The dictionary on my computer defines the word "literal": Taking words in their usual or most basic sense without allegory or methephor. Also literal implies free of exaggeration or distortion.
"This is what taking the bible literally in that sense would mean: A literal reading of the Bible means reinstitution of slavery coupled with the understanding that the slave master has the right to beat his slave without mercy since "the slave is his money" (Exodus 21:21). Children who strike or curse a parent are to be executed (Exodus 21: 15, 17). Those who pay homage to another god "shall be utterly destroyed" (Exodus 22:20). Menstruating women are to be considered unclean (Leviticus 15:19-32). The blind the lame, those with mutilated faces, those who are hunchbacks or dwarfs and those with itching diseases or scabs or crushed testicles cannot become priests (Leviticus 15:19-32). And "if the spirit of jealousy" comes upon a man, the high priest can order the jealous man's wife to drink the "water of bitterness". If she dies, it is proof of her guilt, if she survives, of her innocence (Numbers 5:11-31). Women, throughout the Bible, are subservient to men, often without legal rights, and men are free to sell their daughters into sexual bondage (Exodus 21:7-11)."
-Chris Hedges, American Fascists
Not to mention Jesus call to love our enemies, The ant-Jewish tone of the Gospel, The crazy crazy book of Revelation. The epistles often confusing view of women and slaves. and well...etc.
Is there no way to read the Bible than "literally", as so many right winged conservative christians profess they do?