Fun Facts of Lent, Day Twenty-Eight: On Fictional Bible Stories

The stories of Esther, Jonah, Job, David & Goliath, and Adam & Eve are myths. They did not actually happen at any point in history. There are many more stories in the Bible that are completely fictional, though I can’t say for sure which ones. I believe this 100% and I don’t think it is in any way at odds with my faith. Why? Because there was no real-life Prodigal Son, either.

Jesus taught through stories. He taught in parables. Some were specific and concrete with relatable characters (like the Good Samaritan), but many were fables that used mustard seeds, fields, and generic servants as stand-ins for the very real points he was trying to make.

Christ is the center of Christianity. If there is a center for my own personal faith, it is the story. The story is a powerful thing, maybe the most powerful thing we can yield as humans. Stories are what cause hundreds of thousands to emigrate to a new land in search of a better life. Stories are what hold societies in despotic regimes. Stories turn murderers into heroes and back again. And a good story told well can change the way we look at the world. That’s why Jesus used stories as often as he used words. That’s why the Bible itself is mostly stories.

Tales like Esther and Job don’t have to be factual to be true. The Tortoise and the Hare isn’t factual either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. A story can bring with it a greater truth, even a divine truth. This is how I read the Bible, and this is how I understand the Jesus story itself. And based on the example Jesus set, I honestly believe this is how we are supposed to be experiencing the word of God.