Exegesis is the branch of theology which investigates and expresses the true sense of Sacred Scripture .
The exegete does not inquire which books constitute Sacred Scripture , nor does he investigate their genuine text, nor, again, does he study their double authorship. He accepts the books which, according to the concurrent testimony of history and ecclesiastical authority, belong to the Canon of Sacred Scripture . Obedient to the decree of the Council of Trent, he regards the Vulgate as the authentic Latin version, without neglecting the results of sober textual criticism , based on the readings found in the other versions approved by Christian antiquity, in the Scriptural citations of the Fathers, and in the more ancient manuscripts. With regard to the authorship of the Sacred Books, too, the exegete follows the authoritative teaching of the Church and the prevalent opinions of her theologians on the question of Biblical inspiration. Not that these three questions concerning the Canon, the genuine text, and the inspiration of Sacred Scriptures exert no influence on Biblical exegesis: unless a book forms part of the Canon, it will not be the subject of exegesis at all; only the best supported readings of its text will be made the basis of its theological explanation; and the doctrine of inspiration with its logical corollaries will be found to have a constant bearing on the results of exegesis. Still, exegesis, as such, does not deal with these three subjects; the reader will find them treated in the articles CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ; CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ; TEXTUAL CRITICISM ; and INSPIRATION.
The early Reformers were wont to claim that the genuine text of the inspired and canonical books is self-sufficient and clear. This contention does not owe its origin to the sixteenth century. The words of Origen (De princip., IV), St. Augustine (De doctr. christ., I-III), and St. Jerome (ad Paulin., ep. liii, 6, 7) show that similar views existed among the sciolists in the early age of the Church. The exegetical results flowing from the supposed clearness of the Bible may be inferred from the fact that one century after the rise of the Reformation Bossuet could give to the world two volumes entitled, "A History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches". A Protestant theologian, S. Werenfels, sets forth the same truth in a telling epigram:Hic liber est in quo sua quærit dogmata quisque,
Invenit et pariter dogmata quisque sua,
which may be rendered in an English paraphrase:Men ope this book, their favourite creed in mind;
Each seeks his own, and each his own doth find. Bible . For the language of the Bible is employed to express, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, many things which are beyond the power and scope of the reason of man -- that is to say, Divine mysteries and all that is related to them. There is sometimes in such passages a fullness and a hidden depth of meaning which the letter hardly expresses and which the laws of grammatical interpretation hardly warrant. Moreover, the literal sense itself frequently admits other senses, adapted to illustratedogma or to confirm morality. Wherefore, it must be recognized that the Sacred Writings are wrapt in a certain religious obscurity, and that no one can enter into their interior without a guide; God so disposing, as the Holy Fathers commonly teach, in order that men may investigate them with greater ardour and earnestness, and that what is attained with difficulty may sink more deeply into themind and heart; and, most of all, that they may understand that God has delivered the Holy Scripture to the Church, and that in reading and making use of His word, they must follow theChurch as their guide and their teacher.
But it is not our purpose so much to prove the need of Biblical exegesis as to explain its aim, describe its methods, indicate the various forms of its results, and outline its history. Exegesis aims at investigating the sense of Sacred Scripture ; its method is contained in the rules of interpretation; its results are expressed in the various ways in which the sense of the Bible is wont to be communicated; its history comprises the work done by Christian and Jewish interpreters, by Catholics and Protestants. We shall endeavour to consider these various elements under the four heads:I. Sense of Sacred Scripture;
III. Sacred Rhetoric;
IV. History of Exegesis.
I. SENSE OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
In general, the sense of Sacred Scripture is the truth actually conveyed by it. We must well distinguish between the sense and the signification of a word. A good dictionary will give us, in the case of most words, a list of their various possible meanings or significations; but no reader will be tempted to believe that a word has all these meanings wherever it occurs. The context or some other restrictive element will determine the meaning in which each word is used in any given passage, and this meaning is the sense of the word. The signification of the word is its possible meaning; the sense of a word is its actual meaning in any given context. A sentence, like a word, may have several possible significations, but it has only one sense or meaning intended by the author. Here, again, the signification denotes the possible meaning of the sentence, while the sense is the meaning which the sentence here and now conveys. In the case of the Bible , it must be kept in mind that God is its author, and that God, the Sovereign Lord of all things, can manifest truth not merely by the use of words, but also by disposing outward things in such a way that one is the figure of the other. In the former case we have the literal sense; in the latter, the typical (cf. St. Thomas, Quodl., vii, Q. vi, a. 14).(1) LITERAL SENSE (i) What is the Literal Sense?
The literal sense of Sacred Scripture is the truth really, actually, and immediately intended by its author. The fact that the literal sense must be really intended by the author distinguishes it from the truth conveyed by any mere accommodation. This latter applies a writer's language, on the ground of analogy, to something not originally meant by him. Again, since the literal sense is actually intended by the writer, it differs from the meaning conveyed only virtually by the text. Thus the reader may come to know the literary capacity of the author from the style of his writing; or he may draw a number of logical inferences from the writer's direct statements; the resultant information is in neither case actually intended by the writer, but it constitutes the so-called derivative or consequent sense. Finally, the literal sense is limited to the meaning immediately intended by the writer, so that the truth mediately expressed by him does not fall within the range of the literal sense. It is precisely in this point that the literal sense differs from the typical. To repeat briefly, the literal sense is not an accommodation based on similitude or analogy ; it is not a mere inference drawn by the reader; it is not an antitype corresponding to the immediate contents of the text as its type; but it is the meaning which the author intends to convey really , not by a stretch of the imagination ; actually , not as a syllogistic potency; and immediately , i.e., by means of the language, not by means of the truth conveyed by the language.(ii) Division of the Literal Sense
What has been said about the immediate character of the literal sense must not be misconstrued in such a way as to exclude figurative language from its range. Figurative language is really a single, not a double, sign of the truth it conveys. When we speak of "the arm of God ", we do not imply that God really is endowed with such a bodily member, but we directly denote his power of action (St. Thomas, Summa, I, Q. i, a. 10, ad 3um). This principle applies not merely in the metaphor, the synecdoche, the metonymy, or the irony, but also in those cases in which the figure extends through a whole sentence or even an entire chapter or book. The very name allegory implies that the real sense of the expression differs from its usual verbal meaning. In Matt., v, 13 sqq., e.g., the sentence, "You are the salt of the earth" etc., is not first to be understood in its nonfigurative sense, and then in the figurative; it does not first class the Apostles among the mineral kingdom, and then among the social and religious reformers of the world, but the literal meaning of the passage coincides with the truth conveyed in the allegory. It follows, therefore, that the literal sense comprises both the proper and the figurative. The fable, the parable, and the example must also be classed among the allegorical expressions which signify the intended truth immediately. It is true that in the passage according to which the trees elect a king ( Judges 9:6-21 ), in the parable of the prodigal son ( Luke 15:11 sqq. ), and in the history of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 10:25-37 ) a number of words and sentences are required in order to construct the fable, the parable, and the example respectively; but this does not interfere with the literal or immediate sense of the literary devices. As such they have no meaning independent of, or prior to, the moral lesson which the author intends to convey by their means. It is easily granted that the mechanical contrivance we call a watch immediately indicates the time in spite of the subordinate action of its spring and wheels; why, then, should we question the truth that the literary device called fable, or parable, or example, immediately points out its moral lesson, though the very existence of such a device presupposes the use of a number of words and even sentences?(iii) Ubiquity of the Literal Sense
The Fathers of the Church were not blind to the fact that the literal sense in some Scripture passages appears to imply great incongruities, not to say insuperable difficulties. On the other hand, they regarded the language of the Bible as truly human language, and therefore always endowed with a literal sense, whether proper or figurative. Moreover, St. Jerome (in Is., xiii, 19), St. Augustine (De tent. Abrah. serm. ii, 7), St. Gregory (Moral., i, 37) agree with St. Thomas (Quodl., vii, Q. vi, a. 14) in his conviction that the typical sense is always based on the literal and springs from it. Hence if these Fathers had denied the existence of a literal sense in any passage of Scripture, they would have left the passage meaningless. Where the patristic writers appear to reject the literal sense, they really exclude only the proper sense, leaving the figurative. Origen (De princ., IV, xi) may be regarded as the only exception to this rule; since he considers some of the Mosaic laws as either absurd or impossible to keep, he denies that they must be taken in their literal sense. But even in his case, attempts have been made to give to his words a more acceptable meaning (cf. Vincenzi, "In S. Gregorii Nysseni et Origenis scripta et doctrinam nova recensio", Rome, 1864, vol. II, cc. xxv-xxix). The great Alexandrian Doctor distinguishes between the body, the soul, and the spirit of Scripture. His defendants believe that he understands by these three elements its proper, its figurative, and its typical sense respectively. He may, therefore, with impunity deny the existence of any bodily sense in a passage of Scripture without injury to its literal sense. But it is more generally admitted that Origen went astray on this point, because he followed Philo's opinion too faithfully.(iv) Is the Literal Sense One or Multiple?
There is more solid ground for a diversity of opinion concerning the unicity of the literal sense contained in each passage of Sacred Scripture . This brings us face to face with a double question: (a) Is it possible that a Scripture passage has more than one literal sense? (b) Is there any Biblical text which actually has more than one literal meaning? It must be kept in mind that the literal sense is taken here in the strict meaning of the word. It is agreed on all sides that a multiple consequent sense or a multiple accommodation may be regarded as the rule rather than the exception. Nor is there any difficulty about the multiple literal sense found in various readings or in different versions of the same text; we ask here whether one and the same genuine Scripture text may have more than one literal sense.(a) Possibility of a Multiple Literal Sense
Since a word, and a sentence too, may have more meanings than one, there is no a priori impossibility in the idea that a Scriptural text should have more than one literal sense. If the author of Scripture really intends to convey the truth contained in the various possible meanings of a text, the multiple literal sense will be the natural resultant. Some of the expressions found in the writings of the Fathers seem to emphasize the possibility of having a multiple literal sense in Sacred Scripture .(b) Actual Occurrence of a Multiple Literal Sense
The subject becomes more complicated if we ask whether a multiple literal sense is not merely possible, but is actually found anywhere in Scripture. There is no good authority for its frequent occurrence; but does it really exist even in the few Scriptural passages which seem to contain it, such as Psalm 2:7 ; Isaiah 53:4-8 ; Daniel 9:27 ; John 11:51 ; 2:19 ? Did God wish in these texts to convey a multiple literal sense? Revelation, as coming down to us in Scripture and tradition, furnishes the only clue to the solution of the question.Arguments for the Multiple Literal Sense
The advocates of a multiple literal sense advance the following arguments for their view: First, Sacred Scripture supposes its existence in several passages. Thus Heb., i, 5, understands Ps. ii, 7 (this day have I begotten thee), of the Divine generation of the Son; Acts, xiii, 33, understands the text of the Resurrection ; Heb., v, 5, of the eternal priesthood of Christ. Again, the Latin Vulgate and the Septuagint, together with I Pet., ii, 24, understand Is. liii, 4 (he hath borne our infirmities), of our sins ; Matt., viii, 17, understands the words of our bodily ailments. And again, I Mach., 1, 57, applies some words of Dan., ix, 27, to his own subject, while Matt., xxiv, 15, represents them as a prophecy to be fulfilled in the destruction of the Holy City. Finally, John, ii, 19, was understood by the Jews in a sense different from that intended by Jesus Christ ; and John, xi, 51, expresses two disparate meanings, one intended by Caiphas and the other by the Holy Ghost. The second argument is, that tradition too upholds the existence of a multiple sense in several passages of the Bible . Its witnesses are St. Augustine (Conf., XII, xxvi, xxx, xxxi; De doctr. christ., III, xxvii; etc.), St. Gregory the Great (in Ezech., iii, 13, Lib. I, hom. x, n. 30 sq.), St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Bernard, and, among the Scholastics, St. Thomas (I, Q. i, a. 10; "De potent.", IV, 1; "in II sent.", dist. xii, Q. i, a. 2, ad 7um), Card. Cajetan (ad I, Q. i, a. 10), Melchior Cano (Loc. theol., Lib. II, c. xi, ad 7 arg., ad 3 rat.), Bañez (ad I, Q. i, a. 10), Sylvius (ad id.), John of St. Thomas (I, Q. i, disp. ii, a. 12), Billuart (De reg. fidei, dissert. i, a. 8), Vasquez, Valentia, Molina, Serrarius, Cornelius a Lapide , and others.Reasons against the Multiple Literal Sense
Patrizi, Beelen, Lamy, Cornely, Knabenbauer, Reitmayr, and the greater number of recent writers deny the actual existence of a multiple literal sense in the Bible ; they urge the following reasons for their opinion: First, the Bible is written in human language; now, the language of other books usually presents only one literal sense. Second, the genuine sense of Sacred Scripture must be discovered by means of the rules of hermeneutics. A commentator would render these rules meaningless, if he were to look for a second literal sense of a passage after discovering one true meaning by their means. Third, commentators implicitly assume that any given text of Scripture has only one literal sense; for after finding out the various meanings which are philologically probable, they endeavour to ascertain which of them was intended by the Holy Ghost . Fourth, a multiple literal sense would create equivocation and confusion in the Bible . Finally, the multiple sense in Scripture would be a supernatural fact wholly depending on the free will of God. We cannot know it independently of revelation ; its actual occurrence must be solidly proved from Scripture or tradition. The patrons of the multiple literal sense have not thus far advanced any such proof.
(1) Where Scripture appeals to disparate meanings of the same passage, it does not necessarily consider each of them as the literal sense. Thus Heb., i, 5, may represent Ps. ii, 7, as referring literally to the eternal generation, but Acts, xiii, 33, may consider the Resurrection, and Hebr., v, 5, the eternal priesthood of Christ as necessary consequences. Matt., viii, 17, applies the consequent sense of Is., liii, 4, to the cure of bodily ailments; I Mach., i, 57, merely accommodates some words of Dan., ix, 27, to the writer's own time ; in John, ii, 19, and xi, 51, only the meaning intended by the Holy Ghost is the literal sense, though this may not have been understood when the words in question were spoken.
(2) The testimony of the Fathers and the Scholastic theologians is not sufficient in our case to prove the existence of a dogmatic tradition as to the actual occurrence of the multiple literal sense in Scripture. There is no trace of it before the time of St. Augustine; this great Doctor proposes his view not as the teaching of tradition, but as a pious and probable opinion. The expressions of the other Fathers, excepting perhaps St. Gregory the Great, urge the depth and wealth of thought contained in Scripture, or they refer to meanings which we technically call its typical, derivative, or consequent sense, and perhaps even to mere accommodations of certain passages. Among the Scholastics, St. Thomas follows the opinion of St. Augustine, at least in one of the alleged passages (De potent., IV, 1), and a number of the later Scholastics follow the opinion of St. Thomas. The other early Scholastics maintain rather the opposite view, as may be seen in St. Bonaventure (IV Sent. dist. xxi, p. I, dub. 1) and Alexander of Hales (Summa, I, Q. i, m. 4, a. 2).(v) The Derivative or Consequent Sense
The consequent or derivative sense of Scripture is the truth legitimately inferred from its genuine meaning. It would be wrong to identify the consequent sense with the more latent literal sense. This depth of the literal sense may spring from the fact that the predicate changes somewhat in its meaning if it be applied to totally different subjects. The word wise has one meaning if predicated of God, and quite another if predicated of created beings. Such a variety of meaning belongs to the literal meaning in the strict sense of the word. The conseguent sense may be said to be the conclusion of a syllogism one of whose premises is a truth contained in the Bible . Such inferences can hardly be called the sense of a book written by a human author; but God has foreseen all the legitimate conclusions derived from Biblical truths, so that they may be said, in a certain way, to be His intended meaning. The Bible itself makes use of such inferences as if they were based on Divine authority. St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 1:31 ) quotes such an inference based on Jer., ix, 23, 24, with the express addition, "as it is written"; in I Cor., ix, 10, 11, he derived the consequent sense of Deut., xxv, 4, indicating the second premise, while in I Tim., v, 18, he states the consequent sense of the same passage without adding the second premise. Theologians and ascetical writers have, therefore, a right to utilize dogmatic and moral inferences from the genuine sense of Sacred Scripture . The writings of the Fathers illustrate this principle most copiously.(vi) Accommodation
By accommodation the writer's words are applied, on the ground of analogy, to something not originally meant by him. If there be no analogy between the original and the imposed meaning, there is no accommodation of the passage, but rather a violent perversion of its true meaning; such a contorted meaning is not merely outside, but against, the genuine sense. Accommodation is usually divided into two classes: extensive and allusive. Extensive accommodation takes the words of the Bible in their genuine sense, but applies them to a new subject. Thus the words, he "was found perfect, just, and in the time of wrath he was made a reconciliation", which Ecclus., xliv, 17, predicates of Noah, are often applied to other saints. Allusive accommodation does not employ the words of Scripture in their genuine sense, but gives them an entirely different meaning; here the analogy does not exist between the objects, but between the verbal expressions. Ps. xvii, 26, 27, "With the holy, thou wilt be holy ; and with the innocent man thou wilt be innocent; and with the elect thou wilt be elect: and with the perverse thou wilt be perverted", expresses originally the attitude of God to the good and the wicked; but by accommodation these words are often used to show the influence of companionship. That the use of accommodation is legitimate, may be inferred from its occurrence in Scripture, in the writings of the Fathers, and from its very nature. Examples of accommodation in Scripture may be found in Matt., vii, 23 (cf. Ps. vi, 9), Rom., x, 18 (cf. Ps. xviii, 5), II Cor., viii, 15 (cf. Exodus 16:18 ), Heb., xiii, 5 (cf. Joshua 1:5 ), Apoc., xi, 4 (cf. Zechariah 4:14 ). The liturgical books and the writings of the Fathers are so replete with the use of accommodation that it is needless to refer to any special instances. Finally, there is no good reason for interdicting the proper use of accommodation, seeing that it is not wrong in itself and that its use does not involve any inconvenience as far as faith and morals are concerned. But two excesses are to be avoided: first, it cannot be maintained, that all the citations from the Old Testament which are found in the New are mere accommodations. Similar contentions are found in the writings of those who endeavour to destroy the value of the Messianic prophecies ; they are not confined to our days, but date back to Theodore of Mopsuestia and the Socinians. The Fifth Ecumenical Synod rejected the error of Theodore; besides, Christ Himself ( Matthew 22:41 sq. ; cf. Psalm 109:1 ), St. Peter ( Acts 3:25 sq. ; cf. Genesis 12:3 ; 18:18 ; 22:18 ), and St. Paul ( Hebrews 1:5 ; 5:5 ; Acts 13:33 ; cf. Psalm 2:7 ) base theological arguments on Old-Testament citations, so that these latter cannot be regarded as mere accommodations. Secondly, we must not exceed the proper limits in the use of accommodation. This we should do, if we were to present the meaning derived from accommodation as the genuine sense of Scripture, or if we were to use it as the premise in an argument, or again if we were to accommodate the words of Scripture to ridiculous, absurd, or wholly disparate subjects. The fourth session of the Council of Trent warns most earnestly against such an abuse of Sacred Scripture .(2) TYPICAL SENSE
The typical sense has its name from the fact that it is based on the figurative or typical relation of Biblical persons, or objects, or events, to a new truth. This latter is called the antitype, while its Biblical correspondent is named the type. The typical sense is also called the spiritual, or mystical, sense: mystical, because of its more recondite nature ; spiritual, because it is related to the literal, as the spirit is related to the body. What we call type is called shadow, allegory, parable, by St. Paul (cf. Romans 5:14 ; 1 Corinthians 10:6 ; Hebrews 8:5 ; Galatians 4:24 ; Hebrews 9:9 ); once he refers to it as antitype ( Hebrews 9:24 ), though St. Peter applies this term to the truth signified ( 1 Peter 3:21 ). Various other designations for the typical sense have been used by the Fathers of the Church ; but the following questions are of more vital importance.(i) Nature of the Typical Sense
The typical sense is the Scriptural truth which the Holy Ghost intends to convey really, actually, but not immediately. Inasmuch as its meaning is really conveyed, the typical sense differs from accommodation; inasmuch as its meaning is actually expressed, it differs from the consequent sense; inasmuch as its meaning is not immediately signified, it differs from the literal sense. While we arrive at the latter immediately by way of the literary expression, we come to know the typical sense only by way of the literal. The text is the sign conveying the literal sense, but the literal sense is the sign expressing the typical. The literal sense is the type which by a special design of God is directed to signify its antitype. Three conditions are necessary to constitute a type:
- It must have its own true and historical existence independently of the antitype; e.g., the intended immolation of Isaac would be an historical fact, even if Jesus Christ had not died.
- It must not be referred to the antitype by its very nature. This prohibits the similitude from serving as a type, on account of its antecedent likeness to its object.
- God himself must have established the reference of the type to its antitype; this excludes objects which are naturally related to others.
The necessity of these three conditions explains why a type cannot be confounded with a parable, or an example, or a symbol, or a similitude, or a comparison, or a metaphor, or a symbolic prophecy -- e.g., the statue seen in the dream of Nabuchodonosor. It should be added, however, that at times the type may be expressed by the Scriptural representation of a subject rather than by the strict literal sense of Scripture. Gen., xiv, 18, e.g., introduces Melchisedech without reference to his genealogy ; hence Heb., vii, 3, represents him "without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life", and makes him as such a type of Jesus Christ. Thus far we have spoken about the typical sense in its strict sense. In a wider sense, all persons, events, or objects of the Old Testament are sometimes considered as types, provided they resemble persons, events, or objects in the New Testament, whether the Holy Ghost has intended such a relationship or not. The Egyptian Joseph is in this way frequently represented as a type of St. Joseph, the foster-father of Christ.(ii) Division of the Typical Sense
The division of the typical sense is based on the character of the type and the antitype. The antitype is either a truth to be believed, or a boon to be hoped for, or again a virtue to be practised. This gives us a triple sense -- the allegorical, the anagogical, and the tropological, or moral. The objects of faith in the Old Testament centred mainly around the future Messias and his Church. The allegorical sense may, therefore, be said to refer to the future or to be prophetic. The allegory here is not to be sought in the literary expression, but in the persons or things expressed. This division of the typical sense was expressed by the Scholastics in two lines:Littera gesta docet; quid credas, allegoria;
Moralis quid agas; quo tendas, anagogia.
Jerusalem, e.g., according to its literal sense, is the Holy City; taken allegorically, it denotes the Church Militant; understood tropologically, it stands for the just soul ; finally, in its anagogical sense, it stands for the Church Triumphant. If the division of the typical sense be based on the type rather than the antitype, we may distinguish personal, real, and legal types. They are personal if a person is chosen by the Holy Ghost as the sign of the truth to be conveyed. Adam, Noah, Melchisedech, Moses, Josue, David, Solomon, and Jonas are types of Jesus Christ ; Agar with Ismael, and Sara with Isaac are respectively the types of the Old and the New Testament. The real types are certain historical events or objects mentioned in the Old Testament, such as the paschal lamb, the manna, the water flowing from the rock, the brazen serpent, Sion, and Jerusalem. Legal types are chosen from among the institutions of the Mosaic liturgy, e.g., the tabernacle, the sacred implements, the sacraments and sacrifices of the Old Law, its priests and Levites.(iii) The Existence of the Typical Sense
Scripture and tradition agree in their testimony for the occurrence of the typical sense in certain passages of the Old Testament. Among the Scriptural texts which establish the typical sense, we may appeal to Col., ii, 16-17; Heb., viii, 5; ix, 8-9; Rom., v, 14; Gal., iv, 24; Matt., ii, 15 (cf. Hosea 11:1 ); Heb., i, 5 (cf. 2 Samuel 7:14 ). The testimony of tradition concerning this subject may be gathered from Barnabas (Ep., 7, 8, 9, 12, etc.), St. Clement of Rome ( 1 Corinthians 12 ), St. Justin, Dial. c. Tryph., civ, 42), St. Irenæus (Adv. hær., IV, xxv, 3; II, xxiv, 2 sqq.; IV, xxvi, 2), Tertullian (Adv. Marc., V, vii); St. Jerome (Ep. liii, ad Paulin., 8), St. Thomas (I, Q. i, a. 10), and a number of other patristic writers and Scholastic theologians. That the Jews agree with the Christian writers on this point, may be inferred from Josephus (Antiq., XVII, iii, 4; Pro m. Antiq., n. 4; III, vi, 4, 77; De bello Jud., V, vi, 4), the Talmud (Berachot, c. v, ad fin.; Quiddus, fol. 41, col. 1), and the writings of Philo (de Abraham ; de migrat. Abrahæ de vita contempl.), though this latter writer goes to excess in the allegorical interpretation. The foregoing tradition may be confirmed by the language of the liturgy and by the remains of Christian archæology (Kraus, "Roma sotterranea," pp. 242 sqq.). Striking instances of the liturgical proof may be seen in the Preface of the Mass for Easter, in the Blessing of the Paschal Candle, and in the Divine Office recited on the feast of Corpus Christi. All Catholic interpreters readily grant that in some passages of the Old Testament we have a typical sense besides the literal; but this does not appear to be granted with regard to the New Testament, at least not subsequently to the death of Jesus Christ. Distinguishing between the New Testament as it signifies a collection of books, and the New Testament as it denotes the Christian economy, they grant that there are types in the New-Testament books, but only as far as they refer to the pre-Christian economy. For the New Testament has brought us the reality in place of the figure, light in place of darkness, truth in place of shadow (cf. Patrizi, "De interpretatione Scripturarum Sacrarum", p. 199, Rome, 1844). On the other hand, it is urged that the New Testament is the figure of glory, as the Old Testament was the figure of the New (St. Thom., Summa, I, Q. i, a. 10). Again, in Scripture the literal sense applies to what precedes, the typical to what follows. Now, even in the New Testament Christ and His Body precedes the Church and its members; hence, what is said literally of Christ or His Body, may be interpreted allegorically of the Church, the mystical body of Christ, tropologically of the virtuous acts of the Church's members, anagogically of their future glory (St. Thom., Quodl., VII, a. 15, ad 5um). Similar views are expressed by St. Ambrose (in Ps. xxx, n. 25), St. Chrysostom (in Matt., hom. lxvi), St. Augustine (in Joh., ix), St. Gregory the Great (Hom. ii, in evang. Luc., xviii), St. John Damascene (De fide orth., iv, 13); besides, the bark of Peter is usually regarded as a type of the Church, the destruction of Jerusalem as a type of the final catastrophe.(iv) Has Everything in the Old Testament a Typical Sense?
If such passages as Luke 24:44 , 1 Corinthians 10:11 , be taken out of their context, they suggest the ubiquity of the typical sense in the Old Testament ; the context limits these texts to their proper range. If some of the Fathers, e.g. St. Augustine (De doct. christ., III, xxii) and St. Jerome (Ad Dard., Ep. cxxix, 6; Ep. ad Eptes. iii, 6), appear to assert the ubiquity of the typical sense, their language refers rather to the figurative than the spiritual sense. On the other hand, Tertullian (De resurrect. carn., c. xx), St. Augustine (De civ. Dei., XVII, iii; C. Faust., XXII, xciv), St. Jerome (in Joann., c. i; cf. in Jer., xxvii, 3, 9; xxix, 14), and St. Thomas (Quodl., vii, a. 15, ad 5um), explicitly reject the opinion which maintains that the whole of the Old Testament has a typical sense. The opposite opinion does not appeal to reason ; what could be the typical sense, e.g., of the command to love the Lord our God ( Deuteronomy 6:5 )?(v) How Can the Typical Sense Be Known?
In the typical sense God does not merely select an existing person or object as the sign of a future person or object, but he directs the course of nature in such a way that the very existence of the type, however independent it may be in itself, refers to the antitype. Man, too, can, in one or another particular case, perform an action in order to typify what he will do in the future. But as the future is not under his complete control, such a way of acting would be ludicrous rather than instructive. The typical sense is, therefore, properly speaking, confined to God's own book. Hence the criteria which serve for the interpretation of profane literature will not be sufficient to detect the typical sense. The latter is a supernatural fact depending entirely on the free will of God ; nothing but revelation can make it known to us, so that Scripture or tradition must be regarded as the source of any solid argument in favour of the existence of the typical sense in any particular passage. Where the typical sense really exists, it expresses the mind of God as truly as the literal sense; but we must be careful against excess in this regard. St. Augustine is guilty of this fault in his spiritual interpretation of the thirty-eight years in John, v, 5, and of the one hundred and fifty-three fishes in John, xxi, 11. Besides, it must be kept in mind that not all the minutiæ connected with the type have a definite and distinct meaning in the antitype. It would be useless labour to search for the spiritual meaning of every detail connected with the paschal lamb, e.g., or with the first Adam. The exegete ought to be especially careful in the admission of typical prophecies, and of anything that would resemble the method of the Jewish Cabbalists.(vi) The Theological Value of the Typical Sense
Father Perrone (Præl. theol. dogm., IX, 159) believes it is the common opinion of theologians and commentators that no theological argument can be based on the typical sense. But if we speak of the typical sense which has been revealed as such, or which has been proved as such from either Scripture or tradition, it conveys the meaning intended by God not less veraciously than the literal sense. Hence it furnishes solid and reliable premises for theological conclusions. The inspired writers themselves do not hesitate to argue from the typical sense, as may be seen in Matthew 2:15 (cf. Hosea 11:1 ), and Hebrews 1:5 (cf. 2 Samuel 7:14 ). Texts whose typical sense is only probable yield only probable theological conclusions; such is the argument for the Immaculate Conception based on Esther 15:13. If St. Thomas (Summa, I, Q. i, a. 10, ad 1um; Quod-lib., VII, a. 14, ad 4um) and other theologians differ from our position on this question, their view is based on the fact that the existence of the types themselves must first be theologically proved, before they can serve as premises in a theological argument.
The interpretation of a writing has for its object to find the ideas which the author intended to express. We do not consider here the so-called authentic interpretation or the writer's own statement as to the thought he intended to convey. In interpreting the Bible scientifically, its twofold character must always be kept in view: it is a Divine book, in as far as it has God for its author; it is a human book, in as far as it is written by men for men. In its human character, the Bible is subject to the same rules of interpretation as profane books; but in its Divine character, it is given into the custody of the Church to be kept and explained, so that it needs special rules of hermeneutics. Under the former aspect, it is subject to the laws of the grammatico-historical interpretation; under the latter, it is bound by the precepts of what we may call the Catholic explanation.(1) HISTORICO-GRAMMATICAL INTERPRETATION
The grammatico-historical interpretation implies three elements: first, a knowledge of the various significations of the literary expression to be interpreted; secondly, the determination of the precise sense in which the literary expression is employed in any given passage; thirdly, the historical description of the idea thus determined. What has been said in the preceding paragraphs sufficiently shows the difference between the signification and the sense of a word or a sentence. The importance of describing an idea historically may be exemplified by the successive shades of meaning attaching to the concept of Messias, or of Kingdom of God.(i) Significations of the Literary Expression
The signification of the literary expression of the Bible is best learned by a thorough knowledge of the so-called sacred languages in which the original text of Scripture was written, and by a familiar acquaintance with the Scriptural way of speaking.(a) Sacred Languages
St. Augustine (De doctr. christ., II, xi; cf. xvi) warns us that "the knowledge of languages is the great remedy against unknown signs. Men of the Latin tongue need two others for a thorough knowledge of the Divine Scriptures, viz, the Hebrew and the Greek, so that recourse may be had to the older copies, if the infinite variety of the Latin translators occasions any doubt." Pope Leo XIII, in the Encyclical "Providentissimus Deus", agrees with the great African Doctor in urging the study of the sacred languages. "It is most proper", he writes, "that professors of Sacred Scripture and theologians should master those tongues in which the Sacred Books were originally written; and it would be well that church students also should cultivate them, more especially those who aspire to academic degrees. And endeavours should be made to establish in all academic institutions -- as has already been laudably done in many -- chairs of the other ancient languages, especially the Semitic, and of other subjects connected therewith, for the benefit principally of those who are intended to profess sacred literature." Nor can it be urged that for the Catholic interpreter the Vulgate is the authentic text, which can be understood by any Latin scholar. The pontiff considers this exception in the Encyclical quoted: "Although the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek is substantially rendered by the Vulgate, nevertheless wherever there may be ambiguity or want of clearness, the ' examination of older tongues,' to quote St. Augustine, will be useful and advantageous." Recourse to the original text is considered the only scholarly approach to any great work of literature. A translation is never a perfect reproduction of the original; no language can fully express the thoughts conveyed in another tongue, no translator is capable of seizing the exact shades of all the truths contained in any work, and in case of Biblical versions, we have often good reason for doubt as to the genuineness of their readings.(b) Scriptural
Language The Scriptural language presents several difficulties peculiar to itself. First, the Bible is not written by one author, but presents in almost every book the style of a different writer. Secondly, the Bible was not written at a single period; the Old Testament covers the time between Moses and the last Old-Testament writer, i.e. more than one thousand years, so that many words must have changed their meaning during this interval. Thirdly, the Biblical Greek is not the classical language of the Greek authors with whom we are acquainted; up to about fifteen years ago, Biblical scholars used to speak about New-Testament Greek, they compiled New-Testament lexicons, and wrote New-Testament grammars. The discovery of the Egyptian papyri and other literary remains has broken down this wall of separation between the language of the New Testament and that of the time in which it was written; with regard to this point, our present time may be considered as a period of transition, leading up to the composition of lexicons and grammars that will rightly express the relation of the Biblical Greek to the Greek employed in profane writings. Fourthly, the Bible deals with the greatest variety of topics, requiring a corresponding variety of vocabulary; moreover, its expressions are often figurative, and therefore subject to more frequent changes of meaning than the language of profane writers. How are we to become acquainted with the Scriptural language in spite of the foregoing difficulties? St.Augustine (De doctr. christ., II, ix sqq.) suggests the continual reading of the Bible as the first remedy, so that we may acquire "a familiarity with the language of the Scriptures ", He adds to this a careful comparing of the Bible text with the language of the ancient versions, a process calculated to remove some of the native ambiguities of the original text. A third help is found, according to the same great Doctor, in the diligent reading of the works of the Fathers, since many of them formed their style by a constant reading of Holy Scripture (loc. cit., II, xiii, xiv). Nor must we omit to study the writings of Philo and Josephus, the contemporaries of the Apostles a
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