The Evangelical Universalist Forum

C.S. Lewis on Old Testament Miracles

C.S. Lewis gives his take on Old Testament Miracles. “Just as God is none the less God by being Man, so the Myth remains Myth even when it becomes Fact”. More here:

Do you think he is right?

You say it’s not “priestly lying”. If writing down that something happened that didn’t happen is not priestly lying, what would be priestly lying? If I said I was being chased around New York City by gang members intent on murdering me, and then suddenly the sidewalk opened up and swallowed them, and this didn’t actually happen, would you consider me a liar? Or would you say there was nothing wrong with me telling this story, that I was just using myth?

I didn’t say. C.S. Lewis wrote that.

I’ve heard it explained that people in the past viewed truth differently to us. Marcus Borg put it like this “stories can be true without being literally and factually true”. The “truth” of the story is the lesson it teaches which can be through allegory, imagery, metaphor etc.

Slippery slope, though. The ends justify the means? Not sure we should cloak a moral truth with deception. If, of course, we make known to our audience this is a tale, parable, etc or if they understand it to be such (as in some cultures it may be), then that would be fine. But lying or deceiving someone into thinking the story is true, just to prove a truth, is immoral, IMO.

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I expect that the audience in the past knew that what they were hearing/reading was not historical fact but meant to teach a lesson.

I wouldn’t be so sure. People today still bullshit as much as ever.

Which specific events are you referring to that you think the audience knew didn’t happen? And what is your expectation based on? I’ve encountered nothing in ANE literature showing Jews (and the early Christians) did not take the OT literally.

@mcarans That bishop was centuries removed from the times of the Bible. And the fact that he interpreted a village as meaning the church IMO is insignificant. Now if he doubted the exodus narrative or “demons” being sent from a man into pigs, that would be another matter.

When Jesus told parables, I wonder if His audience understood that they were parables or thought they were historical events he was describing. By not describing historical events, were Jesus’s parables lies?

No, because the texts explicitly say they’re parables.

Yes but he didn’t tell his listening audience they were parables. He just jumped right into the story.

Matthew 13:13
This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

Even if the Bible didn’t record Jesus saying, “This is a parable” each time the Bible says he told a parable, the fact that the Bible says “the parable of the _____” over and over again (and I’m not talking about in the headings, which weren’t in the manuscripts), indicates that Jesus’s audience knew he was speaking in parables. It’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that if the NT writers said a story was a parable that Jesus told his audience it was a parables. That’s entirely different from the Exodus narrative (for which there’s scant archaeological evidence) and many other things stated in the Bible.

I don’t think it was necessary for Jesus to explain that His stories were parables because I think His audience would have understood that without needing it to be made explicit and I think it could be similar with stories like Jonah.

You mentioned there’s scant archaeological evidence for the Exodus (I think what there is shows movements of at most thousands rather than millions of people). Do you take the Exodus story to be a historical event in spite of the lack of archaeological evidence or do you think it is a myth?

It’s okay if you don’t think it was necessary. That’s irrelevant to the fact that on at least one occasion Jesus did say he was telling parables.

I don’t believe it.