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M.A.R. Habib
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(3,127 words)

The term “allegory” derives from the Greek allegoria, which means “speaking otherwise.” An allegory is a narrative in poetry or prose or images with several levels of meaning. It is often used to explain abstract ideas or concepts through analogy with concrete phenomena. It is related to, and often overlaps with, literary devices such as metaphor and symbol, and its purpose may be intellectual, spiritual, moral or political. It was influentially theorized by theologians such as Aquinas and writers such as Dante. Allegory is used abundantly in the texts of all major religions; it was partly developed by Neoplatonist philosophers who wished to reconcile ancient literature with philosophy and Christian theologians who endeavored to reconcile the messages of Old and New Testaments. It is also used widely throughout the Qur’an, and continues to be theorized today. ⸙

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Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Online

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