I get interviewed and talk about my favorite topic, metaphors in the Bible

It is forbidden to start threads that link to your own material, but I think this is allowed because it’s not my YouTube channel, I’m talking about an article published in the ASA journal PSCF, and I definitely give some promos for the BioLogos forum in this interview.

In case you have ever said to yourself “I wish Christy would talk MORE about how ‘metaphor’ doesn’t equal ‘not true’ and the days in Genesis can be normal days and we can still interpret the passage figuratively,” or “what a pain that I have to read all these words Christy is always typing about these topics, what about the auditory learners?”… well, HERE YOU GO!


Oh goody. Later! I’ve got an interview to listen to.


I really really had to resist flagging this as spam, but thought I would be nice. Enjoyed it, if you want a direct link to the YouTube, in case you are interested in the channel, here you go: Meaning of "Day" in Genesis 1 ft. Christy Hemphill - YouTube


Christy, you read my mind! In fact, think of all the time you will have saved me by consolidating all your metaphorical points into ONE TIDY INTERVIEW!!! I won’t have to go searching through the forum and reading all the metaphorical stuff I missed, while I was reading philosophical stuff instead.
Congratulations. I’m looking forward to this.

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Yay! You know Christie, even if you yourself were not the first to identify every idea from linguistics that you share, people who can share that with people not schooled in the field are hugely important. Thank you again for helping me with my ongoing education.


Where does truth, i.e. bottom line, absolute truth, end and metaphor begin, assuming that Jesus is God incarnate?

And by the way @Christy, more power to you!

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You added the qualifier ‘absolute’ as if to keep those two apart in your head. What’s so frightening about thinking of those two being one incarnational flesh? What if you have no access to any truth, (either the ‘absolute’ or ‘lesser’ sorts) except through metaphorical conceptual domains in your head?


I used to think truth was a simple matter of an assertion matching up with how things actually stand in the world. But then you realize there are also subjective truths about how things stand with you. Perhaps empirical truths can consist of nothing more than categorizations of sense data augmented my finer and finer instruments for measurement. But for sense data to cross over into sense making requires something more. It’s like the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Language is not a perfect tool for the job but metaphor helps to extend its limitations.

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Not a perfect tool for sure. Would you say it comes closest? Or maybe even is the only real tool we have?

Or to begin to respond to my own reply to @Klax, I suppose he is thinking of unfiltered, hard reality, and the necessity that all our thinking (metaphorical or otherwise) is always obliged to empirically rub up against that at some point. But our access to all such truth is always by some sort of mental construct - or what scientists would call models. I wonder if ‘model’ isn’t just the scientific lingo for ‘metaphor’ from our literary vocabulary set.

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I’d say that is about right. Maps and models are useful oversimplifications of reality.

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Why do you conceive of truth as by definition non-metaphorical? Truth is what corresponds with reality. Why can’t metaphorical expressions correspond with reality?

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It was a lot simpler then, wasn’t it?
Busting our heads against ideas entirely foreign to our own thinking is painful but valuable work. It teaches an intellectual humility that is otherwise unachievable and which makes no sense to the uninitiated.
Sadly, the apologetic tools I’m most familiar with rely on our older assumptions.

I find the limits and need for the use of language (very loosely defined here) fascinating. Theory and literature use language to express doubt about the usefulness of language to convey thought and truths, to provide access points. Yet, we cannot help ourselves. We talk to our selves and each other. We talk over generations, centuries, millennia. The urge to to share one’s mind and be understood is enormous, and enormously varied.
I grasp the point of the postmodern view that Truth does not exist, or if it does exist, is unknowable. I’m not ready to concede that it doesn’t exist, or that any of it is unknowable. But I fully confess that, if all truth were knowable to any of us, we lack the ability to integrate it all into any understandable structure.
Our limitations become more and more obvious the more we explore the edges.

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I operate under the assumption that there are many reliable truths. But I’m pessimistic about our ever having enough to say conclusively what else can not be true. Our map of reality will never be complete and worse, if it were it would be overwhelmingly useless.


That’s the second or third time you’ve done that. I’m all for the metaphorical truth of drama. But I’m not aware of any in logic, mathematics, physics and on up the chain of non-artistic abstract complexity until we get to the output of the human mind. Like drama. All the way to abstract art. Correspondence isn’t necessarily equality. And what Biblical metaphors have a close similarity to the reality behind the metaphors of salvation? Damnation?

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You’re avoiding the issue that lots of human thinking is fundamentally metaphorical, so the idea that truth=no metaphors is not based in how humans actually think.

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What has that got to do with truth? All theology is metaphor piled on metaphor. Where do we get to truth in that pile?

If I say “the price went up” that could be a true statement. It’s also based in the metaphor that up is more. You don’t have to remove metaphors to assess a truth value.

I also think you are conflating truth and certainty.

You can assign a truth value to a faith claim, but by definition the truth value of faith claims are not certain.

Up being spatial. OK. And, again and again and again, who is saying that truth=no metaphors? Are there truths that can only be expressed metaphorically? Is there no literal, absolute truth, [no certainty], no reality below the metaphor of salvation?

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I think the claim is that there are concepts that can only be expressed metaphorically, so if you want to make a claim about that concept, you will have to rely on metaphorical reasoning. Try to say anything about time for example that doesn’t use some conceptual metaphor about time is currency (spend time, waste time, invest time, lose time, earn time, take time, use time) or time is space (Those days are behind me, we are approaching the end) or time is a container (I fill my time with reading).


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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