Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jesus Of Nazareth Introduction

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12 comments:

Jesse said...

The connections of Deut 18:15, 34:10, and Jn 1:18 is fascinating to me; the Pope says a number of times that we have to start here (John 1:18) in order to understand the figure of Jesus in the New Testament.

The whole bit about a new Moses, not just a new David, is amazing stuff…

Jesse said...

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

Deuteronomy 34:10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

Butchie Boy Olmstead said...

Whew... not sure why I'm having such a challenge getting with this "blogging" thing man! By the time I remember how I got on to "comment" last time I'm ready to toss-in the towel... then all this word verification business, and passwords and such. I'm a cavemen!

Also bemoan my slowness here... having FINALLY only finished the intro! You'll recall I've been juggling loads of health issues and have been about 95% bebound since last Sept. Sometmes that "business" seems to take up more of my time than I'm happy with... but doing what I can.

Without going TOO far tonight- I was absolutely blessed by what is for me the exquisite definition of the work and purpose of prohesy. Not the senationalisitc wetting of curiousity and that charismatic version of an"inquiring mind's need to know" ( about tomorrow etc. ) but- "...to show us the Face of God,and in so doing the path that we have to take... The path of the 'true exodus' which consists of this: Among all paths of history the path to God is the true direction we must seek and find. Prophesy in this sense is a strict corollary to Israels monitheism. It is the translation of this faith into the everyday life of a community before God and on the way to Him." ( pg.4 para 2c )

As I read the abuses of prohesy I thought of the tellings of Jeremiah 23. Scathing.

Christ- the "new Moses" Who leads us truely coram deo! In regarding Jn. 1:18 and 14:9 I am minded again of Col. 1 & 2... and Phil. 2:5-11 which I always taught was the gospel in-a-nutshell. If we lost our bibles... or could recall no other passages- these would bring us coram deo without fail!!

- C.W. Butch

Jesse said...

Butch, sorry you're having trouble posting... I'm really enjoying your comments -- stay with us my friend!

Also, I'm praying for your health issues; and by all means, take your time reading... no hurry.

As for the introduction, I'm wondering what you guys think about how Ratzinger defines "prophet" as one who "shows us the face of God." The verses I earlier quoted quite clearly tie in the expectation of a new Moses, as well as what his function will be (showing us the face of God), with Christ; but Ratzinger seems to give a blanket definition of all prophets yet to come (preceding Christ, I mean). Do you all think this works as a "blanket definition," and do you have anything which comes to mind to support an affirmative answer?

Jesse said...

I came across an affirmative for the prophet Ezekiel (taken from Bible Gateway, heading from NASB Zondervan, actual Scripture from KJ version):

Ezekiel 1:22-28

Vision of Divine Glory

22And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
23And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
24And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
25And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
26And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
27And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
28As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Butchie Boy Olmstead said...

"...I'm wondering what you guys think about how Ratzinger defines "prophet" as one who "shows us the face of God." The verses I earlier quoted quite clearly tie in the expectation of a new Moses, as well as what his function will be (showing us the face of God), with Christ; but Ratzinger seems to give a blanket definition of all prophets yet to come (preceding Christ, I mean). Do you all think this works as a "blanket definition," and do you have anything which comes to mind to support an affirmative answer?"

Maybe I was not emphatic enough about my delight with the Pope's view or definition such as it was- because it arrives ( for me ) as a "deliverance" from all of the distortions and abuses which I have personally known over many years as a member of pentacostal and charismatic denominations I was "raised" in from my conversion in 1976... when prophesy, along with so many other purported "gifts" of that "PTL" era were all made part-and-parcel of a kind of "Christian" counter-part or version of those vulgar and sensationalisitc "Freak Shows" that traveled, shamelessly, from town-to-town in an earlier and more wanton America. When one wonderment became too well known- newer amazements had to be found... and of course "PTL's" carnal magic simply continues on the "TBN" platform now.

But in this introduction it is made fairly clear that the abuses and excess has been afoot from the moment of institution... like anything and everthing else for which God had His holy intention- but then wrenched from those contexts are turned into something else entirely: like the faithful intimacy of helpmates distorted into pornography... or a prophetic grace by which we are to be made more certain of Gods Face and our "..true exodus" toward Him now reduced to cheap thrills at a freak-show in Endor.

Not sure if I understand what you're asking about a "blanket definition"... but if simply "is this the prophets single gift and purpose", I will rather say yes given the other possibilities. Indeed this will not exclude details that shall not help but be sensationalistic... like red suns, dimmed moons or falling stars- but they all end as mere signposts pointing the directions of the true exodus. Again- one of my favorite OT chapters is Jeremiah 23! None so telling and scathing an expose' on everything that prophesy and prophets are NOT!

And though I easily know that God may re-employ special revelation at any point in time as He may wish- I am of that relieved school of belief that the necessities of prophesy have waned and now rested in their summation in Jesus Christ Himself! Indeed- as we understand here in our reading: the "new Moses."

Hebrews 1:1-2 "God... has in these last days spoken ( past-tense and finally? ) to us by His Son; Whom He has appointed heir of all things."

Thats a comfy blanket!

Lord hug you tight... - Butch

Jesse said...

Butch, you write:

::"Maybe I was not emphatic enough about my delight with the Pope's view or definition such as it was- because it arrives ( for me ) as a "deliverance" from all of the distortions and abuses..."

Ah, yes, you were plenty (and eloquently) emphatic; certainly enough to without a doubt impress upon me your appreciation for the Pope's insight here -- one I certainly share.

Without intending to be dismissive in any way, I guess I was asking about Ratzingers definition of prophesy in relation to the Old Testament prophets; specifically, in so far as they "spoke with God as with a friend" (pg.4). In my mind Ratzinger is saying that prophets have a real experience of Gods' presence, as Moses did, and it is that basis from which they then "show... a path." I'm basically wondering if, in this manner of experience, any other prophets come to mind (certainly all the prophets are implied, but I mean explicitly). For instance, I stumbled upon Ezekiel's experience (Ezekiel 1:22-28):

Vision of Divine Glory

22And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
23And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
24And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
25And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
26And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
27And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
28As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Any others come to your mind?

moogdroog said...

Sorry guys for taking a little while to reply – missed the update, I better bookmark this page! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments. You both make me feel like I am in the company of friendly and very erudite teachers. I’ll come back to some of your comments later, but here are my first thoughts on the intro anyway:

On knowing the face of God, that intimate and unique communion that only the Son has (pp. 5-7) - was this first offered to Adam and Eve, pre-fall? In forming Adam, surely God communed with them face to face, parent to newborn, from the very moment of creation:
‘formavit igitur Dominus Deus hominem de limo terrae et inspiravit in faciem eius spiraculum vitae et factus est homo in animam viventem’ (‘And the Lord God formed man of the dirt of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul’) – Genesis 2:7.

And, interestingly, as soon as that innocence is lost – as soon as Adam and Eve disobey – they hide themselves, the implication being they cannot longer look upon God ‘face-to-face’ as they did before:

‘et cum audissent vocem Domini Dei deambulantis in paradiso ad auram post meridiem abscondit se Adam et uxor eius a facie Domini Dei in medio ligni paradisi’ (‘And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise’) – Genesis 3:8. [Facie – face. ]

Following on from what Ratzinger is saying about Moses, it seems that the first kind of prophet, flesh soaked in the fall, simply cannot reach that face-to-face status with God – none of us can. The only possible human exception I can think of is the Virgin Mary, but that would be going off on a tangent. I do not believe we could take seeing God as God: not just as the fire in the bush, the cloud passing over, the Lamb, the flame or the Eucharist; but face-to-face, I don't think we have the capacity to see Him like that. Only Christ, as Ratzinger puts it, in human history lived 'in the most intimate unity with the Father' (p. 6). If God is pure Good, then the only thing that could see him, truly revealed and without veil, would be something else of pure Good, a being of complete purity. If Christ is taken as that being, then His presence offers a typological unwinding of sort. If Adam is the First Man, created, made from dust, the sinner, then Christ is the Second Man, the Godhead and the begotten Man, the sinless. He unknots Adam’s sin: instead of looking away from God, he gazes upon God, Son to Father, Father to Son, and in that allows us the chance to emulate, to follow and to copy his example, so we might gaze, one day, in the same way:

'And that is what redemption means: this stepping beyond the limits of human nature, which had been there as a possibility and an expectation in man, God’s image and likeness, since the moment of creation.’ (p. 8.)

If Adam is, in some sense, a ‘prototype’, a rough and unfinished and imperfect thing but shaped like the thing it could be (i.e. a Son of God, Christ being, of course, the perfect, the complete Son of God), then Moses, too, is a ‘prototype’ prophet , who can only see the cloud of God, His back as he passes him, then Christ is the true prophet, fulfilled, whole, perfect, who can look upon God with nothing to obscure his sight:

'He lives before the face of God, not just as a friend, but as a Son...' (p.6)

'The Christological dimension - in other words, the mystery of the Son as revealer of the father - is prsent in everything Jesus says and does.' (p.7)


This is why, perhaps, the first prophets – the wholly human prophets - although so near to God when perceiving, mystically, the overwhelming nature of his glory, it expresses itself in vision, symbol, song, rather than as the face of God Himself (Jesse's Ezekiel quote illustrates this beautifully).

The sign *does* express its signified, but it does not have to be the same thing. For example, the lion may be used to represent God*, but the lion is not God in His true form. The sign, in this way, differs from its signified counterpart. Christ, however, sees the ultimate union of sign and signified that we cannot yet know: God (sign) as God (signified), the equation that we lost in Eden. For us, God has to be passed through, somehow, a ‘filter’, however crude that sounds. If God is the Word, then the language of him cannot be comprehended by us in our mortal and fallen state; it has to be translated, made manageable somehow, made comprehensible:

'...although Moses' immediate relation to God makes him the great mediator of Revelation, the mediator of the covenant, it has its limits.' (p.5)


Following Ratzinger's line of reasoning, when these prophets when they describe God, or some aspect of him they have the impression, but not the absolute trueness of God. Jesse’s quote from Ezekiel aptly shows the sense of awe and majesty and dread that is still too overbearing for man to bear: “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

On a side-note, to answer Jesse’s earlier question about what other prophets come to mind, I thought of John of Revelations. Strictly, I’m not sure if you could say he is a prophet - but he does fit the working definition we have here: he describes God in a range of different, symbolic, visionary ways, and his words are proclaiming the eventual coming of God to the earthly kingdom. Will look up some Revelation pssages and think about this some more.

*had to get a sly Narnia reference in there somewhere!

moogdroog said...

And prayers for you Butch. Hope you feel better soon.

Jesse said...

Hey Moog :-)

You write:

::"Sorry guys for taking a little while to reply"

It was well worth the wait!

::"On knowing the face of God, that intimate and unique communion that only the Son has (pp. 5-7) - was this first offered to Adam and Eve, pre-fall?"

I say yes, in some way, absolutely.

::"In forming Adam, surely God communed with them face to face, parent to newborn, from the very moment of creation:
‘formavit igitur Dominus Deus hominem de limo terrae et inspiravit in faciem eius spiraculum vitae et factus est homo in animam viventem’ (‘And the Lord God formed man of the dirt of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul’) – Genesis 2:7."

Yes, I don't know exactly how this communion fits between knowing God directly as Jesus did (theologians affirm he had the Beatific Vision from birth), and seeing God in the manner of Moses, or, for that matter, St. Teresa of Avila. However, the story certainly implies that Adam and Eve were not entirely filled with the vision of God; that that was a goal which could only be achieved by freely choosing, thus progressing to it.

::"And, interestingly, as soon as that innocence is lost – as soon as Adam and Eve disobey – they hide themselves, the implication being they cannot longer look upon God ‘face-to-face’ as they did before:‘et cum audissent vocem Domini Dei deambulantis in paradiso ad auram post meridiem abscondit se Adam et uxor eius a facie Domini Dei in medio ligni paradisi’ (‘And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise’) – Genesis 3:8. [Facie – face. ]"

I wonder if in some way (I've had this idea before, and I've only found it once, in Lewis' Problem of Pain); I wonder if in some way we err when we speak of the fall of Adam and Eve in past tense, as the fall, instead of as in some way an ongoing fall, as in the falling of Adam and Eve -- and I don't mean just in the effects.

::"Following on from what Ratzinger is saying about Moses, it seems that the first kind of prophet, flesh soaked in the fall, simply cannot reach that face-to-face status with God – none of us can. The only possible human exception I can think of is the Virgin Mary, but that would be going off on a tangent. I do not believe we could take seeing God as God: not just as the fire in the bush, the cloud passing over, the Lamb, the flame or the Eucharist; but face-to-face, I don't think we have the capacity to see Him like that. Only Christ, as Ratzinger puts it, in human history lived 'in the most intimate unity with the Father' (p. 6). If God is pure Good, then the only thing that could see him, truly revealed and without veil, would be something else of pure Good, a being of complete purity. If Christ is taken as that being, then His presence offers a typological unwinding of sort. If Adam is the First Man, created, made from dust, the sinner, then Christ is the Second Man, the Godhead and the begotten Man, the sinless. He unknots Adam’s sin: instead of looking away from God, he gazes upon God, Son to Father, Father to Son, and in that allows us the chance to emulate, to follow and to copy his example, so we might gaze, one day, in the same way:

I think Joseph Conti, in his book on Catholic mysticism, said something about seeing with the (spiritual) eyes of Christ.

The question of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Beatific Vision is a good one. I'm inclined, in a fairly certain way, to say she didn't have it; that she certainly had some communion with God that we are not born with, but that, being human like Adam and Eve, she still had "room to grow" to it.

::"If Adam is, in some sense, a ‘prototype’, a rough and unfinished and imperfect thing but shaped like the thing it could be (i.e. a Son of God, Christ being, of course, the perfect, the complete Son of God), then Moses, too, is a ‘prototype’ prophet , who can only see the cloud of God, His back as he passes him, then Christ is the true prophet, fulfilled, whole, perfect, who can look upon God with nothing to obscure his sight:'He lives before the face of God, not just as a friend, but as a Son...' (p.6)"

Well said!

::"'The Christological dimension - in other words, the mystery of the Son as revealer of the father - is prsent in everything Jesus says and does.' (p.7)"

I liked that quote too, and marked it as I thought about posting it...

::"This is why, perhaps, the first prophets – the wholly human prophets - although so near to God when perceiving, mystically, the overwhelming nature of his glory, it expresses itself in vision, symbol, song, rather than as the face of God Himself (Jesse's Ezekiel quote illustrates this beautifully)... The sign *does* express its signified, but it does not have to be the same thing. For example, the lion may be used to represent God*, but the lion is not God in His true form... had to get a sly Narnia reference in there somewhere!

(Narnia references are always welcome:-)

Your words about signs reminds me of what John Henry Newman said about Augustine in this regard:

"One principal change which took place, as time went on, was the following: the Ante-nicene Fathers... speak of the Angelic visions in the Old Testament as if they were appearances of the Son; but St. Augustine introduced the explicit doctrine, which has been received since his date, that they were simply Angels, through whom the Omnipresent Son manifested Himself. This indeed is the only interpretation which the Ante-nicene statements admitted, as soon as reason began to examine what they did mean. They could not mean that the Eternal God could really be seen by bodily eyes; if anything was seen, that must have been some created glory or other symbol, by which it pleased the Almighty to signify His Presence. What was heard was a sound, as external to His Essence, and as distinct from His Nature, as the thunder or the voice of the trumpet, which pealed along Mount Sinai; what it was had not come under discussion till St. Augustine; both question and answer were alike undeveloped. The earlier Fathers spoke as if there were no medium interposed between the Creator and the creature, and so they seemed to make the Eternal Son the medium; what it really was, they had not determined. St. Augustine ruled, and his ruling has been accepted in later times, that it was not a mere atmospheric phenomenon, or an impression on the senses, but the material form proper to an Angelic presence, or the presence of an Angel in that material garb in which blessed {137} Spirits do ordinarily appear to men. Henceforth the Angel in the bush, the voice which spoke with Abraham, and the man who wrestled with Jacob, were not regarded as the Son of God, but as Angelic ministers, whom He employed, and through whom He signified His presence and His will. Thus the tendency of the controversy with the Arians was to raise our view of our Lord's Mediatorial acts, to impress them on us in their divine rather than their human aspect, and to associate them more intimately with the ineffable glories which surround the Throne of God. The Mediatorship was no longer regarded in itself, in that prominently subordinate place which it had once occupied in the thoughts of Christians, but as an office assumed by One, who though having become man in order to bear it, was still God..." (Taken from http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/chapter4.html )

moogdroog said...

Hey, Jesse. Life type things overtook my participation in this discussion! Not sure if it is still going? All the best :)

Jesse said...

Hey Moog. Unfortunately our study group tapered off. I haven't heard from Butch in a while. Recently I saw that you can purchase a study guide, which, I imagine, is good for church groups and friendly get-togethers; still, I was really enjoying the discussion we were all having :-)

Peace,

Jesse