The Bible Insists on the Esoteric Sense

“But, first, to vindicate from Scripture itself the assertion of the presence in it of an esoteric sense on which Scripture insists as its true and divinely-intended sense.

That such vindication should at all be necessary is in itself proof positive not merely of the inadequacy, but of the unfairness of the manner in which Scripture has been dealt with by its official expositors.

But that it is necessary is shown indisputably by the charge of impiety which those expositors are wont to bring against the advocates of an esoteric sense, on the ground of seeking to “wrest Scripture from its obvious meaning” – namely, the meaning “obvious,” not to the spiritual, but to the superficial vision – and even of ascribing to its writers insanity for intending a meaning other than the obvious! As if spiritual things could be “obvious” to the superficial vision!

Herein the literalists show that they fail to see that to make the “obvious” sense of the Bible its real sense would be to destroy it as a Bible or book of the soul; since as such it must appeal to the soul and not to the senses; and must refer, not to persons, things, and events belonging to the physical plane, but to principles, processes, and states purely spiritual – though expressed in terms derived from the physical plane – using persons, things, and events by way of illustration only.

The literalists fail, moreover, to see that, in view of the fact that all ancient Scriptures were similarly written, namely, in symbol, parable, and allegory, – to insist upon the Bible as intended literally is to make it differ absolutely from all other books of its order. The following are some of the passages relied on: –

1) “Thou shalt see my back-parts” (the parchments used for the outer coverings of the sanctuary, and the material of books), “but My face thou shalt not see.” – Ex. XXXIII, 23. (Moses is here informed that the external sense only, and not the true sense of the Divine Word, should be recognised in his time, for the reason subsequently given: – the “hardness of men’s hearts.”)

2) “Moses gave you not that bread from heaven;” – (the food of the understanding). – John VI, 32.

3) “Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless (…) it shall be taken away.” – 2 Cor. III, 15-16.

4) “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” – Heb. X, 9.

5) “And they (the Levites and Elders) read in the book, in the law of God, with an interpretation, and caused them (the people) to understand the reading.” – Nch. VIII, 8 (R.V. margin).

6) “And the good or understanding heart (Caleb) said, he that smiteth the city (or system) of the letter (Kirjath-sepher) and taketh it, to him will I give the Rending of the Veil (Achsah), my daughter, for wife.

7) “And the strong man of God (Othniel) took it, and he gave him the Rending of the Veil, his daughter, to wife. (And she brought him for dowry “the upper and nether springs,” an expression of frequent use in Scripture to denote the satisfaction of spiritual needs.)

8) “And that which before was called the city, or system, of the letter, was thereafter called the Word (Debir). – Josh. XV, 15-19.

9) “We speak theosophy (theou sophia) in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom (of God). Wisdom among them that are perfected (lit. full-grown, implying initiated). (…) Unto others as babes.” – 1 Cor. II, 6; III, 1.

10) “Which things (in the books of Moses) are an allegory; for there are two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar” (the stranger which must be discarded as foreign to the soul and the true sense).

11) “But Jerusalem which is from above (the perfect doctrine contained in the interior sense) is free, which is the mother of us all. What saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman (the literal sense) and her son” (the falsity engendered of that sense). – Gal. IV, 24-30.

12) “Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your hearts yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not, and do ye not remember? How is it that ye do not understand?”

13) “Take heed; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (literalism and formalism), “and of the leaven of Herod.” (Ecclesiasticism, which is always the slayer of the pure intuition, and hence the massacrer of the innocence in man. Both name and deed imply Herod as identical with the Serpent of Eden.)

14) “O foolish, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. (…) And beginning from Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke XXIV, 27. (Little or none of which appears on the surface of the books referred to.)

15) “Woe unto you lawyers” (Ecclesiastics)! “For ye have taken away the key of knowledge [Gnosis]; ye have entered not in yourselves, and those who would have entered in ye have hindered.” – Luke XI, 52. (Addressed to, the Ecclesiasticism of all time.)

16) “But this I (Paul) confess unto thee, that after the way which they” – the Ecclesiastics, my accusers – “call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets.” – Acts XXIV, 14.

17) “For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation.” – Luke XI, 30. (Because as the swallowing of Jonah by a whale represented the suppression of the true doctrine by the Ecclesiasticism of his time, and his ejectment its restoration, whereby the Church was set free to accomplish its mission, so would Christ be a personal demonstration of that doctrine to the world in spite of its suppression by the Ecclesiasticism of His time.)

18) “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.” – Rom. VIII, 13.

19) “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.” – 2 Cor. V, 14. (The flesh here denotes the literal and personal sense, as distinguished from the spiritual truth represented by Christ, namely, the doctrine of salvation by regeneration as the one way for all.)

20) “If David then call him Lord, how is he his Son?” Matt. XXII, 45. (An example of the confusion caused by understanding persons where principles are intended.)

21) “Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” – Matt. XXII, 21. (This is an injunction on behalf of attaching their due relative value to the two senses of Scripture as against the exclusive preference for the superficial.)

22) “Understandest thou what thou readest?” “How should I except some man should guide me?” – Acts VIII, 30-31.

23) “Art thou a Master of Israel and knowest not these things?” – John III, 10. (This is a rebuke addressed to the Ecclesiasticism of all time for its blindness to the spiritual doctrine of regeneration of which Jesus himself was the express and typical example, and its preference for the sacerdotal doctrine of vicarious sacrifice.)

24) “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold the wondrous things out of thy law!” – Ps. CXIX, 19.

25) “Mystery; Babylon the great; the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” – Rev. XVII, 5. (This is a denunciation by Jesus, speaking by his “Angel” through “John the Divine,” of Ecclesiasticism as the “Scarlet woman,” for denying to man a faculty of understanding, by insisting on authority as the criterion of truth, and making Mystery consist in something which transcends and contradicts reason, instead of only requiring the application of reason to a higher, because spiritual plane, thereby falsifying the doctrine, wholly reasonable, represented by Jesus.)” (Edward Maitland. The “New Gospel of Interpretation”. Chapter IV: The Bible Insists on the Esoteric Sense; emphasis added)