Daily Archives: May 31, 2011

Rameses the Great and “Literal” Meaning in the Bible


“New evidence linking Rameses and Moses”

A little synchronicity: Rameses II the Great became pharaoh of Egypt on this date in 1279 BCE; Frye makes reference to him in “Symbolism in the Bible” to correct misapprehension about the “literal” meaning of the Bible. The Bible records not history, but a typological manifestation of concern:

[W]hen John the Baptist is asked if he is Elijah, he says that he is not. Now, there is no difficulty there, unless you want to foul yourselves up over a totally impossible conception of literal meaning: reincarnation in its literal there’s-that-man-again form is not a functional doctrine in the Bible. At the same time, metaphorically, which is one of the meanings of “spiritually” in the New Testament, John the Baptist is a reborn Elijah just as Nero is a reborn Nebuchadnezzar or Rameses II. So, it is not surprising that the great scene of the Transfiguration in the Gospels should show Jesus as flanked by Moses on one side and Elijah on the other — that is, the Word of God with the law and the prophets supporting him. Again, that has its demonic parody in the figure of the crucified Christ with the two theives flanking him on either side. (CW 13, 499-50)