The above statement is attributed to George Gurdjieff, a 20th Century mystic and teacher of a most unique system for human transformation. I was immediately taken by this curious statement and instinctively felt the power of its truth.
Basically, philology is the study of the history of words and their meaning. The word “philology” itself is derived from the Greek word philologos, which basically means love of learning.
How is it then that the love of learning can surpass philosophy’s nobler affection for truth and its pursuit of wisdom?
The answer is that unlike philosophy, studying the origin of words can take us back to God’s divine Logos—from which all words and language were derived. All words originated from things that contained purely theological and spiritual meanings. (After all, God’s Holy Word comes to us from Heaven, and, such a non-physical origin cannot contain materialistic meanings or notions based on the constraints of spacetime.) Therefore, philology is the more precise approach to divine wisdom and its source.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg often used philology to support the concept that the words of Holy Scripture contained “higher, spiritual meanings.” For instance, Swedenborg pointed out that the term “cattle” in its original tongue meant “acquisition” (AC 6049).
(Now consider the fact that a real sacred document would only concern itself with humankind’s acquisition of truth, because truth is necessary for salvation).
Since owning cattle offered value and wealth to its owner, the term “cattle” symbolizes, on a higher level, its psycho-spiritual equivalent—the acquisition of truth. Acquiring, and living by God’s truth, leads to goodness in the human heart and mind. So, to own cattle (possession) in Scripture conveys more than its literal interpretation of having mere material wealth, but rather, possessing wealth of spirit.
Philology offers historical evidence to support the spiritual origins of all words and Swedenborg’s science of correspondences (which was the science of all sciences in the ancient world). When a person, from a sincere affection for truth, looks for deeper teachings within God’s Holy Word (and not just to confirm what he or she has learned from their church), a philological path towards profound symbolic meaning will open up within one’s heart and mind!
I share this info with you just to get some new notions to start rolling around in your brain.