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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  March 2011

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION March 2011

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Subject:

Re: levels of biblical interpretation

From:

Frans van Liere <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 13:23:23 -0400

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Meg, You you rpobably thinking of  more practical example, such as the fourfold
sense of the story of Job, exemplified in Hugh's De scripturis et scriptoribus
sacris, ch. 3: (mytranslation, from PL 176)

We give here one example of this threefold understanding. There was a man in
the land of Us, named Job, who first was rich, but came to such misery that,
sitting in the dung heap, he scratched even his healthy body with a potsherd.
The historical sense is clear. Now we come to the allegory, in which we
consider by the things that are signified by these words other things to be
signified, and by one fact another fact. Job, whose name means “mourning”,
signifies Christ, who first was coequal to the Father in the richess of his
glory, but descended to our misery, and sat humbled on the dung heap of this
world, sharing in all our defects for the sake of sin. Now we will ask what by
this fact is signified that must happen, or is worthy to be done. Job can stand
for whatever just or penitent soul, who in his memory makes up a dung heap out
of all the sins he has committed and, not for a short time but perseveringly,
sits on it and does not cease to weep while meditating on it. Those things that
happened according to the letter that signifiy such spiritual things are called
“sacraments”.



Frans van Liere
History Department, Calvin College
1845 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids MI 49546

>>> James Ginther <[log in to unmask]> 3/16/2011 8:29 PM >>>
medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Prof Brown makes an important point here: while the fourfold sense was
acknowledged throughout the Middle Ages, it was not employed uniformly.  The
early medieval approach differed considerably from the scholastic approach.
 I have worked more with the latter, and even then amongst the theologians
of the schools there are significant differences.  The distich translated
here is often credited as coming from the pen of Augustine of Dacia (ca.
1260), but Robert Grosseteste has his own formulation specifically for the
exegesis of the Psalms (and informed by the Tyconian Rules).  The drawback
of the Cassian example is that it is just an example and not representative
of how the various senses were deployed in actual exegesis.  For example,
while the tropological sense (sensus moralis) was certainly tied to what you
do (quid agas), theologians like Hugh of St-Cher spoke of it as "in persona
animae fidelis" and that often permitted him to discuss what we would call
aspects of philosophical psychology.  Others, such as Grosseteste and
Bonaventure, spoke of allegory not as just what you believe, but
specifically about Christology and/or Ecclesiology.

There is also the other issue of what exactly were the four senses. There
general agreement but some significant outliers (Augustine muddied the
waters by talking about an etiological sense--much to the chagrin of the
scholastic synthesizers), and Hugh of St-Victor only spoke of three senses.


So I would just suggest that the examples given may not completely present
the state of play for exegesis in a given time.

If you are interested in later medieval exegesis, Christopher Ocker's book
on Biblical Poetics does a very nice job in delineating the complexity of
that period. And at the risk of shameless self-promotion, I have a long
entry on exegesis in my Westminster Handbook to Medieval Theology (partially
viewable on Google Books).

Jim


On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 7:08 PM, George Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>
> Besides Cassian, Gregory the Great in the *Moralia in Job* and Bede in
*Deschematibus
> et tropis describe the fourfold formula. In my A Companion to Bede, p. 25,
> I have more on  the theory of symbol applied to Christian salvific history
> where I also cite the medieval distich that served as a memory aid:*
> *Litera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria,*
> *Moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.*
> *[The letter teaches event, allegory what you should believe./ Morality
> teaches what you should do, anagogy what mark you should be aiming at.  *
> *And I refer to Henri de Lubac's Exégèse médiévale: le quatre sens de
> l'Écriture (one volume of which has been translated into English). *
> GHB
>
> On Mar 16, 2011, at 4:13 PM, Paul Chandler wrote:
>
> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> You're probably thinking of the famous passage in John Cassian's
> Conferences, 14.8.4:
>
> The four figures that have been mentioned converge in such a way that, if
>> we want, one and the same Jerusalem can be understood in a fourfold
manner.
>> According to history it is the city of the Jews. According to allegory it
is
>> the Church of Christ. According to anagogy it is that heavenly city of God
>> 'which is the mother of us all.' According to tropology it is the soul of
>> the human being, which under this name is frequently either reproached or
>> praised by the Lord.
>>
> (trans. Boniface Ramsey, ACW 57: 510)
>>
>
> An older translation is here: <
> http://www.ccel.org/ccel/cassian/conferences.iii.v.viii.html> -- Paul
>
>
>
> On 17 March 2011 06:03, Cormack, Margaret Jean <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>>
>> Hi,
>> Can anyone give me a good example illustrating the four levels of
>> biblical interpretation? I had a website link which, foolishly,
>> I never copied onto a 'real' file - and so lost! I have an example using
>> 'light' from Thomas Aquinas, but recall seeing one
>> with Jerusalem - and am wondering if there is an example with the
>> sacrifice of Isaac as well?
>> Thanks in advance,
>> Meg
>>
>
>
> --
> Paul Chandler, O.Carm.
> Holy Spirit Seminary  |  PO Box 18 (487 Earnshaw Road)  |  Banyo Qld 4014
> |  Australia
> office: (07) 3246 9888  |  home: (07) 3246 9894
> [log in to unmask] 
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>
> Prof. Em. George Hardin Brown, FMAA, FSA
> Department of English, 450 Serra Mall
> Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2087
> Home: 451 Adobe Place, Palo Alto, CA 94306-4501
> Phones: Mobile: 650-269-9898; Fax: 650-725-0755; Home: 650-852-1231
>
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-- 
----------
James R. Ginther, PhD
Assoc. Professor of Medieval Theology
& Director,
Center for Digital Theology
Saint Louis University
-------------------------
[log in to unmask] 
Faculty Page: Departmental
Page<https://sites.google.com/a/slu.edu/james-ginther/>
<https://sites.google.com/a/slu.edu/james-ginther/>Research Blog:
http://digital-editor.blogspot.com 
Twitter: DH_editor <http://twitter.com/#!/DH_editor>
<http://digital-editor.blogspot.com>

"Blessed are the Geeks for they shall encode the Earth"

"...debet esse oratio devota, ne mens sit in foro dum os psallit in choro."
- Robert Grosseteste

"Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if
both are frozen." -Edward V. Berard

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