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Is interpretation of the bible meant to be symbolic?

  1. Apr 22, 2003 #1


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    Just wondering if you all believe if the bible should be interpreted as symbolic or literal...
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2003 #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.
  4. Apr 22, 2003 #3
    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 ..."
  5. Apr 23, 2003 #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.
  6. Apr 23, 2003 #5
    I would say both.
  7. Apr 23, 2003 #6
    i take it you never meant a hardcore bible-beater Entropia?
  8. Apr 24, 2003 #7


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    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."
  9. Apr 24, 2003 #8
    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 truely meant to be taken literally, with the parables being obvious.
  10. Apr 29, 2003 #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?
  11. May 3, 2003 #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.
  12. May 3, 2003 #11
    The Three Degrees

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

    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  13. May 3, 2003 #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.
  14. May 11, 2003 #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.
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