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Christians: metaphorical versus literal interpretation of the Bible?


I’m reposting this because I did not get enough Christian answerers the first time.

The Bible is meant to be read on many levels – some literal, some poetic, and some symbolic.
I once came across this statement in an introduction to the Bible, and I believe that any non-fundamentalist Christian would agree with it. The stories of Genesis, the Great Flood, Jonah, and other stories that cannot be reconciled with science are thus explained as metaphorical or symbolic. And here is where the problem lies. At what point can you draw the line and distinguish the literal from the metaphorical? How do you know that the resurrection was not just symbolism? In other words, if you cannot literally accept some Biblical stories because they are scientifically absurd, how can you literally accept the equally unscientific stories of Jesus’s miracles and resurrection, among other things? Essentially, you’re saying, I’m going to reject these things as literal because science has shown otherwise, but I’m going to believe these other things that science can’t disprove.

Christian here.

You are correct there are those who suggest different ways of interpreting the Bible. Literalists don’t actually believe that everything is literal, but that the Bible should be interpreted like you would any other literature. You interpret letters one way, you interpret historical records one way, you interpret poetry one way. In every different genre there are figures of speech. These are also recognized.

These would believe that the story of Jonah was a real event. They would also believe there are lessons and symbols in the real event.

There are others who have a hard time, like you do, with some of the biblical stories. They would agree that the stories are purely fictional created by someone to teach the similar lessons that are taught by those who take a literal position of interpretation.

The major problem of the literalist is what you argue, they are unbelieveable. The answer would be there are unbelieveable things that do on occasion happen.

The major problem with the pure metaphorical interpretation is how do you decide which is real and which isn’t? Are any stories true? For example, we do know a few things happened because it is also evidenced in the historical record. There were kings in ancient Israel at least back to around 722 BC. There were Jews in Babylon in the 5th century BC. Babylon did invade what we know as Palestine. The cities in the OT and NT were real places. We know this from history. So many of the stories in the Bible are set in a real historical settings that is historically verifiable. This is quite different than your typical fables. Now that doesn’t prove the stories to be true, nor is it true of every story, only that many of the stories are set in the real world.

Finally, a large part of the NT is letters. The letters are written to churches explaining the theology of Christianity. These letters were written very early and within a generation of Jesus life time. We know this because there were those writing about the letters in the latter part of the first century. We also have historical documentation of the first century spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire. That doesn’t prove the letters’ contents to be true, it just shows that they were created close to the time when they claim to be created.

I hope these few words give a little perspective.

You can believe what you wish.

It’s easy: The parts of the bible you agree with are literal, and the ones you don’t are metaphorical.

I would like to commend you for your search for the truth. When Paul was writing to Timothy he said it is God’s will that all sorts of people be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3,4. Paul also told Timothy this in 2 Timothy 3: 16,17: &quot:All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, В that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.&quot:
God is not confused and he does not want his human creation to be confused either. That is why he gave them the Bible to let men know what he requires of them.
It is religion’s interpretation of the Bible that confuses people.
God would not tell us to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth and then make it impossible to do that.
From the very start of human life on earth God has instructed mankind as to what his will for them was.
Before the flood of Noah’s day there was Abel, Enoch, Lamech, and Noah. These men were used by God to tell the people what he was doing, was going to do, and what he required of them.
After the flood God used judges and family heads, such as Abraham, to promote true religion on the earth.
Later he used the Israelite nation. Then he sent his only begotten son, Jesus, to the earth. Jesus then appointed faithful men to carry on the work of teaching people what the will of God is. This, very origanized work, was to continue right up to our day. Notice how Ephesians 1:8-10 helps us to understand this.
&quot:This he caused to abound toward us in all wisdom and good sense,В in that he made known to us the sacred secret of his will. It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himselfВ for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.&quot:
In the book of Acts it tells us how to recognize those who God is using to help all mankind, today, to learn what he requires. &quot:After they quit speaking, James answered, saying: “Men, brothers, hear me. Sym′e‧on has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.  And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down: and I shall rebuild its ruins and erect it again, in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things.&quot:
Also, the words of Jesus show that the things written in the Genesis account were all actual events, not &quot:metaphorical&quot: or &quot:symbolic&quot:. He mentioned the names of people and events as historical facts.

God knows who are his and will obey His Words, and others who will think like you have written. 2Timothy 4:4 &quot: And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.&quot:

Faith alone saves …not Science…..I would rather have blind faith and be saved , than with my eyes open I fall into the bottomless pit

I agree with that statement

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