Questions that haunt: did people of Jesus’ time even expect the stories they were telling to be taken literally? Would they be shocked to learn that 2,000 years later we are interpreting them that way?
They told lots of stories then about people who were sons of god, and born of virgins, and resurrected — these were themes that came up regularly. It doesn’t seem to me (or to most scholars since David Friedrich Strauss, I think), that first century folks approached storytelling with the idea that their stories were literally accurate (they instead were symbolically True).
What if when we try to interpret the virgin birth or the resurrection as historically true (rather than symbolically True) we’re just completely misunderstanding the original intent of these stories?What if people in antiquity were way more sophisticated than we are, and they would think we were impossibly thick to be interpreting their beautiful stories this way?
To give a modern example, what if I had a southern friend who said “She’s so crazy about her man, it’s like he hung the moon.” And I said, “Oh, I don’t think his ladder would reach that high.” Imagine the reaction I would get….
Great comments, as always. This week, there wasn’t really one thread that dominated, but lots of smaller threads, chasing down various ideas. I’ll probably touch on lots of them with my more narrative response:
I’m a regular blog reader though I’ve never commented. Here is my ‘question that haunts’ which may belie my fundamentalist background: Is the trajectory of our human culture/world/society positive or negative? In other words, are we fighting the long defeat until Christ returns to set things right or are we participating in an ever-advancing Kingdom of The Heavens (Willard) which will someday culminate with Christ’s return?