Scriptural Models and Metaphors: The Power of the Visual Word

Speaker: Categories: Nov 13, 2004


[56min, 40sec / 50min, 17sec]


"Streets of gold,""gates of pearl,"and a wall around the city made of twelve layers of precious stones. . . Did the author of these descriptive features of the New Jerusalem inRevelation 21intend that his readers and hearers consider them to be literal or metaphoric? Was the writer using an appropriatemodelfor communicating with his reader-audience? How do you understand them nearly 2000 years later? If metaphoric, how common was such literary device during the time when the Bible was first written? Do you think God inspired the writers to use specificliterary devices such as metaphors- and other specificmodels- or did he leave such choices up to the creative ingenuity of the writer himself?

"Teaching models,"Dr. Taylor notes,"have long been recognized as the most effective way for educators to bridge from the known to the unknown. Comparisons and contrasts highlight similarities and differences and extend our understanding. Similes are easy to recognize, since they are cast as a comparison (usually with words such aslikeoras), and concomitantly acknowledge that the items being compared are not to be fully equated."

"Metaphors are more subtle,"our November speaker advises,"and it is easy to mistake the metaphor for the truth being illustrated. This is of vital importance. Since we know nothing about God directly, it is only through similes and metaphors drawnfrom earthly situationsthat we can begin to understand the God of the universe. However, when God is presented in such roles as parent, as judge, as shepherd, as Lord of Hosts, or as the Rock, it is often easy to forget that these arehumanmetaphors and that we should NOT treat them as thetruth."

"On the other hand,"Dr. Taylor assures,"when rightly understood, metaphors and models are effective because they allow us tovisualizethe similarities between the human and the divine. -the power of the visual word!"


Dr. Taylor is Scholar in Residence at Loma Linda University Church, where he has been pastoring for the past 14 years. His doctorate from Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, was in Old Testament, and his specialty is the Septuagint. His latest book,Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography, for which he was the lead editor and to which he contributed two papers, was published by Eerdmans this year. He is currently editor of the annual peer-reviewed journalBulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies. He is also co-chair of the Biblical Lexicography Section for the Society of Biblical Literature. He is married with two grown children.

He has made two previous presentations to SDAF October,'97,The Fascination with the Legal Model of Salvation; and January,'99,Translating a Translation. On each of these occasions the SDAF audience, both in person and via tapes, enjoyed being further informed and having their thinking challenged.

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