I saw the picture on the right on the blog nah then and it got me thinking about how Biblical authors and other ancient religious teachers and thinkers “used” metaphors and imagery from their time to express their ideas.
But of course, for the most part they didn’t “use” them. They inhabited them, and assumed them, and took them for granted. They were not free to “use” them or not use them any more than we are free to completely bypass the language or languages we speak, or the cultures we grow up with or come to reside in.
To give but one example, when New Testament authors spoke of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice, they were stretching that terminology (although perhaps in ways in which it had already been stretched previously). But sacrifice itself was something they took for granted.We, on the other hand, if we are part of a religious tradition and are interested in updating it and communicating it and contextualizing it for our time, often start with ancient metaphors and imagery, and then try to find points of contact in our own setting in history and our own culture.
I wonder what the human religious impulse might produce in our time if it were possible to completely forget traditional ways of expressing ideas, and work wholly within the thought world, the technology, and the language of our time.