Metaphor as more-than-fact

By Toni Benlliure on Unsplash

When I tell people that I believe the Bible is largely metaphorical, many think I’m discounting it. But this couldn’t be further from the truth...

The way I see it, metaphor isn’t inferior to literal truth. I see metaphor as being more-than-literal and more-than-factual in that it delivers the full range of meaning that language offers.

In our rational western world (not knocking it — trust me, I love science and am glad my doctor does too), we value things by how literal-factual they are.

Literal-factual language can describe an event. It can tell us about what happened (or didn’t happen). It can help us solve problems in our world. But it falls short when we’re talking about the stuff that carries deeper meaning. It can only speak so far into the experiential impact of any given event.

Hence, we have metaphor.

When we get into metaphor, we go deeper, brighter, and louder than literal fact.

Ancient scribes didn’t write like journalists. They were poetic, mystical storytellers.

When I read that Jesus walked on water, I get that it may not be someone writing a journalistic account of what happened (?). But that doesn’t discount it for me. If anything, it imbues the story with more truth and meaning than a literal recalling of factual events.

As a human, when you tell me a story about something that happened to you — something that moved you at your core, what I really care about is how it landed on your soul.

This is more interesting to me than just what happened to you.

The truth of the matter lies — not solely in factual accuracy — but in more-than-factual metaphor.