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A Paradox about Allegory

Gene Fant wonders about folks who expect multiple levels of meaning in English literature but not in the Bible (or vice versa):

When I was in graduate school, I used to chuckle that my more theologically conservative classmates, the ones who were quietly ridiculed for taking the Bible “literally,” were the ones who understood literature more thoroughly as a symbolic artform that communicated on multiple levels.  The ones who thought that the Bible was a “nice story” that shouldn’t be taken literally all tended to view literature in a way that was almost slavishly literal.  In the end, they would aver “This is what the story means to me,” sort of giving their own personal testimony about the story, where they discovered an interesting version of themselves in the text.  I often say that what lies at the heart of most lovers of literature is a single impulse: “Let me read a story about someone who is unique and interesting, someone just like me.”   Ego-centrism, to a great extent, is the highest form of literalism.

(H/T: Pseudo-Polymath)

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1 Comment

  1. Darrell Pursiful says:

    Of course, there are also those who revel in finding the multiple levels of meaning in English literature but refuse to consider the possibility that the Bible might be read similarly because that would prevent them from taking the Bible in the worst possible light….

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