Now this doctrine of the allegorical method, or of the mystical meaning of the texts, has been strongly attacked by the Reformers, and it is something strange in our realistic philological mind. What is the reason for it? The reason for it is easily understood: it is the authority of a text, which is not adequate to our own situation but still has absolute authority. In order to make it applicable to the situation of the interpreter, it is necessary to find a meaning which is not the literal meaning. This is always done; every sermon does it with the Biblical texts, and today it is done on a large scale by some interpreters of the Old Testament who make out of it the New Testament in interpreting every word of the Old Testament as a Christological prononciamento. But this is exactly the same situation; it is something which is almost inescapable: if you have a text which is absolute authority and you know its literal meaning, and this literal meaning doesn’t say anything to you, then you use, consciously or unconsciously, a method which transfers the original meaning into an actual or existential meaning. Of course this can lead to a complete undercutting of the authority of the text. And for this reason the Lutheran Reformation reestablished the genuine or philological or literal text as the genuine authority.

But when we look at the dogmatic statements and their proof which has been taken from the Bible, in Orthodox or Fundamentalistic writings, we find immediately that they don’t do anything else except what Origen did here: they find a method for interpreting the Bible beyond itself. Only if you are scientifically completely honest can you have the literal text and then say: “This doesn’t say anything to us,” or “We say something else; we recommend beyond the text, and we don’t mean to express a hidden meaning of the text. ‘This, I think, is the only consistent attitude.