Interpretation and Metaphor

Many people interpret the Bible without noticing the metaphors in what they are reading. They think they are doing a literal reading, but really they are ignoring the plain meaning of the text.

What we read is what the author wrote.

The next step is to figure out why the author wrote it the way it is written, what the author meant to communicate, and how the author expected readers to receive it.

That step is where the problems often come in. For example, let’s look at Proverbs 5:15-20 (this is the NRSV):

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for sharing with strangers.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
may you be intoxicated always by her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, by another woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress

It is not a literal reading to see this passage as discussing the water supply and fauna and alcoholic stupor.

The advice is for a man to stick to his wife less she decide to be unfaithful herself. Let the marriage remain pure for life. Don’t let it become stale. Keep it spicy.

This one is easy. Not too many people will misread this one unless they are simply obtuse. But the same principle applies to the rest of the Bible too.

Biblical literacy includes the ability to read properly and not be stupid.

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