N.T. Wright skriver glimrende om hvorvidt Bibelen skal leses bokstavelig (literally) eller metaforisk (metaphorically):
But when [the word «literally»] is used in relation to the Bible, it raises echoes of one controvery in particular: the interpretation of the creation story in Genesis. Nobody in America will need reminding of the polarized debates between those who instisted, and still insists, on a literal seven-day creation, and those who insisted, and still instist, on a rereading of Genesis 1 in the light of evolutionary science. The debate that has been conducted on in terms of «creation versus evolution» has gotten caught up with all kinds of other debates (in American culture in particular), and this has provided a singularly unhelpful backdrop to the would-be serious discussions of other parts of the Bible.
In fact, every Bible reader I’ve ever met, from whatever background or culture, has known instinctively that at least some parts of the Bible are meant literally and other parts are meant metaphorically. When the Old Testament declares that the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and burned it down, it means, quite literally, that they captured Jerusalem and burned it down. When Paul says that he was shipwrecked three times, he means that he was shipwrecked three times. On the other hand, when he says that a thief will come in the night, so that the pregnant woman will go into labor, so that you mustn’t fall asleep or get drunk, but must stay awake and put on your armor (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8), it would take a particular inept reader not to recognize one of his most spectacular mixed metaphors. […]
Other obvious examples include the parables of Jesus. I’ve never yet met a reader who was under the impression that the story of the prodigal son had actually happened, so that if you visited enough family farms around Palestine you would eventually run into the old father and his two sons (always supposing they’d made up their quarrel). Virtually all reader negotiate this point without even thinking about it. Jesus himself sometimes emphasized it (not that his hearers were likely to be mistaken on the matter) by pointing out «literal» meanings («Go,» he said, «and do likewise» [Luke 10.37]). Sometimes the gospel writers do the same, as when Mark said that the priests realized that a particular parable was aimed at them (12:12).
But this doesn’t mean that the only «truth» in the parables is the point at which they can be, so to speak, cashed out. The parables are «true» at several quite different levels, and to recognize this is notÂ a way of saying, «The only real ‘truths’ that matter are the ‘spiritual’ meanings, the things that didn’t ‘happen’ as events in the real world.» Truth (thank God) is more complicated than that, because God’s world is more complicatedâ€”more interesting, in factâ€”than that.
— Simply Christian, s. 192-193 (uthevelsen er min)