Literally vs. Symbolism

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
okay...we were just having a discussion about I thought I would ask because it's kinda of confusing a bit. the bible...there is some verses that we take it literally and there is some that we take the symbol of it or try to understand if from a spirtual point of view not take it literally word by word...I don't have examples of verses now...but I was just asking if it should be taken some way or another or just both spirtual and literal work for every verse?

Hope i made sense and didn't confuse anyone


  • In the new testament I think when they mean something symbolic they kinda explain or its obvious.. like when Jesus said:

    "'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees"
    After it , we learn that the disciples didnt understand what He meant right? they thought they should have taken bread with them.

    In the old testament alot of things have literal and symbolic meanings.

    On the same topic we have to know if Jesus literally meant we have to eat His body and blood.. we learn that He did by what happens in the later verses.. ppl left Him because of this because they thought it was disgusting.. so He was meaning literally right?

    this is a good topic.. I might post again later.
  • The Bible can be taken both literally and metaphorically/spiritually simultaneously to certain extents; they're not mutually exclusive such that it is either one or the other.

    I have alot to say on this, however I don't have time for I have exams to study for. For now, you should check out this weblink which refers to Fr. Tadros Malaty's book The School of Alexandria: Before Origen. The Coptic Church being the "Alexandrian Church" was a big proponant of the allegorical approach to the scriptures:

  • hay yar i also have a question related to that lyk say if at skool they dunt belive in transubstaion rite and the verses in corinthians and john etc. bout how it changes and they go no its a metaphor and stuff wat do i say?? thnx

    GB ALL
  • u say that the bible is to be taken both ways and not one or the other like Iqbal explained.
  • I think it depends..everything I think should definitely be taken spiritualy in the Bible but not everything can be taken literally..Origen, for example, was a great teacher but he removed a certain part of his body so that he does not sin, and was excommunicated. This is because he took the verse in which Christ said ". . . if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out . . . ." literally. Other verses can be taken literally and spiritually however..but I think spritually should always be involved..every verse I believe has a deeper meaning than the literal.
  • basically u have 2 churches:

    the church of alexandria, which was filled with greeks, now greeks where know for there philosiphers, they were know as allegorical, they believed that the bible has such depth that every word in the biblw has deeper meaning.

    church in antioch, lebenese, syrian... they were know to be literal, as in wat the bible said, it means.
    example "feed the poor, visit the sick"
    the allegoricall ppl wood say that means:that we must spiritually feed the poor in spirit, and that we must preach to them and seek there salvation and visit those who were struggling in there faith and need a spiritual physician, the literal ppl would take it to mean: feed the poor, visit the sick.

    we are both. we take both the literal and allegoical interpretation of the bible. as iqbal pointed out, they are NOT mutually exclusive.
  • just thought this was related to the probably already know the story just a reminder.....

    Simon the shoemaker (sem3an il7'araz), was also thinking about the verse "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out." Mark 9:47, and he actually plucked out his eye, and he was talking to the priest later and was asking him if that was a right thing to do or not, is the bible to be taken word for word or not, then he was chosen to help in the miracle of moving the moukattam mountain, when the jews went and told the governor, ElMo3iz, the christians must prove their religion is true, referring to the verse "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move." Matthew 17:20, so they wanted us to take the verse and apply it word for word and move the mountain
  • I think Iqbal and PrincessMary answered your guys question
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