August 16th, 1995, Serial No. 00281

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New Testament Class

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which sounds absurd, it is. But next time we'll move on to Mark's Gospel. And maybe we'll have a class after the retreat, but still next week, maybe on Thursday, something like that. Who's to prevent us from having a class on Thursday? Just because, if the retreat's over then. Maybe I'm right? Well, we'll see. I don't know. I'm not sure yet. If he does, then we won't. If he doesn't, then we will. Probably. Eight-day retreat is usually an expression which means seven days. You might decide to write it on a reel before then. No, you're going to like them all. Okay, and we talk of the New Testament as a new appearance of two things at once, two things which seem opposite. One is unity and the other is diversity. In the New Testament,


what you have is the simplicity and the unity of God coming into the world in a new way, and somehow pulling everything into itself, or beginning to. So it draws everything into itself virtually, so that in Ephesians and Colossians, Paul can speak of all things which came from God and came from the Word being drawn together again into the Word, or recapitulated in Christ. Everything, heaven and earth. That means all living beings, sentient beings, all spirits, all humans, and finally the cosmos itself in some way. It all came from him, it's all to be gathered into him. Now we're not picking up the, cleaning up the little questions about this, what about the ones who don't want to? We can save that for another class. In the terms of this unity and diversity, we talked about a number of images of that. One is the image of the body, and we'll come back to that, especially the body of Christ. But the human body is an image which very nicely combines unity and diversity. Then


we talked about bread, and the broken bread, another image of unity and diversity. Bread and body, of course, are closely connected. Then we talked about the cross, and how the cross, with its centeredness, its kind of convergent character, expresses the unity, and yet in its four limbs expresses the diversity very nicely, and in a way which fits into the ancient views of the cosmos, as being in four dimensions, the four points of the compass, the four winds, etc., we talked about that. So from that expression, or that way of representing the unity and diversity, we evolve a kind of mandala figure. And then we pointed out how that is found, and it doesn't work well. We talked about the four senses of consciousness, the literal sense, and the typological sense, the crystallogical sense, or allegorical sense, where you find Christ in the church. Then the moral or topological sense, and then finally the anagogical sense, or hegemonic sense, or mystical sense. We


make a revision of that in order to bring it somehow into a larger world, and we're into our own way of looking at things, in which we still look at the literal sense, or the literal meaning. We still look at the allegorical, or typological, or crystallogical, or ecclesiastical meaning. Here's a long one, just about the same one, where you find Christ, or the church, and the church, and the types and symbols of the Old Testament, such as David, or Jerusalem, or Moses, or the old covenant itself becoming a new covenant, and many, many of those types, which the Proverbs are very thoroughly explored, and some of them are even explored in the New Testament, just like the crossing of the Red Sea, and the Testament, which uses the Deuteronomy, which uses the New Testament. But this sense of, if you change the names of these two, call this the dynamic sense, or the historical sense in the New Testament, the dimension of movement, the dimension of activity, the


dimension of multiplicity, the dimension of historical progression, and historicalizing, so I call it the dynamic sense. And finally, the unitary sense, which is the mystical sense in its purest form, in the sense of union with God. In other words, here the sense, in terms of a distinct meaning of the scriptural text, has disappeared into union, has disappeared into the very end of God. These two go together, they're both participative senses. This is one that's like, in a sense, the more interior, the most interior of all. And this one is both interior and exterior, because it's happening in history, it's happening in the world, it's also happening here. Remember where Paul talks about the birth process, being in us, the Spirit grooming in us, and at the same time, the Spirit grooming and moving and bringing the birth and the whole of creation, the whole of creation, the cosmos. That's incredible, that's in Romans chapter 8. So it's both interior and exterior. Now you know that behind


these four dimensions are simply God, or the Father, the words, or the thoughts, the Spirit, and the great creation of the cosmos. That's the ultimate theological basis of it, which for a companion is a real gestalt, a real form, a real figure, a real whole, a constellation in the New Testament, which shows that very well, and which, in some senses, is the meaning of the figure of the cross itself, as you find it, for instance, in Paul, and as it gradually gets developed in Pauline writings. We're going to have to distinguish between the letters that are attributed, unquestionably, to Paul now, and then the so-called Deutero-Pauline letters, which include Ephesians and Colossians. A lot of books that you read won't make that distinction in the older ones, but now they have to do it. So, but we include Ephesians and Colossians within our treatment of the Pauline literature, just as we include, say,


the letters of John, if not the book of Revelation, in the treatment of the Deuteronomy literature. Not really knowing who's responsible for each writing, but knowing that they come out somehow of the same acoustic, the same development, the same current, the same tradition. That's good enough for us, as well as the fact that they've been part of the New Testament how long? Since the second century, something like that. Accepted as among the genuine writings, genuine self-writings from that time. Okay, so another analog of this now is the Four Gospels, as we mentioned last time. So this is a way of pulling the New Testament together and looking at all at once. It may seem a little crude, it may seem a little, like, butchered. Now this is on your H8 handout, the diagram. Let's take a look at that, because I've listed


a number of attributes or qualities here. That's on the first page of handout 8, on the left side. If you contrast Mark and John, which are closely related, they relate in terms of light and darkness, or in terms of revelation and vellation, and veiling. But the veil is still over Mark and Jesus, and what's inside is Mark's gospel, except for the transfiguration. And you can pierce through the veil, because Mark gives you clues to do that. And remember when the veil of the temple is torn at the final crucifixion of Jesus in the centurion, right after the crucifixion of the Son of God. See, that's a piercing, and that's a very significant piercing. Remember how the heavens are open at Jesus' baptism, and the voices, remember the voices of John and the Loving Son, that's another piercing. Another piercing of the veil is when the title of Mark's gospel is that which he declares to the Son of God right away. You're given that, but then the veil


You've got to penetrate it. But in John, it leads right out of Jesus. You've got the prologue, which puts you into the divinity of Christ, by the way. You're looking at Jesus, right away, as the pre-existing divine Word of God, if you read the gospel in terms of the prologue. And then the words of Jesus himself, you know, the Word died and fell upon the resurrection and upon the life of the world. And simply, at the core of all of those, without a predicate, the words by hand, which is the name of God, which is not in the Old Testament, tended to be understood in that way by John. Whatever the ancient geeks were saying about the meaning of that name in ancient Greece, that's the way that John tended to be understood. And remember that very often in New Testament literature, even in the Old Testament, it's up to a gentleman Greek. John is written in Greek. So the words ego, enmi, diadem, have all that resonance where you find that word identifying God in the Old Testament. Not only in Exodus 3, where the name of God is revealed to Moses,


but also in Isaiah, and other places, but especially 2nd Thessalonians. Okay, I've put these words under John there. From above, the Word may collapse. That is the pre-existing divine Word, which becomes human. You don't get that sense at all that Mark can start from below. You start by Jesus coming to be baptized, which is a very humble kind of submission, but when you go back to the preaching, it does it. Eternal, pre-existing Christ. Genesis symbolism, which is more transparent on John, but it's also a layer of Mark. That means the creation narrative symbolism from the first two chapters of Genesis, Adam, Eve, and God, and so on. It underlies Mark as well as John, but it's much more clear in John. Revelation. Unitive. The unitive perspective and unitive quality or nature of Jesus is obvious in John. Where Jesus says, I am, what's that indication?


Those words come from the center of reality. They come from the center of being and express ultimacy. They express the one who is the first and the last and remains the center. Everything revolves around him. It's in the simplicity of those words already. You don't find anything like that in John, not in nearly as explicit a way. Depth, transparency, symbolic organism, which is much more visible in John. For instance, oh, so many episodes in John where obviously you've got a resonance which goes far beyond the literal. Take the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. Where the well is significant, and the mountains there are significant, and the noonday is significant, and the words that Jesus speaks all have a second level of meaning. You've got a scene there in which the physical things, the visible things are resonating with the words that are spoken in a way which is loaded with symbolic self. That's true of many other places in John, the man born blind, and even


of the passion, the passion of Jesus. Contemplative illumination and contrasted with secrecy and concealment. Remember the messianic secret that they talked about so much in Mark? That's a reality, but I don't think it's really that Jesus is concealing the concept or the idea that he's the Messiah. What's being concealed is the likeness of Jesus. In other words, the veil which is over Jesus in the Gospel of Mark is the kind of code, the kind of rule. It's not so much the concealment of the idea of the Messiah. It's a broader and deeper kind of relation. And as we said, that concealment is in function of a revelation which happens not outside you, in front of you, in the Gospel, somewhere in Jesus in the narrative there, but it happens in you in baptism. But we'll get to that when we talk about Mark. I think the same thing is true of John, but there's not nearly as much drama. There isn't the dramatic tension of John because there isn't a concealment. The light is there all


the time. But the same baptismal conclusion, I believe, is meant to be understood in John. Okay, if we look at Matthew and Luke, we have something else. This is called the book of God. The metaphysical axis or the line, the vertical one, is the line of being, degrees of being, or between light and dark, or between heaven and earth, or between God and creation, as we've seen it in the other one. When you look at each one of these, you should read it with the resonance, what would you call it, seen behind the others, so that you get a kind of general sense of each of these four poles, each of these two axes and the way that they work. So that's the one where you go from higher levels of being to lower levels of being, from the light to the darkness, from God to the creation, from heaven to earth. This is the historical one where you move across from the one to the many, from the Jews to the Greeks, from one Christ to all the Christians, from one chosen people to


all the people of the earth, from the point of first entry and first revelation to the whole world and the whole cosmos and the whole humanity. That's a historical progression and it moves in this direction, it moves in that direction. Now if you contrast Matthew and Luke, I don't remember how much of this we did last time, why don't we do a little bit more. You get in Matthew the sense of a new law, a new Israel being set up to remain and what would you call it, like a rock. The image of the rock, Jesus is Peter, you are the rock and upon this rock I will have found my church. That was particularly strong in Matthew, Matthew 16. Now that's the sense, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. You get the sense of a fortress there, of a castle, of a city built on a mountain, of something solid and dewy. And it's true also of the doctrine in Matthew. The fact that Matthew organizes Jesus' discourses into these five sermons rather than the five books of the Pentateuch of Moses I think. So it's the old Torah in the books of Moses, it's


the new Torah in the gospels. So why not, it's very much like that isn't it. When Jesus says you have heard of old, but I tell you, you have heard this, but now I tell you this. It's the new law, which doesn't cancel the old law but somehow brings it to full tone. And what we're interested in is how it brings it to full tone. What's the dynamic, what's the change between the old and the new? We've talked about that in terms of a new simplicity and unity and a new diversity, multiplicity and extensiveness. So there's a movement inward from the old law and there's a movement outward from the old law. And our diagrams are intended to represent that. You've got the Jews over here, and Matthew tends to be a Jewish gospel. You've got the Greeks for everybody, the Gentiles, the Pagans, the whole world, all of us over here. And Luke is writing for them. Luke is writing a better Greek and a more literary gospel, which he hopes will be acceptable in the Hellenistic world and the Greek world, the larger world. He's not really as interested in Matthew as the fulfillment of the prophecy, the fulfillment of the typological sense. Remember we put


the typological sense earlier in Matthew. He'll tell you that this is prophesied and fulfilled in Jesus. And here you have a sense of fulfillment, as I mentioned last time I think, and here you have a sense of unfolding. It's like this is the gospel of the Word, which has become a new law, and the church which it found, which is an enduring institution mediating God's truth through the Word and through the Septuagint. Over here, the church is not an institution as much as a movement. It's an energy, it's a wave, it's a force. It's a movement of the Holy Spirit out to the whole world. And remember we identified this poem with the Holy Spirit. Luke is the gospel of the Holy Spirit. Now, over on this side I put Paul as well. Paul and Luke are rather closely associated. And they actually cross each other every day because it's simply a continuation of the gospel of Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles is the gospel of the Holy Spirit. It's the narrative of the


workings of the Holy Spirit in the early church, continuing the life of Jesus over the threshold from Word to Spirit, and continuing in the sense of movement. Remember that this gospel is largely built upon a journey, a journey of Jesus towards Jerusalem. The Acts of the Apostles is also built upon a journey, but it's not the journey of one person, it's the journey of the Holy Spirit, which concludes in Rome, and Rome symbolizes what? Gentiles, the whole world. Rome is a place, a center, which represents the whole thing. So, once again, movement is out to the ends of the earth. There's also a feminine quality to Luke's gospel, which has been noted very often. We need to reflect about how the feminine relates to the Holy Spirit. How the feminine relates to the Holy Spirit. How the feminine relates to dynamism, rather than structure. Over here, we don't have structure. Over here, we have dynamism, movement, energy, fluidity. You can read those episodes involving Jesus


and women in Luke, and the infancy narrative includes, and see how you connect that with what's happening later on in the Acts of the Apostles. The parallel between the infancy narrative of the coming of the Holy Spirit to Mary, and then women and gentiles, and then the Holy Spirit coming to the early church, to the community, in the Acts of the Apostles. It's a pretty convincing parallel, I think, even though Mary is not explicitly mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Any questions about that before we leave it behind? Yes? Is it pretty much written that way, or do you hardly ever see that kind of dynamism? You don't see any structure in Luke? Oh no, that's not true. The risk of this kind of diagram is that it accents the differences, and suppresses the common element, in order to show the structure. There's plenty of


structure in Luke, and there's plenty of dynamism in Matthew, but their main thrust, I'd say, is different in that sense. Because each of them is a whole gospel, containing the whole of Christ in some way. So in Christ's words, and deeds, and so on, it's not like they filter out, Matthew doesn't filter out all the movement, there's plenty of it. And there's plenty of revolution in Matthew, leave the sermon on the mountain. And there's plenty of structure in Luke, I'm trying to think. But it's not put across in the sense that something is being set up now, that's going to remain in an institutional way. Luke just doesn't think that way. Things are moving too fast. I can't think of examples now, structural examples. So all these different qualities have been drawn out very subtly, it's not like it just sticks out one... Yeah, they're overall impressions. These are overall impressions when you read these Gospels. If you're reading a particular passage, it may not come out at all. It's not in every


paragraph, or every page, absolutely. But it's a pretty consistent general contrast in these Gospels. And as I say, making this kind of diagram tends to suppress the common elements. The common elements of all four Gospels, take the Passion Account, which is in all four Gospels. Now, it may have a slightly different thread, and slightly different details corresponding to the differences we've dealt with, and to other differences, because it doesn't cover everything. But basically that Passion Account is the same. And that's nearly the core of the Gospels, the Passion Account. So there's a lot to say. The trouble with a diagram like this, if it catches on for you, because it becomes too convincing, it suppresses the other truths. So you need to set the diagram aside, and not think it's a final answer, kind of thing. It only expresses a certain very useful figure in the New Testament, which we're using to generalize and to draw together, synthesize a great deal of information


and so on, and detail, and to proceed rapidly through the New Testament, to give you a general idea of what the New Testament is, which means basically a unit of the point of view, explaining how things fit together. Okay, some other analogues to this. Here's another one. I found this in Van Gogh's book called the Roman Conflict. I don't know if it ever got translated into English. The four apostles, John, Peter, remember we had the love of disciples up here in John's Gospel, and Peter down there, so they appear in John's Gospel. In John's Gospel, the love of disciples, the one that we just chose to stay here, remain until I come. He tells Peter, follow me. That's typical of these two. John, the love of disciples, is already there. He's already in the place of the focus. The fear has to move further across the earth. Over here we


have James, and over here we have Paul, believe it or not. And the dynamic that we've found in James here, it's a kind of, I don't know if I should call it a kind of a mythical James in the sense that it's compounded by James the Greater and James the Lesser, but it's certainly a name that James sent for in the New Testament, is the Jewish law, the Jewish just man, who is Christian. And so it represents the Jewish pole, the Semitic pole as it were, of Christianity. And this is the Gentile pole of Christianity, represented by Paul who was a Pharisee and a persecutor of the church and who turns exactly into the opposite, preaching the freedom of the Gospel and the Spirit against the law. So you've got law over here and you've got Spirit over here. But in the New Testament, this is not so much law, this is Word, this is the Logos, this is the Revelation which is Christ, and this is the movement which is the Spirit. It's important to understand the difference between the sense of freedom and the Word. The really exciting dynamic that happens between Word


and Spirit. If we think that the Spirit is kind of carried out and the Word is all foreordained as completely free to come, we haven't got it. That's what the East accused the West of doing. That whole Pele-Okwui argument is partly about that. They say you subordinated the Spirit to the Word so that all that the Holy Spirit can do is follow order. But the Spirit is the co-principle of Christianity which interacts with the Word, and that's where the excitement is. It's a dynamic of interaction rather than just kind of a, what do you call it, obedience and execution. So to feel the movement between these. For instance, remember when Peter gets into trouble with Paul. It's in the Acts of the Apostles somewhere. And then Peter brings it up in one of his writings, where Peter had gone over to the Judaizers. Some people came from Cain. The thing is, architectural. Some people came from Cain to the Canaanites, wherever they are. Do we have this someplace? And said, well you shouldn't be eating with the Gentiles. So Peter stopped eating with the Gentiles


and went over and ate with the Jews again, with the Serpentites again, and followed the dietary rules. Here comes Paul and says that you've betrayed the gospel. You're accepting the Lord, you're opposing the Lord as a law upon others, and you yourself are a coward. Abandon the freedom of the spirit to go back to the law. So there were these tensions within the early communities, and they're coming up in monarchy between Peter, James and Paul. Think of James as the head of the Jerusalem community. That's James the brother of the Lord. The so-called brother of the Lord. So you can try this out and see if it works. The contrast between John and Peter is in two parts in early Christianity. The contrast between James and Paul is representing the Judaic pole, the pole of the law, and the Judaizers, the extremists. And on the other side, Paul, the gospel to the Gentiles, and the freedom of the spirit, and moving away from the law.


Okay, I want to talk about Paul now. Another way, well, let's not get it too complicated. I wanted to talk about Paul, and when we talk about Paul we have to talk about participative knowledge. This is something we need to be thinking about anyhow when we're talking about the New Testament. Contrast two kinds of understanding. One is the contemporary scientific kind of understanding, where you measure things and look at things through instruments, and you do it objectively. In other words, you're completely uninvolved in the process, uninvolved in that which you are considering, in that which you are measuring. You are on one end of the microscope, and the paramecium is at the other end of the microscope, and the two of you are not interacting socially, or in any other way. That's this


dualistic knowledge of science, which has become the, what do you call it, has become the model of knowledge for us in our time, because the scientist is the authority. But there's another form of knowledge, which is participative, in which you only know by being what you know, or by in some way vibrating with and communicating with what you know in a personal manner. Typical of that would be the knowledge of music, let's say, where when you hear music, really, the music is in you. You become the music, does Eliot say that somewhere? You are the music, we are the music, that kind of thing. Or think of love, in which you know a person by some kind of communion with that person, by some kind of mingling of souls. Or think of any aesthetic knowledge, if you look at a painting somehow, the painting has managed to draw you unto itself, or to communicate to you some kind of experience, which was in the imagination of the painter. Things like that. A participative knowledge. Now religious knowledge is essentially participative knowledge. The only real, the


only significant religious knowledge, ultimately, is participative knowledge, in which you know by becoming, you know by being, you know by communing in the being of something. So you know God by a participation in the being of God. Now the trouble is that most of our theology, at least in the West, has not been able to, has not wanted to, to say this. In other words, it uses, ever since the 13th century at least, and the entrance into Aristotle, the dominance of Aristotle in our theology, it's a theology of distinction, a theology of heart, the hundred arms, which is gradually approaching, I would say, that level of dualism of scientific knowledge, modern scientific knowledge, in which you've got to distinguish things. And first of all, you've got to distinguish God from creation. You've got to distinguish God from the human person. And heaven help you if you confuse them, because you'll be accused of pantheism. Pantheism, pantheism. That's pantheism. Yeah, but what Christianity is about is about participation. Christianity is a new participation in God. So that's something


to think about. Now, according to the anthropologists, early humanity, primitive societies, have what you might call, they live in a kind of, a kind of instinctive participation. In other words, they are part of what they're in. They're moving around in communion with others around them. And in communion with one another in some way. The tribe, the family, the culture. And not only that, but the cosmos itself. And also, probably, spiritual beings. They're all living in the same world somehow, communicating with one another, and one another's being. Let me read something from Huard Cousins on that. He talks about the primitive peoples before what he calls the axial period. Remember that axial period where the individual personality and consciousness starts to emerge in the first millennium before Christ, peaking about 500 B.C. Prior to the axial period, that is, that time, the dominant form of consciousness


was cosmic, collective, tribal, mythic, and ritualistic. There's plenty of that in the Old Testament. That gets excluded and suppressed in the Old Testament. Elements of it are still there, the mountains, you know, the sacred mountains, the stones, things like that. But there's a very narrow channeling of participation in the Old Testament. Collective, that is, plenty of that. Remember Abraham. You talk about Abraham, you're talking about a whole tribe, you're talking about all his dependents, you're talking about all his wives and his children, and even probably the sheep and goats and cattle. Tribal, mythic, and ritualistic. The idea that if you sprinkle blood on somebody, they're part now of the covenant. There's some kind of physical bond between them and God, let us say. Remember the ritual of the sprinkling of the blood at the time of Exodus to make the covenant? Those things were thought of in a physical way, like the consummation of a marriage or something like that. A real


bond is established by ritual. This is the characteristic form of consciousness of primal peoples whose cultures provided a substratum throughout the world for later civilizations and which survive to this day in tribal groups. Between these traditional cultures and the axial period, there emerged great empires in Egypt, China, and Mesopotamia. The consciousness of the tribal cultures was embedded in the cosmos and in the fertility cycles of nature. So typically you have the goddess worship in these cultures, often a feminine deity connected with the fertility cycle. Thus there was established a rich and creative harmony between primal peoples and the world of nature, a harmony which was explored, expressed, and celebrated in myth and ritual. Just as they felt themselves part of nature, so they experienced themselves as part of the tribe. They had no sense of independent identity apart from the tribe. It's hard for us to understand that at all, except when we take ourselves back to childhood and remember when we were uncertain about emerging as individual


persons. They had no sense of independent identity apart from the tribe. It was precisely the web of interrelationships within the tribe that sustained them psychologically, energizing all aspects of their lives. To be separated from the tribe threatened them with death, not only physical but psychological as well. You know, excommunication in Christianity used to have a very strong impact on people for that reason. I say for that reason, but it's because that participative consciousness is still there, whereas we've lost it. We start out excommunicated in a sense. We're such individuals, we're so isolated. We've arrived at the extreme development of individual consciousness in our time, especially in the United States now. However, the fusion of their identity with the collectivity did not extend beyond their own tribe, for they often looked upon other tribes as mean and hostile. Yet within their tribe they felt organically related to their group as a whole, to the


life cycles of birth and death, and to nature and the cosmos. And then the individual consciousness comes in, in what he calls the actual period. Now, the Native American culture, of course, is one of these primal cultures, isn't it, as well as most of the African cultures prior to the advent of Europeans in Africa in modern times, and also in India. In fact, in India they have people that they call the tribals, who are pre-Aryan. They're before the invasions of India millennia ago, which brought the more sophisticated religious traditions with them, for instance, like what we call Hinduism. They're pre-Hindu among the tribals, as they normally would be. That's true in many of the countries of Asia. So, anyhow, there was a time when humanity was naturally participative, and had a participative consciousness. And then something can happen, and it has to do with this axial development of the individual


consciousness, and we're like at the apex of that. But the participative consciousness remains in all of the ancient cultures, and in its own particular way in Israel. Now, Owen Barfield says that Israel was designed to eliminate participation. I'm a bit exaggerated, but in Israel there's such a strict limitation of participation, especially the ruling out of cosmic participation. You must not worship in the sacred groves, remember? You must not do any of those things which are now considered idolatry, and which were cosmic worship. Sacred stones, sacred groves, sacred mountains, all that stuff is a mathematical. The prophets are railing against this. So there's a strict limitation of participation in Israel. And the participation now centers in what? The tribe, the patriarchal family, your children of Abraham, okay? Your Israel, your sons of Israel, of Isaac and of Jacob, and of the


twelve patriarchs, and the covenant. You're part of the covenant. You're physically, practically speaking, bonded to one another and to God through the covenant. So Israel is very tightly bound, and the sacrifices and the rituals and so on, they're all participative things. And sacrificing, you sacrifice an animal, you're participating in that in some way. That's something that you're doing yourself. It's an act of your own being. You can think of the New Testament as the end of an old participation and the beginning of a new participation. What happens is that the old participation, not only of the primal culture, of the pagan pupils of the faith, but also of Israel, has somehow been terminated or transformed, so that now you have a very simple participation, which begins to expand


itself until it's going to include everything, but a very simple participation in what? In Christ, in the body of Christ. The new participation is in God through Christ, or simply in Christ, in the body of Christ. So you can read Paul in that way and it makes a lot of sense. A lot of things that are otherwise pretty mysterious light up when you think of Paul in terms of that participation consciousness. Now he's loaded with it, you know. You can read most any of his letters and you'll see that. His expression for the new participation is mostly the body of Christ. You're in the body of Christ, or in Christ. And we'll look at that a little more closely. I took great trouble to read and study to some extent that chapter of Pittsmire in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary called Pauline Theology, because I found that


it gives a very good basis for unitive interpretation of Paul, or a participative interpretation of Paul. Pittsmire starts out by saying, well, what's the key to Paul's vision? What's the key to Paul's theology? And he, as usual, he picks up several proposals that have been made by scholars, Protestant scholars mostly, but not entirely, in the last hundred years, and then he throws them out and proposes his own. He says, well, the key is what Paul himself proposes, it's the gospel of Paul. And the gospel of Paul is the same as the word of the cross. And that's what you find in 1 Corinthians, remember? Chapter 1 and 2. This is 1 Corinthians 1.21-25. For since in the wisdom of God the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews


and folly to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. So the whole of this gospel somehow, and a little later on he says, I decided to know nothing among you, you sophisticated people, nothing among you but Jesus Christ did not crucify. Now, Jesus Christ crucified is also Jesus Christ risen, right? There's no separation between those two. But somehow it's essential to catch Christ at that point of the cross, when the cross becomes resurrection. You've got to get him at that point. That's how Paul knows him. See, Paul didn't know Jesus on earth. But what he's got is the whole thing somehow summed up in this word of the cross, the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Number 1 Corinthians 15, wherever you depend on the resurrection of Jesus, this is the other side where the whole gospel somehow is this word of the cross. Notice the way he talks about this. You've got the Jews and the Greeks,


and what the Jews over here have done, the Greeks over here, and the Greeks are interested in wisdom, and the Jews are interested in signs. Now these signs are the signs of the power of God. In other words, what they're interested in is God breaking the river sea in half and making a walk through it, or bringing down blood from heaven or fire from heaven or something of that nature. What they want is an assurance of God's action on every day, of God breaking the river, and the security that comes from God's closeness and God's promises. The promises of the past, the patriarchal promises, and so on. They want signs of that power, and God's going to act for them. Whereas the Greeks want a wisdom which is probably the penetration of the cosmos. So notice here, we've got people, and the power of the wisdom of God, now this kind of reverses itself, because the power of God we associate with the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of God we associate with the Word. But nevertheless, there is this action. Then he's talking about the wisdom of man, and the power of man, and


he's talking about the foolishness and the weakness of God. The dynamic of this text works this way. There's this inversion, that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man. It works vertically in that sense. And the weakness of God is more powerful, stronger than the power of man. You see it's working back and forth, up and down these two axes. So I think this figure is already there, because Paul thinks in those terms. He thinks in terms of God and man, he thinks in terms of Jews and Greeks. But notice that the Jews are not going to win out of the Greeks, they're not going to win out of the Jews. He's stressing this, this Paul, or how should I say, he's stressing this revolution, this revolutionary dynamic, this descent of God, this inversion, it's turning upside down the whole thing. So that both the wisdom of man and the strength of man become healthy


in the face of what God is doing. But it still works along those two axes. The mystery, the paradox, the revolution that turns around at Christ's center, which is Christ crucified at the center, which appears elsewhere in Paul. I wanted to give you a couple of examples now of how the mandolic form expresses itself in Paul. And I have to be careful here, because the juiciest texts come from Ephesians and Colossians. It's not so easy to find it in the undisputedly authentic letters of Paul before that time. But here's one example where I feel it's there. I haven't made a thorough search for this. Another example is Philippians 2, 1 to 11, which I'll read to you in part. This is the latter part of the famous text about Jesus emptying himself, the kenosis


of Jesus. But before that, there's a very important text, which is the reason for the other, which is the reason for that kenosis text. If there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love in driving to the Philippian Christian humanity... If there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same heart, being in full accord with one mind. A human community, same community, according to me, of being one in the community, on the level, the horizontal level of the human relationship in the human community. Notice how accented it is. Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same heart, being in full accord with one mind.


Four times he says it. It's oneness that's at issue. It's the union along the horizontal axis of the world. Say, between those of you who are on the left and those who are on the right, you have this persuasion and those who have that persuasion. Disciples of Paul, disciples of Apollo, whatever it may be. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, for then you know we can't know this better than yourselves. But each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others. Remember the rule of Benedict, chapter 72. I know a good deal. 72, that's 73. Basically it comes from here. It's the same thing. Have this mind among yourselves, which is in Christ Jesus. For though he was in the form of God, did not have equality with God, the thing that he had was empathy. Taking on the form of the church. He lowered himself. He emptied himself. He came down from the level of God to the level of man. So the vertical axis accents itself and goes on and on.


The descent continues. Emptied himself in the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man. Being found in human form, he humbled himself, became obedient unto God, and even then on the cross he found death. Therefore God has highly exalted him, and he has served on heaven's name. Okay. But now he's bringing him out of the wilderness. Into God. That every knee should bow every time he says that Jesus Christ is Lord. He's the Lord of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Notice how the two axes are very strongly attached to each other, and one is in function of the other. The reason why Paul says this is so that he'll do this. In other words, it's out of this descent and ascent, it's out of Jesus, which one would think of when God becomes one with us, and bringing us into God, that this koinonia becomes possible. Paul uses it as a kind of moral example of humility and submission to others, of sort of laying down one's life for others. But the very possibility of it comes from this vertical movement, down and up the axis.


So I think that's working very often in Paul's literature. But let's look now at these, and we'll quit in a few minutes, but let's look now at these texts from Colossians and Ephesians. First Colossians 1, 17 to 18. If you have your New Testament there, I'd ask you to open it. Notice how in these texts where the two axes occur, the cross will be mentioned. It's almost like that geometry is there just beneath the surface of Paul's language and Paul's consciousness, and then the image jumps out at a certain point. This is Colossians 1, 17 to 22. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was released from the world, and through him to reconcile


with himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven. Now the figure begins to assert itself, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind. He's talking to the Gentiles, okay, he's talking to the pagans who didn't know God, according to Paul. That's why he looks like a really big househog. They're over here. You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, are now reconciled with his body of flesh by his death, in order to present your holy emblem of spiritual importance. Do you get the picture? He comes and joins heaven and earth by joining humanity with God. That's the very direction. And as he does that, he joins all human beings, virtually, that is, potentially, by joining the Jews with the Gentiles, by bringing in Gentiles who were far, who were off, who were estranged, who had no connection with God, the way he looks at it.


So he brings them in and joins them to the chosen people, and unites both of those people, and therefore virtually, potentially all humanity, as he brings heaven and earth, or God and humanity together. So the two axes are one, and making peace by the blood of his cross, the cross that Jesus crucified is the center of this thing. It's a figure of the cross, which expands into this figure of fullness, which is the circle. So that Jesus crucified brings together heaven and earth, and brings together the two people, the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews are implicitly led to the Gentiles. The estranged and hostile mind is now reconciled. Okay, the next one is Ephesians 2, 11-16. He's ready for the Gentiles. So here are the Gentiles, these rotten fellows over here, who are the uncircumcision, and


we have the circumcision over here of the Jews, of whom Paul of course is one. Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. In other words, there was a wall between these two sides. There was a wall between the Jews and the Gentiles, and that wall is the law, but it's also, the other side of it is the ignorance of God on the part of the Gentiles, according to Paul. Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise. You see how he divides the two peoples? The ones who are inside and the ones who are outside. The Jews are the ones who receive the revelation first, they're the chosen people, the first people, they have the covenant, they have the revelation of God, they have the law, they have circumcision. They have all these privileges of being close to God, and somehow, participation in communion with God. The Gentiles don't, according to him. Having no hope of without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off, have been brought near in the love of Christ. That means that they've been joined to the Jews, joined to Israel.


For he is our peace, was made as both one, and broken down the dividing wall of hostility, which was symbolically the law, the Jewish law. That's the wall between the Jews, that separates Jews and Gentiles. And it did it in a very concrete, palatable way. So Jesus is broken down that wall, and brought together the two poles, the two sides of it. Now remember, Jews and Gentiles are Jews and everybody else, all the peoples of the world. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and broken down the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, the Jewish law. That he might create in himself one new man in place of the two. So make him peace. Now, verse 16 is very important. Reconcile us both to God in one body, through the cross. Therefore bringing the hostility to an end. So they're the figurine of Israel. He says all that about joining the two sides, but then he says, reconcile us both to God


in one body. That's the virtue of it. The reconciliation of the two is by virtue of the reconciliation to God, and the unity which is God, coming into humanity, enabling humanity to become all one by participation in this unity which is God. And the central figure here is very explicit. It's the figure of a human person, who is spread out across my life. You begin to see why the figure of a person is so important. There's one more text here, which is Ephesians 3, 16 to 19. This is one you've heard plenty of. And he's praying for the Ephesian Christians, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with might through the Spirit in the inner man. Now here's where we start hearing about the center. This inner man. Picture that as being out here. And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.


The heart, that's another center. Okay? That you be rooted and grounded in love. And that's the difference between the heart and the center, isn't it? The inner man, Christ dwelling in your hearts through faith, rooted and grounded in love. May have the power. Now moving on from the center, to comprehend it all the same, what is the breadth and the length and the height and the depth? Okay, the four dimensions. Now, you can't put breadth and length and height and depth on one cross part. Can't have two dimensions. But nevertheless, he's got four dimensions. It's a quaternary in some way, or four. Which represents fullness, of course. But it translates itself directly into this kind of figure. And to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. The fullness of God is like this circle once again. Which is at one moment, the fullness of all of creation, but at another moment, which is the fullness of God. Or of love, or of Christ, or whatever way you want to put it.


Okay, that's just in the interest of pointing out how Paul really, and the Pauline tradition at least, really has this kind of geometry, this kind of development of the Christ mystery, I believe, at its core. Which you'll find other places in the Pauline letters where this comes out. Maybe not so explicitly. About the authenticity of Paul's letters, let me mention the current, or a current, breakdown of the letters. Hebrews is not attributed to Paul any longer. So, I don't know how much of a connection, I haven't read anything about Hebrews lately, how much of a connection they allow between Paul and the letters of the Hebrews. But the scholars will sneer if you say that Paul wrote it. So, you're left with 13 Pauline letters, okay? Now, Fitzmeyer divides them into three categories. This, once again, is in the near-Jerome Commentary, where I go for this kind of information.


Three categories. The first category is the genuine letters, which are pretty undisputedly, pretty certainly, by consensus, written by Paul himself. Even though somebody else may have done the physical act of writing them down, of course. Secretaries, something like that. Those are the four, first of all, the first Thessalonians, which is supposed to be his first letter, isn't it? The one that he wrote first. Then, the major letters of Romans, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, and Philippians and Philemon, a little personal letter, remember? So, five very important letters are there for us. Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians. That's not, of course, the order in which they were written, because Romans was written late. It seems like a kind of summary, a kind of recapitulation of Paul's theology. Okay, those are the certain ones. The doubtfully genuine ones are Deuteron Pauline, if you like that kind of expression.


It's poetry, almost, Deuteron Pauline. That's Ephesians, Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians. And generally, they put Colossians before Ephesians now, thinking that Ephesians, evidently, owes something to Colossians, rather than the way it's probably in their Bible. Just as they put Mark before Matthew, whereas their Bible, in the Testament, they start with Matthew's Gospel right in their mind. And then finally, Pseudonymous. Pseudonymous. I like to think of Pseudonymous as a 2nd century church book, like Hieronymus. There are three of those. 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. Now, that may be very comforting, because that's where Paul sort of becomes the schoolmaster, and the institutional person who's telling people to stay in line and be obedient, obey the law, and all of that.


Well, he seems to turn around from his earlier message of freedom, remember? This earlier movement away from the Jewish law to be shoring up the more institutional aspect of Christianity, which I'd assume not to find that in Paul. I'd rather find it in James or Matthew or somewhere else. So those are supposed to have been written by somebody else and just attributed to Paul, but I haven't read the details of it. I think we should probably quit for today, but before we do that, let me do one thing, which maybe we can think about a little bit in between. The letter to the Hebrews we're not talking about as part of the Pauline Corpus exactly. I want to point out, there is an approach to the letter to the Hebrews which is very unitive. If you take the third and fourth chapters and then read the following chapters of Hebrews in that sense. And that is this business of entering in, the business of entering into the Promised Land, which is virtually a paradise, and then the entering in of Jesus into the inner sanctuary, and the our entering into the inner sanctuary.


The whole thematic and dynamic of entering into the final place, the central place in the letter to the Hebrews. And the key text is in chapters three and four, and it starts with this. It starts with that quoting of Psalm 91, isn't it? Do not harden your hearts. Today when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. As I swore in my wrath, I shall never enter my rest. Now the rest of God, the shalom of God, is the Sabbath of God, isn't it? It's also the Promised Land. And he goes on to talk about the people who died in the desert, couldn't enter into the Promised Land. So the Promised Land and the Sabbath, the place and the time have become one thing here. And it has a resonance also with paradise.


The rest of God is also the place of paradise. Think of it as the central place, think of it as the interior, as the core, as the heart somehow of reality in which God dwells. This rest of God, this place of God. And it goes on. Now there's still a Sabbath that remains. There's still a seventh day that remains, and we have to labor and journey in order to enter that. And he goes on about that. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Let us therefore, verse 11, chapter 4, strive to enter that rest that no one may fall by the same sword of disobedience. Then the word of God is living and active, sharpened many to its sword. Remember the sword that was placed outside paradise? The flaming sword, you know, that barred the entry to paradise. There's some kind of resonance. The resonances which don't quite gel in an identification and explicit connection that they're there. Because this place, this Sabbath, is also paradise, God's rest.


Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, okay? Jesus has passed through the heavens into the sanctuary. Whatever God's place that God's dwelling in, Jesus has gone in for us. And so we enter with him. And then throughout the rest of the letter, you'll find here and there these entries into heaven. For instance, in chapter 6, we have this as assurance, steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf. The inner sanctuary, the image of the sanctuary, the tent, the tabernacle. Jesus enters again, and he brings us in there. Well, what is that? That's the unity of Christ. That's the pleasure of God. So, I just recommend that as a way of finding what we call the sepulchral entry into the letter to Jesus. But we don't have time to mention that. Okay, thank you very much. Next time, maybe a little more about Paul. And I need really to talk about that before and after.


Humanity before Christ and humanity in Christ. And then we'll go on to Mark's question. Thank you.