After having spoken, as in summary, about the inspiration of the divine Scriptures, it is necessary to proceed to the manner of reading and understanding them, since many errors have occurred from the fact that the way by which the holy readings ought to be examined has not been discovered by the multitude.
For the hard-hearted and ignorant of the people of the circumcision have not believed in our Saviour, thinking they follow the language of the prophecies regarding him, and not seeing him visibly proclaiming ‘release to the captives,’ nor building up what they consider to be truly ‘a city of God,’ nor ‘cutting off the chariots from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem,’ nor ‘eating butter and honey, and before knowing or preferring evil, choosing the good’; and thinking it was prophesied that the ‘wolf,’ the four-footed animal, was ‘to feed with the lamb and the leopard to lie down with the kid, the calf and the bull and the lion to feed together, being led by a little child, and the ox and the bear to pasture together, their young ones growing up together, and the lion to eat straw like the ox’—seeing none of these things visibly happening in the sojourn of him believed by us to be Christ, they did not accept our Lord Jesus, but they crucified him as having improperly called himself Christ.
While those from the heretical sects reading this, ‘A fire has been kindled from my anger’ and, ‘I am a jealous God, repaying the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third or fourth generation,’ and ‘I regret that I anointed Saul to be king,’ and, ‘I am God, who makes peace and creates evil,’ and, amongst others, ‘There is no evil in the city which the Lord has not done,’ and again, ‘Evils came down from the Lord upon the gates of Jerusalem,’ and, ‘An evil spirit from God throttled Saul,’ and numberless other passages like these, have not dared to disbelieve that these are Scriptures of God, but believing them to be of the creator, whom the Jews worship, they thought that, as the creator was imperfect and not good, the Saviour had sojourned announcing a more perfect God, whom they say is not the creator, motivated in various ways regarding this; and once fallen away from the Creator who is the only uncreated God, they have given themselves up to fictions, mythologizing for themselves hypotheses according to which they suppose that there are some things that are seen and certain others which are not seen, which their own souls have idolized.
However, even the more simple of those who claim to be of the Church have supposed that there is none greater than the Creator, doing so soundly; but they suppose such things about him that would not be supposed of the most savage and unjust human being.
The reason for the false beliefs and impious or ignorant assertions about God appears to be nothing else than Scripture not being understood according to its spiritual sense, but taken as regarding the bare letter.
On First Principles 4.2.2