As in the above print by Pieter Brueghel, the Bible is full of vivid imagery that draws us into its own world of symbolic meaning. From animals that talk, to a tree that heals all infirmities, we are reminded that the Old and New Testament are not to always be taken literally, but each story should be read with some healthy skepticism. Many times in the past, and even today, we find that the deeper meaning of a story is lost by literalism, forgetting that it is by "mythological exploits [that] helped explain the origins and ways of familiar events from world creation to night and day, storms, agriculture, wars, love, hate, joy, sleep, life and death, and the full spectrum of natural and human affairs".(Schneider XXV) Furthermore, bible scholar James Jordan had this to say:

Symbolism is more important than anything else for the life of man. Anyone who does not understand this has [not] yet fully come to grips with the philosophy of Cornelius Van Til, or more importantly, with the Biblical doctrine of creation. [12] (qtd. in The Covenantal Kingdom)

The following is a list of intellectuals who have contributed to our knowledge of symbols:

Symbols are a part of us. They always have been, and always will be.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) first presented the now widely accepted

theory that dreaming is a means of transmitting symbolic messages

from the unconscious (id) to the conscious (superego). Carl Gustav

Jung (1875-1961) contributed the theory that humanity's "inborn

disposition to produce parallel images" is universal, as evidenced by

archetypes expressed throughout history by "all religions and systems of

belief." Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) and Ludwig Wittgenstein

(1889-1951) came to similar conclusions of symbolism in the

philosophy of language, taking it as far as even mathmatics, based on

theories developed by George Boole (1815-1864), Gottlob Frege

(1848-1925) and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) author of An Enquiry

into Meaning and Truth (1940). (

The symbolism from the Old Testament to the New Testament also largely parallel each other. The following is the parallel found between the Old Testament Jacob, and the New Testament Jesus:

Jacob took a stone and set it up for a pillar: (Gen 31:45, 35:14)

Jesus is known as the "rock of the church" (Mat 16:18)

Jacob is "the shepherd" and "the stone" of Israel: (Gen 49:24)

Jesus is the "chief corner stone" (Eph 2:20)

Jacob, now called Israel (Gen:35:10) set up a pillar of stone: (Gen 35:14):

Jesus, the head corner stone, will take away the kingdom of God, and

will break all of those who have fallen for the entrapment of the church

known as Christianity, the symbolic STONE. (Mat 21:42-44)

Jacob had twelve sons: (Gen 35:22)

Jesus had twelve Apostles (Mat 10:2)

All the souls of the house of Jacob/Israel when he came to Egypt, were

THIRTY (Gen 46:27)

Jesus supposedly began his reign at the age of THIRTY (Luk 3:23)

All the souls of Jacob's sons and daughters were THIRTY THREE: (Gen 46:15)

Jesus died at the age of THIRTY THREE.(as was supposed)

40 days were fulfilled for Jacob: (Gen 50:3)

Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. (Mat 4:1-2) (

Today’s materialistic philosophy is much to blame for the literalism we find. Science and Technology has forged this road of materialism, for better or worse. What used to be a mystery, science has solved, and the myth associated with the mystery dissolves into something we call "meaningless and irrelevant". Meaningless they (myths) are not, for they provided a freeing of the mind to the powers of the subconscious. Nonetheless, Science has provided us with a wealth of knowledge that has saved lives and generally made quality of living better. This knowledge, though, had its infancy in the myth and/or symbol. This infantile mindset (symbolic) is encouraged by the Christ: "...thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Mt 11:25)

Symbols have various formats in the Bible. For instance, the act (acted symbolism) of bowing in prayer is a symbol of the persons low stature in relation to God. Symbols can be found in things (objective symbolism) such as animals, inanimate objects of all sorts, numbers, shapes, and ceremonial garments. People (personal symbolism) served as a symbolic format in the Bible. Personal symbolism derives from the corporate personality. Corporate personality is a psychological term coined by Wheeler Robinson, meaning individual consciousness comprises a group consciousness- if the culture’s fundamental unit is the family and not the individual. With "group consciousness" (Radcliffe Brown) the group identity can be translated into a literary figure, which both details the groups characteristics and its workings. (A.A.J. 3: 1498) An example can be found in Zacharia Sitchin’s "The Wars of Gods and Men":

A Babylonian tablet in the British Museum "speaks of the beginnings of a group of people who were ploughmen, which corresponds to the biblical ‘tiller of the land.’ They are called Amankandu - ‘People Who In Sorrow Roam’, it parallels the condemnation of Cain: ‘Banned be thou from the soil which hath received thy brother’s blood...a restless nomad shalt thou be upon the earth.’ And, most remarkably, the Mesopotamian chief of these exiled people was called Ka’in! -(

This is typical of many other myths including Greek, Hindu, and Mayan.


Objective Symbolism

Of the three forms of Biblical symbolism aforementioned, objective symbolism is the most prevalent. From Genesis to Revelation we find simple objects used to convey deeper, metaphysical theories. Understandably, objects of nature, whether animate or inanimate, are given more credence as symbols when they are "original," that is, when they develop insight into what we are told is "God’s handiwork". The following is a list of things symbolized: a brazen serpent, a fish (piscis), serpent (pytho), temple, animals (beasts, lions, eagles,donkey, swine, dogs, lambs, sheep, camels, horses, oxen), plants (cedar, thistles, figs, sycamore, thorns, olives, grapes, bramble cummin), coins, cross, manna, seed, sun, moon, stars, water, boats, lamp, salt, bread, treasures, right hand, left hand...and the list goes on. Here is an in-depth look into the main symbols essential to understanding the bible.


-Serpent (pytho)

Probably the most well known symbol in the bible is the symbol of the devilish snake in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-16). The symbol is accurate, because the subconscious/conscious mind associates the qualities (slick(not really), slow moving (suspicious movement), potentially dangerous and generally a threat) of the snake with the abstract ideas of temptation, malice, and predatory inclinations.

The myth of the serpent isn’t just in the Judaic tradition, but spans Greece, India, Egypt, Scandinavia, and Mexico. This excerpt out of "The Two Babylons" by Rev. Alexander Hislop, examines the serpent myth in other cultures:

The Greeks represented their great god Apollo as slaying the serpent Pytho, and Hercules as strangling serpents while yet in his cradle. In Egypt, in India, in Scandinavia, in Mexico, we find clear allusions to the same great truth. "The evil genius," says Wilkinson, "of the adversaries of the Egyptian god Horus is frequently figured under the form of a snake, whose head he is seen piercing with a spear. The same fable occurs in the religion of India, where the malignant serpent Calyia is slain by Vishnu, in his avatar of Crishna...; and the Scandinavian deity Thor was said to have bruised the head of the great serpent with his mace."...In reference to a similar belief among the Mexicans, we find Humboldt saying, that "The serpent crushed by the great spirit Teotl, when he takes the form of one of the subaltern deities, is the genius of evil- a real Kakodemon." (60)

Psychoanalytically, the snake might well represent our collective fear, hate of that which can hurt us, and the "hero’s" (Apollo, Hercules, Thor, Vishnu, Teotl, Horus) quest is our own as we fight and find dominance over those fears. A symbol of a defeated serpent then becomes a powerful force for the "collective unconscious" (C.G. Jung). Indeed, biblically we find the same result:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent [snake], and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. (Num. 21: 8)

Similarly, Jesus the Christ became sin, or symbolically, the snake. The New Testament, particularly The Gospel of John, makes the similarity clear:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3: 14,15)

The bible then clearly identifies the serpent as the Devil:

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years... (Rev. 20: 2)

-The Lamb

The pure, spotless lamb is used in the Old Testament as a object of sacrifice. We see its first sacrificial application in Genesis, chapter 4, verse 4:

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock [sheep] and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering.

Next, we see a full implementation of this sacrificial system in the declaration of Moses and Aaron concerning the Passover:

[3] Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house...[7] And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. (Ex. 12:3,7)

The blood of the lamb is seen here as a magical power to protect the houses of the Israelites. Blood has special significance in the bible for its use in sacrifices. Blood, being the essence of life, was the means of atonement by way of a "pure," spotless lamb.

Opposed to the lamb there is the goat. It is the goat that is symbolic of the wicked:

[32] All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. [33] He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matt. 25: 32,33)

Illustrated here is a pentagram. It is a goat symbolizing wickedness, and an inverted star symbolizing black magic. Presumably, the symbol was a derivative of the scripture.

The lamb also has messianic suggestions. Isaiah fifty three, verse seven, a picture of the messiah is drawn:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

In the New Testament Christ is proclaimed "The Lamb of God". The Old Testament’s foretelling of events concerning a suffering servant are what are central to the Christian’s theological backbone.

Numerical (numerology)

*He who is having the understanding, let him count the number . . .

The Revelation Of St. John 13:18

-One (Monad)

One principle must make the universe a single complex living creature, one from all.


"I and [the] Father are one" (Jn 10:30)

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." (Deut. 6:4) In discussing number symbolism, much can be said-so to fill several books. Numerology, or the study of the occult significance of numbers, has a long history. It was active in the primordial mind, and was, obviously, influential on the Judeo-Christian mind. Pythagorean (Pythagoras) number symbolism or arithmology is the basis of number symbolism in the bible. Arithmology, the relation of "simple numbers between one and various principles and divinities," is most profound in early Babylonian and Greek thinking. (Fideler 67)

The reason simpler (1-10) numbers are used is given here by Foliago:

We have to note at once that their meaning cannot be individualized to the degree that, for example, the number "six hundred and sixty six" would have its own specific interpretation distinct from a combination of the meanings of smaller numbers. In other

words, there is only a limited series of numbers each of which has its own specific, unique significance. Other numbers outside of this basic series have some aggregate meaning, and the mystery hidden behind these larger numbers is a combination of "simpler" mysteries. (

Here is an illustration of large numbers, understood by their reduced values,

18 (Lk 13:4;11): 1 + 8 = 9;

153 (Jn 21:11): 1 + 5 + 3 = 9;

144000 (Rev 7:4): 1 + 4 + 4 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 9;

1260 (Rev 11:3; 12:6): 1 + 2 + 6 = 9;

666 (Rev 13:18): 6 + 6 + 6 = 18, ® 1 + 8 = 9.

The Judeaic tradition incorporates number theory sparingly, but effectively.

The bible, like Greek philosophy, makes one a term for unity. The Greeks did not even count this as a number, but thought of it as the principle of unity -i.g., Apollo (apollwn) is literally "not of many". (Fideler 60) The geometric shape commonly associated with one (monad) is the circle.

The last significance of one is given here, again, by Foliago:

We are speaking of the fact that the number one is present as a multiplier in any number, regardless of what principles of factoring we might use. This should be kept in mind by any exegete who deals with numbers. In language free from symbolism this is nowhere framed better than by Paul: "It is the same God which worketh all in all" (1 Cor 12:6); " Of him, and through him, and to him, [are] all things" (Rom 11:36). (

-Two (Dyad)

In the Two we experience the very essence of number more intensely than in other numbers, that essence being to bind many together into one, to equate plurality and unity. Our mind divides the world into heaven and earth, day and night, light and darkness, right and left, man and woman, I and you-and the more stronly we sense the seperation between these poles, whatever they may be, the more powerfully do we also sense their unity. -Karl Menninger (1893-1990, American psychiatrist)

In Genesis, Adam was one with God. But after the fall, humanity was separated from God creating a duality. The duality is what the Dyad represents.

A sort of unity from disparity is found in marriage:

...For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain [two] shall be one flesh? (Matt. 19:5)

Later Paul says this of the aforementioned passage: "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." ( Eph. 5:32) So there does exist a union between the disparity (dyad, two). This union is the harmonious third (tryad)

Three (Tryad)

The principle purpose of the tryad is to bind together the disparity of the dyad. The Trinity, although never mentioned once in the bible, is an integral part of the Orthodox Christian theology. The Trinity concept, like the tryad, is three separate units comprising one harmonious whole.

The following is material on the symbolism of three. It is found at

"One witness shall not rise up . . . at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three

witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deut 19:15); "In the mouth of two or [or and] three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Cor 13:1). As we explain the sense of this, we can say that bald declarations of the truth (i.e., one) of whatever it may be—which some false-prophets do not skimp on—is no proof in itself; confirmation based on wisdom and love is what is needed. It is very appropriate now to recall Paul in another context: "[If] I have prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Cor 13:2).

"Where two or [or, and] three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20). Let us note that this might be translated "where two or else three. . ." as well. That is, he who has wisdom joined with love (and hope and faith) in the name of Christ, will discover the Word in himself. In numerical signs we obtain a mathematically absurd formula: 2 + 3 = 1, which nevertheless is one of the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Now let us turn to examples of the number 3 in its pure, solitary form:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27). This love was to be testified by the sons of Israel thrice a year: "Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel" (Exod 34:23); "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God . . . and they shall not appear before the LORD empty" (Deut 16:16).

Jesus three times poses one and the same question to Peter: "Lovest thou me?" (Jn 21:15–19). This same Peter has a vision and "there came a voice to him . . . What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common. This was done thrice" (Acts 10:11–16). The interpretation of the vision was given by Peter: "It is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts10:28). Is this not a homily of love?

We should not miss the arithmological aspect of the symbol of three loaves from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 11:5), as well as the parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Mt 13:33; Lk 13:21). Indeed, how might an outer man reach the Kingdom of Heaven otherwise than by putting something slight into his faith, hope, and love, which is the greatest of these?

Finally let us look at the episode of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. There were three temptations; and (following the chronology in Matthew) at first Jesus was tempted concerning the truth of His hope—"command that these stones be made bread" (Mt 4:3), then, regarding the truth of His faith—"cast thyself down . . . [that] thou [mayest not] dash thy foot against a stone" (Mt. 4:6); and finally, of His love—"if thou wilt fall down and worship [or bow to] me" (Mt 4:9).

Let us content ourselves with these examples of the symbolism of three, keeping some evidence in reserve.


Seven is often thought of as the number of perfection. But Foliago’s book,"Whereunto Shall I Liken This Generation" (, presents another view:

WHETHER WE HAVE ASSUAGED OR DISTURBED the reader by this, we proceed to the next number, which we met many times while interpreting six. And so: the number 7. The name of what is hidden behind this symbol is very short, but we must understand the word broadly, for seven is the number of law. Seven concerns the perfect law, when everything is subject to this law—be it in the world, or in Heaven, in motion, or at rest—and does not require any external interference. And no such interference is needed, even on the part of the Creator, for all things are made "for their uses" (Sir 39:21), everything has saving power (cf. Wis 1:14) and completed. "And on by the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Gen 2:2–3). The motif of God’s not interfering with His established order is clearly visible in such words: "By measure hath he measured the times; and by number hath he numbered the times; and he doth not move nor stir them, until the said measure be fulfilled" (2 Esdr 4:37).

Seven is, if one may put it thus, the universal number of law, which is why it is too often confused with perfection itself—although the reader should understand that any subjection, even subjection to perfect law, is incompatible with freedom: ergo, it is incompatible with real perfection. Besides, "if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law" (Gala 3:21), but "the law made nothing perfect" (Heb 7:19).

And so, as a universal number, seven is used in the commandment on sacrifices to the Lord: "And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the LORD, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days" (Ezek 45:23; cf. Lev 23:18). This indicates unblemishedness or perfection (YLT), although that is not the main thing. The symbolism of the perfection of sacrifices is not in quantity only, but also in quality, e.g., "Take . . . the bullock of seven years old" (Judg 6:25). The reader should not forget that only clean animals can be used as sacrificial, for sacrifices are to be taken into the temple, and we hope the reader remembers what the temple symbolizes.

Considerations evoked by the question just raised can help us to understand why the Lord commanded Noah: "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens . . . and of beasts that [are] not clean by two . . . Of fowls also of the air by sevens" (Gen 7:2–3). The connecting link in our logic will be the calf in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:27–30), for that calf is killed for food. But this is just the rule according to which clean and unclean animals are distinguished: the former are suitable for food and the latter are not. What do we obtain as the result? The Lord commands Noah to take what is perfect, suitable for food (this is associated with seven), but He also commands him to take what is unclean and forbidden, for there is wisdom in this as well. Is this not strange? Not at all, for Jesus also said: "be ye . . . wise as serpents" (Mt 10:16). In other words, from the impure one should take what is associated with the number two—with wisdom.

To continue the theme of seven, let us note a parable which is absurd from the viewpoint of "common sense" and literalistic perception: "the barren hath born seven" (1 Sam 2:5) or "even the barren beareth seven" (1 Sam 2:5 DBY). In order to understand this bit of wisdom we should refer to the images of the husband and the wife, the wedding feast. Now it is clear that the outer man, the wife, who did not find the way to her real husband who is within, the wife who turned away from her inner man, cannot be other than barren; still she also wishes to bear some fruit. This fruit is the law of the "commandments of men" which in this case too, is symbolized by seven; and here the perfection of seven is hopelessly lost. And what do we see? "She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while [it was] yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD" (Jer 15:9). Here seven is linked with shame and confusion. And wives—whether understanding this or not—catch at the same, senselessly forgetting that Jesus Christ abolished the law of commandment by His doctrine (Eph 2:15, see our discussion in ch. III.4,): "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, [—] take away our reproach" (Is 4:1).

In adducing these considerations we do not intend to paint seven black, for its true meaning is still valid up till now: for example, in the symbolism of the messages for the seven churches and in the mystery of seven stars in the Revelation of St. John (Rev 1:16, 20; 2:1–3:22), for there exist laws not written by men, laws which nobody is allowed to circumvent.

The reader should not be confused by the fact that in some cases we speak of the perfection of the law, in others of the law’s having made nothing perfect, and in still others of the law’s particular imperfection. It is all a question of how you perceive it. Indeed, is man able to comprehend perfection of the law? Only if he is perfect himself. But once a man is especially imperfect, then in his consciousness he distorts even what is perfect. "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good" (Gen 1:31), but is it everything that the man considers "very good?" As for the works of man himself, it is inappropriate to speak of their perfection.

Acted Symbolism

Beside there being symbols of objects, there are symbols of acts in the bible. These can be the most powerful of symbols, as seen by the cruxifiction of Christ.

The following was taken from

This analysis deals with Old Testament law in the form of legal symbolic acts. Such an act is defined as a non-verbal act which fulfils a legal function when it is performed under the proper circumstances and when the legal function is different from the physical result of the act. A theoretical basis is laid out in order to achieve a reliable interpretation. Legal symbolic acts belong to customary law. Since the customary law of ancient Israel is not as well known as the codified law, these acts provide important information regarding the customary law of ancient Israel. Another important theoretical stand-point that is emphasized is the distinction between the use of a legal symbolic act, as it is described in its Old Testament context, and the history of its formation. Legal symbolic acts are also conventional, i.e., they are not so much dependant upon their performance for their meaning as upon the general agreement attached to the acts by those who form the

surrounding socio-cultural context. This invites a contextual approach to the texts in which the acts are described. Such a contextual approach also restricts the use of comparative material to an illustrative function. Only when the literary context cannot be used to conclude whether it is a case of a legal symbolic act or not, will the comparative material be used in a further, explanatory sense. The analysis of each act is structured in three parts, namely performance, legal function and historical explanation. The main emphasis is upon the legal function whereas the historical explanation is of a more tentative nature.

The analysis includes the following acts; raising the hand, shaking the hand, putting the hand under the thigh, walking through a divided animal, sharing a meal, piercing the ear of the slave, anointing the head with oil, grasping the horns of the altar, transferring the mantle, covering a woman with the mantle, removing the sandal, and putting a child on the knees.


Symbolic Acts and Allegories of Disaster (12-24)

Ezekiel took symbolic actions and drew numerous word pictures in an

attempt to convince his compatriots that Jerusalem would fall, and that

they should not hold out for an early return from exile.

To symbolize the imminent fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel packed his bags

and in the middle of the night dug through a wall and hurried away as if

to escape (chapter 12). In another image Jerusalem is compared to a vine

which is no longer productive, and its branches can then serve only as

fuel for a fire (chapter 15).[1] Chapter 16 contains an extended allegory

of the history of Jerusalem. The main figure in the allegory is Jerusalem

in the guise of a female who turns out to be an unfaithful wife to

Yahweh.[2] The allegory is developed in great detail. Jerusalem is first

described as the daughter of an Amorite father and a Hittite mother.

Abandoned by her parents she was adopted by Yahweh who cared for

her.and made her beautiful. But then she used her God-given advantages

to entice and seduce foreigners. God in turn used those foreigners to

punish his wife. But ultimately he did not disown her, restoring her

instead to full status as wife in covenant with God. The allegory of

Oholah and Oholibah in chapter 23 likewise describes the unfaithfulness

of Israel and Judah in terms of women wed to Yahweh.

Ezekiel used extended images of eagles, trees, and again vines, to depict

the uprooting of Judah and its kings in chapter 17. In chapter 18 Ezekiel

addressed the issue of responsibility and blame. It seems Judeans were

seeking to disown responsibility for the current state of affairs. They

blamed their troubles with the Babylonians and the weakness of Judah on

the sins of their fathers. The following proverb was widely quoted by the

people to justify this analysis: [3]

2 "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth

are set on edge."(18:2)

Ezekiel denied the continuing validity and applicability of this proverb, and instead asserted that Yahweh knows each person individually. Each person would be judged on the basis of their own actions. Each person should know that they get what they

deserve, and on the positive side, if they repent they can be delivered.

30 Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each person according to

his ways (the Lord YHWH's word). Turn and repent of all your offenses,

and do not let them be a stumbling block leading to iniquity. 31 Toss away

from you all your offenses by which you offend, and make for yourselves a

new heart and new spirit. Why die, house of Israel?! 32 I do not relish the

death of the dead (the Lord YHWH's word). Repent and live! (18:30-32)

This passage is subject to varying applications. Many commentators argue that here in Ezekiel we have one of the first evidences of individual moral identity as opposed to corporate concept of identity, the first glimmerings of individualism, if you will. But this may be reading too much into it.

Joyce (1989) argues that Ezekiel was not affirming individual responsibility, but was

declaring that each generation makes its own moral choices, and is not bound by either

the sins or the merits of the preceeding generation. Ezekiel in effect cuts the moral link

between generations. And this cuts two ways. On the one hand, the past shortcomings

of the fathers does not predetermine that the sons must be punished. On the other hand,the current generation can no longer use the preceeding generation for an excuse, and has to stand on its own moral two feet. Speaking to his generation Ezekiel was saying, put aside your self-pity and fatalistic thinking. Take responsibility for change, and then there is hope.

Ezekiel continued to preach that ample opportunity for restoration would be given, if

only the people would acknowledge their complicity, and repent. But throughout this

entire section Ezekiel was invariably pessimistic about Israel's interest in repenting.

Ezekiel failed to see any good in Israel at all, and viewed the people as base, ungrateful, and unfaithful.

After oracles and images assuring his audience of coming disaster, this section ends with its most powerful statement yet (chapter 24). Ezekiel's dearly beloved wife died, and this understandably plunged him into deepest grief. But, by God's instructions, he did not shed a tear or give sign of mourning. This stoicism stood as a sign of God's own resolve, as presumably God determined not to be overcome by sentiment and forgo the punishment. Ezekiel did not speak another word, and by implication, Yahweh himself was silent, until Jerusalem had fallen.

Personal symbolism

Personal symbolism is used in the bible to often describe a particular group of people, or an idea. The corporate personality, as mentioned above, is where many bible figures found their origin.

The following are examples of the symbolism of Christ found in the Gospel of Mark (there are Jungian influences in the text).

The Shadow

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him,

for people were saying, "He is beside himself."

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said,

"He is possessed by Beelzebul,

and by the Prince of Demons he casts out the demons."

Jesus' family and the religious leaders understand Jesus' curious behavior in terms of the shadow-world of the Universal Unconscious. Both peceive him in terms of the negative energies of the unconscious. His family relates to Jesus through the image of "the crazy man." The religious leaders propose the image of Satan. Jesus' healings could, of course be understood positively in terms of the shadow-world.The reader knows that Jesus is the Son of God.


The Anima

And when he came up out of the water,

immediately he saw the heavens opened

and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove....

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan;

and he was with the wild beasts;

and the angels ministered to him.

By entering the waters, Jesus has crossed over into the realm the positive Unconscious or Super-conscious. The feminine figure of the dove--the image of his soul or psyche--descends to form a bridge between Jesus and the realm of the negative Unconscious—the wilderness—where Jesus will have to face the Shadow of the Son of God. In this battle, the positive energies support him—angels—even as the negative energies assault him—the wild beasts. The key point is that the anima serves as Jesus’ guide.

The Syzygy (Divine Couple)

...a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she

broke the flask and poured it over his head....Some...reproached her. But Jesus said, "Let

her alone;

why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me....She has anointed my

body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in

the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. (Mk 14:3 ff.)

Jesus projects onto this woman's actions his own

anima who no acts as his guide preparing him for his

ordeal in Jerusalem. Clearly, Jesus embraces his

anima, thus he defends the woman against charges of

wanton waste. Jesus has embraced the inner woman.

The scene suggests that she is a type of the Bride of

Christ (Revelation 21). Judas takes Jesus to be a false

teacher and goes to betray him. He fails to see the

spiritual drama.


The Child

The Transfiguration scene in Mark serves the same purpose as the

birth stories in Matthew and Luke. Here we see that the human does

coincide with the divine. This is the basis for the hope of salvation.

Everyman can experience the divine realm as a dimension of

ordinary life.

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John,

and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves;

and he was transfigured before them,

and his garments became glistening, intensely white,

as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to

them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus...

And a cloud overshadowed them,

and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son;

listen to him." (Mk 9:1ff)

Jesus and the three disciples cross over into the realm of the

Super-conscious--i.e., they ascend a high mountain. Jesus the

carpenter's son is percieved simultanously in his eternal form as

the Son of God. Moses, who starts the Jewish tradition at Mt.

Sinai, and Elijah, the prophet who comes at the end of the

world, appear to Jesus to prepare him for his journey to

Jerusalem and his own death. The disciples are urged by God to

heed the teaching on discipleship which Jesus has just given (Mk 8:31-38). In that paradoxical teaching lies the path to salvation.

Works Cited A.A.J. The Illistrated Bible. 3 vols. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1980-1994. Fideler, David. Jesus Christ, Sun of God. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest, 1993. Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons. New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1959. Schneider, Micheal S. A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.