✍🏽

Allegory

Updated
Jan 10, 2023 12:54 AM
Tags
Literary DevicesAllegoryGarden of EdenGenesisFeasts & Holy DaysTempleEsther
Bible References

Genesis 3; Exodus 12-20; Esther

Status
Done
📁
Table of Contents

Definition

An allegory is a symbolic representation of something, usually through fictional characters[1]—it is possible to have allegories on top of real stories, though arguably it is more difficult to find a person whose life story just happens to be an allegory for something else. Our Creator, who authors all stories, however, is a master at making this happen.

Importance

I used to hate when my teacher told me a rose wasn't just a rose. I didn't trust that she knew what the author was thinking and didn't understand the point of guessing outside of what was explicitly written. As I've grown over the years, I've learn to appreciate hidden meanings in texts a lot more.

Pop Cultures Examples

The first allegory that pops in to my mind is The Chronicles of Narnia series, in particular, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis. Aslan, the titular lion of the novel, clearly represents the Messiah. He is unjustly sacrificed to pay for the crimes of Edmund, who has betrayed his siblings. Edmund acts as a type of Judas Iscariot, committing betrayal and giving up valuable information to the enemy. The White Witch, or Queen Jadis, represents Satan, the adversary. She has usurped Narnia as her own and seeks to destroy Aslan (and his followers). If you strip off the fantasy and the names of the characters, you are left with CS Lewis’ interpretation of the Gospels.

Another famous allegory is Animal Farm by George Orwell. The novel is about a group of farm animals who overthrow their human owners to run the farm their way. Over time, conditions on the farm deteriorate as the rules they have set for themselves are constantly changed and manipulated by the new leaders. The novel is an allegory for the Russian resolution and a critique of Stalinism. The humans represent the Bolsheviks, who were overthrown during the revolutions. The pigs represent the communist powers that took over after the revolution with specific characters representing key figures such as Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky.

Popular allegories read in school include Lord of the Flies, The Scarlet Letter, and The Crucible. Lord of the Flies depicts the ease at which humans descend from “civilized” to “savage” and is likely a commentary on World War II. The Scarlett Letter is a classic tale about legalism, judgment, and hypocrisy. The Crucible though seemingly about the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials, actually acts as an allegory for the McCarthy era in which it was written.

Biblical Examples

In the Bible, a lot of the individual stories are allegories for larger themes. One of the biggest clues to helping me find these allegories can be found in Jeremiah 6:2. In this verse, we are explicitly told a woman symbolizes God's holy city which really is His holy people. In the New Testament, you see confirmation of this with the Church constantly being referred to as "the Bride of Christ." When I started plugging "the Church" in for women in Biblical narratives, a whole new layer started to unravel for me. Below are just a few examples of allegory in the Bible. Can you come up with more?

The Book of Esther

If you look closely, this book represents the transition of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. We see the redemption of God's people and the promise of salvation being given to nations and peoples other than Israel.

  • King Ahauserus → God
  • Queen Vashti → Israel in rebellion
  • Esther → The New Testament Church
  • Haman → Satan
  • Purim → The Marriage Supper of the Lamb to the Church

The Fall of Man

It took me countless reads of Genesis 3 to see this, but it is actually an allegory for salvation and the sacrifice made by the Messiah. When you substitute the Church for the woman in the story (Eve), and factor in New Testament verse about the Church being the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9) or the husband representing Christ in marriage (Ephesians 5:24), it turns in to quite a beautiful story. Now instead of simply how sin entered the world, it’s the story of the Messiah loving His bride so much that He was willing to experience death so that she didn’t suffer alone.

  • Adam → Christ (notably Christ doesn't sin as Adam did)
  • Eve → the Church
  • Serpent → Satan/the Adversary
  • Eden → Heaven/Paradise

The Feast Days

Each of the 7 feasts described in the Torah point both backward to the history of Israel, and forward to the mission of Christ

🍽️ Feast Day
⌛Past
🕑 Future
Passover
Deliverance from Egypt
Crucifixion
Feast of Unleavened Bread
First fruits (harvest)
The resurrection of Christ and of the dead
Pentecost
Giving of the law
Receiving the Holy Spirit
Feast of Trumpets
Battle to take the Promised Land
Birth pangs of Christ’s second return
Day of Atonement
High Priest redeems Israel from their sin
The sealing of the saints
Feast of Tabernacles
Commemorates God dwelling with Israel while they were in tents
Living in paradise (The Millennium Kingdom)

The Tabernacle

There are six articles created for the tabernacle (and Temple). These seven articles show up everywhere throughout the Bible and are an allegory for so many messages within scripture. “The Blueprint” series by Ivor Myers does a great job of going through these symbols and allegories.[3][4][5] I’m only listing the basics below.

🛐 Object
🟡 Symbol
👑 Statement about God
👤 Patriarch
🎬 Transition
The Altar of Sacrifice
Messiah’s sacrifice
God is love
Adam
First man to offer sacrifices
Laver
Purity & Cleanliness
God is pure
Noah
Brought man through the flood that purified the Earth
Candlestick
Light
God is light
Abraham
Called to be a light to all nations
Altar of Incense
Open communion/prayers of the saints
God is our friend
Isaac
Entreated (incensed) the LORD
Table of Shewbread (12 pieces)
Word of God
God is our sustainer
Jacob
Father of 12
Ark of the Covenant
Law
God is just
Moses
Receives the law

References

  1. "Allegory". Merriam Webster Dictionary; visited March 2022
  2. Nicole H. “11 Examples of Allegories From Great Literature”. Become a Writer Today; visited September 2022
  3. Ivor Myers. “The Blueprint: Earth’s Final Movie Part 1”. YouTube. May 15, 2020
  4. Ivor Myers. “The Blueprint: Earth’s Final Movie Part 2”. YouTube. May 24, 2020
  5. Ivor Myers. “The Blueprint: Earth’s Final Movie Part 3”. YouTube. May 24, 2020
🙏🏽
PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.

image