Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Literal or Parable & Allegorical Understanding

From a reader here:

Literal or Parable & Allegorical Understanding

A few years ago, after church services, a round table discussion about various religions began. After several minutes the following comment was made, “All religion is made man.” Immediately someone said, “Except ours.” After several minutes of continued discussion, the comment was repeated with emphasis, “Remember this, all religion is man made.” A few years ago someone questioned another’s belief in God. The answer was, “Yes, absolutely, but I prefer the word creator rather than God."

The word “God” was derived from the word “good.” This may have been done to emphasize the goodness of the creator more so than the greatness of the creation by the creator. Both are equally valid. There are three Hebrew words translated as God; “elohim” Strong’s #430, which is the plural form of  “eloah” #433, which is derived from “el” #410, which means might, strength, and power. Elohim does not always refer to “God” as creator as the following will show; keeping in mind that Strong’s Concordance reference for the Hebrew word “elohim” is #430.

Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my lord: thou [art] a mighty(430) prince among us: …..(Refers to Abraham as elohim, but not as God)

Genesis 30:8 …. With great(430) wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, …(Refers to Rachel and Leah - as elohim / godly wrestlers?)

Exodus 9:28 …… that there be no mighty(430) thunderings and hail; …….                                                                                   (as elohim / godly thunder and hail?)

Exodus 22:9 ….... come before the judges;(430) [and] whom the judges(430) shall condemn, . . .godly judges? - maybe, maybe not)

Jonah 3:3 …... Now Nineveh was an exceeding(430) great city of three days' journey.(Was Nineveh an elohim / godly city?)

Searching for and learning the meanings of words, rather than the traditional teachings of 20+ years of Baptist and Methodist teaching as well as 50+ years of awareness of and/or association with the Church of God has helped in coming to a completely different understanding of the Bible.

Twelve years ago, an interest in trying to understand the bible more clearly was begun, rather than relying on traditional teaching. Over time, an understanding was realized that parables, allegories and “dark sayings of old” were used in the Old and New Testament. “Dark sayings” in Psalms 78:2 and Proverbs 1:6 are used in the sense of being difficult to understand or hidden. Galatians 4:22-26 states that the story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and their sons are allegory (vs. 24). Did those “hidden” terms use anthropomorphism and personification to describe natural conditions of the world we live in as well as all people, no matter who the person is or where that person resides on this earth? 

Once the similarity of stories from the O.T. and N.T. were compared to nature, our solar system, the universe and us as humans, the meanings began to become clearer. Also, similar stories are a part of nearly every culture throughout time on this earth. Compare the stories of Krishna of India, Tammuz of Syria, Esus of the Celtic Druids, Mithra of Persia, and Quexalcoati of Mexico, Dionysus of Greece and many others. All were crucified gods and all have stories similar to the one we know best. Why?

The following are a few of examples to explain some allegorical possibilities:

Genesis 32:24-31 gives the story of Jacob wrestling with a man; who most folks say was either God or an angel. But Numbers 23:19 states that God is not a man. It is questionable if angels are men as well. Also Jacob called the place Peniel and Penuel. There is a tiny gland in the middle of our brain which is named Pineal. This pineal gland is connected to the optic nerves of our eyes and is sensitive to light. 1John 1:5 states God is light.

  1. Important events, in the Bible, happens at a high place. Mt Siani, Mt Zion, Mt Ararat, Mt Moriah, Mt Carmel, Mt of Olives, Sermon on the Mount, large “upper room” and others. Could all these be allegory for our own personal “mountain” which is on top of our shoulders? Psalms 139:13-14 . . . [God] formed my inward parts . . .  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
  2. 1 Kings 6 describes the construction of the temple, which could allegorically describe our skull and the parts of the brain. The temple, which really counts, is made without hands. (Mark 14:58). If you point to your temple, would you point to the side of your head? Is that just coincidence? “For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16)  “. . .the kingdom of God comes not with observation: . . . the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21)  A study of the word “within” may reveal an understanding that very well may not mean “among” as we have been told. The Greek word translated “within” (Strong’s #1787) appears only two times. The other is in Matthew 23:26 and the word means “inside”.
  3. There are twelve signs of the Zodiac. One of those is Gemini, a set of twins (total 13). One of those signs is represented as a woman, Virgo. There were twelve sons of Jacob and one daughter (total 13). There are twelve main followers or disciples of Jesus plus a woman, Mary Magdalene (total 13).
  4. There are 2 sets of 12 (total 24) cranial nerves that start originate in our brain and extend into our body. There are 24 elders around the throne of God. (Rev. 4:4) Could that throne be our skull, which contains the brain, and be the “Great White Throne” where judgment occurs?
  5. There are four main parts of the brain; cerebrum, cerebellum, limbic system, and brain stem. The cerebrum is further divided into four parts; frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe and temporal lobe. Could either of these four parts be the four beasts of Rev 4:7-8?
  6. According to some cultures, there are seven points of energy associated with the human body. Six of those points of energy are within the body from the base of the spine to the head. Work takes place within those six energy points. The seventh is just above the head where no work is involved within the body. Could our seven day week be an allegory for the six points of energy in our body with the seventh just over our head where a crown would be? Could these be the seals of Rev 5:1 which are written “within” and on the “backside” be along the spine of our body? Could the seventh be the crown we are promised?
  7. Jesus was killed on Golgotha or Calvary. Both mean skull. Golgatha is transliterated from Hebrew. Calvary is transliterated from Latin. (How did a Latin word find its way into a book written in Greek?) Could the death of Jesus be allegorical for the death of our own ego and carnal desires? Those attitudes originate in our brain. BTW, transliteration is not translation. Transliteration offers no definition, only an approximate sound and spelling of a word.

There are many, many more possibilities which, if fully understood, could free us from the control of the Nicolaitans. (Revelation 2:6 & 15)  Nico is Greek for victory (control) and laitanes (laity) is Greek for the common people; OR victory over or control of the common people. That is not to say that the ministers, in general, are purposely trying to deceive the people, but traditional orthodoxy came about over many, many years of control. Ministers / clergy teach what they are taught to teach. Generally, the lay people are expected to accept what is taught without question. During the “Dark Ages” the vast majority of people were not able to have a copy of the bible even if they could read. The thoughts and actions of people were controlled to the point of death if commands were not obeyed. During the Dark Ages, approximately 600 CE to 1600 CE, millions of people were tortured and/or killed by the church. As a point for an interesting study, the word “church” is not a valid translation in the bible. King James was instrumental in having the word “church” used instead of the correct translation, assembly and/or congregation for the Greek word ἐκκλησίᾳ, transliterated as ekklesia.

Following are two examples of the control of the Nicolaitans.
  1. William Tyndale wrote a more correct English translation of the bible in the early 1500’s CE.  The church had banned the unauthorized translation of the Bible into English in 1408. Tyndale was killed by strangulation while tied to the stake and his body was burned at that stake because of a treatise he wrote critical of Henry VIII’s divorce. At that time Henry VIII had broken with Rome and became the ruling authority of the Church of England. Tyndale also claimed that the Bible did not support the view that the “church” was the body of Christ.
  2. Galileo Galilee was charged, by the “church”, with teaching and defending the Copernican doctrine that holds that the sun is at the center of the universe and that the earth moves. This doctrine had been deemed heretical in 1616, and Copernicus' book had been placed on the index of prohibited books. In June 1633 Galileo was taken to the “church” and ordered to kneel while his sentence was read. It was declared that he was “vehemently suspect of heresy”. Galileo was forced to recite and sign a formal withdrawal of his statements.
These are only two examples of the “church” and its control of the people. There are many, many millions of others who were either killed or severely punished because they challenged the church hierarchy and their dogma and dictates. It still happens today in a figurative sense.

If the bible is read with a literal interpretation for proper understanding, then one must deal with the numerous illogical and contradictory statements within that book. Did Jonah really stay in a whale’s (big fish) belly for three days and three nights? Will Jesus literally ride a white horse out of heaven?  Who caused David to number Israel? (Compare 2Samuel 24:1 and 1Chronicles 21:1) Will there literally be a “New Jerusalem” that comes down from “heaven”?

As a general rule Jesus spoke only in parables.

Mark 4:33 . . . with many such parables he spoke the word to them, even as they were able to hear.  
Mark 4:34 But He did not speak to them without a parable. . . . .

Is it possible for the Bible to have been written with allegory, metaphor and parables in the same manner as Jesus spoke? Could this explain the illogical and contradictory statements within that book? If God is in heaven, could heaven be our highest and controlling organ, i.e., our brain?

If the Bible truly is the “Word of God” there must be a reason it is written with those illogical and contradictory situations. If parable, allegory, metaphor and dark sayings are considered as a possibility then maybe there are other questionable situations or events from the bible which could be better understood. We have been admonished not to accept the letter of the law.

2Corinthians 3:6 . . . . not of the letter, (literal understanding?)  but of the spirit: for the letter kills,  (hides understanding?) but the spirit makes alive. (gives better understanding?)

Our traditions are so very deeply rooted and difficult to overcome without the following example:
Acts 17:11 . . . . [Bereans] received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched(350) the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  (Strong’s #350, examined, studied)

These two questions are asked,
1.     “Do we really know and understand the meanings of the words in the Bible?”
2.     “Do we really want to know and understand the meanings of the words in the Bible?”

All previous comments and suggestions in this article are not limited to understanding the Bible by it being the sole source of what has been written here. These comments and suggestions have been known and written for thousands of years throughout the generations and cultures of mankind.

George and Ira Gershwin, a couple of New York Jewish song writers wrote “It Ain’t Necessarily So” for the play “Porgy and Bess” in 1935. It seems that the Gershwin brothers may have had a better understanding than most folks. They did not write “ain’t so”; but wrote “ain’t necessarily so.”
Could they have understood the parables, allegories and dark sayings of old?


It ain't necessarily so
It ain't necessarily so
The things dat yo' li'ble, to read in de Bible,
It ain't necessarily so.

Li'l David was small, but oh my!
Li'l David was small, but oh my!
He fought ‘ol Goliath, who lay down an' dieth!
Li'l David was small, but oh my!

Oh Jonah, he lived in de whale,
Oh Jonah, he lived in de whale,
Fo' he made his home in, dat fish's ab-do-men.
Oh Jonah, he lived in de whale.

Li'l Moses was found in a stream.
Li'l Moses was found in a stream.
He floated on water, till Ol' Pharaoh's daughter,
She fished him, she said, from dat stream.

Well, it ain't necessarily so
Well, it ain't necessarily so
Dey tells all you chillun, de debble's a villun,
But it ain't necessarily so!

To get into Heaven, Don' snap for a seven!
Live clean ! Don' have no fault!
Oh, I takes dat gospel, when’er it's pos'ble,
But wid a grain of salt.

Methus'lah lived nine hundred years,
Methus'lah lived nine hundred years,
But who calls dat livin' when no gal will give in
To no man what's nine hundred years?

I'm preachin' dis sermon to show,
It ain't neces, ain't neces, ain't neces, ain't neces
Ain't necessarily ... so!



Black Ops Mikey said...

Prefer science. It's based on observation.

Not interested in abstract philosophy which seems to totally ignore reality these days.

There must be an allegory in that somewhere, but I'm not interested.

After suffering through any number of people who went through psychotic breaks and were in a mental institution for awhile, the whole idea of dealing with unreality not connected to anything substantive seems neither profitable nor comfortable.

Too many crazies....

Dennis Diehl said...

When I was a kid in Sunday School the Bible was "An earthly story with a heavenly meaning". This reverses it to "A heavenly story with an earthly meaning".

I'm going to opt for an earthly story with an earthly meaning written by earthlings

Anonymous said...

Church of God's, Messengers in Lexington,Tennessee needs to read this article.

Byker Bob said...

Making iron-clad judgments and claims as to what is literal, metaphor, allegory, personification, midrash, etc. along with picking and insisting upon one amongst several often equally strong doctrinal approaches is what forms the backbone of fundamentalist Christianity. And, if "knowing" and being headstrong about prophecy is also factored in as one of the proofs of a church, even though the fulfillments of the prophecies somehow always end up getting postponed, it can become very confusing unless you have the proper prescription of blinders.

Armstrongism had its own individual set of such Gnosticism, including an assortment of unprovable, unbelievable theories. Special knowledge, proper doctrines, and having the keys to unlock prophecy is what was supposed to have made the church special enough that the leaders were the gatekeepers to the place of safety, and to the kingdom. Over forty years wandering busily but aimlessly in the wilderness since 1975 is not a gushing recommendation of Armstrongism as "God's True Church". And, the fruits made manifest by the horribly misnamed "God's government from the top down" are self evident. But then, what might one expect from leaders who believe they are guided by an impersonal force, rather than a sentient and interactive member of the God family? Does electricity provide guidance?

I hope I didn't offend any of our LCG friends by these statements. They were intended to show that there is much more, much deeper thinking to be done than what was spoon fed as the guided conclusions to our Bible "study" in the Armstrong churches. Hopefully, by now, everyone realizes that there are no such things as apostles or prophets during our current era, and most of what is being passed off as newly revealed truth is absolutely puerile, and easily disproven and dismissed. Shouting it out louder and using draconian enforcement does not prove it, either.