Troublesome Topic: How Often am I Right in my Interpretation of Symbolism?

I had a retired pastor ask me this question during a Sunday School class I was teaching. We were covering my paraphrase of symbolism (either Song of Solomon or Revelation, I can’t remember) and he asked me how often I thought I was right in my understanding of how the original audience understood the symbolism.

 I told him I knew it was not 100% but I thought it was 90% or above. I had already thought about that very question and had come to this percentage based on how well balanced the paraphrase seems and how well all the pieces fit together once I have repackaged the word pictures into English. It also seemed to fit the culture and the overall message of Scripture as a whole. I had done my research as carefully as I could, and when I needed to make assumptions, I made them carefully and thoughtfully. I cannot prove 90% accuracy or any other number, but I have been working quite a bit with biblical symbolism since 2010 and I’m pretty confident about the writing I have done.

In my first book on Song of Solomon (self-published), I did not do my own translation work but relied on a variety of other translations. Almost every line showed which version of the Bible I had taken that from and often there was more than one version indicator in a given line. It was truly a hodgepodge, or mishmash of Biblical translations. Some time later I decided I should go back and revise my book on Song of Solomon by doing my own translation from the original, as I had done with Revelation. I did that and I was glad I did. Here is the interesting thing that I found in the process – the translation column changed much more than the paraphrase column did, in fact the paraphrase column needed very few changes. I took that to mean that my ideas about where the symbolism was pointing were on track for the most part. Once again, I cannot prove that the degree of accuracy I claim is actually true; my paraphrase is my opinion about the symbolism, and I hope you find it helpful.

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