In our country the most common way of reading the Bible has been a literalistic interpretation: the Bible means exactly what it says in the most literal, historical, and material way. Some modern interpreters have deviated from that procedure. One of the more creative approaches is called the esoteric.
Maurice Nicoll, an English psychiatrist, published a small volume in 1950 named The New Man, republished in 1999 by Eureka Editions. In this work Nicoll commented on some of the parables and miracles of Jesus. He presented the esoteric (I call it the mythopoeic) interpretation of these passages in the New Testament.
This small book (200 pages) together with William Blake's poems and pictures, opened up a new world to me. It's a world in which biblical material becomes meaningful and alive in a way it lacked with the literalistic interpretation.
As a small example consider the story of the
Marriage at Cana in John 2, especially the miracle of the water and wine. Actually there were three items representing three different levels of truth.
The first level is seen in the "six waterpots of stone". Stone represents the lowest level of Truth (also represented by the stone of the 10 Commandments and the stony altar in which Elijah tilted with the prophets of Baal.
The second level is seen in water. Jesus told the servants to fill up the waterpots with water. This represents a higher level of truth. We find water throughout the Bible symbolizing the truth of God. Remember when Jesus talked with the woman at the well about water and gave her a drink of living water.
The third level is seen in the wine. "This is my blood of the New Testament". As a symbol fire is much the same, as the wine of the New Man and the fire of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 2).
This sort of symbolic import runs through the Bible from beginning to end. Becoming acquainted with some of the most significant symbols can add immeasureably to the pleasure and profit you get from the good book.