The Gospels as Sacred Allegory, not Literal History.

Hey, I was thinking about writing this as an essay, but can't be bothered to do so. Thus I'm just going to give my thoughts out as they come to me.

I'm personally of the opinion that most, if not all, of the gospels were meant to be taken allegorically and not literally. I believe this, not solely because, people can't whither fig trees or walk on water, or stop women's menstruation, but because the stories themselves make sense only as myth/ allegory. To demonstrate this I'm just going to pick two stories, but there are dozens more. The two I will choose are:

God Hates Figs- As many of you may know there is a tale in Mark 11:12-21 Jesus oddly curses a fig tree for no reason. I'll add the section here for those who do not know the story.

"12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves,16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[c]? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[d]”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[e] went out of the city.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”"

Now, this story is multiply fallacious if taken literally. Not least of all because people don't have the superpower of withering fig trees, but even if someone did they would be insane to whither a tree even though it wasn't the season for bearing fruit. If taken literally this would make Jesus look insane, and obviously that was not the point of the writer of Mark, no, there must be some other explanation. So in order to figure out the meaning we must look closer. In the New Testament literature a particular literary technique is often noted called or dubbed a Markan Sandwich. This is where one story wraps around another and they are meant to be understood in light of each other. In this particular case the story of whithering the fig tree is sandwiched around the temple scene. This story makes much more sense as an allegory saying that the temple is no longer needed and Jesus cursed it to it's roots. (The Christians had no need for the temple cult because Jesus replaced it.)

The second allegory would be Jesus as the Yom Kippur sacrifice. For this portion we're going to look at Matthew 27:15-26

"15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.[c] 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

They said, “Barabbas!”

22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”

But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.[d] You see to it.”

25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified."

To begin with this story does not make sense at all historically. Not only is there no evidence of a custom of releasing prisoners, but Pilate would never be so dumb as to release a Jewish zealot, murderer, and insurrectionist. Barabas was fighting for the Jews, thus this option makes no sense as history; however, it makes incredible sense as an allusion to the Yom Kippur sacrifice. During the Yom Kippur sacrifice two goats were to be brought before the nation, one would be sacrificed carrying the sins of all Israel, and the other would be set free. In this case we have Jesus (the "messiah") and Jesus Barabas (bar-abbas meaning son of the father. Gospels only mention Barabas, but Origen and a few others lead us to believe his name was Jesus Barabas). Two sons of the father. The blameless one takes on the sins of the jews, while the other guilty one is set free.The Gospels as Sacred Allegory, not Literal History.

Anyway I hope this was at least decently coherent. I'm pretty tired and got distracted multiple times while writing this (at work). Oh well, I don't really care lol. Questions? Opinions? Something else? Add it below.


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ladsin is a GirlsAskGuys Influencer
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Most Helpful Girl

  • Well I'm not Christian anymore but I think both of your arguments are somewhat flawed.

    There actually are people with the ability to shift energy of people and plants (Reiki is one common example). So that's totally believable. And for the movement Jesus was trying to start, yes it's probably worth sacrificing a tree to make a point.

    As far as Barabbas goes... Pilate didn't expect the crowd to choose Barabbas. He was a Zealot and hated by the majority of people because he stirred up trouble for them with their occupiers. It's like saying, hey, do you want this terrorist back or this nice rabbi?

    Pilate wanted to release Jesus. He thought it was a stupid religious squabble among the Jewish sects. That's why he made a big deal about washing his hands.

    The custom of releasing a prisoner was a Jewish costume. The Romans did not stamp out the culture of the countries they occupied, they incorporated it. The Jews were under Roman rule, but they still had their own customs and Herod was still King with the permission of Rome. Kind of like how Queen Elizabeth has no real power (the Prime Minister and Parliament do) but she and her family are the cultural leaders and enjoy the adoration of the British people.

    Which is not to say you're wrong about allegory in the Bible, or the Markan sandwich. I just disagree on those points. I'm not a Christian any more largely because I couldn't do the logical gymnastics any more.

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    • ... no, you couldn't do logical gymnastics, I'd have to agree with that...

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    • Barabbas was a murder as well as the Bible says.

    • @Hispanic-Cool-Guy yes, he murdered centurions

Most Helpful Guy

  • Nice job doing the devil's work. People that love the Lord Jesus and The Bible will always be Christians til death. People that hate the Lord Jesus and The Bible will always reject The Bible no matter what.

    And personally I really don't care. 😊

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    • You think that Jesus withered a fig tree for not bearing fruits when it wasn't supposed to bear fruits? What, do you think he was insane? There's no need to do that. That'd be like being mad that you can't get the McDouble at Arby's

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    • @PunkinPie: Why didn't you just separate from your husband?

    • Because I would have still been legally tied to him, and neither of us would have been free to have another relationship ever again. Also because the only way he would have moved out is if I was filing for divorce.

Join the discussion

What Girls Said 5

  • With respect to the first story, Jesus withered the fig tree to prove a point, that if you believe in Him, your prayers will be answered. As for the second story, the Crucifixion took place at Passover, not Yom Kippur.

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    • Jesus did something pointless and against the face of reason to prove that if you believe in him things will happen how you want? That's silly, why wouldn't he just raise a child from the dead, for example. There's no reason that someone would whither a fig tree when it's out of season. This just makes Jesus look mad if you take the story literally, but it makes 100% sense if you believe that it was an allegory or metaphor just like the prodigal's son.

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    • It's only ridiculous if you don't believe in miracles.

    • No, even presupposing that miracles are possible the story still doesn't make sense

  • interesting reading. I am sure there are numerous bones of contention out there, but, good for you.

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  • Very cool

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  • Good job

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  • You have you're beliefs, I have mine.

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What Guys Said 11

  • I see the Bible as an owners manual to life for humans. It was written thousands of years ago in a time and culture I can't even begin to grasp. So many of their cultural ways would seem as odd to us as our present day cultural ways would to them.

    With that said, archaeologists and scientists are making discoveries on a frequent basis that proves more parts of the Bible actually happened.

    There are some things in the Gospels that are difficult for me to wrap my analogical brain around. Other things are easy to see how they still hold true even today.

    Either way I am glad I have taken the time to read the Bible. I believe it is the anointed word of God written by humans.

    The Bible itself is just a book. It is what is between the covers that have made it the all-time best selling book in the history of mankind.

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  • Indeed, allegory and oral legends.

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    • Possibly, but the oral nature doesn't make sense to me. For example Jesus going into the temple and turning over tables makes no sense historically. The temple back then was several dozen acres long and had b armed guard to stop just this type of thing, I can't imagine Jews ever thinking a single person could do this. Thus I think it was always meant to just be an allegory.

    • And the temple was a social gathering place too: some commerce would be probable.

    • And merchants would be accepted thus.

  • My favorite book in the bible is the one after Genesis: you know Super Nintendo.

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  • It's both literal history an Allegory. Many events listed in the bible can be found else where in other ancient cultures such as the macabees and the fall of the Babylonian empire and rise of Persia. The real question is how much is accurate. The great flood for instance is mentioned in a lot of cultures and at the end of the ice age a lot of dry land was taken by rising sea levels. The Red Sea and Persian Gulf could have contained civilisations. What the truth is no one knows but something defenintly happened.

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    • The great flood was mentioned heavily at a particular time in the Mediterranean area, it looks like it was a localized flood.

    • Possibly a tsunami maybe but the real truth is unknown all we have are theories on the little evidence left behind. It's the same thing as the bronze age collapse which left only Egyptian civilisation to limp on vastly weakened and never to reach the same heights again.

  • I believe it is literal but if you can prove otherwise then please give us the proof or evidence. Atheists aren't the brightest of sparks are they.

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    • Umm... did you read the post? Do you think Jesus really white red a fig tree for no reason, or do you think that it makes more sense that Jesus "did so" to make an allusion to the act that the Jewish temple cult was whithered to its roots and as such it was no longer necessary

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    • @BaileyisDarcy I don't have to prove anything to atheists, because nothing ever seems to convince them. They are a bunch of angry, miserable toads.

    • Sure sure, you present so much evidence like "you can't prove me wrong!" How could anyone rationally disagree with you? Amirite?

  • A very interesting read, thank you.

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  • Interesting mytake

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  • Good job

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  • well then you can interpret them as what ever so thats basicly just a get out of jail free card?

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    • I'm saying the authors of the book crafted these stories literarily to suit a purpose like how Jesus often makes parables.

  • Thank you

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  • Great take!

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