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Old 09-29-2005, 09:57 AM
Draken Draken is offline
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Default Knowledge of the Symbol


Pietro Negri, in his article Knowledge of the Symbol, writes:

"According to Dante (Convivium, II, 1), "texts can be understood and expounded according to four senses": the literal sense; the allegorical sense, which Dante says, "is a truth concealed behind a beautiful lie"; the moral sense; and the anagogical sense. This anagogical sense occurs when "reading in a spiritual way way a scriptural passage, which in its literal meaning and in the things being signified points toward the things of eternal glory"; in other words, it is the innermost meaning of a text that, even when it has a literal sense, deals with topics of a spiritual nature. This latter sense must be clearly distinguished from the allegorical and moral senses, which in comparison with the anagogical sense, at least from a spiritual point of view, have a secondary importance."

With this in mind a text, any text, could have these four levels of meaning. Of course, there are many texts lacking this fourth, anagogical level, since it is not trying to convey any spiritual meaning.

Since my opinion is that the text of the Bible also should be subjected to these possible four ways of understanding a text, it follows that one could argue the Bible to be able to convey multiple meanings on multiple levels of understanding. There is not just ONE WAY to understand the Bible.

Jesus himself taught in allegorical stories, where the allegorical, not the literal meaning was the essence. Is it possible to see the allegorical, or even anagogical meaning of Jesus' words? I say yes, but maybe Literalist Christians would say no. This could be because they take everything at face value, like Nex for instance, not realizing the possible ulterior motives for a person being nice to him.

Of course, one can choose to take Jesus' words as they are, interpret them literally and be perfectly satisfied with the result. Jesus makes perfect sense taken literally. But does that mean there is absolutely NO meaning on other possible levels? Surely one should not deny the possibility for others to understand the texts of the Bible differently from one's own understanding?

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Three things are sacred to me: first Truth, and then, in its tracks, primordial prayer; Then virtue–nobility of soul which, in God walks on the path of beauty. Frithjof Schuon
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