August 30th, 1995, Serial No. 00282

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.



AI Suggested Keywords:


New Testament Class

AI Summary: 





I should finish that up today. We're really being very brief with Paul, and usually most of our subjects get split between two classes. We start in one and finish up in the next, which is untidy from one point of view, but I just realized that it's good from another point of view, and it gives you a period in between when you're thinking about this subject. You're not in between two Gospels or something, but you're rather immersed, involved with one, so the intervening period can be somehow connected with that. So we got an introduction to Paul. Next time, I'll finish Paul today, and then begin Mark, Mark's Gospel from this perspective, and we'll go on with Mark next time, and then with Matthew and Luke, and ultimately with John. Matthew and Luke will treat pretty much together. In fact, the three synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, we have to talk about together to some extent, but more Matthew and Luke, and I'll say more about that.


So today I want to conclude with Paul, and I gave you the general outline before of this unitive vision of Paul, which is easy to extract, because it simply stares you in the face. And Fitzmyer does it very nicely in that New Jerome Biblical Commentary article on Paul's theology, where he talks about the situation of humanity before Christ, and then the situation of humanity not just after Christ, but in Christ. So you see where it's going. It's going in a unitive direction. We talked about Paul's participative thinking. His consciousness is participative. That is, he thinks of, you can't think of the human person without being part of some kind of unities, some kind of greater conglomerate, or greater organism, it's better. It's not just a conglomerate, because it's one thing. The difference between an organism and an aggregate is that an organism really has one life. So for Paul, Israel, for instance, has one life. And the Israelites are part of that life. And we don't think


that way at all, except when we read a good book. But ordinarily we think of ourselves as individuals. We have evolved and differentiated most extensively, more in that direction than anybody else, especially Americans. So we have to try to lose ourselves into this thought of Paul. So there's a solidarity before Christ, and then there's a solidarity in Christ. But the two are very different. The two ways that I would characterize the solidarity before Christ is that first of all, it's likely to be a dispersive unity in some way. For instance, to be in sin is to be divided, even divided within yourself, even though you're gathered into this kind of solidarity. It's a strange solidarity. Secondly, it's a slavery, which means an alienation, which means a subjection to something outside yourself. And this is the reason why it's divisive in one way, or another angle, another aspect of it. Is that you are drawn together in an alienating way. We have a lot of experience of that today,


I think, because what happens is that society dissolves, a kind of intrinsic fabric of society, of family, and religious community, and so on, tends to dissolve in the modern world. And what you get instead are masses of people who seem like individuals, but are really almost units in a swarm, or units in a movement which is beyond themselves, but which doesn't really have a deep common life. In other words, they're involved in some kind of unity which alienates themselves, but at the same time unites them. So this is true in modern mass society, you might say. And it's also true of the state before Christ, as far as Paul is concerned. The condition of sin, to be in the old Adam, is to be somehow alienated, and somehow fragmented, and opposed to other people, even though you're joined with them in this condition, in this state. And the most simple and stupid way, I suppose, we could say that people who are having a fight


are involved, aren't they? They're involved with one another, they're joined to one another, they have a certain solidarity, they're interested in one thing, they're doing something to get it. They're beating one another up, or something like that. But there's a kind of unity there. And that's a caricature of the state before Christ. Remember where Paul talks about the sins of the flesh, and you expect them to be perhaps all sins of sexual indulgence, but a lot of them are sins of division. Rancor, and enmity, and party spirit, all those things. He keeps using synonyms for division when he's talking about the flesh. And the flesh is the state. So let's go through that brief inventory of this situation before Christ. Now, first of all, it's a solidarity of humankind in sin. But that solidarity in sin is based, according to Paul, based on the solidarity in the old Adam, because we're all descendants of a common ancestor who is Adam. And here he doesn't think so much about Adam and Eve, he doesn't think about two, he doesn't think, but he thinks about the single first individual person, as if


somehow that one were the composite of all. And this is typical of patristic thinking too, and of ancient thinking. Remember Abraham, and Isaac, and so on, and Israel, Jacob. If you're an Israelite, you are Jacob in some way, son of Jacob. You all come from a common ancestor. So the pattern that's essential is a pattern between the one and the many. So there's not room for two, in a sense. There's not room for the wife, for the mother, in some way. This is interesting also, because it's another typical expression of our patriarchal thinking, or our masculine thinking, which sooner or later has to come. Because actually, this solidarity has a lot more to do with the feminine, in a sense, than it does with the masculine. But that's another subject. So, the solidarity of all humankind in sin is expressed by Paul in the image of the two Adams. One man introduced sin and death into the world, and so we're all heirs of that. And the condition, the human condition, is a consequence of the sin of


Adam, according to Paul. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. The first Adam and the second Adam are strictly symmetrical for Paul, strictly symmetrical up to a point. And that we all inherit sin and death from them. And that concept of original sin, which Paul introduces, and which we've had ever since, and especially in the West, and highly developed in the West, has been a source of a lot of problems in the West too. The idea that basically everybody is in a sinful state, basically everybody is outside, alienated from God, separated from God, until they're brought into Christ. Now that's something that has carefully to be pondered. And of course it's a scary subject too, isn't it? Because to question that threatens our whole theological perspective. But we have to try to understand it as deeply and broadly as we can. Nowadays they point out that grace is with everybody from the beginning. That is, there's an original sin, perhaps, an original fault, an original flaw, an original separation from God.


So there's an original grace, an original blessing, that's Matthew Fox. An original union with God, original participation in God. Therefore, sin came into the world through one man and death through sin. So death spread to all men because all men sinned. Because all men sinned in Adam. It's very difficult for us to conceive, to think ourselves into that kind of thinking, isn't it? That we've all sinned in Adam. And yet it seems to be that that's the way that ancient people thought. Such was so intense and dense was the sense of participation that if your father sinned, you sinned. And you'd have to bear the guilt and the penalty for that. You find that in the Old Testament. And then who is it? Ezekiel comes along and says, no, not anymore. If the father sinned, the father shall suffer, but the son shall not. That begins, which is developed by Christ. But notice that the solidarity doesn't come about through sin, it pre-exists sin. It's in the creation. That is, we're all created somehow as one being. Now you say that's a myth,


but like other myths, it contains a reality which we can't let go of. It's essential for us, even though it seems alien to our ordinary ways of thinking. So according to Paul, both the Jews and the Gentiles were under sin and in the old Adam before Christ came along. Without the gospel, the whole human race, all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin. He says that in Romans 3.9. So that's really something. And you wonder if he's gone too far. It seems that here's where Christology sort of becomes so absolutized that it becomes exclusive, and you wonder if there isn't another principle operating. Just as we said in considering everybody descended from Adam, we're neglecting Eve. So we might say here that in creating a Christological vision of salvation the way that Paul does, is it possible that there's another principle, the principle of the universality of the Holy Spirit, that he's not taking into consideration? That there's a kind of Catholic


world, there's another theology that has to come along later and fill this out. He says in another place, of course, that the pagans who are following God's will have the law written in their heart. So it is possible to be righteous without knowing the law, and therefore without knowing Christ in some way. That's implicit there. It generally follows this line, this dualistic line. Okay, secondly, the spirits. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are not God. You were slaves to them. Idolatry somehow is a slavery to these spirits who are not simply, not simply and absolutely devils or evil all the time, but something intermediate, but they turn negative when Christ comes along. I won't try to explain that further, mostly because I don't understand it much more than that. Now, here we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God. The spirit of the world is this other, which then is the enemy, is the spirit of Satan. But he speaks of it sometimes as one


spirit and sometimes as many spirits. Enslavement to the spirits of this world, and also to the law among Jews, but we'll get to that. So that's an alienation from oneself and a subjection to something that's outside oneself. It's funny that if somebody's possessed, the spirit is inside, but the person is outside of himself, and that possession is an alienation from the center of yourself. Even though something seems to be in you, seems to be dwelling in you, we have to recognize different levels of that in-ness. It's not really inner, it's only psychological in some way. It's not an occupying of the deep spiritual center, because no other spirit but God's spirit can get in there. Secondly, and thirdly, the flesh. Okay, we've got sin, the spirits, the other spirits, the many spirits, or thinking of the one spirit of evil, and the flesh. Now here's where the prepositional thing, the in the flesh, becomes very strong. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,


but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit, and one is hostile to the other. Those who are in the flesh, he says, cannot please God. Now it's important there you've got to interpret, otherwise you've fallen into a pit, right? Because we're all in the flesh. But what Paul means is those who are in this human condition, which is hostile to God, which is contrary to God, in which he calls the flesh. The great texts on this are in Romans, like Romans 8, and then Galatians. Think of this being in the flesh, as somehow being in a common condition. You don't know how much it is an abstraction. What kind of universal term, which is an abstraction, how much it's really something concrete and true to be in the flesh. Insofar as we think about ourselves as part of the old Adam, as part of humanity. We're in one flesh in some way. We're all one thing. It's not just an abstraction.


But think of that as a unity, which is at the same time a fragmentation, a division. Remember Romans 8, when Paul talks about, Romans 7, Paul talks about being divided, the flesh against the spirit. But the flesh itself, somehow to be in the flesh, as Paul speaks of it, is both being outside your center and being divided. Because whenever you're outside your center, you're divided. Divided against yourself, you're also divided against others. Because you're on a level of being, which is dualistic, which is fragmenting, which is divisive. This level of the flesh. And then finally, number four, there's the law. And of course, this is what the Jews were in and under, is the law. And he uses that word law in about four different senses, and he goes on and on and on. Most of the texts are in Galatians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Corinthians. And a little bit in Ephesians. But especially Galatians and Romans. Now, before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed.


Now, the law is not so much something you're part of, in that sense, it's something you're under. And to be under it is to be unfree. To be under it is to be outside your own center, and therefore unfree, subjected to something outside yourself. This is an external law. And therefore, divided within yourself, because divided from your own center, insofar as you're subordinated to something outside yourself. Alienation, once again. Now, before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian. For in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There's neither Jew nor Greek, there's neither slave nor free, there's neither male nor female, but you're all one in Christ Jesus. The law relates especially to that Jew and Greek thing, because the law was like a wall between the Jews and the Greeks, like a wall around the Jewish people. Remember, in Ephesians and Colossians, it's spoken of in those times when Paul says,


Christ has come and broken down the dividing wall, the separation between the two. I've made you both into one new man. I've got a lot of texts here, but I'm not going to take time to read them through. The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. But you really find the word skating around when you read Paul's writing about the law, because he'll slip from one meaning of it to another. And sometimes he uses it metaphorically, and sometimes he seems to use it quite exactly for the Jewish law, for the Torah, the law of Moses. The fulfillment of the law is love, of course, and he says that repeatedly. Okay, humanity in Christ. Now, I'll just read you this little summary and then briefly go through the ways in which this new unitive state, this new union is expressed. Christ's salvific activity has brought about a new union. This is Fitzmaier. New union of humanity with God.


Paul calls it a new creation, since it has introduced a new mode of existence into human history in which Christ and the Christian enjoy, as it were, a symbiosis. Symbiosis. Paul doesn't seem to have coined that word. It's a contemporary word. Symbiosis means a life together in which it's one life that you're living, almost, depending on how intensely you understand it. It's a sharing of life, in one way or another. You can be sharing the same, the very same principle of life, where you can just be sharing the, what would you call it, the milieu, the medium, the activity of life. Human beings share in this new life by faith and baptism, which incorporate them into Christ. Incorporate has that word corpus in it, which is body. So the body metaphor comes up again and again. It's the one indispensable metaphor or symbol for this new union, this new unitive state, into Christ and his church. This incorporation finds a unique expression in the Eucharist. Well, the Eucharist is body, isn't it? And Paul says, because there's one bread, we're one body.


So, faith and baptism are the introduction into it. For in Christ Jesus you were all sons of God through faith. For as many as you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. We're running into those prepositions already. In Christ Jesus, baptized into Christ. We'll talk about that. Through baptism, the Christian is actually identified with the Lord. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That Romans 6, verses 3 and 4 especially, are the strongest text on this participation through baptism. We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. The idea is that somehow you're physically planted right into Christ. And you die with him and you rise with him. And then Paul will say that your body is dead after that,


because you live in the Spirit. So, he uses these big bold-faced words, and he uses them sometimes in what seems like a crude way. It's only that we have to understand that he's writing to get the power of this enormous reality across. And then we have to come along later and try to understand the nuances and the shading. This incorporation into Christ, as I mentioned before, is explained by Paul through four prepositions, prepositional phrases. The first one is through. And that's the beginning, as it were. Through Christ, this has happened to us. The second one, and Fitzmaier lines these up, and I've just pirated what he has. The second one is into. We were baptized into his death, he'll say.


We're baptized into Christ, he'll say. Into, that ace, the Greek preposition, goes with faith and with baptism. We believed into him, as it were. We're baptized into him. Now, that's the entering in. The third one is sin, or with. And we're buried with him, and we rise with him, and we live with him. And sometimes Paul coins his new words here. You find that one especially in Romans 6, once again. Like Romans 6, you've got a kind of a celebration, a kind of Fourth of July, where he's shooting off all these prepositional phrases in interaction with one another. But here's this s-y-n, this with expression in Romans 6. First of all, as many as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Okay, there's the ace, the enter. We were buried with him. He invents a word, sun etaphemon, sunnato, unnato.


We were buried with him, coins a verb, through baptism into death, that we, as Christ rise from the dead, through the glory of the Father, so we in newness of life, may walk in newness of life. For we become united with him in the likeness of his death. Symphotoi, it's another sin word that he uses there. And then a little later, because the old man, our old man has been crucified with him. Sunn esterose, he coins another verb, crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be destroyed. If we've died with Christ, we believe also that we will live with him. Susesomen, with him, he coins another verb, to live a long life. So this unitive thing, this participative thing is so important for Paul that it melts his words and infuses them together and creates new words to express the intensity of this reality.


And then I could quote you a lot of phrases on the body of Christ, but what I want to stress is that the body of Christ is the after. In other words, this unitive thing is expressed in that metaphor, which is more than a metaphor. It's a reality which is partly metaphor, partly symbol, and partly sacramental reality. And it's got so many angles to it that it's impossible to exhaust it from any one angle. I'll just read a couple of Paul's expressions on this. You have died to the law through the body of Christ. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? And he means that very literally. Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Now, body is the historical body of Jesus. Through the body of Christ we die to the law. It's the Eucharistic body. The bread which we break is a participation in the body of Christ.


And finally, it's the body of the church. That doesn't come out right away in Paul. It appears later in the Ephesians and Colossians. But it does appear in this sense in 1 Corinthians 12. Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. He doesn't use the word church there, but he certainly means it. To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. That's Ephesians. That may come from Greek thought, that idea of the body, but I'm not sure it does. It seems to be implicit in biblical thought. It's only you can extract it from the thinking of Adam in that way, or thinking of any of the corporate figures in the Old Testament in that way. The patriarchs and so on. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body for it. We all partake of the one bread. In Ephesians, finally, church has body.


The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church's body. And this happens through the possession of the spirit of Christ in baptism. We have all been baptized in one spirit to form one body. Paul doesn't start talking about the church right away, but he finally does. The word church is very rare in the New Testament, surprisingly. It's mostly in Paul. It's about 44 times in the uncontested letters of Paul, and 15 times in Ephesians and Colossians. It's strange that it's not in the Gospels. Remember, the Gospels are talking about the life of Jesus, they're projecting the life of Jesus for you. Here's a final summary about Paul. I should say one thing, though, that Paul... We're talking about Paul as... That's thinking of Christ in a unitive way, but Paul is also full of dualities.


He's always opposing one thing to another thing. In fact, you might think that he does more dualizing than he does unifying. For instance, before and after Christ, a great division for him, the old and the new. Jews and Gentiles, those within the law and those outside the law. The spirit and the flesh, he seems very dualistic often. Grace and nature, you know. Christ and the Church versus this world. And the already and the not yet, too. That which has already come and that which we look forward to. He's always talking about duality. Of course, if you're talking rhetorically, you've got to... That's one of the few ways and the strongest ways of getting your point across, is by contrast. But I think there's a single axis, a single duality that runs through all those dualities, and that's between the old thing and the new thing. The old thing is dispersed. The old thing is scattered. The old thing is fragmented, even where it's one. And the new thing is united. And in the new thing, the widest diversities, which are exemplified in what Jews and Gentiles are brought together into the one.


So it's largely a matter of the before and the after. And the dualities, do they disappear? They're overcome somehow. They're transcended in this new unity, which is the body of Christ. Fitzmaier says that Paul's great contribution to Christian theology is the idea of the unity of these believers in one body, that is, in the Church. And that one body is the body of Christ, Church, and Eucharist. Any questions before we wind up, Paul? I'm sorry this is kind of dry. I'm presenting it this way. There's sort of one great idea, and then you've got all these little departments of it. Paul sees the Christ mystery in unitive terms, beginning with a participative consciousness, which is typical of ancient peoples, and typical in its own way of Israel.


They had a, we saw, a narrow channel of participation. Not a cosmic vision, but a vision of unity somehow through the action of God, and through the creation by God of a particular people, with its sacramental realities, like the Passover meal and so on. He sees in the gospel, in the word of the cross, in the paschal mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection, the breakthrough into a new unity, a non-duality in Christ, which potentially joins all the diversity of the peoples of the world in one communion, in Christ, as he'll say, a hundred and some times, in the body of Christ and the Church. Okay, so now we'll pass from Paul to Mark. Before we do that, I wanted to recall to your mind this idea of the four gospels as somehow constituting a pattern of figures.


Remember we put Mark at the bottom, we put Matthew over here, Luke over here, and John at the top. That's on one of your handouts, remember it's H8 on the first page over at the left, and we contrasted, I think, those different qualities, I hope we did, of the four gospels. As we go into talking about the gospels, actually, I'd encourage you to consider them in this light, and it's very illuminating often to take not exactly parallel parts of the gospels, sometimes you can take a parallel part of four gospels. For instance, the passion account is in all four gospels, isn't it? Even in John. And basically it's the same in those four gospels, you've got different touches, all different drama, the trial of Jesus in John, for instance. And yet the basic core is about the same. You can compare passages like that and see what each


evangelist is doing. And this is not just, what would you call it, it's not just an academic exercise, it's not just a technical exercise, but actually something emerges, I believe, and that's the thesis here, that there is a figure to the Christ mystery, which manifests itself also in the diversity of the gospels, and in the very fact of there being four gospels. Remember, we saw a trinitarian kind of reminder, in which the Word is over here, or the Wisdom of God, the Spirit is over here, the Father, or God himself, or the ultimate unit of reality, the absolute pure Spirit is here. And down here we have the creation, we have the cosmos, we have the earth, we have humanity, but we have the body. We have, especially in the material poem at the time, we have the material cosmos, and our participation in that. Now, is that reflected in the four gospels? Well, I propose that it is, and that the darkness,


the veiled nature of Mark's gospel, for instance, is somehow an expression of that veiled nature of the creation, in which the divine mysteries are within, unseen, and glimpsed here and there. That in John's gospel, on the other hand, we have the divine mystery radiating out most continually and most strongly. And in John's gospel, the light is just there, and the light's shining out of Jesus, whereas in Mark, it only shines out of the transfiguration. I'm speaking metaphorically about John's gospel, but in the prologue, it's explicit that he's the Word of God, and the Word of God is the light that comes into the world. So right at the outset, you're given that, whereas in Mark, it only kind of gradually percolates through. In Matthew, what we have is Jesus presented as the wisdom of God, in some way. You don't have to immediately believe that, but we propose that also, in terms of Mark, in a much more veiled way. But at least Jesus,


as the teacher, as the new Moses, as the one who presents a new revelation, a new teaching, a new instruction, creates a new church, which is to distribute that teaching, that light, that new love. And in Luke, we have something else. In Luke, we have the movement of the Spirit in the life of Jesus, even in the conception of Jesus, even in the infancy narratives. I might say especially in the infancy narratives, because that's Luke's own material, so he's added that himself to the core of the gospel. It comes from Mark, right up through the end, and then through the Acts of the Apostles, which is a kind of gospel of the Holy Spirit. So there really is that contrast between word and spirit operating. Now, what I propose is that, with that in the background, that you look at the gospels and find passages which in some way correspond to one another. I say they may not have to be exact


parallels, because there are not too many texts that are exact parallels in the four gospels. You could find an increasing number of them if you searched that. But what I mean is, how does each gospel begin? What's the prologue of each gospel? And how does each gospel end? What's the sort of epilogue of each gospel? And if you ask how the prologue is, what the prologue of each gospel is? Well, Mark begins very simply. He gives you a title, which says that Jesus is the Son of God and the goodness. But then he gives you this wilderness part, chapter 1, verses 1 through 15. When you start in the wilderness, Jesus comes and gets baptized. And it's almost as if the first pull, therefore, of Mark's gospel, the first thing he plants, is that revelation, which is a kind of hidden veil revelation in the baptism of Jesus. If you go to Matthew, what do you find? You find the genealogy, and then you find an infancy account, don't you? But the infancy account is the narrative, concerns Joseph,


strangely, instead of Mary. In the book, you've got Mary, and you've got Zechariah, then you've got Mary, and Elizabeth, and a whole different flavor in the book than you have in Matthew. You've got a story about Joseph here, and then you recall that Joseph reflects the Joseph of the Old Testament, the Joseph who took the Israelites down into Egypt, remember? Who was sort of the caretaker of Israel, in a sense. The Joseph who himself was sold, remember? And you begin to wonder at the beginning of that story that Joseph doesn't have something to do with the end of the gospel story, with when Jesus is sold, when Jesus is betrayed, and so on. But that's another point. But Joseph is a wisdom figure in the Old Testament. Joseph is the one who understands dreams, isn't he? And Joseph in the New Testament is the one who has dreams. And because of those dreams, he follows the guidance of the Spirit, who the Spirit has already mentioned. So Joseph is a wise man, quote-unquote. And Matthew is introduced at the


outset of his gospel as if that personality of Joseph were to help you to read the rest of the gospel, to make explicit what is implicit in the rest of the gospel. And then in Luke, you've got another infancy narrative with the women, and with the action of the Holy Spirit accidentally again and again and again. Remember how the Holy Spirit comes at the Annunciation, and then at the Visitation, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and so on. And Simeon and Anna, remember? Simeon was driven by the Holy Spirit to come to the temple, and so on. That's the shape of this figure, comes out there again and again. And then what have you got? You've got the prologue. And in the prologue, you start out with, in the beginning was the Word. And this beginning is before the beginning of Genesis, before the beginning of creation. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So it blazes out at you right away, this ultimate reality, this absolute Spirit, this life. Other comparisons you can make is the


beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, or the public appearance of Jesus in the full Gospel, setting aside the fact that in Mark, Jesus goes into the synagogue and casts out a demon. What have you got in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew's Gospel? Sermon on the Mount, which is a great revelation of teaching. It begins with an enormous collection of Jesus' sayings. In other words, he's manifested his teaching, his wisdom. What have you got in Luke's Gospel, at the beginning of the public appearance of Jesus? He comes into the synagogue again, okay, like in Mark. But Luke has pushed back the exorcism. He wants to put something else in front of it. You remember what it is? The synagogue is not in confinement. It's in Nazareth. And what happens? They give him the scroll. Remember, he comes in, he's going to read. They give him the scroll. This is a magnificent scene. And he reads from Isaiah, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. And he reads that text of Isaiah,


and he sits down and he says, today the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Magnificent thing. But notice the accent on the spirit there. The anointed and the spirit. So that's the beginning. Now in Mark, Jesus casts out a demon. And casting out a demon is a negative preparation for the giving of the Spirit, who will dwell in this house, which is the human person. And in Luke, we have this one who is anointed with the Spirit. And since he's Messiah, Christ, he's the one who's going to pass on that Spirit, who's going to anoint others. So that's the great good news. The good news is not just his preaching. It's the Spirit that he brings with him in it, and which he's to pass on. And what do we have in John's Gospel? We've got the wedding of Jesus with Canaan, where the water is turned into wine, and the man and the woman are brought together, and somehow the whole mystery of God is manifest. There's a symbolic epiphany there, which brings everything together. And which is a unitive revelation, because the meaning of the


wedding is union. And it's not just union of man and woman. It's union of humanity and of creation with God, presented in its full force right at the beginning of Jesus' public appearance in John. Other parts you can compare is the center. If you can decide, if there is a shape to the Gospels, any kind of comparative or parallel shape in the Gospels, then each one is going to have a center. And see which you think is the center in each of your four Gospels. And another thing is at the resurrection narrative. It's very interesting to compare what happens at the end of the Gospel, when Jesus comes back after his death. What does it look like? Now this is a kind of exercise that one can do again and again and again, as years go by, and you'll find it deepens and enriches for you if you do. But I think when you do it, you may be persuaded gradually that a consistent pattern emerges. And then you really see four tendencies manifested in the four Gospels. I shouldn't keep you much longer, but let's get a start on Mark at a toehold anyway.


Remember that Mark's Gospel is the first Gospel, historically speaking, the first to be written. It's not that Mark invents the word Gospel, but it's the first time evidently that Gospel begins to be used for a book. Remember when Paul uses the term Gospel, he means his message, what he preaches, the content of his preaching. When Mark uses it, it begins to be the book itself. This is a fairly recent discovery that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, and he was almost ignored for about two thousand years. Nobody cared much about reading Mark. And St. Augustine said that he only kind of did a Reader's Digest version of Matthew anyway, so why not read Matthew and get the whole story. Up until the new lectionary, I don't think there were many readings from Mark at all. You had a whole lot from Matthew. Matthew is the one who gives the teaching, so that's natural for the Church. It's the book of the Church, as it were, to be used in the lectionary. But Mark really came up short, but now they've introduced readings from Mark. See, now that Mark is recognized as the first Gospel to be written, because of the historical critical mentality


today, he becomes extremely important. In a sense, he becomes more interesting than the others. You get back to the beginning with Mark. Here you're finding out what's at the root of Gospel, and that's what historical criticism is interested in. So there's a whole bunch of literature on the Gospel of Mark in the past hundred years. Mark traditionally was said to be associated with Peter. He was Peter's scribe, or Peter's secretary, or interpreter, or whatever you want to call it. That comes from the second century. According to the Harrington and the New Jerome, Mark's Gospel was likely composed in Rome. Of course, there are different proposals for that. And between 60 and 70 AD, that's before the destruction of the Temple, in an atmosphere of impending persecution, both in Jerusalem and in Rome, and so the troubles and rebellions in the Holy Land, of course, would threaten also the believers


in Rome. Mark may strike you as being crude, and often he was spoken of as being naive and simple-minded and so on. But as Austin Farrer puts it, he's systematically enigmatic. That is, there's a great subtlety in what Mark is doing. Even though I suppose his Greek is not the most sophisticated and so on, like Luke. And he seems to rush along often, and just to be blurting things out and then rushing on to the next thing, putting in awkward repeated phrases like that euthus, that immediately phrase that he puts in there, as if he had no time to stop and ponder or elaborate a scene. And yet we'll see that there's great subtlety in what Mark is doing. Also, there's a lot of parallelism, I believe, in the relationship between different scenes, and a lot of the meaning of Mark's gospel, the deep meaning, comes out there. I think you can see this especially when we talk about the baptismal theme of Mark.


We have that video, by the way, of Alec McKellen reading Mark. He's an actor who does Mark as a continuous reading, a little dramatization, and we can play it sometime if you're interested. We've shown it a few times on the other Mark class. You've got one of these handouts, it's labeled H10. It's got a whole bunch of different medical sapiential approaches to Mark. Now, this was made during, basically, I revised it a little now, but it was made during our class on Mark, so we were going into Mark on run times a lot more extensively. That's the excuse for it. Here, of course, and a lot of this would just be a distraction, I recommend that you read it. And then we're just going to touch on a few of these. We don't have time to go through the whole list. In fact, we didn't even go through the whole list in the class. We'll go through the structural thing, the wilderness theology, and the baptismal


context of Mark, mostly, as those seem to be the, those last two anyway, structure and the baptismal, seem to be the quickest route into a unitive vision of Mark's Gospel. Something about the structure of Mark, you've got a figure of Mark's Gospel on that H8 handout once again, okay, over on the right. Symmetrical structure of Mark's Gospel. I got that from Van Yersel's book, which I can't find now, somebody's got it out of the library. But that's the essential structure. Five parts, and then four hinges in between those five parts. So,


the first part is the wilderness, and that's chapter one, in verses 2 to 13, including the baptism of Jesus. The final part is the tomb, chapter 15, or just about 16, 1 to 8. Remember, we're not taking the verses of Mark 16 after verse 8 as being in the original text. Those were additions later on, it seems. So, we're taking the most rigorous perspective here. And the wilderness and tomb episodes, or parts, are connected, as we'll see when we talk about baptism in Mark. Now, those are two quite short portions, aren't they? Each one is less than 13 verses. However, parts two and four, the other matching or symmetrical parts, are enormous, relatively. Part two, the gallery ministry of Jesus, is practically the first half of Mark's Gospel. And part four is practically the


second half of Mark's Gospel, okay? So, the bulk of the text is in those two. And the intervening part three, which we put in the center, on the way, is the journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, not just Judea, but Jerusalem, during which time he's teaching his disciples. And that part is very central to Mark, very central to the meaning of Mark, and it's very sharply distinguished from the other two. Now, you see those hinges? Hinge two and hinge three are on the two sides of that part three, you see? And they mark it off from the other parts, from parts two and four. Now, those two hinges are symmetrical scenes. They're like two guardian figures alongside a temple, as they had in ancient times. And they're the two prime men that Jesus heals. The first one is the one that he takes out of


town, remember? And makes clay and puts it on his eyes, and it's a two-phase job. And he says, what do you see? And he says, I see, well, men, but they look like trees walking. And they look like trees walking. Now, what's that central portion of Mark that's being introduced to? It's the way of the cross, that's what it's about. So, this journey, this journey and the teaching of the tree, the teaching of the way of the cross, which Jesus has to go to his disciples who don't understand it at all, is the theme of that central portion. The other blind man is brought to Maas, on the road to Jericho, remember? Sitting outside Jericho, I guess. And he calls out, Son of David, doesn't he? Have mercy on me. And when Jesus calls him, he leaps up, throws off his cloth and cloak and follows Jesus. I guess he does that every year, which is a whole different expression. And in between, you've got this teaching on the cross, which we'll look at. You've got a handout which has two columns in it.


That's H11, and it's from Stock's book, The Method and the Message of Mark. It's taken, actually, from a couple of different pages, as you can see. And what he's doing is contrasting these two locations, which is really contrasting these two sides, two great parts of Mark's Gospel. The part in Galilee and the part in Jerusalem. But Galilee and Jerusalem are contrasted also theologically in Mark's Gospel. The contrast between Galilee and its counterpart, Jerusalem, is unmistakable. Galilee is the place of reception of Jesus and his message. Jerusalem is the place of rejection. And this is paradoxical, because Galilee is the place where nobody knows anything,


right? It's the place where Judaism has gone corrupt, where pagan people have been planted in the midst of the Jews, and where the law is either unknown or not obeyed. It's where you find the heretics and the cringy people. Whereas Jerusalem is the stronghold of the law, where the chief priests are, and the greatest scribes, and the Pharisees, and where it's the capital of the law. And this contrast is deliberate. It's the same contrast we find between Jews and Gentiles, okay? The Jews are the people who remember, this side here will then find the word, but in other words, there is a law of people who have the law, and the people which has received the law have the word of God, which is the Jews. The people over here in Galilee have either not received it, or have lost it, or put it away, or have only a corrupted, run-down version of the teaching of the law, of the word of God, okay? So the requisite word to the administration of the Spirit. I don't want to make too many shortcuts to that trinitarian perspective, but it's something


that's useful to keep in the back of your mind, for reference. As semantic opposites, Galilee and Jerusalem refer respectively to the notions of countryside and city. So, country versus city, periphery versus center, provincial versus capital, many synagogues versus one temple. So, we get the idea of another circle, in which Galilee is out here, on the margin, and Jerusalem is at the center. It's interesting, we have the same letters here, Galilee and Jerusalem, Gentile and Jew, G and J, because I think behind the Galilee-Jerusalem dialectic is the Jew-Gentile dialectic. Galilee is the place where the Jews are mixed with the Gentiles, and so Jesus will minister to the Gentiles, as he mentioned, when Prince Antony multiplies bread. They speculated one of the multiplications of bread by Jesus was to a largely Gentile audience.


There is also the place where the scribes, Pharisees, and Herodians are at home and home in Jerusalem, they're not at home in Galilee. The places where Jesus finds followers, Galilee, versus the places where Jesus finds opponents, whom he opposes in turn, Jerusalem. You find this not only in Mark, but in the other Gospels. Remember the battles that Jesus has in John's Gospel, with the chief priests and scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem, and the bitter language also on the part of Jesus. It's also in Matthew's Gospel. When Jesus appears in Galilee, the adversaries come from Jerusalem. They come out to check upon him. They bring their tape recorders. When Jesus is arrested in Jerusalem, the words of the high priest made, certainly you're one of them, for you're a Galilean, bear witness to the opposition between the two. A Galilean would be somebody who'd be a redneck, I suppose, as far as the law is concerned. And then Galilee is the place where Jesus


is going to appear when he visits, which is a mysterious thing. So what does it mean? It almost points out to the whole world. It almost says that Jesus isn't going to be here anymore. He's going to be everywhere. I'm exaggerating somewhat. But Galilee has this big symbolic resonance, which points to the Gentiles. It points ultimately to the whole world, whereas Jerusalem is the center which is uncentered itself, which has somehow disqualified itself by not recognizing Jesus. So then he's got these two columns organizing this a little more graphically. And you can follow those out yourself if you're interested. But what's important is to keep this in the back of your mind, and maybe keep this nearby when you're reading Mark, to see to what extent you verify it, and what it may mean ultimately. What we're interested in ultimately is the meaning of this. And why this geometry? What's behind this? It's almost as if the people


who receive the Word of God, becoming insiders at the same time, are just on the edge of becoming outsiders, by somehow rejecting the Spirit in favor of the Word, or grasping the Word, possessing the Word, and insofar as they become, how would you say, the possessors of the Word, the proprietors of the Word, they've lost the Spirit, they've squeezed out the Spirit, and they can no longer recognize the Word itself when it comes, because Jesus comes as the Word, as wisdom. Now I'm going beyond Mark's Gospel. So we've got a symmetrical structure here, and it's parallel to our mandala before. I've already pointed that out. I should say something about what's the meaning of this geometry, when we find this kind of thing. Does it mean that the evangelist has a taste for neatness, or that ancient people always made circles, or all those things are true, I imagine.


They didn't like ends hanging out, or maybe that parchment was expensive, and so you may as well do something artistic while you're writing the narrative. All of that is maybe true, to some extent, but more importantly, well, another thing is to remember things, okay? It's easier to remember things if you put them in some kind of order, if you put them in some kind of symmetry, because they even learned the alphabet. In ancient Greece, they learned the alphabet forwards and backwards, and then they'd learn it from the beginning to the middle, and back to the beginning, and so on, in that way. It's the Aztec way, in some way. So you tend to organize things and remember things in that way. But beyond that, remember the ancient temple structures, which were often performed something like this, in the circle, which is an actual sacred symbol, and I show a symbol that begins to mesmerize you in terms of the presence of something beyond these two dimensions, okay? It begins to be a place


which is focused, doesn't it? The circle begins to be a place which expresses somehow everything. It's one of those figures that expresses somehow everything in one part. It seems to enclose, or to open to the infinite, even in making an enclosure, separating off an enclosure. So think of ancient temples, which also usually have a quaternion, you know? That tends to be the other figure which expresses universality, expresses the four dimensions of the cosmos on the sacred mountain in the old cultures. The other expression of which, of course, is the cross. The quaternity in the circle, the mandala form, as in the ancient temples. Now when you begin to create a geometrical figure like that, a symmetrical figure like that, which is closed and which has a center, you're beginning somehow to represent something in a third dimension. You're beginning to represent depth, and so on. Now what do we mean by depth?


What I mean is a plane of existence, of being, in which things are coming together. The mere fact of beginning to believe that you can represent everything in a circle, that you can represent everything somehow by a figure. People in Native America do too, don't they? That is, they'll make a sand drawing or something like that. The Tibetan Buddhists make a sand painting which somehow represents all reality. But when they do that, they naturally do it in a symmetrical way. They naturally do it with a mandala, with a cross and circle, with a cross and circle, or a circle and square. Because the symmetrical figure in some way, the temple figure, just naturally begins to represent a third dimension which is inclusive, or which is unitive, or which is sacred, or which is divine, whatever you like to say. And ancient peoples know this spontaneously, whereas we come upon it as a surprise or a discovery. See if that's convincing for you. And it's natural for the gospel writers to do the same thing. Because they see, the history of Jesus at first looks like something that just


runs along in time, with one thing after another, one thing after another. And then they understand that there's a tenth dimension in this history of Jesus. That something has happened which has pulled the whole of reality around itself. In other words, it's like something has fallen into this plane of existence from another plane of existence, so that the whole of this reality has gathered around itself. It's become a center. And so it's natural to represent that event, that centering event, in symmetry, in aroundness, in something around the center. And to try to express through that shape and through that center and its relationship to the outside, to the periphery, the relationship of that new reality to the world that it's coming to. So instead of one thing after another, you begin to get a closed figure in a symmetry, and something that relates directly to the sacramental participation of this new primitive


reality, and therefore to the liturgy, and therefore, once again, to the temple, that kind of thing. So this idea of sacred geometry penetrates even into the writing of the history, the writing of the narrative, which is no longer just one thing after another. There's always the second level. You have to read it on two levels. The level of narrative, and then another level, call it a symbolic level, but a symbolic level which is also somehow expressing itself in a geometry. And we propose that there is a fundamental geometry to this mystery of Christ, which is mandalic, or which is the figure of the cross. Okay, we'd better not take any more time today, so next time let's pick up with that, and I'll go on and talk about the structure, and then the wilderness theology, and then spend most of the time on the baptismal element of Mark, which really pulls it together. There is another structure from Mark's gospel, by the way. It might have looked like Humphrey,


Christ has risen. He's got a nine-part structure, where you have, these two remain where they are here, and then you have A, B, C over here, A, B, C over here, and then you've got more hinges. So here we have four hinges because we have five parts. Because we have nine parts here, there are eight hinges, and the hinges themselves are symmetric ones, so much like those two blind ones. Each of the hinges has to say something to its arrow. This becomes fascinating, because you suspect that those hinges, then, are an evil interpretation of the whole gospel. There are special little passages here. I mentioned one yesterday, which is the parallel of the killing, the death of John the Baptist, the perishment, with the anointing of Jesus, but there is definitely another area, and that is in the House of Simon the Leper. Some people will go on this. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.