Light in the Darkness

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Part of "The Spirituality of John's Gospel" retreat.

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Different date on cassette case vs. cassette itself. Case date -1995.MM.DD


John's Gospels, any of the Gospels for that matter, there's a peculiar fascination in John though. I think we turned that thing on, didn't we? The title of our thing may be a little bit of a trick, however, because it's The Spirituality of John's Gospel, and I haven't found it yet, so maybe we can find it together. Also because John is somewhat opposed to the splitting up of spiritualities. Even though the Johannine current is a particular current in the New Testament, John is not representative of the whole New Testament. John's Gospel is obviously very different from Mark's Gospel, quite different from Paul, even though deeply related to Paul too. However, what John is trying to do is find the unity of the Christ mystery. What he's trying to communicate is the whole thing, and so that's what we've lost.


So our point is not to find a particular spirituality when we study John, really, but to hear him and hear that fullness that's at the beginning, to hear the fullness that's at the beginning and to be able to start from there, and then it's almost as if spirituality becomes a personal thing. In other words, it's you between that fullness and the complexity of your own life. It's you with that fullness inside of you in touch with that one light that's inside of you, and then the whole complexity of the world that's around you, and you like a tree in between those two, from the one root to the many branches. So, talking about a Johannine spirituality, it's both premature and maybe a little inappropriate. It might be better to talk about the spirit of John's Gospel rather than the spirituality of John's Gospel. Now, to talk about the spirit of John's Gospel means you have to go inside, means you have to get through the skin, you have to get through the outside, get through the rind, the core, down to the heart of it. And when you do, that's where you find the spirit, that's where you find the fire. The Fathers, when they talked about the scriptures, and especially about John, would talk in terms


of two levels very often, that you've got the outside, but you've got to get through the outside, you've got to get through the letter to get to the spirit. When you get to the spirit, you've got the whole thing somehow, just like getting to the heart of a human person. So, the spirit of John, if we get the whole thing, if we get to the center of it, if we get to the point where it's all one, essentially we've gotten to the center of everything, but we also find the fire at that point. We also find the place where everything is together. That seems like a large order, it's a large claim, but John makes good on the claim. John is the writer in the New Testament who really gives you the whole thing, who really gives you the center. He comes along at the end and, excuse me, sort of ties a knot around the New Testament revelation, and ties a nice bow in the strength, and he's got it all together. Let's see. Another thing is that, arguing against the necessity of evolving the spirituality of


John, besides the fact that I'm not very good at finding practical precepts, but John doesn't give you, he doesn't really suggest practical precepts. And the reason is partly because the vision is so primary in John. It's almost, if you get the vision, you get blinded by the vision, the rest follows from that. If you get the picture, if you get the truth that he's talking about, the consequences flow rather naturally from that, not by some kind of articulated logic, not by one step after another, but they flow organically, they flow in a vital manner from the vision itself. So, the vision is primary. And so John gives you the vision, what he's trying to do is give you the unity and depth of this vision of Christ, the Word, the Logos, and then from that it becomes obvious what the consequences are, what the applications are, in a sense. And so he simplifies, for instance, the law, he simplifies, if you like, the Sermon on the Mount to the one word, love, you know, love one another, and he simplifies everything.


And so you don't find a code of moral instructions in John, as you come close to finding, for instance, in Matthew. What you find instead is one commandment. And you just find one thing in John, which turns into three or four things, but it's all one thing, and that's the Word, which is Christ. The vision also somehow comes to get you, it comes right out at you, it comes right out of the page, it involves you. And remember that it's very much like Paul, that for Paul, what's important is what has happened, what's important is the Christ event, and so he presents that first, and then he draws out the consequences afterwards. He says, well, you've been made a new creature in Christ, you've put on Christ, you've been baptized, you've got the Holy Spirit, therefore you shouldn't behave that way, you've got to behave this way. But he puts the vision first, and then the consequences, and then the morality afterwards. So John tends to give you the vision without the morality, and lets you draw the consequences for yourself, or confront yourself with that simple principle, that simple light that he


gives you. Jesus is the Word of God for John, also in an active way, in an active sense. It's the creative Word of God that John identifies with Jesus. I've spoken about a unitive vision, that is, what I'm proposing is that John is giving you the thing all together. He's giving you, actually, a vision of all reality in one, not only in one picture, but at one point, at one center, and that center is Christ. It's also a creative vision, because Christ is the creative Word. Really, the thematic of John turns out to be creation, from the first creation to a new creation. And the point at which one turns into the other is, first of all, the point of Christ. We're going to find this very geometrical, in a way. It's the point of the baptism of Jesus, it's the point of the crucifixion of Jesus, it's the point of the baptism of the disciple.


It's this crossing over from the first creation to the second creation, and the whole Gospel is constructed in that way. Let's start with the prologue, and I'd like to connect the prologue with something else which is going to be very important. This has just been emerging for me lately, the importance of baptism to John's Gospel. It's kind of implicit, for instance, in the first chapter of John, you don't even have the baptism of Jesus. It's only that John the Baptist refers back to the baptism of Jesus when the dove descended upon him. But that's all. John is very subtle. John often gives you things that are implicitly, that afterwards you have to kind of dig out in order to make them explicit so that you can work with them, and so it is with baptism. But in some way, I think the whole thing is about baptism. And so it is with the prologue. Now, think of this for a moment, that I think John's Gospel and baptism, Christian baptism, go along together in this way, that one interprets the other.


In other words, the experience of baptism for the early Christians who were baptized, of course, not as children but as adults, was a kind of total experience, a unitive experience, and a new birth, and a sense of new creation. They often called it photismos, or illumination. It's very much like what you hear about from one aspect, that is, in the East, that is in Buddhism, you know, enlightenment, satori, an illumination from the interior of one's own being, so that one suddenly is aware of the unity of one's being, but also somehow of the unity of everything, but especially of one's own being, which has suddenly become open and transparent, and discovered, experienced as light in another light, in a deeper light, to which it is nevertheless related. So one light is sort of born of the other light. And this happens in the water, this happens in the baptismal experience. This is part of it, this is one aspect of it, but the aspect I'm going to stress, and it's very important for John. In other words, the enlightenment experience, the sense of light, is very important for


John. You can see that by the centrality of light in the prologue, but also later on in the Gospel. It's very important, often explicitly, as with the man-born line, and sometimes even more often implicitly. So baptism and John's Gospel go together in some way. Now, the prologue is, in very important ways, the key to John's Gospel. You'd expect it to be being a prologue, but we have to discover what kind of key that is. We have to discover that we're aware to insert the key, how to use the key. One way is the relation, I think, of the prologue to baptism, and I'll talk about that. There's a good article on the word in John's Gospel – I didn't fish it out, but I'll have to get it for you later – if anybody's interested, by Cahill in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, quite a number of years ago now, called Logos as Center in John's Gospel,


and in John's Prologue. And he takes the Logos, the word – in the beginning was the word, the word is the kind of defining term in the prologue – he takes that and looks at it in the whole framework of comparative religions, of mythology, and so on, and opens up some of the dimensions that are really there. Because with John we have something we don't expect in the New Testament, and that is, we have the revelation meeting the creation, meeting the cosmos, meeting the universe, meeting the world, meeting the earth again. So that we have a wisdom which not only expands, as it were, within the church, but expands into everything that is. In other words, John has really got the center, and so the center that he describes is the center not only of a supernatural reality, not only of the new creation, not only of the Christian universe or the religious universe, but the center absolutely of the created universe. And that's why he talks about creation so much, explicitly or implicitly.


There's a movement from a theology which is merely, let us say, ecclesial or ecclesiological, or even biblical in a sense, which is confined within the limits of, let's say, God's people as we know them. But John breaks out of that theology into a cosmic theology. But he does it without losing the centrality of Christ, because Christ is the Word who is not only Redeemer, but also Creator. And as Redeemer, he's new Creator. In other words, the very redemption is nested inside the original creation so much so that it transforms exactly the original creation. And all of this, somehow, is in baptism. In other words, John's understanding of baptism, the baptismal experience, is about the whole cosmos, about the whole universe. We don't understand this very well in the West, we've lost this, but in Eastern Christianity they still have it. Baptism for them is very important. And another thing that's curious is that the baptism of Jesus is very important for them. For us, normally, that's just another event in Jesus' life, a relatively unimportant one.


For them, it's central. For them, the baptism of Jesus is a moment of transformation, not only of Jesus, but also of us, of everybody that's baptized, and even of the cosmos, in some way. But we'll get to that a little later on. Often, when we talk about the prologue of John, we skip everything but that phrase, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, don't we? Because that's been so important in the Christian tradition, so important even in the early centuries, in the heretical battles that they had in those days, defending the orthodox faith, defending the divinity of Jesus, the reality both of his divine nature and of his human nature. And so that became a precious, lapidary phrase, it became a battle weapon also. But the whole prologue is worth our attention, really. It's been discovered by different scholars in the past, oh, 30, 40 years, maybe, that the prologue has a structure to it which is geometrical, and called a kiastic structure.


And kiastic structure means that there's a kind of a hinge form in which you have two halves and they match. So that, for instance, if you have three parts, first you'll have A on one side, and you have a sentiment, and on the other side you have A prime, which in some way balances with A, in some way repeats A, it's symmetrical with A. If you have a five-part structure, then you have A, B, C, and then B prime, and then A prime, so that this is the center, it doesn't have any mate, it doesn't match with anything. B matches with B prime, and A matches with A prime. So it's quite a simple device. Now, John's prologue has a kiastic form, and also, as we'll see, the whole Gospel has a


kiastic form. So the plot thickens, and deepens. You've got a bunch of figures here, some of which are pretty and some of which are not. The first one is a picture of the prologue, which looks like it was put together in a hurricane, but it doesn't matter. It's not the usual way of the prologue, this is figure one, okay? Find that one, figure one. If anybody doesn't have these sheets, I've got some on there. Now, here, it's not this simple. If you've got a five-part chiasm, there's another advantage that improves. If you have a five-part one, you can not only put it in something like a horseshoe shape or a straight shape like this, you know, you just line them up. Or in a form like this, where you have A, B, and then a center down here, and then B


prime, and then A prime. Okay, that's another option, just makes it a little more visible, makes the symmetry a little more visible, because then you can show how A relates to A prime, B relates to B prime, and so on. But if you have a five-part chiasm, you can also put it in the form of a cross. Here we go, let's see, A, A is going to be here, B prime there, and then C. Now, we've got a C that's here, and then B prime, that does it. Okay, so here we've got a cross. And here we're getting into all kinds of... Once you do that, you get all kinds of resonances from it. In other words, you're getting into the area of sort of sacred geometry, into the area of the mandala, in fact, which is not just a non-Christian thing, but also, of course, being archetypal to emerging Christianity, which I hope to demonstrate.


And that's what we've got here in figure one. We've got John's prologue written in itsy-bitsy type here, but in five parts. The centre is verse 12 and verse 13, okay? But to all who received him, who believed in his love, he gave power to become children of God. Now, that's the central, the absolute centre, and then verse 13 is sort of complementary to it, and brings out four dimensions from that point. Okay, now, as you look at this, the reason for doing this is actually the symmetries that you find. In other words, the reason for creating or discovering, proposing a theistic form in the prologue is because there are symmetries. So, Ellis, in his book, which... This is Ellis' book, The Genius of John, and he's the one who... He and a Jesuit named John Gerhart are the ones who unearthed the thorough kiastic form,


not only of the prologue, which other people had found, but also of John's Gospel. As the whole of John's Gospel, he's got schematized according to this kiastic form. Not the cross or mandala form, but the straight form, or horseshoe form. I'll talk a little more about that later. So much of what I'm going to say is based on his work, and then we go a step further, or a couple of steps further, and make a cross or a mandala out of it, which brings out these other possibilities. So, this is taking Ellis' kiastic scheme of the prologue, and then taking it a further step and putting it in the cross form. Now, just to point out a couple of symmetries here. The bottom, as you begin, you have, All things came into being through him. Now, that's the first creation, that's in verse three. You notice you're coming up there, and the way it's arranged seems a little strange, because occasionally you'll have a verse split, so that one part is below and another part is above.


Often the punctuation... Sometimes the punctuation is doubtful, and often the construction is doubtful, in the Greek, actually, so it's legitimate to do this. And up at the top you have, Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Now, actually, the words, the verbs there are the same. Became through Jesus Christ. There's a deliberate coincidence there, a deliberate similarity in the language. What you've got down below, at the bottom, actually, is the first creation. What you've got up at the top is the second creation. What you've got in the center is the moment of faith to all who received him, that is Jesus, that is the light, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. The moment of faith and the moment of baptism. Now, on the right, you've got the light, which is also Christ, the word, coming into the world. And notice this stress on the world, coming into the world. He was in the world, the world came into being through him, the world did not know him.


He came to what was his own, that's the Jewish people. His own people did not accept him. Look at what you've got on the left. And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory. On the right, you've got the people and the world that didn't recognize him, which is called the world, whether it's his own people or not. That's the world. On the left, you've got us. And in between, you've got this act of faith and this baptismal experience. So, the distinction from left to right is the distinction between those who have been believed and baptized and become, as it were, the we of the community, of the Christian community, and the rest of everybody, which is the world. So, that itself has a certain kind of analogy or symmetry with the old creation and the new creation. But here I just want to point out the general shape of the thing. We'll go further with this later on. What's most important for us is the center. To all who received him, who believed in his name,


he gave power to become children of God. Now, that's the new birth and also the moment of new creation, and this has tremendous depth, tremendous resonance in John. All kinds of symbolic resonance is developed from this moment of new birth, which is the moment of baptism and the moment of new creation. That verse 13 is a mysterious, redundant, pointless-looking verse. Then you notice it's got four members to it, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And I believe that what that does, actually, is to move from the center, to be born, belongs to the center, and to point out, actually, the four dimensions of this figure, not of blood, down towards the bottom, which means of the natural creation. The first level is the level of, let us say, the natural creation, just being, just existence on the natural level. The second level is the level of humanity, and it ranges from the will of the flesh to the will of man.


That's on the horizontal, as it were. And the final pole, the upper pole, is but of God, that is, this birth of God. Now, what we're going to find is that this is symmetrical, this matches, is parallel with the Gospel itself, which has a similar form. Once again, I'm sorry to throw so much at you, but what I want to do is get this out of the way, as it were, in the beginning, so we can go on to dealing directly with the text in John. Okay, I'd like to persuade you that, actually, this prologue of John is very much related to baptism, okay? And I don't think it's too hard to do that. Once you start to look at it in the light of baptism, it opens up in that sense. Now, the center already, I hope you would concede, is somewhat, not absolutely, but quite likely related to the baptismal experience, that receiving that power to become children of God,


associated with the act of faith, with the act of receiving Jesus. Now, receiving Jesus is, first of all, believing in him, but in this case, it's not only believing in him. Who received him, take that receiving him in a very profound sense, receiving him into yourself, entering into him. In other words, it's receiving a being, not only the act of faith. Now, notice just above that, and just below that. Below it, you've got, let's see, verse 6, all the way up through verse 8. You find verse 6 there, on the bottom arm? There was a man sent from God, his name was John. Now, John is John the Baptist. Now, why is John the Baptist in here? John the Baptist is here partly because he establishes a baptismal context for this prologue, and for the center of the prologue. And John's gospel begins with John the Baptist. He pokes his head into the prologue, even here, where he doesn't seem to belong.


And yet, he does belong, because he sets the baptismal context, sets, as it were, a baptismal circle right around that center. Because just above the center, once again, you find John the Baptist. John testified to him and cried out, this was he of whom I said he who comes after me and ranks ahead of me. John doesn't seem to belong at all here, because this is almost, it's like on a metaphysical level, you know, it's out of time. And then here you have this intrusion of these two texts, which are about John the Baptist. But I think that's largely why, or partly why. The other thing is that this links the prologue. John the Baptist here links the prologue to the narrative, which begins right after this, with John the Baptist. Also, all the stress on the light here. The light was coming into the world, he was in the world. The world didn't know him, the world didn't recognize his light. But we have seen his glory. Glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. Do you remember what happened when Jesus was baptized in the Synoptic Gospels, in the Gospel of Mark, for instance?


That was a moment of revelation of God's glory. And of course, when you imagine that, and when you see it in an icon, it's a moment of a flash of light, it's a moment of illumination. And that probably comes from the Christian baptismal experience. But then there was the voice of the father saying, this is my son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased. Now, that's that same moment, somehow. The experience of Christian baptism, somehow, being identified with the baptism of Jesus. And that's why they give so much importance to the baptism of Jesus in the East. So that moment, in a sense, is everything. That moment of the baptism of Jesus is the same thing as the illumination, as the new birth of the person who is baptized afterwards. But also, somehow, it's the same as the creation. It's the same as the beginning. And the beginning was the Word. The prologue starts out talking about the beginning. And right in the center is this other beginning of baptism, which is another creation in the Word, the same Word that was there in the beginning, out of which everything came.


So the whole thing somehow circles around baptism. 2. THE BIRTH OF GOD No one has ever seen God. For instance, Moses, in the Old Testament, says, well, Moses saw God, talked to God face to face. John says, no, Moses didn't see God. You don't see God. What happens is you get born into God, or God gets born in you, or God begets you, or the life of God comes inside you. You are inside God, and God is inside you, just as it is God the only Son who is in the Father's bosom, who has made him known. Made him known, just before that, he says, nobody's ever seen God. Made him known not by seeing him face to face. Why? Because the Word, because Jesus is the visible, is the face of God. But God the Father you know in a different way. You know by being born in him, and you know by having his Spirit within you. And this too, of course, is the baptismal experience. This is this rebirth. We'll come back, not so much to the prologue, but we'll come back to that baptismal theme again,


and again, and again, probably, because it's so important to John. But now let's go on to the Gospel itself. Now, as I said... Well, on figure two there, what you have is... I'll just mention what that is. I've said that the prologue with this cross or mandala symmetrical form is parallel with the Gospel, okay, that those two match up. And I still have to prove that to you, or at least try to. But besides that, you find this same figure elsewhere in the New Testament. And in a couple of letters of the Polite tradition, letters of Paul, or Paul's disciples, especially Ephesians and Colossians, and the shape is the same, I think the origin is the same.


I believe the connection to baptism is the same or similar, but the terms are slightly different. But it's like an archetypal figure, which appears, it comes up here, it comes up there, and it's always got Jesus, as it were, in the center. It's always Christ in the center, always the paschal mystery of Christ in the center, but from different aspects, different points of view. Let me give you a couple of those texts. One is Ephesians 2, 11 to 16. So I'll read it to you and see if you can discern this figure there. So then remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth called the uncircumcision by those who are called the circumcision. Now here you have your horizontal axis sketched out right away between Gentiles and Jews. See the Gentiles over on the right and the Jews over on the left. That's the way I've got that figure marked, the Paul line up on top there.


So instead of having the world and us, as you have in John's prologue, you've got Gentiles and Jews, because that's the world and us before Christ comes along. And Paul is saying that those two are brought together in Christ and made one in Christ, in the center. So he's looking at the figure differently, but it's the same figure. It's the same coordinates. Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. You're a people who are in the world without God. The world and they are separated from God. Here you have your vertical axis. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ, in reference to the cross, which is at the center of this. For he is our peace. In his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is the hostility between us.


He's broken down the wall between Jews and Gentiles that separated the two poles, as it were, of that horizontal line. He's abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, just, let's see, thus making peace and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross. You see how the union is made on the horizontal line of Jews and Gentiles, but at the same moment in the crucified Jesus, Jesus on the cross, explicitly, precisely, the union is made between both groups, so the human beings and gods are the vertical axis, is, as it were, closed, pulled together at its center, which is Christ on the cross. So it's the same figure, it's just looked at in a different way. It's looked at according to Paul's theology of the cross, which is not quite the perspective of John, even though you can find a similar thing in John. The second text is the related letter to the Colossians.


There's another one in Ephesians 3, 16 to 19. By the way, that's the one about the height and the depth and the length and the breadth. You find the same figure there. It's like it's in the back of Paul's mind, and then it comes out here and it comes out there in slightly different terms. But usually with Paul, it's the horizontal axis between Jews and Gentiles. They represent the we and the they. They represent the chosen ones, the first saved, and all the rest. And salvation has to spread along that horizontal axis so that it goes from the few to the all, from these chosen ones, these first ones to, as it were, everybody, the whole cosmos, the world, in John's language. There's something else here. If you're going to have a mandala, you need a circle. The circle is the fullness, actually. In this one, Ephesians 3, 16 through 19. I'll just do that in a hurry.


To sketch it out. I pray that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. There's the center established, okay? Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. Once again, in the center. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and the length and the height and the depth. Try to draw that one, you'll have a problem, because those dimensions don't quite fit together in two dimensions. They don't quite fit together spatially. But notice there are four of them, because Paul is obsessed with this quaternity, with the shape of the cross. Remember where he said to the Corinthians, I decided to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified. So for Paul, the whole mystery of Christ somehow is summed up, compressed, encapsulated in this quadriform figure, in this cross with Christ on it. All of the wisdom is there.


The word of the cross, he calls it at one point, in the Corinthians, first Corinthians. The breadth and the length and the height and the depth, those are the four dimensions of the cross. And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. And there the circle just spreads out from the center, and completes the mandala. It may seem a little, a bit of fantasy, but I think it's really there. The other one is Colossians 1, 17 to 22, which is probably pretty familiar to you. Remember that great Christological hymn of Colossians 1, the image of the unseen God? He himself is before all things, that's Christ, and in him all things hold together. Notice you get the same connection with the creation that John has. Jesus is not just the son of God who comes into the world, but somehow he's integrally involved, but he's the center of the creation already. He pre-exists it all. He is the head of the body, the church.


He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. There you've got the fullness, as it were, of the figure of the mandala. And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace to the blood of his cross. That's an echo of Ephesians. But the peace is established at that center where the cross is, reconciling all things whether in heaven or on earth. Heaven with earth is reconciled, and the things that are on earth for Paul are the Jews and the Gentiles, practically. It's the Jewish people, the chosen people, as it were, and then all the others. Because his vocation, his charism, and his wisdom is precisely that knowledge of the bringing together of Jews and Gentiles. That's the center of his own vision. You can find it elsewhere where he calls that the mystery. So what I'm trying to do is show that this figure is not only in John, but it's also elsewhere in the New Testament. And I could go a little further with that,


but these are the strongest examples in the Pauline letters. Now let's take a look at the Gospel, and then I'd better let you go pretty soon. Figure 3 is almost directly from Ellis' book, and that's a chiastic arrangement of the Gospel. Now this is a 330-page book or so. I'm not going to be able to summarize it for you in a few minutes, but what Ellis does is to find that the whole of John's Gospel is chiastically structured, and that it's divided into 21 pieces, setting aside only the prologue of John. The prologue is not included in the structure, but it also is a chiasm. The whole of John's Gospel, according to Ellis, is a five-part chiasm. And each of those five parts is also a five-part chiasm.


Now, each of the first, the second, the fourth and the fifth is a five-part chiasm, because each of those has five parts. That makes 20, and the 21st is the center. And then each of those five parts, or five portions of the five parts, he calls the little part sequences, even that is chiastically structured with five parts. So it almost gets down to atomic dimensions. You need a microscope at the end. And in the end it becomes too rigid, because it becomes very hard to read the Gospel, because a lot of these chiastic symmetries are just between words, words and phrases. So they're not significant enough to enrich the text, so we're going to ignore most of them. The only ones that we're concerned with here is the big one, that is the chiasm of the whole Gospel. Now, figure three gives you Ellis' chiasm. Notice part one, moving down the left-hand side, down to the bottom,


and then up the right-hand side. Part one, which has got five... S-E-Q, he means sequence. Those are the little parts for Ellis. Five of those in it. And then part two with another five. Part three is the center of the Gospel. And the center of the Gospel for him is John chapter 6, verses 16 through 21. Remember, that's where Jesus walks on the water after he's multiplied the bread and the fishes. That's on the Sea of Galilee at night. And, well, we'll talk a lot more about that one. It's very important for us. And then part four, and then part five. Now, the thing about this diagram, this sort of horseshoe diagram, is that as you move from left to right, or vice versa here, there's a lot of correspondence between. In other words, these all match up. That's the way the symmetry works. The only one that doesn't have a match, doesn't have a mate, is part three, that center.


So that's worth a little attention. The titles on there are not... The titles of the sequences are not exactly Ellis' titles. I've abbreviated them, or tried to clarify them a little bit, because he has a more extended description in his diagram. That's on pages 14 and 15 of Ellis' book. If anybody wants Ellis' book, we've got some over in the store. Now, what we've done in the next figure, the pretty one, which is figure four, is to take this five-part Giyasam once again, and we can get away with this because it has five parts. So what we've done is to make a cross-form of it once again, and then to develop it in terms of a mandala. It gets a little more complicated. But here we have Ellis'... See if you can pick out Ellis' five parts there. The first part for Ellis, which moves from chapter one through up to the beginning of chapter four,


is the bottom arm, or bottom leg, on this figure. You got that one? Ellis' second part is the right arm of the figure. Ellis' third part, which is his center, is the center of this figure. Okay, that's the sea crossing at the center. Ellis' fourth part is the left arm on this figure. And Ellis' fifth part is the top arm, the upper vertical of the figure. Now, for the rest of the time, I'll just practically be paying attention to this figure. This, in other words, reproduces the form that we found in the polo. And it's good if you can get a little familiar with it, so then, in a sense, we can put the figure behind us and attend to the individual texts of John that we want to study. But the general notion of this will enable you


to sort of rediscover the whole thing in each text that we talk about. Let me try to point out a few symmetries, or a few features of the structure of this thing. There's one other thing that seems quite confusing at first, and that is all those circles coming out of there from the center. What do they represent? Well, that's sort of the fatal, final consequence of this kind of thinking. This chiasm business, by the way, is an irreversible disease, progressive and irreversible, especially for introverts. So look out. But what that represents is the seven days of creation, believe it or not. Now, if you don't understand this, your psychiatrist will. So, the seven days of creation, starting out with that central episode of John's Gospel, according to Ellis, which is the sea crossing.


Do you remember what the first day of creation is in Genesis chapter 1? The first day of creation is the creation of light, where the Holy Spirit is hovering over the waters, remember? And God says, let there be light. And light comes out of darkness, and God divides the light from the darkness. Now, I'd like to comment that at length and in depth, and we don't have much time to deal with it this evening, but that's sort of the center of our whole picture of John's Gospel here. And notice how intimately it relates to baptism. First of all, the creation of light... First of all, it's the beginning, just as baptism is the beginning. It's the first moment of creation, the first day of creation. The first day of a new being. But when light comes out of darkness in the waters... Light comes out of darkness in the waters. And what happens in John's Gospel here... Let me read the episode. It says, Jesus comes walking on the water.


This is just after he's multiplied the bread and the fishes for the hungry crowd there at the Sea of Galilee. And they want to make him king after that stunt, and he runs away from them. And his disciples, meanwhile, take off across the lake in the boat. And Jesus, then, he wasn't with them. And evidently, he sent them away, too. And then he comes walking on the water after it's quite late. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, It is I. Do not be afraid. Then they wanted to take him into the boat. And many of the words here are significant. For instance, they wanted to take him into the boat. That's related to what you found at the center of the prologue. To those who received him, he gave power to become the children of God.


And immediately, the boat reached the land toward which they were going. Now, when Jesus comes walking on the water, you recall when the Spirit was hovering over the water, over the dark waters at the first moment of creation. And here you don't see a flash of light. What is it that's equivalent to the first day of creation and the creation of light here? What Jesus really says is not, It is I. He says, I am. I am. Remember those words from the Old Testament, from Exodus 3, when God identified himself to Moses? But those words, I am, which identified God, which are related to the name Yahweh, of course, they have a whole long history in the Old Testament in which that becomes a way of God's identifying himself. Also, for instance, in the book of Isaiah, when, 2nd Isaiah. And what happens in 2nd Isaiah is that God is doing a new exodus and doing a creation at the same time. So this is the God who took, who brought Israel out of Egypt


across the Red Sea, across the waters, okay? So this represents the Passover, for one thing, the central episode. But also the God who created the world and says, I am. So those words in the mouth of Jesus here upon the waters suddenly become the center of the whole thing. Those words, I am, which are very suitable, actually, to be a center because they're unitive words, because they're capable of containing all meaning. And because they are the equivalent to the name of God in the Old Testament. Redeemer, the God of the Passover, the liberator, but also the creator. So equivalent to the creation of light out of darkness on the first day of creation is this revelation of the light of the being of Jesus himself, who is the word, who is the light in the world, the prologue of John tells us. I am. And this is equivalent to the baptismal experience, the illumination of baptism, when that light is experienced within the person.


So the center here, I think, is worthy to be a center. And you know, if you read John's Gospel, you can make sense out of the other miracles, the other signs that Jesus does. It's very hard to make sense out of this sea crossing. It seems just to be a stunt, just to be, maybe Jesus was procrastinating or something, and had to hurry to catch up to them. So he comes walking on the water, you know, but it doesn't seem to help anybody. It doesn't seem to do anything. It's not like the multiplication of the bread with all its significance, because you had a hungry crowd. It's not like the healings of Jesus. It's not like that marvelous sign of turning the water into wine when the wedding feast had run out of wine. It doesn't seem to have any meaning. And then you discover that somehow it has all the meaning in the world. That the thing that was pointless is the center of the whole thing. And a sign of being, somehow, rather than of doing, not just one act, but actually the revelation of being, in which we immerse ourselves to be reborn, to be created again, to begin again. So that, I believe, is the center of John's Gospel. Ellis talks about this in terms of the Passover,


in terms of the Exodus experience. But continually in John, we're going to find two levels of symbolic reference. The first, the Exodus experience, Moses, the trip across the sea, through the desert, the manna, and so on. The second one is creation, and going back to Genesis, the first chapters of Genesis. So here's one example where, on the literal level, of what happens here in the Gospel, it doesn't seem to have much meaning. Then you say, well, I wonder if this relates to the Passover. And you discover that it does. The Jews being led by Moses through the Red Sea. So it's revealed to have a Passover meaning, but then that remains sort of within the Jewish framework. And then you go one more step to the creation level, you discover echoes of Genesis, and all of a sudden the thing opens up. It opens up and touches being itself. It touches the creation itself, and therefore everything in it, including your own body and your own soul. In other words, this is where the wisdom of John sort of flows out over the boundaries of the other writers of the New Testament.


And reaches the cosmos itself, and therefore into creation. A similar thing happens, although not with the same power quite, about the multiplication of the bread just before this, in John chapter 6. The first level, of course, the literal level of meaning of that, is that the people were hungry, so Jesus fed them. And in some way it reveals his power, and also says something about what he is as word, as he feeds them. And he explains that later in the bread of life discourse, although still symbolically. On another level, that recalls Moses feeding the people with manna, or God feeding the people with manna, in the desert at the time of the exodus, remember? And there are direct references to that in chapter 6 of John. Because Jesus says to the people, after he does it, he says, well your fathers ate the manna in the desert that they died, and they died nevertheless. In other words, that was bread from heaven, it didn't give them eternal life, but the bread from heaven that I'll give you will give you eternal life. But then you take it one more step,


and you discover that Jesus is actually the tree of life. In other words, that Jesus is that being at the center, who is both divine and created somehow, so that he transforms the created in the divine. So you find that again and again in John's Gospel, but you find it most deeply and most powerfully here at the center. Okay, just let me mention a couple of the symmetries of this figure, so it'll be a little more persuasive, a little more meaningful to you before we quit. At the bottom, very much like the prologue, you've got, as it were, old things, things of the first creation. And what you have here is a series of Jewish things. You've got John the Baptist himself, as you move up from the bottom. Now, don't let the numbering here throw you. Ellis numbers these one way, and I've changed it because I wanted to number them coming out from the center, to put emphasis on that development from the center. And I should explain those rings, by the way. The one in the center is the first day of creation, the second Roman numeral there,


see, going up the diagonal on the upper right, the second day of creation, and that is the rest of John chapter 6, the multiplication of the bread of fishes, and then the bread of life discourse. So the second day is concerned with that bread of life. The third day, third Roman numeral, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh. But notice that on the seventh day, you have a square at the bottom, number 20, and you have a square at the top, number 21, but you don't have them on the sides, okay? So we'll get to that later. So at the bottom, we have largely things that are being replaced. We have John the Baptist who is getting replaced. We have the Cano wedding. It's a little more subtle than that, but there is something there too, because another wedding is being revealed, another marriage is being revealed here, which goes deeper than that one. The third one, the temple is being replaced. Jesus says, destroy this temple, and I'll build it again in three days, remember?


That's number 12. Number eight, remember that one? Nicodemus, the old teacher, comes to Jesus and says, well, we know that you're a man sent from God. Jesus says, well, nobody can even see the kingdom of God unless they're born all over again. So what Jesus does there is replace the whole tradition of teaching. He replaces the whole rabbiship, the whole tradition of disciple and teacher. He says, forget it, you've got to be born over again. It's not enough to learn. You can learn the law all your life. You can learn every precept in the law, every word in the Bible, and it won't be enough unless you're born again. So he's replacing that. That's marvelous, the power in that. He's replacing that whole tradition of teaching and Torah in Israel with a baptismal reference, okay? Because you've got to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit. And then and so on. The next one there, number four, is a direct transition. Jesus, as it were, is stepping into the footsteps of John and replacing him. Now, up at the top, what you've got actually is the replacement itself.


You've got the hour, so-called, of Jesus. That is the time of his passion. Which embraces everything, practically, from 7, 11, 15, 19, and 21 there. What it is, is Jesus' final entrance into Jerusalem, his supper, and his trial, condemnation, death, burial, and his resurrection appearances. So there's the new creation, but that's got to be explained because it's all symbolic. Because the new creation is not something that you see on the surface, and therefore we have to go into, for instance, the words of Jesus at the supper and the symbols at the scene of the crucifixion. Okay, now look at the horizontal line here for a moment. On one end you've got 17 over on the right, and you've got 18 over on the left. And those match one another. Notice where you've got on the end over there, in number 17, you've got the Samaritan, okay? Now she's fairly far out, in more ways than one, because she's at five husbands, okay?


And she's a Samaritan woman, by the way. And the Samaritans are outcasts, okay? They're not Orthodox Jews, and Jews don't talk to Samaritans, and vice versa. So she represents, as it were, an extreme, and as it were, the Gentiles' extreme. Now does that begin to resonate with something else in your mind? In the prologue mandala there, we found the world over there on the right side, and in the Pauline mandala we found the Gentiles over on that side. So there's a similarity, there's a parallel between those figures in that sense also. What you've got over in number 18 on the left-hand side is an intimate friend of Jesus, Mary, the sister of Lazarus at Bethany, which is close to Jerusalem. In other words, right in the heartland of Judaism. And according to some commentators, the family of Mary and Lazarus and Martha is a Pharisee family. Who knows, maybe a priestly family too. So it's the other extreme, it's the heart of Judaism.


So as you move across the line from 17 all the way across there, and the numbers go crazy, of course, but you move steadily leftward, you're moving from the extreme of quasi-pagans and Gentiles, and the outward boundary into the heart of Israel, into Jerusalem, and then to Jesus' final confrontation, at which time he gets condemned and put to death. So there's a similar, what do you call it, reference here, as in the mandala of Paul's letters. One other thing to notice, four episodes there, 16, 17, 18, and 19, which comprise the sixth day of creation. You notice anything in common about this? I'm kind of rushing you, so I can't expect you to find much. But in all four of those episodes, Jesus is relating to a woman. Those are four episodes in which you find an encounter between Jesus and a woman.


At Canaan, it's Jesus and his mother. There are other people there, but practically the only ones we hear about are Jesus and his mother. All the action, the dramatic action, happens between those two. At the well in Samaria, there's nobody there at the center of the episode, the action, but Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Over on the left, this is after Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead, and Martha and Mary are there at first, and then Martha disappears, she's busy, and Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with this precious fragrance, remember, which fills the house with its fragrance, a marvelous symbol. And up at the top, in number 19, it's kind of unfair because you don't have time to check out the texts and everything, but there, it's Magdalene looking for the body of Jesus in the garden after he's been buried. Remember the garden where the tomb of Jesus was, and the stone is taken away, and there's nothing in there, and she sees the two angels, and then she turns away, and she hears a voice behind her. Is that the way?


No, she turns around, she sees Jesus, but thinks he's the gardener. But the encounter there, the action, happens between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. So in each of these four cases, it's Jesus and a woman, and then number six is kind of suggested. Remember what happened on the sixth day of creation? It's the creation of man and woman, okay? God created them, male and female, he created them. In his image, he created them. So somehow that circle of the four encounters between Jesus and a woman represents the fullness of the creation of humanity. That's the last circle you have here that really has four episodes in it, and then you just have those two at top and bottom on the seventh day, the Sabbath of creation. But that somehow represents the fullness, and that's where the symbolism of John's Gospel, I think, reaches its richest and deepest, except for the center. So we'll give some attention to that. So I just have to leave you with this now, and we'll come back


and try to take three or four scenes in John's Gospel to see what we can find about the meaning of the whole thing together. So I'd like to try to leave us with an image after each one of these sessions, okay? So the image that I would recommend this time is first of all this whole figure, which is a little too complex to keep in focus at once, but then especially that central drama of the sea crossing. I'd ask you to read that one and to just let that one sink into your psyche a little bit, into your imagination. Jesus coming across the water at night when his disciples are in the boat, and then the words of Jesus, and then remember what he says, actually, in the Greek, it's actually, I am. That episode is found in different versions in the Synoptic Gospels, too, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. You have different crossings of the sea, in fact, in different ways that it happens. Remember there's one time when Jesus comes walking and Peter says,


Lord, call me to you, and I'll come across the water, and then he sinks and so on. And then you've got another one when Jesus is asleep in the boat. The sea crossings are very important, for instance, for some reason, but the moment when Jesus stands in the boat or on the water and says, be still, remember that one? As if the whole universe falls silent at that moment around him, and there he is at the center. It's similar to this one, okay? It just centers everything around itself. So there's some kind of archetypal significance in that image of Jesus upon the waters, no matter how you get it, in which of those forms that you get it. So I suggest that you sort of also, when you read those, let them associate with one another and see what comes from that. Another thing about this is that you have sections in Mark's Gospel, for instance. I forget which Gospel it is that has the section of breads, as they call it, but you've got a continual interplay between food and the water, between being on the water of the Sea of Galilee.


They don't have any bread in the boat, remember? And they say, what are we going to do? And Jesus says, didn't you understand? But the movement from water to bread, water to food, a catch of fish, okay? And then eating the fish on the shore. At the end of John's Gospel, what you've got is this great catch of fish, you know? They've been fishing all night. Jesus is unrecognized on the shore. And these men are out on the water, and from the water they draw the food, okay? Now, why does Jesus choose fishermen in the first place? Fishermen are men who draw food, draw bread from the waters. The two great focuses, actually, I think, in John's Gospel are the Baptism and the Eucharist. The beginning and something like the end. The Eucharist is something like the food of the end. And it's the food that we eat along the way, but it's the food of the end. And, of course, Jesus is the Word, and the Bread of Life is both Word and Eucharist, both Jesus himself as Word, as Revelation, and then that flesh that actually is eaten in the Eucharist.


We'll talk more about that. But the association of water and food, Baptism and Eucharist, and, John, that'll come up again and again. But the image for this evening is the whole picture, but at the center of that picture is Jesus upon the waters. Okay, thank you. If there's a lot of confusion about this figure, and there should be, or the other figures, we can have a little special session to talk about that sometime, maybe tomorrow afternoon. If some people want to do that, let me know, and we'll just try to explain that.