While not the Orthodox view, there has been a strong Christian tradition of biblical interpretation that goes beyond the literal sense of its words. I have maintained through various posts that to truly understand the significance of the covenant with God, the literal sense of Holy Scripture is never adequate (and often divisive as the numerous Christian denominations attest to).
Paul explained in the Corinthians: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives Life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
Later, Origen and Augustine spoke of being inspired by Christ to an understanding of the hidden content in the Holy Word. In spite of this Orthodox Christianity choose to embrace only a literal interpretation of scripture.
Thankfully, Emanuel Swedenborg entered the scene. He not only revived the idea of hidden content, he took it even further. As a result he has given to humankind the most systematic approach to a multi-layered exegesis (exposition) of the Sacred Word.
This hidden content is evidenced by the Lord’s exclusive use of parable (stories that don’t express literal, historical fact but contain eternal truth on a deeper level). This is why it is stated in the New Testament that:
He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:45)
If the words of scripture were only meant to be taken literally (the sense of the letter), then such a divine jolt by the Lord to the cognitive function His disciples would not have been necessary. So there must be more to God’s revealed wisdom then meets the eye.
Swedenborg claimed that the literal sense of scripture served as a foundation upon which more elevated meanings rested. Above the lower, literal level is a spiritual level, which conveys the inner story that each one of us experiences on our spiritual journey. The Lord actually provides evidence that biblical events are meant to represent events that are to take place within human hearts and minds. The big clue is given when he responds to the demands of the Pharisees to tell them when God’s kingdom will come.
“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21).
So the Lord is giving a powerful hint to the Pharisees that the coming of the kingdom will not be a physical event. The coming of the kingdom is also identified with the Lord’s Second Coming in Revelation. So the New Jerusalem will be a new dwelling place in our hearts and minds for the Lord. This Holy City represents a new teaching descending from heaven.
The third or highest level of meaning in Scripture deals with high Christology. In other words, interpretation now regards the events in Scripture as dealing solely with the Lord. This includes events in the Old Testament. The Lord also alludes to this highest level of interpretation on His walk to Emmaus when He reveals to his disciples new things about the Sacred Word.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27).
What possible way could the story of Moses address Christology, that is, have something to do with the interpretation of the person and work of Christ unless it contained a more elevated meaning? The Lord is now making these higher-level meanings available to the world.
So what does all this deep theology have to do with science?
In quantum physics the deeper you look at the fabric of reality, the more topologically astounding and active things get. Scripture also becomes more intricate and dynamic at its deeper levels of meaning. In the same way quantum events become more expanded, non-local, and act like non-physical waves, biblical events can also take on more expanded and non-physical meanings (so the laws of physics have their origins in spiritual patterning principles).
For instance, the word “light” can be taken beyond its literal meaning to represent the higher, non-physical meaning of “understanding.” That is why the Lord is described as the “light and the way” and that His life was the “light of men.” The Lord influences human minds in the same way light influences our physical eyes. When He opens our minds to understand Scripture, it is to reveal its hidden content.
Each and every word in Sacred Scripture offers a similar metaphysical interpretation (but not every story in the canonical Bible is the true Word of God – see my post entitled “God’s Holy Word vs. the Canonical Bible”).
These are just some of the topics I will be addressing in my next book, Proving God, which seeks to unify science and theology. This unity is not achievable without having access to the hidden content of the Sacred Word
Posted on June 8, 2008by thegodguy