“Allegory is not meant to be taken literally. There is a great lack of comprehension on the part of some readers.”
— Naguib Mahfouz
When Jesus’s disciples asked him why he spoke to the masses in parables, he answered:
It is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not. To whoever has wisdom, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but whoever does not have wisdom, from him shall be taken away even what little he has.
I speak to them in parables because seeing, they do not see, and hearing they do not hear not, nor do they understand. They fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: “Hearing, you do not hear, and will not understand; and seeing you do not see, and will not perceive. For the people’s hearts have grown calloused, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have closed their eyes. If they could see and hear and understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them, and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them.
Allegory is a powerful tool for taking people out of their normal preconceptions and prejudices. Science fiction and fantasy allow ideas that might seem threatening to be explored in a context where they won’t be immediately rejected. The riddlesome nature of parables leaves the listener pondering their meaning. In this way, Jesus hoped to lead a few of his general audience to understand his message.