No One Actually Reads the Bible Literally

On this blog we have previously reviewed the hilarious book by Jacobs about trying to live out literally the commands of the Bible for one year, here we have an interesting sequel in this article.

Finding Jesus— Begins Sunday Night at 9 P.M. on CNN
Finding Jesus– Review of Part One
Forward Thinking on ‘Reading Backwards’–The Interview Part Six
Forward Thinking on ‘Reading Backwards’– The Interview Part 3
  • Katoikei

    How many commandments are there in the New Testament? Someone once counted them and came up with 101, best go 101. ;)

  • Kenny Johnson

    What do you think about his analogy? It seems that its precisely what YEC (and even OEC) warn about. If science trumps a literal Genesis reading, then is the Resurrection next?

    For me, the difference is that science can’t really prove the resurrection didn’t happen. It can show it improbable, but even then most Christians accept that resurrection is a special case — not the norm. And I don’t believe that ancient people believed any differently. Clearly, Jesus’ resurrection was meant to be awe inspiring.

  • Danny Dawson

    Kenny – I don’t like the analogy, and here’s why: it’s making the same false analogy that fundamentalist readers make, namely that if one part isn’t “literal” then none of it can be trusted. That might be true if you were reading a single work by a single author, but that is not what the Bible is. But even in single books we sometimes find non-literal sections (although a fiction anyway, The Grapes of Wrath intersperses poetic chapters not to be taken ‘literally’ but imaginatively to fill out the story). What was the intent of the author in his/her method of conveying a story or truth – to write historically accurate accounts, rehash the events of memory, or to take separate accounts and ‘Christianize’ them, or to create a poet tale of encouragement, etc?

    The test would be whether we can read the Gospels or read the letters of the NT and see if the writers or audience ever picked them up and thought that the readings were meant to convey a non-literal event. While some may argue this case for Genesis based on differing factors including poetic structure and parallels to ancient myths, nothing in the Resurrection account points to a similar viable argument. The story of doubting Thomas, Paul’s conversion story, the description of the crucifixion, Paul’s claim to know over 500 who saw the risen Christ, the fact that he also says that if the resurrection is a farce we’re to despised above all others – these point away from metaphorical understandings of the Resurrection, and there is little evidence toward such an idea.