I thought it wasn't appropriate to take up too much of the Syrian Palestinian Archaeology thread on the philosophy of the Gnostics and in particular, Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE to 50 CE). So I’m opening up a new thread here and, knowing how difficult some of us find it to understand how the Bible can be allegorical, and even if so, which bits … I’ve copied this over from the Wiki entry on Philo as it describes how he decoded the Bible.
I won’t put it in quotes as it will make it difficult to read.
So this is it:
Philo bases his hermeneutics on the assumption of a twofold meaning in the Bible, the literal and the allegorical…..
The two interpretations, however, are not of equal importance: the literal sense is adapted to human needs; but the allegorical sense is the real one, which only the initiated comprehend. Hence Philo addresses himself to the μύσται ("initiated") among his audience, by whom he expects to be really comprehended.
He has special rules that direct the reader to recognize the passages which demand an allegorical interpretation, and which help the initiated to find the correct and intended meaning.
These passages are such as contain:
(1) the doubling of a phrase
(2) an apparently superfluous expression in the text
(3) the repetition of statements previously made
(4) a change of phraseology—all these phenomena point to something special that the reader must consider
(5) An entirely different meaning may also be found by a different combination of the words, disregarding the ordinarily accepted division of the sentence in question into phrases and clauses
(6) The synonyms must be carefully studied; e.g., why λαὸς is used in one passage and γένος in another, etc
(7) A play upon words must be utilized for finding a deeper meaning; e.g., sheep (πρόβατa) stand for progress in knowledge, since they derive their name from the fact of their progressing (προβαίνειν)
(8) A definite allegorical sense may be gathered from certain particles, adverbs, prepositions, etc.; and in certain cases it can be gathered even from
(9) the parts of a word; e.g., from διά in διάλευκος
(10) Every word must be explained in all its meanings, in order that different interpretations may be found
(11) The skillful interpreter may make slight changes in a word, following the rabbinical rule, "Read not this way, but that way." Philo, therefore, changed accents, breathings, etc., in Greek words
(12) Any peculiarity in a phrase justifies the assumption that some special meaning is intended: e.g., where μία ("one") is used instead of πρώτη ("first"; Gen. i.5), etc. Details regarding the form of words are very important
(13) the number of the word, if it shows any peculiarity in the singular or the plural: the tense of the verb, etc.
(14) the gender of the noun
(15) the presence or omission of the article
(16) the artificial interpretation of a single expression
(17) the position of the verses of a passage
(18) peculiar verse-combinations
(19) noteworthy omissions
(20) striking statements
(21) numeral symbolism
Philo found much material for this symbolism in the Hebrew Bible, and he developed it more thoroughly according to the methods of the Pythagoreans and Stoics. He could follow in many points the tradition handed down by his allegorizing predecessors.