Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Yet another reason Catholics are careful interpreting the Bible...

...is many biblical books are different literary genres.

We unconsciously account for this in everyday life; we treat the news, blog posts, poetry, and email differently. We expect hyperbole in a poem and we expect straight facts in news. We expect barebones and relevant details in emails because we already know the person sending it and we’ve already talked through most of it before.

Then we sit down with the Bible and treat the whole thing the same way. We read the world was created in six days (Gen 1), that the entire world was flooded and only one family survived (Gen , and that we must eat Jesus’ body and blood (Jn 6). Then we decide either of it needs to be read like a newspaper with stark facts or all of it needs to be read like a poem full of allegory and hyperbole. Or, more likely, we pick and choose which bits we want to take in a literalist sense and which we want in a symbolic sense because it’s rare people believe the world was created in six-consecutive 24 hour periods and also believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist.

When we acknowledge that the Bible is like a library or a compendium of related but distinct writings then we can start to really get at what God’s trying to say through the human authors who wrote it.

That the authors God used to write the Bible used different literary styles is yet another reason Catholics are careful when interpreting the Bible.

(Image Credit:  ElementOfPersuasion)

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