US bishops are largely practically rationalists when it comes to allegorical numbers in Scripture.
Most modern Catholic Bible scholars, which the liberal usccb tends to follow, frown upon the method of the early fathers who saw allegorical meanings in Scripture. Many of them embrace the rationalist approach to scripture, meaning that there is no mysticism or deeper senses beyond just raw historical facts and base moral lessons . For example, even the Vatican today unfortunately, looks at Daniel like the rationalists do, who unfortunately simply resurrect The bogus non prophetic interpretation of Daniel that was attempted by the pagan porphury, an interpretation that was absolutely demolished by our great Saint Augustine, who defended the early father's tradition that Daniel truly is a prophetic work that foresaw the rise of the grand empires which were culminated with the coming of Christ which destroyed paganism and bringing the Catholic victory.
As usual , also, the US bishops translations of scriptures tend to stink many times when it comes to allegorical numbers.
For example, they are very sloppy in certain verses that use numbers.
Let’s first look at apocalypse trumpet six or second great woe ; they just simply say the number as 200 million.
This gives you no clue as to the deeper meaning of scripture.
The Greek is literally myriads of myriads , not 200 million.
A myriad in scriptural theology is 10,000.
So the literal Greek is myriads of myriads.
The question of course is , how "many" myriads of myriads is it? For example is it 7 myriads of myriads, 13 myriads of myriads, 4 myriads of myriads? From face value we don't know.
Which is to say that the quantifier that starts the process is unknown.
Here, a biblical rule applies in scholarship, such that, by biblical tradition, when a particular noun is expressed in the plural, with no preceding quantifier, then the minimal possible quantifier to make it plural is the assumption.
This of course is two since one is not plural but singular.
Hence myriads of myriads is actually two myriads of myriads.
This gives far deeper insight into the other scriptures.
In fact,, Jesus at one point tells the parable of count the cost that effectively uses these numbers. The summary of the parable is below:
If you are going to build a tower make sure you have enough money to complete it.
Similarly, and here is the point, he says if you have a set of 10,000 troops going against 20,000, better to send a delegate and call it truce. Here, of course, literal rendering again would be if you have a myriad of troops going against two myriads count the cost.
In my article on pilate and Herod as images of the Fall, I place commentary on this parable as indicating the state of natural man who is unenlightened and unredeemed.
Here, the parable introduces the contrast between what is probably the Tower of Babel or that is a unified human race under a materialistic perversity, versus a world that is constantly at war with greater armies swallowing up lesser ones, building towards once again the great materialistic society United.
The point is that you will never have enough to finish the issue , this is the condition of natural man.
Effectively for example, the Tower of Babel never could have been tall enough to satiate the desires of humanity because they would always want it to be higher than it is.
Man can try and try and try to find his ultimate fulfillment in the things of this world however magnificent, but he will never be fully satisfied because only God can ultimately fulfill, who is infinitely above nature.
This then places unenlightened and unredeemed man in a constant alternation between the Tower and the wars meant to build back towards the tower. Which is to say a unified Kingdom of Babel
Returning to the 6th trumpet or second Great Woe, the number of myriads of myriads is simply most possibly referring to parable of the state of natural humanity without Grace and revelation. They’re supernaturally dead because they have rejected Revelation and Grace and are merely in a position of natural goodness, which can be imaged by the number of troops, who simply compound the numbers from Christ’s parable, mainly taking the first myriad and multiplying it by the second myriads.
If we would recall my take on the trumpets, the Second Great woe or sixth trumpet was the great supernatural death of the world, where they descended into merely natural goodness and truth. This included enlightenment deism rationalism the French revolution the Masons, and the countless worldly philosophies and worldly pursuits of the natural order that were confounded by sinful humanity guided only by a flawed reason. Which is to say, the world digressed from a supernatural condition of Christendom into a brute natural order , partially bringing into the way it was in Rome, before it was saved by the gospel.
Here, it only retained a natural goodness and lost his faith in supernatural Revelation and salvation.
But if we stayed with the loose and sloppy interpretation of 200 million , such depth would surely evade us.
Moving on, this last Sunday’s mass is no exception.
They simply mention a large sum and a very much smaller sum.
The reality is that the literal translation is far more specific.
It says that what the first man owes is 10,000 talents.
The little man only owes 100 days wages.
The first issue we look into is, What is the talent in biblical terms?
In biblical terms, a talent is 6,000 days wages. Of course, a day is theological in Judeaic scripture. We will now proceed to show that 6,000 days wages in terms of Jewish years is 20 years of Labor.
Of course, a Jewish year is exactly 360 days always.
So at first glance 6000 / 360 is more complicated than 20 years and in fact less than 20 years.
But the first observation is that out of the 360 days of the Jewish year, only about 300 of them are worked. How?
Well, for one, Jews keep The Seventh-Day Sabbath.
Hence for every 7 days, they only work six. So if there are effectively 50 or so weeks in a Jewish year, then 50 days out of the year they don't work.
Subtracting roughly 50 from 360 brings us to about 310 days.
To complete the process, we remember that there are around 10 sabbaths every year in addition to the regular 7-Day Sabbath in the Jewish calendar.
Long story short, if we have roughly 310 days not worked because of the seventh day Sabbath and then subtract another 10 sabbaths or so from the extraneous Jewish calendar, then only about 300 days of the Jewish year are actually worked.
Now the calculation is immediate. 6000 days wages divided by 300 days per year is 20 full Jewish years of Labor.
The incredible thing however is that we are nowhere done.
This is only one talent but the man owes 10,000 talents!!
Well now let’s apply the allegory.
Multiply 20 years * 10,000.
This is 200,000 years.
But with the Lord a day is as a thousand years!
Hence 200,000 years of Labor is like 200 days wages when we replace a thousand years of Labor with one day of labor!
Now, where have we seen 200 days wages in the Gospels?
Bingo! In the five Loaves and two fish Gospels.
Here, St Philip says to the Christ all we have is 200 days wages how can this be enough to feed the crowds.
From theology we saw before, the 200 days wages represents the futility of the natural order to both fulfill the human longing as well as to give him the power to keep the commandments that please God.
Only the supernatural Grace of Revelation and the sacramental food can satisfy the human person's desire for fulfillment and the ability to please God with Grace and actions animated by grace.
From here we argue that if 200 symbolizes the natural order of man, then we will recall from St Paul that man in a mere natural condition is in a state of original sin, the end of which is death first in this world and then the next.
Therefore if the original man on the parable owes God 200 days wages, he owes him an entire life of merely natural good works which in the end is The works of original sin, the end of which is death.
Obviously, as Saint Paul repeatedly testifies in the scriptures only the God man Christ can pay this debt.
Consequently the forgiveness of the man represents the redemption of Christ which he could never earn but is purely the gift of the mercy of God.
What then do we make of the mere 100 days wages that is owed the man from the small man?
Here, we can recall that 10 can be an image of the world as we have repeatedly seen in my writings. Certain beasts of Daniel and The Apocalypse have 10 horns and these beasts are worldly.
So if as many times we see 10 is the symbol of worldliness,
We can envision the number 100 with two factors of 10 as the two great evils of this world that must be endured by humanity even though they are saved by Christ from the immeasurable debt.
Well, the two great forms of evil in this world are physical evil and moral evil.
Moral evil comes to us from persons who wrong us.
Here, as the parable indicates, we must forgive others the moral evil they bring upon us. Secondly we must be able to forgive God for the physical evil that comes upon us from this world, as in sickness and misfortunes from nature.
If we cannot handle these two dimensions of suffering from moral evil and physical evil, then we are not worthy to be called a Christian since we have been forgiven an infinite debt.
In this way the allegorical meaning of the parable becomes evident.