[quote="Mgray82, post:1, topic:297347"]
I've been studying the scripture, and I'm deep into the Old Testiment right now (and I personally absolutely love it!).
My questions; Do you take the stories in the OT literally? Why or why not?
This always seems to bring an interesting discussion about..
I'm not a Christian, but I will answer the question as though I were a Catholic.
I would say that a literal reading of the OT misses the main point of it. It misunderstands the genre of literature in which it was written. We moderns often assume that all narrative accounts that are written are intended to be historical accounts whose purpose was to faithfully record events for the sake of remembering past events, but this is an idea that is only a few hundred years old.
In the ancient world, people didn't keep narratives alive because they simply wanted to maintain archives of events, but to illustrate a point. Herodotus wrote his histories not to give a record to satisfy the academic curiosity people might have of the events he wrote about, but to glorify the Greek people.
Similarly, the purpose of much of the OT isn't to give a detailed historically accurate account as it is to use examples to illustrate the nature of Man, God, and the nature of their relationship. The predominant theme of the OT is that of man's separation from God through sin and the need to repent in order to restore his relationship with God. almost every story in the OT is intended to illustrate this point through example.
Take the creation narative in the book of Genesis for example. It depicts God creating the heavens and the earth, calling them good, and then making a garden, creating mankind which he calls 'very good' and Mankind falling away from God due to sin and being exiled from the garden.
The reason why it emphasizes God's creation of the world the way it does is because it demonstrates that God's love for mankind, which he considered to be the greatest of his creation. This may seem obvious now, but many pagan cultures near Israel believed differently. For example, the Akkadian creation myth Enuma Elish depicts the gods making humanity not as something to be loved, but as being a last minute addition to creation who were created solely to act as slaves to the gods. In other words, Genesis portrayes the creation the way it does to contrast God's love with to the opression of the pagan gods taught by many pagans.
It also depicts God making the heaven and the stars and the forces of nature one by one. Remember that the pagans worshiped these things as gods in themselves, so the intention of Genesis is probably to emphasize that the sun and moon and other such things are not divine, but were created by the one true God who alone should be worshiped, rather than the forces of the natural world.