Over the last few posts I have argued that literal interpretation is best understood as reading a text in order to understand the author’s original intent. What I am really arguing for here is a consistent use of the grammatical-historical method which takes into account the use of metaphors and other symbolic language.
When reading Paul or narrative texts like the Gospels or Acts, this is a fairly straightforward process. If Luke tells us Paul went to Philippi, we do not have to work very hard trying to determine the deeper meaning of the text. But when Paul describes the church as a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” he employs a metaphor which describes the church in some ways like a temple. The reader must determine what elements of the comparison are important and which are not.
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