The meaning of an allusion, is a device that stimulates ideas, associations, and information in a reader's mind, with the help of words that refer to a common phrase or word. It also depends on how the reader interprets the allusion, passed through that particular phrase or word. Biblical allusions are pretty much the same thing, except that the references made are from the Holy Bible.
There are many such references commonly used by a number of writers, when they want their readers to creatively grasp certain situations, through the use of allusions. The purpose of using an allusion is to indirectly suggest a certain reference that is reminiscent of a particular place, event, or historical figure.
Biblical Allusion Examples
Whether it's in a poem, novel, or part of a casual/scintillating conversation, allusions sneak into our weave of words, making sense almost immediately because of their hidden, yet obvious meanings. When adding an allusive word or phrase to a sentence, be sure that it makes sense in the literal manner (of your sentence construct). Let's take a look at some of the Bible's most famous allusions.
This book of the Bible covers the beginning of time, including stories in relation to Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, Jacob and Esau, and similar Old Testament tales.
Reference: This word is used to refer to the beginning of something, usually one that is monumental or life-changing.
Adam and Eve
The first man and woman on Earth.
Reference: The words 'Adam' and 'Eve' can be used to refer to situations or traits, that a person is part of or possesses.
Trees of Knowledge (Good and Evil)
The two trees in the Garden of Eden; one forbidden, and the other permitted for use.
Reference: The trees are used to refer to anything that contains great knowledge, but harbors a coalescence of good and bad. The phrase 'Garden of Eden' can be used to refer to a place that embodies beauty beyond compare.
This is the fruit that Eve hands to Adam after being tempted by the serpent (Satan), to consume. The word 'serpent' refers to what one would call 'vicious'.
Reference: The phrase 'forbidden fruit' is used to refer to something taboo.
Punishments of Adam and Eve
Punishments by God after Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, for eating the forbidden fruit.
Reference: Adam's punishment is relatable to us in this day and age, where one has to earn a living through hard work. Eve's punishment is of bearing a child through pain, which could also translate into the perils of what a woman has to face, being the weaker sex.
Cain and Abel
The brutal story about jealously and betrayal between two brothers.
Reference: The name 'Cain' is used to refer to a sibling or close one, that mimics the dark side of this character. 'Abel' can be used to refer to someone that is very much like the virtuous brother.
Mark of Cain
A line that God uses on Cain after he kills Abel in the field.
Reference: The phrase 'Mark of Cain' is used to point out mankind's deviant and sinful nature.
Dove and Olive Branch
Noah sends out a dove in search of signs that there is land; it returns with an olive branch.
Reference: The two symbols when put together, or separately, symbolize peace.
Tower of Babel
This is a story of how the descendants of Noah scramble to build a tower, in order to reach heaven, and ultimately be like God. He stops them from achieving this feat by giving them different languages to speak in, thus confusing everyone in the process amidst the attempt.
Reference: The word 'Babel' is used to refer to anything that causes a commotion, or a situation where there is verbal perplexity.
Lot and his Wife
The story of these two characters comes from the fall of the cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. Because the cities were so evil, God asks them to leave with their children and never look back. Lot's wife turns around to look at the city as it is being destroyed, and is turned into a pillar a salt for looking back.
Reference: The act of looking over one's shoulder is a way of showing disobedience towards God, after being told not perform a certain act.
Abraham and Isaac
The story of how Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, but is stopped just in time when God witnesses this act of faithful submission.
Reference: This highlights how one must be willing to sacrifice anything without asking why - for the Lord - out of obedience.
Moses and Aaron
God speaks to Moses to approach a certain rock and speak to it, for it would bring the thirsty masses, water. He instead strikes the rock twice. Because of this, God shows him the Promised Land, where Moses has no way of leading the people to it.
Reference: Signifies the importance of obeying God in order to have access to the Promised Land.
David and Goliath
Tells the story of David who defeats the giant, by striking him in the head with a flung stone from his sling.
Reference: This literary tale shows us how good fights evil, in spite of the strength and size the latter possesses.
Story of Job
Job is blessed by God with all that is good, except that Satan rebukes God by saying that Job's faith lies in the fact that he was blessed. God watches as Satan destroys everything Job owns, even killing his children and covering him with sores. Satan also sends fake friends to Job who try to convince him that God is punishing him - he refuses to believe any of it despite the trauma he's been inflicted with.
Reference: When Job manages to pass the acts of Satan, God blesses him with more than he previously did. This allusion reveals how one must remain stubborn against negative influences, that work towards convincing them of God's abandonment. The friends that Job is sent, are called 'Job's comforters', referring to those who offer solace but end up making you feel worse.
The story of how a son leaves home to live a spendthrift life, abandoning his father and home. He ends up broke, desperate, and lonely, before deciding to return; his father welcomes him back wholeheartedly.
Reference: This phrase is used on a person who leaves his home or a land, before finally returning one fine day.
The Mother of Christ who was chosen by God.
Reference: The word 'virgin' is used to symbolize motherly love and purity of heart, body, and soul.
The Good Samaritan
The story of how a Samaritan helps a Jew who was attacked by thieves.
Reference: In spite of the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans, a traveling Samaritan stops to aid a Jew. This phrase is used to refer to those who do good, in spite of being confronted by a bad situation or person.
This is what Jesus is called because of his selfless sacrifice (death on the cross) to save mankind from sin.
Reference: This is used to refer to someone who saves the day.
Judas kisses Jesus' hand to reveal his identity to the soldiers; he was paid 30 pieces of silver to betray him.
Reference: The phrase 'Judas kiss' is used to label people who come across as well-wishers and those with good intentions, only to be the deceitful kind with a hidden agenda.
Catastrophes linked to how the world will end, foretold by John the Apostle.
Reference: Is referred to an event that qualifies as catastrophic.
The end of the world through destruction and chaos.
Reference: Referred to something bad that is about to occur, or a prediction of the same.
These biblical allusions are just some of the many references that the Bible uses, to convey something meaningful through people's names, places, and situations. Look for ways on how to use these allusions, since they can shed light on new ways on how to fine-tune your writing skills.