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Document Details :

Title: Allegorese, typologie en allegorie in de middeleeuwen
Author(s): YPENGA, Anko
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 62    Issue: 1   Date: 2001   
Pages: 3-27
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.62.1.759

Abstract :
The main focus of this article is to clarify the complex phenomenon of allegorical interpretation of the Bible in the Middle Ages. It is not just some medieval peculiarity, but a very refined methodology, which enabled scientists to explore and define their reality. Their view of reality is basically different from our point of view. The medieval student did not understand reality per se, but was interested in reality as far as it could help to grasp the meaning of the supernatural world. All earthly things were seen as codes of the spiritual realm of God, which mankind could decode by means of this very system of allegoresis.
The starting point, therefor, is to be taken in biblical hermeneutics. Here, allegoresis was developed into an overall method of interpretation, not only of the words of the Bible, but also into a refined tool of exegesis of nature and Creation, extending so far as to the allegorical explanation of liturgy.
Based on a (false) interpretation of II Corinthians 3:6, Bible hermeneutics were developed in Christian tradition which saw the Old Testament as the letter, the New Testament as the Spirit. Dependent upon this, there was a development towards the division of, on the one hand, the words which described the historical events, and on the other hand its full meaning and signification on a higher, that is, spiritual or allegorical level. This higher level of interpretation can be subdivided in three aspects of meaning: a) an allegorical or dogmatical aspect; b) a tropological or ethical aspect, and c) an anagogical or eschatological aspect. These aspects cover all the important issues of Christian faith and life, very similar to the way people read the Bible nowadays. Apart from the words of the Bible, also the things, which are described in it, can be signs of a higher reality. One could say: just like there is a language of words which are signs, there is a language of things meaning other things. It is, in fact, a second language (Brinkmann).
Having briefly surveyed the history of allegory, the writer continues with a status questionis of modern research. The discussion on the difference between (Greek) allegory and (Christian) typology between De Lubac and Daniélou is revivified, but because of the inherent theological axiomata it has to be set aside. Renewal of the discussion can be found in Augustine’s division into allegoria verbi and allegoria facti, which are to be connected with typology. This discussion ends into an overall view of the areas to which allegory can be applied: Gods (allegorical) language of signs, based on words (allegoria verbi), historical facts (allegoria facti) and things (the so-called second language) can be found in the Bible, in Creation and in Liturgy. Typology is not one of the two layers of the bible, nor is it to be attached to one of the four aspects of meaning; it is a point of view on the relationship between the Old and the New Testament.