The Bible: Story book or actual events?

Some of my older relatives, especially my great grandma, are adamant that the stories within the Bible are real events, all of them happened.

However my the younger relatives and a lot of my friends say that the stories aren’t literal events but stories to teach us how to live our lives today with events that we may face.

Then I spoke to my friend who actually takes religious studies and she says that some of the stories are literal events and others aren’t.

I really need some clarification on this because what makes the story of Adam and Eve any more legit than other ‘none literal’ stories within the Bible (if any at all)?:confused:

Thanks in advance

I personally believe that they are all real. I believe in Genesis’ account of creation, that Noah and his family repopulated the earth after the flood, the Jonah story, etc. I feel it’s human arrogance to pick and choose which parts are “real”. Many stories sound like myths or legends maybe, but who is to say God couldn’t or wouldn’t really have those things happen? He is God and he can do whatever He wants. The Bible is God’s word and until He tells me otherwise, I will take them as literal events. Just my opinion.:slight_smile:

Thanks :smiley: That’s true

I think it’s because after the Bible was written and spread across the world God kind of stopped with all these really cool events.

I mean He isn’t very active with people any more (outwardly).

It makes me wonder if the events happened just as they are written or maybe someone got a bit happy at the time and over exaggerated the details.

I won’t argue with their authenticity but it does make me wonder.

One way that helped me understand the concepts that your speak of is to not think of the Bible as “a” book, but rather a collection of books put into a single binding. Think of it more like a mini-library than a single work of one author.

Imagine that you walked just inside the doorway of your local library. Here, consider the common questions or skepticisms about the Bible.

  1. Is everything in the library true in the literal sense? No, because I can see there is a fiction section and I can see children’s books about talking tugboats and such.

There is a question behind this: Does everything have to be true for it to have value? I would answer this, “no.” I can still learn something about baseball from a book like “Field of Dreams,” though the story is completely fictional. Talking tugboats can teach a lesson that stealing is wrong and brings consequences.

  1. Is the entire library written in the same style? Obviously not. There is a poetry section, music, prose, technical writings, scientific formulas, etc. If I want to know about a historical figure, I might find information in biographies, reference works (encyclopedias), even children’s books that teach about the lives of famous people. I might also find true information about Albert Einstein in a work of fiction set in the time period in which he lived.

So the Bible is a compilation of texts written over hundreds of years, using different styles and different literary forms. When we find something in the text that isn’t crystal clear, we have to try as best we can to determine what the original author was trying to convey. We find a sentence like this in Mark 1:33: “The whole town was gathered at the door.” Did the author mean to say in a literalist way that every single man, woman, and child, no exceptions, were at the door? Or did he mean using the literary form of hyperbole that the crowd was so enormous that it was as if the whole town was there? When it comes to a matter of faith or what the Bible teaches us about salvation, what difference does it make how you interpret that? It doesn’t, and that is why in much of Scripture we are free to interpret it as we will, keeping within certain key guidelines.

Those guidelines are that our interpretation should not put the meaning of what we interpret at odds with the rest of the Scripture, nor at odds with the teachings of our faith. Those are pretty simple and common-sense guidelines, and they are the identical guidelines we use any other time to determine the truth in written documents. If I wrote a biography of Albert Einstein, and I said he was born in 1722, that would conflict sharply with what “the rest of the library” says about him, and thus people would judge my biography of Einstein to be inaccurate and pretty much worthless. It’s the same principle.

Hope this helps you.

I think th bible stories express human life making visible the Word of God. I believe they are for the most part hidden within various cultures centered around the children of Abraham. They expressed the living of the prophecy God announced in the beginning. They are lives that realize the enmity betwen the dragon and the woman’s seed. Their feet were bruised and by them the dragon was wounded.

The stories in the bible connect the human lives that recede all the way back to the origin of sin. They tell of the human life that God related intimately with in order to save all ofus.

I don’t think it matters. Literal or allegory, the Judeo-Christian message suffers no violence. God’s creation and His redemptive plan are undiminished either way.

I think this is the best analogy I’ve yet to see! Thanks DOShea. I hope you won’t mind if I quote you in other discourse.

Some stories are literal, some are not, and some are a code. For instance, the Gospels contain historical events, such as when the Lord told some parables. The parables He told are not literal. Then there is Revelation, which is real but often uses metaphors. For instance, the 7 headed beast probably doesn’t represent an actual monster.

I like the library analogy.

It does, yes. I always knew whether it was real or not that the stories held some importance that we can learn from, but it was which stories within it were literal or not that I’m not sure about.

Well that does clear it up a bit, thanks, I had always wondered about some of the monsters in the bible.

It’s already been said, but thanks DOShea your post was an excellent analogy.

Y’all are welcome… but in all honesty it isn’t my analogy. I learned it from someone else along the way, wish I could remember exactly where, but it came from someone with a lot more smarts than I’ll ever have.

As to what’s literal and what isn’t, I don’t get too hung up on that. Was Jonah really in a whale’s belly for 3 days or not? I don’t know, but the book sure teaches a lot about answering God’s call doesn’t it? I read the NT and see all these things Jesus taught the Apostles and sometimes find myself Monday-morning-quarterbacking the Apostles, thinking to myself, gee, how dense could they have been? But then I go read a book like Jonah and imagine those same Apostles, knowing what they know now, looking at me and thinking, “Gee, how dense can he be?” LOL

I think of it much like Jesus teaching about destroying the temple and rebuilding it in 3 days. No one had a clue what He meant until after the fact. I think someday we will know the full truth of everything in Scripture, and much like the 3-day-temple thing, we will look back and see 100% truth in some way in every single word of it.

Is Everything in the Bible True?

This Rock
Volume 19, Number 5
May-June 2008

I consider the bible to be the main story of the Jewish mythology. It contains loosely factual information about the origins of the Jewish people and tells of heroic and exaggerated acts of awe, which is similar to most nation based mythologies, like the Greek’s Iliad or Theogony or the odyssey. These Greek tales also contain myths about the great heroes who founded Greece and their epic battles against Cyclops or other Greek Gods. It also tells of the origins of the Gods and ultimately, Greece. Another book, Beowulf, similarly tells the stories of the great English hero who defeats a dragon.

**To answer your question so that I can get to the point, I see the Bible as a mythical or mythological story that was created by various authors over time to explain the origins of the Jewish people. Many of the stories in the bible have historical basis but are probably exaggerated to display some sort of heroic feat. So the answer is story book. **

Whooooaaaah boy. I don’t think you’ve read much at all about the Catholic saints. There are thousands canonized. Look any of them up and you’ll see the “cool events” did not stop with the Bible.

Here’s one, the famous “flying monk,” St. Joseph Cupertino. Here’s the longish version of his story, a good article I really enjoyed reading. ewtn.com/library/mary/joseph.htm
A shorter version:
newadvent.org/cathen/08520b.htm

Here are some of St. Padre Pio’s miracles: padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Miracles.htm

A description of the marvels at Fatima:
scribd.com/doc/16920434/Fatima-Prophecies-the-Miracle-of-the-Sun

This one you must read about the marvelous apparitions of Mary at Zeitoun:
marypages.com/ZeitoenEng.htm

And look at this one, about the “Incorruptibles,” the saints whose bodies never decayed because the saints were so united with God in their lives:
catholicapologetics.info/library/gallery/incorrupt/incorrupt.htm

Here’s one of the most famous Eucharistic miracles:
therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html

And the Miracle of the Holy Fire which has annually occurred at the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem for 2,000 years:
holyfire.org/eng/

Here are several links to Eucharistic miracles you can read about, all the links on this page:
homebusinesslink.com/eucharistic.html

The Virgin Mary appeared at Siluva in Lithuania during the Protestant Reformation and converted the whole nation to Catholicism.

Around the same time period, she appeared at Guadaloupe in Mexico and converted that whole country!

Here you can read about St. Catherine Emmerich, one of the greatest visionaries of history, or the greatest. jesus-passion.com/ANNE_CATHERINE_EMMERICH.htm

Seriously, look up any of the saints, look up and google the saints, and you’ll see the most amazing things come up all the time.

God’s power is as real and active today as it was in Biblical times. The Catholic Church is full to bursting with wonders. Read about some of them through these various sources and enjoy! :thumbsup::thumbsup: :smiley:

If you think so, you’d better read the links I provided dangel on post 15, too. God has proven time and again that His Church is the true Body of Christ and is the way to salvation. There are enough miracles shining for the world to see and know it with absolute certainty, if it would only take the time to do some reading and stop making false assumptions about Christianity.

Anyway, I really encourage you to read these articles. When you see how stunning and powerful is God’s action in today’s world, His action in the past suddenly seems very plausible. :thumbsup:

God bless you!

I think you need to read again Homer, Hesiod and the Greeks plays. They do not have the unity of the “Bible.” In fact, the Bible is, in comparison, anti-mythological. The God of Abraham is nothing like Jupiter or Athena, or Baal. He is in fact the anti-Baal, which is the constant theme of the Bible. When I read Job, I think of it as a kind of revelation to Job that God is NOT Baal, but entirely different. Baal is the product of Chaos, according to that myth. God is not; rather His who has given shape to everything. In sum, the Bible is a critique and repudiation of all that men believed about the gods.

Historians know that history is “an investigation”. Or rather a series of investigations. To think of it as something like a something like a science is historicism.

Perhaps as it is interpreted today but most Christians are ignorant of the fact that Judaism was polytheistic, with it’s own Pantheon, until after the Babylonian captivity and the exposure of the Israelites to Zoroastrianism. Many of the stories in Old Testament are very similar to those in the Greek religion and there is plenty of evidence that Judaism was heavily influenced by the religions of other cultures.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.