Bible Interpretation: The Literal Method vs the Allegorical Method

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As we approach the study of any particular bible passage it requires that we study it carefully, using the correct method of interpretation. To put it bluntly, there are two basic methods: (1) the correct method, or the literal method—also known as the grammatical historical method, and (2) the incorrect method, or the allegorical method.

In the literal method, the meaning is determined by studying the grammar of the text and its history. And when we study the text in this way we trust that God has given us, in the text, the normal meaning of the words.  For if indeed all scripture is inspired by God and is not of any private interpretation (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pt. 1:20), than we must trust that God has brought to us the normal meaning of the text, the meaning that we would gain by carefully looking at its grammar and history.

By contrast, those who use the allegorical method start their study by looking at the literal meaning of the text, but then quickly distrust and deny certain parts of the text as they look for a more spiritual and deeper meaning, a meaning that better agrees with their theology.

Therefore, the allegorical method is loaded with danger, in that it takes away the authority of scripture and puts the authority on the spirituality of the interpreter. Hence, with this method the interpreter is not trusting the text, or at least certain parts of the text, as being authoritative; they are rather placing their hopes in themselves as being capable enough or spiritual enough to come up with the correct meaning.

With these things in view we must be careful to always study the bible using the proper literal method, and at the same time, to recognize those using the allegorical method, lest we fall into the same trap they have fallen into. This is true especially when we study the prophetical passages.

 

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About Stephen Nielsen

I'm an author, a self publisher, and a painting contractor. I live in beautiful Minnesota, USA . Welcome to my blog site.
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