March 19, 2010

Exegesis for Everyone

When reading Sacred Scripture it is good to bear in mind the four senses of Scripture that Dr. Pauline A. Viviano outlined in the last Exegesis for Everyone. Let us begin with the literal sense. 

The literal sense of Scripture is what the authors of Sacred Scripture intended to covey when they wrote it. The bible contains a multitude of literary forms from poetry to histories, wisdom narratives, letters and more. Furthermore, the Bible is not just one book but a collection of seventy-three books. It must be read with this in mind. 

The three spiritual senses of Scripture emerge from the literal sense. They are:

The allegorical or typical sense of Scripture is how people and events in the Bible point forward to other times. An example Scott Hahn uses is the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac is a prefiguring of Christ. Isaac, a son carries the wood for his own sacrifice (which fortunately for Isaac doesn’t happen). Christ, the Son of God carries the cross for his own sacrifice, which is the crucifixion. 

The moral sense of Scripture is emulating the virtue, faith and goodness of biblical figures to turn away from evil and toward God. 

Finally, the anagogical sense of Scripture is how events in the Bible reveal what our life in Heaven will be like.

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