Biblical literalism is the reading of the Bible at face value as a literal telling of historic events. Common examples in the Old Testament include the acceptance of a six-day creation, a worldwide flood, the existence of Noah's Ark, and the life expectancies during the era of Biblical patriarchs (upwards of 900 years). New Testament examples include Mary's virgin birth of Jesus, the miracles performed by Jesus in his first coming, eternal punishment in a fiery hell, as well as the 1000-year millennium discussed in Revelation.
Biblical literalism stands in contrast to allegorical interpretation, which holds that parts of the Bible were written to tell an indirect or broader story for the reader's edification. At times, the disciples of Jesus took the words of Jesus literally (such as yeast), when he meant something other than the literal meaning.
The literal approach can also be reflected in word-for-word translations of the Bible. This is contrasted with the dynamic equivalence approach, which focuses on the overall ideas contained in whole verses, sentences or passages.
Literalism exists among Christians and Jews, and is commonly ascribed to groups such as Protestant Fundamentalists. It is related to—and sometimes can encompass—Biblical inerrancy.