Literal?

Willie amused his acquaintances and embarrassed his family. He was challenged. He talked about Jesus constantly and carried a tattered bag or apples and oranges. Did not the Bible tell us to bear fruit? Well, yes; but figuratively–the fruit of the Spirit. I think of that old story each time I hear tribal spokespersons trying to out-Bible each other.

Burning energy on literal and inerrant is pointless. I know they are talking about original manuscripts, but there’s more to it than that. Even if we had them all the manuscripts, you can’t translate from one language to another by simply finding equivalent words. Each language has untranslatable nuances. You can bet your boots on that.

To translate, you must know the culture and mores of the times. Our desk Bibles are made up of ancient writings in three languages by 40 or more writers over a span of 1,600 years. That’s a lot of culture. And there’s another problem: translators theological views influence their work.

Consider Matthew 16:24-26: “Then Jesus told His disciples, If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Soul, appearing twice in verse 26, is the same Greek word translated life in verse 25. The translator turned interpreter, altering the meaning of the text for the average reader.

I cherish my Bible, but my authority rests in Jesus, who claimed all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). The literal meaning of figurative language is what the writer intended.

Old Grandpa Lloyd