Sunday, February 19, 2012

Alexander Campbell on Biblical Metaphor and Divine Incorporeality

I found the following passage of interest and present it here. I take this from Alexander Campbell, A Connected View of the Principles and Rules by Which the Living Oracles May Be Intelligibly and Certainly Interpreted: Of the Foundation on Which All Christians May Form One Communion: And of the Capital Positions Sustained in the Attempt to Restore the Original Gospel and Order of Things; Containing the Principal Extras of the Millennial Harbinger, Revised and Corrected (Bethany, VA: M'Vay and Ewing, 1835), 34.
The anthropomorphists, and other excessive literalists, from a disregard to the highly metaphorical language of the Scriptures, which is both their strength and beauty, and the only language in which things supernatural could be communicated to us, have imagined a human figure for the Deity. On their own principles of interpreting the Scriptures they might, from the following metaphors, imagine him to be like a great fowl: - 'Hide me under the shadow of thy wings,' - 'In the shadow of thy wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast,' - 'I will trust in the covert of thy wings,' - 'He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou rest.' It is to no purpose to multiply examples, farther than to give an accurate and complete idea of this most common and most beautiful trope. So rich are the Scriptures in this figure, that many thousand examples might be adduced. We have said that there are some of these metaphors both rude and simple; and as the Bible reaches into the most remote antiquity, and exhibits and addresses human nature, in its most simple and unadorned state, it must be expected that it would bear the impress of the people among whom it was written, and to whom it was addressed.

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