Daily Reflection: Allegorically Speaking | Galatians 4:21-23
And this picture can be viewed symbolically, metaphorically, allegorically – there’s much more here than initially meets the eye! For those two women, these two mothers, are stand-ins for two covenants. Galatians 4:24 | MAV
In his book, Eyes Remade for Wonder, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner observes that there is “an important difference between literalism and metaphor. Literalism is clear, unequivocal, complete. Metaphor is suggestive, illusive, unsure of itself, unfinished, if you will, a little foggy. ‘And the Lord will appear in a cloud.’ In a cloud everything is up for grabs. According to the rabbis, each word of the sacred text has seventy faces and 600,000 meanings. Scripture, like Freud taught of any dream, is infinitely analyzable. And all the parts are essential – every word, every letter. There is, in principle, no distinction between the ten commandments and chapter 36 of Genesis, which delineates the progeny of Esau.” Most of us in western culture are only trained and therefore comfortable, mostly, with the literal. Every sentence has only one meaning. Clear, unequivocal, complete. God said it, I believe it, that settles it (someone should really make that into a bumper sticker). Scripture consistently attests to the fact that there is more. Every turn, every jot, every tittle matters. Not that we want to be weird with that. Just aware. This is where Paul goes when he explores Abraham’s family portrait. There are layers. There is more here than meets the eye. Victor Hugo describes one of his characters as examining life “with the eye of a linguist who is deciphering a palimpsest,” i.e. someone who not only reads between the lines, but who can see underneath them. Eyes remade for wonder indeed.
How do you tend to handle Scripture? Do you see it with layers of meaning potentially to be unpacked with the Holy Spirit’s help and illumination? Do you see it as something a bit more literal and straightforward? What are the potential pluses and minuses present within each approach?
Lord, let your Word be more of an open book to me. Open wide my heart to you as I encounter you in its pages – in, between, through, over, and behind the lines on each page of the Book and of my life.
The whole text this week is Galatians 4:21-31. Read it daily in it’s entirety from a few different translations if possible. You can get the full background of Abraham’s story in Genesis chapters 16-21.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.