Should we read the Bible allegorically?

Some time ago, I had a fascinating interaction online in the context of discussing the relation of the Old Testament to the New. The conversation went something like this.

Blogger: ‘There is no difference between the OT and the NT. There is nothing in the NT which is not in the OT.’

Me: ‘What about Jesus?’

Blogger: ‘He is all over the Old Testament. You just have to look.’

Me: ‘Really? Where for example?’

He then offered me the following allegorical reading of the Joshua 2 based on the fact that Joshua in Hebrew is the same name as Jesus in Greek (the Hebrew meaning of course ‘God saves’, Matt 1.21):

The conquest of the land is not a prediction of Jesus.  It is a prediction of reclaiming Adam’s or man’s rightful place in the Garden of Eden.  As you know, the Bible starts with Adam or man losing his place in the garden.  The Bible then ends with man reclaiming his rightful and original place in the new earth in the book of Revelation.

Joshua is a type of Christ in the OT.  He leads the Israelites to the promised land just as Jesus leads us to salvation.  Joshua destroys the city of Jericho not by force, but with the representation of the Word of God based on the Law of God through the blowing of the trumpets while walking in front of the Ark.  The family of Rahab is saved by two Israelites who represent the two witnesses or the two books of the Bible.  Rahab makes a covenant with them just as Jesus makes a covenant with us through His Word.  Ultimately, Rahab is saved by a scarlet cord that is draped out of her window.  Obviously the scarlet represents the blood of Christ.

When I responded that I was not persuaded that this was in fact the ‘meaning’ of the text, I was offered further ‘insight’:

The whole story of the gospel is in the story of Joshua and Rahab. In addition to the tidbits I gave you before, I will give you some more spiritual insight on this story. You will notice that throughout the Bible, the church is represented by a woman. I submit to you that Rahab represents the church in this story. Just like God’s true church on earth, Rahab is the only one in the city of Jericho to make a covenant with the two Israelites. In fact, she is told to bring all her family into her household if they want to be saved. Is this not the gospel? Are we as the church, not suppose to bring in every lost soul to be saved? Are we not supposed to spread the gospel? Notice in the story that only those that were with Rahab in her household was saved by hanging the scarlet thread. Now Ian, you should at least agree that the color scarlet is no coincidence here when it represents salvation. It is very obvious that it represents the blood of Christ.

I had not come across this reading before (do I need to get out more?) but I have to say I found it fascinating, and can readily see its appeal. In some ways it appears to come close to Paul’s own reading of the OT (‘the rock was Christ’ 1 Cor 10.4, ‘Hagar stands for Mt Sinai’ Gal 4.25) and in fact Paul uses the word allegoreo in introducing this idea. Perhaps the best known allegorical reading is of the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Origen read it allegorically thus:

The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the Law, the Levite is the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience, the beast is the Lord’s body, the [inn], which accepts all who wish to enter, is the Church. … The manager of the [inn] is the head of the Church, to whom its care has been entrusted. And the fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior’s second coming. (Homily 34.3)

This reading was virtually universal throughout early Christianity, being advocated by Irenaeus, Clement as well as Origen, and in the fourth and fifth centuries by Chrysostom in Constantinople, Ambrose in Milan, and Augustine—whose version is perhaps best known:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; Adam himself is meant; Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace, from whose blessedness Adam fell; Jericho means the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, an dies. Thieves are the devil and his angels. Who stripped him, namely; of his immortality; and beat him, by persuading him to sin; and left him half-dead, because in so far as man can understand and know God, he lives, but in so far as he is wasted and oppressed by sin, he is dead; he is therefore called half-dead. The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation. Samaritan means Guardian, and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name. The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope; wine the exhortation to work with fervent spirit. The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ. The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed after pilgrimage. The morrow is after the resurrection of the Lord. The two pence are either the two precepts of love, or the promise of this life and of that which is to come.

What is wrong with these readings? After all (as another blogger comments) does this not ‘cohere with and flow from the Church’s proclamation of the Cross and Resurrection’? The Reformers had no time for such readings, and Calvin gives this short shrift:

The allegory which is here contrived by the advocates of free will is too absurd to deserve refutation… I acknowledge that I have no liking for any of these interpretations; but we ought to have a deeper reverence for Scripture than to reckon ourselves at liberty to disguise its natural meaning. And, indeed, any one may see that the curiosity of certain men has led them to contrive these speculations, contrary to the intention of Christ. (Commentary on Matthew, Mark and Luke volume 3)

Of course, the great paradox here is that I suspect the person who offered me the allegory of Joshua comes from a Reformed church that esteems Calvin.


So what is wrong with this kind of reading?

Aime-Morot-Le-bon-SamaritainFirstly it functions by pulling the text into the world of the reader, instead of taking the reader into the world of the text. In doing this, as Calvin states, it ‘disguises its natural meaning’, or as I would express it, this approach actually silences the text. We are left not with the text but with the allegory. The main point of Jesus’ parable is a call to ethical action: ‘Go thou and do likewise.’ The main point about the Joshua narrative is that God’s mercy extends to unexpected people (I would argue). Both of these are lost in the allegory.

Secondly and perhaps more surprising, the allegory actually silences itself. It offers such a systematised way of reading that it precludes any interaction or reflection. Moving over the small point that in one part of the allegory Joshua is Jesus but in another part the scarlet cord is, I wonder what the implications might be of seeing the people of God not just as a woman, but as a racially outcast prostitute? Or that Jesus’ death was like a cord that had been skilfully woven by the hands of such a woman? I think you could defend this notion by looking at the central role of (marginalised) women in the gospels, bearers (literally) of God’s good news at the start of Jesus’ life, the only ones who remained by his cross in his death, and the first witnesses of his resurrection. But I really doubt that this was in the mind of my discussion partner!

Thirdly it eliminates problems and challenges in the text. The Book of Joshua is a prime example of the difficulty of reading about divinely sanctioned violence and even genocide. I consider this problem in another post—but of course the moment you read allegorically, the problem disappears. It is worth noting that the NT never reads Joshua allegorically.

Fourthly this approach ignores a basic feature of the text—its genre. It presents itself as nothing other than a (theologically shaped) historical account of things that happened. If we can read this allegorically or figuratively, then why not do the same to the stories about Jesus? The resurrection was not something that happened, but a way of describing the apostles’ feeling that somehow Jesus had a new significance beyond death.

Fifthly it turns the commentator into a priest—someone who stands between me and the text and mediates the meaning to me. I had not worked out that the thread was the blood of Jesus—how could I? When I was slow to go with the allegory of Joshua, I was enjoined:

The OT is full of stories like this where the gospel and the salvation of Jesus is represented. You just have to open your heart and look through your “spiritual glasses”! Praise God for the wonderful true stories!! I beg of you to pray and ask God to open your heart and mind. The OT is not just a historical record. Every story has deep inspirational and spiritual meaning for us.

Of course, what he really meant was not that the OT is more than a historical record—it is hardly historical at all. And it is not that I have to look through my ‘spiritual glasses’ but that I had to look through his glasses!


In the end, the allegorical approach de-historicizes the text and undermines the idea that texts are bearers of meaning. Instead, they become a sort of code that needs unlocking with a secret key which only belongs to the initiated—which is gnostic rather than rational. Note that this is a very different exercise from reading a text metaphorically or typologically, or finding application by seeing parallels in the text with later texts or our own situation.

So generally speaking if you are finding a biblical passage strange, baffling and difficult to understand, this is a good thing. On the other hand, if you read and think it all makes sense, fits perfectly with your theology and there is no challenge here—that’s the time to start worrying!

(Previously posted in September 2016. Worth another outing.)


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47 thoughts on “Should we read the Bible allegorically?”

  1. Ian,

    I don’t think it has to be either-or. But in order for an allegorical (or typological) reading to make sense, it has to be understandable to the original audience in some sense.

    In this instance, the links with the Passover are important and should inform how we read such a text. Just as the Israelite households were rescued from judgement through blood applied to the doorposts forty years earlier, so too is Rahab’s household rescued by a red cord hanging from a window. There are differences, to be sure:

    – an Israelite household / a gentile household
    – red blood / red cord
    – a doorpost / a window
    – the angel of death / the Israelite army

    Still, the similarities are striking enough to render the parallel noteworthy, especially given that the Passover story would have been very prominent in the minds of the Israelites. I think there’s a way of reading typologically which pays attention to differences as well as similarities and which doesn’t obliterate the immediate historical/contextual meaning of the passage, but rather sits alongside and supplements it. And it doesn’t have to obliterate any of the concerns that you share above (indeed, it shouldn’t).

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  2. I know this is a slightly different matter, but I’m regularly accused of reading the OT “allegorically” because I believe prophetic promises can be (and are) fulfilled in Jesus and the New Covenant people of God, rather than ethnic Israel – even though I agree with you in rejecting allegory as a valid way of understanding the OT!

    I might pass this article on to my discussion partner, just so they can see what “real allegory” is all about…

    And I had actually come across the scarlet thread = Jesus interpretation before, although not the whole elaborate Rahab = the church etc.

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      • Ian, I have found these comments somewhat confusing. Don’t we need to distinguish between allegory (events never happened?) and typology – events happened but can retrospectively be seen to foreshadow subsequent events. There are many instances of the latter outlined in the NT. The question is can we do that where the NT does not? I believe Greg Beale addresses that issue. If we accept my suggested definition (and I realise it does not seem to match how Paul uses the word) allegory is rare. And then there are allusions and metaphors – the latter in particular are largely ignored by theologians – which are neither allegory or typology. And finally, is there not a growing awareness among New Testament scholars that Jesus was fundamentally Jewish and conservative in his beliefs? In other words the New Testament was not such a radical departure from the Hebrew Bible as perhaps we have thought in the past.

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  3. Allegorical interpretations of a text are rare (read: non-existent) in sermons I hear today, but they dominated the evening service sermons in the church where I came to faith as a teenager. (I usually describe this church as a ‘Brethren-influenced independent evangelical church’.) That said, I only recall a couple, one allegorising 2 Kings 5 (Naaman’s healing) and the other 2 Kings 6:1-7 (the floating axe head); given the passages, they were probably preached on successive Sundays. I forget most of the specifics, but each passage was interpreted as somehow foreshadowing Jesus, e.g. the axe head stood for Christ, its resurfacing to Christ’s resurrection, and Elisha’s instruction to pick it up a challenge to accept the gospel’s truth. In hindsight, I’m not sure why such sermons were preached, as pretty much everyone attending the evening services, including thirteen/fourteen year old me, was a professing blood-bought believer! But sermons like this helped to convince me that the Bible was unlike other books.

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  4. Through your points:
    1) “It functions by pulling the text into the world of the reader”
    That’s how it used to work. We see this in the interpretations we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then, with the 1stC teaching and actions of Jesus, the true and final allegorical fulfilment of the text was revealed. That’s why we should interpret in light of Jesus and his teaching and actions -as Peter and Paul evidently did.

    2) In some ways, yes: It does limit interpretation but that isn’t a bad thing of itself. In our modern day, when “historical backgrounds” are often painted in 21stC colours and set behind scripture so that it can read very differently for different people, we need to reconsider how Jesus and his fulfilment of the Old Testament brings a right way of interpreting certain scriptures. For example, people disagreed about whether Isaiah’s “suffering servant” was Israel or the prophet Isaiah. The original author likely did intend one/both of these but the fulfilled interpretation is that Isaiah’s suffering servant is Jesus. To deny that would be to oppose the revealed truth -a truth that has the effect of limiting what a ‘true’ interpretation is. We do, however, still benefit from evaluating the original human author’s intent of the text and how Jesus affected that. So it’s not really that limiting!

    3) Yes: It does eliminate some of the Old Testament’s problems and challenges. That’s why, for example, the earliest Christians so quickly became pacifists whose fight was no longer against flesh and blood. Old Testament activities were a “shadow” of God’s spiritual truths, now fully made known in Christ. Bloodshed was not the way and the Old Testament didn’t point to a God who thinks it is. Rather, in light of Christ, it pointed to a different battle. They would not be fighting the Roman legions but casting out demons just as Jesus drove out “Legion”. So we don’t see Jesus providing apologetic arguments to defend the horrible bits in the Old Testament. Rather, we see interpretations that explain how the activities were a “shadow” that points to Jesus and his perfect revelation of the Way.

    4) On genre: The 1stC Jews weren’t seeing genre as the corrective dictate of interpretive methods. Pharisees had the seven rules of Hillel. Philo was writing about and using allegory to interpret Scripture. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that allegory was being used to interpret Habbakkuk and other parts of Scripture. The apocalytic Enochic writings interpreted well beyond text on the page. The only ones that could be said to be sticking to (what they believed was) the originally intended meaning were the Sadducees. Early Christianity did not stem from the Sadducees. The New Testament and early Christian texts don’t uphold such a “must stick to genre” rule. The vast majority of Jews would have viewed such a stance as a denial of revelation and, therefore, a denial of God. Jesus did what the Jews of his time expected: He revealed the hidden truths that pointed to himself. He opened their eyes to the Scriptures.

    5) Yes: There is certainly “somebody who stands between me and the text and mediates the meaning to me” when it comes to allegorical interpretation. The Dead Sea Scrolls expected a Teacher of Righteousness to be that somebody. In Christianity, that somebody was Jesus. Our allegorical interpretation must be dependent upon him…

    There is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (allegorically speaking): Allegory isn’t a licence to find every allegorical interpretation our imaginations can muster. Rather, after years of such interpretation, the allegory became fixed in finding its fulfilment in Jesus Christ; such that Paul could say (for example) “Do you not know that you (the church) are God’s temple?” (1Cor 3:16) – God’s “field” (v9).

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  5. What a opening to a big topic of biblical theological hermeneutics, many who espouse it, would not accept a wholesale allegory approach, exemplified by a simplistic approach to Rahab.

    Does not Andrew Wilson’s booklet, “Unbreakable”, have a of allegorical, OT characters in it.? And his joint venture with Alistair Roberts, “Echoes of Exodus”.
    We have a whole Bible context, and the biblical theological approach, is more nuanced than a simple allegory and would distinguish it from, types, themes, symbols, echoes, foreshadowing, patterns, cycles, repetitions.

    Is not, say, the number 7 a type of allegory, if not a properly defined one. ?

    Is not Sarah and Hagar in Galatians used as an allegory, though it’s not a warrant for wholesale usage.

    BTW it is of much note that the OT is almost wholely neglected in Your blog Ian.

    Is this article not also a part of the continuity/discontinuity, fulfilment debate?

    The OT always looks forward, to fulfillment, to a Messiah

    Keller in his book on Judges, says it all points to a need for a flawless Deliverer, as opposed to flawed, deliverers in the book Types/allegory of Jesus?

    Why distinguishes Christian, gospel preaching on an OT passage from a Synagogue sermon, other tha tagging on at the end, but now we have the NT and Jesus?

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  6. Thanks Ian.

    Having just preached through Isaiah 40-55 I have been struck that Paul is not as allegorical as it first appears. Even his quote from Isaiah 54:1 in Galatians 4 is referring to Sarah (cf. Isaiah 51:1-2) and comes amidst Isaiah’s call for the people to be the Zion God wants them to be instead of the ‘afflicted city’. Therefore while the Apostle’s allegorical handling of Genesis 21 may seem odd to us it does appear that he is expanding on connections Isaiah has already made. In other words, even the strongest evidence of NT allegory has clear hermeneutical controls within the text.

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  7. 1) I really distrust allegory unless the bible itself tells us it’s allegorical. The one I remember most is the interpretation of the plans for the tabernacle as being the gospel. They may or may not be but simple practical details get overlooked in the process, details like having a wash basin, along with the numerous other uses of washing in Levitcus, almost certainly saved lives. If we took it as a pragmatic precedent for nowadays the simple addition of extra handwashing/alcohol gel when entering public places would save a whole lot more. Lol.

    2) Why on earth have such a vague allegorical Jesus bood meaning for the red ribbon, basically the lady moving her red light from the front door to the back window in a place with no passers by. They have just wasted the last 40 years being given The Law, The Tent of Meeting and all the Sacrifices when a bit of string would have done the trick! Doh.

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  8. Thanks for this, Ian! I fully agree with you. (This is the topic of my ETS paper this year, actually, which I thought appropriate given that the theme is “Christ in All Scripture.”)

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  9. Allegory can be very constricting.

    Of course non-factual genres can illuminate the present world in many different ways and bring out its richness, but that will rarely mean one-to-one allegorical correspondences.

    Augustine on the Good Samaritan-

    Adam went down (the Fall) from the heavenly abode of Jerusalem to Jericho (which ‘means’ the Moon which waxes and wanes like temporal mortal existence).

    Satan & demons set upon him.

    They stripped him of his immortality, left him for dead (spiritually).

    The representatives of the Old Covenant (priest and Levite) were of no avail.

    Samaritan means Guardian (= Christ). The beast was the fleshly incarnation.

    Binding wounds is restraint of sin.

    Oil & wine: hope, exhortation to work.

    Inn: the church.

    Innkeeper: St Paul.

    The morrow: the Resurrection morning.

    The 2 denarii: this life and the life to come (others: the 2 sacraments).

    Extraordinary to think that such interpretation was once mainstream.

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  10. I last came across allegorising of the type given above in the 1970s and thought it was long buried and forgotten. CS Lewis’ statement comes to mind: “What we see when we think we are looking into the depths of Scripture may be sometimes only the reflection of our own silly faces.”
    Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart in How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth state, “A text cannot mean [now] what it never meant [then].” I’m no scholar, but that’s good enough for me.
    Those who would allegorise take the OT away from those who, like me, are rather unimaginative and could never come up with the sort of reading given above. That means I could never read the OT without the ‘correct’ interpreter to hand. In which case, I should buy his book and throw my OT away!
    I find another problem with how people use the OT at my church. Sometimes the speaker will simply use the OT text to jump to a NT text and speak about that; fine, by what’s the point? Why not go straight to the NT? For example, on a series on Leviticus a chap was given chapter 20 to speak on. Yes, it has some difficult stuff in it, but at the very least I expected him to say that God has high standards for his people with regards to sexual purity (he could also have mentioned the gravity of abortion as a modern application of verses 1-5). But instead he chose to say sexual relations between husband and wife is a picture of Christ and the church, and proceeded to speak of Christ’s love for us etc etc. All very fine and good, but we can get that directly from the NT. Surely the OT has a valuable contribution of its own to make, or am I missing something?
    Another speaker said about a particularly unsavoury episode in the OT that it speaks to us of Jesus precisely because he is totally unlike the person mentioned! That seemed to me to set a new standard of silliness.
    Ian, please can you do an article on the extent and limits of what Jesus meant in Luke 24 re “the things concerning himself” in the OT? That would be very helpful.

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  11. Here is a 21 Page PDF from Tim Keller, which covers this topic and more, more comprehensive, about preaching Christ from all scripture (including NT!) with a different citation from Calvin. Tis a good, simple, enjoyable, challenging read, with a number of longitudinal (Canonical) Biblical Themes, bringing together a number of authors.
    https://static.squarespace.com/static/5315f2e5e4b04a00bc148f24/t/5410724de4b04f85eb6a2492/1410363981463/Gospel+Preaching.pdf

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  12. I am not a practitioner of allegorical interpretation but I am not persuaded by your line of argument and echo the response Jas gave.

    Firstly, I am not convinced that taking the reader into the world of the text is the only legitimate move and that placing the text into the world of the reader is always wrong or that one excludes the other. I assume that by the “the world of the text” you mean the world in which the communication originated rather than the world it narrates, e.g. not the time of Rahab but the time at which Joshua was composed. I also assume that “the world of the reader” is not specifically the 3rd or 21st century AD but “the world in which the new covenant is operative,” i.e. the epoch between the ascension and the return of Christ. Traditional allegorical readings were always about Christ (head and body), not about one segment at one specific time and place.

    Secondly, I have not read a great deal of allegorical interpretation but from what I have read it is both more regulated and consistent than many who equate allegory with “everything goes” fear and less systematised than you seem to suggest. In practice, there seems to be interaction and reflection and also the occasional faux pas that suggest a similar sort of freedom within certain parameters as in much modern interpretation (whose parameters are of course very different).

    Thirdly, allegorical interpretation does not *address* the apologetic questions concerning violence and genocide but it does not *remove* the problem. It would do so only if it went along with a denial of the historicity of the events which is not a necessary concomitant.

    Fourthly, while Origen and Augustine might have disagreed about the genre of Joshua, neither read the parable of the Good Samaritan as “a (theologically shaped) historical account of things that happened.” They knew fully well the distinction between stories Jesus told and reports of events in which Jesus participated.

    Fifthly, the accusation of priestcraft is more commonly, and maybe with greater justification, levelled at contemporary scholarship interposing itself between “ordinary” Christian readers and the text, because (a) learning to read the thread that protected Rahab and her household as a type of the blood of Christ just like the blood of the Passover lamb that protected the Israelite firstborn is likely a lot easier than learning Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic, ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean history and culture, identifying genres acceptable in modern scholarship etc. and (b) missing such a “clue” is not nearly as catastrophic for your interpretation as, say, missing a linguistic or cultural clue might be for historical interpretation.

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  13. PS: I meant to add under “thirdly” that if I remember right, Origen was inclined to question the historicity of events that involved God in brutality, while Augustine was inclined to defend it.

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  14. Historical passages always need to be understood on their own terms first and foremost, granted, but if, secondarily and additionally, an allegorical cap fits without having to force it on, then let it be worn. The examples already given (1 Cor 10.4, Gal 4.25) countenance in principle the legitimacy of allegorical reading.

    Several of the examples of how it is possible to see Jesus prefigured in the OT, as listed here
    http://jesusplusnothing.com/jesus66books.htm
    are allegorical in nature (e.g. the Ruth story).

    What I find least satisfactory is the ‘replacement theology’ approach to understanding the prophetic writings, whereby the Church is substituted for Israel and Judah. I don’t think Paul countenances this at all.

    Several parables work primarily as allegories. The most obvious one, since Jesus himself gave the key (Matt 13:37-42), is the parable of the weeds.

    Apocalyptic also tends to work at this level. Again, one often finds Scripture itself giving the key (e.g. Rev 17:7-12).

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  15. Hi Ian,
    What do you think about and do with Jesus’ statement that the Scriptures speak of him:
    You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
    (John 5:39 NIV)

    And the post-resurrection accounts of Jesus opening up the Scriptures to the two on the Emmaus Road and the Eleven:

    He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
    (Luke 24:25–27 NIV)

    And

    He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
    Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
    (Luke 24:44–47 NIV)

    I value your thoughts on that, as this has been on my mind for years.

    Thanks,

    Paul

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  16. Hi Ian, have you come across the idea of “figurative” reading of the Old Testament by New Testament writers. Richard Hays talks about this in his book, Reading Backwards, which focuses on how the gospel writers use the Old Testament in explicit and especially in more hidden ways to subtlety point towards “Jesus as the embodiment of Israel’s God.” Not allegory, but not literal or historical-criticism readings either. (I think he might have written something similar around Paul’s use of the Old Testament.) His conclusion is we need to learn to read the Bible how the New Testament writers read their Old Testament scriptures backwards in light of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Perhaps Jonah in the belly of the fish is an example of one of the things Jesus pointed to??
    ——

    The Bible Project also looks at “design patterns” running through the Bible, in which later writers allude to earlier texts to make more subtle points or to bring emphasis in a certain way, if spotted. An example might be God sending both Jonah and Peter to Gentiles. Jonah tried to escape that call via a ship sailing from Joppa, while Peter left Joppa to go to Cornelius. I find this sort of stuff mind blowing.
    ____

    Best wishes,

    Paul

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  17. Ian, PLEASE listen to this Ian (and anyone else coming onto this site who has an interest in the article – it is unlike anything as simplistically reduced to allegory described in your article ). It can be downloaded and listened to as MP3. I find it a little remarkable that it is so pertinent to this whole post and follow-on comments, coinciding as it does in just over a week.
    It would be good to have some feedback, assessment from you.
    This morning my wife suggested we listen to a church service. We listened to this:
    https://stpeters-dundee.sermon.net/main/main/21486426
    It is a sermon on Job 16, by Dr Sinclair Ferguson, who is referred to and quoted in the Tim Keller PDF, I linked above.
    It is up-to-date, 10 Nov 2019, and is an excellent illustration of preaching across the canon, of ranging contextualisation, and doctrine ( including the limits of that of Job’s friends) poetry, psalms and NT, misunderstanding, confusion.
    The illustrations of “furniture and a man in a darkened room”, and “audience in a theatre” are to be looked out for as expressions of biblical theology in preaching.
    Could I, if there is any credibility or even a smidgen of pricked interest in the whole topic, even with a doubting or skeptical raised eyebrow ( in this sermon application of biblical theology, strenuously exhort time spent in listening. It certainly does not gainsay anything Fee and Stuart may have cautioned against allegory in their “How to read the Bible for all it is worth”, nor Ian (Paul’s) original article. No doubt there’d may be some push-back against that contention.
    Profoundly edifying.
    He is so soaked in this, he leaks. (Over one weekend I’ve been at a series of his sermons. No notes were used.)

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    • Hi Geoff,

      I have at last got round to listening to this sermon by Sinclair Ferguson – on a beach in Madagascar – but somebody has got to do it. Yes you are right it is highly relevant to this blog. He makes my point for me far more eloquently than I could do myself. The great battle, the overarching metanarrative of scripture, is Christ versus Satan. Sinclair Ferguson points out that Job is not suffering because of his sin. This battle againstwas the great work of Christ on the cross. The PRINCIPAL work on the cross was not a battle against personal sins and the law.

      Thanks for posting the link.

      Colin

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      • On a beach in Madagascar. I suppose someone has to do it, Colin. It’s as good a place as any, to hear a sermon on Job!
        The marvels of the internet makes it a small world. And sermons can sweep across time.
        Ferguson’s teaching on Union with Christ is well worth searching for. It is is a doctrine , a reality of profundity, that seems to be much neglected, as far as I can see, but which is both humbling and glorious.
        My wife and I often listen to his sermons from his home church in Dundee, Scotland., from our home in England. Invariably, it is fresh, with an ease and depth that in this breathless age seems to be rare. Maybe it’s an age thing -his and ours, though he is presbyterian and we are not: he subscribes to Westminster Confession, we don’t. As you’ll be aware, he has taught Systematic theology, but preaches in a Biblical Theology mode, as far as I can see.
        Of his recent books, “The Whole Christ” drawing out for today, an actual theological, historical controversy in a small part of Scotland, which persist church- wide, today, although not in a heated way.
        Well worth reading, if not available where you are.
        Hope you enjoy your time there.

        Reply
  18. I’m asking as a definite non-expert in all this.

    There are texts which are deliberately written as allegory. “Pilgrim’s Progress” is an obvious example. It is a jolly good yarn, but the overall shape of the story and the details within it are pointing to something outside of the story itself.

    Is the problem, or perhaps the danger, with an allegorical reading of a text that one moves from noting the remarkable parallels with the referent to a place where the text itself is regarded as allegory and so other possible readings of the text are discounted? Other readings are dismissed and the text ceases to have any historical value or theological value in its own right and in its original context.

    As for the story of Rahab itself, I suspect the main reason for its inclusion in the narrative was because this Canaanite ‘innkeeper’ was King David’s great-great-grandmother (from Matthew’s genealogy).

    Reply
  19. Hi Paul Koshy,

    Yes, Richard Hays is an expert on allusions. I am certain he is correct in that the NT is laden with them. The book I think you are thinking of will be: Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989.

    I think in this blog we have muddled up: allegory (where the thing never happened, e.g. C S Lewis’ Narnia); typology (where the thing happened e.g. crossing of the Red Sea/1 Corinthians 10); and allusions. In Galatians 4 Paul does not say Hagar and Sarah are an allegory but rather that “they may be interpreted allegorically”—in biblical theology today we would call that typology. I think as somebody has already mentioned allegory is rare in Scripture, but the exegete that is aware of the possibility allusions to the OT in the NT —subject to the controls Richard Hays suggests—introduce us to a whole new world. This is particularly so in John’s Gospel. See for example: McWhirter, Jocelyn. The Bridegroom Messiah and the People of God: Marriage in the Fourth Gospel. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

    Reply
    • Yes, Hays is a leading figure here. I have interacted with him—often agreeing, though sometimes challenging (once in person!) on the rigour of his method.

      Revelation is replete with allusions to the OT and theological interpretation of it. But that is quite different from an allegorical reading of a non-allegorical text.

      I don’t think I am persuaded by the category of ‘typology’ either, because in the end it separates the divine meaning of the text from the human meaning of the text. I do think that many texts have a metaphorical surplus of significance to them—but that is rooted in the nature of language. I don’t think it is a magical sprinkle that is added to language when employed in contexts of divine significance like Scripture.

      Reply
      • Ian,
        Thanks for your observations. I presume you are happy with the typology Jesus employs in John 3 regarding the cross and Paul’s exodus typology in 1 Cor 10. The issue is can we read typology into other events? But if we can see allusions that are not articulated why not typology? You will, I am sure, be aware of: The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts. Edited by G. K. Beale. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994.

        You say; “I do think that many texts have a metaphorical surplus of significance to them”—this is where we are weak. G. B. Caird states: “All, or almost all, of the language used by the Bible to refer to God is metaphor.” There has been a revolution in conceptual metaphor theory pioneered by Chicago University. “The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought” (2008) has 28 articles from distinguished scholars from different academic fields ranging through science, law, mathematics, psychoanalysis, music, and art, that engage with those developments, but no theologian is represented. Instead academia seems obsessed with typology.

        Greg Beale does not engage with metaphor theory in his Revelation commentary, and in his consideration of Ephesians 5:31-32 in: Beale, G. K., and Benjamin L. Gladd. “Hidden but Now Revealed” Nottingham: Apollos, 2014—completely misses the fact that it is a metaphoric statement, and instead employs typology to try and analyse it.

        Reply
  20. 1″Magical sprinkling.”
    I do see in some exponents what, to me, comes across as fanciful, but it seems a little excessive to denounce it in those terms.
    Some may indeed look to separate historicty, from metaphor,types but I hardly think a cohort Carson and Beale, Keller, Ferguson and others could all (or any) be categorised as such.
    However, I certainly don’t think they denude the context of divine scripture, as they see the context of scripture as the whole infallible word of God, the whole Counsel of God – just listen to the Ferguson sermon above.
    As ours have said, (Paul K, above) in different words, within some boundaries, this has in the words of Carson, preface to Beales Temple and Churches Mission ” it’s modelling the way biblical theology is to be done and its capacity to cause readers to perceive the fresh and wonderful things in Scriptures, and to bow in worship and gratitude.” Or, as per Paul K above, “mindblowing.”
    Carson and Beale as editors circumscribe the methodology for the contributors in “Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament ” CNTUOT) and Beale in his “The Temple and the Churches Mission” (NSBT series) sets out at some length his methodology as the book moves from Genesis through Revelation.
    I have also Hays “Reading Backwards”, others Read Forwards from the OT to the New,with a “compare and contrast” approach, as does Barry Webb, in “Five Festal Garments” (NBST)
    A risk in some of this is an espousal, or at least a pointing towards, Replacement Theology.
    2 ” A metaphorical surplus of significance. ” Beale and Carson in the the introduction to CNTUOT seem to acknowledge something of this, when they write in respect of allusion. “Admittedly there is some debate about what constitutes an allusion. Consequently not every ostensible allusion that has ever been proposed will be studied but only those deemed to be probable allusions.” They then asked the contributors to keep in mind six separate question where the NT cites or clearly alludes to the OT to control the commentary, with theological alignments and they prose five reflections. They seek to circumscribe the approach, set boundaries, if you will.in history
    Carson has, in his scholarly way, studied and traced the biblical theological approach in history. Some of his lectures were on-line, don’t know if they can now be found. Shortly, it is not new,
    In CNTUOT, introduction they it is written …”contributors have been encouraged to deploy an eclectic grammatical-historical literary method in their attempts to relate the NT’s reading of the OT. But it would be amiss to point out (1) that such an approach is fairly “traditional” or “classical”; (2)that such an approach overlaps substantially with some postcritical methods that tend to read the OT books as whole literary units that take seriously such concepts as canon, Scripture, and salvation history (concepts that would not be entirely alien to the authors of the NT), though it allows for more extratextual referentiality than do mostpostcritical methods; and (3)that we sometimes need reminding that the NTauthors would not have understood the OT in terms of any dominant historical-critical orthodoxies of the last century and a half”.
    Unless I’m greatly mistaken this greatly endorses and pays high regard to the divine significance of scripture, rather than undermines it.

    Reply
  21. I view this slightly differently. God knew all along what the Son was going to do in the future, so not only did He share some specific details with His prophets who then recorded them, but in His actions with His people He gave more subtle hints at the future. Only now after that future do we see the connections.
    But that doesn’t make what is written as nonhistoric.
    Peter

    Reply
    • Peter, Indeed.

      1 Cor 2:7-9: But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

      Michael Heiser has an interesting and persuasive view on this. You can find him on YouTube.

      Reply
      • Colin, just on that quote from Paul.

        Reading it again, is it not odd that Paul seems to be saying if the rulers had understood, ie realised who Jesus was, He would not have been crucified. But Paul believes Jesus’ death was necessary and indeed foretold in the OT.

        Peter

        Reply
        • Michael Heiser’s core thesis is that God created many non-human divine beings who rebelled against God but are hidden to human eyes, and that every reference in the Hebrew Bible to the “sons of God,” is a reference to such.

          Thus he takes Genesis 6:1-4 literally. He believes that the supernatural interpretation of the passage was not an issue until the late fourth century when Augustine was influential in the promulgation of the Sethite view, a more rational “this world” interpretation, where the “sons of god” are humans from the godly line of Seth. (I suggest Augustine has led us astray on many issues–not least the: The Fall, original sin, and marriage.)

          Heiser sees that the “rulers of this age” are non-human spiritual beings who have many referents in the New Testament (e.g. Ephesians 1:12–21; 3:10; 6:12) who are doomed for destruction by Christ’s work on the cross (2 Peter 2:4).

          But they were not omniscient, and God’s Calvary plan was hidden from them so as not forewarn them—because if they knew “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Hence the prophecy of the cross in the OT – and even by Jesus himself – was vague and hidden in typology etc.

          Sounds wacky? Heiser is a respected OT scholar (see him on YouTube) and has the endorsement of Daniel Block of Wheaton College. I presented a paper on this at Tyndale Fellowship last June. Heiser’s views are congruent with the Bible’s marital imagery which is my speciality. That imagery suggests the cross was a battle with Satan – thus Gen 3:15 – not primarily about our personal sins.

          Reply
          • Thanks Colin, though I am not convinced! My initial thoughts:

            ‘Rulers of this age’ may refer to non-human spiritual beings in some passages, but I dont think it applies to the 1 Corinthians passage as-

            – Paul seems to be making the contrast between the understanding/wisdom of Jesus’ human followers and other humans, the rulers of this age;

            – it is the Spirit who has bestowed this understanding on some humans but not others – he underscores the point that the human mind on its own could not understand these things but needs the Spirit for enlightenment;

            – the whole emphasis of this chapter is how the Spirit has opened the eyes of some humans to see the reality and without Him you remain ignorant;

            – ‘sons of God’ cannot automatically be equated with ‘rulers of this age’;

            – those reading and listening to Paul’s letter would, I think, understood him to be referring to human leaders, ie the Jewish and Roman rulers who called for and implemented the execution of Jesus, precisely because they did not understand or accept who He was claiming to be.

            Peter

  22. PC1, Peter.
    Thanks for taking the trouble to look up the references as the Genesis 6 passage is notoriously difficult to interpret and to base the rest of scriptural references to sons of God, (and theology arising therefrom) on that one passage is ,in my view, in the words of Colin, somewhat “whacky” and in a whole canon context, hermeneutically, a little suspect.
    A doctorate is no intellectual inoculation against whackiness in some lines of thinking or experience. In fact, it may provide an authority.
    Sure, there is a spiritual battle, warfare, ) but this does not negate the universal nature of the Fall and the personal, human, responsibility for sin, nor does it deal with what sin is.
    And a single model of atonement, (even a core thesis lens, of Christ’s victory, over Satan and the demonic, but not sin, is not full atonement, is far too narrow, does not include the final expression in Christ of Yom Kippur and all the Hebrew Feasts/Festivals, nor the traditional protestant identification of the offices of Prophet, Priest and King, which coalesce in Christ, in the letter to Hebrews.
    From what Colin describes, it seems to come close to the edge of some of the extremes of some para-church charismatic movements/ministries.
    I’d suggest that the Good News of Jesus and our Triune God, is far more multi-dimensionaly glorious than the core thesis that Colin describes.
    But, as always, I stand to be corrected.

    Reply
    • Indeed Geoff. As for the atonement, although I favour the substitution view, there is no doubt the Christus victor view is also correct. I suspect many realities are woven into the death of Jesus, and to limit it to a single understanding is limiting reality.

      Peter

      Reply
      • I, of course, do not argue for a single reality. The cross is like a many faceted diamond. But is it not significant that Jesus died, not on the day of Atonement, but on the Passover, which was a celebration of the escape from slavery, not an escape from sin? (Although Ezekiel prophesies the merging of the two in Ezekiel 45:18–23.)

        And we do Heiser a disservice to suggest he argues from that one pericope in Genesis 6.

        Peter, you make good points. And it is right to be sceptical. You say: “those reading and listening to Paul’s letter would, I think, understood him to be referring to human leaders.” But therein I suspect lies a problem.

        I suggest that we are all children of a Graeco-Roman/neoplatonic/Augustinian mindset (such has certainly dominated Reformed/Presbyterian/Anglican thinking) and thus we read those concepts back into the Scripture text.

        Indeed, Michael Haykin (Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality and Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) had an article in the August “Evangelicals Now” with the title: “We are all Augustinians Now.”

        And yet … Peter Williams (a leading NT scholar) says: “Christianity arose in the cradle of Judaism, and the further back we go in time, the more Jewish all our records of Christianity are.… Scholars disagree on many matters concerning the Gospels, but on one thing they seem almost universally agreed—the Gospels are Jewish.”

        Richard Hays comments that, “Christian tradition early on lost its vital connection with the Jewish interpretative matrix.” And Gordon Hugenberger comments: “In recent years … there has been a fresh appreciation for the Jewish background of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and his radical dependence on the Old Testament in keeping with his own disavowal of originality.” And notwithstanding Paul’s Roman citizenship, he declared himself to be a student of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) and a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Phil 3:5).

        Michael Heiser is an expert in Semitic languages and ANE religion/culture—and he paints a picture of a world that is somewhat different to our own. And suggests that such informed Jesus’ and Paul’s mindset. Certainly, in my own field of research, I think he is right. And I think he is worth reading/listening to.

        Reply
        • Colin

          ‘The cross is like a many faceted diamond.’ – nice image. I now have an image of a rainbow of light shining out from the cross.

          Re the Passover, personally Ive always thought of it more as being protected from judgement, given that the Passover itself concerned the protection of the Israelites by being passed over due to there being the blood of a slaughtered unblemished male lamb painted on their doors. The judgement of God fell on those households without this mark. Hardly a coincidence regarding Jesus. But no doubt a number of understandings are appropriate. I used to think it was all about penal substitution, but Ive since wised up.

          I most certainly agree with your comments re the Jewishness of the Gospels, and of course Jesus and Paul. I enjoyed Peter Williams’ book ‘Can we trust the Gospels?’ Many scholars today do indeed appreciate the deep Jewish background – Ive often found some of the articles on the Jewsforjesus website helpful. Indeed I think the better we understand the Jewish background to both Jesus’ and Paul’s words do we then properly understand what they are talking about! It is one reason why I have changed my mind on the ‘traditional’ view of hell and now tend towards annihilationism.

          But as I said, I think Heiser’s understanding of the 1 Corinthians passage is wrong, but that doesnt mean he’s wrong regarding other Biblical passages. I have an open mind.

          Peter

          Reply
          • Peter,

            “It is one reason why I have changed my mind on the ‘traditional’ view of hell and now tend towards annihilationism” – I am now ‘almost persuaded’ of that position also. But that is surely another blog!

            Colin

          • Peter, I have just posted this reply to Geoff and I now reply to you as this blog is out of date and you might not pick it up.

            Geoff,
            I have at last got round to listening to this sermon by Sinclair Ferguson – on a beach in Madagascar – but somebody has got to do it. Yes you are right it is highly relevant to this blog. He makes my point for me far more eloquently than I could do myself. The great battle, the overarching metanarrative of scripture, is Christ versus Satan. Sinclair Ferguson points out that Job is not suffering because of his sin. This battle against Satan was the great work of Christ on the cross. The PRINCIPAL work on the cross was not a battle against personal sins and the law.

      • Colin,
        Thanks for the interaction.
        1 My comments in connection with Heiser were based solely on what you you wrote about his core thesis extrapolated across the whole canon of scripture, which Peter followed up.
        2 I agreed with your quotation from Hays. Some of the most helpful, to me, at a popular level, in reaching a deeper and more glorious understanding of scripture and NT have been the writings of Messianic Jews in respect of the Hebrew Festivals and how they are fulfilled in Christ, (which, inexplicably to me, seem to be almost uniformly ignored in mainstream evangelicalism, unless of course, there is much scholarship of which I’m unaware – some have promoted, with necessary limits and caution, some writings of Jewish? Robert Alter) along with some trusted writings of Alex Motyer an Anglican OT scholar, as you will be aware.
        3 Agree with your point about marriage. I recall, I hope correctly that Luther wrote something deeply significant about marriage based on Song of Songs, a divine exchange between Christ and his bride. It’s not because we are lovely, but to make us lovely. Here, I thank, Dr Michael Reeves for his popular level books, “The Good God” and “Christ our life.
        4
        4.1 As for longitudinal movement in scripture, historical redemptive approach I’m greatly with you as I think my comments show, but I don’t think it it either/or – set against Augustine. Banishment is a God compelled exile, exodus, a movement away, down, from God.
        4.2 There is a theological movement, downward, a fall from grace, the gracious provision of everything (except one) in Eden, of even life itself, resulting in the contemporaneous curse and of death and promise and the “downward” refrain, of “and he died”. In addition there is a suggestion of a topographical, geographical, downward descent from Eden.
        4.3 There is also a downward, movement of God, from God, of his word, of his presence (a longitudinal theme that is greatly neglected, it seems to me)
        4.4 The Exodus itself could be seen as an upward movement a bringing back, so that God could be their God, and he their people, even while he descended in the the sheckinah glory and, “thundered” and “tabernacled” his presence with them, to lift them up. And much could be said of the Passover itself, descent in the twin judgement (including his people- unless they took cover under his gracious, substitution- lamb) and salvation rescue. And we need to look further back in scripture to determine how and why (sin) the Hebrews were in slavery, oppression. But this is huge topic in itself.
        4.5 The incarnation is the ultimate descent, to bring the ultimate Passover sacrifice, ultimate Exodus, raising-up in the resurrection and new heaven and earth.
        5 It is understood that marriage is your specialist subject, but you’ll be more than aware the the letter to Hebrews covers far more than that, including substitutional sacrifice and sin.
        6 My understanding is that Judiaism does not recognise the Fall, and I’m unsure how sin is defined , but stand to be corrected.
        7 I wholehearted agree that the gospel, the good news of Jesus the Christ, Messiah, within our triune God (unless you think the Trinity is not based on scripture), David’s greater son, the wisdom of Solomon, which the “world” sought out, made flesh, incarnate, can be likened to a multi-faceted diamond, with its own uncreated light of the world shining forth.

        Peter, I can’t always work out the order of comments as they are posted, but I agree, thanks.

        Reply
    • Hi Geoff,

      You will probably realise that the longest quote of the OT in the NT is of Jeremiah 31 found in Hebrews 8. The story there is not primarily of cancelled sin but of a new relationship, a new ‘marriage.’ For that marriage to take place there had to be the remission of sins. The latter served the former. We have lost something of the former with our focus on the latter? Heiser is looking at the big picture. The emphasis on individual personal sins I dare to suggest is a Western Augustinian thing. BUT – I am not suggesting that atonement for such was not part of what the cross achieved. Instead I am daring to suggest that the protoevangelium of Gen 3:15 set the trajectory for the return to Eden.

      Reply
    • … and you might notice that the Bible does not employ the “Fall” metaphor (another Augustinian invention?) to tell mankind’s story. Adam was exiled from Eden, Israel was taken into the promised land, northern Israel exiled, and Judah exiled, and then brought back, and the NT is framed as a new exodus from this world to the next. The movement is always lateral not up and down. Not significant? But I think it is. Linguists such as George Kennedy believe that metaphor is the “greatest resource for the forceful expression of original thought.” They grip the mind. Augustin’s metaphor has gripped ours.

      Reply
        • Hi Geoff,

          Thanks for taking the trouble to reply and send me this link. I agree this is a very relevant talk. Jack Collins makes four key points (one inadvertently), that support exactly as I have said in this blog (for the record I agree also with his showing/telling comments):

          1 He agrees with “the common interpretation” that “the Sons of God” in Genesis 6 are representative of demonic powers (14.27 on the recording).
          2 He points out that the Eastern Church does not have the same concept of original sin as the Western Augustinian/Calvinistic view. I think, as I have mentioned above, that Augustine was wrong about it.
          3 He says that nowhere—not anywhere—does the Hebrew Bible describe what happened in Eden as a fall. You will notice that on the link that “Fall” is always in inverted commons. The terminology is a post-apostolic invention of reception history. I am not disputing what happened—I am disputing what we should call it. In the text of Scripture, what happened is called an exile (the two verbs in Gen 3:24 are actually used elsewhere to describe a divorce). Jack Collins in the talk calls it a “banishment” and a “relational death.” These are biblical concepts. A “Fall” is not.
          4 I have said in this blog that theologians don’t do metaphor. Jack Collins inadvertently illustrates this perfectly. He says there was a ‘literal fall.’ But the concept of a fall is a metaphor—and every metaphor employs a false literalism—in other words it is NOT literally true. The Bible never employs this metaphor. Instead it employs the metaphoric concepts of a divorce, an exile, a banishment.

          You are probably thinking does it matter? But if you have fallen the solution to your problem is to get up. If you have been pushed out the solution to your problem is to get back in. The Bible story of mankind’s plight is told in terms of the latter and not in terms of the former. In other words, the meta-narrative of Scripture is a lateral movement not a vertical movement. Most theologians now see that the NT is framed as a new exodus. But this has only emerged as a consensus in recent years. Why? I suggest because our minds are gripped by the (Augustinian?) non-biblical vertical metaphor. It is thought that all that we need is a restoration to a sinless state. When what we actually need is to be brought back into God’s presence. The two things I suggest are not synonymous.

          Colin

          Reply
          • Thanks Colin,
            I agree with your point about metaphor. I’d say that reality A can be a metaphor for B, but not always, depending on the context: it may be small part of reality Z.
            I believe I made a fuller response to you in comment 22 Nov 10.03
            I whole heartedly agree with you penultimate sentence. It is key a Kingdom key.
            “When what we actually need is to be brought back into God’s presence.”
            God’s Presence is a longitudinal theme that is much neglected as I mentioned above and extrapolated above

            YBH -Yes,But,How? It’s not an either or, Fall v Presence It was a dual curse/promise down to death from his presence First 11 chapters of genesis, with a first raising of Enoch (who walked with God) a Type, or pointing forward to Christ?
            But we can not be brought back into the Holy of Holies, the Throne Room, the curtain torn in two from top to bottom (at the cross) without Christ becoming sin, a substitute lamb, and we being clothed in the sinless righteousness of Christ, without being deemed (imputed…imparted?) righteous in our Holy Spirit- union- with- Christ-indwelling, having died and raised in him.
            And the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of a believer, as the title of book by AW Tozer “Man the Dwelling Place of God,” makes clear. It’s metaphoric “donkey’s years “since I read it, so I couldn’t elaborate on it now. And anyway it’s not a scholar’s tome, though he was an honorary Doctor.

  23. “Fall v Presence.” But I am saying it is not “Fall” at all. I think (I hope?) you are suggesting it is not Sin v. Presence. And if so I agree. I think you will see if you look back on the blog I have not once suggested otherwise! Thanks for the exchange. Colin

    Reply

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