Allegory

More and more, educated Christians are calling the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve an allegory. However, allegories don't pass on "original sin" to their descendants, because allegories don't have descendants. Neither can allegories cause a "fall" of mankind. So, literally or allegorically - the story of Adam and Eve has to be a fable.

Then there is the modern Christian way of looking at Noah's flood, they call it a local Mesopotamian flood. But that can't be what the story means for two or three good reasons.

(1) Noah was commanded to gather all the clean and unclean animals into the ark, 7 pairs of clean and 2 (male and female) of unclean. There would be no purpose for doing that if the flood was a local one.

(2) Noah was commanded to build a huge ark for all these passengers when it would have been only a few days walk to the safety of the mountains of Ararat.

(3) 2 Peter 2:5 says it was a literal worldwide flood.

Today we know scientifically that a worldwide flood never happened, so there goes another fable. How many fables do we need to call a book a book of fables? Well, suppose we throw in a talking snake and fruit from a tree that imparts knowledge?

How long will this nonsense be accepted and believed by intelligent people?

12 comments:

  1. And why can't they extend the allegory to the "new testament" texts while they're at it?

    Oh, that's right, the literalism has to stay in there somewhere.

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  2. PH, you know the NT only gives us a small part of the story, Paul's version. Folks looking for the "one true church" of the first century will never find it. There never was a "one true church".

    There were at least 6 different divisions of just the Ebionite division of first century Christians.

    The whole thing started out as an apostasy of Judaism - a way to worship God without using the Roman controlled temple. It all just sort of went awry once the gentiles got involved.

    Thanks a lot Paul, or whoever the hell you were.

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  3. More than six, surely! There were splinters and split-offs of at least three movements that were wholly allegorical in nature: Valentinus (the gr8t h00r o' b@bble-0n would have been a hell of a lot different, if he had won the papal vote, instead of Constantine's pet), Basilides (whose Acts of John I find myself partial to, particularly the "cross of light" verses), and of course the anti-Semitic Marcion who did rightfully, as the blogging teenagers like to say, DIAF.

    I still say, one of these days, the world is going to find out that the Jesus books were the Ancient Middle Eastern equivalent of Harlequin potboilers........

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  4. Hi Corky,

    I totally agree with your idea about "no one true church". I have been saying "there was No pure faith in the first century - easrly Christianity was very diverse and remained so until it was finally standardized in the 4th century".

    It is false to assert that Christendom "went astray" from an original pure teaching. This wrong idea is part of the backbone of the Christadelphian faith.

    I also agree with your comment about "Paul's version" of the faith. Why accept Paul, a lone writer defining Christian practice and belief?

    I don't quite agree with the comment that Christianity started out as an 'apostacy' of Judaism. It is more accurate to say that Judaism was already in its twilight at the time of the Roman war ending in the temple destruction in AD70. Before this, the greater majority of Jews lived outside "the land" in the region of the diaspora, spoke Greek, and never visited Jerusalem in their lives. They met in local 'synagogies' (unknown to the OT era).

    Hence the vital importance of the Septuagint - the Jewish scriptures in Greek. The Septuagint was also the cause of Christianization of the OT scriptures - wherever the Greek OT said, "christos", meaning prince, surely that is a reference to Christ Jesus? And so the Christians created a new way of looking at the old stories, one which changed their original meaning forever.

    It is interesting that the Jewish NT writers are so gentle on the Romans and so scathing of the Jews - specifically pointing at the Pharisees. This is because the tension between the Romans and the Jews was very intense especially after the destruction of the Jewish holy place. One can argue that the new faith was a development of Judaism that aimed to be "not like those Jews you destroyed in Israel".

    I enjoy your blog.

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  5. My hymn book's green.

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  6. As an ex-Christadelphian (although Christian)this is a very true point. Although elements of the story can be taken allegorically the event essentially has to be true if Christianity is to make any sense.

    To deny a literal fall happened alters the whole Christian story totally and irreconcileably. It is also why evolution and Christianity cannot be reconciled. A literal Christ who saves us from sin requires a literal fall. If evolution was true we would not have a flawed nature.

    Bishop Spong is notable as a liberal Christian for bringing out these things and essentially he takes a position which really and logically would make Christ needless in any sense except as an allegory himself of our inner human spirit. In that sense although like many liberals he claims to be Christian they are trying to reconcile opposing positions that can only be done by doing that.

    Once we have a conception of human nature that is essentially bad you have to have a perfect Christ who overcome sin and our natural nature (called the flesh) to make it real.

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  7. Anonymous ex-Christadelphian,

    The thing is, evolution is true. There are a lot of people who don't want it to be (including me)but it is what it is.

    Jesus is just an allegory. A personification of "the perfect man" and not literal flesh and blood.

    Yep, that's that "spirit of antichrist" that the epistles of John was talking about. IOW, those who knew that Jesus was not really a flesh and blood man left the fold when "the church" started to make him literal.

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  8. I agree with Corky. Christianity is mythological, not literal.

    It's critical to understand the function of myth and how tribes and races have always had these. Humans have only recently departed from their tribal living on the plains. Our tribal condition and our myth-need is deeply wired into us.

    There is no point in reconciling evolution with Christianity because they are completely different things.

    Christianity is a mythology, based around a suffering servant character. It is a re-writing of OT stories to point to Christos. The key question to ask is whether the myth and associated rites are relevant and helpful to the people. Clearly to Israel they derived their identity and society structure from this rich God-narrative in the wilderness. For early Christians, the "new faith" had its function and was distinctive from the old faith. Paul was a major re-writer and inventor of the Christian myth narrative, leading the way to look at every story in the OT as though it pointed to Christ. Modern Christians also obviously derive value from the Christ myth otherwise it would not continue.

    When we come to evolution, we find a research program that tries to understand the origination of life from a naturalistic perspective only. Evolution is an ongoing study.

    We see conflict between these two things when one tries to reach into the camp of the other. When mythology is over-extended from its status as "story" towards science, or when science tries to apply measurement tests to mythology. They represent different domains of truth.

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  9. This is a second try. Hope it doesn't post twice.

    Hi,

    There may be a possible way to reconcile evolution with a later creation.

    There seems to be real evidence for evolution. This evidence could have been left from a former creation where evolution was the method.

    If there were a more recent re-creation (from the tohu and bohu) then there could still be evidence of the evolution beneath the newer creation or re-creation.

    Just a guess though.

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  10. Just about anything is "possible" and "could have" happened.

    The "Reality" is that religion is made up out of "maybes", "could haves" and "possibles". And, it answers any question in any way you want it answered.

    But what is the probable answer?

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  11. I forgot to say that even if there could have been two creations (one being evolutionary) or more, that still would not make the Crist story true.

    There are just too many similar stories out there, and some are much older than the one which is supposed to have happened in the first century AD.

    If that story were true, then it would need to be original at the very least.

    I think it served its purpose.

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  12. Yeah, all saviours in history worth their salt was "born of a virgin", died for his friends and was resurrected and now resides with the God/gods.

    Same song, different verse.

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