What people say all the time is, “The book was better than the movie.” I think it is usually true.
The book I reference today is A.J. Jacobs’, “The Year of Living Biblically.” The book has become a TV show and not a movie. I can’t vouch for the show. All I know is that it premiered this week on CBS and the show is called “Living Biblically,” and it’s a comedy. I read that book about 10 years ago and laughed a lot. I’m hoping the TV show has the same effect on me.
Jacobs’ book is subtitled, “One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.” Jacobs is a skeptical Jew, by his own admission, who lives in New York and is Editor-at-Large for Esquire. It is a hilarious look at his very serious attempt to follow every law in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as literally as possible.
All of which, of course, brings up the subject of interpreting scripture, which can be difficult at best. We look at certain passages and wonder, literal or figurative? Compounding the problem is that we seem not to understand the meaning of something as simple as the word “literal.”
A football player once said, after winning a big game, his team was “literally on cloud nine.” (I think that would require a NASA rocket.)
A coach, after a huge upset victory said, “I was literally beside myself.” (Now that would look funny.)
When someone says, “I am literally scared to death,” then call the funeral home. They’re a goner. What they mean is figuratively.
Much in the Bible is to be taken literally: “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them…” (Matthew 17:9).
Much in the Bible is to taken figuratively: “It is easier for a man camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom” (Matthew 19:24).
The bumper sticker that says, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it,” has never settled it for me. I must look at each passage seriously to determine, among other things, is it literal or is it figurative. The Bible is chock-full of poetry (about 1/3), prose, parables, riddles, etc. Each type of literature demands our careful attention and best hermeneutical (interpretive) skills, guided by God’s spirit.
I plan on watching the show. I think when I do that I will “literally be on cloud nine.”