Friday, April 16, 2010

In Lieu of NBA Playoff Predictions ... Augustine on Allegorical Interpretation of Noah's Ark

I was planning on posting my whole series of picks for the NBA Playoffs, until I came upon John Hollinger's picks that were exactly the same as mine. Well, he already wrote the column, so no need for me to repeat it here.

(My Finals pick: Cavs over Suns in six. If not the Suns, in order: Spurs, then Mavs, then Lakers. But Cavs win no matter what, as I predicted in October, when I said that if it wasn't the Spurs, it'd be the Cavs all the way. So there you go.)

Instead, then, let's have a bit of the good Bishop:

"Yet no one ought to suppose either that these things were written for no purpose, or that we should study only the historical truth, apart from any allegorical meanings; or, on the contrary, that they are only allegories, and that there were no such facts at all, or that, whether it be so or no, there is here no prophecy of the church. For what right-minded man will contend that books so religiously preserved during thousands of years, and transmitted by so orderly a succession, were written without an object, or that only the bare historical facts are to be considered when we read them? ...

"But none but a contentious man can suppose that there was no prefiguring of the church in so manifold and circumstantial a detail. For the nations have already so filled the church, and are comprehended in the framework of its unity, the clean and unclean together, until the appointed end, that this one very manifest fulfillment leaves no doubt how we should interpret even those others which are somewhat more obscure, and which cannot so readily be discerned. And since this is so, if not even the most audacious will presume to assert that these things were written without a purpose, or that though the events really happened they mean nothing, or that they did not really happen, but are only allegory, or that at all events they are far from having any figurative reference to the church; [it] has been made out that, on the other hand, we must rather believe that there was a wise purpose in their being committed to memory and to writing, and that they did happen, and have a significance, and that this significance has a prophetic reference to the church."

--St. Augustine, City of God XV.27

1 comment:

  1. As creation was presciently baptised and purified by the flood, so was humanity by Christ's spirit, and water as its sign of purification.