This week I want some help please: I am planning eventually to write a full column in the Catholic Herald on the truth of the Bible. Let me give you an example. The story, starting in Genesis 5, of Noah and the Flood, is generally accepted as not being literally true (although many defend it to the last).There is no archeological evidence of the flood itself – nor any sign of the ark, and the story itself contains details which, through modern eyes, appear to be impossible.
So is it simply a piece of fiction or does it have another purpose? Might some people refer to it as legend or fable or myth? How would you describe it? Elsewhere in Scripture we are familiar with parables – but these are described as such, and take a recognisable shape. But the Noah story takes pains to be complex, literal and precise. It is presented as a literarily true account.
So I would be much helped by you identifying other stories in the Bible which are clearly not true in a literal sense but we must presume were there for a purpose. And we understand them to be inspired. Immediately, we might think of the six days of creation, the account of Adam and Eve or the sacrifice of Isaac at the hands of his father (Genesis 22). Are there similar patterns in the New Testament? And how about the Book of Revelation?
This is not just idle curiosity. If we accept the Bible as inspired revelation and the fundamental introduction to Judaeo-Christian belief we need to know how we should regard its truths.