Monday, October 12, 2015

Since the world hasn't ended, how do we read the end of the Bible?

Recently I had the privilege of teaching a course on the Book of Revelation. The experience both taught me a lot and revealed how much I do not know about this fascinating book. Rather than share or reveal my ignorance with you, a couple of very interesting posts on Revelation can be found here and here. Both by Ian Paul at Psephizo. He does know more than I know!

But here is my one tiny gleaning from my recent teaching/learning experience: Revelation teaches us that things are never quite what they seem to be!


Father Ron Smith said...

Well, Peter. Join the club! Scripture has Jesus saying that "No-one knows the Father - except the Son - and those to whom the son chooses to reveal Him!" That statement should warn all of us about our overt readiness to have an explanation for everything in God's World.

Far more encouraging to me - a barely literate 'theologian' - is the ecnouraging statement of Jesus (reflecting the humility needed on the part of those eminent scholars presuming to 'teach' the depths of God's dealings with his human children) that says: "Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever, and revealing them to mere children".
This one reason I follow Francis of Assisi rather then Francis Zavier - both beloved of God, but differently gifted.

Andrew Reid said...

Can I recommend Paul Barnett's entry-level commentary on Revelation as a great place to start? It's very easy to read and his description of the historical and OT background to Revelation makes it much easier to understand the imagery and message of the book.

Bryden Black said...

Peter; a small contribution to this delightful Book of Revelation.

We should not miss the fact that the opening chapters of the canon, Gen
1–2, and the closing chapters, Rev 19–22, both in their respective ways
spell out firstly the crucial sacramentum (or sign) of human marriage on
the one hand, and then the res (the thing signified), the Heavenly Marriage
of the Bride and the Lamb, on the other hand. In this way we have
displayed a powerful pair of bookends to the entire Scriptures of Old and
New Covenants.

Father Ron Smith said...

Further to Bryden's reference to the 'Marriage' paradigms in Genesis and Revelation: A first year theology student could easily dsicern the acute difference between the two references. The first refers to the generational necessity of the conjunction of male and female in a sexual union - for the purpose of procreation. The second is entirely different; signalling the union of the human and the divine - with no sexual connotation whatsoever. You simply cannot compare the two as beng of the same order.

Bryden Black said...

If your comment be true Ron, then we'd best be apologizing to Paul in Eph 5.

Father Ron Smith said...

Soory, Bryden, I don't get your drift.

Bryden Black said...

The “drift” Ron may be discerned straight from the text of Scripture itself.

Let’s start at Eph 5:14, that slice of a baptismal hymn - though the NT baptismal catechism has been in play ever since the second half of the Letter, 4:1, its running to the end, 6:18.

5:14-21 then is the first section, climaxing with the string of present participles, which are the natural manifestation of “letting the Holy Spirit fill you (plural)”.

5:22-6:9 unpacks the meaning of “mutual submission” (21) via three pairs of key relationships, starting with that lodestar, marriage, during the course of which Paul famously gives us the rationale for the BCP’s Introduction to the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony - which “... signifies unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church”.

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, note the phrase 'mystical union' - nothing to do with the act of procreation. This refers to the union of hearts and minds.

The BCP naturally could not have referred to any other than heterosexual marriage, simply because, at that time, their was no other understanding of any other relationship offered by the Church. The Church in different parts of the world - with a more up-to-date understanding of anthropology - now has other options.

However, Scripture has other paradigms of deep and intimate relationship between people of the same gender: Jesus and John; David and Jonathan - the latter of which was referred do as 'above that of (men for) women.

Bryden Black said...

Ah yes; “mystical”! As if we could flash this word, Ron, like waving some Harry Potter magical wand, and address all the complexities of Eph 5...

Yet we may not treat bodies as if they were immaterial or types of body as if the differences were not relevant (with no apology for the puns which are deliberately significant - again!)

I’ve suggested we might have to apologize to St Paul. Now I fear we’ve to apologize also to Henri de Lubac, whose dogged detailing of the rich and complex history in his Corpus Mysticum is justly embarrassed by your wand waving. Nor do our apologies end here. Even more is JP2's thesis of the spousal meaning/mystery of the body and the corresponding language of the body in truth deserving of our apologies.

Nor should we lose sight of what prompted all this: Mark Harris and ACNA, and the ABC. For in the light of both de Lubac and JP2, we’ve to note well the sheer necessity, given the story of the opening years of the 21st C among the AC, of Welby’s invitation to Foley Beach.

The tragedy of much contemporary Anglicanism - or of what passes for such - is that we’ve forgotten whence we were hewn (Isa 51:1-2), becoming reduced to a heralding of simplistic sloganeering. “The rereading of the ‘language of the body’ in truth”, notably in its spousal setting of mystery and purity of heart, is far too rich for such trite speech.

Mais tout court; adieu!

Father Ron Smith said...

Relax, Bryden. The Good News is that God loves you! You don't have to struggle to explain yourself.