February 13th, 1986, Serial No. 00472

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Saint John

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This appears to the disciples in John 20, in the closed room, and he says, Peace, my peace be with you. He just says peace, okay, and then he shows them himself. And then he says, he breathes on them, and he says, Receive the Holy Spirit. Now that goes back to the original creation of the human being. When God breathed the soul, remember, into man, look in Genesis chapter 2, you'd be amazed. God took the clay from the earth, formed a body out of it, and breathed into it. And man became a living being. So what that is, is the moment of the new creation, when God is breathed into the world. When God is breathed into the human being, okay? So everything else is leading up to that. Now that is the source of this new knowledge, the knowledge of the beloved disciple. The beloved disciple is, when we connect with John, is the one who leaned on the bosom of Jesus, who always knew, who never misunderstood, who had the inside knowledge. Remember, Peter always had to ask him, what's up, who's going to betray the Lord, and so on. But John knows. Peter didn't even recognize the Lord in John 21, when the beloved disciple recognized him.

[01:05]

So that's that new knowledge. Knowledge by virtue of interiority, as it were, within the bosom of Jesus, or within the bosom of God, as we saw in the prologue. So the end of this whole thing is that interiority, that indwelling. Which is not just one dwelling in the other, as in a house or in a temple, but a kind of fusion of being. In other words, a kind of total mixing of being, if you want to put it that way. It's not good language. Because the Spirit is in all of us, isn't it? It's not just in a little shrine somewhere with us. Okay, so they talk in terms of divinization, of becoming God, and that's going to come up in John's Gospel. So the stumbling block, the scandal of John's Gospel, is not just that Jesus says that he is God, but he says, I'm going to make you God. Okay? That's even stronger. That's even harder for the Jews to take. So the big irony there, maybe, is the irony that this is offered to us, and we can't take it, we can't stand it, we refuse it. Now, the people, the kind of buffoons in John's Gospel, refuse it by rejecting Jesus. We refuse it in other ways.

[02:06]

I mean, the same irony, the same drama is going on inside of us. Okay, now the continuity. What holds this section together? Well, one thing that holds it together is this inclusion of John the Baptist. Another thing that holds it together is the chiastic structure. Now I'm going a little bit over. According to Ellis, this part one is structured in that symmetrical form that we talked about, the chiasm, okay? This is how he does it. Sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, like this. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Sequence 1 is, that's Chapter 1, 19 of 51. The Baptist witnesses to Jesus. John witnesses to Jesus. Sequence 5, John witnesses to Jesus again, okay? So that gives you your basic structure. Sequence 2, that's Chapter 2, that's Canaan.

[03:12]

Water is replaced by wine in Canaan. Water to wine. Sequence 4, in Chapter 3, the first part of it. Rebirth through water and the Spirit. So here, obviously the water has become more than water. It's water and the Spirit. Water and the Spirit are very much like the wine. And here we have what's supposed to happen, rebirth. The middle is number 3, where Jesus cleanses the temple, which seems to stay by itself and doesn't seem to connect so well with these others. We'll have to see if it does, okay? So that's how Ellis sees the structure of this. And remember, this is his basic pattern throughout the Gospel, finding these chiasms, these symmetrical parts, where A, A prime, B, B prime, and then C, the center standing by itself. Those are two things, then, that hold that part together and make it stand by itself as a distinctive section of the Gospel.

[04:15]

There's something else, which is what we could call the theme of replacement. That continually, in this part of the Gospel, you're running into things that are going to be replaced. Now, each of them in some way is going to be replaced by Jesus. In the first sequence there, in chapter 1 with John the Baptist, he says, I baptize you with water, but there's one who's to come who's going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. The baptism with water is going to be replaced. But John the Baptist himself is going to be replaced. That turns up in that final part there, sequence 5, in chapter 3. What happens at Cana? At Cana, you've got a marriage, and you've got the question of the water and the wine. Well, the water is obviously replaced by the wine. But what does that mean? That water symbolizes something. Now, it's not just the baptism of John anymore. The water somehow symbolizes the whole Old Testament dispensation. You can say that it symbolizes all human religion in some way, but that's going beyond John's boundary lines. It symbolizes the whole Old Testament and everything it means. And what about human marriage?

[05:21]

There we've got a wedding. Now, is that marriage being replaced by some other kind of marriage? Yes and no. It's not erased, it's not taken away, but within and beneath and behind that marriage of two human beings, you're being shown the marriage of God and the creation, the marriage of God and man. God having come in the form of the bridegroom, who is Jesus. And there the bride, it's almost inescapable, but the bride is represented by the mother of Jesus. We'll get into that when we touch that part. That's how John symbolized the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The fire is represented there. I'm trying to make a connection here. Okay, where are you there? Well, the milk has that, but I don't know where the... John doesn't use the same language, okay? He puts it differently. So, he doesn't talk about the fire. Fire is not one of his favorite symbols, as a matter of fact, rather surprisingly. Usually, they explain that fire as being judgment. He does have a little...

[06:24]

John 1.6, 27, 23. There must be something else here. Saying that... What? 26? Chapter 1, verse 26. Well, that's in our neighborhood, that's what we're talking about. John answered them, I baptize with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know. But later on he says, He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, He on whom you see the Spirit descend, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. He doesn't say anything about fire here. That's not one of John's terms. In the third episode there, chapter 2, the cleansing of the temple, there's an obvious one, because John says it himself. The temple is going to be replaced. Remember, Jesus says, Tear down this temple and I'll build it up in three days? And they scoff at him, because how are you going to do that? It took us 46 years. But John says he spoke of the temple of his body.

[07:26]

And they only understood it after the resurrection. So, in each of these cases, something is being replaced by something else. And then finally you get to John himself, in the last one, who says, Well, he's got to increase and I have to decrease. So there, John the Baptist himself is being replaced by Jesus. And so it's a self-destructing mission and ministry that John has, to point to the Messiah. But there you see the whole old dispensation somehow being replaced by no one. I forgot one Nicodemus. What gets replaced there? There are a couple of candidates for Nicodemus. He says, Are you a teacher in Israel and you don't understand this? So the old teaching, the old knowledge of God, which I connected with John the Baptist, has got to be replaced by another knowledge of God, another kind of... And that's going to be the knowledge of the kingdom of God. Now, the only way you get to that is through being born again. And then Nicodemus says, Well, how can I be born again? You can't go back in your mother's womb. Jesus says, Unless you're born of water and the Holy Spirit. So, one knowledge is being replaced by another knowledge.

[08:30]

One kind of teacher is being replaced by another kind of teacher. And Jesus is that new kind of teacher, okay? And then one kind of birth is being replaced by another kind of birth. Finally. So you've got two kinds of movement here. You've got a movement from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the institutions of the Jews to what Jesus is bringing, which goes inside. And then you've got a movement from nature to something that goes beyond nature, from the natural to the divine, from the first creation to the second creation. Let me put it that way. A movement from the Old Testament to the New Testament, a movement from the first creation to the second creation, from nature itself, whether it be birth or whether it be marriage, or whether it be wine, to a new creation in which those things remain, but they begin to... Through them shines what? The deeper thing. The deeper thing that they represent. Okay? There is even something there in chapter 20, ladies and gentlemen. Jesus is replacing himself by the Spirit. Yeah, yeah.

[09:31]

That's right. He does the same thing that John does. See, John is the precursor to Jesus, and Jesus is the precursor to what? To the Spirit. To the Spirit, to us, and to himself in a new way. He says, I go away and I'll come back. So, as John is the precursor to Jesus, Jesus goes away and disappears in that form. He's not around in that form anymore, they don't see him. He's the precursor to himself as indwelling wisdom. Okay? To himself as in your life, as lived in your life, because that's where the Gospel is pointed. It's never pointed towards just a faith in Jesus outside of yourself. It's got to end up in your own life. So, John, Jesus, us. Okay? You can talk about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that's not the core. In the sense that, you know, John, the Old Testament, the Father. The New Testament, the revelation of Jesus walking on earth,

[10:51]

his word as connected with the second person of the Trinity, there's a kind of three-fold. And Father, I have great difficulty with that thing of Jesus being replaced by the Spirit, because if we then associate it with this, which you just said, the temple was replaced by Jesus Christ, that means the temple really becomes passé, becomes in the past, and the whole thing, the Old Testament becomes in the past. But it is not at all this way with Jesus. No, I know. I hope you know what I mean, though. In other words, he comes back in a way in which he wasn't there before. He disappears in a way in which he was there before. So, it's not being replaced by anything except himself. Jesus is replaced by Jesus. Okay? And he's a precursor to himself. He's a precursor... Jesus in the flesh is a precursor to Jesus in the Spirit. But he remains also Jesus in the flesh. He does, but in a different way. In other words, not as walking around with us, so that we can see him.

[11:53]

In the sacrament and in the body which we are. His flesh now is something else. John doesn't talk about the sacrament of the Eucharist, except in John 6, and they're in rather difficult terms. But he remains in the flesh, which we have as the Eucharistic bread, and in the flesh which we are, in our own bodies, because we're his body. But even his flesh, his real, natural human flesh, is risen, and is risen to spiritual life. Yes, yes. But it is, there's nothing that is passé, so to speak. That's right. Nothing that's passé except the way that his body was, which had to die. And we know so little about the risen form of the flesh of Jesus that it's hard to talk about it. But remember that his body as it was is passé, because it had to die. The mortal body is passé, is gone, is transcended by the risen body of Jesus, which has these different arms, as it were, different expressions, one in the Eucharist, another in the community,

[12:54]

a third in heaven, which we haven't seen yet, okay? But it's both, it's passé and yet it is. Yes, yes. So that's where it's... Just like our own body. This kind of replacement. Oh yeah, sure. You cannot put it in line with that. Well, I think you can in order to illuminate it, all right? Because I think that's deliberate. In other words, I think that symmetry is built into there. Just as Jesus says, Well, you're going to do greater works than I do. Or, I don't ask the Father for you because the Father loves you, because you have believed, okay? He's deliberately putting himself out of the picture at a certain moment in order that we discover what's given to us and then we know him in a new way. And by that I don't mean at all to push Jesus aside, that's not it. He gets bigger as we do that. But he also says, I am here, I am here in the world. Not in the same way, though. He simply isn't walking around with us, as he was with them. And that was a difficulty for them to understand. Like with Mary Magdalene, she says, Don't hold me, because I haven't ascended to my Father. So he comes back in this unbounded way.

[13:57]

Yes, but see, this kind of clashes with the idea of the new age, where people really, some of them say, put Jesus... No, no, no. No, that's wrong. We have to see it... He's the beginning and the end, okay? So we only find him in a greater way. But we're always getting stuck on images of Jesus, on particular little ways. Maybe rather than look at this kind of thing as a theological statement, more as a poetic statement. Yes, that's a good way of putting it. Often you have to talk that way in John. I mean, a lot of the things that we're saying, if a scholastic theologian heard them, he'd be scandalized, because they sound heretical. But poetically said, they're not. And John is a poet. There is a replacement in the way that Jesus says, In you advocate, I give you. Yes, he says, if I don't go away... He's taking himself as an advocate. He says, I'm going away, and I'm getting a new one, the Holy Spirit. He says, unless he goes, the advocate is not.

[15:00]

So he's the precursor of the paraclete, but the paraclete, according to Brown, is simply the presence of Jesus in the new way, you see. And yet it's rather a transformation. Yes. And yet, although Jesus has gone away, and he gives us his new advocate, he's still with us. That's right. He's with us more than he was before. See, he's with us... For the disciples, he was with them much more after the resurrection than he was before the resurrection. Because they didn't understand anything before the resurrection. He just wasn't there powerfully, or brightly. But he was afterwards. Because he was in them. He said, because the Holy Spirit is what reveals him. Yes, that's right. Again, according to him, what the Holy Spirit said, it's the reality, it's his whole way of knowing Jesus, which is way past any knowledge that comes from the study. That's right. His way is actually the Holy Spirit revealing Jesus inside. Revealing Jesus, and making Jesus present, too. So that he's there. The Holy Spirit has a presence of Jesus, you know.

[16:01]

And Jesus has indwelling wisdom. Rather than the teacher from outside, the teacher from inside. Okay. That's probably enough for today, because I'm not allowed to keep you more than that. I want to read you some of the Cotton Patch Version, to whet your appetite before you go. Do you know the Cotton Patch Version? What? The Cotton Patch Version of John. Where is it? I can't find it. Yeah. It's the Gospel of the Southern Flavor. Here's John 1.19. It doesn't hurt to have Chapter 1 down in front of you. Here is John's testimony when the good white folks of Atlanta sent a committee of preachers and deacons to ask him what he considered himself. He admitted right off the bat and stood his ground, publicly asserting,

[17:02]

I am not the leader. So they asked him, Well, what are you then? Are you an Elijah? No, I'm not, he replied. Are you the prophet? Nope. Look, we've got to make a report to those who appointed us. They said, Who are you? What claims are you making for yourself? I am what Isaiah the prophet said, a voice crying in the wild, straighten out the Lord's road. You've got to compare this with the original to enjoy. Since they had been appointed by the denomination they acquired, well, if you aren't the leader... I don't know why he chose leader. Is that from Mao's thing? Well, Fuhrer too. The leader is the... What? I mean, it's legitimate. Well, if you aren't the leader, nor an Elijah, nor the prophet, why are you initiating members? Remember how it goes in John? Why are you baptizing? See, this is just a parallel, okay? John told them, Indeed, I am initiating in water, but right in your midst is standing one who you fellows don't recognize. He follows me, but I myself am not fit to shine his shoes.

[18:02]

And John, I'm not fit to untie his sandals. All this happened in Jonesboro, across the Chattahoochee, where John was immersing. It gets better as you go on. Next day, John saw Jesus coming to him. Yo, look, there's God's Lamb, the world's sin-bearer. We haven't got anybody with a southern accent. You've got to have a southerner to read this. That's the one I was talking about when I said, A man is coming behind me who has gotten ahead of me because he was there before I was. Even I was not sure of him, but that he might be introduced to the nation, I began a pre-enrollment in water. Now, this must be the language of the Baptist, maybe the black Baptist church, enrollment, immersing, all that. John testified further, I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from the sky and lighting on him. And even I was not sure about it, but he who sent me to dip in water also told me, The one upon whom you see the Spirit descending and lighting will be the one who immerses you in Holy Spirit.

[19:04]

Well, I saw it, and I had emphatically stated that this is God's man. Okay, next time we'll go through that section, and I swear we will. From chapter 1 through chapter 3. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. ...reviewing last time. We did the plot of John's Gospel according to Paul Piper. You remember the key of that plot. The, what do you call it, dynamic of the plot is the believing in Jesus and the refusal of faith. So the thing that makes the plot work, and then the motor of it, is this revelation of Jesus, and either believing or disbelieving. And it's the conflict, actually, of disbelief which generates the plot, because it brings Jesus to his death. So it's this collision between the revelation

[20:07]

and the disbelief. And if we have that in mind, as we move throughout the Gospel, it makes a lot more sense. I found that this book of Culpeper is just marvelous in the kind of literary sensitivity he's got. Francoise is reading it too. The literary sensitivity he's got, and this way of looking at John's Gospel produces a great deal of light. We'll see that also as we get to the symbolism in that text that I passed to you today from Culpeper. Second thing we did was to make a preliminary synthesis of John's theology. The theology of John's Gospel, which we found to be a theology of revelation. Jesus comes and he brings the light which he is into the world, and the salvation is in seeing that light, in receiving the light through faith, and then in entering somehow into that light, which is also the Word, which is the Son of God, and thereby becoming a child of God. And I took most of that from Schneider's, who seems to see it pretty clearly, and who distinguishes sharply between that kind of theology, John's theology, and the theology of salvation through sacrifice,

[21:09]

through substitutive expiation, which you're more likely to see in the other Gospels. There's some of that in John. As soon as you hear the word Lamb of God, you know that that's there. But the weight in John is on this revelation, his salvation through entering into the light. And then we tried to make a kind of sapiential adaptation of that, to move it into the direction of a wisdom theology. Now I'll be, that's my bias, and so I'll be trying to do that, kind of twisting John into that direction throughout the thing, throughout the coming classes. But just a couple of the basic notions there. The distinction between that sapiential approach, or wisdom approach, and the other ways of making a theology, is that it puts a stress on knowledge,

[22:13]

but a knowledge of a particular kind, a qualified knowledge. I'm looking for my notes here. There we are. And calls for a kind of a special epistemology, if you've heard that awful word, by taking philosophy courses. In other words, a theory of knowledge. But the knowledge, a new knowledge, a new kind of knowledge, which is centered in the Word, centered in the Logos of the Prologue, so that there's a revolution here, a kind of turning over, by which the roots of the knowledge that we had before, in a sense, are pulled up, and we have to root our knowledge, center our knowledge, draw our knowledge from that light which appears, which is the Logos, which is the Word, which is Christ. So it calls for a revolution. Now this is a very exciting thing. The conversion that we see called for in the other Gospels, is largely... Well, it's a conversion of faith, for sure, but sometimes they soft-pedal that side and put the emphasis on the moral side of changing your life. And the conversion in John

[23:15]

is a conversion absolutely of faith, of belief. And somehow the faith, inside the faith, is everything else. Or moving into the light. It's a conversion which then is a revolution in our consciousness, in our world of thought. So that that Word, which is Christ, becomes the center, and all of the other words become relativized around that. Everything else becomes organized around that. So in Eastern terms, you'd call it enlightenment, or transformation of consciousness. And I wanted to quote a couple of things from writers on the mystical side, just to give you an idea of what I mean by that. I think that it's no good just talking about John's Gospel in terms of ordinary knowledge, or even in terms of ordinary faith, because the faith in John's Gospel is a faith which is illuminated from inside by this light which is the Word, by this light which is the indwelling Christ in the Spirit. And so it's a mystical knowledge. But we have to take mystical knowledge down out of the category of very elitist, esoteric, rare and unusual experiences,

[24:16]

down into the everyday. It's meant to be, as it were, an everyday mysticism. Because it depends on something which is inside of us all the time, and all the time is trying to be the center of our consciousness. So, rather than being analytical or systematic, or attempting to translate, in the ordinary sense of hermeneutics, attempting to translate what John is saying, what Jesus is saying in John's Gospel, into our own language, and into the thought world of our own time, it's a question of initiation. It's the movement in the opposite direction of trying to let ourselves be drawn into the Word. Because that's what it's all about in John. The movement is towards the center. So, you'll find even in the symbolism of John, you have all these symbols of, say, bread, light, word, all those other things. Life. And it turns out that those form a circle around the center, and the center is Jesus,

[25:17]

the center is Christ, who is the Word, who is the light, who is the resurrection and the life, and so on. So, it's a centripetal movement, all the time, moving towards the center, centering movement. Initiation. Learning how to enter in. Now, I could mention a few of the elements, the strong things for this theology, then we'll come back to this later, because I'll be hashing this over again and again. The first thing, and the absolutely central thing, is the logos, the Word. The notion of Christ as Word, as the Word of God, opens everything up, and is the pivot around which this revolution happens. It's the key to the enlightenment that we're talking about. And then, secondly, the notion of center, because we instinctively talk about the Word as being centered, just as we talk about the heart as being centered, or Jerusalem as being centered, or the light as being centered. So, we have to think about the center,

[26:18]

and about the interiority, which goes with the center. That is, that level of being, that level of experience, which is somehow spoken of as being within all of the spiritual traditions, which are developed, and to any extent, I think, talk in terms of interiority. Or if they don't, they're translatable in terms of interiority. And Christianity does very much. Thirdly, the logos is cognitive, is sapiential, is related to knowledge, is related, you could say, to the intellectual heart, to the noose, as the Greeks used to say it. But there's something undeniably intellectual about all this. But then we're going to find that when we say intellectual, it blows completely our ordinary meaning for that word, our ordinary definition, or instinctive understanding of that word. It's the contemplative intellect of the Greek tradition, but then we have to look at it in biblical terms. It's really the heart. It's the knowledge of the heart. The logos, the word, is known in the heart. And then the connections with creation, because often you'll find a Christian theology, or a Jewish theology,

[27:18]

which is in terms of some kind of system of doctrines, or doctrines, or in terms of history, as if everything were saving history. It's like you've got these two coordinates. Don't worry about this guy, he doesn't have any doctrines. It's purposefully meaningless. It's like you've got these two coordinates, once again. One is, let us say, history and time, and the other is being and creation. Okay? So John has both of these, and he has more of this coordinate, of this vertical line here, of being and of creation, and therefore, of the wisdom approach, than any other writings in the New Testament. He brings the two together. And so the importance of the creation, which is always tied in, always married with this effigy and so with the wisdom approach. If you read the wisdom books, and read especially those passages on the feminine wisdom, Sophia, personified wisdom, you find that she's always connected with creation.

[28:19]

That she's there at the creation, and she's in the creation, and she's always looking for a dwelling place in creation. And somehow, you can infer that she has to do also with the creativity that we know in our own lives. So it's a question of the cosmos, a question of the whole universe. Now this immediately expands Christianity, the view of Christianity, beyond any narrow possibilities of Christianity, beyond any provincial or sectarian or ghetto forms of Christianity. St. Paul does the same thing. He does it in his own way. John does it largely through symbolism and through this notion of the Logos. The Logos which becomes the sun in the center of the solar system of all of our thinking, of every system, of every consciousness, form of consciousness. Then the I Am statements of Jesus, and the metaphysical bearing that they have. Because immediately when Jesus says, I Am, it puts him on the level of God, of pure being with a capital B, which is simply different in kind, metaphysically different, a quantum leap away from anything else, which would be a predicate.

[29:22]

When he says, I Am the light, I Am the bread, whatever, the predicates remain there on the level below and he picks them up and, as it were, absorbs them into himself or makes them transparent to him. But he is on that other level. Now this is the core of, actually, you can say the Jewish religion and also the Christian religion, that God is one and God absolutely transcends anything else. So these predicates of Jesus are like incarnations of the I Am. There's the I Am of God and then I Am the bread of life. And the I Am the bread of life is the incarnation of the I Am, which is metaphysically on that other level. Pardon the word once again, maybe I'll get the hang of it as we go on. But there's another side to that I Am business, which is this. You know, the whole question of identity in psychology and the predicament, the identity problem in contemporary man. Well, that's in there too, in the sense that when we discover this creative word, when we discover the word which is Jesus within us, the problem of identity finds its ultimate solution there. And the I Am of God,

[30:23]

which is then the I Am of Jesus, which is then communicated, which is participated by us. That act of existence, that act of affirmation, one's own existence, which doesn't even have to be spoken, but is a reality. Now this is more or less a thesis. You don't have to buy that kind of thing, but I contend that it's there. You see it marvelously in the man born blind. Excuse me. Yeah. On the I Am of God becomes the I Am of Jesus. Okay, now the I Am of God is assumed by Jesus, okay? When Jesus makes those I Am statements, he is appropriating to himself the fundamental assertion of God, I Am, which you can interpret in metaphysical terms. In other words, you can interpret it as Aquinas did, I Am pure being, okay? Now God doesn't talk that language. The Bible doesn't talk that language. But we can talk that language if we want to, as long as we go back later to the biblical meaning. That's in there among all the other things. So on one side is the metaphysics of the thing, but then because God is the person,

[31:25]

as it were, at the very core of the person that we are, the problem of our own lostness, the problem of our own emptiness and identity finds its ultimate solution there. There's a gap between the I Am of God and the pitiful little I Am, or am I, or whatever it may be that we are. But it's crossed by Jesus because appropriating to himself the I Am of God, as he does when he talks, when he says, I Am in John, he just says it before Abraham was, I Am. So appropriating that to himself and then coming among us as a man, pitching his tent among us, and sharing his being with us, this becomes the solution to our own problem. The paradigm for that, I think, is in John 6 when the disciples are out on the boat in the lake. You know, this is our identity problem, more or less. I mean, it's all of our problems. The disciples are out in the boat, on the lake, rowing against the wind. The wind is blowing hard and the sea is rising and that's the archetypal moment of turbulence and self-doubt and so on. And Jesus appears and he says, I Am. It doesn't say in John

[32:27]

that the storm is still. It says that in the Synoptic Gospels. But then immediately they're where they're going. Immediately the boat is where they are going, which is the central, as it were, being of God. Now here, obviously, this is not what a biblical scholar would say. Schneider's gets surprisingly close to this kind of thing, but it's there. And so there's a metaphysical side to this and then a psychological side, we see, because kind of our neurotic things are mostly results of our being somehow uprooted from the rock, which is this being, which is this divine being at our center. And the connection is made by faith, and for us it's specifically made by faith in Jesus, who is both what we are and what God is. Sacramentality. Now, what we're doing, just to remind you of this, we're trying to enumerate the elements or dimensions of what would be a wisdom theology based on John's Gospel.

[33:28]

The real thing that I'd like to do as we go on through this class. Sacramentality, in John's broad cosmic sense of the term, in other words, not just the seven sacraments, yes, the sacraments of Eucharist and Baptism and so on, very much the sacraments of the Church, but everything is sacramental for John, okay? So, because Jesus is the light of the world, therefore light is sacramental, because Jesus is the bread of life, therefore all bread is sacramental in some way. All life is sacramental, all water is sacramental. See, everything that we have around us, everything that's natural, every part of human life somehow opens itself and becomes transparent to that which is within it, to that which is somehow wedding itself to it, which is God himself, okay? God is marrying himself to the world in John's Gospel. And so everything which is natural, including especially the human person, the thing through whom it all happens, and especially woman, becomes sacramental. There's a very broad notion of sacramentality which makes links with all the other religions.

[34:29]

And here we have also the East-West connection in a contemporary sense. We can get into that later on. John seems to offer us a point of convergence of East and West in the contemporary religious tradition. And he does it through the Logos, which is then carried out in the shape of his Gospel. We've seen that mandala. It's curious to have a Christian mandala. And in also his symbolism and the sacramentality. Now here's something rather hard to get, but this is close to the center of all of it. In John we're dealing with knowledge which spreads, which doesn't want to be just knowledge. It exceeds all boundaries. You remember in John of the Cross in a spiritual canticle where he says, My beloved is the solitary valley. My beloved is the landscape. My beloved is the supper that recreates in Kendall's love. My beloved is all of these things. Does he mean that in a metaphorical way? No, he means that somehow all of those things are Christ, and Christ is

[35:31]

all of those things. So Christ here becomes a universe for us. He becomes a world for us, which absorbs into itself the world that we know and he knows it. So knowledge, which is the word, which is Christ, somehow overspreads its boundaries and flows into everything else. Or you can say gathers everything else into itself, whichever way. But you see that process happening in John. So as soon as we try to talk about that in other language, talk about that knowledge in our common vocabulary, we're breaking it down and we lose its wholeness. We lose the wholeness of the mystery. We've got to do it, but the only thing is we absolutely have to realize that we're doing it. And that we're never going to get the ocean into our little bucket. That we're never going to be able to translate that knowledge into other terms. It simply is. And it's a contemplative knowledge, you see. It's a simple, total awareness which contains all things within itself, because it is God containing all things within himself, in Christ. And, therefore, we're going to find this perplexity of language

[36:32]

in John, that we have these few terms which seem to fuse with one another. You can't keep them apart. Snyder's is continually lamenting in her class about the difficulty of unpacking the theology of John's Gospel, or of unfolding it, because it's all one thing, and it's all Christ. Nevertheless, we have to do what we can with our words. This is, in a way, the most fascinating thing about it all. Because we're talking, and this is related to that revolution I was talking about at first, we're talking about the kind of knowledge that we've just begun to have an idea of that blows our whole consciousness. It's another kind of consciousness. And yet, it's got to be somehow able to be incarnated in ordinary life. But it's an open consciousness instead of a closed one. And knowledge is no longer a specialty, a specialization, but knowledge is things. Knowledge is life. Knowledge is people. The word is a person. It's strange, isn't it? But that's typically what's happening. I'll give you an example.

[37:33]

Here's another diagram. I always put these on the board of trepidation for fear I'll be committed to a mental hospital, but... This is an example of the way that the word and this knowledge that we're talking about becomes open to all of the levels of being. Here is the I am at the top. You can also put it at the center if you want. Here is truth or knowledge which ordinarily stays there but is kind of segregated from the other realms of being. But here we're going to find that it flows into all the others. Open here is what I would call experience, love, feeling, eros, also sofia, the kind of knowledge which is feeling which is a flow. The fullness of the person, the soul, the anima, the experience of God, koinonia,

[38:34]

agape, all those terms which are somehow the counterterms to the stability of truth and to the simple life. Down here I would put creation, cosmos, the cosmic fullness, sacramentality, the flesh of Christ, the visible matter, all mankind in a sense, that is the earth which is humankind. And up here is the simple absolute of God, of the I AM. What's the one term that I can put over here? Obviously this corresponds to word, spirit, Father, and creation. Now once again we get back to that. But this knowledge which is over here becomes all these things in some way. And that's because of the fundamental mystery of the Trinity and also then because of the Incarnation. And it was already inside of creation you can say, even because of creation. Consequently, knowledge opens up in three directions. I'm taking one too long. It opens up

[39:37]

towards God, towards the absolute, towards the I AM. the simple transcendence. And here we have a sort of unit of knowledge, knowledge that no longer knows the distinction between subject and object. Knowledge which no longer draws to it. It opens up to eros, to the person, to anima, to communion, to relationship. And that's, you can say, in a way, on the human level. And I hesitate to put one word here, because it's all of those things. But it is the person. It is especially the soul. Is that the one you call the spirit? Yeah, that's the spirit. It corresponds to that. In other words, in crude terms, it's movement instead of simply life. But it's also the movement, it's the liquidity of soul, of anima. These have a certain correspondence to masculine, at least. And then down here we've got matter, earth, the body, sacramentality. And we've got the knowledge of God in material things.

[40:43]

What the ancients used to call theory of physical and natural contemplation. Something Merton writes about, too. So here we've got matter, which is a core word that we'll be talking about. Here we've got, let's call it soul. And here we've got, I suppose we can call it spirit. But now we're using spirit in a different sense. Not holy spirit here, but spirit simply as God. That is the highest level of being. Now, knowledge is opening itself up to all these things, not just in knowing them, but in being them. That's the thing. Knowledge is not just knowing these things, but it's experiencing itself as being these things in some way. Is that possible? Okay, that's the kind of thesis of this kind of sapiential treatment, which I think is justified by John, as it's justified by no other biblical writing. So I'll have to try to bear that out as we go along. Now, we've got to get off this subject and get on with what we wanted to do today. I'd better say something about that section of gold pepper that I gave you.

[41:48]

Okay, now I'm changing the subject and moving into following the chapters of John's Gospel right through from chapter one. We've done the prologue, but now we want... Any questions or anything before we get on with that? There are a lot of questions, because it stimulates a lot of things, but I think you want to go on, and probably I couldn't really put it into words. Well, if you've got one cogent question, I can try to respond to it. I'm still working on the identity thing that I think is very helpful in the psychological. I just wanted to confirm that it's not so much a question, it's a confirmation of the fact that I think our own identity, unless it comes from the bad identity we spoke about today, I've never heard it put so clearly how that works in terms of who we are. If I can say I am on the basis of what Christ has given me

[42:54]

in terms of his identity, then it certainly allows for community in a way that I haven't experienced before. The bridge then is... I guess it's similar... Jung was trying to get at something like that with the self and the collective unconscious, something where he felt inside each person there's a place where we all connect. The self carries all the opposites within itself, just as the I am does, and the self is similarly open to all being, I think. Right, yes, that's what I mean. But this is much clearer in terms of really knowing who we are in an existential way, in a very experiential... existential, I guess is the better word. Yes, yes. Because otherwise our existence is always questionable. Yes, let me take it from another angle. Usually, you see, our struggle for identity, our struggle for a satisfactory self-image is usually a matter of wrestling

[43:59]

to hang on to some kind of category or self-identification. Am I a good student? Am I a good piano player? Am I liked by people? Does this person love me? Am I good looking? All of these things that we go through. Do I have status? All of those things, all of those predicates that we put on our identity. I am this, I am that, I better be this or I don't exist at all, or I'm just a big hole in the ground. Well, ultimately we have to move into the absolute I am, which is what we have to do in faith. In other words, we move from the predicate into the I am, and then we find that that I am, which would be just a void for the existentialist, very often it's just a void. There's nothing there, and that really leads to despair. But in faith, that's where we discover, in that nothingness, we discover that the very I am of God is in us as our ground. Now, for us, that ground is Christ, that rock is Christ. There's a fascinating thing in John chapter 9 that Sandra Schneider points out. The man born blind, after he's been given his sight by Jesus,

[45:07]

they ask him, Are you the same fellow who was here before, the same one who was blind? He says, I am. Now, see, nobody gets to say that in John's Gospel except Christ. Now, that's a baptismal thing, okay? He had to go and wash in the pool. So what that is, is the experience of baptism, and then the sense of identity that comes from that experience of baptism. Simply, I am, afterwards. He can use the same language as Jesus, because he's been dipped into Jesus. And Jesus is the one who has the I am of God. It's marvellous. So we take that I am into ourselves. That's right. It's given to us. And we identify ourselves with that I am. That's right. Father James, would you comment something on Jesus' question? Do you really believe that, if this question is addressed to us, we want to respond with a theological, complicated thing. In no way, Jesus is really asking, Do you really believe that I am living in you?

[46:12]

And it all comes down to that. And he said, most of us would answer, we believe. We'll believe, but the belief is out there. In other words, I believe that Jesus is the son of God, but still it's out there and it's up there. It's not in here where it's got to be. Because belief has to be our own I am. In other words, the act of faith should be the affirmation of our own being. Even though we don't say, I believe that I am, but when we believe in Jesus, we are crediting him with the lordship which is the I am. And then we are, through our faith, absorbing that identity, absorbing that I am into ourselves. To take it through another track, it goes through his death, resurrection, giving up the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, and our baptism, in which the Holy Spirit is in us, which is the identity, which is the very presence of Jesus. But to take it very simply and directly, through our faith in believing that Jesus is the one, that he is, with a capital I-S, we ourselves are given, received, appropriate,

[47:14]

that isness of Jesus, the absolute isness of God. Now, in other places John will talk about that as eternal life. That's another angle on the same thing. It also sheds some light on what St. Paul says, to put on the mind of Christ. Yeah, exactly. He's talking about the same revolution we were talking about before. He goes further and says, by the grace of God, I am who I am. That's right. I am who I am. It's interesting. We'll have to look that up and see if he uses the ego in me. If he uses it in the Greek, it's the same. It's very interesting. Where is it? I'm not sure. I don't remember which letter it's in. Isn't it in Romans? Probably, maybe towards the end of Romans, where he says, I've worked more than any of them. I'd better not take time to look for it now. We can scrounge it up by next time. About this business of cult bookers that I gave you, pages 188 to...

[48:17]

Shucks, I haven't got all the numbers. It doesn't matter. It's about 195. Now, what I wanted you to get here, a stop short of that last page where it says, Conclusion. You don't absolutely have to read that because it's not complete. First of all, he's been reviewing the... Well, let me put it this way. He's got a chapter on what he calls implicit commentary in John's Gospel. Now, what he means by that is all the subtle ways in which John is saying something to you. Subtle ways in which John gets his message across. Aside from the clear picture that he gives you and the story that he gives you, and the words of Jesus that he gives you, and his own words, there's a lot of subtle stuff coming across. Call it subliminal or whatever. Then he breaks it down into three categories. Now, this is a brilliant chapter, these gentlemen. This is really good. There may be other kinds besides these, but these are the three that he picks out and treats it some like. The first is misunderstanding.

[49:23]

The second is irony. And the third is symbolism, which is also the biggest and the deepest. The heathen as you go on. So, misunderstanding is when the Jews will say, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? Because they don't understand that he's talking on another level. Now, all of these three things, these three ways of implicit comment or implicit communication of John, according to Culpeper, depend on a two-level structure. Jesus is talking on this level, and people are hearing him down here on this level. So, misunderstanding. He says this and they hear this. Now, he's talking in human language, and so he's open to this lower interpretation. Remember when Nicodemus... Jesus says, you've got to be born again if you want to see the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus says, how can a man be born again? Can he go back and enter into his mother's womb? That's an obvious case.

[50:31]

In other words, misunderstanding is where somebody really gives a dumb answer, because Jesus is talking in symbolic terms very often. Usually, therefore, misunderstanding and symbolism go together. Jesus is talking in symbolic language and he's being understood in literal language. Not always, but very often. So, what happens here is that you are given the subtle satisfaction of the feeling of superiority at this goof who is not understanding what Jesus is saying, and you're getting it. In part. And a similar thing happens with irony, where something is said which obviously is wrong, or which is contradicted in a larger context, or which is out of keeping with a higher meaning, a higher level of understanding. So you get the satisfaction of knowing that somebody doesn't understand this, but you do. He's got some excellent examples. He's got a whole string of them in there. In a way, you're then in on the inner plot

[51:40]

that John's got in mind as he's trying to convey something. That's right. Does he try to call us aside as beloved disciples to give us this kind of secret? Well, he's attracting us... You see, this is a very subtle way of getting us on his side. A very subtle way of winning us over to his point of view and acceptance of his message is to give us kind of credit for having a superior vision. The superior vision that he has while we watch this other person goofing. And, of course, the scribes and the Pharisees and the so-called Jews in John's Gospel are the ones who are doing it all the time, the ones who are goofing all the time. But you find this continually. And also his disciples, okay? Philip says, Show us the Father and set up for us. And so Jesus says, Well, if you've seen me, you've seen the Father. Have I been with you this long and you don't know me? That kind of thing. Even with the disciples. And you get that in the other Gospels too, okay? The disciples are always a foil for Jesus in that they don't understand him. So it kind of forces us to a higher level of understanding. But it's not as subtle in the other Gospels. And you don't get the same way,

[52:42]

subtle way of winning the reader over by giving him that little plumb of superior vision, you know? A kind of... How does he say it? The silent communication between author and reader assumes its most intriguing form in the ironies of the Gospel. The implied author smiles, winks, and raises his eyebrows as the story is told, okay? The reader who sees as well as hears understands that the narrator means more than he says and that the characters don't understand what's happening or what they're saying. So all of this is going on. And then there's a bigger vision. See, there's a bigger light around it which we're let into a little bit, but the people there are like the dumb characters in a comedy, in a sense, okay? They don't understand and we do. And John does. And so he's teaching us in this way. I'm going to find a good example. Irony is described

[53:46]

as a two-story phenomenon. Below is the appearance or apparent meaning, and above there is a meaning, perspective, or belief that is contradictory and congruous or incompatible with the lower level. There's always a kind of contradiction there in irony. The reader is the victim where there is one. You're the victim in irony. There's someone who doesn't get it. There's a but. There's got to be a clown there who misunderstands or who is just acting on a lower level. The victim, where there is one, is unaware of the higher level or blindly hostile to it, as these scribes and pharisees become in John's letter. The reader is invited by the irony to leap to the higher level and share the perspective with the implied irony. That involves rejecting a whole world of meaning for another world of meaning. So it's a moving... See, it's part of this revolution we're talking about. It's moving from one world of understanding to another. But we're finding, continuing with it, we don't completely understand the higher level either. So it's got two sides. The fundamental irony of the Gospel is that the Jews rejected the Messiah

[54:46]

they eagerly expected. Now notice how this coincides with the plot we were talking about. The spring of the plot is revelation and disbelief. The fundamental irony is that the whole of Jewish history had been oriented towards the appearance of Christ. And that Christ is the Word of God. And these people are the custodians of the Word of God, to whom the Word of God had been given from the beginning, from the time of Abraham, Moses, and so on. These are the custodians of the Word of God. These are the specialists in the expectation of the Messiah, of the coming of the Christ, and of the coming of the Kingdom of God. And they don't see it when it comes. Okay? So there's your basic irony in the Gospel. And then in several of the things that happen in Jesus' life, there's a particular kind of little world of climate that comes around him. The origin of Jesus, the identity of Jesus, the ministry of Jesus, and the death of Jesus. They come out. For instance, here's just a little one. When Judas meets them again,

[55:47]

he leads an armed band carrying torches to arrest the light of the world. Okay? Now there's just a little bitty irony. They come with these torches to arrest Jesus. And then there's this little band of people with clubs and so on. And here is the Christ of God, the Word of God, the power of God, as St. Paul puts it, being arrested by these characters. So those things create a continual weaving, a continual line of irony through the Gospel. Or when Pilate is with Jesus, the power of Pilate and the quiet power of Jesus. And the contradiction, the kind of revolution that's implied in all of this, that something is upside down and something's not being understood. He's really got a brilliant section on that in here. Examples of dramatic irony. He gives a whole bunch of questions and statements. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Well, this is God coming out of Nazareth. Okay? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are you? And see, all of these are ironic

[56:49]

in view of who Jesus is. Okay? And so each of them gives us a kind of a little impulse there of insight and of satisfaction. They have an emotional impact. How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Who's seeking to kill you? At that time they're seeking to kill, according to John. What is truth? And the truth is standing before Pilate at that moment. Okay. Some really shallow times we're going to put on the table. Symbolism, finally. Most of you, I think, know a little bit what symbolism is. I'm not going to try to give you definitions. We talked about it a little bit before. Just to introduce this section of Culpeper. He talks on the first page there on the left about symbolism and sacramentality. Now, sacramentality is the kind of communication of the spiritual through the material. The communication of God, God's light, through things that you can see and touch

[57:51]

and hear, especially see and touch. And the relation between the two. And he talks about that article of Painter, which I'll try to get a hold of. That looks very interesting. John Painter. Because everything was created by the Logos, the Word, and bears an organic relation to him, the world is a storehouse of symbols which can become vehicles of the Revelation. Now here, he's very close to that kind of sapiential theology we were talking about. Where you see, somehow, everything becoming transparent to that Word, and the Word intimately joined to creation right from the beginning. So that water and bread and earth and flesh and everything else can pick up, can communicate to us the meaning of what is really inside of it all the time. The symbols point to Jesus who is himself a symbolic revelation of God. And then the thing about

[58:51]

symbol and sacrament. John is not denying the approach of Christian sacramental approach, but he's broadening it. That's the point. And then he goes on with his own treatment on the next page, starting in 189. First he separates personal from impersonal symbols. Now personal symbols, the big central personal symbol in John is Jesus himself. Who is first the Word, which is the symbol of God, and then the Word made flesh, which is the visible, tangible, audible symbol of God in this world. The material thing, in this case a material person, a body, who communicates the spiritual to us, which is God. He also talks about those terms father and son as symbolic metaphors. That's getting a little more subtle than we need to be at this point. One thing I'd like to point out is among the symbols, the personal symbols, he's omitted woman, which is very important in John. Needs to be dubbed that. The personal symbol of woman. Do you remember how in our diagram, in our mandala, we found those four woman,

[59:52]

Jesus woman episodes, somehow enclosing the whole Gospel. And that feminine element, together with the marriage, the nuptial imagery, is essential to the sepiential approach, to the wisdom approach. So we'll come back to that. Remember the feminine personification of wisdom. Then he gets to the impersonal symbols, which are material things by and large. And he splits them into two groups, what he calls core symbols and peripheral symbols. So there are some symbols that are very central and they run everywhere and through everything in the Gospel. And then there are other symbols which are more occasional, which come up sometimes. And are not so centrally concerned with the meaning of the Gospel. And as core symbols, he identifies three things. Light, Water, and Bread. He says these are the three key symbols in John. So what we really have

[60:54]

is one center, which is the Word. An inner center, which is the Word. Or which is Christ, if you want to say that, which is Jesus. And then you have another center, a little bit out from that, another concentric circle, excuse me, which is these three core symbols, as he calls it. And then you have a bunch of other symbols out here. And he gives you samples of those other symbols. For instance, connected with the water symbol, you've got the symbol of wine, the symbol of an anointing, you've got the symbol of tears, you've got a whole bunch of other symbols. All the liquid things that appear in John's Gospel. And with light, you've got darkness, but one thing he skips with the light symbol is glory. It's very important. After chapter, even in chapter two, Canaan, but after chapter 12, the glory symbol

[61:57]

tends to come out and even replace the light symbol. And that's where we're headed in John's Gospel is towards the glory of Jesus, glorification. So, there should be added among the personal symbols, woman, and among the in the line that he develops with light, the glory notion in John. Then he talks about static symbols and expanding symbols. And these are expanding symbols, these core symbols, so that they develop as you go on and they're open-ended. They're never fixed. We need a little educating usually about symbols. We have a tendency to think of them as just kind of circumscribed and one thing represents another. But actually, one thing is representing something which is unbounded, something which is infinite. And so John's symbols are open-ended, expanding. Open-ended is one thing. Expanding means that through the Gospel, as you move through the story of the Gospel, they're developing. Then he'll get them

[62:58]

developed to a certain point and then he tends to leave them and then pick them up and use them in their fully developed point later on. This is what Kupferberg was talking about. Then he simply gives you a treatment of those three core symbols, starting on the bottom of 190 and all the way practically through to the end. He treats first light and then on the bottom of what is it, 192, on the bottom he picks up water and then over a couple pages beyond that on the right side he picks up bread. And he gives you a good treatment. He does this better and more, what would you call it, more appealingly than any of the other writers I've seen. For instance, Brown has it spread all through his commentary so you've got to go from here to there. If you read Dodd's The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, he's so darn scholarly that you get this Greek hitting you in the face all the time. And he'll have 30 pages on light and by the time you get finished

[63:59]

you don't know anything. And then he'll tell you all about the mythologies and the Hellenistic philosophy. There's too much. Then finally, over on the last page on the left there he's got the other symbols which he gives you very briefly, just a kind of sketch. He doesn't have them all, that's for sure. So symbolism is of extreme importance in John's Gospel. As I said, you can't understand John's Gospel unless you understand it symbolically. There's a lot of material things going on in John's Gospel but almost every one of them has another level of meaning, symbolically. Any questions about that before we go on? If you read that and have any questions next week or want to talk about it we can, because it's an important bearing on what we're going to do. Now let me try to introduce this first part.

[64:59]

Do you remember we were going to treat John's Gospel according to Ellis' structure, more or less. And then I had the audacity to put Ellis' structure in another manner like this. So here's part one, here's part two, this is part three in the middle but let's skip that and call this part three over here. And this is part four here. So first we want to do part one. Now notice that with Ellis part one is a mirror image of part four. And each of these parts has five sequences in it, number five sections in it. One, two, three, four, five. Up here you have seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. So one is going to reflect twenty-one and two is going to reflect twenty and three is going to reflect nineteen. Okay. That's what those

[66:02]

diagrams of yours that I gave you this morning are about. I'll have to explain that to you. Four is going to reflect fifteen parts. So we have to verify that as we go on. I suggested as giving you a wonderfully resonant background for each of these episodes that we talk about. You'll find that each of them expands. But there's also a relation between each of these and the ones over here. Alright? As you go out here you've got five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. So you're going to find that each one of these is likely to have a resonance to the corresponding order. Not to make things too complicated. I won't go through that every time we go nuts. Let me read a little from Ellis. This is the introduction to this whole section, part one, on page 29. Part one concentrates on Jesus' manifestation of himself to the world

[67:03]

through the testimony of the Baptist, the Holy Spirit, the disciples, and his own works and signs. Okay, Jesus' manifestation of himself to the world. But you can call this the section of John the Baptist. Part one is the part of John the Baptist. Now the reason why Ellis does that is not because John the Baptist is everywhere here, but because John the Baptist is at the beginning and at the end. You begin with John the Baptist in chapter one, verse 19, and the following. You end with John the Baptist, where is it, just at the end of chapter three, where he talks about Jesus being the bridegroom and says that he must increase and I must decrease. So John the Baptist is the inclusion of these chapters. And that's the device by which people will create a literary unit in old times. So he's got good grounds for calling that the section of John the Baptist. Now the parallel to that up here, in his view, is the beloved disciple. Now that is very suggestive. If you say

[68:03]

that the structure of the whole gospel somehow needs this vertical part, it's based on the movement from John the Baptist to the beloved disciple. You've really got something to meditate on. Got to figure out who the beloved disciple is and what he represents. What I'd like to suggest is that these are two kinds of knowledge. This is keeping in that kind of sapiential direction once again. That John the Baptist is the knowledge of God which goes with the Old Dispensation, which goes with the Old Testament, but also for John would go with any other tradition probably. But in the Old Testament, it's the knowledge of God in a rather external way. It's the fear of God. It's the knowledge of God through His commandments. What the beloved disciple represents is the knowledge of God through interiority, the knowledge of God through mutual indwelling. That is because God dwells in you like you dwell in God. Now that happens. It isn't there in the same way from the beginning. It's there from always, because the Word is always within you, dwelling within you. But the Word comes in a new way

[69:04]

through the Spirit. And this happens through Jesus' death and resurrection. The Word comes in a new way through the Spirit and then dwells within you, so that now your knowledge of God is the knowledge of two who dwell within one another. So therefore, of two who in some way are one. Now, if you look, I think the climax of this

[69:23]