By David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant
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Extra resources for A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible
But we can admit today that objectivity in the interpretation of any work of the human spirit is an elusive aim; the interpreter always reads something of his own thought into what he interprets, and it is well for him if his own personality be as nearly Christian as Origen’s was. Moreover, we must consider the circumstances under which Origen wrote. The Christocentric typology of St. Paul was no longer a practicable method of interpretation in the city of Alexandria. Celsus had already attacked the immorality and triviality of the scriptures, and Porphyry was soon to do so.
It will be recalled, on the other hand, that Theodore of Mopsuestia like Augustine regretted Jerome’s deviations from the inspired Greek version . ‘* Jerome’s first commentary was a pure allegorization. At Antioch, however, he came under the influence of the literal-historical method, taught him by Apollinaris of Laodicea. Thereafter he was unable to feel the attraction of the allegorical method, even as presented by Gregory of Nazianzus, the great Origenist. No matter how ingenious the allegorization, Jerome had to insist upon the reality of the literal meaning.
When Clement comes to the interpretation of scripture we find that in practice his exegesis is based on that of Philo. Every word and syllable of scripture has its meaning, but, since it is written symbolically, the meaning is usually not the obvious one. ’ (1) the historical sense, in which he usually takes the stories of biblical history; (2) the doctrinal sense, moral, religious, and theological, according to which biblical statements are taken directly into his own theological thought. These first two methods do not go far beyond literalism, although the atmosphere of Clement’s thought prevents them from being matter-of-fact.
A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible by David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant