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Unformatted text preview: Jason Mull 2-27-09 “Dust Thou Art” (Or the Cosmic Struggle between the Physical and Divine) The Bible has undergone centuries of, not only writing and rewriting, but constant academic reevaluation and philosophical interpretation. It has been scoured and dissected, not only for literal meaning, but for assumed, underlying philosophical meaning. In the cases of both Philo of Alexandria’s Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis, and the Gnostic text, the Secret Revelation of John, we see examples of authors using accepted methods of interpretation as a means of validating a particular set of philosophical convictions through an older, more recognized authority (i.e. the Bible). 1 The authors of both texts share a clearly Platonic world view, based in the dichotomy between the sensible world (the physical realm ruled by senses, passions, and the body), and the intelligible world (ruled by wisdom, virtue, and God). However, while their messages are similar, their methods of interacting with biblical text are worlds apart. Philo’s interpretation of Genesis is an attempt to extract deeper, hidden meanings from the text, recoiling against mythological and folkloric characteristics while justifying the allegorical and symbolic importance of the story. The Secret Revelation of John, comparatively, acts as a detailed pseudepigraphical and mythological narrative of Christian theology, cosmology and creation. It describes the origins of the universe, the physical world, human beings, the nature of wisdom and the body, and the cause of evil and suffering, among other things. 2 It is less an 1 1 David Winston, Philo and the Contemplative Life, 199 2 2 Karen King, “Introduction” to The Secret Revelation of John, 2 interpretation of Genesis as it is a retelling. So, while both authors’ interactions with the text are drastically different, their core philosophical message remains almost identical. In his Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis, Philo of Alexandria systematically dissects the Garden of Eden story, ignoring the literal events of the story, and taking them, instead, as allegorical representations of a larger philosophical truth. This method of interpretation in and of itself is somewhat representative of Philo’s Platonic world view. That is, according to the teachings of Plato there exist two theoretical worlds: the sensible world and the intelligible world. In transcending the world of immediate senses one might attain some form of world....
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2010 for the course FREN 2031 taught by Professor Davis,miles during the Spring '10 term at USC.
- Spring '10