The sacred Scripture, taken as a whole, is like
a human being. The Old Testament is the body and the New is the soul,
the meaning it contains, the spirit.
From another viewpoint we can say that the entire sacred
Scripture, Old and New Testament, has two aspects: the historical content
which corresponds to the body, and the deep meaning, the goal at which
the mind should aim, which corresponds to the soul.
If we think of human beings, we see they are mortal in
their visible properties but immortal in their invisible qualities.
So with Scripture. It contains the letter, the visible
text, which is transitory. But it also contains the spirit hidden beneath
the letter, and this is never extinguished and this ought to be the object
of our contemplation.
Think of human beings again. If they want to be
perfect, they master their passions and mortify the flesh.
So with Scripture. If it is heard in a spiritual way,
it trims the text, like circumcision.
Paul says: `Though our outer nature is wasting away, our
inner nature is being renewed every day.' [2 Cor. 4:16] We can say that
also of Scripture.
The further the letter is divorced from it, the more relevance
the spirit acquires. The more the shadows of the literal sense retreat,
the more the shining truth of the faith advances.
And this is exactly why Scripture was composed.
(Translation by Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden
Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo,
MI - Spencer, MASS, 1994)