Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Arrow of Allegory: final causes and deflationary readings

Certain teachers and homilists consistently rub me the wrong way, reading Biblical texts in ways that seem to mean less after their explications than before.

Maybe you know the kind I mean. They teach about the Resurrection, and they do so with utter conviction that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead. But somehow it all turns out to “really be about” how believing in the Resurrection helps us to help each other and be open to new ideas.

the Gnostic Ogdoad, a manifestation of dualism--the only way from God to humans is through concepts untainted by material embodiment

the Gnostic Ogdoad, a manifestation of dualism–the only way from God to humans is through concepts untainted by material embodiment

And, if you’re listening often enough, you notice that the same conclusion follows from every passage. Sometimes it corrects a misapprehension: the account of the rich man and Lazarus really should be read more emphatically in terms of the identity of the rich man’s failure of charity (in ignoring Lazarus) with his failure of faith (along with his unbelieving brothers) and his lack of well-founded hope (“in hell he lifted up his eyes”). The tendency I grew up with, of looking at this account primarily as an exposition of the nature of Hell, was arguably less helpful.

Nonetheless, the parable of the Pearl of Great Price should surely not be read so that our joy in finding the Gospel is merely or most emphatically an example of our joy in finding any of the gifts God gives us, though certainly every gift of Creation is finds its ultimate goodness united to the Gospel purpose of the Creator who calls us together in one Body with His Son. Continue reading »