You Mean Jesus Isn’t Literally a Vine? Metaphors in the Bible (Beth Stovell)

What does it mean to say that Jesus is the vine? Does He have roots or produce grapes? What is the connection between giving birth and fighting a war? Why does the Bible refer to God’s nose as being long? In this episode, Dr. Beth Stovell talks to Dr. Dru Johnson about the complex world of metaphors in the Bible.

Rather than “just the facts,” metaphors in the Bible give us a way of thinking that involves the whole being, including one’s mind, emotions, body, and imagination. Scripture uses this poetic language not to be fancy or impressionistic, but because it conveys a richer world of meaning than “simple” or “technical” language. They also discuss some of the weirdest metaphors in Scripture, how scientists use metaphorical language construction to classify reality, and how to demystify the language of Scripture.

They end with remarks on how we can access the metaphorical imagination of the biblical texts by engaging with the various experiences of the members of our communities.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 The truth of metaphors in the Bible
  • 3:38 Why Scripture uses metaphors
  • 11:13 Factual versus poetic language
  • 13:26 Weird metaphors in Scripture
  • 17:08 Scientific taxonomies
  • 25:20 The construction of language in the ancient world
  • 30:47 Accessing the meaning of the biblical texts

Learn more about Dr. Beth Stovell and her work.

Show notes by Micah Long.

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