Is interpretation of the bible meant to be symbolic?

In summary: God, and has led a more or less "bad" life. The third corresponding to that which is celestial (3), where one has attained union with God and has led a life of perfect virtue.In summary, while the number 666 may have originally represented something important to the ancient Hebrews, it is no longer meaningful today. It can be interpreted as two thirds, or the second of three degrees.
  • #1

Kerrie

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Just wondering if you all believe if the bible should be interpreted as symbolic or literal...
 
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  • #2
it seems to me that it is a combination of both, some stuff comes off blatantly as parable while other parts are clearly represented as history.
 
  • #3
Originally posted by Kerrie
Just wondering if you all believe if the bible should be interpreted as symbolic or literal...
It all depends on whether you want to go to heaven or hell. If you take the whole thing literally, then you don't glean any of the meaning (message) which lies beneath. Or else what's the point? Of course you could use it to pin "your ideals" on someone else but, that would be hypocritical.

"Many will come in my name, to lead many astray ..."
 
  • #4
well. one ought to take what has been written in its historical and cultural context.

and then apply that in interpreting whether whatever is said to be symbolic or literal.

i mean, there are various contradictions and it is impossible to take the thing literally word for word.
 
  • #5
Originally posted by Kerrie
Just wondering if you all believe if the bible should be interpreted as symbolic or literal...
I would say both.
 
  • #6
Originally posted by Entropia
i mean, there are various contradictions and it is impossible to take the thing literally word for word.

i take it you never meant a hardcore bible-beater Entropia?
 
  • #7
i mean, there are various contradictions and it is impossible to take the thing literally word for word.
Originally posted by kyleb
i take it you never [met] a hardcore bible-beater Entropia?
Heh.

From "1984" - "doublethink" is the ability to hold two mutually exclusive pieces of information in your head at the same time and believe both are true. I find the ultra-religious types to be highly skilled ad "doublethink."
 
  • #8
Originally posted by kyleb
i take it you never meant a hardcore bible-beater Entropia?

Actually, there are even contradictions in the Passion Play, the most important part of the Bible! [Matthew, Mark, Luke, John].

The Bible can be taken either way, and you should still get the same thing from it. I think it holds truths for the believer and nonbeliever alike, such things as love your neighbor as yourself, etc. I think it was truly meant to be taken literally, with the parables being obvious.
 
  • #9
So how about concepts like heaven, hell, resurrection of Christ . . . are these to be taken literally or symbolically? Most Christians take them literally, but is it really that obvious that such concepts are literal rather than symbolic?
 
  • #10
The old testiment was meant to be taken literally, the ancient Jewish faith contains a lot of how-to books. The new testiment is more of a muddle from a bunch of authors, including the book of Luke who was a tremendously popular fiction author at the time. He had a best seller complete with sea monsters, kidnaped princesses, and the whole bit. Considering the sermon on the mount, I suspect the new testiment was in part a response to the growing intolerance of Aristotelian fundamentalism, but when Augstine later incorporated this philosophy within the Catholic church modern religious fundamentalism was born.

So what you have with the bible is not one book but several that contradict each other. The modern king james version was meant to be taken literally, but even it couldn't resolve all the contradictions. Considering the early christians wiped out the chruches that interpreted it figuratively, and christian fundamentalist still far out weight the competition, I'd play it safe and go with the literal interpretation.
 
  • #11
The Three Degrees

From the thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=993" ...

Originally posted by Iacchus32

As for the number 666, what it represents is two thirds, and hence the second of three degrees: the first being 0 to 333, the second being 334 to 666, and the third being 667 to 1000. Which would be about right, for if you portrayed a symmetrical cross, where the top, bottom, left and right (sections) were equal in length, then by adding "an extension" equal in length at the base, you would have these same three degrees portrayed by the height of the cross: where the first two degrees (666 and below) exist below the horizontal plane, or "cross beam," and the third degree (667 and above) exists above it. So in this respect the number 217 (as opposed to 216) would be similar to 667.

While I've also come to understand there are three levels or degrees of spirituality that the "well disposed" spirit enters after death. The first corresponding to that which is natural (1), where one doesn't place a great deal of emphasis on religion or God, and yet has lived a fairly moral life. The second corresponding to that which is spiritual (2), where one places more emphasis on the religious aspect, and yet isn't altogether different "morally" than the first person. The third corresponding to that which is celestial (3), where one has developed both the religious understanding and, the morality to boot. For which reason this last state is the only "true state," whereby suggesting the nature of 666: everything that exists up to and below this state, but doesn't quite "make the grade" so to speak.

I have another analogy which also describes the three levels here. It begins with the development of radio, where everybody can "tune in" and listen so to speak, but are unable to see what's being described (except of course through their imagination). Enter the development of black and white TV, now everybody can see what's being talked about, except that it's not the "true representation," as it's still subject to interpretation. Hence comparing with the number 666. Enter the develpment of color TV, now the truth is plain as the nose on your face and doesn't require any "further interpretion," whereby one is content with what they know and can still go about their daily business. Something similar is signified by the following:

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:33-34) ... Huh? ... No more sermonizing?

Enter the Roman Catholic Church (1), a means by which to "subjugate the masses" (the natural mind) and standardize Christian Teaching. And yet being only the first degree (similar to the advent of radio), The Word is spoken unto the masses, yet in a foreign tongue (Latin), and no one is allowed to "see what it means."

Enter The Reformation (2) which, along with the advent of the printing press, begins presenting the The Word unto the masses, in their own tongue and yet, in "black and white" (and hence 666): whereby it's still subject to interpretation because no one understands the meaning behind the words. Ever wonder why there are so many denominations to the Protestant Church? And they all express it in terms of "Our way or the highway" (in terms of black and white).

Enter the one and only True Church (3), the church most are unaware of, as it doesn't postulate or sermonize, and pretty much goes about its own business. Which is funny because it was founded in the 18th century--hence corresponding to the Age of Enlightenment--and its founder, http://www.swedenborg.com/" [Broken], was in fact a scientist. Which actually makes a great deal of sense.

Need I say more? ...

A couple of books I recommend are Swedenborg's, Heaven and Hell, a real eye opener which delves into the nature of the spiritual world, as well as the Apocalypse Revealed, a verse for verse account to the book of Revelation. These are two of my primary sources by the way ... And here, Swedenborg's works are also theological in nature, and yet very practical in the way the concepts are presented. This might be the one for you FZ+!? ... Swedenborg's materials are available through the Swedenborg Foundation at http://www.swedenborg.com/
 
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  • #12
I don't remember making a book recommendation before. But if you can get hold of "Christ", by Jack Miles (an Arrow's books publication), then do so.
Buy this book, and not only will you come to understand the depth of the symbolism within the bible, but you will also be blown-away by the conclusion. I promise you.
 
  • #13
I think that we also have to remember who, what, where, and when the different passages were directed to. Some passages are timeless others don't apply literally but Truth and truth may be gleaned from the Bible. I think that that is the real purpose of the Bible. Almost all if not all of the sayings of Jesus were parables. I think that was intensional so that we could not take them literaly.
 

1. What is the purpose of interpreting the Bible symbolically?

The purpose of interpreting the Bible symbolically is to understand the deeper meaning and symbolism behind the text. It allows for a more metaphorical and abstract interpretation, rather than a literal one.

2. How do we know when to interpret the Bible symbolically?

There are various factors that can indicate when the Bible should be interpreted symbolically, such as the context of the passage, cultural and historical background, and literary genre. Additionally, some passages may contain symbolism that is explicitly stated or commonly understood.

3. Is interpreting the Bible symbolically the only way to understand it?

No, interpreting the Bible symbolically is not the only way to understand it. The Bible can also be interpreted literally, contextually, and allegorically. Each method may be useful for different purposes or passages.

4. Are there any potential drawbacks to interpreting the Bible symbolically?

One potential drawback of interpreting the Bible symbolically is that it can be subjective and open to personal interpretation. This can lead to differing interpretations and potential conflicts among individuals or groups. It is important to approach symbolic interpretation with caution and consider the overall context and teachings of the Bible.

5. How does symbolic interpretation of the Bible impact its authority or reliability?

The symbolic interpretation of the Bible does not necessarily impact its authority or reliability. While it may offer a different perspective on the text, the overall message and teachings of the Bible remain consistent. It is important to approach symbolic interpretation with an understanding of the Bible's teachings and not solely rely on symbolic interpretations for understanding the text.

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