Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chrysostom, Allegorization, and the Parables (part 7): A Brief Conclusion

John Chrysostom
Scholars sometimes separate early Christian interpretations of the parables into two camps: (1) allegorical interpretations of Christians in Alexandria (e.g., Origen) and (2) non-allegorical interpretations in Antioch (e.g., Chrysostom). As we have seen on this blog over the course of the past few months (and will in future posts), that general distinction is not a hard and fast rule. Although allegorical readings were much more extensive in places like Alexandria, most scholars now acknowledge that “figural representation belonged to all forms of early Christian exegesis” (F. Young, p. 259). Some allegorized interpretations of parables are even found in the Gospels themselves, so we should not be surprised to encounter some allegorization even in those interpretations that focus more on the literal meanings in these texts. Chrysostom, for example, sees the spiritual meanings in Scripture but also rejects wholesale allegorization. Instead he focuses on the more literal sense of these texts, especially on how those meanings should be applied concretely in one’s Christian life.

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