Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Augustine part II

Speaking of quotes from the City of God (with openers like that I'll again need obtain server back-up to accomodate traffic)- here's another one, this one regarding how to read the Bible:
Yet no one ought to suppose either that these things were written for no purpose, or that we should study only the historical truth, apart from any allegorical meanings; or, on the contrary, that they are only allegories, and that there were no such facts at all, or that, whether it be so or not, there is here no prophecy of the Church. For who in their right mind will contend that books so religiously preserved during thousands of years, and transmitted by so orderly a succession, were written without an object, or that only the bare historical facts are to be considered when we read them? -City of God Book XV
If ever one wanted a quote to sum up where Biblical scholarship has landed in the twenty-first century - that one from the fifth would do just fine. Finally we've caught up to Augustine who affirmed three principles:

1. The Bible has a strong historical element, but that doesn't mean it can be read like a science textbook. (The Moderns - liberals and fundies - erred on this side.)

2. The Bible is very rich when read allegorically, but such a reading can often go too far. (The Medievals erred on this side.)

3. There are of course many ways to read the Bible, but Christians read it all (both Testaments) with Christ and the Church (that is, Judaism for the Gentiles) in mind - a reading which has proven to be quite sustainable.