Hi John i see it as a parable about something literal because he used real literal people, but i think the parable pertains to everyone & that we dont want to be seperated from the love of God, not just Abraham, Laz & the rich man... then again I take most of the bible literal. that is pretty much what i am saying but i dont see where it is necessary that it had to be only within that 4 day period, but not saying that is not a possibility. it could have been prior to the death of Lazarus & still be the same Laz. after rasing Lazarus, Jesus was just about finished with his ministry & ready to lay down his own life for us, which leads me to believe the parable came before the actual raising of Laz. who do you think the rich man is? & who do you think the father is that the rich man is talking to?