In common, I believe, with the majority of Christians, in my early years I accepted the Bible as the inspired word of God, a direct message from Deity to humanity. Later, however, a more critical approach to the Scriptures revealed incredibilities and impossibilities, which both shocked and repelled me. Finding myself unable either to ignore these barriers to belief or to adopt a tolerant, uncritical acceptance of Holy Writ, two alternatives presented themselves. One was to discard entirely the orthodox concept of the Bible as an error-free and infallible source of spiritual wisdom and moral counsel, and the other to undertake a detailed study of the whole text. This latter course was chosen, and in this decision I was largely influenced by the discovery that many of the difficulties arising from a literal reading disappeared if portions of the Bible were regarded as allegorical.
Many erudite scholars, I found, affirmed that some of the authors of world scriptures deliberately concealed beneath cleverly constructed veils of allegory and symbol profound truths which they had discovered by direct research. This veiling was forced upon them because such knowledge would inevitably bestow very great spiritual, intellectual, psychical and supernormal physical powers. Since these powers were, and still are, subject to grave misuseâ€”the evils of priestcraft and mental domination, for exampleâ€”it became necessary to do all possible to make available to the trustworthy and to conceal from the profane the wisdom and knowledge of which the authors had become possessed. For this purpose they invented a special category of literature which differs from ordinary writing in that, with some historical fact as foundation, it is largely composed of allegories, symbols and certain key words, the whole constituting a cipher by means of which the Ageless Wisdom, theoretical and practical, was with reasonable safeguards made available to humankind. Such, I learned, were the origin, the nature and the purpose of the sacred language.
On making the discovery that parts of the Bible are allegorical, I began to apply the various keysâ€”also to be found in ancient and modern literature on the subjectâ€”to many of the books of the Bible. The rewardsâ€”the resolving of many textual difficulties and the gaining of a philosophy of life, spiritual, intellectual and preeminently practicalâ€”have been so immeasurably rich that I have felt moved to share them in book form. This first volume is largely devoted to a consideration of the sacred language itself and the presentation of certain classic keys of interpretation, with some of the results of their application to scriptural stories, including especially the life of Christ. Although I have approached this task with all caution, naturally no claim is made for anything like a complete and error-free presentation. Care has, however, been taken neither to overstress a possible symbolic significance, nor to read into a narrative more than is inherent within it or was presumably present in the minds of the authors. Major interpretations have been both suggested by and compared with the writings of sages and philosophers, including Hebrew scholars. This comparison was made in order to test the validity of such an approach, and also its value in providing a key to the scriptures and mythologies of ancient peoples. The introduction gives a fuller exposition of the central idea and its applications to both theological and world problems.
One of the most readily available of such sources, I have found, is the literature of The Theosophical Society and, indeed, Theosophy itself so far as it has been made available to humankind. The Neoplatonists of the early centuries of the Christian era, notably Ammonius Saccus and his disciples, coined the word Theosophia, meaning â€œdivine wisdom.â€ For them, Theosophy connoted the totality of the revealed wisdom and discovered knowledge allotted to humanity throughout the ages. The use of this source is mentioned here to explain, should it be necessary, the constant reference to theosophical literature, ancient and modern, and the adoption of some of its terminology. For both brevity and accuracy of presentation, Sanskrit words are occasionally employed, but in all cases, brief expositions of doctrines and full translations of Sanskrit words are given.
Thus studying the Bible, I have found that many of the difficulties and discrepancies which had until now proved so perplexing no longer exist. May those who are similarly perplexed and similarly seeking find in these volumes solutions of their problems and the restoration of their faith.Geoffrey Hodson
Auckland, New Zealand