Thursday, May 16, 2013

"The Lord himself is signified" - Augustine's Christological reading of the Good Samaritan

A great post from catholicity and covenant today.  He's referring to the Church of Ireland here, but TEC has the same Daily Office reading today.  Sometimes Augustine's allegorical readings get on my nerves - but this one is fantastic!  
Today the CofI daily office lectionary NT reading for MP was the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It is appropriate, therefore, to revisit Augustine's Christological reading of the Good Samaritan, reminding us that the parable - rather than being a moralistic addendum - coheres with and flows from the Church's proclamation of the Cross and Resurrection:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; Adam himself is meant; Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace, from whose blessedness Adam fell; Jericho means the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, an dies. Thieves are the devil and his angels. Who stripped him, namely; of his immortality; and beat him, by persuading him to sin; and left him half-dead, because in so far as man can understand and know God, he lives, but in so far as he is wasted and oppressed by sin, he is dead; he is therefore called half-dead. The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation. Samaritan means Guardian, and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name. The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope; wine the exhortation to work with fervent spirit. The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ. The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed after pilgrimage. The morrow is after the resurrection of the Lord. The two pence are either the two precepts of love, or the promise of this life and of that which is to come.


rick allen said...

I first heard this allegorical telling of the Good Samaritan at an English-language tour of the cathedral at Chartres. Two windows contain parallel scenes, one from the parable, the other from the history of salvation, and the correspondence was simply implied from the relationship of the two windows. I'm sure I would have never perceived it on my own in a thousand years.

It always bears keeping in mind the traditional notion that scripture bears many meanings, and an allegory such as this in no way excludes the moral directive which is more commonly associated with the parable.

(I rarely comment these days, but just add a note here that I always enjoy your posts. Don't assume absence from silence.)

bls said...

Wow - that Chartres/windows thing sounds stupendous, Rick. (Naturally, I'm going to go google it right now and see for myself!)

Always happy to have you comment, so thanks. And very happy to have you as just a reader, too....