How Does the Bible Refer to Christ? Interacting with Augustine the Allegorist

Mark J. Boone*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    Abstract: Traditional Christianity teaches that the Bible's primary referent is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and Christians have long looked for ways to connect every passage in the Bible to the Christ. One venerable strategy is the allegorical or figurative approach of creatively interpreting any unit of biblical meaning, sometimes down to the individual words, as referencing Christ. Alternatively, we might take the biblical narrative itself as referencing Christ and find the connection of smaller units of meaning to Christ through their place in that narrative. My article clarifies this topic through interaction with an exemplary practitioner of the strategy of figurative reading, the Church Father Augustine. I will first explain Augustine's reasons for his hermeneutics, which stem largely from his focus on smaller units of reference such as the word and the sentence. Then I will argue that his reasons are not persuasive if indeed the Bible does refer to Christ at a broader level, the level of narrative.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)826-840
    Number of pages15
    JournalThe Heythrop Journal
    Issue number6
    Early online date9 Oct 2023
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Philosophy
    • Religious studies


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