The Reading of the Scriptures by Fr Felix, O.F.M.Cap. part 2.
THE ORIENTAL MIND.
The Bible was written in the East, and its idiom and literary form reflect the Oriental mind, and differ widely from our western mode of expression. For one thing, figurative language abounds, especially those four figures of speech which we call respectively the simile, the parable, the metaphor, the allegory. For the easterns, who are a highly imaginative people, these figures are the ordinary mode of conveying ideas; we use them too, but not nearly to the same extent. In any event, they are almost a necessity for bringing home the truths of religion to the ordinary mind. Our knowledge comes to us through the senses, and we think mainly in terms of space and time. A trained philosopher can transcend these limitations and think in the abstract, but trained philosophers are a minority of mankind. Now, the truths which the Bible teaches deal with the spiritual order, with a world not measured in terms of time and space. These figures of speech, therefore, convey the divine message in a manner suited to the capacity of the simplest mind, and at the same time add great literary beauty. A simile is simply a comparison. Thus, Our Lord expressed His solicitude for the people of Jerusalem by comparing it to that instinctive care of the mother hen which gathers her chickens beneath her wings for their comfort and protection: ''Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . how often, would 1 have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?" (St. Matthew 23, 37). The idea is conveyed all the more forcibly because the Saviour's love is compared with something which is familiar to us, and expressed in terms of what is known to us.