A Spiritual Interpretation of the Old Testament
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
OLD TESTAMENT INTERPRETATION
This course of fifteen lessons in Old Testament interpretation is based almost entirely on two Unity books: Let There Be Light by Elizabeth Sand Turner and the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. Bible quotes are from the Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
While Let There Be Light combines both history and metaphysical interpretation, this course attempts to deal only with interpretation. Most students agree that there can be more than one correct and helpful interpretation given to many sections of the Bible. However, in this course the interpretation presented is chosen as the one which appears to be nearest to the general spirit of our Unity teachings.
The Bible reading references listed for each lesson are the minimum required for the material to be covered. Students should, whenever possible, read more in a given book or books than just the passage or passages under discussion. This practice will allow the student to perceive the larger context of the material and can only enhance his or her working knowledge of the Bible.
METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION
Ministers and teachers in Unity are often asked to explain just exactly what is meant by "metaphysical interpretation" of the Bible. This cannot be done in just a few words. It is not something which can be looked up in a dictionary and given as a neatly packaged answer.
For some persons, no answer whatsoever would be satisfactory. These are persons who are firmly convinced that every word of the Bible is to be taken literally and anything else is "sacreligious." For such persons metaphysical Bible interpretation is not valid under any circumstances.
But a growing number of persons are beginning to believe that there is something more to be done with the Bible than to just take it literally. They sense an underlying "something" which needs to be discovered and thought about. For such persons, metaphysical interpretation is that "something."
It begins with the realization that many parts of the Bible are allegorical. Even if these sections are true historically, they still contain a level of meaning which is strictly allegorical. These sections of the Bible contain the symbols that are strangely consistent throughout the whole Bible text. The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary is a sincere attempt to present and define these symbols for the interested reader. Charles Fillmore was mainly responsible for the production of the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary.
The following excerpts from the writings of Charles Fillmore are now presented here as at least a partial explanation of what is meant by "metaphysical Bible interpretation." (Capitalization in quotes added for emphasis, here and in later references.)
"The Bible is a very wonderful book; as man develops in spiritual understanding it reveals itself to him, and he sees why it has been reverenced and called holy by the people. It is a deep exposition of mental laws, and it is also a treatise on the true physiological estate of the body. It shows that the human organism is mind in action, rather than an aggregation of purely material functions. But above all, the Bible explains the spiritual character of man and the laws governing his relation to God. These are SYMBOLICALLY SET FORTH AS STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS, ILLUSTRATED BY PARABLES AND ALLEGORIES. Paul says, referring to the history of Sarah and Abraham, 'Which things contain an allegory.' It is written of Jesus, 'And without a parable spake he nothing unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth IN PARABLES; I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.' Jesus >was Himself a parable. His life was an allegory of the experiences that man passes through in developing from natural to spiritual consciousness; hence the Bible and the prophets can be understood only by those who arrive at that place in consciousness where the writers were when they gave forth their messages. It requires the same inspiration to read the Scriptures with understanding that it required originally to receive them." (Charles Fillmore Christian Healing 73-74)
"Both the religionist and the physicist incorrectly hold that the Bible is a historical description of man's creation. Beginning with the very first chapter of Genesis, the BIBLE IS AN ALLEGORY. It is so regarded by the majority of Hebrew scholars. . . Hebrews almost universally claim that the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, and the serpent IS SYMBOLOGY.
"In the face of these facts, it seems strange that orthodox Christianity should insist that the Bible is a literal history. IT IS THIS LITERAL VIEWPOINT THAT HAS STOOD IN THE WAY OF TRUE SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING Read in the light of Spirit, Gen. 1 is a description, in symbol, of the creative action of universal Mind in the realm of ideas. It does not pertain to the manifest universe any more than the history of the inventor's idea pertains to the machine that he builds to manifest the idea. First the problem is thought out, and afterward the structure is produced. So God builds His universe." (Charles Fillmore Christian Healing 31-32)
"An allegory is a description of one thing under the image of another. It suggests but does not specifically state a meaning. A key to its interpretation is necessary, and this is usually given in the proper names that are used. By the EMPLOYMENT OF SUCH SYMBOLS THE BIBLE DESCRIBES MAN IN HIS WHOLENESS, SPIRIT, SOUL, AND BODY. The names of men, places, tents, temples in every case have a meaning relative to the character of man. Mental states are thus described, and it is important that the individual who seeks spiritual wisdom for his regeneration shall be able to understand the allegory by use of THE KEY HIDDEN IN THE NAMES." (Mysteries of Genesis 231)
"A great deal is said in the Bible about man's body. In fact, the Bible is a MYSTICAL RECORD OF THE VARIOUS BODIES IN WHICH THE SOULS OF MEN HAVE LIVED. Bodies show the different states of mind of those who inhabit them, ranging all the way from the Adam embodiment and environment up to the Christ body and its freedom from environment. It is fair to say that THE BIBLE IS THE ALLEGORICAL RECORD of man under many aliases, in many bodies." (Atom-Smashing Power of Mind 116)
"The Bible contains more high mysticism than all other books. It requires study of certain fundamental spiritual principles to discern it. . . .Unless you call on your own spiritual light you cannot appreciate the spiritual insight of those who wrote the books of the Bible. . . .The Bible is a perpetual revelation to Truth seekers ON ACCOUNT OF ITS ALLEGORICAL CHARACTER." (Jesus Christ Heals 139-140-141)
We could include here other writings pertaining to the need for and the meaning of metaphysical Bible interpretation, but we feel that the statements given by Charles Fillmore will suffice for the time being. However, we would add here that a very comprehensive discourse or, this important subject can be found in the entire preface to the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary.
Preceding Entry: A Study of the New Testament Part Two compilation-of-the-new-testament: Compilation of the New Testament
Following Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 1: Lesson 1 Allegories of Genesis