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Smith's Bible Dictionary

a figure of speech, which has been defined by Bishop Marsh, in accordance with its etymology as, "a representation of one thing which is intended to excite the representation of another thing." ("A figurative representation containing a meaning other than and in addition to the literal." "A fable or parable; is a short allegory with one definite moral."--Encyc. Brit.) In every allegory there is a twofold sense--the immediate or historic, which is understood from the words, and the ultimate, which is concerned with the things signified by the words. The allegorical interpretation is not of the words, but of the thing signified by them, and not only may, but actually does, coexist with the literal interpretation in every allegory, whether the narrative in which it is conveyed be of things possible or real. An illustration of this may be seen in (Galatians 4:24) where the apostle gives an allegorical interpretation to the historical narrative of Hagar and Sarah, not treating that narrative as an allegory in itself; as our Authorized Version would lead us to suppose, but drawing from it a deeper sense than is conveyed by the immediate representation. (Addison's Vision of Mirza and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress are among the best allegories in all literature.)

ATS Bible Dictionary

A figurative mode of discourse, which employs terms literally belonging to one thing, in order to express another. It is strictly a prolonged metaphor. Such are Nathan's address to David, 2 Samuel 12:1 14; Psalm 80:1-19, and our Lord's parable of the sower, Luke 8:5 15. The expression, "which things are an allegory," Galatians 4:24, means that the events in the life of Isaac and Ishmael, mentioned in previous verses, have been allegorically applied.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Used only in Galatians 4:24, where the apostle refers to the history of Isaac the free-born, and Ishmael the slave-born, and makes use of it allegorically.

Every parable is an allegory. Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-4) addresses David in an allegorical narrative. In the eightieth Psalm there is a beautiful allegory: "Thou broughtest a vine out of Egypt," etc. In Ecclesiastes 12:2-6, there is a striking allegorical description of old age.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A figurative discourse, in which the principal subject is described by another subject; a parable. The real subject is thus kept out of view, and we are left to collect the intentions of the writer or speaker by the resemblance of the secondary to the primary subject.

2. (n.) Anything which represents by suggestive resemblance; an emblem.

3. (n.) A figure representation which has a meaning beyond notion directly conveyed by the object painted or sculptured.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

al'-e-go-ri: The term allegory, being derived from allo agoreuein, signifying to say something different from what the words themselves imply, can etymologically be applied to any figurative form of expression of thought. In actual usage in theology, the term is employed in a restricted sense, being used however in three ways, namely, rhetorically, hermeneutically and homiletically. In the first-mentioned sense it is the ordinary allegory of rhetoric, which is usually defined as an extended or continued metaphor, this extension expanding from two or more statements to a whole volume, like Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Allegories of this character abound in the Scriptures, both in Old Testament and in New Testament. Instructive examples of this kind are found in Psalm 80:8-19 Ecclesiastes 12:3-7 John 10:1-16 Ephesians 6:11-17. According to traditional interpretation of both the Jewish exegesis and of the Catholic and Protestant churches the entire book of Canticles is such an allegory. The subject is discussed in full in Terry's Biblical Hermeneutics, etc., chapter vii, 214-38.

In the history of Biblical exegesis allegory represents a distinct type of interpretation, dating back to pre-Christian times, practiced particularly by the Alexandrian Jews, and adopted by the early Church Fathers and still practiced and defended by the Roman Catholic church. This method insists that the literal sense, particularly of historical passages, does not exhaust the divinely purposed meaning of such passages, but that these latter also include a deeper and higher spiritual and mystical sense. The fourfold sense ascribed to the Scriptures finds its expression in the well-known saying: Littera gesta docet; quid credas, allegorica; moralis, quid agas, quid speres, anagogica ("The letter shows things done; what you are to believe, the allegoric; what you are to do, the moral; what you are to hope, the anagogic"), according to which the allegorical is the hidden dogmatical meaning to be found in every passage.

Cremer, in his Biblico-Theological New Testament Lexicon, shows that this method of finding a hidden thought behind the simple statement of a passage, although practiced so extensively on the Jewish side by Aristobulus and especially Philo, is not of Jewish origin, but was, particularly by the latter, taken from the Alexandrian Greeks (who before this had interpreted Greek mythology as the expression of higher religious conceptions) and applied to a deeper explanation of Old Testament historical data, together with its theophanies, anthropomorphisms, anthropopathies, and the like, which in their plain meaning were regarded as unworthy of a place in the Divine revelation of the Scriptures. Such allegorizing became the common custom of the early Christian church, although not practiced to the same extent in all sections, the Syrian church exhibiting the greatest degree of sobriety in this respect. In this only Jewish precedent was followed; the paraphrases commonly known as the Targum, the Midrash, and later in its most extreme form in the Kabbalah, all showed this mark of eisegesis instead of exegesis. This whole false hermeneutical principle and its application originated doubtless in an unhistorical conception of what the Scriptures are and how they originated. It is characteristic of the New Testament, and one of the evidences of its inspiration, that in the entire Biblical literature of that age, both Jewish and Christian, it is the only book that does not practice allegorizing but abides by the principle of the literal interpretation. Nor is Paul's exegesis in Galatians 4:21-31 an application of false allegorical methods. Here in Galatians 4:24 the term allegoroumena need not be taken in the technical sense as expressive of a method of interpretation, but merely as a paraphrase of the preceding thought; or, if taken technically, the whole can be regarded as an argumentum ad hominem, a way of demonstration found also elsewhere in Paul's writings.

The Protestant church, beginning with Luther, has at all times rejected this allegorizing and adhered to the safe and sane principle, practiced by Christ and the entire New Testament, namely, Sensum ne inferas, sed efferas ("Do not carry a meaning into (the Scriptures) but draw it out of (the Scriptures)"). It is true that the older Protestant theology still adheres to a sensus mysticus in the Scriptures, but by this it means those passages in which the sense is conveyed not per verba (through words), but per res verbis descriptas ("through things described by means of words"), as e.g. in the parable and the type.

In homiletics allegorizing is applied to the method which draws spiritual truths from common historical statements, as e.g. when the healing of a leper by Christ is made the basis of an exposition of the healing of the soul by the Saviour. Naturally this is not interpretation in the exegetical sense.

G. H. Schodde

3942. paroimia -- a byword, a parable, an allegory
... a byword, a parable, an allegory. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration:
paroimia Phonetic Spelling: (par-oy-mee'-ah) Short Definition: an allegory ...
// - 6k

238. allegoreo -- to speak allegorically
... to allegorize. From allos and agoreo (to harangue (compare agora)); to allegorize --
be an allegory (the Greek word itself). see GREEK allos. see GREEK agora. ...
// - 6k

Strong's Hebrew
4911. mashal -- to represent, be like
... Denominative from mashal; to liken, ie (transitively) to use figurative language
(an allegory, adage, song or the like); intransitively, to resemble -- be(-come ...
/hebrew/4911.htm - 5k

The Allegory of Melchizedek.
notwithstanding, his use of the allegory is original and most felicitous. ...
/.../the expositors bible the epistle to the hebrews/chapter vii the allegory of.htm

... Homily IV. Chapter XXIV."Allegory. When Appion heard this, he said:
"I knew, ever since I heard that you were consorting with ...
/.../unknown/the clementine homilies/chapter xxiv allegory.htm

The Allegory of the Trees Demanding a King, in the Book of Judges ...
... Discourse X."Domnina. Chapter II."The Allegory of the Trees Demanding a
King, in the Book of Judges, Explained. But lest I should ...
/.../chapter ii the allegory of the.htm

Allegory of Jupiter, Etc.
... Book X. Chapter XXXIII."Allegory of Jupiter, Etc. "Now this Jupiter the
Greeks would have to be called from his living, or giving ...
/.../unknown/recognitions of clement /chapter xxxiii allegory of jupiter etc.htm

The Mythology Respecting the Gods; the Dogmas of the Manichæans ...
... Chapter X."The Mythology Respecting the Gods; The Dogmas of the Manichæans Resemble
This: the Homeric Allegory of the Battle of the Gods; Envy and Emulation ...
/.../alexander/of the manichaeans/chapter x the mythology respecting the.htm

The Digressions of the Apostle Paul; the Character of his Doctrine ...
... Digressions of the Apostle Paul; The Character of His Doctrine: Nothing in It
Contradictory; Condemnation of Origen, Who Wrongly Turns Everything into Allegory ...
/.../chapter ii the digressions of the.htm

Faustus States his Objections to the Morality of the Law and the ...
... Faustus states his objections to the morality of the law and the prophets, and Augustin
seeks by the application of the type and the allegory to explain away ...
/.../faustus states his objections to.htm

Of the Term "Enigma," and of Tropical Modes of Speech.
... And hence some Latin translators, through unwillingness to employ a Greek word,
where the apostle says, "Which things are an allegory," [968] have rendered it ...
/.../augustine/on the holy trinity/chapter 9 of the term enigma.htm

For that Both History of the Old Testament...
... of the Old Testament, and ætiology, and analogy are found in the New Testament,
has been, as I think, sufficiently proved: it remains to show this of allegory ...
/.../augustine/on the profit of believing /section 8 for that both.htm

The Temple of Wisdom
... This allegory has been a favourite one with many deep and lofty thinkers. ... But whatever
they added to the allegory, they always preserved the allegory itself. ...
/.../kingsley/discipline and other sermons/sermon ii the temple of wisdom.htm

Allegory (6 Occurrences)
... Every parable is an allegory. ... In the eightieth Psalm there is a beautiful
allegory: "Thou broughtest a vine out of Egypt," etc. ...
/a/allegory.htm - 14k

Accommodation (1 Occurrence)
... DOUBLE REFERENCE IN SCRIPTURE 1. Allegory in Scripture 2. Hidden Truths of
Scripture 3. Prophecy and its Fulfillment 4. Conclusion IV. ...
/a/accommodation.htm - 39k

... For fable, parable, allegory, etc., are all evolutions from a common stock,
and they tend to blend with each other. See ALLEGORY; PARABLE. ...
/f/fable.htm - 12k

Songs (100 Occurrences)
... First in point of time and in the number of adherents it has had is theory that
the So is a pure allegory of the love of Yahweh and His people. ...
/s/songs.htm - 62k

Jonah (30 Occurrences)
... Some critics have sought to interpret the book as a parable or allegory,
and not as a history. They have done so for various reasons. ...
/j/jonah.htm - 35k

Song (207 Occurrences)
... First in point of time and in the number of adherents it has had is theory that
the So is a pure allegory of the love of Yahweh and His people. ...
/s/song.htm - 78k

Allegorical (1 Occurrence)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary (a.) Belonging to, or consisting of, allegory; of the
nature of an allegory; describing by resemblances; figurative. ...
/a/allegorical.htm - 6k

Hagar (15 Occurrences)
... By this allegory the apostle would warn the Galatian Christians of the danger which
beset them from their Judaizing brethren, of their subjection to the ...
/h/hagar.htm - 22k

Hosea (6 Occurrences)
... been divided as to whether in these chapters we have a recital of actual facts,
or the presentation of prophetic teaching in the form of parable or allegory. ...
/h/hosea.htm - 43k

Utterest (1 Occurrence)
... Multi-Version Concordance Utterest (1 Occurrence). John 16:29 His disciples say
to him, Lo, now thou speakest openly and utterest no allegory. (DBY). ...
/u/utterest.htm - 6k

Bible Concordance
Allegory (6 Occurrences)

John 10:6 This allegory spoke Jesus to them, but they did not know what it was of which he spoke to them.

John 16:29 His disciples say to him, Lo, now thou speakest openly and utterest no allegory.

Galatians 4:24 These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar.

Proverbs 1:6 to understand a proverb and an allegory, the words of the wise and their enigmas.

Ezekiel 17:2 Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel;

Ezekiel 24:3 Utter a parable to the rebellious house, and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh, Set on the caldron, set it on, and also pour water into it:
(See RSV)



Allegory of the Trees Seeking a King

Allegory: Messiah's Kingdom Represented Under, of the Wolf and the Lamb Dwelling Together

Allegory: The Two Covenants

Allegory: Wilderness to Blossom As the Rose

Related Terms

Accommodation (1 Occurrence)


Songs (100 Occurrences)

Jonah (30 Occurrences)

Song (207 Occurrences)

Allegorical (1 Occurrence)

Hagar (15 Occurrences)

Hosea (6 Occurrences)

Utterest (1 Occurrence)

Openly (52 Occurrences)

Gendereth (2 Occurrences)

Riddle (11 Occurrences)

Enigmas (4 Occurrences)

Parable (52 Occurrences)

Proceeding (18 Occurrences)

Contain (19 Occurrences)

Covenants (5 Occurrences)

Alleluia (4 Occurrences)

Allegorized (1 Occurrence)

Agar (2 Occurrences)

Sarah (38 Occurrences)

Hunting (9 Occurrences)

Night (3322 Occurrences)

Beauty (98 Occurrences)




Bondage (55 Occurrences)


Bearing (150 Occurrences)

Proverb (24 Occurrences)

Mystery (31 Occurrences)


Sinai (38 Occurrences)

Sodomite (1 Occurrence)

Allegories (2 Occurrences)

Names (133 Occurrences)


Games (2 Occurrences)

Captivity (141 Occurrences)

Mount (311 Occurrences)


Messenger (235 Occurrences)


God (45911 Occurrences)

Covenant (309 Occurrences)

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