August 9th, 1995, Serial No. 00280

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: 





of these handouts. The first one is from one of those standard handbooks on the scripture. The particular virtue of it, if you like that kind of thing, is it has the books of the Old Testament and also the New Testament put into categories and enumerated. So if you like to, especially if you like to memorize and systematize things like this, it's very helpful. Let me know if there aren't enough. There's supposed to be three separate handouts there. If you run out, let me know, I'll get some more. So the first page is the books of the Old Testament and that leaks onto the second page. But then you've got the New Testament writings organized in four categories, which looks a little foolish when you look at it because one category has, two categories have only one entry, history and apocalypse. One has four entries, that's gospels, and the other one has 21, that's letters. So you wonder


if the classification committee should reconsider. But anyway. And then of course we have to go into what those terms mean, which is outside our domain. The third handout that you have there is simply a Xerox. That's the wide one, the 12-inch one. A Xerox of the article on mystery from the Dictionary of Biblical Theology. First I was going to give you pages from Bagagini's theological dimensions of the liturgy, but I found that he got too far out of our subject. He wasn't dealing enough with the New Testament. So you may find that useful in watching the development, for instance, of the notion of mystery. But in all of this be very careful that you don't confuse the, what do you call it, confuse the development with, hmm, or lose the reality in the development. I'll talk about that in a minute. But there's


a tendency for us to think that if something's influenced by something else and it comes from that something else, therefore it isn't there. Have you ever found people doing that? That this idea came from Gentile Christianity, therefore it's not, there's nothing there. Because you got it from somebody else, it isn't real. Or because you got the expression for it from someone else, the thing itself isn't real, the thing itself isn't there. That's a dangerous trap. And a lot of that has happened in the scholarship for the last couple of hundred years. You can trace everything in Christianity from outside Christianity, therefore Christianity doesn't exist, to put it very simply. That's a kind of shell game. Now you see it, now you don't. Now there's truth in the scholarship, there's truth in the derivation. But you've got to believe in that underlying central reality. And everything else is secondary to that. That's what we contact by faith. And also by, what would you call it, gnosis or contemplation. If you lose that, you've lost it all. And sometimes scholarship can do that.


Next time we want to treat St. Paul, so if you want to prepare yourself for that, I'd suggest you might find an introduction to Paul or the introductory part of a book on Paul. I don't have a specific one for you. You could read in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, they've probably got an article on Paul's theology and so on, whatever you like. Or read a couple of the letters of St. Paul, especially the four great epistles, for instance, Romans, First and Second Corinthians and Galatians. Or a little of the historical background, the development of the Pauline literature. I wanted to look at Dei Verbum. It's a good idea to bring that Xerox with you each time. At that chapter 5 on the New Testament, I'm going to take a brief look at it before we enter into our own doings here. Because actually, that gives you a pretty sapiential approach to the New Testament. What I want to note is the unity and diversity here. That language


sounds so banal, but you'll find that it comes alive. That is, in talking about the New Testament here, immediately, Dei Verbum, the Council Fathers, are talking in unitive terms. They're talking about the Word of God as one thing, which implies that there's one reality revealed in it in some way. Now, we'll say that reality is God, yes. But it's not only God. It's not God out there or up there somewhere. It's God as involved with us. Whereas Aquinas might say it's the whole of reality under the aspect or in the light of God. Now, the reality we're talking about is what happens in the world as God comes into the world from a Christian perspective. That is, what is God's interaction with the world? That's of absolute importance for us. But that's one thing somehow. And the one thing, of course, can be summed up in Christ. But we need more articulation of it. So we'll be using the word mystery, the mystery of Christ, for instance. Number 17, the Word of God, which is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, is set forth and shows its power in the most excellent way in the writings of the New Testament. There you have that kind of seraphic, institutional


tone, in a most excellent way. For when the fullness of time arrived, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us in His fullness of grace and truth. Grace is in truth with God. That's completely from the prologue of John. So there it is. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us in the fullness of His grace and truth. But that doesn't remain just in time, obviously, and the Word comes into us. Christ established the kingdom of God on earth. There's the balancing element from the synoptic gospel. Now, the trap there is that Christ established the kingdom of God on earth, therefore the church is equal to the kingdom of God. The church in its present state is the kingdom of God. That's a dangerous one. I didn't wake up to that for a long time. But, Jonas, there aren't enough of them. There are supposed to be three of those. I've got more over here, if any of you are missing them. So the church on earth, as Vatican II painfully worked out, under much criticism, I think,


from the Protestant side, is not equivalent, is not equal to the kingdom of God, but contains the kingdom of God. It is in continuity with the kingdom of God, but in its present form it is not the kingdom of God. De-absolutize the church as it exists now. That's not our business, but that will come up as we proceed with the protestant. Okay, and it goes on to summarize the life, the trajectory of Jesus, and then it says, this mystery, that's Pauline language, this mystery had not been manifested to other generations as it was now revealed, and now he's practically quoting Ephesians. We're going to be talking about that mystery. Notice the two principle unitive terms there. The first is the word of God, which becomes incarnate in Jesus, and which somehow contains everything. And the second one is the mystery. They're like two sides of the same thing. You can say the Joannine side and the Pauline side. The Joannine side gathers everything up into this one divine human being, who is Jesus, and this divine light shines out from him throughout John's


gospel. The Pauline term of mystery is not mystery as we might take it intuitively, but is the unrolling, the unfolding, the development in history of the secret of God, which is for the salvation of all, but which follows a particular form, a particular shape or trajectory in history. Then number 18. Among all the scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the gospels have a special preeminence, and rightly so. The life, the witness, the principle witness to the direct life and teaching of Jesus. Now, we're moving from unity to plurality here, and in a moment it's going to mention the four gospels are of apostolic origin. Now here before us immediately is this paradigm that I want to point out that's coming back again and again, from the one to the four. And here it's from the one mystery, the one word to the four gospels. But we're going to find that happening again and again and again in the New Testament. As if the shape of the mystery, insofar as you can say it has a shape, is fourfold in some way. And of course the image of that for us is the


image of the cross. The crosses we have at the crucifix, do we have a crucifix in this room? I guess not. But the Western crucifix or Western cross is elongated at the bottom, isn't it? Whereas if you look at the Eastern cross, like the Greek cross, typical in the first thousand years of Christianity, the cross was not elongated, but was symmetrical. Now there's an enormous shift, an enormous difference to be noted there, very important. When you have a symmetrical cross, you have what you might call a sapiential cross. You have a cross which begins to suggest the center of all reality, doesn't it? In other words, the cross is the meeting point, it's a fundamental symbol for the center of reality and for the whole of reality as gathered together in those four dimensions. That's the ancient way and the universal way, more or less, in wisdom traditions of looking at reality, at the universe, in a mandalic way, as the four directions, the four points of the compass, for instance. Even the Native American tradition has that too, doesn't it? The four points of the compass as gathered into one, one reality. Now the cross symbolizes exactly that when it's in


a symmetrical form. When it's in the elongated form, and then when the corpus is placed on top of it, it loses that symbolic transparency. You can call it cosmic, you can call it sapiential, whatever you want, but it takes on another meaning which is more particularized, and which is typical of the shift from East to West. Whether we're talking about Christian East to Christian West, or simply East in general to the West, which is largely Christian, that you lose the simple transparency, let us say, of symbolic forms, and you move into the pictorial, you move into the literal, you move into the concrete in particular, into that crucified body upon the cross, which is precious for our devotion, for our worship. But nevertheless, if that particularity, and this is even true of the Church, the Church becomes that kind of particularity, that kind of institutional, concrete, incarnate particularity in the West, and obscures the cosmic Church, obscures the Church of Ephesians and Colossians, into which all things are gathered, that mystery of Christ and the Church. When we get back


to the symmetrical cross, therefore, we're getting back into a cosmic interpretation of Christianity. Now, notice that the things that are conflicting here are something like this. As long as you have, what would you call it, a truly Catholic Christianity, which is open to all reality, and in which Jesus is seen as coming into the middle of the world and beginning to transform it, including all of humanity and the material cosmos, then you've got a kind of a freedom, and you've got, then theology can really breathe, and there's an exhilaration in it, there's a movement in it, there's a very exciting dynamism in it. When you begin to split the Church, the Church begins to split and to fortify itself institutionally and juridically and doctrinally, dogmatically, in order to conserve and protect, and in the interest of security, what happens? You can no longer tolerate that expansiveness, that openness, you can no longer have a cosmic Christianity, because you've built a house for yourself, which is different from the other guy's house. You have divided up reality


and enclosed part of it in the safety, the security of institution, of law, and of carefully structured doctrines, which now become multiple doctrines, not one doctrine, because you have moved away from the center. You've moved away from what you might call the unitive center, the deep center, which is the koinonia, the new creation, to a more, a center which is further up, which is not in the ground, but above the ground, which is an institutional center, and therefore has to be, you have to build a theology around the institutional center now. Now, this has got to do with this elongating of the cross and so on. It's a digression, but it's important. And so we're coming back from that position of an over-elevated and institutionalized Christianity built above the ground to the Christ and the Christianity and the Christ mystery, which, as it were, is at the center of the earth, at the center of all reality. Not only the earth, but the body, the human body, ourselves, and the cosmos. Okay, I don't want to follow a daily verbum any longer, because it will take too long.


I'd like to say something about two alternative approaches to the New Testament. Now, obviously we've talked about the literal sense and the spiritual sense before, or the literal sense and the more-than-literal sense, as Brown and Schneiders have quoted in the New Jerome article, I think it's on hermeneutics. And we've said that the patristic and the monastic approach has tended to be the more-than-literal sense. Not only tended to be, it has been almost exclusively, whereas there were some patristic schools that were pretty literal, like the school of Antioch and so on, so I don't want to dismiss that. And the Fathers did not, by any means, dismiss the literal sense, they just quickly moved beyond it. And that the modern approach is the literal sense, since the Enlightenment, let us say, with the Vengeance, since the dominance of science in the West. I'd like to take another angle on this, in order to flesh out our sapiential approach. I read a book by Northrop Frye once, in which he talks about the contrast in literature


between the poetic dynamic and the prosaic dynamic. He says the dynamic of prose, the dimension of prose in literature, is a referential dimension by which the words refer to something outside themselves. Let's say you have a historical treatise or something like that, and it's dealing with reference, with reality, which is outside itself. And a poem, in contrast, in a poem, the words are relating to one another. The dynamic is centripetal, it's towards the center. Words relating to one another, which he says is the most important thing they can do. Now, I don't want to defend or criticize that theory, I just want to use it as an analogy for what we're doing, in contrast to the historical critical method, or the contextual method, you might say. If you read an introduction to the New Testament, a contemporary one, it will give you a great deal of very necessary information on the geographical, historical,


cultural, ethnic context, and surroundings, and influences, and factors, and elements that are affecting the New Testament. And that's something that should not be passed by, and we need to do that work, otherwise we're kind of in a cloud. But that's not what we're going to do, we don't have time for it, and it would distract us from our central point, which is the sapiential reading. So, we're not going to take that referential approach, saying, ah, this came from somewhere else, or this came from Gentile Christianity, or this came from the primitive Jewish community, the Jerusalem community, or this came from this or that, and we're not going to separate the different strata, either in the New Testament, and attempt to explain them from historical sources. Rather, we're going to examine what seems to be at the center. Now, here the analogy weakens a little bit, because in poetry, Fry says that the words have to do with one another. Well, the words in the New Testament, especially, for instance, in the Gospel of John, or the first letter of John, are not


so much having to do with one another, are they? But they're having to do with a center among them, with something within them, something which they contain, which they're orbiting around. The repetition that you find in the New Testament, which can be very annoying at times, in the supper discourse of Jesus in John's Gospel, or in Paul, that kind of hymnic repetition, is the orbiting around a center. So, what I'm contending is that the New Testament writings, besides having a referential meaning, have a more important meaning, which is this, you could call it quasi-poetic, centripetal meaning, which is their reference to a common subject, a single common subject, a single common reality, not so much to one another, therefore, as to something among them, something within them, one thing within them. You can see that especially when the words begin to slip and fuse. In other words, when the power of God becomes the glory of God, or when the Lord is the Spirit. It's as if suddenly you've gotten into that strong gravitation of that center in the New Testament, and it's pulling


all the words into itself and making them all say the same thing. You see that especially in Paul, when his words get really hot and begin to melt into one another. So, we're going to follow that centripetal dynamic of the New Testament, and without in any way rejecting the other approach. It's just not our business at this point. The other thing about this is that you can say, well, the New Testament is referential. It refers to the life of Jesus, which is something outside itself. Okay, the life of Jesus, however, we don't have any recourse to it except for the New Testament, but the life of Jesus itself is, what would you call it, is referent, isn't it? It's referent to something else, that's what we're saying. And what it's referent to is inside the New Testament. See, what the events of the life of Jesus, the words and his actions and all those things that happen in the Gospels are referent to is the same thing that's inside the New Testament.


So, that is the ultimate reference. What we're saying is the ultimate reference is inside the New Testament. You can refer to all kinds of things outside. You can refer to the history of Rome in the time of Jesus, okay, and the history of Israel, and what was going on in Jerusalem. You can refer to all of that, but what we're saying is the ultimate reference is that Word of God, which is the core of the New Testament, and which becomes incarnate and accessible in Jesus, and then in the Spirit and in the Church. So, that analogy is not really tangential. I think it goes fairly deep into what we're doing. We've already looked at some of the ways of conceiving that movement from the First Testament or the Old Testament to the New Testament. Here's one way of looking at it, which sounds dry, sounds banal, but I think it opens up. Look at the New Testament as a new appearance or presence or emergence of unity and diversity at once. That's terribly


abstract, but it will become more concrete. Unity and diversity at once. Now, one way of looking at that, remember we looked at two dynamics in the movement from Old Testament to New Testament. There's a kind of a breaking of a container, a breaking through a container, in which you move inward to a new simplicity, and you move outward to a new complexity, and a new plurality. You move inward to the simplicity, for instance, in the one commandment of love, okay, which is one commandment that breaks into two, and then becomes multiple as you have all these persons around you to love. But basically, essentially, it's one thing, this love. There's a unity in the figure of Jesus himself who gathers all things into himself. When he walks around saying, I am in John's Gospel, that's the ultimate unity, the ultimate simplicity. You've broken through the many commandments, you've broken through the many truths, the many realities, and you've broken into the one reality, which is God, which is now in Jesus in this historical moment. And the one imperative, which is also God, expressed or participated in the form of this commandment


of love, okay. So there's this tremendous unity. But there's also an interiorization which goes to the heart. Remember in the Sermon on the Mount, you've heard you shall not kill, I say you shall not be angry. You've heard you shall not commit adultery, I say you shall not have lustful thoughts in your heart, remember? It moves to this center of the human person, as well as moving to the center which is God and Christ. And it breaks through the container, the shell, the multiple structure and articulation of the law in doing this. That's the inward movement. What's the outward movement? The outward movement is the movement basically to the Gentiles. From one nation out to all, from one people out to everyone. Now here there's a metaphysical breakthrough. You see, when you hit the center you're touching everything. As long as you're on the level of the shell, and this is true in a lot of religious tradition, Sufi tradition, but as long as you're on the level of the shell, also true in our personality, you're relating to this and that, you're relating to these particularities, and there are a lot of them and it's confusing and there's


a lot of tension. When you break through to the center, strangely, you don't absent yourself from the outside, suddenly you're in touch with the whole outside. Suddenly you're in touch with all of them, with all of the particularities at the point where they're bound together at the hub of the wheel, at the center of the circle, the point of unity. And we propose that there's a point of unity within us, within the New Testament, within the whole Bible, and within all of reality, and that you contact that through the surface of the New Testament. So this movement is really one movement, if it immediately looks like two movements, an inward one and an outward one. So into the unity and into the diversity, which might also be called into the simplicity, the utter simplicity which is God, and which is always coming out in Jesus, the kind of single white light that's in Jesus, and into the multiplicity or the wholeness, the uncountable multitude of things. Now there are various symbols for this. One of them is the human body, that's one that


comes up repeatedly, remember, in Paul, as the body has many limbs and yet it is one. And then it becomes the body of Christ, doesn't it? As the simplicity and the diversity have entered in somehow and broken into the world in the New Testament, it becomes the body of Christ. You are many members, yet one body, and you're one because the bread is one. So the next image is the bread, which is broken, and yet even as it's broken, the pieces somehow gather everything into one, the paradoxical nature of this broken bread. Another symbol is the temple or dwelling, right? Remember in the first letter of Peter and also in Ephesians 2, right, where we are stones being built upon one foundation, but we're many stones built into the one building. The one building is Christ and the foundation is Christ too. The many built into the one. And it moves back and forth from body to temple to house in Paul, remember. The metaphor kind of drifts from one to the other. And


also on one Peter. Another one, which is going to be very important for us, is the cross. The cross is a point, like a star. You know, a star looks like a cross in a sense. It's a point, but in our eyes, for some reason, it sparkles and radiates in a cross form into those four dimensions, those two axes, as if that was simply the weave of our being, at least so that we can only see unity in those four dimensions. So the cross is this expression of plurality and unity, and which is very important in the New Testament. It's woven. It's like a watermark that's woven into the fabric, the paper in the New Testament. So we'll find it everywhere. Now it's not just a decoration. It's not just an ornament. It's a medium of understanding. In other words, this is the figure that leads us somehow into the heart of what the New Testament is about. Not just by means of blind faith, even though it is faith, but also through understanding, and to relate all of the plurality of human existence, of human life, of the world itself, of all reality there is, and all the different


movements and mansions of reality to the one central reality, which is God and Christ, and which is also our own person, because we have that unity and diversity in ourselves. We're a microcosm in that sense. That's why it's important for us to distinguish between the Western Cross with its elongated, non-symmetrical form, and the classical Eastern Cross with its symmetry. First we're going to talk about the center of this new reality as the Christ mystery itself, or the Word, and then we'll look at the diversity of it. I'm just curious on that. In one dimension, for example, the outward movement is the elongated part. Have we extended outward while losing the inward movement? I think the movement outward has extended us, and in that I think of John and Peter. Remember in the Beloved Disciple in Peter in John 21, when Jesus says to the Beloved Disciple, he says, remain here, and he says to Peter, follow me. So Peter is the Western


Church, and that's the elongation. That's the movement. It's the linear progression of the Church in that sense. And here we have just two, so everything has to be contained in these two. If we were talking about Paul and James and so on, there would be more. But in this picture, John is the centered figure, as it were, like one of those round basilicas in the East, like Santa Sofia or something like that. John is that, the centered, sapiential, contemplative, liturgical reality. And Peter is the linear reality of history, which develops in the West. They both have to do their thing. But we've lost that first one. We've lost the Johannine reality. We've moved out to the Petrine reality, but we don't even know the line. We learn about the line gradually. All we know is the point where we are, usually. And then the structure is that tradition has given. What else can you say about the elongation? That it is the difference that was created


between the natural and the supernatural. See, we've invented a theology of the supernatural, in which the Church is a supernatural organism, supernatural body of Christ built above and separate from nature, rather than at the center of nature. Now, when you do that, you see, at that point, you say, everything, in order to be saved, has to enter into the Church, the institutional Church, the visible Church, and as it were, be baptized into the visible Church, and through faith in Christ. Everything outside is unsaved, and therefore meaningless, and perhaps evil, and perhaps condemned, okay? You see what that does? No longer is Christ at the center of reality, because reality is no good. It's no good until you do something to it, until you convert it, until you introduce it into this Church, this Church which is now conceived as a building with strong walls and a door, an official door. So, that's


a fatal step when that happens, and that's happened in the West, and it's as if that is the same moment as the elongating of the cross, to say, this is supernatural here, and this is just nature down here. That separation of revelation from nature, let's put it that way, which means the separation, the elevation of Christ above nature, when Christ comes into the center of nature, to make a new creation. So, the losing of that cosmic perspective is one with that. Okay, if you still have that handout, we could take a look at those mystery texts. I think it's got the number H4 on it. Those are from Pauline letters, and I got the references from Baghergini. I probably should have Xeroxed those pages of Baghergini's great tome for you, Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy. I'll try to remember to put it on the class show. It's interesting that the way in which


this term mystery is opened up is by a liturgical theologian, Baghergini, okay, and where the sense of mystery has been conserved for us is in the liturgy, because thank heaven for the liturgy which is able to contain things we don't understand, okay, and which contains them in a way in which they can always open up. So, Baghergini's writing about the liturgy, and he wants to say, well, what's the liturgy about? If we go back as far as we can, what is the liturgy concerned with, and where is the meaning of the liturgy? Where is the central meaning and structure of the liturgy? And he finds it in the term mystery, the mystery of Christ, the Christ mystery. Now, the term mystery, or mysterion in Greek, becomes sacramentum in Latin, which is a kind of a clue to what's going on here, that the original mystery in Christianity then became identified with the sacraments, especially with the Eucharist and Baptism, and then later on with all of the sacraments as we know them in the West, for instance, the seven sacraments, the Mysteria. But again and again we're confronted with


the depth and extent to which early Christianity is identified with Baptism and Eucharist, as if everything's there, and as if all the writings of the Fathers are only a commentary on basically two things, the Scripture and the two sacraments which contain the whole of that reality. The Scripture, which is the Word, and the two sacraments in which the whole experience and substantial reality is communicated to us. And notice that both of those sacramental mediations are unitive. Baptism, that may take some convincing, but Baptism is a unit of illumination in which suddenly the light which you are opens up in the light which is God, and you find that you're at the center of everything, and it's all one in this reality which is opened and enkindled and become incandescent within you. That's Baptism. And the Eucharist is the obvious unit of mystery in which all things somehow are gathered sacramentally and symbolically and somehow in reality into Christ, into the


Body of Christ. And there's a progression from one to the other. It's a unitive progression all the way. So the sacraments bring us to a sapiential Christianity and a sapiential interpretation of the New Testament. But it's taken an awful lot of digging in the last fifty or a hundred years to get back to that point of view. The liturgical people have been especially helpful in that way. Because, you see, they had the liturgy, giving them always that unitive insistence. Otto Cassell, a German, I think he was Benedictine too, was one of the great workers in unearthing this unitive Christianity once again from the liturgical point of view. Now, the key term in these texts is the term mystery, which is mysterion in the Greek. But we'll find some other terms in here that are practically equivalent to it. First Romans 16. Now, to him was able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages, but is now disclosed and through the


prophetic writing made known to all nations. The mystery essentially for Paul in its original form seems to be this movement of salvation from the Jews to the Gentiles. Now, Vagosini, when he writes about it, has a tendency to reduce it to this. But I think Paul himself knows and feels a lot more than just that in it. That's the first way in which it articulates itself in words, is the movement from the Jews to the Gentiles of salvation. But let's look at these other texts. I'm not going to apologize for using Ephesians and Colossians here, even though they are not necessarily directly by Paul. They're called by the sophisticated scholars, they're called Deutero-Pauline. Now, some people would say they're even further from Paul. They're pretty close, apparently. They've been attributed to Paul ever since the middle of the second century. But they contend that they were probably written by a disciple of Paul, a member of the Pauline school, a little after Paul.


First Corinthians, we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God. Okay, I put that in there because I think the mystery and the wisdom are actually one thing. And that sometimes the words would be almost exchangeable. Now, obviously, the wisdom of God is not only the movement of salvation out to the Gentiles. It's not only that. We're going to see it's a lot more. In fact, it's everything. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife. The two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one. Well, we often trouble our heads trying to figure out exactly how, what that means, that mystery. But for me, what I want to point out here is the term one flesh. In other words, the mystery, somehow, is a mystery of oneness. And it's even a mystery of one flesh in Christ. He's going to talk about the body of Christ later on, or in Colossians and Ephesians, as somehow containing this mystery. The whole wisdom of God, the whole of the deity, dwells in Jesus in a bodily form, okay? So one flesh is critical here.


And note the one, the one. The mystery is the mystery of oneness, as everything is drawn into the oneness. And that happens in Christ. Colossians 1. First of all, there's this participative sense in which, when Paul suffers, he's suffering, as it were, for the sake of Christ's body, or in Christ's body. The mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now made manifest to his saints. This mystery is essentially something that opens up, something that unfolds in history. To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. At this point, the mystery is identified with Christ. That doesn't seem to happen quite in the earlier letters. The mystery at this point is identified with Christ, and in Colossians, is where it's said that Christ contains all of the fullness of divine wisdom. And in fact, the deity itself, bodily, is in Christ. So the mystery at that point is equal to Christ, conceived in a bodily fashion,


as if Jesus were the embodiment of the mystery. And it's the whole of divinity, but also everything else, as you see in Colossians, is in this mystery. So the mystery is the mystery of the many in one. Not statically, in a kind of philosophical way, but dynamically, in the sense of how everything comes from the one, and everything goes back to the one, and everything is drawn into the one, in Christ. And specifically in Christ upon the cross. Ephesians 3. How the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. My insight into the mystery of Christ. That is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Notice that in Christ Jesus, that's the tip-off to the mystery. That the mystery is, its mystery is precisely how everything can be in one. How all can be in one. How all can be brought into one. Well, in these letters you hear that all can be brought into one because all came out of one.


Just as in John's prologue. In him all things were created. To preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. I suspect that manifold wisdom of God is like the breaking open of the container so that the Gentiles, all the manifold, multiple Gentiles and nations, all of the richness and diversity of the earth, of the world, may be found embraced in this wisdom of God or in this mystery of Christ. So the movement from the singleness of Israel to the plurality of the Gentiles, I think, is reflected in this expression, the manifold wisdom of God, as also the stringing of things out and the progression of history from one moment to another. Now in 1 Timothy, the mystery is identified with Christ again, and in this kind of sequence, the mystery of our religion,


he was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the spirit. So he is the mystery, and he goes through these steps on his path, and that's the, what would you call it, the longitudinal dimension, but the latitude is not expressed here, how he draws everything into himself, embraces everything. Then Colossians 2. The knowledge of God's mystery of Christ once again. The mystery equated with Christ. Remember the language in Christ and in him that is throughout Paul. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I invite you to reflect on that notion of mystery because it's very important for all that we're going to talk about. It's one word which contains within it this sapiential approach to the New Testament, as does the word logos when John uses it. But the mystery is more developed within the New Testament in the letters of Paul. And when you get to Origen, there's a change because it becomes kind of Platonized.


If you read Vagageni on that, then the mystery is something that has a hidden interior and a visible exterior, and you see that Platonic structure of type and anti-type or of figure and reality going on there. Which is fine, but there's a danger there in over-prioritizing the inside and splitting it from the outside. We've had plenty of that. The mystery is known by a participative knowledge. Okay, now I want to get to these figures. And permit me to draw the... Now, the ultimate background, the ultimate basis and primary analog of all of this is this mystery of Trinity and Cosmos.


When I say cosmos, I mean the universe. It means simply everything that's created. But particularly the material creation. You'll find as you use the Mandala that continually you're reading this in terms of matter or in terms of body or in terms of earth. It represents not only the whole of creation, but also and particularly the material core or body of creation, which for us is earth and body. Now, we traditionally have thought of Christianity always in Trinitarian terms, practically speaking. The elongation of the cross is a kind of... Well, here's another meaning of it. The elongation of the cross is the elevating of the Trinity as it were away from the ground. This is a cross figure. When you elongate this, the moving of the supernatural away from the natural, the moving of the divine Trinity, the divine being, divine reality, away from the cosmic, until this becomes eliminated and you have only the Trinity. You have only the triangle. And most of our Christianity has been that way.


Now, we begin to realize once again that there's a fourth pole here which has been brought into the Trinity. That precisely the mystery of Christ, the mystery of our religion, is the embracing of the creation back into God, back into the totality. Creation seems to be outnumbered here, three against one. But in that way it can be embraced. Remember the icon in the front of the church? Okay, the Rubev icon of the three figures, the three men visiting Abraham and Sarah, the three angels. Now, they're seated around the table and they form a semicircle. And they form, as it were, three corners of a quaternity. And the table is open towards you. In other words, you, the beholder, the beholder, the participant, are invited in, are drawn into this figure. You're drawn into this square or this diamond, okay? So that's us down here. We are drawn into the table, into the Eucharistic banquet, as it were, into the fullness, the koinonia of the three persons.


So that's the mystery. And one of the reasons for the greatness of that icon is that it's got that, it's caught that. So we become a quaternity. Now, when we become a quaternity, the symmetry somehow can operate. The symmetry that we were talking about in the ancient cross, in the Eastern cross, can operate. And you can have this mandalic reality. The mandala, and the word may disconcert some people, it simply means circle in Sanskrit. But the mandala is a kind of universal figure. It pops up everywhere. It pops up in Christianity. One of the Carmelite sisters mentioned, Oh, that's like the host with the cross on it, imprint the cross into the wafer. It's something that people naturally do because there's a pleasing quality, which is a quality really of completeness, because the whole of reality somehow is represented in that figure, which you can find anywhere. It's the symbol of wholeness, but wholeness gathered into a local unity, a local simplicity, particularity, and unity, as it were.


A center and a circle representing wholeness, and then the four dimensions. If you read Irenaeus talking about the four Gospels, he says, well, naturally there's got to be four Gospels. There are four winds. There are four points of the compass. There's east and west, north and south, so there have to be four Gospels. It was just instinctive for many of the ancients, at least in the patristic sector of the world, that the universe was quaternary. The universe was fourfold. I believe that's in Plato, too, somewhere. Timaeus said somewhere. But it's widespread. Or read, what's his name, Perry, talking about the Lord of the Four Quarters. The ancient king. The ancient king in Middle Eastern civilizations was thought of as, at the center of the earth, he and his temple or dwelling and the sacred mountain, and he was the Lord of the Four Quarters of the universe. That means of everything. So that centrality gives him the position of dominance, of rule, but also the quaternity, the quaternity which symbolizes the entirety of the cosmos,


all things drawn together. And sometimes they would specify that. Or remember the halos, the orioles that they have for Christ in the icons and also in Western representation, don't they? A circle with a cross in it. And he's the only one that has that. The other people in the pictures just have circles, don't they? But he has the one with the cross in it. Because in him is everything. The whole mystery is in there. It's a beautifully simple representation of the fullness that's in Christ, which goes along in a way with our naturalistic art, which steps out of the symbolic and yet carries that symbolic kind of remnant with it. Okay, that's our first and basic analog. And we want to keep that in mind as we go through these other things. Remember we talked about the four Gospels. We talked about the four senses of Scripture as locating themselves in this way. And then we talked about the four Gospels. Now, these four Gospels, it seems to me, are an elementary unfolding and representation,


manifestation of the cosmos. In one of your handouts, it's marked H8. In the first page of that, you've got a figure, a mandalic figure of the four Gospels. If you've got that there, I'd advise you to take a look at it. You can go through some of the current ones. If you compare Matthew's Gospel with Luke's Gospel, there's quite a difference between the two. And the more you do it, the more you get a kind of a feeling of this difference. Matthew is basically a Jewish Gospel, it seems, written from a very Semitic perspective. And Luke is a much more Gentile Gospel and written for people in the Hellenistic world.


Matthew is interested in verifying the typologies of Christ, that is, that Christ fulfills the Scripture. So, a word that I didn't put down here, but a word that I would put down for Matthew is fulfillment, that is, fulfilled, the past participle, that the types and the prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Christ. Now, notice how that's kind of a stopping point, okay? You stop and you stay there because it's all fulfilled, it's all there. And with that goes a certain kind of ecclesiology, that the Church is the fulfillment. Whereas what do you have in Luke? You have an unfolding. It's not a fulfillment which is over, but you've got something which is opening up, something which is progressing, something which is unfolding. So the basic contrast between Matthew and Luke seems to me, the contrast between a terminal point and a fixed position and a movement, a dynamism. Now, if you think of this against that Trinitarian background


of word and spirit, okay, there's a certain parallel there, a certain analogy there. The spirit is basically the energy of God, the dynamism of God coming into the world. And the Gospel of Luke is about the Holy Spirit and the Acts of the Apostles is about the Holy Spirit. He talks about the Holy Spirit explicitly much more than the other Gospels do, right from the start. It's the Spirit that drives everything forward in Luke's Gospel. It drives Jesus along his journey, remember, to Jerusalem? It's the Spirit. And it's the Spirit that's moving out in the Acts of the Apostles to the end of the earth. It goes to Rome, it symbolically moves out to the end of the earth. So that is somehow the expression of the Spirit among the four Gospels, principally in Luke. Expression as a historical dynamism. If you just read the early chapters of Luke, you get this sense, first of all, a kind of explosion of the Spirit on Pentecost Day. And you get these jails breaking open and so on. And then you get this sense of a relentless movement outward. That Paul is constrained, compelled, for instance, by the Spirit to go his way.


The Spirit blocks them from going to one place and pushes them into another place. But it's always the Spirit. And these things that are happening all around are manifestations of the Spirit, expressions of the power of the Spirit. So Luke can actually just sub for that. The Holy Spirit has the power of it. Most high will overshadow you in the Holy Spirit. What other words of the angel to Mary? Anyhow, the Holy Spirit and Mary are very much paired in the early parts of Luke. What other words have we got here under Matthew and Luke? Torah. Okay, Matthew is giving you in his five great sermons of Jesus as if he's giving you the five books of the New Law, the New Torah. But for Luke, you don't have a feeling. You don't have a feeling of being enclosed within the New Law, given in the New Law, some kind of doctrine that's now and forever. You have more the feeling of a movement, of a breaking open and a breaking out,


and a moving forward, a pouring out, in fact. If you look at the healings of Jesus and the parables of Jesus, and particularly more of the healings in Luke, you get the sense of an outpouring, which is either arrested or is allowed. For instance, in the parable of the Son of Man, the Father goes out and just rushes out, throws his arms around the floor, and so on. There's a bunch of those in Luke. The parables that come particularly from Luke. And then the Thayan parables tend to be more sapiential. Either that or more parables of judgment. We'll come to the parables later on. So you have truth, authority, institution, conservation, and church in Matthew. Church is something that's going to stay there for eternity because it's built upon the rock, which is Christ. And well, I'll be with you until the ends of the world. The gates of hell shall not prevail against you and so on. You get the sense of a rock, which is put in position. In Luke, you don't have a rock. You've got a fire, you've got a movement, a dynamism, a river, something that's moving, a wind.


Would you say it's fair that Luke is that kind of a feminine moving out or expanding, that Matthew would become that masculine, focusing, being that masculine. I think masculine in the sense of structure. I think a structure tends to be a masculine thing. I think the feminine is more in terms of feeling and in terms of interior impulse and movement. The masculine tends to be more in terms of structure and external order, things like that. Now, obviously, when we're talking about the Word of God, it's far more than that. It's only that this is the way it's expressed in the Gospels, it seems. So you move from the Jewish structure, as it were, over here, which is in some way being reproduced in that, even though in a revolutionary way it's reproduced, but it's still there, to Luke where it's broken and the dam is broken and the river is flowing out, the water's flowing out. When you say a feminine expansive dynamic, I don't see those two together right away.


I think the feminine quality of Luke seems to me almost something separate. I haven't managed to get it together with this idea of the expansive dynamic, which seems to me to be a masculine kind of dynamic, more than that. But the feminine quality is there in Luke, as we know, from the infancy narratives and Jesus' sensitivity to women in Luke's Gospel. But I don't see yet how it relates to the other. The masculine, I would put over there, word is masculine, spirit for me is feminine. Jesus is the masculine embodiment of the word in this world and I believe that the archetypal basis or ground of gender, of sexuality, is the two persons of the Trinity, word and spirit. And that we are in the image of God insofar as we reproduce in ourselves word and spirit, in a sense. But when we talk about those things, you've got to be very careful as people who attack you nowadays, because to confuse gender with this


symbolic level of sexuality is dangerous. Because actually a woman can have more of the masculine dimension, we're talking about, than a man, and a man can have more of the feminine dimension. So you've got to separate very carefully those two levels of gender, simply whether a person is male or female, and the symbolic level we're talking about, of gender and sexuality. Nevertheless, I believe it's very real. Okay, we can't stay much longer so let me say something about something about Mark and John. Another way of looking at this is that here you have a truth which has been revealed and here you have an event. Here you have, let's say, the mystery which is clarified and opened up and manifests now. And the teaching which is which has now become light itself, the words which have become illuminated and carried to their ultimate depth and power. Over here, you don't have that, you've got an event, you've got something that's happening.


It's kind of an earthquake, an earthquake progressing in waves. All those dynamic images which we think of, and which you find in, look at the end of Luke, look at the Emmaus Gospel, remember? When they're walking along the road, first of all you're on a journey, and then the fire in the heart, remember? And a sense of opening of the Scriptures and so on. The whole thing is alive with this dynamism. Okay, John and Mark. There's such a dramatic contrast between these two Gospels you might think they have nothing to do with one another. But I think they're very closely related. They're almost related like that which is written and that which is revealed. They're related like light and dark, or the veiled and the unveiled. In Mark, everything seems to be masked. The end of Mark's Gospel is a great paradox. Because you have the women coming to the open tomb, Jesus does not appear to them, an angel appears to them, says he's risen, they run away and they don't tell anybody. So how did Christianity ever get started? In that case, it's a terrific anti-climax. Everything is veiled in Mark. And yet, as we're going to see,


veiled inside that is the same luminous mystery which is staring at you out of John's prologue, which is in John. Okay? And it's hidden under a kind of sacramental veil for one thing. The key to Mark's Gospel, I believe, is baptism. And we'll talk about that later. But what is veiled in Mark, veiled in the somber tones of the history that Mark gives us, is just illuminated from within in John's Gospel. Jesus walks around with his light shining out of him, speaking these words which sound like they come from the center of God. I am the light of the world, I am, and so on. So, John has opened it up, and in Mark it's still closed. But the two are intimately related. And, in fact, I think the baptismal key applies both to Mark and to John. I think they're both written in function of baptism. Okay? They're written as a kind of, what do you call it, preparation for, or mystagogy, of Christian baptism. And the baptism, remember, is not just an initiation ritual, or something, a celebration of some kind of ritualization.


It's the actual inflowing and illuminating and experiencing of the whole thing at once. In other words, the mystery opening up inside you. The light comes on inside you, and you realize. And you realize it in a unitive way. Now, that's very deeply buried in Mark, and it's very brightly illuminated, put on the lampstand, in John. Here we're talking in the abstract. When we look at the two of them, we can do it more in a more real way. So, John is from above. And the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. Okay? And Mark is from below. But notice that in the baptism scene of Mark, you have a key to the whole. In fact, in the first chapter, the first 15 verses of Mark 1, you have a key to reading the whole thing of Mark, to opening up that, taking off that veil. Because it's the gospel of the Son of God, isn't it? Mark's gospel, remember? Right in the title is there. And then the baptism scene is deeply seen in that way. The Word made flesh. The Word of God, the divine Word, coming down and becoming flesh.


But in Mark, everything is hidden in the flesh. It's a human Jesus. In Mark, the Passion and the Cross predominate. In John, they don't really predominate. They're there, but there's so much light around them, surrounding them. And even when Jesus is lifted up, there's this double meaning in John, that the crucifixion is the glorification. And the crucifixion itself has these symbolic elements in it, like the piercing of the side, and the blood in the water, and the soldiers with the four portions of the garments, and so on. It's kind of ritually enclosed in a symbolic thing, in which it becomes transparent to that light that's in the rest of the gospel. And then think of the supper narratives in Mark and in John. In Mark, it's very brief, the institution of the Eucharist. In John, you've got, what, five chapters, in which Jesus is pouring out this unit of mystery from what's about to happen. In very transparent language, you know. For the Father will dwell in you, and you dwell in him, and I'll come, and I'll dwell in you. I am the vine, and you are the branches. It's very clear language. The Genesis symbolism is open in John, much more open,


and much more veiled in Mark. In Mark, you've got a lot of conflict between the two powers. You have that conflict in John, but at the same time, the light is much more... Jesus is much more radiant throughout this controversy, and his words are much more incontrovertible, in a way. It's like people are boxing with the sun, or something like that, in John. There's a transparent, explicit, unitive sense in John, which is not in Mark. You have to dig for it in Mark. Symbolic organism is visible in John. The water, and the blood, and the bread, and the wine, and the vine, and even man and woman in John, come to the surface as transparent symbols. Contemplative illumination is there all the time. And the beloved disciple who somehow understands it all, and passes it all on. And with Mark, I put from below the human Jesus,


which is the Passion on the Cross predominating. Mark has been called a Passion account, a Passion story with an introduction, which is a little exaggeration. The conflict is dominant here, to such an extent that the glory of Jesus nearly seems to be overcome at the end of Mark's Gospel. The darkness has been so strong, and you only get a glimpse of light at the end of the Gospel, so it's almost like it's been overcome, it's been buried. And it's not until you realize that the climax is Baptism that that light comes on. Mark is narrative. The narrative is secondary, almost, in John. It's more like a symbolic tapestry, something like that. A symbolic narrative rather than an apparently historical narrative. Darkness, secrecy, concealment, and the tomb. The tomb becomes very important in Mark. It's important too in John. Oh, I contrasted the beloved disciple of Peter here. Because the beloved disciple in John is the one who knows.


And Peter is the one who doesn't. Sort of limps along, stumbles along. And Mark's Gospel, in some way, I think, is associated with Peter. It's associated with that veiled, more veiled experience of Jesus, more veiled, what do you call it, contemplation of wisdom that Peter has, and the path that Peter has to walk. So I'd invite you to think about those four dimensions and those two axes. One moving from, laterally, from Jews to Gentiles, and from Torah, teaching, and law, institution, and from one to the many, to history, to event, to dynamism, to the energy of the Spirit. And the other, between the light, which is in John's Gospel, and the veiled reality, the very subdued and incarnate light, which is in Mark. And then we'll talk more about it as we go on.


We'll talk about the individual book. It is in John's Gospel where, as we know, when Jesus is betrayed and taken away, arrested, there's a bystander who drops his cloak and runs naked. Could that be another way of looking at the veil being dropped in John, as the veil is being held in Mark, but in John it's dropped, and the true light is seen, and so the person goes forward. Yes, so I think it works through that, too. Did you see that video of Mark's Gospel? That, what's his name, Alex McCallum? There's a guy, an actor who did Mark's Gospel, and his contention was that that's Mark that runs away, OK? But I think it refers to baptism. Remember, in baptism they would have a garment on before, which is stripped from them, stripped from them, and then they'd be clothed in a white garment afterwards. And when the women come to the tomb, they see what? They see somebody in a white garment. So the tomb is a baptismal font. The woman in the white garment, angel or man or whatever,


is the person who has been baptized now, the newly baptized person who was risen with Christ in the tomb, still in the veil. And the one who runs away and leaves his clothing, and, as it were, runs away, he doesn't suffer with Christ in some way. He leaves his clothing behind, and I don't know whether he's the one to be baptized. That's one possibility. The other thing is the piercing of the veil of the temple, in Mark, which goes with this. That when Jesus dies, the temple veil is ripped from top to bottom. And that's the breaking of the same barrier, of the veil, of the outer separation, the container, whatever you want to call it. And that's on the Sanctuary of Christ. Truly, this is what's on God. So that the light breaks through, as it were, the container of Israel, and moves outward at the same moment. I'm confusing it a little bit, but the veil and penetration thing, I think, is all in common. Can you take it a little, once I see that it's Mark's own life? Could it be that John breaks through the veil of Mark?


He does. He does. But I think Mark gives you clues for breaking through the veil. It's almost as if Mark's gospel was composed as a secret gospel for those who had to be initiated within the security of the community because they were under persecution. That would be one possible explanation. But here is a situation, maybe wrong, where you have to keep your secret secret. You have to keep the reality and the teaching secret. I don't know if that makes sense in total. But it's only revealed through the initiation. There's a terrific crescendo, there's a dramatic power in that, of something that reproduces the life of Jesus. Because what Jesus does is to darken, darken, darken until he dies, at the end of his life. When he's arrested and so on, he's literally going to be taken apart before he dies. And then he's ridiculed and tortured and scorned by everybody. He's simply diminished for nothing. He's darkened for nothing.


And then, boom, a lot of resurrection happens. Now, the way that works in Mark's gospel is this veil. Now, the veil became thicker and thicker and heavier and heavier as Jesus comes towards his death. And he's set upon by all these people and he's arrested in the passion of the death. And then, not the climax within the gospel, but the climax within the reader of the gospel, when the light of baptism breaks open and you realize there's a resurrection inside of him. See, that's the way it works in Mark. Whereas, in John, the light comes right through the text itself. So, in a sense, you can say that Mark is superior from a dramatic point of view, if you get the baptismal truth. Whereas John, it's out of the bag all the time. I mean, right from the Koran, on the first chapter, there's mystery, and there's where you dwell. There's a very mysterious thing going on. But at the same time, Jesus is always identifying himself in some way with this absolute light, with the word of the light of the prophet. So, there's very little dramatic build-up in John in that sense. The revelation is there.


It's revealed eschatology. And it's revealed right from the outset. He realized eschatology right from the beginning. So, the keys in Mark are at the beginning and the end, but we'll see that when we look at Mark. And the baptismal narrative, and even the title, the introduction there, and then the tomb episode at the end. And the two fit together as pointing to our baptism, the baptism of the person to whom the gospel has been read within the community. There's a French medicine who believes that Mark's gospel was written as a reading to be read altogether to those about to be baptized at the Eucharist. Now, that, you can see the dramatic force right there. Because the baptism was at the climax of the Eucharist, the same moment the resurrection of Jesus. And the gospel has sort of peeped out into this anticlimax, and then, boom, baptism. And people write it from that point. But in John, you don't have a dramatic build-up at all. The sacramental thing is there. The symbols are there.


But they're there everywhere throughout the gospel. Okay, maybe we can return to this a little bit next time. But next time, fundamentally, we want to talk about Paul. Thank you.