Literal versus Literalistic (as it applies to interpreting Scripture)
In Scripture, the term literal means the particular words of a verse in the Bible are being interpreted exactly as God intended for them to be understood. Literalistic, on the other hand, means the words written are being interpreted at face value, understood exactly as they are written, which is often not the meaning the Divine Author intended. Here is an example: several passages in Scripture describe God as having a mouth. The literalistic interpretation of passages would lead us to understand that God has a physical mouth. The literal interpretation of those passages would lead us to understand that the Father is the mouth through which is sent out the Word in the Holy Spirit. The Father is never sent. Only the Word and the Spirit are sent. Literalistic, therefore, means the words used are to be understood in the context of symbolic, metaphorical, etc. Sometimes, the words of a verse should be interpreted such that the literalistic meaning and the literal meaning are virtually identical. For example, in Genesis we are told that Eve was taken from one of the ribs of Adam. The literalistic interpretation is that Eve was literally taken from one of the ribs of Adam. The literal interpretation is the exact same, i.e., Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs [http://www.stossbooks.com/creation-of-eve.html].
Why so much time explaining the difference between the two terms? The reason is this: the failure to interpret words in the context in which they are intended by the Author, can lead to an erroneous understanding of their meaning—an error with very serious consequences. An example of this is the rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah. Why did they reject him? In Scripture, the Messiah was linked to the establishment of a kingdom of power, peace, and happiness. They interpreted those passages literalistically, not literally. Consequently, they believed the Messiah would be an earthly king wielding earthly powers (who would liberate Israel from Roman domination), and who would provide a good standard of material earthly living, e.g. Is 60:3, 61:6,9; Zech 14:9,11; Ps 86:9, Zeph 3:9, Is 66:23, Jer 31:33-34, Ez 11:19-20, 36:26-27, to name but a few. The literal interpretation of these various passages referred to a Heavenly Kingdom, a Heavenly Power, and a Heavenly Peace with Happiness. In a sense, the Jewish people’s expectations of the Messiah, from a worldly standpoint, were too high, while, at the same time, being too low from a spiritual viewpoint.
Trying to interpret Daniel and Revelations too literalistically is fraught with dangerous theological detours that will lead us off the path of true understanding and onto paths leading us to eschatological guessing. I find it somewhat ironic the number of times that this person or that person has calculated the exact time of the Second Coming of Jesus and, therefore, the end of the world. This, despite the fact that Jesus tells us it is only the Father who knows the exact hour, date, and time (Mt 24:36). They use numbers, formulas, and passages in Scripture to arrive at the answer, only to see it come and go. This is a perfect example of the dangers of being too literalistic in our interpretation of Scripture. I am not saying that scriptural numerology is bogus. I am merely saying we can go overboard in using it for Bible exegesis.
Wishing to learn the lessons presented by those who erroneously calculate the date for the end of the world, or dissecting the meaning of prophetic passages in the book of Daniel and Revelations to arrive at particular identities of the Beast or Antichrist, I will not make those same mistakes in this blog-series. I will be using specific tools to support and indicate the meaning of Revelation, but it is just my educated opinion, which does not constitute an authoritative interpretation. Scripture has informed us that one cannot interpret prophecy unless one has been given the gift to do so by the Holy Spirit (e.g., Dan, Joseph, etc.). So please evaluate what I have written with that in mind.
 Rabbi Michael Skobac ,”Why Don’t Jews See Jesus in The Scriptures?,” Jews for Judaism.org, https://www.jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/why-dont-jews-see-jesus-in-the-scriptures/, accessed 4/04/2020.