Easter is an interesting time of the year. Of course, friends and neighbors have been involved in Lent for a few weeks now. I’ve covered a story on Ukrainian Egg decorating—a rather impressive and fancy process. My husband came home from church with a palm branch (the cats play with it). But, I have to admit, the most impressive 2013 Easter happening, for me so far, is reading a book by Marcus Borg. Not really thinking about Easter, I checked out the book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (published in 2001) and began reading with the hopes it would keep my attention. It did.
Although I’ve never heard of the man before, Marcus Borg apparently is well known in both academic and church circles as a Bible and Jesus scholar. Moreover, his vocabulary is bigger than mine, but I hung in there and kept reading his book. I’m sure I didn’t catch the full meaning of his “metaphorical historical approach to interpretation,” but I did catch enough. Borg points out the difference between a metaphorical and a literal interpretation, and his reasoning is sound.
A literal interpretation would render the resurrection as an event that occurred only once. Whereas, a metaphorical interpretation can admit an ongoing resurrection. It reminds me of the definition for resurrection as found in a revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, “Resurrection: Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding.” This can happen right now.
Literal interpretations lead to exclusivity and contradiction. Literalists serve a convention or culture, whereas, Borg points out, we can rather be liberated to be God’s image. Our salvation doesn’t come through rituals, syllables, or words, but by letting go of an old way of being, and embracing a new way of being.
The old way of being is to insist human words are infallible or inerrant. The fact is: reading is an interpretation. Borg says, “There is no such thing as non-interpretive reading.” Readers are using their own discerning judgment when reading. But the meaning of anything sacred can “go beyond particular meanings of the texts in their ancient contexts.”
We have revisions of the Bible to show its surplus of meaning, and allow it full voice. The Bible is a lens through which we see God, but we need to remember, not to believe in the lens, but to believe in God.
Believing in God is not hard for me. Reading Marcus Borg’s book reaffirmed that I don’t need to believe in the Bible, or some other religious book, but can focus on believing God. This affirmation, I’d have to say, was a great Easter gift.