A Christian man once said: ‘The stories of Jesus’ birth—including his miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, the Star of Bethlehem that led the wise men to where he was found, angels singing in the night sky—we now generally understand those as symbolic narratives or metaphorical narratives.’
The same man continued, ‘When I use the word metaphor, I want to underline that, for me, the word metaphor points to the more than literal, more than factual meaning of language,….I emphasise that because, for many people in the modern world, metaphor is sometimes seen as inferior to the language of factuality.’
And he plodded on, ‘I would say metaphorical language is actually more important than literal language, because metaphor is about meaning. Pretty much every story is in the Bible because our ancestors found meaning in them.’
These are actually the words of a man called Marcus Borg; a most influential New Testament scholar the ABC news tells us. See the whole story from ABC here.
My mother told me Santa Claus was real too. Only later to retract her 10 years of storytelling to clarify that he, Santa was really just a metaphor. Maybe she also meant to say ‘metaphor is not inferior to the language of factuality’ like scholar Borg.
I think we have moved on thanks to science (kudos to Darwin) and those marvelous inventors and technicians, modern civil society, respect of diversity and tolerance of different religious beliefs, modern technology, human rights, and lets not forget the development of the brain including our very own bullshit detection tools. By golly it’s taken a while.