all that free jazz about the multitudinous layers upon layers of possible meaning and potential personal interpretations inherent in the corpus of myth should not detract nor distract from the fact that sometimes plain speech is the best way to communicate. myths use plain speech. when, in the coarse of yore study of myth you encounter statements like “thou shalt not kill”, its okay to assume that it means “thou shalt not kill”. “judge not lest ye be judged” is pretty easy to figure out. ya wanna get all thinky-thinky about those two? then ask yourself questions like “what was happening in the historical context of the hebrew people at the time that moses went to the summit of mount Sinai and had his encounter with yahweh?” or “whom shall be the judge of me if i appoint myself as the judge of others?”, but while you’re twisting yr brainstuffs around those conceptions, don’t kill and don’t judge. duh.
if a statement can be taken at face value, do so.
if a story involves a talking snake, assume there’s a metaphor happening.
there are some grey areas. some knowledge of the context in which a statement was made is frequently helpful. jesus sometimes talked around things. that’s becos there were people out to get him and they were trying to back him into a verbal corner. he was a slippery ol’ eel tho’ and didn’t let ‘em snare him ‘til the time was right. there was also the matter of logic. this was a really big deal in the first coupla centuries of christianity, the logic. jesus was considered a bit of a genius becos he combined the esoteric oobly-goobly stuff of judaism and the all-too-often ignored mystery religions of his time and place with the sound, logical thinking of the greeks.
“ye who are without sin cast the first stone.” that’s a logical statement. if you have never sinned, then you are qualified to punish someone who has. if you’re a dirty sinner too, then ya oughta be hoeing yer own row and let this po’ ho’ go. that’s plain and simple logic. its also pretty fertile ground for contemplation, if ye’ve a mind for that sorta thing. some do, some don’t. some people read a statement like “love your neighbor as yerself” and immediately start adding clauses and loopholes and giving themselves exemptions becos they just don’t goddam feel like it but they do wanna feel righteous. bullshit. it means what it says. (here’s a little known sooth: it ain’t a choice. want to or not, you will love or hate yr neighbor as yrself.)
whenever possible, take a spade for a spade.
what is the sound of one hand clapping?