Entering the Traditional Discourse
By JoAnn Borovicka, Dec 21 2017 04:50AM
This excerpt from 'Abdu'l-Bahá's discourse (recorded utterance) on the "People of the Cave" from Amr va Khalq (compiled by Fadil-i-Mazandarani) describes they concept of the Prophets entering the traditional discourse; that is, speaking of a traditional story as if it was historical truth:
“In the days of the Prophet [Muhammad], the Jews incited the Quraysh to ask about the People of the Cave. When the question was asked, His Holiness said:" I will inform you tomorrow". According to another narration "In forty days" and according to the least narration "In three days." Because the Prophet knew that this was just a story, He did not wish to give an answer, nor did He wish to say outright that this is something that has no truth in it, but when He saw that the enemies would not stay their hand, his reply was couched as though it were truth. For certain matters are in reality just stories, but the Divine Manifestations bring them out as though it were truth and discourse upon them. For if they were to deny well-known and established matters, others would consider this evidence of their ignorance. Therefore, they bring them out as though they were truth.” ('Abdu'l-Baha, Amr va Khalq Volume 2, p. 211)
When the Central Figures mention a certain biblical story, it does not necessarily mean that this mention validates the literal historical truth of the story. I think it does indicate that the story carries spiritual truths.