Friday, May 13, 2011

Interpreting Scripture

"Saint Philip asks the eunich: understandest thou what thou readest? He answered: how can I, except some man should guide me? (Acts 8:31). How often those who read the word of God and writings of the fathers experience the same thing! What is read is beyond our comprehension; the mind cannot heed or grasp it, as if it were something foreign to it, about topics of an unknown realm. This is why an interpreter is needed, who is familiar with the meaning of the words. Saint Philip had the same spirit as the one which brought those prophecies, and so it was not difficult for him to interpret what the eunuch found hard to understand. Thus it is for us now: we must find a person who stands on such a level of life and knowledge as is touched upon by the scripture which is difficult for us, and he will interpret it without difficulty, because each level has its own spiritual view. He who stands on a lower level does not see all that he who stands on the higher sees, and can only guess about it. If it happens that the scriptures which are incomprehensible for us touch upon subjects of the higher level, but the interpreter met by us stands on the lower, then he cannot explain it as he should, and will apply everything to his own outlooks, and it will remain for us as dark as before. One must marvel at how people take on interpreting topics of Scripture while being totally foreign to the realm to which these subjects belong. And for them it does not come out as it should; nor do they fail to get puffed up over their own interpretations."

- Saint Theophan the Recluse