Hermeneutics quotables


It is befitting [for] Holy Writ to put forward divine and spiritual truths under the likenesses of material things. For God provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature. Now it is natural to man to attain to intellectual truths through sensible things, because all our knowledge originates from sense. Hence in Holy Writ spiritual truths are fittingly taught under the metaphors of [sensible] material things.

(Thomas Aquinas, 1225–74, Summa Theologica, Pt. 1, Q. 1, Art. 9, Response and Reply to Obj. 1)


Il y a plus affaire à interpréter les interprétations qu’à interpréter les choses.

[ We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret things.]

(Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, 1533–92)


Errors like straws upon the surface flow:

Who would search for pearls must dive below.

(John Dryden, 1631–1700)


I do not hesitate to read all good books in translations. What is really best in any book is translatable--any real insight or broad human sentiment.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803–82, “Society and Solitude”)


The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.

(William Thackeray, 1811–63)


“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

(Lewis Carroll, 1832–98)


Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.

(Hermann Hesse, 1877–1962)


Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.

(Charles A. Lindbergh, 1902–74)


He who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.

(George Orwell, 1903–50, 1984)


Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

(Susan Sontag, 1933-2004)