Thanks to Yael for showing me this aspect of Rabbinical Judaism and a methodology of looking at passages of scripture – Pardes.
The Pardes typology describes 4 different approaches to Biblical exegesis in rabbinic Judaism. The name, sometimes also spelled PaRDeS is an acronym for the 4 approaches:
- Pshat (פְּשָׁט) — the “simple meaning” of a verse or passage
- Remez (רֶמֶז) — “hints” of a deeper meaning beyond just the literal words
- Drash (דְּרַשׁ) — “interpretation”; unraveling midrashic meaning by comparing words and forms in the passage to similar occurrences elsewhere
- Sod (סוֹד) — the “secret” or mystical meaning of a passage, as given through inspiration or revelation
I have noticed that this method allows for various meanings from one single passage and allows for each person to sit at the table to discuss that passage (as equals). Some might find just a literal meaning, some might find a mystic meaning, while others search for a ‘deeper meaning’ within the passage. All in all – it allows for passages to speak on many levels other than just a single idea.
Demonstration #1 (ask and you shall recieve – prayer idea)
– Literally, simply ask (pray/action) and you will recieve (outcome) from God
– Interpretation, can also mean ask (pray/action) involves us and what we believe (action on our part) – so as to see the recieve (outcome) from God – prayer can mean in between asking and recieving there is involvement of us.
– Mystically it can mean that the action (praying) draws us closer to God (the giver) via the spiritual connection developed in the action itself.
Demonstration #2 (The Word becomes Flesh)
– Literally, simply can mean Jesus (word of God becomes a human person)
– Interpretation, can also mean it is applicable to all of us. John could be using this as an outline for his writings as a way to reflect the gospel breaking into human reality. The word (biblical teachings) becomes flesh (through us living those ideas out).
– Mystically, it can mean this idea goes way back to the God-head – the words of God which existed from the beginning – were spoken – and found their way from this essence – which later becomes Jesus. Somehow in this contact with the teachings we are interacting with God.
Now I find the methodology very useful because it gives us more than just a literal sense to a passage (and I never even got into the wordplay aspect of this – which I think Yael is almost an expert at) and allows us to see more than just ‘one thing’. I think within faith systems this is very important because I have seen literalness become a very rigid system to which all must obey – yet it is in the literal component I see the least coming forth from the teachings – more needs to be fleshed out. Now mine were simple examples, and I am sure there are lots of others way of looking at those passages, but that’s where I see the glory of this method – you’re more than welcome to speak also.
Not saying we will find concensus on what the passage is saying but we will find that the teachings we bring forth are what is important. I have merely taken sentences and shown they can be extrapolated from for ‘more to a meaning’ from a passage. I think this is good – and this is what I shoot for in my studies – both in studying a passage and in blogging on ideas.