Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bonus Martin Luther quote about allegorical versus literal interpretations of Scripture

Martin Luther's Table Talk

One can very often count on Martin Luther to give his opinion in a colorful way (sometimes to readers' and even his chagrin). 

Luther’s additional thoughts of how and why he moved from allegorical to literal interpretations of Scripture are recorded in a Table Talk from October, 1540. This move includes a rejection of the fourfold manner of interpretation, such as practiced by Gregory the Great (I don't think I have discussed his writings yet on this blog, but I will) and others:
When I was young . . I dealt with allegories, tropologies, and analogies and did nothing but clever tricks with them. If somebody had them today, they’d be looked upon as rare relics. I know they’re nothing but rubbish. Now I’ve let them go, and this is my last and best art, to translate the Scriptures in their plain sense. The literal sense does it—in it there’s life, comfort, power, instruction, and skill. The other is tomfoolery, however brilliant the impression it makes (LW 1955 54:406).

Any person with a weak mind “is able to launch into allegories.”

Next week I will start giving examples from Martin Luther's sermons on the parables. Great stuff!

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