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Thread: Biblical literalism

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    Biblical literalism

    Just wondering how literally you take the Bible. Is every word literally true, or is some of it metaphorical? which parts? How do you decide which? Thanks.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Just wondering how literally you take the Bible. Is every word literally true, or is some of it metaphorical? which parts? How do you decide which? Thanks.
    Hello lolbert. It really depends on the genre and context of the passage regarding what might be read literally and what might be read a different way.
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Just wondering how literally you take the Bible. Is every word literally true, or is some of it metaphorical? which parts? How do you decide which? Thanks.
    The key is to determine the "genre" of the book a certain passage is in, and also to consider other things like how the passage functions (does it make any sense on a literal level? Would it make sense for it not to be literal? Is what it's "saying" any "more true" if it "actually" happened? Does the language sound more characteristic of a literal passage or a non-literal one?), the findings of Biblical scholarship, and the findings of history and science (that is, if something couldn't have happened historically, then it's obviously probably not literal). And the line isn't always clear: Obviously non-literal passages can be based on historical events, and historical writings don't follow the same rules for "factual" writing that we follow today. Often the two are inseparably mixed.

    As for how literally I take the Bible personally: It's pretty obvious (to me) that much of the Old Testament, even the parts based on historical events, is mythological or figurative in nature. I'm pretty sure no one would argue that the Song of Songs literally happened, and I can't imagine thinking that, say, Job is a sober-minded, factual reportage of a historical event. (Of course, people take Revelations literally so I just don't know.) People on this board will have, umm, different opinions, but I'm going to say that the Genesis stories are mythological, and so is Noah, whether it's based on an actual flood or not. Etc., etc. The point is, do some research into Biblical and literary scholarship, and read the passage closely.

    (NOTE: I'm not attempting to represent the opinions of the board at large. This is what I personally think is true, and I'm not a synecdoche for all Christians. Especially the ones on this board.)
    "We are symbols and inhabit symbols; workmen, work, and tools, words and things, birth and death, all are emblems; but we sympathize with the symbols, and being infatuated with the economical uses of things, we do not know that they are thoughts." - Emerson, "The Poet" (Essays, Second Series)

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Just wondering how literally you take the Bible. Is every word literally true, or is some of it metaphorical? which parts? How do you decide which? Thanks.
    With regard to how the Bible is supposed to be read, treat the Bible as you would any other piece of literature; allow the author to use metaphor when he wants to use metaphor and be literal when he wants to be literal.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    The bible has a lot of literal meaning. Some see most of it as symbolic, i do not believe it is.

    The only sure guide to understanding what is literal and what is symbolic is the Holy Spirit. If anyone thinks there is some kind of technique other than the leading of the Holy Spirit then i believe they are deceived.


    All Praise The Ancient Of Days

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Let's start with Creation. How literally do you take the Genesis account of Creation?

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Let's start with Creation. How literally do you take the Genesis account of Creation?
    I make a distinction between "literal" and "actual". Thus, I believe that Genesis gives us an account of an actual creation, but using a literary form that organizes the material in a way that sets the stage for the rest of the book. The account is not intended to give us the recipe for how to create a universe, but to teach us something about its creator.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Okay, would you agree with the followig statement: Adam and Eve were actual people who were kicked out of the Garden of Eden after Satan, in the form of a talking snake, convinced Eve to eat from a forbidden tree.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Okay, would you agree with the followig statement: Adam and Eve were actual people who were kicked out of the Garden of Eden after Satan, in the form of a talking snake, convinced Eve to eat from a forbidden tree.
    I read that literally. I know lots of people that don't.

    For me, I read Genesis as a narrative. I read that God, in the beginning, created the universe. The book starts with a straight forward truth, that there was a beginning to the things that exist and that they were brought into existence by God.

    As far as "talking snakes" go, there is no doubt that Eve is tempted of Satan.

    More importantly though, I believe in a literal Jesus who literally healed and performed miracles, was literally crucified, and was literally resurrected the third day defeating death. It is not a given, believe it or not, that professing Christians take those events literally.

    So how do you slice the Bible lolbert?
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  10. #10

    Re: Biblical literalism

    I am not a Christian, so I have a somewhat...different take. I think the OT is largely either ancient Hebrew mythology or embellished accounts of actual historical events. I think the gospels are, in general outline, accounts that have become extremely embellished over the last 2000 years. I have little reason to doubt that Jesus Christ actually existed, but I put no more stock in stories of his supernatural nature, than I do in similar stories about Sathya Sai Baba, who died earlier this year and has many living people who testify to his "miracles."

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    I am not a Christian, so I have a somewhat...different take. I think the OT is largely either ancient Hebrew mythology or embellished accounts of actual historical events. I think the gospels are, in general outline, accounts that have become extremely embellished over the last 2000 years. I have little reason to doubt that Jesus Christ actually existed, but I put no more stock in stories of his supernatural nature, than I do in similar stories about Sathya Sai Baba, who died earlier this year and has many living people who testify to his "miracles."
    Regarding the New Testament, any embellishment would have occurred fairly early after Jesus' ministry. A good case cannot be made for a 2000 year embellishment. I would think that all scholars, non-believing and believing, would say that the texts that we have collected and translated as the New Testament, are pretty close to the original documents that existed from which they came. Speaking more directly about just the Gospel accounts, any embellishment would have occurred in the oral versions of the events before being committed to redacted documents. So pretty much what we read today has not been embellished at all from the original writings. There are a handful of verses and small passages that don't match up across all the available manuscripts, but in what those portions add that would be unique and the quantity in total where there are such questions, the counter arguement is more likely regarding time and the consistency of the New Testament. It hasn't changed.

    There are many who believe that the accounts we have of Jesus were embellished just after His death by His disciples. However, I have found the academic study of that goes something like this: The Gospel accounts tell of many supernatural events regarding Jesus. We know that supernatural events can't happen, therefore what portions of the Gospels are really about the real Jesus and what sayings that we possess are actually His sayings. What should be evident is that the Gospel accounts of Jesus are criticized from a rationalist approach which amounts to a huge bias in this particular subject.

    lolbert, do you have any major questions in life that you haven't found satisfactory answers for yet? Perhaps one is why Christians would believe in the New Testament literally regarding the accounts of Jesus and that is why you are here. I have faced that question (and other even more important questions, like creation or not) as an unbeliever before and believed I had settled on satisfactory answers, but I still found myself engaged in conversation about it very frequently and very much enjoyed defending my satisfactory answers. So much so I did it over, and over, and over again for many years to as many Christians that I could lock horns with. That in and of itself became a question of sorts to me.
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Okay, would you agree with the followig statement: Adam and Eve were actual people who were kicked out of the Garden of Eden after Satan, in the form of a talking snake, convinced Eve to eat from a forbidden tree.
    I would put it slightly differently, but yes, Adam, Eve, and Satan were/are actual people and the Garden was an actual place.

  13. #13

    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by lolbert View Post
    Okay, would you agree with the followig statement: Adam and Eve were actual people who were kicked out of the Garden of Eden after Satan, in the form of a talking snake, convinced Eve to eat from a forbidden tree.
    Yes, lolbert, I do believe that; and not just the talking snake, but also the exact words that the devil spoke through the snake to Eve to tempt her.
    Why shouldn't I believe it? Am I just suppose to make up something that is personally more suitable to me?
    I believe God didn't lie.

    Faithful

    PS. I also believe God spoke to the prophet through a donkey in the OT.

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    Re: Biblical literalism

    PS. I also believe God spoke to the prophet through a donkey in the OT.
    I do to. Well said.

    People who do not believe God exists cannot believe anything in the bible like this. But when someone actually believes God exists and that God is GOD then these things become nothing extraordinary.


    All Praise The Ancient Of Days

  15. #15

    Re: Biblical literalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Adstars View Post

    The only sure guide to understanding what is literal and what is symbolic is the Holy Spirit. If anyone thinks there is some kind of technique other than the leading of the Holy Spirit then i believe they are deceived.


    All Praise The Ancient Of Days
    Thanks Adstars;
    I also agree with your statement above. If we really want to know what the Scriptures mean, we need to have the Author's mind on it.

    True understanding only comes by revelation of the Holy Spirit.

    " When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth...." - Jesus (Jn.16:14)

    "....even so the things of God no man knoweth, except the Spirit of God.
    Now we have received the Spirit of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God"
    (I Corin.2:11-12)

    Faithful

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