Is Mary Allegorically Revealed in the Old Testament?



[Editor’s Note: The following letter is in response to Mark Shea’s article, The Anagogical Sense of Scripture.]

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I keep reading that the allegorical sense of Scripture is to show Jesus hidden in the Old Testament, but isn't that also true of Mary and other teachings that have roots in the Old Testament as well? I am new to this approach, as a Protestant for a long time (although a Catholic in earlier years and back now, thank God), I learned the literal and the moral approach (which I would consider the “application” in Protestant hermeneutics), but not so much about allegorical or anagogical — and am anxious to start reading the Word in these ancient but new ways, but don't want to misread it either. Is the allegorical approach traditionally limited to Jesus, as you seem to indicate, or can it be other teachings or people, His Mother, the Church, etc. which I know all essentially lead back to Christ anyway. I just don't want to misunderstand the concept here.

Thanks and Blessings!

Worshipping Jesus and honoring Mary,

Richard G. Evans

Dear Mr. Evans:

You are right. The Church (and in particular, Mary, who is the Icon of the Church) are also seen as foreshadowed in Scripture by many early Fathers. For instance, they make the following connections between Mary and these Old Testament images:

• The “Temple of God.” She is the Holy of Holies in which God dwelt. (Ephraim the Syrian, Ambrose, Gregory Nazianzen)

• The “Rod of Jesse” from whom blossomed Christ. (Irenaeus of Lyons, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Jerome, Ephraim the Syrian)

• The “East Gate.” (Jerome)

• The “King's Palace.” (Ephraim the Syrian, Ambrose)

• The “Imperishable Wood” from which the Ark of the Covenant was fashioned. (Hippolytus)

• The “Source of the Bread of Life.” (Ephraim the Syrian, Peter Chrysologus)

• The “Burning Bush that is Not Consumed.” (Gregory of Nyssa)

Mark Shea

Senior Content Editor

Catholic Exchange




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