The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Argument and allegory: counter-example

In my previous post I suggested that at least one New Testament author's argument in at least one passage does not really make sense if we take the Adam & Eve story as an allegory. In Timothy 2 Paul seems to take it literally and to make his rhetorical point in such a way that an allegorical reading would make it invalid.

[][]In the comments it was suggested that Paul here was making reference to Adam & Eve as an illustration, not as a warrant in his argument. I disagree based on my reading. However I do not want to cause confusion: interpreting parts of the Bible in modes other than literal-historical-grammatical does not automatically undermine those New Testament passages which rest thereon. I can think of at least one clear counter-example:

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

\~ Matthew 12 NIV

Obviously there is some debate among Christians as to whether Jonah is to be understood historically or as a parable. In this case I do not think it matters which direction the interpreter leans. Jesus is using the Jonah story as a sign, illustratively, and therefore the literal truth or lack thereof does not really bear on the validity of Jesus' statement.

I'll probably manage to push out a couple more posts on this topic to clarify my thinking.