All these years later, I'm learning that understanding the literal meaning of the Bible is a more nuanced adventure than my college friends and I imagined. We'd been blithely unaware that there is more than one genre in the Bible, or that literary context profoundly matters to meaning. We didn't understand that when we read ancient Hebrew prose poems (like Genesis 1), wisdom literature (like Proverbs), or apocalyptic literature (like Revelation) as if they were science textbooks, we were actually obscuring their meaning.Yeah, this whole article is kind of amazing. Please go check it out now.
For me, the most negative consequence of all that well-intentioned literalism was the conviction that Yahweh, having given us his straightforward Word, was completely comprehensible. This paradigm both diminished my perception of God and set up my faith for crisis when I discovered aspects of God that remain stubbornly shrouded in mystery.
If you'd told me back then that the language we have for God—even (especially) much of our biblical language—must be understood analogically, I would have prayed for you and backed away slowly. I wouldn't have understood that there are no words that can be applied to God exactly the same way they are applied to creaturely things, no language that can be used "univocally."
- Carolyn Arends
I find this interesting because of the examples she uses and the way she talks about how we use words for God and humans that mean different things when we use them about God. I suspect the descriptors of God as Father and Christ as Bridegroom fit in this category.
Have you ever had a very "literal" mindset toward the Bible? If so, are you still there, or are you in a different place now? Have you ever had a moment of insight about the meaning of a word used to describe God being different from the same word being used to describe a regular human being? Or is this the first time you've really thought about it?