Scripture interpretation

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Aidan, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    What methods do forum members use to decide whether a piece should be taken literally or allegorically ?
     
  2. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Hi Aidan. In cases where I have questions about a particular verse or passage, I read whatever commentaries I can find on it, especially those of the Church Fathers. Hopefully I can find a consensus regarding the interpretation.
     
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  3. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    It is not a way of cataloguing scripture that I would embrace. I certainly don't think things need to be either or. To me context is always important, firstly in the context in which it was written, and then secondly in the context of Jesus Christ. What light is here that may guide my feet that I may walk at peace?
     
  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The best hermeneutical grid is always the earliest source for any particular issue.

    So for example the best way to interpret the Roman Republic is to directly read the works of Cicero, Caesar, and Sallust themselves, not some modern interpreters such as Tom Holland or Adrian Goldsworthy. The best way to understand the Renaissance is to read figures from the era: Petrarch, Bruni, Vasari; not modern revisionists such as Paul Oskar Kristellar. And likewise the best way to understand Christianity is to read Origen, St. Cyril, St. Augustine, and Eusebius; not moderns such as Bellarmine, Aquinas, Luther, or Calvin.

    It isn't to say that later scholars are necessarily wrong in all particulars, but rather that amidst the things they can get right, there are things they are likely to get wrong, by virtue of their distance from the organic meaning of terms and concepts with which they operate. Concepts like justification, sanctification, scripture, messiah, are not static and unchanging; they are firmly wedded in the linguistic web of concepts of their times. Even in our own culture, on the street, the word "bad" now means "good".

    How do you know what a word means? You must go to its actual users, its practitioners; a scholar writing in the year 2162 will know less about our time and our usage of the word "bad" than does an average teenager on the street today. The Church Fathers are the closest we have to the linguistic web of the New Testament. And the New Testament is the divine, and closest authority we have for the linguistic web of the Old Testament. A modern scholar cannot know, inherently, regardless of how smart he is, the meaning of the OT more than Jesus could. So we must go to the earliest sources, and outside of Scripture that means going to the Church Fathers.

    That reading Christianity through the Church Fathers is the Anglican method of interpretation is argued in these podcasts:

    Reading Scripture with the Fathers
    https://anglican.audio/2017/05/22/fh9-reading-scripture-with-the-fathers/

    Anglican Divines and Antiquity
    https://anglican.audio/2016/12/02/fh5-interview-anglican-divines-and-antiquity-part-i/
     
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  5. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, the patriarchs would be a reliable source. Many of them would still be aware of oral tradition. Also they lived in a simpler time. Maybe a brutal time but free from present modernity and ensuing distraction. I thought there was some question though as to the orthodoxy of Origen?
     
  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Origen wasn't really the issue, it was the Origenists, his followers some centuries later, as far as I know.
     
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  7. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Member

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    Oftentimes passages can be taken in both a literal and allegorical sense. A prime example of this is Saint Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Moses. It's always a good idea to refer to the Church Fathers on difficult passages. I found Saint Cyril of Alexandria's commentary very helpful in reading through Isaiah.
     
  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I tend to let Scripture interpet scripture unless the meaning is veiled or multiple meanings are possible. I tend to read scripture literally except where the context is clearly meant to be symbolic...now that doesn't mean that when things are hard to believe, I assume they are symbolic. I mean that when Jesus is telling parables or preaching, or when the writer states he is describing a dream or a vision, or when the context is clearly poetic, as in psalms. In all things, I think the onus is ob the person saying something is not literal to provide evidence to support their claim. The ECF are great source material for this--but not fool proof. In my opinion, its possible to find a one off father to boost up almost any claim. The real authority comes from a consensus of the fathers, not just one individual with a wacky notion.
     

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