(On Christian Teaching 2.6.8), One should proceed to explore and analyze the obscure passages, by taking examples from the more obvious parts to illuminate obscure expressions and by using evidence of indisputable passages to remove the uncertainty of ambiguous ones. 6. Article Images Copyright © 2021 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. What specific hermeneutic principles did St. Augustine use in his own interpretation of Scripture and how consistent was he in the application of those principles? It found acceptance also with the Roman church and among the leaders of the Reformation. So then, in accounts of things done, what one asks is whether they are all to be taken as only having a figurative meaning, or whether they are also to be asserted and defended as a faithful account of what actually happened. (The Literal Meaning of Genesis 1.1.1), All these things [Jerusalem, Sarah and Hagar, the smitten rock] stood for something other than what they were, but all the same they were themselves bodily realities. 5 “Among non-literal prophetic interpreters, a state of virtual interpretive chaos exists. The terms properly expressive of the schools are normal and mystical.” John Peter Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scripture: Revelation, p. 98. A particular form of allegorical interpretation is the typological, according to which the key figures, main… Read More; use in. Augustine developed a dual hermeneutic. The future ethereal New Jerusalem was where all would be fulfilled, rather than in any renewed version of this world. He explained that heAs a former Manichee, Augustine had believed a literal interpretation of the text led to ridiculous ideas about God. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo,  p. 262 So then the tree of life also was Christ….He is rightly called whatever came before him in order to signify him. 4 “In the history of allegorical interpretation of Scripture it is not denied that there is a literal, historical, or grammatical sense to Scripture, but it is depreciated. T. HE . Even Josephus has nothing of it.7, Two names stand out in Alexandrian Jewish allegorization: Aristobulus and Philo. !J Ibid., 4:2:4. On the contrary, the amillennial writings usually concentrate on attacking and ridiculing the premillennial position. (On Christian Teaching 3.10.14), 9. The position of the Spiritualist is not that which is properly indicated by the term. . The Bible-based approach of the Reformers restored the doctrine of justification by faith that had fallen victim to the use of allegory … A person who does not grow in love does not truly understand the scriptures, even if that person knows a lot about the scriptures. Did his own allegorical style of writing work against his advocacy for texts having literal meanings? It opens up the Scriptures to far-fetched, contradicting, and even heretical interpretations. Barth is way tougher. Adrian Fortescue comes to mind, although he was fortunately inconsistent). An allegorical interpretation of Genesis is a reading of the biblical Book of Genesis that treats elements of the narrative as symbols or types. If an interpretation of scripture builds up caritas or (what amounts to the same thing) attacks its opposite, cupiditas (selfish desire), then it is, absolutely speaking, a good interpretation. Augustine, Enarationes in Psalmos 118, 121 and 125, De Doctrina Christiana 1.30.31ff, Sermo 299. . The allegorical interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be historically proved to have prevailed among the Jews from the time of exile, or to have been common with the Jews of Palestine at the time of Christ and His apostles. The Relationship Between the Testaments, The New Testament lies concealed in the Old, the Old lies revealed in the New. St. Augustine and other Latin fathers responded to both of these traditions of exegesis, Alexandrian and Antiochan, and sought to find a mean between them. Though very allegorical and even categorical at times, he didn’t miss the narrative. He is one who holds that certain portions are to be normally interpreted, other portions are to be regarded as having a mystical sense. This is deeply rooted into Ambrosian approach as well, they 4 Ranke-Heineman, Uta (1988). There is a difference between an allegorical interpretation (the way you read the Bible) and the genre of allegory. First, he sees the creation days as … 6:11-17) … [1] 1. This type of interpretation is found in the writings of Augustine, who believed that every passage of sacred Scripture contained four different interpretations (or meanings): the “literal,” the “allegorical,” “the moral,” and the “eschatological.” For example, according to Augustine Israel in the “litera”l sense was a nation called of God, and given a land. 9,692 10 10 … . Origen is regarded as the chief popularizer of allegorical interpretation. However, he was turned off by the Bible’s “painfully unstylish Latin.”[2] He didn’t understand at that point that the Bible, in it’s humble style, is “a text lowly to the beginner but, on further reading, of mountainous difficulty and enveloped in mysteries.”[3] He was then seduced for 9 years by a heretical group called the Manichees, who attacked the Bible because of its problematic passages. Introductory Comment During the first centuries of Christianity, the Fathers of the Western Church, such as Jerome, Hilary, Ambrose and Augustine, tend to spiritually interpret the Holy Scripture, combining the Old with the New Testament, suggesting that Bible passages can be interpreted through a variety of prisms. . Read More on This Topic 4. Their education prepared them to appreciate Philo’s allegorical interpretations, and how allegorical interpretation could be helpful for interpreting the Bible, especially difficult passages of the Old Testament. These works had included such ideas as taking the days of Genesis 1 as 7 epochs of redemptive … The Word of God is an exceedingly complex unity. Finally, Scriptural interpretation should ultimately lead to the love of God and love of neighbor. A.D. 54) . 12 The influence of Plato led him to emphasize symbolism and allegory with less motivation to defend Scripture in its historical sense. Augustine had much to say about figurative and literal language. Below are ten points, collected from various works, that show some of Augustine’s key concepts when it comes to understanding the Bible rightly. Proud member It hides the truth from the ignorant, whose eyes are blinded by sin and pride, hence they are prevented from the knowledge of the truth. In his early life He was educated primarily by his father, Leonides, who was martyred in 202 under the persecution of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 193-211). Despite his occasional foray into more of a literal hermeneutic, the majority of Genesis 1 is interpreted in allegorical fashion. ( Log Out /  The correct interpretation of the Bible played a major part in Augustine’s spiritual history and historical legacy. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. When Augustine described his later works on Genesis as “literal,” he intended to distinguish them from the allegorical approach of his earlier two-volume work on Genesis against the Manichees. Although the Sanhedrim and the hearers of Jesus often appealed to the Old Testament according to the testimony of the New Testament writers, they give no indication of the allegorical interpretation. 115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. Allegorical interpretation of the liturgy was totally rejected during the period of liturgical reform, and even earlier by liturgists who tended towards rationalistic or reductionistic explanations (Fr. The river Euphrates means the outflow of manners and is not an actual literal river in Mesopotamia. This will be explained in the next section. Cassian (Collationes xiv.8), reinterpreting a for- All rights reserved. Augustine’s Exposition: An Example The following example of Augustine‟s exposition is from his collection of homilies from the Gospel of John titled “On this passage of John: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” and … Again using allegorical interpretation of Ps 121:1-2 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. Notable proponents of allegorical interpretation include the Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo, who in the 4th century, on theological grounds, argued that God created everything in the universe in the same instant, and not in six days as a plain reading of Genesis would require; and the even earlier 1st-century Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria, who wrote that it would be a mistake to think that creation … Tyconius (d. c . It should be pointed out that, while St. Thomas seems to limit the allegorical sense to Old Testament types, there are New Testament passages which admit of allegorical interpretations as well. How can you hold up a mirror for your face, if the face nowhere exists? Did his own allegorical style of writing work against his advocacy for texts having literal meanings? ed. Zuck offers the following description of allegorization: Allegorizing is searching for a hidden or secret meaning underlying but remote from and unrelated in reality to the more obvious meaning of a text. (On Christian Teaching 1.36.41), The person examining the divine utterances must of course do his best to arrive at the intention of the writer through whom the Holy Spirit produced that part of scripture; he may reach that meaning or carve out from the words another meaning which does not run counter to the faith, using the evidence of any other passage of the divine utterances. Augustine’s personal history can also be viewed through the same lens. Reading and interpreting the Bible is never meant to be a purely academic or intellectual … Medieval scholars took Origen’s threefold sense—the literal, the moral, and the spiritual—and subdivided the spiritual into the allegorical and the anagogical. allegory history. “His great defect is the neglect of the grammatical and historical sense and his constant desire to find a hidden mystic meaning. Augustine’s most famous contribution was his work The City of God (De Civitate Dei), in which he subjected all of God’s activity in human history—past, present and future—to an allegorical interpretation. I’ve only read portions of his History of Doctrine so far. Allegorical interpretation of the Bible is an interpretive method that assumes that the Bible has various levels of meaning and tends to focus on the spiritual sense, which includes the allegorical sense, the moral (or tropological) sense, and the anagogical sense, as opposed to the literal sense. He even goes further in this direction than the Gnostics, who everywhere saw transcendental, unfathomable mysteries.”10, [Origen] lays down the principle that the true meaning of prophecy is to be found only by going beyond the literal and historical sense to the spiritual; and he says specifically of the Apocalypse that the mysteries hidden in it can be understood only in this way. Augustine, Confessions 3.5.6 The result is predictable. 7. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. His influence was so significant that some have said that much of Western theology is just “a series of footnotes to Augustine.”[5] Although City of God and the Confessions demonstrate Augustine’s exegetical methods, On Christian Teaching is unique among his written works because it is a textbook that teaches those very methods. After reading Cicero and being stirred for a love of wisdom, Augustine turned to the Bible to seek wisdom there. share | improve this question | follow | edited Mar 24 '12 at 16:58. A. GES. They are, at best, the wild guesses of men who have never got hold of the real thread of the matter, whilst under the necessity of saying something.23. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. A preference for allegorical interpretation - Finally, Augustine was influenced by the popular allegorical interpretation of Scripture, particularly of The Book of Revelation. Building on Origen’s interpretive system, Augustine … But for Augustine, scripture is not just a difficult text, and scriptural study not just a matter of scholarship. Augustine’s allegorical interpretation aligns with a canonical reading of the Gospels as well. The School of Alexandria adopted the allegorical interpretation of the Holy Scripture, believing that it hides the truth and at the same time reveals it. On Philo: Siegfried, Philo von Alexandria, Jena, 1875, and the list of references on p. 162; Augustine, On Christian Teaching Preface. A common charge against Christianity was that it was a … It has already been mentioned that Augustine changed his hermeneutical approach in his Genesis commentaries. It is important to examine his reasons for doing this. Perhaps the most famous instance of allegorical interpretation is Origen’s explanation of the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Scripture means the space of a day and a night, and afterwards no more says day and night, but calls them both under the name of the more important: a custom which you will find throughout Scripture. So where did this tendency begin? allegory history. (Sermon 4.9), It is a wonderful and beneficial thing that the Holy Spirit organized the holy scripture so as to satisfy hunger by means of its plainer passages and remove boredom by means of its obscurer ones. 7 George H. N. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1978, 1884), 50. It began with Greek philosophy and is foreign to the way people in the Old Testament interpreted Scripture. Since John’s writings clearly indicate a coming time of wrath and judgment upon the earth, their motive is to attempt to remove this reality in favor of a more optimistic future for Christianity: Reconstructionism’s interest in this subject stems from its optimistic outlook regarding Christianity’s ability to gain control of secular society. Origen (A.D. 185 – c. 254) was one of the most influential figures in the early centuries of the Christian … My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Even though revelations come from mountains hope remains only with God. Perhaps the author too saw that very meaning in the words which we are trying to understand. The Fathers believed that, by doing allegorical readings of Scripture, they were following the practices they found in Scripture. Based upon the Platonic division of the human person into body, soul, and spirit, Origen’s three levels of biblical interpretation were divided into the literal sense, the moral sense, and the allegorical sense. In 450 Eucherius of Lyons published his handbook on interpretation, “ Rules for Allegorical Interpretation.” 8. 11 Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 323. This remains the case today. ( Log Out /  Certainly the Spirit of God who worked through the author foresaw without any doubt that it would present itself to a reader or listener, or rather planned that it should present itself, because it too is based on the truth. Origen was apparently concerned … He finds the Trinity in the account of creation and he ponders the work of the Spirit moving over the waters. Even today, Augustinian eschatology is held by large segments of the Christian church.15. (Unfinished Literal Commentary on Genesis 2.5), All divine scripture is twofold, as the Lord points out when he says, A scribe learned in the kingdom of heaven is like a householder bringing forth from his treasury new things and old (Mt 13:52), which are also said to be the two testaments. 13 Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy, 53. . The Relationship Between Allegory and History, Now in my opinion it is certainly a complete mistake to suppose that no narrative of events in this type of literature has any significance beyond the purely historical record; but it is equally rash to maintain that every single statement in those books is a complex of allegorical meanings….In spite of that, I do not censure those who have succeeded in carving out a spiritual meaning from each and every event in the narrative, always provided that they have maintained its original basis of historical truth. 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