Thursday, July 27, 2006


This is a really exciting website, it is full of worthwhile little gobbits, below is todays article. I've been rattling on a bit about allegory at daily Mass, so you might find this interesting.

“Allegory is about privileging the language of the Bible”July 27th, 2006
Allegory is the Church’s love affair with the Bible…. Allegory is about privileging the language of the Bible. It assumes that it is better to express things in the language of the Scriptures than in another idiom. As the Church’s great preachers have always known metaphors drawn from elsewhere, no matter how apt, lack the power of the biblical language to enlighten the mind and enflame the heart. Like rhetorical ornaments that momentarily delight the hearer, they are ephemeral and soon forgotten. The words of the bible, however, are emblematic and weighted with experience. Unlike words taken from elsewhere, their meanings cannot be disengaged from the biblical narrative, from God’s revelation in Israel, the sending of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit on the Church. The range of possible meanings is never exhausted.
In spite of its many accomplishments, a strictly historical approach to the Bible is incapable of receiving the Bible as Bible. It can offer various kinds of syntheses, such as a cultural history of the ancient Near East, a chapter in the religious history of the Greco-Roman world, to mention the most obvious, but it cannot give us the book of the Church, the Scriptures that have been read, the psalms that have been prayed, the holy men and women whose lives have been imitated, the teachings that have been expounded. To be sure, the Old Testament is a book that has its origin in the ancient Near East, but the book the Church reads also belongs to another time and to other places….
The unique vocation of the Christian exegetical tradition was to offer a comprehensive understanding of the Bible as the book of the Church centered on the Triune God. This required more than what is considered interpretation today. For the Bible of the early Church was a living voice, not only a document from ancient history. In its pages the fullness of Christian faith and life could be found in bewildering detail and infinite variety—all organized around the center which was the Church. Early Christian exegesis was not simply exegesis, but a distinctively Christian way of thinking. That we should find ourselves drawn to this synthesis does not mean that the exegesis of the early Church or the middle ages can be appropriated without being filtered through our experience and thinking, including our historical consciousness. But it does mean that at the beginning of the 21st century the time has come to take out of the closet and polish a very old word from the Christian lexicon, “allegory,” and to discover anew why it is indispensable for a genuinely Christian interpretation of the Old Testament.
Robert Louis Wilken

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