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A bible question?

Can the bible be both the literal truth and also be allegorical?
For example, according to some people the book of Gensis in the absolute truth of how the world was reacted. But does this also apply to other parts of the bible, that has God encouraging the massacre of infants (Psalm 137:8-9) For example. Do you look at this passage as word for word truth. How much research needs to be done, if the bible can not be wrong to find out what was really meant. Can the translation of the bible be wrong? And if so how would someone know which bible is the word of god. How do you know if the interpretation that you have is God's message.


Asked by fireball1978 at 12:01 AM on Jun. 11, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 4 (38 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (10)
  • I have started so many flames in here from saying things that have been misinterpreted or misread - I didn't mean it the way they read it at ALL. The way I see it, every MIND interprets differently than every other mind - so each person who reads the bible has a different interpretation of it. I think this is why their are so many different branches of the religion today, and NO ONE can find an absolute perfect church that FITS exactly what they think - because no two people interpret it the same. Who's to say who's interpretation is the right one?

    Answer by TortisShell at 10:15 PM on Jun. 12, 2009

  • How do you know if the interpretation that you have is God's message?

    I wonder that about Christianity almost every day. ...just doesnt make much sense to me.

    Answer by outstandingLove at 12:18 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • some things i believe are allegorical.. like perhaps the 7 days etc as far as time. but much of it is clear cut. like the 10 commandments and things like homosexuals not entering the kingdom of heaven.

    essentially, as english speakers we have to trust scholars who translated the bible... yes, some words can be interchanged, like the literal "day" in genesis is actually "period of time" in i think hebre or aramaic.

    basically god doesnt contradict himslef and if you study the bible you find that. EVERY other religion is either contradictory or living for yourself and pleasure. christianity wasn't meant to be all fun and happiness... its a tough road and christians are persecuted every day.

    and if you read in context... god is not encouraging the massacre of infants, it is saying the people of babylon were evil and the one speaking is essentially saying you killed our people, your people dont deserve descendants

    Answer by missbreezy214 at 12:36 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • It is only allegorical if it states it. Otherwise no its literal.

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 12:41 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • These questions are part of the reason I'm Catholic. The Bible is materially sufficient: all the bricks necessary to build its doctrines are there in Scripture. But there's a difference between having a pile of bricks and having a brick house. That's why I believe Jesus left us with a visible church that is protected by the Holy Spirit to help us (Matt. 16:18). The Church existed before the Bible (it too hundreds of years to compile the Bible as we know it).

    Answer by eringobrough at 12:54 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • Yes, the Bible can be both literal and allegorical - in fact the same passage can be understood both ways. The "literal" sense is the primary consideration when examining the Bible but it doesn't mean you take everything word-for-word literally it means that you need to figure out what the inspired author intended the words to mean. Like if I use the phrase "raining cats and dogs" I mean it's raining hard not that God performed a miracle and caused pets to fall from the sky. But we can also understand passages from an allegorical, moral and heavenly sense IN ADDITION to the literal sense. Some helpful articles:

    How to Read Scripture Like Jesus and the Apostles

    This article is an example of using these 4 senses when examining Exodus


    Answer by eringobrough at 12:59 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • Psalm 137 is one of my favorite ones to teach. Does it show God want us to smash the heads of babies on rocks? NO!!! When Israel was being led into captivity they were treated terribly and their own children had their heads smashed against the rocks. Basically that phrase is saying that the psalmist wishes the Babylonians would have to go through what they have gone through. You need to look at it as if it was a poem, and really study the meaning.

    Also, certain portions are symbolic and certain portions are literal. I believe that the creation account is literal as well as the end times prophesies. You need to study each example, you can't just go by what someone tells you or by your first impressions.

    The Bible is something that needs to be studied. You need to read, ask questions, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.

    Answer by Cinnamon-mom at 1:26 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • Here are some basic questions that help me as I study. I don't just determine on a first read what the interpretation of a verse/passage is. I get into it and dig.

    Who wrote/spoke the passage and to whom was it addressed?
    What does the passage say?
    Are there any words or phrases in the passage that need to be examined?
    What is the immediate context?
    What is the broader context in the chapter and book?
    What are the related verses to the passage’s subject and how do they affect the understanding of this passage?
    What is the historical and cultural background?
    What do I conclude about the passage?
    Do my conclusions agree or disagree with related areas of Scripture and others who have studied the passage?
    What have I learned and what must I apply to my life?

    Answer by Cinnamon-mom at 1:27 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • And Shaneagle is right. You can't just say something is allegorical unless the passage is clear about it.

    I have to say though, that before I was a Christian the Bible was a mystery to me. I could understand Shakespeare, Chaucer, and I could easily read Beowulf (so I wasn't a moron, lol). But the Bible is spiritual truth, and I couldn't fully understand it until I accepted the Lord and recieved the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I take it for granted, how easy it is for me to understand. And I forget that its spiritual truths and prophesies are still a mystery for even some really really smart people.

    "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13
    "We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 1 Jn 4:6

    Answer by Cinnamon-mom at 1:32 AM on Jun. 11, 2009

  • And this last verse talks about how the natural man (someone who is not born again) cannot understand the Bible like a believer.

    "But God has revealed [them] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy [fn] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

    "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned . . .

    For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" [fn] But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:10-16


    Answer by Cinnamon-mom at 1:36 AM on Jun. 11, 2009