Monday, February 15, 2010

Not allegory but example. . .

Oftentimes an allegorical interpretation of a text in Scripture can be annoying to me -- I enjoy it in moderation, I like it when we see connections in Scripture, but when we start saying that this is really that. . . a little much. And yet, why is allegory so often popular? Because it makes any text easier to apply - the allegory lifts the text up and then via the analogy you can drop it right upon the people.

I find I have come to view texts less and less in terms of allegory when applying them and more and more as though they are examples. . . consider the temptation of Jesus. How can this be applied directly to the people? Why, it's an example of the ways in which Satan will attack us with temptations, it demonstrates where we are to flee when tempted. Will the temptations we face be the same - no, but that's how Satan works.

Or even consider something that is happily allegorized -- like the sacrifice of Issac. Rather than trying to specifically tie things up and say "this is that!" - it's an example. God intervenes so that we are not saved from death by substitution. . . ditto scapegoat, any sacrifice, etc. These are examples of how God works.

Or even the Good Samaritan. What are the two coins he leaves? Are the Baptism and the Supper? Are they Word and Sacrament? Are they Scripture and Tradition? Allegorists may fight over this. Or rather, do we learn instead that God leaves over abundant care. . . care that we see in __________?

Maybe we should try to learn from the examples of Scripture rather than finding the wondrous allegory. Signs fit, signs are examples, signs are repeated. Sign of Jonah? The prophet is swallowed and restored after three days so that Nineveh, full of the despised, might be saved. What do we learn from this example - that Christ rises to save the despised, even as folks look on in disdain.

I don't know -- just some thoughts running around the head this morning.

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