Should We Read The Bible Literally?

Added 24 October 2017 by Br. Casey Cole, OFM

As a rule there is nothing with reading a scriptural text literally. Some passages mean exactly what they say. When a text is read in this way because all of Scripture as a rule should be read literally and there's a room for suspicion. A few years ago, writer AJ Jacobs recognizing the abundance of seemingly strange laws in the Bible decide to live an entire year following everything it said as literally as possible. He had no bacon cheeseburgers, did absolutely no work for an entire day each week and even threw little pebbles at adulters to stone them. What he found was that no one, not even the most zealous Jews or Christians read the entire Bible literally. To some extand we all have a process of interpreting and understanding the text beyond the base definitions of the words. For Catholics and many other Christians this is not a new revelation. The fact that we do not follow everything literally is not anyway an indictment of our faith nor does it mean that we pick and choose what we want to follow. We have always known that not everything in the Bible is even meant to be taken at face value and have worked to get beneath the text to understand the meaning behind it. In the modern world that means using some variation of what is called the historical-critical method of study. In reality this method is a series of methods used differently depending on one's faith tradition but all seeking to answer the same simple question: what did the human author mean to say in the context in which it was written? In order to understand what the text meant to say, biblical scholars first have to determine what the text is in the first place. As I mentioned in a previous video, the Bible did not fall from heaven fully written, but was a result of many years of prayer, reflection and editing and copying before becoming the book that we have today...


Br. Casey Cole, OFM

Br. Casey Cole, OFM

New York

Student Franciscan Friar and author of the blog Breaking In The Habit.

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