The Bible as Allegory

Many contemporary Believers have trouble harmonizing the Bible with current scientific concepts such as the Big Bang theory of creation. As a consequence, they have embraced the position that the Bible is not to be taken literally but as allegorical. This, of course, is comforting to any conflicts the individual might have.

 Allegorical interpretations are not new. The idea of special meanings conveyed in the Scriptures goes back to ancient writers like Origen of Alexandria. However, for the most part, those that held the Scriptures contained special lessons or meaning, also held to the literal or historical meaning of biblical events. Today it seems it is either allegorical or literal but not both.

 The conflict is centered on such events as the creation narrative, Adam and Eve, Jonah, etc., etc. Words have meaning. It is the function of the Bible student to determine the specific meaning the author had in mind when the word was used. In the creation narrative (Genesis 1-2), what did God (or Moses) have in mind when the word "day" was chosen, as in the first day, the second day, etc.? Was a 24 hour day intended, or was it an extended time period as "in my day"?

 God chose to reveal His will to man by using words. He intended for man to not only understand them but also obey them. When God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel by Moses, He stated, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11). The use of "day" would normally be the same as used in the same context. However, because of the conflict with scientific theory it cannot be a historical statement therefore it is "allegorical" - whatever that means.

Recently on national TV, a well-known Catholic host was with his panel, reviewing "The Bible" series. When the creation, the Garden, or Adam and Eve came up, he pronounced them as "allegorical" rather than historical. One of panelists asked, "What about the virgin birth?" that ended the discussion. Bible students (literalists) rightly use or interpret words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory. When a metaphor or allegory is used the context makes it clear. As Paul instructed the evangelist Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).


Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK