Why is the real presence not hyperbole?


#1

I know from listening to Catholic apologists that Christ often used hyperbole when speaking. Is there any way for us to know that he was not using hyperbole when he says in John Chapter 6 “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you”? In dialogue with a protestant he has asked me this question and I have no answer for him. Are we being inconsistent in our treatment of Jesus’ sayings?


#2

Christ repeats it over and over again, and not only allows the crowd to leave, but he turns to the disciples and asks, “do you also want to leave?”


#3

[quote=Tmaque]I know from listening to Catholic apologists that Christ often used hyperbole when speaking. Is there any way for us to know that he was not using hyperbole when he says in John Chapter 6 “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you”? In dialogue with a protestant he has asked me this question and I have no answer for him. Are we being inconsistent in our treatment of Jesus’ sayings?
[/quote]

In what way does the context possibly suggest hyperbole? Look at the whole of Scripture. Paul certainly does not treat that teaching as if it were a hyperbole in 1 Cor. All of the Synoptic Gospels say, “This is my body”. What possible reason would we have to believe it is a hyperbole except that it is too much of a “hard teaching” (Jn 6).


#4

In other instances where Christ was clearly using hyperbole (“Cut off your hand, pluck out your eye” etc.), the crowd clearly understood it as evidenced by their not leaving (or throwing up, or having Jesus arrested for proposing mayhem). In the John 6 discourse, as was pointed out above, he repeated himself to make clear that he was NOT engaging in hyperbole or metaphor, since as he repeated himself, he only became more clear and more graphic. When the crowd finely got a clue, they couldn’t accept it and they split.


#5

[quote=Tmaque]I know from listening to Catholic apologists that Christ often used hyperbole when speaking. Is there any way for us to know that he was not using hyperbole when he says in John Chapter 6 “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you”? In dialogue with a protestant he has asked me this question and I have no answer for him. Are we being inconsistent in our treatment of Jesus’ sayings?
[/quote]

Q: Why do Protestants not believe John 6 when it says that Jesus’ flesh is real food and that His blood is real drink?


#6

[quote=Fidelis]In other instances where Christ was clearly using hyperbole (“Cut off your hand, pluck out your eye” etc.), the crowd clearly understood it as evidenced by their not leaving (or throwing up, or having Jesus arrested for proposing mayhem). In the John 6 discourse, as was pointed out above, he repeated himself to make clear that he was NOT engaging in hyperbole or metaphor, since as he repeated himself, he only became more clear and more graphic. When the crowd finely got a clue, they couldn’t accept it and they split.
[/quote]

Thanks,

This is what I’m looking for. Something I can use in defense of our faith.


#7

[quote=Tmaque]I know from listening to Catholic apologists that Christ often used hyperbole when speaking. Is there any way for us to know that he was not using hyperbole when he says in John Chapter 6 “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you”? In dialogue with a protestant he has asked me this question and I have no answer for him. Are we being inconsistent in our treatment of Jesus’ sayings?
[/quote]

Just think how many times Jesus repeated His statement that His flesh is food indeed in chapter 6 of John clearly indicates that He was **emphasizing **this fact, that He really meant what He said. That His flesh is actually bread, and is food indeed! This was how St. Paul himself understood it in his epistles. This was how the early Church fathers read it, as is evident in their extant writings.

It wasn’t meant to be taken as symbolic at all, as most Protestants interpret it nowadays.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#8

If the metrics for determining that Jesus was not using hyperbole is that He repeats Himself and that people leave Him, then the topic is still open for debate on whether maiming oneself is only hyperbole or should be taken literally.

Jesus repeatedly said lose one part of your body to save the whole. In Mt 5:29-30, He said pluck out your eye, then He reinforced that and repeated Himself after He said cut off your hand. And later in Mt 18:8-9, Jesus again admonishes the crowd with this command, grouping the foot and the hand together for extra emphasis. Four times Jesus told the people to lose one part of your body to save the whole, compared with five times that He told the people to eat His flesh. The repetition metric has been met.

Regarding people leaving Him when they hear unwanted commands, Mk 9:43-47 presents the same story as Mt 18:8-9. This story in Mark occurs at the end of the chapter. Immediately at the beginning of Mark 10, we read that Jesus then left the place where He was and went to Judea. Since Jesus didn’t stick around, our Gospel author doesn’t know specifically whether people in that place abandoned Jesus because of this or not. However, one could reasonably conclude that people of Jesus’ time were no more interested in becoming blind parapalegics than they were in becoming cannibals (in the manner that they understood it), so the abandonment metric could be met also. And, Jesus doesn’t tell His apostles “only kidding” about this when later they are apart from the crowds.

What about Jesus’ command to the rich young man to sell everything he had, give it to the poor, and come follow Him? This man left Jesus on the spot! (Mt 19:21-22; Mk 10:21-22; Luke 18:22-23). How many among us have followed this command from Jesus? Hyperbole or not? (It meets the abandonment metric.)

So, a cynic would argue that human convenience invokes hyperbole when confronted with a direct command to maim oneself or endure loss, but in the absence of such severe temporal personal injury or loss, taking things literally is fine (and safe!).

The only defense I can find for the hyperbole of the eye-hand-foot thing is, that after the resurrection Jesus did not show up with a knife to cut out Peter’s tongue for having bore false witness against knowing Him three times. But there has to be more than this if we are to be compelling in our conversations with non-Catholics.

Where else is hyperbole used in the Bible, and what supports its recognition as such?


#9

We know it the same way we know every truth contained in scripture. We know it because the Church has guarded and passed down the true understanding for 2000 years. We simply cannot rely on our human intellect to separate out true interpretation from false interpretation. We can only rely on the divinely-guided and guarded Church founded by Christ.


#10

This is clearly hyperbole. It is different from John 6 because Jesus never says "Amen, amen, I say to you" (John 6:53*******)*****, unless he is speaking literally. When he says this, he is driving home a point – just as he does when he speaks in hyperbole. The only difference is that his hyperbole is usually explained. You have taken Matt. 5:29-30 out of context because you have missed the point of what Jesus was trying to **
convey to his followers: To strive for perfection, as God is perfect.

This is by far the weakest argument. You are simply reading something that is clearly not there. By your logic, the absence of text allows the reader to concoct any conclusion they wish – forgetting about the entire context of Scripture.

This argument doesn’t hold water because – again - you aren’t reading it in context.
He is telling them that they must sacrifice for him. The rich man understood this and could not do it. That is why Jesus used further hyperbole to explain why the rich man made the choice that he did when he told his disciples:
**"Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. **
**Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." **
It is painfully obvious that Jesus understood that a camel cannot cross through the eye of a needle – for those who understand context . . .

The fact remains that Jesus WASN’T using hyperbole in the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6 because:

1. He didn’t explain it away
2. Nowhere else in Scripture is it further expounded upon to make the reader understand the true meaning of it.

3. The only other Scripture verses that speak of eating and drinking the Lord’s flesh and blood speak of the seriousness of what is taking place (Matt. 26:14-16) and tof being worthy of receiving it - the consequences of which are life and death (1 Cor. 11:27).


#11

Jesus explaned everything to his disciples in private. At the last supper- ‘This is my body…’ ‘This is my blood…’ ‘Take and eat…’ ‘Take and drink’. John 6 is thus explained.


#12

#13

At the end of His hyperboles, He usually explains them. e.g. the parable of cutting off the hand that sins, it is better to loose a limb than your soul (paraphrasing of course).


#14

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