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Anagoge (ἀναγωγή), sometimes spelled anagogy, is a Greek word suggesting a "climb" or "ascent" upwards. The anagogical is a method of mystical or spiritual interpretation of statements or events, especially scriptural exegesis, that detects allusions to the afterlife.
Certain medieval theologians describe four methods of interpreting the scriptures: literal/historical, tropological, allegorical, and anagogical. Hugh of St. Victor, in De scripturis et scriptoribus sacris, distinguished anagoge, as a kind of allegory, from simple allegory. He differentiated in the following way: in a simple allegory, an invisible action is (simply) signified or represented by a visible action; Anagoge is that "reasoning upwards" (sursum ductio), when, from the visible, the invisible action is disclosed or revealed.
The four methods of interpretation point in four different directions: The literal/historical backwards to the past, the allegoric forwards to the future, the tropological downwards to the moral/human, and the anagogic upwards to the spiritual/heavenly.
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "anagogical interpretation", accessed October 11, 2012
- "De Scripturis et Scriptoribus Sacris", in Hugonis de S. Victore... Opera Omnia, I (of 3), Patrologia Latina Vol. 175 (J.-P. Migne, 1854), columns 9-28, Chapter III: De triplici intelligentia sacrae Scripturae, at Column 12, loc. B.
- "... est simplex allegoria, cum per visibile factum aliud invisibile factum significatur. Anagoge, id est sursum ductio, cum per visibile invisibile factum declaratur."
- Charles Cummings, Monastic Practices, CS 75 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1986), 14-15.