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, 2Sa 12:1-14; Ps 80, and our Lord's parable of the sower, Lu 8:5-15. The expression, "which things are an allegory," Ga 4:24, means that the events in the life of Isaac and Ishmael, mentioned in previous verses, have been allegorically applied.
used only in Ga 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 (2Sa 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 Ec 12:2-6, there is a striking allegorical description of old age.
Once in Scripture (Ga 4:24): "which things (the history of Hagar and Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac) are an allegory;" (are, when allegorized, etc.) not that the history is unreal as to the literal meaning, (such as is the Song of Solomon, a continued allegory); but, besides the literal historical fact, these events have another and a spiritual significance, the historical truths are types of the antitypical truths; the child of the promise, Isaac, is type of the gospel child of God who is free to love and serve his Father in Christ; the child of the bondwoman, Ishmael, is type of those legalists who, seeking justification by the law, are ever ill the spirit of bondage. Origen at Alexandria introduced a faulty system of interpreting Scripture by allegorizing, for which this passage gives no warrant. In an allegory there is
(1) an immediate sense, which the words contain; and
(2) the main and ulterior sense, which respects the things shadowed forth. In pure allegory the chief object aimed at is never directly expressed.
The word ????????? occurs only in Ga 4:24. The passage does not mean that Abraham having two sons was an allegory: it was history, but that history had an allegorical application, which Paul, by the Holy Ghost, fully explains. The Greek word signifies 'to speak otherwise,' and an allegory is a description of one thing under the image of another.
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
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.)
ALLEGORY, a figure in rhetoric, whereby we make use of terms which, in their proper signification, mean something else than what they are brought to denote; or it is a figure whereby we say one thing, expecting it shall be understood of another, to which it alludes; or which, under the literal sense of the words, conceals a foreign or distant meaning. An allegory is, properly, a continued metaphor, or a series of several metaphors in one or more sentences. Such is that beautiful allegory in Horace, lib. i, Od. 14.
O navis, referent in mare te novi Fluctus, &c. [O ship, shall new billows drive thee again to sea, &c.]
Where the ship is usually held to stand for the republic; waves, for civil war; port, for peace and concord; oars, for soldiers; and mariners for magistrates. Thus, also, in Prior's Henry and Emma, Emma describes her constancy to Henry in the following allegorical manner: