Why does the Catholic Church not take the Bible literally like other Christian denominations do?
A friend of mine stated that his church takes the Bible literally, but that the Catholic Church doesn’t … is that real?
Actually, there is no truth to that, whatsoever. Catholics translate the Bible in a “literal” sense, while many fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others translate the Bible in a literalist sense.
The “literal” meaning of a passage of Scripture is the meaning that the author of that passage of Scripture intended to convey. The “literalist” interpretation of a passage of Scripture is: “that’s exactly what it states, that’s what it suggests.”.
Let me give you an example to illustrate the distinction. If you were to read a passage in a book that said it was “raining cats and canines outside”, how would you translate that? As Americans, in the 21st Century, you would know that the author was intending to share the idea that it was raining pretty doggone hard outside. That would be the “actual” interpretation … the analysis the author planned to communicate. On the other hand, what if you made a “literalist” analysis of the phrase, “it’s raining pet dogs and cats”?
The “literalist” analysis would be that, were you to walk outside, you would really see cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain. No taking into consideration the widely accepted meaning of this expression. No taking into consideration the author’s purposes. The words say it was raining canines and cats, so, by golly, it was raining cats and pets! That is the literalist, or fundamentalist, way of interpretation.
If someone 2000 years in the future got that same book and check out, “It was raining cats and pets outside,” in order to correctly understand that passage in guide, they would require a “literal” analysis, not a “literalist” interpretation. Now, consider that in the context of translating the Bible 2000-3000 years after it was written.
Actual, or Catholic, analysis vs. literalist, or fundamentalist, analysis.