Vernon H. Kooy, "Symbol, Symbolism," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 4 (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), pp. 472-476.


by Vernon H. Kooy

SYMBOL, SYMBOLISM. A representation, visual or conceptual, of that which is unseen and invisible. The religious symbol points beyond itself to reality, participates in its power, and makes intelligible its meaning. As such it goes beyond a sign or an image. The value of a symbol is its ability to elucidate; to compress into a simple, meaningful whole, readily grasped and retained; to provide a center for the shaping of conduct and belief.

Symbols are part of the language of faith, the means by which faith expresses itself when it interprets the holy, the eternal, the beyond; when it communicates the divine confrontation, claims, and demands. As such, symbolism is a part of biblical religion from its beginning.

Symbolism is the vehicle of revelation. Born in encounter, given during inspiration, symbols summarize and interpret the experience. They are created, are given, born, grow, and die amid changing circumstances. At times they appear as something new; at times they bring new significance to observances which have lost their meaning or which have been adapted from elsewhere. Taken from the realm of human experience, they relate man to that which is of ultimate concern.

  1. In the Old Testament
    1. a. Symbolic words
    2. b. Symbolic persons
    3. c. Symbolic objects
    4. d. Symbolic places
    5. e. Prophetic symbolism
    6. f. Cultic symbolism
  2. In later Judaism
  3. In the New Testament
    1. a. Symbolic titles
    2. b. Symbolism of Jesus
    3. c. Symbolism of salvation
    4. d. Symbolism of worship
    5. e. Symbolism of eschatology
  4. Bibliography

1. In the Old Testament. Among the Hebrews there was no clear-cut distinction between the sacred and the secular. The spiritual expressed itself in the physical. Thus nature and history became the spheres of revelation, and everything carried within itself the capacity for symbolic significance. Insofar as words, persons, events, or actions summed up the hopes and expectations, the meaning and significance, the past and future, of Israel's history and faith, they can be termed symbolic.

a. Symbolic words. Israel's religion was based on dialogue, a speaking-hearing relation. Her God was a speaking God. He addressed her with words. A word was more than a means of communication; it was a symbol—a dynamic, living reality—embodying the power, authority, and purpose of the speaker (Isa. 55:11; cf. Deut. 18:22; Jer. 28:9). A word was a thing, event, confrontation, claim, demand. It was this that made the work of prophet, priest, and lawgiver so significant. At climactic moments, Israel understood herself confronted by the divine word, a word promising grace and judgment, a word calling for a response—to hear and to obey. The words spoken were collected, preserved, studied, treasured; they became a lamp to the feet, a light to the path (Ps. 119:105). At the last God presented his ultimate word, the word made flesh, who fulfilled all previous words, and became the one, all-inclusive word of God to man.

The dynamic of a word is seen in blessings and cursings, which carry within them the ability to work good (Gen. 27:33-37; Num. 22:6; Ps. 129:8) or to work evil (Gen. 9:25; Num. 23:7-8; Isa. 24:6). Once the word has been spoken, the effect becomes assured.

Again, word symbolism is inherent in a name. A name is representative, an extension of the personality, carrying in it the soul, vitality, power, and authority of the person to whom it belongs (Exod. 3:13-15; cf. Gen. 17:5; I Sam. 17:45). To speak in the divine name is to possess the divine spirit (II Chr. 15:1; Isa. 61:1; Mic. 3:8), to speak with divine authority—"Thus says the Lord." To invoke the divine name is to call forth the divine power (I Kings 8:29, 33; 18:24; II Kings 5:11).

At times symbolic names were given to children, to indicate something had happened or was about to happen (cf. Shear-jashub, "a remnant shall return" [Isa. 7:3]; Immanuel, "God is with us" [Isa. 7:14]; Lo-Ammi, "not my people" [Hos. 1:9]).

Word symbolism further appears in the anthropo-, therio-, or sociomorphic manner of speaking of the deity. God could not be portrayed visually; hence he is described symbolically, so as to make comprehensible his nature and activity. He is represented with features of a man, a beast, of nature itself. His eye denotes his omniscience (Jer. 5:3; Amos 9:8) and favor (Deut. 11:12; Pss. 33:18; 34:15); his arm, his power (Exod. 15:16; Pss. Sol. 13:2); his right hand, victory, vindication (Exod. 15:6; Pss. 17:7, 44:3). He comes in judgment like a roaring lion (Amos 3:8), an East wind (Jer. 18:17), a storm (Jer. 30:23). By all such descriptions God was made intelligible; his will and purposes made plain; and his activity, as a living force in the vicissitudes of life, made known.

b. Symbolic persons. From the beginning of Israel's history there were men who, as representatives of the tribe or nation, typifed the hopes, strength, and characteristics of the group. Such were the patriarchs, as Abraham (Gen. 12:2-3; 17:4-8; Isa. 51:1-2; cf. Luke 3:8; Rom. 4:1-5, 9-12); the eponymous tribal ancestors, as Esau (Gen. 25:25; 27:39-40; Obad. 10; Mal. 1:2-5) and the sons of Jacob (Gen. 49; cf. Deut. 33); and in a minor way the charismatic leaders, as Barak, Gideon, Samuel, and Saul.

Again, the king, the anointed of the Lord, seated as regent on the divine throne (Pss. 2:6-7; 45:6), embodies in himself the hopes of the nation, and was responsible for its destiny.

In a later age, despondent over her fate, bereft of faithful rulers, Israel idealized the great figures of her past and longed for their reappearance in an expected deliverer, the Messiah, who would restore her to favor with God, and to prominence among the nations. Such were Moses the lawgiver and prophet par excellence (Deut. 18:15; cf. Hos. 12:13; 1QS 9:11, John 1:21; 6:14; 7:40); Elijah the forerunner (Mal 4:5—H 3:23; cf. Ecclus. 48:4-11; Matt. 16:14); David the king (Ezek. 34:23; 37:24; cf. Isa. 9:1-6; 11:1-5; Pss. Sol. 17:23-51); and Aaron (or Zadok) the priest (cf. Zech. 6:12-13; I Macc. 14:41; Zadokite Fragment 4:1; 1QS 9.11). All these individuals were related to Israel's destiny. Each, in his own way, represented God and man. Each was, in himself, a meeting place of the nation and God. Each carried within him all the tradition of the past, the experience of the present, and the hope of the future. And each pointed to that Coming One, who would embody all that for which they stood. The New Testament sees the culmination of these hopes fulfilled in Jesus. See §3b below.

c. Symbolic objects. A Certain symbolism, by way of association, or representation, was attached to numerous objects—objects of nature, as the pillar of witness, indicative of a covenant (Gen. 31:44-53; Josh. 24:26-27), the pillar of cloud, divine guidance (Exod. 13:21) and glory (Exod. 16:10); fire, the divine presence and glory (Exod. 3:2-6; 24:17; Lev. 16:2), guidance (Exod. 13:21), and wrath (Num. 11:1; Deut. 4:24; cf. Heb. 12:29); cult objects, as the ark, symbolic of the covenant (Exod. 25:10-22) and the presence of God (Num. 3:31; I Sam. 4:3-8); the tables of testimony, the law (Exod 25:16, 21; 31:18; 40:20); the altar of incense, prayer (Ps. 141:2), the altar of sacrifice, revelation (Gen. 12:7-8; 26:25; 35:1; II Kings 16:15); personal objects, as phylacteries denoting service to God (Exod. 13:16; Deut 6:8; 11:18), and fringes, the commandments (Num. 15:37-41; Deut. 22:12).

Parts of the body also had certain spiritual significances. The intimate union of the spiritual and the physical in Hebrew psychology resulted in every physical organ having psychical and ethical attributes of its own: the eye, mental perception; the ear, obedience; the hand, strength; the nose, anger (cf. Exod. 15:8; II Sam. 22:9; Ps. 18:8); the heart, intellect (Prov. 14:33) and will (Prov. 16:9); the kidneys, emotions (Prov. 23:16); the bowels, love or sympathy (Song 5:4); the liver, the center of life (Prov. 7:23; Lam. 2:11); blood, the principle of life (Lev. 17:11; Deut. 12:23).

d. Symbolic places. While such places as the Deep (Gen. 1:2; Prov. 8:28; Isa. 51:10; Amos 7:4), Sheol (Job 26:6; Pss. 16:10; 139:8; Amos 9:2), and the Pit (Pss. 30:3; 88:6; Isa. 14:15) had symbolical meaning, names of geographical sites at times became symbolic: e.g., Sodom, the seat of immorality and wickedness (Isa. 1:10; Ezek. 16:46; Martyrdom of Isa. 3:10; cf. Rev. 11:8); Egypt, the place of bondage and evil (Hos. 11:5[?]; cf. Rev. 11:8); and Jerusalem, the holy city, God's dwelling place (Isa. 24:23; 62; Joel 2:32; Zech. 2:4, 12; 8:3; cf. Rev. 21:2, 10), also termed Zion (Isa. 2:3; 60:14; Jer. 31:6; 50:5; Joel 3:17; II Esd. 10:44). In New Testament times Babylon became symbolic for Rome, the seat of wickedness (cf. II Bar. 11:1; I Pet. 5:13; Rev. 17:5; 18:10).

e. Prophetic symbolism. The prophets, more than anyone else, were responsible for the symbolism of the Old Testament. The nature of the prophetic task and the prophetic experience, together with the intense and naive realism of Semitic thought, made symbolism an essential element in the prophetic ministry. Visions, dreams, actions, as well as words, had an objectivity of their own enabling them to actualize the divine purpose and will. The visions of the prophets were the pledge of impending divine activity. An almond rod indicated the certainty of divine action (Jer. 1:11-12); a boiling pot, terror from the North (vss. 13-15); two baskets of figs, good and bad, the exiles and remnant in the land (ch. 24); a basket of summer fruit, the destruction of Israel (Amos 8:1-2); dry bones reclothed with flesh, Israel renewed by the Spirit of God (Ezek. 37:1-14).

Closely akin to vision are dreams which foretell the future (I Sam. 28:15; cf. Gen. 37:5-8; 40:7-13; 41:1-32; Dan. 4:13-27). Of religious significance is the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in which a great image of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay is destroyed by a stone, leaving no trace, symbolizing the founding of the eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:31-45).

Of a similar nature were the prophetic actions which dramatized the divine message. We read of Samuel's tearing his mantle, a symbol that God had torn the kingdom from Saul (I Sam. 15:27-28); Ahijah's rending his garment into twelve pieces, the rending of Solomon's kingdom (I Kings 11:30-32); the striking of arrows by Joash at Elisha's command, Israel's victory over Syria (II Kings 13:15-19); Jeremiah's wearing of the yoke, Judah's bondage to Babylon (Jer. 27:2-7, 10-12); Isaiah's three-year walk in captive's garb, Egypt and Ethiopia's captivity by Assyria (Isa. 20:2); the inscribing of tribal names on wood by Ezekiel, the union of Judah and Israel (Ezek. 37:15-23). These mimetic actions indicated the future and effected its coming.

Again, the prophets made abundant use of symbolic imagery. Apart from numerous metaphors, there were figures which portrayed the meaning of Israel's existence. Such a figure was the vine (and vineyard). The vine was an essential element in Israel's economy. It required constant care and pruning. It signified prosperity (I Kings 4:25; Mic. 4:4; Zech. 3:10) and fruitfulness (cf. Gen. 49:22; Ps. 128:3). By means of the figure the prophets vivified the many facets of Israel's relation to God, his grace, and her apostasy. Israel was a choice vine brought out of Egypt (Ps. 80:8), the planting of the Lord (Jer. 2:21), designed to bear fruit for God (Isa. 5:1-5). But Israel became degenerate and wild (Jer. 2:21), yielding wild grapes (Isa. 5:4, 7). Because of this she was destroyed by shepherds (Jer. 12:10) and becomes a desolation. This figure was adapted by Jesus to represent the relation between himself and his disciples. See §3b below.

Another figure, as rich and versatile in depicting Israel's spiritual history, is that of a sheep. A sheep is dependent and helpless. It needs constant care, guidance, and protection. It is led by a voice. Without this it strays, becomes lost, a prey to the wild beasts. Israel is God's flock, the sheep of his pasture (Pss. 79:13; 100:3; Ezek. 34:6). God is their true shepherd (Ps. 23; Ezek. 34:12, 16). But he has entrusted them to the care of human shepherds (religious leaders) who have proved unfaithful and greedy (Ezek. 34:1-10). As a consequence the sheep have gone astray, and have been scattered (Ps 119:176; Isa. 53:6; Jer. 23:1; Ezek. 34:5-6), doing what they desire (Ezek. 34:6), becoming lost (Jer. 50:6; Ezek. 34:11), counted for slaughter (Ps. 44:22). Finally, the Lord determines to search for them (Ezek. 34:11-16), and brings them back, carrying the lambs in his arms (Isa. 40:11).

A third figure, taken from everyday life, especially suited to convey religious truth is that of a way. A road, or path, indicates action (walking) and direction (conduct), and thus purpose (cf. Ps. 103:7; Isa. 26:8). The concern in life is to take the right road. For a way may lead to life (Prov. 6:23; 10:17; Jer. 21:8) or to death (Prov. 7:27; 14:12; Jer. 21:8). Israel's religious leaders were especially commissioned to point out the way she should go. Blessing was to be found in taking the right way (Ps. 1:6; Prov. 12:28; Isa. 26:7), the way of holiness (Isa. 35:8) which leads to Zion, the way of the Lord. Israel's whole life was a walk—from Egypt to Canaan, from bondage to freedom, from death to life. When she lost her way, was taken captive, a way had to be prepared again (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1) to enable her to come to the city of God (Isa. 35:8-9). This figure particularly emphasized that conduct had fateful implications for life. It found renewed emphasis among the Jewish sectarians (1 QS 4.2; 8.13-14; 9.16-21) and the Christians. See §3b below.

The lion, with its strength, its terrifying roar, its crouching and sudden leaping upon its prey, was used by the prophets to typify the divine wrath and judgment (Isa. 31:4; Hos. 5:14; 11:10). Yahweh roars from Zion (Jer. 25:30; cf. Joel 3:16[?]; Amos 1:2[?]; 3:8), striking terror in the heart of his enemies. Destruction will be sure and devastating. Only a few fragments will be left (Amos 3:12).

f. Cultic symbolism. The great cultic symbol, preempted from everyday life, was that of covenant. Covenant was the basic feature of life on all levels. Life consisted in the making of covenants. Israel's very existence was effected by a great covenant ceremony at Sinai. Here she heard the divine voice. Here she received the Law. Here she knew herself to be the people of God, sworn to obedience, dedicated to service, subject to discipline, dependent on mercy. Her station in life depended on keeping covenant. Basic to her cultic and religious life, the bond of union, locus of loyalty, periodically renewed, broken, yet promised anew, the covenant became the vantage point from which the whole of Israel's history was viewed.

Cultic symbolism was often in the form of mimetic action, as the offering of first fruits, sanctifying the harvest (Exod. 23:16; 34:22; Deut. 26:1-11); the firstborn, sanctifying the herds and flocks (Exod. 22:29-30; 34:19-20), bringing blessing and holiness (Deut. 15:19-23); the burnt offerings (Lev. 1:1-13) and sin offerings (4:6), renewing holiness; the Day of Atonement ceremonies (Lev. 16), bringing forgiveness.

At the great festivals, cult dramas were re-enacted which strengthened the foundation of national life. These feasts, of ancient agricultural origin, were adapted to Yahweh-worship and given historic and symbolic significance. Passover, thus, celebrated the exodus from Egypt and became prophetic of the new exodus and the dawn of the new day; the Feast of Weeks, the giving of the Law; Tabernacles, life in the wilderness.

Closely related to ritual were the rite of circumcision, a sign of the covenant and membership in the family of God; and the sabbath, celebrating creation (Exod. 20:11), with its attendant rest (Deut. 5:15). Keeping sabbath later became one of the marks of true devotion to God. See Worship in the OT.

2. In later Judaism. Postexilic and later Judaism, enhanced by allegorical exegesis, read much symbolic significance into the Old Testament. Hidden truths were felt to lie behind the literal word (and grammar, at times) of scripture, which could be elicited only by the enlightened interpreter. The Temple, its accessories, sacrifices, institutions, dietary laws, were all given symbolic import. A greater emphasis was placed on the meaning of numbers (e.g., three represents the holy, or divine; four, the earth; seven, heaven and earth, association with God; ten, completeness; see Number). Figurative meaning was attributed to metals (e.g., gold, the glory of God; silver, moral innocence; brass, strength) and colors (blue, holiness; purple, royalty; white, purity; black, evil and disaster). The seven-branched candlestick was said to represent the soul; the ram's horn, the messianic; an ear of corn, the resurrection.

With the rise of apocalyptic, a weird and bizzare imagery was brought into being to describe past and future history. Historic kings and kingdoms were represented by weird beasts (Dan. 7:1-8) and horns of animals (7:24; cf. 8:8, 22). The horn of a he-goat signified Alexander the Great (8:5-8); a great ram's horn, Judas Maccabeus (Enoch 90:9); a lion's destruction of an eagle, the overthrow of Rome by the Davidic messiah (II Esd. 11). A further development was an extended angelology and demonology, and a developed eschatology with world holocaust, final judgment, and new world of bliss.

Among Jewish sects we have also a reinterpretation of certain prophetic books in line with the spiritual conditions of the day, symbolic significance being given to oracles to give them contemporary meaning (cf. the commentaries on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Micah of the Qumran sect).

3. In the New Testament. New Testament symbolism, for the most part, centers around the person of Jesus Christ, his identity, and the significance of his life and ministry. Much of the imagery has been borrowed from the Old Testament and Jewish apocalyptic.

a. Symbolic titles. The one, all-inclusive symbol in the New Testament is Jesus Christ—the Anointed One, the Messiah—who sums up in himself the nation Israel, together with its expectations, the new covenant, and the new community. In him is fulfilled the function of king (Matt. 21:15; John 18:37), priest (Heb. 4:14–5:10), prophet (John 6:14; 7:40), cult (Heb. 9:1–10:25), and word (John 1:1; Heb. 1:1). By descriptive titles and figurative names, the apostles sought to convey the significance of Jesus to all classes of men, both Jew and Greek.

Most meaningful of these is perhaps that of Son (a term with Hebraic and Hellenistic affinities), by which the intimate relation of Jesus to God is typified. He is the one, unique Son, sent to gather the fruit of God's vineyard. He gives his life to redeem men and enable them to become sons of God. See Son of God.

Another symbol which emphasizes Jesus' humility, and the sacrificial significance of his death, is that of the lamb. He is the true paschal lamb (I Cor. 5:7), the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Closely connected with this figure is that of priest, the great contribution of the writer to the Hebrews. Christ is the one true high priest, who offers the one all-sufficient sacrifice providing permanent access to God. In him, thus, the whole of Israel's cultic religion finds its fulfillment.

Again, Jesus is termed the Word (John 1:1), the agent of creation, revelation, and redemption. In him the power, promise, and claim of the divine word again find expression. He is the final word, to which men are challenged to respond.

Jesus is further termed Lord, a word with many religious and social affiliations. He is God in human form, Lord of the cult, the one true Master of men, claiming their allegiance, devotion, and service.

b. Symbolism of Jesus. That Jesus consistently used imagery and symbolism is the testimony of all the gospel writers. He used figures from the most common and elementary spheres of life to illustrate religious truth (see Image). His primary symbol was that of the kingdom of God, the rule of God in men's hearts. This was the theme of his preaching (Matt. 4:17), the subject of his parables (ch. 13), the object of his concern. He was eager that men should see it, find the way to it, and enter it. This figure, recalling the covenant and theocracy, fulfilled in Jesus, who had come to gain a kingdom and turn it over to the Father, became the framework for viewing the whole of redemptive history, looking forward to the grand climax when Jesus shall be acclaimed "King of kings and Lord of lords."

Another symbol of Jesus is that of shepherd and sheep. To the meaning this figure had in the Old Testament, Jesus added the significance of his mission, to give his life for those gone astray (John 10:11, 15). In distinction from the religious leaders, who were hirelings (vss. 12-13), and the false messiahs, who were thieves and robbers (vs. 8), he is the true shepherd. It is his voice they follow, he lays down his life for them, and he goes to gather other folds into the one flock of God (vs. 16).

Jesus emphasized the necessity of union with him under the symbol of the vine. His concern was for fruitful living. As branches receive life from the vine, so the disciple from Christ (John 15:4). The disciple's vitality depends on this relation; without Christ he can do nothing (vs. 5). Moreover, if there is no fruit, the branch is cut off and destroyed (vs. 6).

Again, he used the figure of the way (John 14:6). By this symbol Jesus indicated that he fulfilled the prophetic statements concerning the way (e.g., Isa. 35:8; 40:3; Mal. 3:1), provided the way of access to God, and manifested the type of conduct essential to fellowship with God (cf. Matt. 22:16). Thus Christianity became known as the Way (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4) and Christians, those of the Way.

c. Symbolism of salvation. The chief symbol of salvation is the Cross, in which much of the theology of the New Testament converges. The message of the Cross is the power of God (I Cor. 1:18), for the Cross is the way of salvation (Gal. 6:14; cf. Col. 2:14), the means of uniting the divided segments of humanity (Eph. 2:16; cf. Col. 1:20), and the way of life for the Christian (cf. Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:39; Luke 9:23; 14:27). Since the New Testament era, the Cross has become the one universal symbol of salvation through Christ, emphasizing both his death for the sins of the world and the new life he gives to men.

When describing the reality of salvation, the New Testament writers use a variety of symbolic terms: "justification," a legal term for a sentence of acquittal (Rom. 4:25; 5:16, 18; cf. 3:24; 8:30; I Cor. 6:11); "adoption," a means of entering a family fellowship as a son (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5); "ransom," manumission of a slave, or redemption of a prisoner (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; cf. Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; I Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:15); "expiation," restoration of fellowship, or removal of guilt, through sacrifice (Rom. 3:25; I Cor. 5:7).

The redeemed community is called the body of Christ, emphasizing: "Where Christ is, there is the church." By this figure is emphasized the church's corporate nature and servile function.

Again, the church is termed the bride of Christ, typifying its intimate union with Christ and its subservient status.

d. Symbolism of worship. The symbolism of worship comes to the fore in the sacraments. Each of the sacraments is a dramatic portrayal of the gospel, embodying mimetic overtones. In baptism water signifies the triumph over the forces of evil (passing through the waters with its threat on life, reminiscent of crossing the Reed Sea; I Cor. 10:1-2; cf. Psa. 74:13; Isa. 51:9-10); the passing from death to life (c.f. Rom. 6:4); the removal of defilement (as in the lustrations of the sectarians; cf. Acts 2:38; Tit. 3:5); and the giving of life (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27; cf. John 3:5). Baptism takes the place of circumcision as the act of inauguration into the holy community (cf. I Cor. 12:13). It is a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12). One is buried with Christ (Rom. 6:3), raised to newness of life (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), and thus enters the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13). It thus becomes an enactment of the drama of salvation.

In a similar manner the Eucharist (see Lord's Supper) dramatizes the gospel. It is the mark of the new covenant (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25), recalls the fellowship meals of Jesus with his disciples (as in the love feast [Acts 2:42, 46]), proclaims the Cross-Resurretion event (I Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-30), and looks forward to the messianic banquet (cf. Luke 22:15-19; Did. 9-10). Here is dramatized the whole meaning of salvation, with an emphasis on the death of Christ and the new life of fellowship which follows from it.

e. Symbolism of eschatology. In the eschatology of the New Testament there is recourse again to apocalyptic, with its themes of heavenly worship, plagues, heavenly warfare, resurgence of evil and its destruction, resurrection, judgment scene, and restoration of bliss, under the figure of the New Jerusalem, together with weird animal symbolism and numerology. By this rewriting of history in cosmic terms, using symbolic imagery, the author sought to comfort and strengthen the church in the face of Roman persecution.

In subapostolic times one meets the symbol of a fish (an acrostic on Ιησους Χριστος, Θεου Υιος, Σωτηρ), representing Christ, baptism, the Resurrection, Eucharist, kingdom, and, perhaps, the power of the gospel (John 21:1-13); the ship, representing the church, in which the faithful are carried over the sea of life; and an elaboration of symbolic objects depicted in Christian art and architecture.

The word "symbol" has also been used to designate a summary statement of faith, as, e.g., the Roman Symbol, forerunner of the Apsotles' Creed.

Bibliography. H.W. Robinson, "Hebrew Psychology," in A.S. Peake, ed. The People and the Book (1925), pp. 353-82; "Prophetic Symbolism," in T.H. Robinson, ed., Old Testament Essays (1927), pp. 1-17. J. Pedersen, Israel, I-II (1926) , 99-259; II-IV (1940), 112-17. A. Farrer, A Rebirth of Images (1949). J. Muilenburg, "The Ethics of the Prophet," in R.N. Anshen, ed., Moral Principles of Action (1952), pp. 527-42. A.N. Wilder, "Myth and Symbol in the New Testament," Journal of Religious Thought, vol. X, no. 2 (1953), pp. 105-23. F.E. Johnson, Religious Symbolism (1955)—a series of fourteen studies on symbolism by scholars in various fields. F.W. Dillistone, Christianity and Symbolism (1955). L. Koehler, Old Testament Theology (1957), pp. 22-35, 119-26. P. Tillich, "The Word of God," in R.N. Anshen, ed., Language, an Enquiry into Its Meaning and Function (1957), pp. 122-33.

V.H. Kooy

Vernon H. Kooy (1916-2002) was Professor of Hellenistic Greek and New Testament Exegesis at New Brunswick Theological Seminary from 1953-1985. His theological education was received at Western Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1942. He received his Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1944, and his Th.D. from Union Theological Seminary in 1953.