Literal versus figurative stories in Bible

Hello Erikaspirit16, you’re referencing here one of the more popular “contradictions” brought forward by skeptics. It is also one of the poorest examples. Here’s a brief breakdown on the issue (there are plenty of more exhaustive breakdowns available of this and other alleged contradictions trotted out by skeptics):

"Literally, that clause in 22:9 may be translated, “They did not hear the sound.” The NIV correctly translates the verse, because the verb “to hear” with the genitive case may mean “to hear a sound” and with the accusative case “to hear with understanding.” The genitive case is employed in 9:7, and the accusative is used in 22:9. So the travelers with Saul heard the sound (9:7) but did not understand what Christ said (22:9)."1

Thus in Acts 9:7, “hearing the voice,” the noun “voice” is in the partitive genitive case [i.e., hearing (something) of], whereas in 22:9, “they heard not the voice,” the construction is with the accusative. This removes the idea of any contradiction. The former indicates a hearing of the sound, the latter indicates the meaning or message of the voice (this they did not hear). “The former denotes the sensational perception, the latter (the accusative case) the thing perceived."2

  1. Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, 1985.
  2. Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981.

This is another weak example for a contradiction. “Blessed be the poor” is taken from what is traditionally recognized as Christ’s Sermon on the Plain recorded in Luke 6:17-49, whereas “Blessed are the poor in spirit” is taken from Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. As one might expect, Christ repeated with minor variations many of the key truths of His Gospel message as he preached throughout the Land of Judea. Further, it is possible that Luke is using a shorthand of Christ’s Words (as is common in the Gospels and elsewhere in Scripture). Use of shorthand by Scriptural writers in their quotations of Christ and others is in full agreement with the doctrine of complete inerrancy (please see prior posts on this point).

Erikaspirit16, there is no ignoring of science or fossils in what I am saying (although I am ignoring the modern speculation of comb jelly/sponge to man evolution in my assertion). Actually, there is only around 34,000 documented species of land-dwelling vertebrates, and many of these are the result of obvious horizontal speciation within a kind—eg Darwin’s finches (in contrast with the unobserved upward progression of species, where non-cognitive species acquire the gift of cognition, etc. via DNA/RNA errors).

Likewise, there is plenty of well documented research available on the question of insects and the Ark, how the creatures on the Ark would be fed, etc. Actually, the difficulties in how the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe delivered the land-dwelling portion of His Creation through the Ark are easily answered when compared to the endless string of biological impossibilities required under the naturalistic origins paradigm (e.g. abiogenesis or how the offspring of comb jellies or sponges eventually learned to fly, think and write musicals due to DNA/RNA errors). All that said, this is really a topic for one of the several endless creation/evolution threads on this forum.

I am saying that Mt. Everest as we know it didn’t exist prior to the Flood. According to the catastrophic model–in layman’s terms–the waters of the Flood ran off the land as the mountains rose up and the valleys sank low (in particular, the “valleys” of the great ocean basins). The dates you’ve provided are derived using the uniformitarian model. While there are difficulties with each model, I would argue that the catastrophic model fits the evidence better (both the evidence from the natural world and the historic data from Sacred Scripture). Again, this conversation is better fitted for the endless creation/evolution threads on the forum.

The popularization of the uniformitarian interpretation is not evidence of how intelligent the practitioners of geology had become in the early 19th century. Rather, it is evidence of the victory (sadly often aided by well-meaning Christians) of a worldview/interpretation of earth’s history divorced from Sacred Scripture. Not to sound like a broken record–but this is another issue tailor-made for one of the never ending creation/evolution threads on this forum.

Because of time limitations, it may be at least a couple of weeks before I have time to respond further on this thread. Have a great week all.

Since we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, I think my best reply would be “Far out, man!” As I said, twisting yourself into a pretzel. If it makes you happy, go for it. As for me, I’ll stick to science.

Adam and Eve are Taught as Actual Persons by Catholicism
The Fall of Man is Taught as an actual Historical Event
Abraham certainly Existed…
Avoid all argument by whose whose ‘job’ it is to confer Doubt…

MY Advice - Prayerfully Study the GOSPELS // New Testament
for the purpose of Getting to Know Jesus and His Teachings - very well

And neither is Jesus according to you.

The men of Nineveh will stand at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now One greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and now One greater than Solomon is here.”

Jesus in Matthew 12:41-42 seems to put the men of Nineveh in the same group with the Queen of Sheba. The Queen of Sheba is a historical person and Jesus says in this passage that she will rise up in judgement against His generation so why can’t the men of Nineveh?

Adam and Eve: Real People

It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” ( Humani Generis 37).

The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).

  • Catholic Answers

EXACTLY – That is Catholic Teachings on this Catholic Forum…

Which in turn trumps simplistic denials peddled as fact. :slightly_smiling_face:

And rather than some forever discussing potential endless back and forths, why not they jump into the more mature and important matters connected with Obeying God who IS…

I do believe there were men in Nineveh. And it may be that they repented at the preaching of Jonah. But that does not change that the book of Jonah is told as a tall tale. If Jesus had said “The cattle of Nineveh will stand at the judgement…” or used other tall tale elements, that would be different. (Men were not the only ones who repented in Nineveh.)

Of course, he did use the “three days in the belly of the beast” which is a tall tale element. But he used it as a metaphor (does your bible say Jesus’ tomb was a whale? If not, Jesus was using a metaphor.) which is in line with reading it as a tall tale.

May be? Speculating?

Tall Tale? …

Were you present w/Jesus Would you have said that to Jesus when He said what He said?

Or is it I who is now speculating? :slightly_smiling_face:

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This literally ignores what I said, but points for creativity, because it seems like you’re dancing around the words of Christ Himself.

Yes it ignores… but please, no ‘points’ :slightly_smiling_face:

Jesus used the 3 days in the belly of the beast because Jonah WAS in the whale for three days. It was a historical parallel for His Passion.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with looking at each verse of the Bible individually and in context. I am now reading the five volume study:“Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee”. He takes the whole bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse and gives his personal analysis of each verse of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. It is a Protestant Christian POV. For example, with reference to John 6: 54-58, he indicates that these words are not to be taken literally because he says: “I don’t think our Lord taught cannibalism in any form, shape or fashion.” I guess that this points out that Christians do not agree on what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken figuratively.

Having been raised Catholic, I could never understand believing Genesis, or the people in it, were anything other than literal. Jesus affirmed Adam & Eve were real people, as He did the Creation account, Noah & the Flood, as well as Abraham & even Job. So, I have no reason to believe the “stories” in the Protestant Old Testament were anything other than real events & real people. But I can certainly understand why people would question the validity of some of the Deuterocanonical books, like Judith, as real people. Even the NCV states that it’s “a piece of edifying fiction.”

Some say literal, others say fiction. Is it better to teach in an ambiguous and ill defined manner, or is it better to teach in a clear cut fashion with no room for several different interpretations?

Yet, the so-called “Proto-canon” is literal, as is the New Testament, and unambiguous.

Hello Erikaspirit16, I’m an attorney–I’m no scientist (not that you ever accused me of being one). However, my bachelor’s is in physics, so I’m not a total stranger to science. Unsurprisingly, I see those who embrace the naturalistic/uniformitarian origins model as the individuals who are twisting themselves into pretzels in their interpretation both of Scripture and the evidence in nature. We’ll just have to agree to disagree at this time. Thanks again for the discussion.

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