At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
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16-06-2014, 11:29 AM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
(15-06-2014 05:10 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  https://bible.org/seriespage/iv-literary-forms-bible

The Bible is an anthology or a collection of literary works.

Most who are unfamiliar with it tend to think it is "one big book" that must either be read literally or not.

The fact of the matter is that one must use various hermeneutical principles when determining whether or not a passage is to be taken literally. One such principle is designating what literary form the passage takes.

What literary forms are found in the Bible?

I am glad you asked.

The website above provides you with a list (not exhaustive).

The Bible, as a unity in diversity, expresses its unique message in a rich variety of literary forms. The literature of the Bible is an aesthetically beautiful interpretation of human experience from a divine perspective. As we read, interpret, and seek to apply the truths of Scripture, we must be careful not to overlook this artistic dimension, or we will miss an important part of enjoying the Bible. In this section, we will take a brief look at the literary forms found in the pages of Scripture, including figurative language, narrative history, poetry, wisdom literature, prophetic literature, gospel, oratory, and epistle.

Figurative Language The Bible abounds in figurative expressions. The wonderful imagery of Scripture is derived from a wealth of human experience, the manners and customs of the ancient Near East, family and business life, and the whole sphere of nature. While literal meaning refers to the normal or customary usage of a word or expression, figurative meaning refers to a concept which is represented in terms of another. The following list is not complete, but it outlines the major figures of speech used in the Bible.

In the Bible you find:

SHORT FIGURES OF SPEECH which include
Figures of comparison which include metaphors and similes
Figures of association which include metonomy and synecdoche.
Figures of humanization which include personifications, anthropomorphisms, and apostrophes.
Figures of illusion which include irony, hyperbole.
Figures of understatement which include euphemisms and litotes.
Figures of emphasis which include pleonasm, repetition, and climax
Figures requiring completion which include ellipsis, zeugma, aposiopesis

Extended figures of speech which include parables, allegories
Obscure figures of speech which include riddles and fables
Symbols and types
Narratives
Creation and consummation
Epic
Law
Heroic Narrative
Tragedy
Poetry
Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry
Synonymous parallelism
Antithetic parallelism
Synthetic parallelism
Introverted parallelism
Climactic or stairlike parallelism
Emblematic parallelism
Narrative or dramatic poetry
Lyric poetry
Pastoral literature
Literature of praise
Wisdom literature
Prophetic literature
The Revelation
Gospel
Epistle
Oratory

As you can see, many of these genres will not be read literally, for they are fundamentally "figurative" in nature.

So for example, when Jesus said that we should pluck our eye out if it causes us to sin, He is using "hyperbole" or an exaggeration to create a strong effect on the listener/reader and thus is not to be taken literally, meaning Christians are not to run around gouging their eyes out.

When Luke the beloved physician writes: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught."

He literally meant what he wrote. So designating the context is imperative and designating the literary form is imperative.
Yeah, because if an omnipotent god wanted to communicate something, it would make us jump through all those hoops just to figure out what the hell it was saying. Dodgy

Especially when your possible eternity in hell depends on it. Dodgy

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16-06-2014, 12:23 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
Note: did not read entire thread.

The earliest point I know is with St Augustine in the 4th century. He said that the creation story in Genesis was meant to be a metaphor.

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16-06-2014, 01:31 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't
It depends, really. There were several parts (Genesis mainly [creation/flood]) that were never considered literal until the teachings of Ellen G White [1827-1915].

As you can tell, a literal interpretation is a very new accepted concept in Christianity. I'm not saying there weren't people before her that taught and believe in a literal translation in places; however, these groups were largely considered to be offshoots and were never taken seriously (mild heresy).

St. Augustine even discussed it in his writings (he advocates a non-literal interpretation of creation and of the flood).

Ellen G. White's beliefs and how she arrived at them are pure heresy (along the lines of Joseph Smith). She had no theological training and said she arrived and these conclusions through prophesies and visions (all of which never happen happened).

For whatever reason... some unexplained phenomenon happened, and this belief caught hold in the Protestant communities until it became standard in most of the teachings.

So, to answer your question, she had her first vision in 1844, but it didn't become a standard teaching until either her later years or sometime after her death. Suffice it to say, the acceptance of a literal translation is only about a century old.

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16-06-2014, 02:27 PM
At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
Origen also had a lot to do with it. After all, he did interpret the Song of Solomon, the story of a sexually charged interracial marriage as a "metaphor for church and the follower"

http://mobile.biblegateway.com/passage/?...ersion=ESV

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16-06-2014, 05:45 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
(15-06-2014 06:18 PM)cjlr Wrote:  And many millions of people have good reasons for asserting the contrary.

I think you mean to say that more people believe the apocrypha inspired than not and that this "majority" claims to have good reasons for maintaining that it is inspired.

To which I would ask two questions:

"How do you know that the majority of the adherents of the Christian religion believe the apocrypha to be inspired?"

"And even if they do, so what?"



(15-06-2014 06:18 PM)cjlr Wrote:  "What parts of the Bible should be taken literally?" leads inevitably to the question of "what are the parts of the Bible?"

I can be charitable and concur.

But what is your point?
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16-06-2014, 06:04 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
(15-06-2014 06:22 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  "The reason has to do with the evidence afforded by the texts themselves, and calls for fuller treatment. Scholarly research into the texts themselves, has convincingly shown that they cannot be accepted in detail as they stand."


Can you provide me with at least the paragraph in which this sentence was taken. I would prefer a reference to the chapter if possible. I would be interested in finding out what this gentleman was referring to.

You see, what you have done is taken a portion of someone's writings and supplied it without its context. This is indicated by the way the quote starts. It starts with the words: "The reason has to do with....."

But reason for what? What had the gentleman been talking about prior to this statement and before he wrote this sentence?

We do not know. You just post this portion out of context. It is quite odd to say the least. Nor do we know what he is referring to when he states: "they cannot be accepted in detail as they stand."

But accepted as what? Once again, we do not know.



(15-06-2014 06:22 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  "Historians can merely state that a canon of scripture is not something given, but something humanly devised. From the historical point of view, the canon is the result of human decision as to which among the religious writing existing in a community are those in which it recognizes the authentic voice of religious authority speaking to man."

The above statement is not controversial at all for it is well known that historians are not in the business of deciding whether or not something is or is not inspired by God.

It is true, from the historical point of view, the canon is the result of human decision.
Once again historians are not in the business of deciding whether or not something is or is not inspired by God.
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16-06-2014, 06:20 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide
(16-06-2014 11:29 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Yeah, because if an omnipotent god wanted to communicate something, it would make us jump through all those hoops just to figure out what the hell it was saying. Dodgy

Especially when your possible eternity in hell depends on it. Dodgy

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16-06-2014, 06:30 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
(16-06-2014 11:29 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Yeah, because if an omnipotent god wanted to communicate something, it would make us jump through all those hoops just to figure out what the hell it was saying. Dodgy

Especially when your possible eternity in hell depends on it. Dodgy

God has made it very clear to us what we must do if we desire to have eternal life.

We must believe in His Son Jesus.

That is clear, concise, and anyone can do it. Thus, this is about as far from jumping through hoops as I can imagine.
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16-06-2014, 06:32 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
(16-06-2014 02:31 AM)One Above All Wrote:  
(15-06-2014 05:15 PM)Shadow Fox Wrote:  @jeremy walker

So, what I am getting from this all; because, I do not want to read all that beyond the first couple of paragraphs is that.

" If it contradicts anything, does not make sense, or is an obviously evil act. It is up to the Christian to cherry pick that out and make it into a metaphor so they can "double pick" everything by claiming the entire bible is a metaphor and pick out what is not a metaphor out from what they DO really like"

That is what I get from all that.

At least that's just heavily implied. My mom (catholic) told me that such and such passages were metaphorical, when I pointed out blatant contradictions, evil acts and commandments, and so on. When I asked her "So everything that makes sense is literal, and everything that doesn't is a metaphor?", much to my surprise, she answered "Yes".

And she was wrong.
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16-06-2014, 06:39 PM
RE: At What Point Did Christians Decide That The Bible Isn't Meant To Be Taken Literally?
(16-06-2014 06:30 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  
(16-06-2014 11:29 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Yeah, because if an omnipotent god wanted to communicate something, it would make us jump through all those hoops just to figure out what the hell it was saying. Dodgy

Especially when your possible eternity in hell depends on it. Dodgy

God has made it very clear to us what we must do if we desire to have eternal life.

We must believe in His Son Jesus.

That is clear, concise, and anyone can do it. Thus, this is about as far from jumping through hoops as I can imagine.

What about Allah?
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