An allegory is a symbolic representation of one thing, through another. Most ancient scriptures are allegorical in nature - certain physical people, places, things or events of an earlier time have an ultimate spiritual application in the present or future. For example, the Old Testament high priest Aaron was an allegory, or symbol, of the spiritual High Priest. The Bible claims its own authority for these metaphorical interpretations. Man has always tried to figure out what “God” would want for humanity if we had the opportunity to have God/Source stand upon a pulpit and have the network news broadcast it. Unfortunately, this is likely not to happen.
Over the centuries since The Bible was written, some people, for a variety of misguided reasons, occasionally well-meaning and honest, but usually not, have applied the “meaning” of parts of the Bible to their own time and circumstances, far removed from what is truly found in the deeper ancient teachings and metaphors.
Some today even believe that the ultimate fulfillment of Biblical Scriptures is actually taking place even though it was never meant to be literal or historical. They deny Inner Mysteries of what the Bible and other ancient scripture says, and hijack the Sacred Truths for their own self-serving purposes - using them as a means of glorifying themselves, controlling the general public, and not sharing the mystical Truths contained in the teachings … simply because this would empower the people and then the church and its hierarchy would no longer be in power or even be needed.
Allegorical and metaphorical interpretation is the correct and legitimate usage, its self-centered approach is actually more ancient than Christianity, having originated with pagan mystics of Egypt, Greece, Persia, the Far East, and then adopted, revised, and customized by some Hebrew and Christian “thinkers.”
These thinkers who attempted to overcome the problems posed by literal interpretations of ancient Greek myths, the allegorical method was further developed by scholars, such as Philo of Alexandria in the 1st century AD, and Christian thinkers, such as Clement and Origen of Alexandria in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Though other methods were often used, particularly by the formation of The Holy Roman Universal (Catholic) Church in 325CE, the allegorical method was still around until late medieval times, though mostly underground and in secrecy. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century rejected, for the most part, the allegorical method and returned to a literal historical interpretation of the Bible, not having the understanding and foundations of the ancient Wisdom of Egyptian and Greek Mystics and Philosophers.
The allegorical and metaphysical method of mythological teachings of spiritual Truths attempts to overcome the difficulties of morally perplexing Biblical passages and to harmonize them with certain traditions and accepted teachings of the symbolism within the ancient temples. By assigning to each feature of a text - a hidden, symbolic, or mystical meaning beyond the primary meaning that the words convey in their literal sense - the allegorical interpretations make the text more comprehensible, acceptable, relevant, and applicable regardless of time and era. In other words, it is more important to ask ourselves DOES it happen, rather that DID it happen.
Just a thought …
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.