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October 18, 2008

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J. K. Gayle

a central question concerning all interpretation - when do we read a texts with a sense of literalism and when do we not?

A more central question: when is there ever not interpretation? Isn't the very parsing of "interpretation" into "sense of literalism" and "not" also an interpretation? At some point, our syllogisms are founded and must flounder on belief in a premise, a given, an axiom (an interpretation).

Derek Rishmawy

This post reminds me of one of the chapters in C.S. Lewis' book "Miracles." It talks about the use of imagery and language and all of that. He says something along the same lines but as always, strikes a very balanced and insightful tone, pointing out that even when we recognize some of the Biblical language as metaphorical, its doesn't mean that its not still useful or even the best language to use. In any case, we'd probably end up switching out one metaphorical term for another one thats just as metaphorical and might miss some of the original flavor. Part of the other danger involved in this kind of operation, which I do agree is necessary at times, is a form of chronological snobbery. Assuming that we, with our modern/postmodern, "scientific" outlook, will do a bang-up job explaiing what the Biblical authors were trying to say but didn't have the language for. I mean, I do get McGrath's point, but I'm not really sure that Luke wouldn't have written about Jesus floating on up into the clowds or that he obviously would have had to tell it some other way. I mean, he might have, but he might not. I'm not sure that its any less problematic to speaking of Jesus "fading out", "transporting", or what-have-you than to speak of him ascending on up. Again, I get the point. Lets not be wooden literalists. But, I would just say that while wooden literalism is one danger, at least as many, if not more, texts have been butchered by some kind of Bultmannian De-mythologization programme.

Thanks for the post Mike. I'll try and go find that Lewis quote for you.

Derek Rishmawy

The Lewis stuff on this subject is the chapter called "Horrid Red Things" in the book Miracles. It is such a brilliant piece. I appreciate it so much more now that I've actually read Biblical literature and real theology. I didn't see just how brilliant Lewis was. Freaky.

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