Text-Truth-Cosmos

25 03 2008

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The four Gospels are placed by Origen in relation to the four elements of the world: he sees there the four elements of which the universe of grace is constituted. “the world that God has reconciled to Himself in Christ”…  Scripture is like another world, built on the first, and if “it is a mixture of things visible and invisible”, that is because the latter is also. 

 -Henri Cardinal de Lubac, History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen

There are then two approaches to word/truth:

1. Word and truth as quantity and bits of information. Truth is something that is posessed, absolutely trascendent, and somewhat ghostly. It is abstract and very separate from the concrete. It is form extracted from matter. It is the basis of our modern approaches to metaphysics, hermeneutics, exegesis, political thought, etc.

2. Word and truth as symbolic reality (the ancient tradition): The truth is something to be assimilated, “swallowed”, and “performed” in the soul. The exterior order of the universe is meant to be absorbed into the soul so that it can reveal to the soul the order inherent inside it; the spark of divinity as St. Gregory Nanzianzen puts it. What goes on in the inner self is an expression of the order outside of oneself, and the realization ultimately arises that it is the interior beauty that is superior. Thus, the text is not something from which truth must be extracted like juice from pulp. It is rather a sign by which one’s ascent to the Divine is unlocked.

It is arguable that we don’t really understand a lot of what we read.