Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bible: Two Layers of Meaning

Strict Fundamentalists of different religions seemingly worship different gods. Since there is only One Creator, we know that they are putting their entire faith in their particular religious texts. And within each religion there are different sects according to further different interpretations of these texts. This is reminiscent of early tribal thinking that was necessary for cohesion and group survival. 

To help overcome this and to enrich one’s spiritual growth, I offer this to strict fundamentalists:

“There are two layers of meaning in the Bible: the literal sense and the spiritual sense. The spiritual sense is further divided into the allegorical, the moral and the anagogical sense. 

The LITERAL sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: ‘All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.’”

“The SPIRITUAL sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
“The ALLEGORICAL sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.
“The MORAL sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written ‘for our instruction (I Cor 10:11).’
“The ANAGOGICAL sense (Greek: anagoge, ‘leading’). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.”

“The first meaning we should look for is the LITERAL meaning. We know that it was the Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible, but he used men as instruments. These men belonged to a specific time and culture, with their own language and traditions. The work of exegetes requires knowing the original language and cultural background of the writers. But Sacred Tradition teaches us how we should interpret the literal meaning.”

One possible place to start in understanding the historical context of the Bible is to read (or listen to audiobook) the book entitled “Don’t Know Much About the Bible”. The following link is a sampler: