18 Reasons Why the Bible Should Never Be Taken Literally

SharePinEmailMany Christians try to live their lives in the image of Jesus Christ. To do this, they take onboard the entirety of the Bible, believing every morsel of information so they can be the best possible Christian. But the Bible as a whole should not be taken literally. Here are 18 reasons why. The Bible…

Many Christians try to live their lives in the image of Jesus Christ. To do this, they take onboard the entirety of the Bible, believing every morsel of information so they can be the best possible Christian. But the Bible as a whole should not be taken literally. Here are 18 reasons why.

The Bible Was Written Over Many Centuries

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Some people believe that the Bible was written at one moment in time, at a time when God spoke to us. But the Bible was written across many centuries, beginning with the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy between the 10th and 13th centuries BC. The most recent texts found in the Bible include the Book of Revelation which was written around the year 100 AD. Spanning around 1,000 years and created by so many authors, it would be unwise to take the Bible literally.

There Are Many Types of Text Included

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The Bible does not just include stories or diary entries that document historical and spiritual events. It includes codes of conduct, such as in Leviticus, poetry and lyrics, such as in the Psalms and Lamentations, and letters addressed to different leaders, such as the letters to the Corinthians. There are also life accounts in the Gospels, apocalyptic imagery in Revelations, and philosophical insight in the Proverbs. Some of these texts are symbolic and should not be taken literally.

Ancient Societies Were Different to Us

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When the Old Testament was written, the Israelite society was tribal with the eldest male giving authority to everyone else. The legal code was laid out in the Bible’s first five books, with their ethical behaviors guided by the Ten Commandments. Today, we lead a life of equality, particularly concerning gender equality and self-authority. We also follow secular laws that are separate from religious morals or ethics.  

The Bible Has Been Repeatedly Translated

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The Bible has been translated numerous times throughout the centuries, with some misprints and misunderstandings falling through the cracks. It is, therefore, reasonable to think that some misinterpretations have become common beliefs over time. The Bible was first translated from Hebrew into Greek around the 2nd century BC and was translated into Latin for the Roman Catholic Church around the 4th century AD.

There Are Contradictions in the Bible

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Some parts of the Bible show contradictions so it is wise not to take the text literally. This includes the details of Jesus’ ancestry, as provided by the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as segments of Genesis that give different accounts of the animals that entered Noah’s Ark. Genesis 6:19-20 claims that two of every animal entered the Ark, whereas Genesis 7:2-3 states that seven pairs of clean animals and two pairs of unclean animals were welcomed on board.

Taking the Bible Literally Makes God Seem Angry

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The Old Testament sometimes portrays God as full of anger, threatening to destroy whilst judging people. Later in the New Testament, we are taught that God is full of love and everlasting forgiveness so it is essential to take the Bible as a whole when forming your view.

Genesis 6-9: “God becomes angry with the wickedness of humanity and decides to destroy all life with a flood, sparing only Noah and his family.”

Science Disagrees With Some Biblical Events

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Many Biblical events have not been scientifically proven, leading some Christians to believe that stories such as Noah’s Ark are religious narratives and did not physically occur. They are sometimes deemed to be symbolic, philosophical tales that we should consider the meaning of.

Some Elements of the Bible Are Violent

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If we focus on the Bible providing a literal account, we might be shocked by the apparent violence present throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. God’s judgment usually involved destroying a nation, such as destroying Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. Even the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is full of violence and gore that we think is beyond comprehension. But we must remember the culture and the context present at the time the Bible was written, with crucifixion a typical punishment.

You Might Show Bias

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Taking the Bible literally may result in you “cherry-picking” events that you like the sound of and dismissing other events due to their violence or misalignment with modern societal values.

You Might Miss the Point

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Many elements of the Bible require you to consider the metaphorical significance of the text. So, by taking the Bible literally, you might miss the symbolic point that the Biblical text intended to make.

Stunt Curiosity and Growth

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A key benefit of reading the Bible is that you are left with curiosity as you ask questions that you might not have thought of previously. Asking questions is a vital way to grow spiritually so taking the Bible literally prevents your curiosity and growth from occurring.

You Might Lose Faith 

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Without the feeling that you need to learn more and ask questions to your preacher and community elders, a literal interpretation of the Bible might result in you losing faith. Interpreting Biblical texts symbolically helps your faith to grow and flourish.

Negative Interpretations

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Interpreting the Bible literally might mean that you interpret Biblical teachings negatively. Reading about the judgments and punishments of God in the Old Testament might persuade you that God was angry and full of wrath instead of a God who loves us all unconditionally.

You Might Face Disagreements Inside Your Community

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Thinking all the events in the Bible occurred physically and literally might result in conflicts within your community. It is important to take a flexible approach and consider a variety of interpretations.

Your Personal Development Is Limited

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Reading the Bible at different stages of your life can lead to a variety of interpretations as your faith grows and yourl interpretations develop. Taking the Bible literally restricts your personal development as you will face the same interpretation of the text whenever you read the Bible.

The Bible Becomes Idolized When Taken Literally

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To develop a strong faith, you must allow the Bible to inspire you and spark a debate in your mind and on your tongue. Following the words of the Bible in a literal context glorifies the text as opposed to using the Biblical teachings as a guide and path to God’s love.

Ignoring Theological Studies

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Since the writings of the Old Testament and the New Testament, there have been many studies by theologians who have expanded the interpretations of the Bible. Taking the Bible literally ignores the theological studies of great minds whose studies are of vital importance.

You Might Miss the Ultimate Bible Message

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Obsessing over literal interpretations of Biblical text can mean that you miss the overall message of the Bible. We must remember that the Bible is a guide to help us achieve eternal salvation, free from suffering.

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