Electronic Prayer Book

15. Many Meanings In a Single Passage

It is one of the glories of the Bible that it can enshrine many meanings in a single passage. It thus meets the needs of different minds, and each man marvels to find in the divine Scriptures truths which he has himself thought out. This is helpful, too, in defending the Bible against unbelievers, since if some meaning which a person wants to read in Scripture seems to him false, you can always appeal to some other meaning that it may have. Hence it is not absurd to suppose that there was divinely granted to Moses and the other Biblical authors a knowledge of various truths which men could know, and that they enshrined these in a single literal form of expression, with the result that each of these meanings was the sense intended by the author. Further still, if interpreters of Scripture read true meanings into the letter of the text which the author did not mean, there can be no doubt but that the Holy Spirit, who is the principal author of Holy Scripture, so understood it. Consequently, every truth which can – with due regard to the context – be read into Scripture is its meaning.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (1272)