August 1st, 1995, Serial No. 00279

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New Testament Class

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This morning we wanted to move on to the Old Testament, which is a fairly absurd thing
to do in one hour.
The Old Testament is not a book, it's a library, as it's been very rightly said, and it's a
library that has been put together over hundreds and hundreds of years, literally thousands
of years.
It's almost like an inventory of human experience, an inventory of human possibility, which then
is absorbed into the New Testament, which means to say that it's absorbed into Christ.
That sort of this one center crystallizes out of it, which then in some way includes,
comprehends, unitively embraces all of it, and at the same time, which operates something
on it, you might say, or becomes a kind of a prism in which it all takes on a different
The light that it takes on is a unitive light, but it's also a progressive light, that is,
there's an energy in this Christ mystery, which drives something forward to its accomplishment.
And that's really interesting, I mean, that is something absolutely fascinating.
So when we talk about the Old Testament, at least this morning, I'm still talking about
it from the point of view of the New Testament, and there's a great injustice in this, in
a sense, you know, because for two thousand years, Christians have been interpreting the
Old Testament from outside itself, in a sense.
They've been ransacking the Old Testament, and butchering the Old Testament, in a sense,
in order to extract what is significant for them, what is meaningful for them as Christians.
The verifications of the messiahship of Jesus, for instance, right in the beginning, right,
for instance, in Matthew's Gospel, or all these other things, we read the Old Testament
already in a very, what would you call it, almost like absentee proprietors, or something
like that, as we're appropriating it for something else.
Which Christianity contends is what it was intended for originally.
But Jewish readers of the Old Testament would differ on that, and they would say, well look,
you haven't given the word the space to expand its own blossom, to resonate, you haven't
allowed it to speak for itself, you've been putting words into its mouth, and the words
that you've been putting into its mouth, you already had made up in your mind, were already
presuppositions before you began to read it.
Which is very often true.
Nowadays we awaken to the fact that the Old Testament deserves a hearing on its own,
as a direct word.
Of course, people have always read it that way, especially the Psalms, but officially,
even if you read that, the chapter here on the Old Testament for David Ervin, immediately
the Old Testament is in the interests of Christ, it was written for Christ.
But that's like a second moment, the first moment would be hearing it in its own right.
Which monks have done anyway.
If you read the Old Testament attentively, in Lectio Divina, and deeply, and give it
space, it will speak to you.
The stories, and the prayers, and the figures, and the events will speak to you on their
And you'll be able to perceive the beauty and the depth of them on their own, they begin
to glow for you.
Examples of those stories are in the books of Samuel, you know, of David, and Samuel,
and Saul, and Solomon, and that whole thing, absolutely beautiful, with such deep resonances.
Before you even begin to make any New Testament connections, and the same is true of the creation
accounts, and so many of the stories of the patriarchs, and Genesis, and we're going to
do the same old thing.
In our one hour, we're going to be appropriating the Old Testament for the understanding of
the Christ mystery.
But just so you're warned at the outset, that there's other work to be done with the Old
Testament text.
Even saying Old Testament is already doing it, isn't it?
Because that's why I put the First Testament on the outline for the class, because the
Old Testament is old from a New Testament perspective, but if it stands in its own right, then it's
simply the Testament, the Covenant, the First Testament.
Testament and Covenant mean very much the same thing, and originally, they're not so
much a book as an economy, that is, the whole history of Israel is embraced in the term
Old Covenant, or First Covenant, the First Revelation.
We didn't finish all the material that I had outlined for the last time, but that's okay,
we'll come back to it at one point or another.
This is what Dave Erbam says in Number 15, about the principal purpose to which the plan
of the Old Covenant was directed, was to prepare for the coming of Christ, the Redeemer
of all, and the coming of the Messianic Kingdom, to announce this coming of a prophecy and
to indicate its meaning through various types.
So it's leaning forward immediately, and it's appropriated for Christianity, and it doesn't
have much of a chance to speak on its own.
So for that, we have to go back and put ourselves into the Old Testament, and somehow put ourselves
into the shoes of Abraham and Isaac and David, and try to experience it from the inside, which
is worthwhile doing in your imagination.
Various types.
I should have got you some textbook definitions of words like type and symbol, but a type
basically is something to which corresponds something else, and so you have type and archetype.
So if you say David in the Old Testament is a type of Jesus in the New Testament, and
Jesus is the archetype, then you're saying that the type is a prefiguration, or an image
or a symbol, or a foreshadowing, an anticipation, a token, something like that, that stands
for something else, a sign in a sense.
But all these words have different ranges of meaning, so it's much more than a sign.
So a typical interpretation of typology is the interpretation of the Old Testament in
terms of those things which denote something in the New Testament, and there's been a whole
lot of that done.
And it's very real, but at the same time there's a danger in it, obviously.
There's a danger, once again, of not giving what we call the type its due.
In other words, we immediately say that this is an image of Christ, and then we pass beyond
it to Christ, without letting it speak itself, and once again that's an impoverishment of
the Word, of the First Testament Word.
So we have to be cautious about our typology, about leaping from Old Testament to New Testament,
and we shouldn't be too panicky or too greedy about immediately appropriating everything
in an obvious way as a type of something in the New Testament.
There's so much of that that's been done, and it gets very tedious after a while.
And that's one reason for the vengeance with which people in modern times turn back to
the literal sense, and say, well, what is it really in itself, historically?
Because so much, what do you call it, premature and sometimes sentimental and exaggerated and
immature typology has been done.
What is a symbol then?
I should have brought a textbook definition of that too, but, you know, you've got all
these terms, symbol, sign, type, a symbol is not so much, it can be a word, or it can
be an expression, but usually it's a thing, but it's a thing that's symbolic.
A symbol is something, I would say in the most general terms, it has a reference, a meaning,
a resonance beyond itself.
So it's something that has at least two levels, and one level is a visible or obvious level,
it's explicit level, and then it has a level of implicit meaning, let us say.
Now the level of implicit meaning can vary enormously, there may be different levels.
That's when we talk about the four senses of scripture, we're saying that there's one
literal sense, and then there are three symbolic senses, and three spiritual senses.
So, in one sense you can say that a symbol stands for something else, but that comes
nearly down to being a type, type and antitype, that's that kind of algebraic relationship,
which can be pretty poor, in a sense, can be quite circumscribed and can be beneath
the level really of the word.
In the largest possible sense, a sense which is so large and so wide that it can be just
vague, is that the symbol stands for the absolute in the concrete.
The symbol is something concrete, which somehow resonates with, communicates the absolute
of the infinite.
Something finite which communicates, which awakens within you the sense of the infinite.
So in other words, everything somehow is an image or vestige of God, in that sense.
But look out when we say God, because when we say God, once again we're using a word
which circumscribes, which tends to pin down that reality as if it were a stop, as if
the word stopped it, the concept stopped it.
But what it does is to expand outwardly infinitely into mystery, because that's what the divine
is, something that surrounds us, not an object.
So the symbol in that sense is a kind of triangle or cone in which the point is a concrete thing,
even a concrete word or expression, and the wide part, which opens out to infinity, is
the mystery which is underneath it.
So something which is symbolic, even if we can't say what it represents, resonates for
us with this dimension, or even dimension is a poor word, but this indication beyond itself.
Now, that's not only something that it implies, something objective that it implies, but it's
something in which you're participating.
In other words, the symbol tends to be participative in that sense, but it doesn't just speak to
you of something else, like a traffic sign, or a red light, that's a sign, not a symbol,
but actually communicates to you, or awakens within you, that in which you participate
together with the symbol.
So in that sense, each of us is symbolic of the divine for each other, each is an image
and likeness of God, as the Bible says, that kind of thing.
But when we talk about symbols, we'll be often talking about symbols and symbolism in a somewhat
more restrictive sense.
A couple of references for a general survey of the Old Testament.
The introduction of the Old Testament, I'm best aware of right now, is this one by Lawrence
Boat, which is a good book, it's a good book to begin the Old Testament with, a general
look at it.
There's an older one, which has become a classic, which is Bernhard Andersen, Understanding
the Old Testament.
We also have that in the library, many people have used that in their theology work.
I'd recommend also the Jerome Biblical Commentary and the New Jerome Biblical Commentary.
If you look in the contents of it, you'll see that there are a number of general articles.
First of all, there are introductions to sections of the Old Testament, there's an introduction
to the Pentateuch, that's the first five books, Genesis, Exodus, etc.
An introduction to the prophetic literature, an introduction to the wisdom literature,
and to Apocalyptic.
So there you can get a sense of the great sections of the Bible, which you can also
do in a book like this.
The Jerome, of course, will be much more detailed, in fact, it will probably drive you nuts with
its detail.
And then there are also topical articles on biblical geography, archaeology, the history
of Israel.
For that, I'd suggest that you find a good chart in one of these books and make a Xerox
of those for yourself, to know roughly when King David was, when King Hezekiah was, and
so on.
When the exile was, and the return from exile, and about when the exodus was, and so on.
You need to have a general framework in your mind for the Old Testament to have any intelligibility
for you.
And I point that out because what we're doing, see, goes in another direction, and we're
jumping over that groundwork, but you shouldn't jump over it.
It's something you need to do.
You need a general knowledge of the geography and the history of Israel, and the surrounding
countries, even if the empires begin to kind of fade for you, and you have to take another
So find maps and a good chart for yourself.
If you memorize the principal events in the history of Israel, that gives you a framework
on which you can string everything else, within which you can place other things.
It's enormously helpful.
Let's take a look at that chapter four of Dei Verba.
I'm leaving you to read the rest of it on your own, although from time to time I will
return to one or another part of it.
Chapter four, the Old Testament.
I just want to point out some principles here about the Old Testament as conceived
from a Christian perspective.
Number fourteen.
Carefully planning and preparing the salvation of the whole human race.
So this is put in a context of universality.
It's very important.
Notice it's not just put in a context of the Catholic Church.
This is Vatican II, the voice of Vatican II, which is looking at a larger universe, beginning
to, but the whole human race.
Chose for himself one people, and then the two covenants.
The first covenant with Abraham, which is the patriarchal, the family covenant, as it
were, the covenant of blood.
And then the second covenant with Moses, where you actually have the people of Israel, which
is like the birth of the people of Israel at the time of Exodus.
Manifested himself through words and deeds.
Spoke to them through the prophets.
So there's a history.
Often you'll hear the term history of salvation.
The plan of salvation and the history of salvation are the same thing, practically speaking,
and it includes all of this.
You can say there's a general history of salvation, which includes all the nations, but we're
talking about the special history of salvation, which comes through Israel and is very circumscribed
and very precise, the way we have it in the Bible.
There's plenty of fuzziness about details, but it has sharp boundaries on it.
We know who's involved in it.
It's the children of Abraham.
The people of Israel.
This plan of salvation is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament.
You see what's being said here.
This is the word of God.
That is, there's something unique about this.
There's something which raises this out of the context of ancient literature into being
able to be called uniquely the word of God, even though it precedes the New Testament,
which is our main, how do you call it, our central root.
There were people, even in the early Church, who denied that the Old Testament was the
word of God, or very much of it, anyway.
There's the Martianites, remember, and some other people, because they found such a crudity
in violence, they thought, in the Old Testament, as compared to the teaching of Jesus, that
they couldn't accept it.
This was a Gnostic tendency.
So they repudiated the Old Testament, sometimes ascribed it to a kind of inferior divinity
of some kind, and then commit themselves totally to the New Testament.
But that was not accepted by the Church.
Irenaeus is the great defender of the unity of the two Testaments.
The Old Testament is intricately part of the Revelation, even though parts of it take
an enormous amount of interpretation.
And we still don't know how to integrate them into our view.
So things like the violence, and like the choosing of one nation, almost by placing
one's boot on the other nation's, the slaughter of this and that, people and so on.
These books, written under divine inspiration, that's a key term in our interpretation of
it now, because it was overdone in the past.
The divinity of the Word was so emphasized at the expense of what you call the humanity
of the Word.
There's a reaction against that now.
But nevertheless, that's a basic principle.
Divine inspiration.
There's some of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, is speaking here in a unique manner.
Revelation is like raised out of the background.
Raised out of the background of all other literature.
And even though it remains a human literature, there's a quality of divinity about it, which
is expressed first in that expression, Word of God, and secondly, that expression, divine
inspiration, which refers more to the Spirit.
So you've got the two mediations, or the two divine mediations, in a unique way here,
in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.
The principal purpose to which the plan of the Old Testament was directed was to prepare
for the coming of Christ.
So, we've talked about the other side of that.
The Redeemer of all, and the coming of the Messianic Kingdom, to announce His coming
by prophecy, indicated its meaning through various types.
The reference to 1 Corinthians 10 is where Paul says, all these things happened for your
instruction, remember?
He's talking about Moses, the Exodus, the people going through the Red Sea, under the
cloud, and so on.
He said, all that happened for your sake.
All of those things were types of something which is happening in the New Covenant.
Notice how when we say New Testament, or New Covenant, or Old Testament, Old Covenant,
we're moving back and forth between the book and the reality, between talking about the
Scriptures and talking about what you might call the economy, or the plan, or the history
itself, which is, as it were, divided into these two great compartments.
I want you to know, brethren, this is 1 Corinthians 10, that our fathers were all under the cloud
and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses, and all ate the same
supernatural food.
He's even making a kind of strange quasi-Eucharistic sacramental thing there, on a rock with Christ.
Now, these things are warnings for us.
These things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction
upon whom the end of the ages has come.
So those things somehow are types of things that were to happen in the New Testament.
And he's already identifying the type by saying, baptized into Moses.
He moves from the baptismal to the Eucharistic metaphor there.
They were baptized into Moses in a cloud and in a sea.
So those things were types of baptism.
And all ate the same supernatural food, that would be the manna, drank the same supernatural
drink, that would be the water from the rock.
Now, these are types of Eucharist, in some way, for Paul, even though that just doesn't
quite reach the level of explicitness, but it's obvious.
So the two great sacraments somehow have their types already in the Old Testament.
This is inside the New Testament, so you've got plenty of typology inside the New Testament.
That's the basis for the fathers doing the same thing.
But notice those two pillars that he picks out, the baptismal and the Eucharistic.
Those are of enormous importance, which we have to recover.
Also in reading the Scripture, because in a sense, the New Testament is strong or mounted
between baptism and Eucharist.
And those are things that go beyond word, they go beyond the letter, go beyond Revelation
itself, into a kind of actuality, and a kind of energy, which is very important for us to
And then, number 15 goes on to talk about the state of mankind before the time of salvation,
which is that mankind wasn't doing so well.
And of course, the women would talk about the state of mankind in a language like mankind.
Revealed to all men the knowledge of God and of man, and the ways in which God just
and merciful deals with man in the state of mankind.
These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary,
nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy.
And then a sort of inventory of the things of permanent value in the Old Testament.
A lively sense of God, a store of sublime teachings about God,
sound wisdom about him and life, and a wonderful treasury of prayers.
And in them, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way.
And of course, there's simply the beauty and the authority of the divine word in the Old Testament.
Let me just mention Isaiah, for instance, 2nd Isaiah.
That the voice of God just booms out there, as it were.
Not to be over-naïve about this, but there are places in the Old Testament
where the authority and the power, as well as the wisdom of God,
comes so close to the surface that you feel an energy that communicates it to you.
And I think the Prophet Isaiah especially, that's true especially of him and his school,
because there are at least three of them now.
Number 16.
God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments.
That very important principle established by Uranus against the Gnostics.
That God inspired both, and therefore, because God inspired both Testaments,
they both come from him, he is the source.
Therefore, the two are one in some way, and there's a harmony,
and an interrelation, an intercommunion, an organic kind of life activity going on between the two.
So the Old Testament is not simply superseded, in some way it continues to live on.
And I think that's true in ways which we haven't discovered yet.
If you read, for instance, Isaiah, there's an awful lot in Isaiah which hasn't been fulfilled yet.
One of our great temptations is to say that it was all fulfilled in Christ.
That's another one of those stops that we put.
We say it's all fulfilled in Christ, and it's all contained in the Church,
and all we have to do is live off the interest of it.
The principle somehow has stopped, and we live off the dividend.
But that's to misconstrue the whole thing, because this historical dynamic,
which is in the Old Testament, continues to operate in the New Testament.
And also the final things which are foretold in the Old Testament have only been fulfilled,
what would you say, symbolically, or tentatively?
That's not the right word, but in the New Testament.
In other words, the first coming of Jesus does not fulfill those prophecies yet,
does not bring about the new paradise, the second creation.
It initiates it, but the fulfillment is not yet, and still remains within those prophecies of the Old Testament.
But sometimes they're more powerful than the New Testament prophecies.
Just read Isaiah, you'll see that.
At the same time, there are a lot of things in Isaiah 2
that sort of have to be allowed to fall back into the shadows.
Prophecies against Tyre and Sidon and all those things,
which also you may reinterpret if you wish, interpret your enemies, that's why I'm arguing with you.
Though Christ established the New Covenant in his blood,
notice, New Covenant and New Testament are almost the same thing,
but here New Covenant is definitely not a book,
and is much more than just a pact or an agreement.
It becomes something that stands for something incarnate.
The New Covenant has been incarnate, has become incarnate,
as the Old was in a way in circumcision, symbolically,
but here it's in the very blood of Christ, whatever that means.
The books of the Old Testament with all their parts are caught up into the proclamation of the gospel,
acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament,
and in turn shed light on it and explain it.
I jumped over that expression,
the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is manifest in the New.
That's a key principle, very important to underline.
de Lubach's book, Sources of Revelation,
so much of his work is just a commentary on that, on how that's true.
But notice, not only is the Old Testament manifested in the New,
but the New Testament is illuminated by the Old.
So there's a reciprocity there in which the Old Testament continues to illuminate the New Testament.
And a lot of our troubles probably are due to our loss of the,
or denial of the relationship between the New Covenant,
the relationship of the Church with Israel.
The Church becomes a non-historical institution,
set once and for all, unchanging, unchangeable.
And that's why that word institution takes on such a heavy crust.
It begins to be so heavy because it's fossilized, it's congealed,
a non-historical institution, it's something static.
The Church cannot be something static.
The New Israel cannot be static anymore than the Old Israel is static.
That's very important and we'll come back to it.
We'll, next time we can read that chapter five on the New Testament,
because it's a useful basis to start on.
There's great care has been taken trying to get the main principles of interpretation into these chapters.
A few references about that relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament.
That's the basis of the four senses of Scripture which we'll talk about.
And of the spiritual sense, the spiritual interpretation, the symbolic interpretation.
All of those things are attempts to articulate the relationship of the First Testament to the New Testament.
So it's of first importance for a sapiential and monastic reading of the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.
A few references. One is Leclerc, Jean Leclerc, Monastic Theology.
There's a chapter in The Love of Learning and the Desire for God called Monastic Theology,
where he points out the difference between monastic theology or sapiential theology
and the other theology of the Church.
That's a classic chapter and very important for us.
And then there's de Lubac, and we don't have a lot of the relevant writings of de Lubac in English,
but we have his Sources of Revelation, which as I mentioned is a distillation of his long work,
the full-volume work in French, Exegesi Medievale, and also work on Origen, I believe.
So you may find it a little tedious in places, but there's a wonderful understanding.
And he's one of the people who breaks through and takes you back to the real meaning of things that were going on in the patristic tradition.
After it's been buried under centuries of misinterpretation and neglect, he really finds it once again, I believe.
Then there's Daniel Lu, From Shadows to Reality, which also is a marvelous book.
But this book is going into the, you have the table of contents there in that last handout,
is going into the actual correspondences, say between Adam and Christ,
or baptism and the entry into paradise, or the flood and baptism,
or the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus, all of those things.
So he's picked out what he thinks of the principle one, which gives you a kind of fundamental structure of this typology.
But notice, typology is kind of the skeleton of it. The resonance goes much beyond that.
In other words, these things are surrounded by an aura of wonder.
They're not just algebraic, mathematical correspondences which prove something.
The proof, the work of proof has been done long ago.
And what we should be able to do now is find the saver once again, and the power and the resonance of these things.
One other book, which is not new, its translation is called The Christian Approach to the Bible.
It's by Charlier, who is apparently a Benedictine.
And it's quite a masterful book. It was written way back in, when was the French written?
In the 50s, it was translated in the 50s. The French may have done even 1949 or something like that.
And I think, even though the French title in here is The Christian Reading of the Bible,
I think the original title, according to de Lubac, was The Sapiential Reading of the Bible.
And that's what we're after, that's what we're interested in.
And of course, what he's doing at that time is a kind of work of recovery, of spade work,
and trying to dig through all the accumulated stuff and find the essence of this.
One especially important part of the book is chapter 9, Christian Interpretation, from 248 to 273.
No, 255 to 273, the section on the meaning of the Bible, towards the end.
Another very useful book is the Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
Biblical theology is the area between exegesis and theology.
It's the area in between systematic theology, where you're trying to, what we could say,
make a diagram of the structure of the house of truth, of the Christian mystery, the Christ mystery.
And exegesis, which is the interpretation of scripture, is the area in between,
in which you begin to distill the outline of the mystery, still in biblical terms,
without moving into any other language, philosophical language or any other language.
How do the symbols and elements of the Bible relate to one another?
What are the lines, the threads between them? That's what this is about.
Extremely useful book. So it's in dictionary form, it's alphabetical,
so you can look up Jerusalem, or you can look up God, or fire, or body, or whatever,
and you'll find all of the relevant Old Testament and New Testament texts,
and they're strung together with a kind of theological explanation, or theological continuum.
The liturgy is the place in which the Old Testament writings are interpreted in terms of New Testament revelation,
and specifically in terms of the Christ mystery.
So that's something implicit that's with us all the time, especially in the Eucharistic liturgy.
And two great keys there, as I said, are baptism in the Eucharist.
Remember the Easter vigil, and the readings of the Easter vigil.
It just struck me this year to what extent those are strung on the thread of baptism.
They're preparatory to the sacrament of baptism, and to the bursting open of the Christ mystery within the individual person who is baptized.
Going back to that beginning, so you go back to the creation account and so on,
then you go back to the beginning of the life of the Christian,
and the experiential blossoming or explosion which happens at that point in baptism.
That's the point that you go back to again and again and again in the New Testament,
whether implicitly or explicitly, because everything is there somehow.
That's what happened to you. None of you were baptized as adults.
And in that somehow the whole of Christ is in it, the whole of the Christ mystery,
as if everything after that is just drawing out what's already there.
When Paul talks about the Christ mystery or the fullness of the Christ event or the Christ reality,
often, very often, there's the implicit context of baptism,
and the experience of the people that he's writing to.
We could make a sketch of the history of Israel, but I don't really want to get into that.
Let me just mention a few stages which tend to repeat themselves,
and tend to repeat themselves also in the New Testament and in our own experience.
And this is by way of that kind of what we call analogical quality of the First Testament,
for the analogical quality of the whole of Scripture,
such as the shape that you find over here is reproduced over here,
and everything is that holographic thing I talk about nowadays,
that everything over here is re-expressed over here.
There are subtleties and depths and complexities of relationship there,
but especially this analogical thing, by which one pattern, one historical pattern,
will be found again and again and again.
You have it already in the Old Testament, in the calling scenes, for instance,
the vocational scenes, there tends to be a certain repetitive pattern.
And remember that the relation between God and humanity, or God and a human person,
is one thing, is as it were a constant structure,
and so the ways that it comes about are going to tend to have a certain analogy or resemblance
or sameness about them too, which is what we find.
And that's brought also into the New Testament.
This is a sketch of a kind of generalized history in the Old Testament.
There's a calling, there's a going out,
there's a wilderness experience and a trial in the wilderness, in separation.
There's a covenant, there's an entry into a promise, an entry as it were into a new land,
whether on the part of Abraham or whether on the part of the Israelites coming into Canaan.
There's a consolidation around a center, consolidation around a center which is a king.
First there's the holy people, but then there's a king,
and then there's a kingly city, and perhaps a royal mountain, and there's a temple.
And then, after that, there tends to be a fraying,
and the beginning of the seeds of division,
I think particularly of the David-Solomon progression now, and the kings after Solomon.
And then there's prophetic criticism, and then the consensus begins to split,
and you get another word spoken by the prophet,
and it's a word spoken from the outside, from the margin,
maybe from the wilderness once again, it's with Elijah.
And then there's exile, there's the breakdown,
there's the demolition of the whole thing which has been built up,
and trial, the second trial, and then a diaspora experience.
This is a kind of generalization, very crude, of the history of the people of Israel in the Old Testament,
which reproduces itself in the lives of individuals, and once again in the New Testament.
And even if you read, for instance, Saint John of the Cross,
in the interior life of the individual person,
and a diaspora, and then there's a promise of return,
and a promise of a restoration, but on another level.
The actual restoration which happens in Israel is ironic, it's kind of pitiful.
It's only a kind of, what would you call it, a vestige or something.
We could also dwell on the symbols and the types in the Old Testament.
We'll have to do that looking backwards after we begin to talk about the New Testament.
What I do want to talk about is some patterns of relationship between Old Testament and New Testament.
We already saw the idea of the New Testament hidden in the Old Testament,
and the Old Testament revealed in the New Testament.
And here we're talking in terms of revelation of the writings of knowledge,
rather than directly of life, but something corresponding to this happens in life as well.
Now, Saint Paul is a great writer, explicitly in the New Testament,
about this change, this revolution, this movement from First Testament to New Testament.
And he uses a whole bunch of expressions, I think I counted about 23 of them at one time,
for this change, moving from law to grace, from law to freedom, from law to spirit,
from slavery to freedom, from tutelage to being a child of God or a son of God,
from being immature, being a child under a tutor, to being mature and free,
that is, adult, to being autonomous.
From the letter to the spirit, from the outside to the inside,
but at the same time, from the inside, from inside a container to the outside,
breaking out to the Gentiles, from incomprehension to understanding,
from duality and being torn to unity and freedom, something like spontaneity.
For instance, when you move from Romans 7 to Romans 8.
From dualism, that is the old law, to a heteronomy, as they call it,
being ruled by something outside yourself, something that's alien to you,
to unity, union, the new law, intrinsic movement, freedom.
Autonomy or theonomy, as somebody put it, was that Tillich?
He talks about heteronomy and autonomy, autonomy being the posture of independence,
and then theonomy, which somehow is a synthesis, a union of the two,
whereas you and that which is beyond you have become one to such an extent
that the spiritual becomes spontaneous for you, the spiritual becomes a new instinct in you.
Remember, that's what Saint Benedict talks about in a couple of places in the Rule.
The road is narrow at first, remember, and hard, but as you progress,
you will run with enlarged heart in the ways of God, in the ways of faith.
He says something like that at the end of the Prologue, and again at the end of Chapter 7.
From confinement to openness, from the container or shell of Jewish law and culture to universality,
and therefore this simultaneous inward and outward movement, which you find also in the Gospel,
where Jesus moves inward to the heart and outward to the Gentiles and the sinners and everybody else.
A breaking through an intermediate shell of some kind,
something where you're in a box-contained position in the middle,
you're neither at the center nor are you relating to the periphery.
You're neither free to move out nor free to move in, but you're held in the center,
in a temporary, provisory, intermediate shell of reality,
which is always true as long as we're in this world in some way.
Even the body is that way.
Even the body both restricts us by holding us in, even with our survival instinct,
so that we can't flow freely out completely,
and also holds us out in some way with its needs, with all of its sensation and everything,
so that we can't relate freely and easily and continuously with the center.
So very clearly we're like a sun and a mountain, Jesus moves in both of those directions.
And then there's a unitive transformation, and this is extremely important,
of the Old Testament types and symbols and elements.
For instance, there are a whole bunch of things in the Old Testament which are singled out as types of Christ,
or types of the Church, and you'll find a lot of them in Daniel's book there.
Now what happens to these? Do they just become something else?
No, they become one other thing somehow.
They all are drawn together, as if they're being drawn together from a periphery into a center,
and that center is unitive.
They all become one thing in Christ.
Now whether you're talking about Isaac, or you're talking about David,
or you're talking about, let's say, Samson, or even Jonah,
or you're talking about the Paschal Lamb, or you're talking about the Temple,
or you're talking about the Ark of the Covenant, or you're talking about the Old Covenant itself,
or you're talking about the burning bush, or Moses, or the Tree of Life,
all of these things somehow are pulled together and take on a new unitive reality and subsistence in Christ himself.
Now this is this drawing together into the center, which is the Christ mystery,
this unitive transformation, which I'll come back to again and again and again,
as a principle of interpretation, both of the Old Testament and of the New Testament,
of what's going on when the New Testament happens, when the New Covenant happens.
Because it's not just even a mystery, it's an event.
There were three kind of attitudes about this that I wanted to accent,
last time I didn't get to it.
The first one is to break up the idea that the truth is circumscribed,
and that it's some kind of distinct idea that you can get a grip on.
In other words, the opening into mystery, that everything has an open margin,
everything has an open framework.
And we're always trying to domesticate it, we're always trying to get it under control
and make it easily graspable.
We build conceptual structures, we build doctrinal structures,
and they're necessary, but they're only intermediates.
And then we build institutional structures, too.
And for reasons of security, also for reasons of necessity.
But when we think that they actually define the reality, we're making a bad mistake.
That the map somehow substitutes itself for the territory.
That's one thing, is this openness of the whole thing.
So we're always moving towards mystery.
We're not moving towards something we can get a better grip on.
We're moving towards something that is acting and being experienced
at a deeper level of ourselves, and in a more universal way.
So it's not just myself that is experiencing this,
but this is the whole thing operating in some way.
There's a lot in the contemporary, like new paradigm thinking,
which is in the same direction.
The second thing is the unity of what we're talking about.
That Christianity and the New Testament are not a whole bunch of things,
they're one thing.
They're one thing with many aspects, many facets.
And what you have there is the unity of God, the unity which is God,
being somehow participated by everything that's happening.
And as we move into it, we progressively participate in that unity.
And that's what happens when you move from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
There's a unity in the Old Testament by virtue of being a people of Israel.
Even by being in Adam, in a more universal way.
But then you select out of that the people of Israel,
and they have a family relationship, they're all children of Abraham, and so on.
There's a unity there which is relative, and which is symbolic of a new unity,
which is to happen in Christ, and in this Christ mystery.
But there, in Christ, the unity is an absolute unity
because the communion, the koinonia, the oneness, is the very oneness which is God.
That's the gift of the mystery of the New Testament, the event of the New Testament.
So we're going to be seeing that again and again and again.
It's more interesting when you do it concretely, when you watch how it happens concretely.
The third thing, the third attitude, is the dynamic quality of the whole thing.
Because systematically we have suppressed the movement of the mystery.
We consider it just as something intellectual, something to be understood,
something to be celebrated, something which is in the middle of our liturgy, and so on, as a center.
But it's something which is moving continually,
which is continually creating, which is continually transforming,
and even continually seeming to be different as it moves along,
so that we experience it differently.
And this not only within ourselves, individually, personally, interiorly, spiritually,
but in the world as well.
So the history of the world, somehow, has at its center this divine energy
which is transforming, which is changing things,
which is moving towards its goal, even though that goal may usually be invisible
in the confusion, the multiplicity that we see in the world,
and even the negativity, the darkness that we see.
So those three things. I'll return to those again.
If you read Paul, who I think is the best model and the best expression
for this whole business of the movement from Old Testament to New Testament,
even though you say it's too drastic, that he rejects the Old too much,
perhaps he does at times, that we have to balance him with something else,
but nevertheless, he gives you a sharper and clearer and more explicit exposition
of this movement from Old Covenant to New Covenant than anybody else.
And if you read Paul's letters, I think this is at the heart of every one of his letters,
practically, maybe not the one to fill them up,
but is this movement and the new thing that has happened with Christ,
and he's coming at it from a Jewish background,
therefore this new thing is a movement from Old Covenant to New Covenant.
And what's happening?
Well, I gave you a number of those expressions of it, from law to freedom and so on,
or from the letter to the spirit, from the outside to the inside.
Basically, there's one big change which is happening,
and that change is this unitive transformation,
and the endpoint, the terminus of this unitive transformation is Christ,
and specifically the body of Christ.
The body of Christ becomes the great symbol for the many in one,
for the all in one, which is the product of this transformation,
of this event of the New Covenant,
an event which is centered in what we call the Paschal Mystery,
which is the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Everything, as it were, goes through that needle's eye,
goes through that narrow place of the death of Jesus,
and coming out of there, it's all one.
The new reality is one.
It communicates, intercommunicates, and subsists in this oneness which is God,
which in the New Testament appears as the koinonia of the New Covenant,
especially in the first letter of John.
So the body of Christ is the endpoint.
It's not just a metaphor, it's much more real than that.
It's more real than our ordinary physicality, I suppose you could say.
And it's not simply identical with the visible Church, rather,
it's something much bigger than that.
In some way it identifies itself with the whole cosmos.
In some way it identifies itself with all of humanity.
And then it does identify itself, certainly, it is the Church.
And some of those mystery texts that I passed out to you,
and you can read those in opening this up, elucidating that.
We've got to, oh, let's see, I guess we can go a little longer.
One way of looking at this movement
is from a linear history to a kind of explosive point.
We do have a question about that, I think,
that the Old Testament, even though you have the question here,
is the history moving ahead, but the people are on a journey,
one thing after another.
Then it comes to a point, and it's core,
there's this movement from linearity to explosiveness.
But the explosiveness is also a diploid,
that's why it means out of the point, in a way.
I talked about the movement outwards and the movement inwards.
But when you get to that point, which is Christ,
which is this one person, that one moment of his death and resurrection,
that's the center of our Christian theology.
But at that point, there isn't linear succession, there's unity.
In other words, this is somehow the God moment, the kairos,
when that infinite unity of reality, which is God,
comes into an infinitesimal point,
which is one person, which is the death of one person,
which is this moment which is in time and out of time at the same time,
the death and resurrection of Jesus,
particularly the resurrection of Jesus and all of that.
And it includes Pentecost, which is the beginning of his birth, and baptism.
So, the movement from a line to a point,
and at that point, the explosion.
The images that we have of that church, of course,
we have the main image of it with a line between them,
but the building doesn't look like that.
But notice on the lectern at the susceptible death point,
there's this straight line, and that's where you hear the word.
That's where you hear it, where the readings, the history.
The one thing after another.
Then you turn to the readings, which can help us find out.
So there's that linear progression, and then we move through that
to a point, which is the altar.
And there you have the Eucharistic, around that point.
And it symbolizes very well, or reflects very well,
this moment that I'm talking about.
From the line to the point.
But the point, the center there, is everywhere.
That's the point, which is, because it's absolutely central,
is it also includes everything, embraces everything.
And from that point, the transformation of everything takes place.
And the transformation is the transformation of communion,
of transformation, of conversion.
Think of that one thing somehow, so there's a two or one.
Just as in the beginning of that lectern,
as if you hear the word of God, there's something outside of itself.
You're sitting here, and the word is being spoken to you
from that lectern, as it were.
And then you move to that other point, the sacrament,
and the longer are you hearing something outside of yourself,
you're taking something into yourself.
And at the sacramental point there, the two or one.
And you're being in the divine being, in some expressible way or other.
I want to say more about these four senses,
but perhaps we'd better leave that for next time.
I'd like to recommend particularly one text,
where I think all four of them in some way appear,
and that's in 2 Corinthians.
It's one of my favorite texts.
It starts...
2 Corinthians 3.4 to 4.18 is the central text.
From 3.4 to 4.18, the larger text is from 3.4 to 6.10.
And the very center of the thing is chapter 4, verses 7 to 11.
Well, that's not the center, but that's illustrating
the final two of the four senses there.
Remember, we have a historical sense, or a literal sense.
We have what they call a...
We haven't got a good name for that second sense.
We almost like to call it the Christ mystery sense.
To give it its greatest depth,
it's the sense of the Christ mystery, that second one.
The third sense is called the tropological sense,
but I almost like to call it the dynamic sense.
And the fourth sense, the anagogical sense,
I'd like to call the unitive sense.
This is maybe abusing the classical schema a bit,
but I think it gives us a lot more meaning,
and brings it more fully and powerfully into our lives.
We move from the literal realities,
or let's call it the historical realities,
to the Christ mystery.
And then from that, we move to the,
what they call the tropological, I'm going to say dynamic.
This is the second historical sense, by the way.
This is like the old historical sense, the literal historical sense.
And this is the historical sense that emanates from the Christ mystery,
from the experience of the Christ mystery.
Dynamic historical sense, I call this the unitive sense.
Now the standard terms to these are historical,
or literal, allegorical, or typological.
Typological is also a good term for that.
This is the tropological or moral sense.
And this is the anagogical, sometimes called mystical sense.
We start out reading about something in the Old Testament,
let's say the Exodus.
Then we find in that Old Testament event,
we find the Christ mystery.
We may find something in the life of Christ.
But notice if we talk about the Exodus,
it goes straight to the heart of the Christ mystery,
of the life of Christ,
which is the past context.
We even call it, we name it after the Exodus.
Now, to talk about the pastoral mystery of Christ,
to talk about the Passover, death and resurrection of Christ,
and the pastoral land, the Eucharistic pastoral land,
all of this is being named after the historical sense
to specify a part of the Christ mystery,
or the concrete historical event in which the Christ mystery blossomed,
in which it developed.
So we move to that interpretation.
And then from there, we would move to an interpretation
which is both personal in our own lives,
but not only in theory, but also in historical.
That is, it's happening in the spirit.
And we participate in that.
And then finally to a unitary sense
in which the word simply is communicating God to us,
for example.
This is hardly a sense at all.
But the sense in which the word,
having passed through these distinct meanings,
and this existential experience of where I am,
simply communicates, as it were, the fullness and the depth of God to me.
That may seem like an abuse of the old system,
but I think you'll find it stands up if you use it.
There's another sense in which this is the final situation.
This is the eschatological sense,
the sense in which, rather than having a conclusion,
it's the unitive state of the universe,
where the mystery is all one in its final condition,
in its permanent condition, as it were.
Usually thought of as the classical condition,
that is the condition of heaven.
But if we talk about it as the unitive dimension,
amped into our own lives,
it becomes the, what we call,
purely contemplative dimension within my life,
in the Church, or in history as a whole,
it becomes what?
The divine cognitive, at the heart of the Church,
and at the heart of humanity,
or the divine unit of wisdom,
dwells in the heart of humanity,
and in this world.
Something like that.
Now let's take a look, just briefly,
at this text of Second Corinthians,
and then we can come back to it next time.
I don't want to keep you much longer.
In Second Corinthians 3,
Paul is talking about,
talking about his own ministry.
And he begins to talk about
the difference between two ways of reading the Old Testament.
He's distinguishing between the written code and the spirit.
And he says, if you read the Old Testament
without seeing Christ in it,
you're only reading the outside of the Word.
You're reading the letter.
And the image that he uses is Moses
with a veil over his face.
So you're only seeing the veil,
you're not seeing the real face of Moses.
Now, there's some curious twists in this,
if you stay with it.
One curious twist is that Moses himself
turns out to be the veil, it seems like.
Or Moses' veil is the Moses who is not yet Christ.
Because to take the veil off the face of Moses
is to find Christ.
Now that's Paul, maybe pretty brutally
using the Old Testament.
The reference there is to Exodus 34.
Exodus 34, 29 to 35.
That's Moses and the veil.
Remember, he's going to see God into the tabernacle
and his face was shining when he came out
and the Israelites couldn't stand it, so
they said, do something.
So he put a veil on his face when he talked to them
but then he'd take it off when he went in to
talk to God again.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
Not like Moses who put a veil over his face.
Only through Christ is it taken away.
Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read,
a veil lies over their minds.
But when someone turns to the Lord,
the veil is removed.
Now, the Lord is the Spirit.
And where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory
of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness
from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Now, what's happening here is that we're moving
from a historical level.
And he's not just talking about the episode
of the veil of Moses, he's talking about
basically the whole First Testament.
He's talking about the whole history of Israel
and the whole, particularly, Mosaic
covenant and writings and Torah, law.
He's moving from this point, the history
where we have Moses in the Old Testament,
to this point, which is this interior point
where the fullness of Christ must be.
When you discover Christ, the veil is taken away
and that's the united point where everything
is pulled together.
And that's where this action is happening too,
this transformative action.
So at that point, the whole thing is closed.
And immediately, you're moving
implicitly to this reference, because it says
we're being transformed from glory to glory
by the Spirit, the Spirit is the Lord.
Now that's this dynamism that's happening
up in here.
But there's also this limited reality
because the center is here.
And the center is the point at which not only
are you being transformed into the limit,
but somehow you are divine.
That's the point of delimitation, the point
of deification. And this is the reality
which is manifesting, this is Christ.
This is Christ at the heart of the center.
Not the visible Christ,
who in the New Testament can still be available
to people, but the heart,
the mystery within Christ,
the inner Christ, which is this
limited reality, the unit of Christ.
So as soon as you get to that point,
which is really the center point,
as soon as you get to that point,
the whole thing is closed. And all of those
sensors in some way
radiate out in different directions.
It's like physics, you know, some kind of particle
And then
he goes on in this way, he says,
It is the God who said that light shine out of darkness
who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
And that's the new creation notion,
okay? And that further is an
expression of this dynamism that's happening.
That this is not something that's static
and is done once
and for all, but something has initiated
which is a new creation, and that's
what this transformation is about.
Later on he'll say, well, if anyone
is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old
has passed away, the old one who has come.
And yet this is still happening. This thing
is still happening. Now where do we find
these other two senses? And here
we're not just using one passage, this is kind of a
general treatment, because that's what Paul is giving.
He's not just analyzing one text, he's talking
about the whole movement from one covenant to the
next, or from one reading
of scripture to the other, which is
really an experience.
And then he starts to talk about
his own life. He says
that we have this treasure in earthen
vessels. Now the treasure
is this mystery of Christ, the purity
of this mystery of Christ, which is also
incendiary. And then he starts talking about his own life
and he says, well, we're falling apart
and we're only being born. That's this dynamic
bubble over here, in which there's a dying
and there's a being born all the time.
And that's what he's talking about.
He says we're dying.
But he says we're dying.
He's not on the outside, he does not say it.
We're not on the outside, we're regenerating
all the time on the inside.
So he says we're dying, we're old, we're dead,
and we're always hot, fat, and we're beaten,
and we're poor, and we hear
when there's nobody else. That's this dynamic
reality of
history, which is a new history,
with this light inside the person,
this light inside us, which is the Christ
mystery itself, and which is the energy
of God, which is the spirit of history.
And that goes on
throughout chapter
6. You get a
at least of the chapter
6-10, you get a glimpse
of that final unitive
dimension here, where he says
our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature
is being renewed every day, for this slight
momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal
weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Because we look not to the
things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.
But the things that are unseen are one thing,
one thing, that reality of God
into which we are absorbed, into which we are
transformed at the end.
And that
is going along inside of him,
where he says, we have this treasure
and earthen vessels.
The treasure is already the end.
The treasure is not only of history, but already
this final reality,
which is inside of it. And here,
the image comes up as the image of the burning
voice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I'm going to exit the stream of
Moses, he's a great poet.
The bush is consumed, but the bush is being
burned all the time, and yet it's not burnt up.
The fire is in it
somehow, even as
it would seem to wear it down,
simply destroyed, it gives it life
in some way, when you draw the image into
front of you. And this
is the life, the treasure that's already in it,
even as it goes through this progression,
walking along the earth, driven by
the Holy Spirit, dying on the outside,
and always being recreated on the inside.
Not just with his own life, but with that
fire of the burning bush, with that
light which is in him, which is God
himself. So
in some way, that text
from all the way from chapter
three to chapter six, takes you from
the outside to the inside, as you move
from the veil of Moses into the Christ
mystery. And the inside becomes
this simple light in you,
as well as an energy in you, which is
already the end. It's
already the final state, already the
anagogical, the heavenly
deliverance, that gives it the final
reality, the glory of God.
And yet you're still walking
along this road,
in which the outside
and the inside, and the outside is dying and
undergoing persecution, bearing all these
burdens, and the inside, meanwhile,
has the fullness in it, has the
final reality in it, and
is continually giving you life and supporting
you. So the whole thing is there,
as he expresses that. Now
that's one text where he lays it all out for you,
but there are many other texts of Paul in which
it isn't all laid out, but it's
implicit, so that's what's going on.
So, we've
already moved into our
New Testament exposition, but next
time we can pick it up from there and
look at the New Testament, New Testament
event from that perspective.
Okay, thank you.