05 February 2011

Patristic Quote of the Day

I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to make them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense. -- St. Basil the Great, Homily IX on the Hexameron


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

St. Basil knew the Scriptures well. He knew that St. Paul bade us consider the story of Sarah and Hagar "an allegory" and that St. Paul also said of the rock that gushed forth water for the Israelites, "That rock was Christ."

None of this necessarily denies the literal sense. But the validity and helpfulness of allegory is not to be dismissed, either.

Most Scripture has more than one level of (legitimate) interpretation, often half a dozen.

William Weedon said...

Wasn't it rather a shocking statement from him? That's why I put it up. I wouldn't have expected it. He was just saying, I suppose, he sails closer to Antioch than to Alexandria...