…what one discovers in allegory, according to Augustine – and he speaks for all the Fathers in this – is the faith of the simple believer. The use of allegory in relation to Scripture, seen from such a point of view, is not an attempt to solve problems, contingent difficulties, but a means of ensuring that we do not evade the fundamental ‘ontological difficulty’ which opens us to the ultimate mystery of Christ contained in the Scriptures. The difficulty in Scripture arises from the depth of its signification, and forces us to find a point of stability, or is rather a warning that we have yet to find it. It is the difficulty of not being sufficiently at home in the tradition, not having an unerring instinct as to what resonates and what merely makes a noise. And what we need here is no method – there is none – but rather erudition, learning, experience: the experience of living close to the heart of tradition, of being able to hear His stillness, to quote St. Ignatius – a familiarity with the response that Scripture has inspired in the Church throughout its life.
Andrew Louth, Discerning the Mystery. An Essay on the Nature of Theology, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1983) 112.