By David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant
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Additional resources for A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible
And therefore Philo finds it necessary to explain away the apparent anthropomorphism of God and the apparent exclusiveness of Israel in favor of a philosopher’s God and a Hellenistic man’s internationalism. The most militant allegorizers of the second century were the Gnostics, men who generally maintained a thoroughgoing cosmic dualism and believed that the God who like them regarded the created world as a tragic mistake had given his revelation through Jesus only to them. They alone could understand the mysterious parables and enigmatic sayings in the gospels and other Christian documents, for they alone were “spiritual” beings.
The allegorical method, at a critical moment in Christian history, made it possible to uphold the rationality of Christian faith. It was used to prevent obscurantism. And though we may question not only its assumptions but also its results, we must not forget what we owe to it. We are not indebted so much to the method itself as to the spirit of those who employed it. The method alone is lifeless; the spirit of the interpreter makes the text live. 7 The School of Antioch The allegorical method encountered considerable opposition within the church.
But what did it proclaim? 15 Here Chrysostom reflects the Antiochene concept of theory. Elsewhere he explains the relation of the two meanings of scripture by a parallel from art: The type is given the name of the truth until the truth is about to come; but when the truth has come, the name is no longer used. “16 The historical meaning is the outline; but the final form of the por- THE SCHOOL OF ANTIOCH 69 trait is found only in the typological meaning. Chrysostom’s interpretations of scripture were highly influential upon later interpreters.