The Bible - Truth or What?


This is something I have been wondering about and would like to know what the catholic church teaches on this subject. Up until a year ago I never knew that there were people who didn’t think that everything in the bible was truth. That some were metaphores while others weren’t. I guess you could say that got me thinking. Since I have the belief that through God all things are possible, I took all the stories to be truth. But I have found out that even CATHOLICS choose not to believe that everything in the bible is truth. How can this be? I look forward to your ideas… Thank you for your responses! :slight_smile:


there is a difference in everything being truth, and everything being



[quote=johnshelby]there is a difference in everything being truth, and everything being


Could you elaborate on this? Thanx for your response!


[quote=Singinbeauty]Could you elaborate on this? Thanx for your response!

It’s all true, keeping in mind that some figures of speech are just that - figures of speech.

Some are anthropomorphisms, some are parables, some are metaphors, etc…



[quote=Singinbeauty]Could you elaborate on this? Thanx for your response!

For example, the creation account in Genesis 1. Catholics are free to believe that the cosmos were created in six literal days, but, alternatively, they can also believe that the days were “symbolic” and that God took a longer period of time using more gradual processes. Either way, what a Catholic MUST believe is that God himself created the universe *ex nihilo * (out of nothing), and that he continues in his creative work, in fact, keeping the cosmos in existence. None of this “he-just-set-things-in-motion-and-evolution-took-over” or “Big Watchmaker In the Sky” nonsense allowed.


some of the stories in teh old testament, are exactly that, stories (i beleive tobit is just fiction) that does not mean it is not true, and it does nto mean it is not inspired. it is not meant to be taken literally, it is meant to teach a truth. as well, the stroy of creation does not have to be taken completely literal. 7 days does not mean 7 days X 24 hours. we are given quite a bit of freedom to decide for ourselves. so basically, like Richard said, its not all literal, but its all true


For clarification, see paragraphs 109-119 of *The *Catechism of the Catholic Church.


The Bible tells us that Jesus has a sword hanging out of his mouth (Rev 1:16) is that the literal truth or a metaphor? We would call it a metaphor. The sword is a metaphor for double-edged truth which both destroys and heals. It is not literally true.

Its like I’ve told my kids a million times… not literally, but I’ve told them a lot. To get the true meaning you have to grasp the idiom of the time. We often speak today in sports metaphors. Two thousand years from now, they won’t know what we were really saying without knowing the metaphors and idiom of today.

Have you ever wondered where the cows are that God owns? I mean where are those thousand hills He talks about? (Psalms) The bible uses a lot of poetic images whose meaning is not literal.

Ever wonder what they were talking about when the bible tells us that Saul “covered his feet”? Many scripture scholars think it is a euphaism for urinating.

Also in the Hebrew OT, there are several words used that we (and I mean Jewish, Catholic and protestant biblical scholars) have NO IDEA what they mean. They are translated with a best guess kinda thing. Those are hard to insist that we should take them literally.


My understanding is that the Bible is the inspired word but not to be taken literally. The Church encourages us to read the Bible. However, it’s very important that we follow the CC’s interpretations and meaning of Scripture or else we’d all be coming up with our own individual interpretations.


[quote=johnshelby]there is a difference in everything being truth, and everything being


If there is a severe storm out and I say that it is raining cats and dogs then I am telling the truth and you can trust my word. A literal person would run outside to help the poor creatures falling to their deaths. Of course that is not what I meant. SImply because there are no beagles and cats hitting the ground does not mean that I was lying. The same is true of the bible. We have to take the cultural and historical background into account when we are reading the bible.


The Church interprets Sacred Scripture according to 2 main categories, the spiritual sense having subdivisions. From the Catechism:

The senses of Scripture

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83

117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

  1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84

  2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.85

  3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86
    118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88


It is all true, Cathilics believe that Bible is 100% true, we just interpret it differently. They do not choose to believe it in a certain way this is just the way the faith has been understood from the apostles.

A Baptist sees it differently a Methodist also, it just depends on your faith tradition, most people who identify themselves as non-denominational, get their beliefs from Baptist\Fundamentalist faith traditions.
So even when the Jesus says in the Bible “this is my body” they do not take it to mean that, but what their faith tradition dictates. The founders of their faith tradition decided on their basic beliefs.

It is not like they believe that the Bible isn’t 100 percent true, just like Catholics don’t either, we just interpret the Bible differently for different reasons.

God Bless

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