Image is understood as the visual representation of something or someone, as well as the representation of ideas or concepts of something perceived by the senses. Sharing the Chinese proverb that "A picture is worth a thousand words."It can be said that more information can be perceived in an image than that expressed in words, since the author's interpretation must be added to that of each of the subsequent observers.
In our opinion, when referring to the images contained in the BibleIn the case of the biblical images, a differentiation must be made between two main types of images that can be found there. The first type is of pictorial character and obeys to the interpretation given by diverse artists to scenes or shocking moments narrated by the biblical authors; these images have a great artistic and historical value.
Apart from the above, there is the second type of images that are not perceived as works of art, but constitute a form of images or literary figures that fall into the genre of turns of language, among which are anaphorae, paradoxes, similes and metaphors, and which in the life of Jesus many of them were known as parables and allegories. The Bible is full of these images.
Purpose of images in divine teachings
The use of images or similes in the Bible is none other than to transmit teachings in a more understandable and easy to keep in the memory. They are expressions with a very simple vocabulary but with a very broad and deep content, using examples existing in the common life of the time to make understand in the beginning the coming of the Son of God and subsequently, the meaning of the Kingdom of God.
What are biblical images?
Biblical images are simple narratives originating in a reality that contain a teaching message and that induced the listener at that time, or induce the present reader, to make a personal decision regarding the topic to which the narrative refers.
These serve as light concerning the divine truth and are therefore a source of blessings which illustrate in a brief and simple way essential realities to become worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Interpretation of biblical images
These images are always a comparison between a reality of human life and a spiritual reality, to focus attention on the specific truth that only God has in His power, but that through the ages has enabled some to have the virtue of transmitting them as God's teachings. The images illustrate these teachings and one must have an accurate criterion guided by the Creator to give the true interpretation that He wants to transmit.
Experts in the field explain that biblical images should be interpreted following three fundamental criteria: first, to interpret them as a whole; then, to do so in practical terms, seeking direct application; and finally, to understand the details.
Images in the Old Testament
At Judges 9: 8-15Jotam turns to the trees and they talk to each other to make decisions. Samuel 12: 1-4narrates a conversation between Nathan and David concerning the destiny of the goods of a rich man and a poor man. And Samuel himself in 14: 1-7refers to the alleged quarrel between two brothers, to get the king to approve Absalom's return.
The professed Isaiah (Isaiah 5: 1-7) was the spokesman for a melodious song performed in the middle of a grape harvest, the participants of which joyfully accompanied the song until the moment when they recognized that it was a rebuke against themselves because of their infidelity.
The prophet Ezekiel is possibly the one who makes most use of the resource of images. Thus we see that when referring to the fire and destruction of Jerusalem, he does so by establishing the similarity between the beauty of a vineyard that when it dries up only serves to be burned (Ezekiel 15: 1-8); in Ezekiel 16: 1-63 It also illustrates with images of a cedar tree, a vine and two eagles part of Israel's history, when Nebuchadnezzar deported King Jehoiakim and after several events took place, the former attacked Jerusalem (Ezekiel 17: 1-10).
Images in the New Testament
The New Testament is rich in the use of images and practically in its entirety we find this resource, of which Jesus made frequent use both in his actions and in his verbal pronouncements.
Among these images, some stand out, such as when one wants to reach God and does not succeed due to lack of preparation, exemplified by the building of a tower (Luke 14:28-30). At Matthew 13: 33 the simile is established between the kingdom of God and the leaven used to leaven the flour, with which a similarity is established between the power of the word of God and the leaven, both produce growth and aggrandizement, at the same time that they signify the beginning and the end of something.
Through God's teachings it is growing among men. faith in Him and all believers, from the smallest to the greatest, will be transformed into the best work of the Creator, which is spread throughout mankind.
Another obvious example of biblical imagery can be found in John 11: 28-44where, among other expressions, it stands out when Jesus says: Have I not told you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God? Through these words, Jesus is expressing that He is the Resurrection and Life, not only from the earthly aspect, which he demonstrates with the resurrection of Lazarus, but also from the divine aspect when he implies that if one trusts in his power, in his love and in his faithfulness, one will be able to see the glory of God and share eternal life, once the second coming of Jesus becomes a reality and everyone is resurrected in him.
The Bible is rich in examples of the use of images to achieve a better understanding of divine teachings by men.