are dragons with multiple heads who are wearing crowns, locus wearing body armor, a whore riding around on the back of a dragon, angels made of up of different animal body parts, and the list of metaphoric imagery goes on and on.

My point being that the same people who tell me that you can not consider parts of the Bible mythical while other parts literal or historical, are actually committing the very act they speak against all within one book of the Bible.


JustinGaynor said...

I feel your pain bro

The irony as regards St.John's Revelation is that in verse one John tells us the book is going to be symbolic in nature...due to the modernist/literal worldview the text has been interpreted literally everywhere except where it's specifically stated otherwise. Based on the books self definition we should interpret it symbolically everywhere except where it is specifically stated otherwise. We would have a much better reading of the Holy Scripture if we did that.

Revelation is one book that you can discuss with very few people in our western traditions...unfortunately.

JustinGaynor said...

ps There is a huge gulf between a 'historical' view and 'literal' view. History aka 'real time and space' can be discussed and interpreted symbolically/metaphorically/allegorically etc. which it is in the scriptures more often than not.

The idea of having spiritual eyes is to see behind the surface of things and to judge rightly...this includes looking at real things in real history, learning from them and telling the Truth about them. It is a vision that requires symbolism/metaphor/allegory/parable...people have a hard enough time understanding earthly things much less heavenly things.

I like the switch you made from 'historical' to 'historical/literal'...a direction I pray you will continue moving in as you are more accurately identifying the issue.