History is littered with ill-advised and unhelpful attempts to “discover” allegories in the Bible. By and large, attempts to manufacture a formal allegory from a biblical text have fallen out of fashion. However, even as we may not be tempted to set out to allegorize portions of Scripture, we are apt to fall into the same sort of error if we interpret the Bible with a “what this means to me” attitude (for more on this, check out does it matter how I read the Bible?) or if we approach Bible reading with the assumption that it is our job to unearth the hidden meaning of a Bible passage (for more on this, check out the author determines the meaning; now what do I do about it?).
At the same time, we know that allegory is a legitimate literary form that is employed in the Bible. How can we know when a passage should be interpreted as an allegory while avoiding illegitimately allegorizing a passage? Let’s start by defining allegory and allegorizing.
Allegory: A Legitimate Literary Device
A parable focuses on a single point of comparison and will often contain several contextual and incidental details to … Keep Reading