Originally posted by mdhall
I am not atheist.
The Bible is not a work of non-fiction, it is an important literary piece for a popular religion that has grown out of Judaism.
In my theological classes, the professors of theology stressed the importance of understanding that Religious Literature is best read in an allegorical light. Not as a play-by-play historical document.
Why ...[text shortened]... hey'll grow out of it, but it's a personal journey most ppl go through (even Atheists).
I pretty much agree with you about the allegory. I would add that I think there is myth and just plain story as well (the fact that some stories may have been told around certain historical places, people and events does not make them
I am not saying there is no
historical writing there, but I think there is not a lot that has not been mythologized or allegorized in the telling. For example, I read the whole of Genesis pretty much mythologically, although many of the archetypal figures in the Abrahamic saga might be based on stories handed down about real ancestors. I think much of the narrative tales in the Hebrew scriptures (e.g., Exodus or Kings) fall under what I call “histo-myth.” That does not mean that the allegorical reading is not the most important—indeed, the critical—element, and the primarily intended one.
The fiction/non-fiction question is not so clearcut. The book of Job, for example, I think clearly falls under the heading of allegory exactly as you describe it. Ecclesiastes, however, seems to be more a work of philosophical inquiry with a heavy existentialist leaning. Technically, I think it best falls under the heading of non-fiction (whether pseudonymous or not). The same for Proverbs as a collection of folk-wisdom sayings.
Poetry is, of course, poetry—whether predominantly narrative or lyrical. I always hesitate to allegorize the Song of Songs too much (which both the rabbis and Christian exegetes have been wont to do); it is first and foremost a passionate and erotic love poem.