By David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant

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This work was written largely in the year 397. But before discussing it we must examine the way in which a search for the correct exegetical method had influenced Augustine’s career. Only when he discovered the allegorical method of interpreting the Old Testament was he able to become a Christian. The principal reason for his hesitation was the fact that the Manichees, among whom he had briefly sojourned, were using literalism in order to discredit the patriarchs of the Old Testament, insisting on the immoralities which scripture imputed to them.

5:32) take Genesis 2:23f. to refer to Christ and the church? And yet at the same time Methodius is aware of the dangers of an exaggerated allegorization. We must not look for a spiritual interpretation opposed to the literal meaning. Instead,‘we should follow the guidance of scripture itself, especially the words of Jesus. Unfortunately Methodius’s theory is not always applicable. He has an entire work De cibis juduicis in which he shows the allegorical significance of the clean and unclean animals of the Old Testa- 78 A SHORT HISTORY OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE ment.

For example, the Old Testament was compiled and transmitted by those who believed in the unity of God. They regarded Yahweh as the same God as Elohim or ElShaddai or Yahweh Sabaoth. Gnostic readers, on the contrary, denied the unity of God, and held that these names referred to various deities subordinate to the true, unknown Father. Similarly they regarded the Father of Jesus as quite different from the malevolent Creator God whose emotions and actions are portrayed in the Old Testament. Denying the unity of God, they also denied the unity of the church and regarded themselves as superior to the ordinary Christians who were animated by soul but not by divine spirit.

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A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible by David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant
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