In this forum, there are always questions about evolution, creationism, the correct way to do things etc and I have just been reading posts in a thread titled: "Adam and Eve", where at least tha latest ones talk about literal vs symbolic interpretations of the O.T.
I was brought up Christian Orthodox and this has never been an issue for me.Somehow, it never occurred to me to ask myself or anyone whether any of the events in the O.T. are literal facts or symbolism. I just took things at face value as I grew up and while I try to learn from the stories found in this part of the Bible, I do not spend any time thinking what part of it is literal and what symbolical. I do not find anything wrong with it either. I understand - although it is rather hard to put my self in the place of - those people who need exact facts and everything sorted out, to know what they believe in.
However the questions that spring to my mind when seeing posts about this kind of questions are:
1)Is it so important to specify what part of the O.T. is symbolic and what part is literal and why?
2)If at some point, one can presume to have finally sorted out fiction and fact in the O.T., how does that help one´s faith? (Literal and rhetorical question; I´ll be happy to see some points made)
3)How can one be sure which things are merely symbolic and, to use a Greek expression, "put one´s hand in their fire" based on this certainty? I understand there are Church fathers who interpret things differently - and I´ll be happily corrected if I am speaking out of ignorance.
4)A different version of (2): Not having sorted out fact and fiction in the O.T., will affect how I believe? I am not talking about not knowing and not studying the O.T., but about sticking with the message rather than with the "technicalities". To me, for example, the story of Adam and Eve is a fact, but I will not start wondering about them and what kind of snake it was that spoke to them but rather about the issues of pride, disobedience etc.
5)To use a metaphor, are we not sometimes shown the sky and look at the pointing finger instead?
These questions address more than the issue of the O.T. I have been having them every time I read of something relevant to traditions (see e.g. pews) and see people coming up with ever so many references claiming one thing or the other. Of course the O.T. is not about tradition but Tradition and I understand the difference, but whatever does its being literal or symbolical have to do with our faith? Could someone give me an answer?
I am feeling rather frustrated and reactionary today but I really need some answers, otherwise I´ll keep feeling frustrated. Honestly, sometimes, people´s sincere quests seem to me - a really more intuitive than intellectual person - rather too much to handle, too intellectual to really concern people who are not theologians or clergy - heck, not even clergy sticks with as much detail. I can of course choose not to judge what other people ask. But I cannot help not wondering about it. I am quite ignorant - I hadn´t even begun to suspect how much until I joined the forum so I sometimes wonder whether I am too simple. Then, I go back home, chat with a priest or two and they almost tell me off for "wanting to bite more than I can swallow" or "splitting hairs" (when I start bothering too much about certain issues).
I realise my questions above do not sound humble, or at least I am not that humble in asking them, but they exist and I think that if some of you give me a few answers or opinions, I will hopefully become more humble and less ignorant.Thank you.