1 Bible does not = a million popes

A common rebuttal to sola scriptura is that it makes each man a pope.   But let’s examine this reasoning. Are they saying that each person reading the bible comes to his own conclusion?  Well, so what?  People interpret material and come to conclusions.  That’s called having a brain.  The objection only holds water if we add one more premise: and is such a judicial authority in the church.

Now, this is a devastating rebuttal to Congregational governments because they are islands in the stream (sorry, bad Dolly Parton reference).  It doesn’t touch synodical governments.  Billy Bob in the Presbyterian church can read his Bible and come to wacky conclusions and it doesn’t mean anything judicially, for Billy Bob as an individual member does not have judicial authority in the synod (and hence isn’t offering his interpretation of the Bible as normative).

Let’s pretend that Billy Bob’s presbytery takes his interpretation and makes it official, would not the objection hold then?  Well, it might hold but consider what has happened:  the representative form of government has limited Billy Bob’s initial appeal.  Billy Bob–or thirty Billy Bobs–only has a normative voice in the context of his synod, and that synod is simultaneously being checked by higher and lower courts.

Ecclesiastical Republicanism is the most perfect form of government, but it is not completely flawless.  I was a part of Louisiana Presbytery when it imploded (and caused no small amount of grief).  But even its implosion illustrated the truth:  higher and lower courts were acting upon the Presbytery, albeit unsuccessfully.

Someone could further object, “Yeah, well if there are 30 Presbyteries, then there are  30 different teachings.”  To which I say, “Prove it.”  That usually ends the debate.  But let’s pretend there are a lot of different teachings.  So what? That’s the cost of doing business in a fallen world.

4 comments on “1 Bible does not = a million popes

  1. John* says:


    Thanks for this post.

    I would like to posit the following Jewish scenario. It is based on the PaRDeS hermeneutic and assumes that both people below know PaRDeS well and know how to use it – superbly. For the purposes of this illustration, it is also assumes that both know the Hebrew/Aramaic language encyclopedically. Both know the basics of the Zohar. The names are fictitious for this illustration, but the principles are not.

    1) Rabbi Goldberg lived in Prague in the 13th Century CE, He was a prolific Talmud Scholar, and head of the town’s prestigious Yeshiva. He left a significant corpus of literature for today. Yet for all his scholarship, he never even once encountered the work of R Ben Shlomo (below).

    2) Rabbi Ben Shlomo lived in Bagdad in the 7th Century CE – just before the arrival of Islam. He was a prodigy in his time, but sadly none of his work had been translated into a European language until the 19th Century CE.

    Both interpret the same Torah passage that the Jewish Lectionary sets down for the second Shabbat after the 9th of Av.

    When the translators of R Ben Shlomo in the 19th Century compared his commentary with that of R Goldberg, they find that the thrust of the hermeneutic of R Ben Shlomo is within 1% of the hermeneutic of R Goldberg. Indeed, there are whole sentences which are almost identical, with whole paragraphs containing the identical thought.

    Both produced their commentary / interpretation entirely independently of each other, and, in the case of R Goldberg in complete ignorance of R Ben Shlomo and his literary output.

    Here are two “Billy Bobs” each doing their own thing, without reference to any Presbytery or Synod, separated by both time and geography. Here is the beauty of the PaRDeS system in its interaction with the Hebrew / Aramaic language – it delivers a remarkably convergent result without any form of or need for consultation with each other. Or in our day, a common attendance at the same Yeshiva.

    With this system in place, they both can afford to be “islands in the stream”, without reference to any system of higher or lower courts. They don’t need 30 Presbyteries – or consultation with a raft of “Church Fathers” – to arrive at a common interpretation – the PaRDeS system is good enough to come close enough to deliver that in isolation.

    If the Constantinian / Hellenised church (and in your example – Billy Bob) had stuck to Hebrew and Hebrew hermeneutics, we would not need to worry about any wacky conclusions arising in isolation – PaRDeS would prevent wackiness from arising in the first place. And your Louisiana Presbytery would not have imploded.

    I trust that this assists.

    • What is some good secondary literature on PaRDes?

      • John* says:


        PaRDeS is the standard Jewish hermeneutical tool for onterpreting primarily Scripture but also is capable of application to the Zohar and the Kabbaka. It may be found in any standard Jewish textbook for hermeneutics 101.

        It was used by Yeshua and His Apostles, the Jerusalem Church, and all in their missionary “plants” in Gentile circles as the Gospel Commission was spread throughout the world from them.

        It was not used in Pauline circles as a consequence of Paul’s Hellenising agenda, and in these circles led to the adoption of the Hellenistic tools of Allegory (from the Ptolomies’ Egypt), and Symbolism (from the Selucid’s Antioch).in place of PaRDeS..

        I have included a thumbnail sketch below. Whilst this is a long post, I trust that this summary assists and will be both fruitful and useful to you and your readers:


        PaRDeS was shaped by R Hillel (20 BCE – 20CE) with these principles:

        Rabbi Hillel – the Elder’s Principles (20 BCE – 20CE)
        [These applied to the Tanak, and by extension, to the Arimathean Brit haDashah (NT)]

        1. Kal vechomer (Lit.: “light and heavy”)
        The Argument from a minor premise to a major one. “How much more…”

        2. Gezerah shavah (Lit. : “cut equally (from the same block)”)
        The Argument based upon an analogy or inference from one verse to another with the same wording, where the interpreter applies the same meaning to both passages.

        3. Binyan av mitkatuv echad (Lit. : “building a teaching-principle based on one verse”.)
        The Main Proposition / Interpretation is derived from one verse – the text interprets itself.

        4. Binyan av mishnai katuvim (Lit. “building a teaching-principle based on two verses”.)
        The Main Proposition / Interpretation is derived from two verses – the two texts interpret themselves

        5. Kelal uferat-perat vekelal (Lit. “general and specific / specific and general”.)
        Teaching from a general principle (Proposition / Interpretation) to a specific one, or vice versa.

        6. Keyotza bo bamakom acher (Lit.: “as comes from it in another place”.)
        A Teaching based on what is similar in, and can be learned from another passage with the same or similar Teaching.

        7. Devar halamed meinyao (Lit. “a word that is learned from its own issue”.)
        A matter that is learned from its own Subject / Context. To interpret according to the “environment” of the passage – what has gone before, and what has come after the passage under study. (Sifra, Intro 1.7, t Sanhedrin at the end.)

        Interpretive Principles arising from the Above.

        1. How are these texts related to each other?
        2. Do they use similar words and phrases?
        3. Do they express similar ethical principles?
        4. What do they reveal about God’s character?
        5. What do they demand in human behaviour?
        6. What type of environment would give birth to these teachings?
        7. How do these parallel texts help us to understand the issues confronting the community of faith?
        8. Do these texts lead to a contemplative lifestyle in the presence of the Shekinah (Ruach haKodesh)? If so, how would this be understood in a Hebrew framework?
        9. What practical wisdom can be learned from these teachings which can be applied to everyday life?
        10. How do these parallel texts reveal similarities in thought-patterns and conceptual world-views? How are they different?

        11. What common sources in the Jewish heritage could have influenced the development of these teachings?
        12. How does the Oral Torah interpret these texts? (Even in the Arimathean NT!)
        13. What was the rabbinic understanding of, or parallels to these texts? (Even in the Arimathean NT!)
        14. What rôle did the Hebrew Bible play in teaching Divine revelation to the community of faith?
        15. What subtleties exist in the Hebrew / Aramaic text that are missing in translation? Especially in Greek renditions! How do these Hebrew / Aramaic subtleties affect the meaning of the text?
        16. How did Yeshua and the Arimathean Brit haDashah writers (ie: other than Paul) differ from the non-Messianic rabbinic understandings? [If there was no change or variation, the rabbinic understanding remained intact and unchanged!]
        17. How would these teachings be passed down in the oral tradition from Master to disciple, from one generation to another – in a Hebrew manner?

        *The Hebrew Bible comprises the Tanak, together with the non-Pauline NT plus other Jewish NT Literature.


        The Hebrew/Aramaic word PARDES is spelled in Hebrew and Aramaic without vowels as PRDS. PaRDeS refers to a park or garden, esp. the Garden of Eden. The word appears twice in the Jerusalem-Central Testament (Lk. 23:43; & Rev. 2:7).

        The word PRDS is also an acronym (called in Judaism “notarikon”) for:

        [P]shat….in Hebrew…”simple”
        [R]emez….in Hebrew…”hint”
        [D]rash….in Hebrew…”search”
        [S]od…In Hebrew…”hidden”

        These are the four levels of understanding the scriptures. Each layer is deeper and more intense than the last, like the layers of an onion.

        (1st ): PSHAT – what it meant at the time to its readers when it was first written; the simple “surface” literal meaning of the text

        The Pshat is the keystone of Scripture understanding. If we discard the Pshat we lose any real chance of an accurate understanding. We are left with a no-holds-barred game of pure imagination (as in the Greek Allegory and Symbolism methods) in which we are no longer objectively deriving meaning from the Scriptures (exegesis), but subjectively reading meaning into the scriptures (eisegesis)

        Pshat is similar to what Protestant hermeneutics calls “Gramatical Historical Exegesis” and is also similar to what Protestant Hermeneutics calls “The Literal Principle.” The Pshat is the plain, simple meaning of the text; understanding scripture in its natural, normal sense using the customary meanings of the words being used, in accordance with the primary exegetical rule in the Talmud that no passage loses its Pshat (b.Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a). While there is figurative language (like Ps. 36:7) and hidden meanings (like Rev. 13:18); in the Scriptures, the first thing to look for is the literal meaning or Pashat.

        The following rules of thumb can be used to determine if a passage is figurative and therefore figurative even in its Pshat:

        1. When an inanimate object is used to describe a living being, the statement is figurative.
        (Example: Prov. 18:10)
        2. When life and action are attributed to an inanimate object the statement is figurative.
        (Example: same example Prov. 18:10)
        3. When an expression is out of character with the thing described, the statement is figurative.
        (Example: Ps. 17:8)

        ALL else is Literal.

        PSHAT Laws:

        The Law of Lexical Integrity
        To interpret according the specific meaning of each word at the time it was used – where such discerned meaning is in harmony with all other Canonical usage of the word.

        The Law of Syntactic Integrity
        To interpret according to the rules of syntax and grammar known to exist at the time of its writing

        The Law of Historical Integrity
        To interpret according to the circumstances that called-forth the specific passage under study. Included are the manners, customs, and psychology of the people among whom the document first appeared.

        The Law of Strategic Beginnings
        This notes the context (historical, intellectual, moral, spiritual) in which the text first arose. This creates a “pattern” which “sets the agenda” for all subsequent teaching on the subject. And controls the Remez, Midrash and Sod.

        o – 0 – o

        (2nd): REMEZ – what it can also mean after the time of Pshat – it is based on the principles and “pattern” of Pshat.
        In Remez, there may be more than one “application” of the “pattern” of Pshat.

        The next level of understanding is called in Hebrew Remez (hint). This is the implied meaning of the text. Peculiarities in the text are regarded as hinting at a deeper truth than that superficially conveyed by its Pshat. Often this “hinting” back refers to a prior example where the same word or concept has been previously taught in the text. Hinting back to a prior understanding reinforces the intended meaning in the now and present of the speaker. It is also available for future application of the text.

        An example of implied “Remez” meaning may be found in Ex. 21:26-26-27 where we are told of our liability regarding eyes and teeth. By the “Remez” understanding we know that this liability also applies to other body parts.

        REMEZ Laws:

        The Law of Progressive Revelation
        This recognises that each successive Remez application normatively enlarges on the Pshat, and gives a corresponding enlargement to the Midrash.

        The Law of Eschatological Consummation
        This recognises that at some stage there will be a final Remez application beyond which no further Remez application will be permissible. At that point, correspondingly, its associated Midrash reaches its widest and final scope.

        All Canonical Biblical Prophecies not fulfilled in full in the same manner as they were originally given by the completion of John’s Apocalypse (66CE), remain to be fulfilled in that same manner at some time thereafter.

        The Law of Pesher (a subset of Remez)
        This recognises that some applications of the Remez principle – especially in the field of Apocalyptic Literature – may legitimately have direct relevance to a part of the Covenant Community not in existence at the time of the initial writing of the text. This has special relevance to Prophecy (qv) where an Apocalyptic Remez-Pesher may form a “Prophecy”. True Pesher will conform to all other Rules of Interpretation for Pshat, Remez and Midrash (qv).

        o – 0 – o

        (3rd ): MIDRASH – the lessons from both Pshat & Remez (with the occasional Sod – if relevant) : will unfold in three progressive dimensions: 1: The Relational, 2: The Doctrinal / Ethical, 3: The Spiritual

        The Spiritual itself has three progressive “layers”: (A) the Wisdom, (B) The Contemplative, (C) Union with God.

        The next level of understanding the Scriptures is called in Hebrew “Drash” or “Midrash” – meaning “search”.

        This is the implied meaning of the text. Peculiarities in the text are regarded as hinting at a deeper truth than that conveyed by its Pshat and Remez. Often this “hinting” back refers to a prior example where the same word or concept has been previously taught in the text. Hinting back to a prior understanding reinforces the intended meaning in the now and present of the speaker.

        This brings in the typological or homiletical application of the text. Controlled Creativity – governed by the earlier Pshat and Remez on the same text, is used to search the text in relation to the rest of the Scriptures, other literature, or life itself in order to develop a typological or homiletical application of the text. This process may involve carefully-controlled eisegesis (reading of the text) of the text. But understand, before something can be “like” something else, it can never remove the reality of what it compares itself to.

        The context determines the Pshat, and then and only then can be have a Drash. We cannot have a Drash without a prior Pshat and Remez!

        Three important rules of thumb in utilizing the Drash level of understanding a scripture are:

        [1] A Drash understanding can not be used to strip a passage of its Pshat and Remez meaning, nor may any such understanding contradict the Pshat and Remez meaning of any other scripture passage. As the Talmud states “No passage loses its Pashat.” (b. Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a)
        [2] Let scripture interpret scripture. Look for the scriptures themselves to define the components of a Midrash.
        [3] The primary components of a Midrash represents specific realities. We should limit ourselves to these primary components when understanding the text.

        MIDRASH Laws:

        The Law of Textual Meaning (Hillel)
        This recognises that a combination of both the Pshat and the Remez of one or two verses may generate a General Principle.

        The Law of the Sufficiency of Scripture
        This recognises that in major areas of faith, the meaning of scripture is sufficiently clear so that any believer may interpret them according to established, Jewish interpretation principles independent of any Clergy or Church “Tradition”.

        The Law of the Perspicuity of Scripture
        This recognises that in major areas of faith, the meaning of scripture may be sufficiently established from within scripture itself according to established, Jewish interpretation principles independent of any Clergy or Church “Tradition”. That is, “unclear” passages are interpreted by passages that are more clear.

        The Law of Covenant Framework
        This recognises the that the framework of relationship between Yahweh and mankind is Covenant. It is underwritten by the Authority of Yahweh. Prophecy given within the framework of Covenant must be fulfilled within the same framework of Covenant.

        The Law of Comparative Similarity of Scripture
        This recognises the Thread of Divine Unity running through all Canonical Writings. It also recognises that Canonical Literature is not systematic theology. Therefore all passages bearing on any one subject may be gathered and compared in order to discern the whole counsel of God on that subject. Yet without attempting to wrench any passage from its original context.

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        (4th ): SOD – the gematria of the text. Will always be based on Pshat, Remez and Midrash. May include atbash (where there will be letter “exchange” – the last for the first, the second-last for the second, etc).
        Only works with the Hebrew / Aramaic text. It CANNOT work in Greek!

        Unrestricted Sod will often lead into the kabbalah.

        The final and deepest level of understanding the Scriptures is called in Hebrew “Sod” meaning “hidden”. This understanding is the hidden, secret or mystic meaning of a text. This process often involves returning the letters of a word to their prime-material state and giving them new form in order to reveal a hidden meaning (interpreting them through the numbers of the letters for example). An example may be found in Rev. 13:18 where the identity of the Beast is expressed by its numeric value 666.



        The Golden Rule of Interpretation:
        Any Interpretation of Canonical, Biblical Prophecy can only be legitimate when made from within the Jewish cultural/religious context and mind-set within which it is given. Thus, applying a Gentile mind-set to Jewish Prophecy can be guaranteed to produce an illegitimate interpretation/application, no matter how highly the Gentile supposed “Authority” may be held.
        [This is a refutation of the Greek Gentile “Alexandrian method” of the pursuit of “Cloud-Gazing” Allegory – where one can “see” in the text anything one wants to see!.]

        The Law of Canonical Authority:
        Only Prophetic Detail supplied by the Primary Canon of Scripture is to be taken as “Authoritative”. Any additional “illumination” from the Secondary Canon, or any other Apochryphal / Pseudipigraphical literature, whilst often valuable, can only be treated as a “personal insight”, lacking the Authority of the Primary Canon.

        The Law of Un-Conditional Applicability:
        Unless clearly spelt out in the Prophecy itself, or in other collateral supporting passages, all Prophecy is given unconditionally.

        The Law of Contextual Recurrence:
        Multiple Prophetic passages may often be referring to a single event, with each separate Prophecy illuminating a separate facet of the one event. A single Event, described Prophetically in multiple Prophecies is subject to the Law of Multiple Applications (qv).

        The “KISS” Law of Interpretation
        [Keep It Simple, Student] or (Keep It Simple, Stupid) :
        When the Plain Sense of Scripture makes Common Sense – seek no other Sense.
        Take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and foundation truths clearly indicate otherwise.

        The Law of Enchanted Trivia
        All prophecy is normally given in “broad-brush” terms, with only enough specific detail as is necessary to facilitate the discernment of its application. To attempt to extract more detail from the text than the context warrants in an exercise in Trivia(l) Pursuit. Any significant pursuit of Prophetic Trivia for its own sake at the expense of the “broad-brush” overview, places the interpreter on the Enchanted ground of indefensibility against heresy.
        [This is a refutation of the Greek Gentile “Antiochene method” of the pursuit of Trivial Minutae or Microscopic Literalism.]

        The Law of New Covenant Limited-Applicability:
        The Evangel (NT) does not attempt to “re-interpret”or “re-apply” all Tanak Prophecy. Unless clearly and unambiguously spelt out in the text of the Evangel itself, and not in any subsequent “re-interpretation” in any era – however “authoritative”; the sense, context and interpretation of Tanak Prophecies remains intact and unchanged.

        All fulfilment of Prophecy that awaited fulfilment in the time of Yeshua, and was not explicitly fulfilled in full in Yeshua, or amended by either Yeshua Himself or His talmidim (disciples) -as recorded in Canonical Scripture remains available for fulfilment subsequent to that Era.

        The Law of Metaphor and Symbol:
        Metaphoric and Symbolic dimensions to Prophecy and its fulfilment only exist if they existed at the time the prophecy was first given. Prophecy, given literally and without metaphor and/or symbol at the time it was given requires an equally literal fulfilment – without reference to either metaphor or symbol.

        The Law of Hermeneutical Stability:
        Messianic Jewish Interpretations / Applications of Tanak Prophecy using established Jewish Hermeneutical principles will be the same irrespective of the Era of the Interpreter – the same material (the Tanak) being studied with the same mind-set and the same methods will yield the same results (usually within 97% of each other). In science, this is called the Law of the Replicable Experiment.

        Thus a 1st Century Jewish Apostolic Interpretation will normally yield the same results as a 21st Century Messianic Jewish Interpretation – without any need for reference to an intermediate hermeneutical “tradition” to “guide” the later Interpreter. The same Ruach-ha-Khodesh (Holy Spirit) who inspired a Messianic Jewish Interpretation or Application of Prophecy will never give an alternative or contrary understanding / interpretation in a subsequent era – especially in a non-Jewish context.

        The Law of Apocalyptic Chronology:
        All Prophetic Chronology contained in Apocalyptic Literature is to be interpreted and applied in the same manner as all other detail in that literature, i.e. non-literally.
        (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation have apocalyptic in them, but are not wholly apocalyptic)

        The Law of On-Going Chronology:
        All Tanak Primary Canon Prophetic Chronology not fulfilled by or in the time of Yeshua (Jesus) is not to be taken as being still capable of a literal, mathematically-precise fulfilment. All attempts to impose mathematically-precise timetables for the Fulfilment of any Prophecy after the Ascension of Yeshua are in defiance of Yeshua’s own commands : Acts 1:7 – It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own Authority. Daniel’s 70 week prophecy was still “unwinding” to its finalization in 33CE at the time of Yeshua’s Ascension – no other time-prophecy was current at the time.

        The Law of Multiple Applications:
        Each picture in Prophecy presents a single, discrete message (Pshat). Unless clearly specified otherwise, each Prophecy has more than one Application (Remez).

        Each Prophecy with more than one Application has the following characteristics:
        – there is a “primary”and one or more “secondary” application(s);
        – there is a “literal”and/or a “spiritual” application, but never an “allegorical” application;
        – there are up to four prophetic “trajectories” for these prophecies*:
        – all “literal” all the way;
        – all “spiritual” all the way; (very rare)
        – commencing “literal” and evolving into “spiritual”;
        – commencing “spiritual” and evolving into “literal”**
        – there may be up to three periods of Application:
        – the Immediate – the first period – a single Application;
        – the Intermediate – between the first and the last – may be more than one Application ***
        – the Ultimate – the last period – a single Application;

        * there may be more than one “trajectory” operating at the same time.

        ** the only Prophecies that commence with a “spiritual” Application, and end with a “literal” Application are those concerning Messianic Eschatology.

        *** the Intermediate Period may not always exist or be relevant to the Prophecy. Not all features / specifications of the full Prophecy will apply in the Intermediate Period.

        The “Primary” Goal of Prophecy may be in the Immediate or the Ultimate period, but not both.

        Any “spiritual” Application running in parallel with a “literal” Application is always the “secondary” Application.

        Unless clearly specified in the context and other collateral Prophetic passages (or clearly and unambiguously indicated in the Brit haDashah – and not just by mere insinuation), all fulfilment of “secondary” Applications are dependent on the fulfilment of the “primary” Application.

        Laws of Applicability of Prophecy to Israel (and her Enemies):

        The land of Israel was chosen by God as the homeland of and for the Jews ( and none other) – for their exclusive jurisdiction and governance – and unless it can be clearly demonstrated to the contrary from Scripture alone – interpreted within Jewish interpretation principles; territorial Israel – whose boundaries are outlined in the Tanak, according to the unbreakable Divine Covenant – remains their homeland until the eschaton, regardless of whoever may temporarily occupy it in the interim.

        Any Israeli exile from The Land of Israel always operates within the framework of the Covenant still in force! It never means the end of the Covenant relationship, either with God or the Land – it is merely Covenant-judgment within a still-ongoing covenant relationship. Any Israeli return to the Land of Israel always moves within the framework of Covenant, and may also be the fulfilment of collateral, accompanying prophecy.

        Fulfilment of Prophecy – especially with respect to Israel – does not depend on human spirituality or faith, but on God’s eternal plan and promise. All Prophecies concerning “Israel”, unless clearly specified otherwise in the context, are to be interpreted as being applied to both Ethnic and geographic Israel – with such an application being literal, unless equally clearly specified in the context or by the Law of Contextual Recurrence to be “spiritual”.

        All Prophecies concerning “Israel’s Enemies”, unless clearly specified otherwise in the context, are to be interpreted as being applied to the Enemies of Ethnic Israel – with such an application being literal, unless equally clearly specified in the context or by the Law of Contextual Recurrence to be also “spiritual”. Israel’s enemies identified at the Pshat level are to be traced through in time to, through and including one’s own time. Thus the ancient Edom are the modern Arabs.

        Where Biblical-Canonical reference is made to Israel’s Enemies inhabiting defined territory, and the Prophecy concerning these Enemies from that territory awaits fulfilment, a trace of the political evolution of that territory is required to “update” the nomenclature in Canonical Literature to reflect the contemporary political reality for that territory so that fulfilment of the prophecy can be understood in the same way as was understood at the time of the giving of the prophecy. Some Canonical nomenclature may cover two or more contemporary international political entities.

        All Brit haDashah application of all Biblically Canonical Prophecy to “spiritual” Israel – unless the context clearly specifies to the contrary, is to be understood as a “secondary” and “derivative” application, in no way cancelling the “primary” application to Ethnic Israel.

        Because the Ruach-ha-Khodesh has guaranteed the fulfilment of Prophecy to “Spiritual” Israel, on the principle of a fortiori, all Prophecy to Literal Israel will be likewise guaranteed.

        All who are the opponents of God’s purpose (to return His presence and rule to earth) are also the opponents of His two peoples – Ethnic Israel, and “God-fearer” Gentiles in the Church – who together under Yeshua, are His “two witnesses” until His return – serving Him as a Kingdom of Priests on the earth.

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        Philo’s interpretation principles – the “halfway house”.

        Philo based his Interpretational principles on Jewish principles, but simplified and condensed them for Gentile use.

        Philo’s Rules for Enigmas: http://www.thenazareneway.com/Philo%27s%20Rules%20for%20Allegory.htm

        In his essay, “Every Good Man is Free,” Philo wrote the following about the Essenes:

        #82: “Then one, indeed, takes up the holy volume and reads it, and another of the men of the greatest experience comes forward and explains what is not very intelligible, for a great many precepts are delivered in enigmatical modes of expression…and allegorically, as the old fashion was; ”

        There has been a critical misinterpretation of Philo’s statement quoted above. The focus has been placed on the word, “allegorically,” rather than the key word, “enigmatical”; the words are not synonymous. Allegory puts the reader in control of the interpretation and it will inevitably be based on the individual’s preconceived notions and experiences. Enigmas are carefully chosen words, names, and phrases that provide clues to the author’s intended meaning. Understood and implemented, Philo’s Rules for Enigmas reveal long-hidden secrets of The Life and Times of Jesus the Nazarene hidden within the stories of three contributors of the New Testament.

        Mark, Luke-Acts, and Revelation were written so that only those with “the key” could solve the riddles. “The key” includes Philo’s method, and it consists of four simple steps:

        (1) Identify one or more of Philo’s twenty-one “signals” that precede the enigmatic sections of text (“Striking Statements,” i.e., a Spirit, Holy Spirit, Angel, Angel of the Lord, prophet, or a prophecy).

        (2) Collect expressions in the text being examined that are identified as an “enigmatical mode of expression” on the basis of one or more of the twenty-one signals (the doubling or repetition of a phrase; a noteworthy omission; the part of a word, etc.).

        (3) Match the expressions with similar elements found in the Old Testament, the works of Homer, or other sources available in the first century.

        (4) Analyze how these matching stories alter the meaning when they are applied to the text that is being examined.

        The following article borrowed from The Jewish Encyclopedia is important for its enumeration of Philo’s Rules. It also demonstrates the common mistake of inserting the word “allegory” when Philo’s main objective was to draw attention to the first term he used in his description of the Essenes’ method of interpreting “Holy Volumes.” Philo’s use of the word “Allegory” is not co-terminus with or identical to the pure Hellenists in Alexandria, and is not to be confused with it.

        “Philo bases his hermeneutics on the assumption of a twofold meaning in the Bible, the literal and the allegorical [enigmatical]. . . The two interpretations, however, are not of equal importance: the literal sense is adapted to human needs; but the allegorical [enigmatical] sense is the real one, which only the initiated comprehend. Hence Philo addresses himself to the “initiated” among his audience, by whom he expects to be really comprehended (“De Cherubim,” § 14 [i. 47]; “De Somniis,” i. 33 [i. 649]).

        “A special method is requisite for determining the real meaning of the words of Scripture (“Cannons of Allegory,” “De Victimas Offerentibus,” § 5 [ii. 255]); “Laws of Allegory,” “De Abrahamo,” § 15 [ii. 11]); the correct application of this method determines the correct allegory, and is therefore called “the wise architect” (“De Somniis,” ii. 2 [i. 660]).“As a result of some of these rules of interpretation the literal sense of certain passages of the Bible must be excluded altogether; e.g., passages in which according to a literal interpretation something unworthy is said of God; or in which statements are made that are unworthy of the Bible, senseless, contradictory, or inadmissible; or in which allegorical [enigmatical] expressions are used for the avowed purpose of drawing the reader’s attention to the fact that the literal sense is to be disregarded. “There are . . . special rules that not only direct the reader to recognize the passages which demand an allegorical [enigmatical] interpretation, but help the initiated to find the correct and intended meaning.

        These passages are such as contain:

        (1) the doubling of a phrase;

        (2) an apparently superfluous expression in the text (Example, Anna’s age.);

        (3) the repetition of statements previously made;

        (4) a change of phraseology . . .;

        (5) An entirely different meaning may also be found by a different combination of the words, disregarding the ordinarily accepted division of the sentence in question into phrases and clauses;

        (6) the synonyms must be carefully studied . . .;

        (7) A play upon words must be utilized for finding a deeper meaning . . .;

        (8) A definite allegorical sense may be gathered from certain particles, adverbs, prepositions, etc., and in certain cases it can be gathered even from . . .

        (9) the part of a word . . .;

        (10) Every word must be explained in all its meanings, in order that different interpretations may be found;

        (11) The skillful interpreter may make slight changes in a word, following the rabbinical rule, ‘Read not so, but so’ . . .
        Philo, therefore, changed accents, breathings. etc., in Greek words;

        (12) Any peculiarity in a phrase justifies the assumption that some special meaning is intended . . .
        Details regarding the form of words are very important;

        (13) the number of the word, if it shows any peculiarity in the singular or the plural: the tense of the verb, etc.;

        (14) the gender of the noun;

        (15) the presence or omission of the article;

        (16) the artificial interpretation of a single expression;

        (17) the position of the verses of a passage;

        (18) peculiar verse-combinations;

        (19) noteworthy omissions (similarly, too much information or erroneous information.);

        (20) striking statements;

        (21) numeral symbolism.

        “Philo found much material for this symbolism in the Old Testament and he developed it more thoroughly according to the methods of the Pythagoreans and Stoics.” (Emphases added.)

        Virtually all of these devices described by Philo were employed by Mark, Luke, and the author of Revelation to tell the hidden story to their gentile readers. In addition, when he placed Angels, Holy Spirits, or just plain Spirits in a scene, something very important was about to be transmitted. Luke was working from a copy of Philo’s Laws of Enigmas for transmitting information to the initiated.

        Philo’s Rules for Enigmas can be also be found at the following websites:

        http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philo

      • I commend you for your labors. I am going to print this out and go over it.

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