Friday, April 4

The Resurrection and Anthropology: A common complaint against the proclamation of our Lord’s Resurrection is the claim that this story is only a variant of the ancient fertility myths about dying and rising gods. According to this objection, the risen Christ is just a Galilean version of Osiris, as it were.

It is convenient to this argument, of course, that both Jesus and Osiris rose again in the spring, and their celebrations make endless references to vernal themes like renewal and rebirth; they are reasonably regarded, therefore, as variations of a common and nearly universal motif. Of course, usually those that make this point also mean to imply that Jesus is to be taken no more seriously than Osiris.

This argument is very far off the mark. In fact, the Paschal Mystery is not about the death and resurrection of a god. The Church proclaims the Resurrection of Jesus as the Resurrection of a dead man. According to the Christian faith, it is as a human being that Jesus was raised from the dead. He arose in His humanity, just as He died in His humanity. It is a human being, then, who is transformed and glorified by victory over death.

Consequently, the first time the world heard the proclamation of the Resurrection, no mention was made of the pre-existing divinity of the One who rose. St. Peter did not say, "Well, He was God, after all, and there was no way to keep Him down." On the contrary, he proclaimed, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ"(Acts 2:36).

With respect to the dying and rising of pagan divinities no one ever announced, "of which we are all witnesses" (2:32). Strictly speaking, no one ever testified to the death and rising of some historical character named Osiris, and no one was ever invited to believe in Osiris. And it is very certain that no one ever laid down his life for preaching about Osiris.

In contrast, the Resurrection of Jesus was proclaimed as an historical fact, which involved a real man, a person recently deceased, someone whom everyone knew to have died. "This Jesus" was the One who rose.

The difference between these two cases is important, not only as a point of apologetics, but also as a concern of theology. In the man Jesus the human race commenced its journey through death to life. In the "faith of Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:22,26), "the author and finisher of faith," humanity passed from the power of death to eternal life. It was this Jesus "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

As "forerunner" (prodromos), Jesus became our high priest and mediator (6:20; 9:15; 12:24). Opening the way for us, He was the first to pass through every stage of human existence and experience, including the stage of death resultant from the fall of Adam, and to attain mankind’s new and definitive stage, the Resurrection.  Rising from the dead He became the true and efficacious Head of the human race.

This doctrine is what Christian theology calls humanity’s anakephalaiosis, or "re-Heading" (in Latin, recapitulatio). This term means that God’s eternal Son, who became man, took unto Himself the fallen race of men, in order to re-create all humanity through His own humanity. Jesus Christ did this by passing through every stage of human experience and development–the First to do so–restoring to union with God what had perished in Adam.

An early expression of this theology comes from St. Irenaeus, a second century bishop of Lyons, who wrote of God’s Word, "when He became incarnate and was made man, He re-headed in Himself (in Seipso recapitulavit) the long line of human beings, providing us with salvation in a brief, comprehensive manner, so that what we had lost in Adam we might recover in Christ Jesus–that is, our being in the image and likeness of God" (Against the Heresies 3.18.1).

In His assumption of our humanity, God’s Word took to Himself, not only our nature, but also that personal experience of history which is proper to human beings. He sanctified our personal histories by gaining a human, first-hand, personal familiarity with life and death, adding thereto the utterly new experience of eternal life gaining victory over death. His Resurrection was of the essence of man’s redemption, His consecration of human experience from within.

Saturday, April 5

The Resurrection, History, and Psychology: Our reflections on the anthropology of the Resurrection would be incomplete without some attention to history and psychology, because these two subjects are integral to our understanding of what it means to be a human being.

First, then, what does the Resurrection of Christ mean to human history? In truth it begins an entirely new and defining phase of history, because it introduces into human experience, for the first time, a transcendent and utterly certain foundation for hope. It is an absolute novum quid.

With God’s vindication of Jesus of Nazareth, there was posited into history, through the preaching of the Apostles, an entirely new thesis with respect to human destiny. For those that put themselves under the sway of the Gospel, history could no longer be "more of the same," or "business as usual,” because the Resurrection of Christ conferred on history something it had never known before–a metaphysical telos, a goal, a directing and energizing purpose deliberately placed into the process itself.

Since that first Christian Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ has worked as yeast in the dough of the human enterprise, energizing that history toward its final shape. Those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead stand most literally “on the side of history.”

For this reason the Orthodox Church celebrates Pascha by beginning to read the first book of Christian history, the Acts of the Apostles, and all through the Paschal season regular readings from this book replace the normal reading from the New Testament epistles during the Divine Liturgy. This Book of Acts records the first thirty years or so of mankind’s new history, Church History. We appropriately commence our reading of it in the liturgical context of the Resurrection, because it enunciates to the world the novum quid.

Throughout the history of the Church the Resurrection of Christ is the perennial source of power and renewal. This is the reason the Church has survived its worst enemies and always will. All of Christian history thus becomes a revelation and extension of the Resurrection. Christians live and thrive on the compound interest of the Paschal Mystery, a limitless font of joy, strength, perseverance, and victory in the face of the myriad demonic forces raised against them.

Second, the proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ is the announcement of true human psychology, this term being understood in its ancient and etymological sense as "the study of the soul."

Classical philosophy, regarding the human soul as the permanent and essential part of a man, did not understand its relationship with the human body, which is manifestly impermanent. There were various theories on this subject, but scarcely any philosopher regarded the soul as "incomplete" without the body. Some, in fact, thought of the union of body and soul as an aberration, a fall from the soul’s proper spiritual state. Many even regarded the soul and body as mutual enemies, and those who, like Plato, believed in the soul’s native immortality, were not disposed to think its departure from the body as much to be mourned. Such was the argument that Socrates elaborated for Phaedo and his friends as he prepared to drink the hemlock.

The doctrine of the Resurrection, which posits the reunion of soul and body as man’s permanent and proper state, stands as an affront to theories of this sort. It is no wonder that the Athenians and others treated this doctrine with derision and as a species of madness (Acts 17:32; 26:23-24; 1 Corinthians 15:12). They laughed, because pagan philosophy was overly taxed by the preaching of the Resurrection; with outside help, wrote St. Bonaventure, "our reason cannot conceive such things as the resurrection of bodies." Consequently, those pagan philosophers "were unaware that the world had an end and that bodies would rise from their dust" (In Hexaemeron 7.6).

Apart from the Resurrection, that is to say, philosophy rather deeply misunderstood the very nature of the soul, thinking of it as a separate and independent entity, maintaining its essential being apart from the body. This was a serious aberration characteristic of all classical philosophy. According to the Christian faith and hope, in contrast, the final perfection of man will include the reunion of his soul and body, and the soul itself will remain incomplete, even in heaven, until that reunion at the final resurrection.

In the thirteenth century, when much of the Scholastic movement tried to treat philosophy as an autonomous source of wisdom–a scientia separata–independent of divine revelation, St. Bonaventure appealed to the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection as part of his ongoing critique of that effort. Without the Gospel of the Resurrection, he argued, philosophy was unable even to understand the human soul. "Assured eternity,” he wrote, “is incompatible with the possibility of loss, and it is certain that perfect peace is possible only in the reunion of body and soul. If, then, the soul is essentially disposed toward the body, the soul is fully at peace only after the body has been returned to it" (7.5). For this reason, heaven itself will be incomplete until the resurrection of the dead, the completion of history, and the restoration of man’s psychological integrity.

Sunday, April 6

The Forty Days of Lingering: During the forty days following His Resurrection, Jesus acts very differently than He did before. During this period when, says St. Luke, "He presented Himself alive . . . by many infallible proofs," Jesus seems to be only half with us. He appears in one place, then appears somewhere else, but He does not seem to travel from the one location to the next. He comes on a scene without warning, passing mysteriously through doors, and then making it a point to demonstrate the solidity of His flesh and bones. Then, just as abruptly, He takes His leave, we know not how. Jesus’ behavior–if the word be allowed–during this time is strange, unpredictable, and certainly inconsistent with normal expectations.

Just as He passes through the closed door of the upper room, our Lord seems also, without actually rending it, to make repeated openings into time. The various post-Resurrection stories, which are notoriously difficult to reconcile as parts of sequential history, indicate that Jesus’ new existence does not display what we normally think of as sequence. It is as though His life is set free from the limitations of time and space. Indeed, we believe this to be the truth. 

The unpredictable absence and presence of the risen Jesus during this time convey the impression that He is living partly in eternity, partly in time, half in heaven, and half among mortals. It is as though He is hesitant to take His physical leave of history, and we believe this too to be the truth.

In fact He prolongs His stay on this earth so that the Church may be further strengthened. For forty days He fortifies in His believers the sense that He is gone but is still with them. In sundry ways He acquaints them with a new mode of His presence.

During this time He appears repeatedly to speak of things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).  Certainly in His earlier days on earth Jesus discoursed on this very subject times out of mind, but now the teaching of the kingdom is contoured and nuanced by the new condition of the Teacher. In some sense the kingdom itself is different now; at least it is experienced differently, as the risen Lord delicately accustoms His Church to a new way of His being with them.

Sweet indeed are these forty days, and unique beyond any period in the history of world. Jesus of Nazareth has died, has descended into hell and triumphed over death by coming forth from the tomb, but He has not yet taken leave of history. He prolongs His sojourn among those that love Him. These days are not only tender and loving, but also exciting.

Indeed, there is something about this time that one dares to describe as jocose. Is there not something exceeding playful, for instance, in our Lord’s incognito appearance to Mary Magdalene, just before revealing Himself in a single word? Again, still playing the stranger, He walks some seven miles with two disciples, using the grammatical third person to question them about His own death, lecturing them at length on the Holy Scriptures, and then finally disappearing at the moment they recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.

If we look for a term to describe such conduct, the words "hide and seek" may come to mind, and this is the name of a game. Is He not in some sense playing with us? There is a delicate touch of frolic in all this, a quiet celebration among these friends of the Victor over sin and death.

Thus, there is an element of mirth and teasing in the Lord’s invitation to skeptical Thomas to inspect the wounds of the Passion, and irony is perhaps the word that best describes the way our Lord presses Simon Peter three times at the lakeside: "Do you love Me?"

Just what is our Lord about during this time? He is putting the final touches on His Church. And I use the word "touches" on purpose. Touching us here is what He does. He employs this brief period to impress an immediate and final shape on the memory and imagination of His people. Yes, touch is the word we want.

Indeed, when the Gospel was preached not long afterwards, the preaching was shaped by the events of these forty days (Acts 2:32). When, decades later, the Gospels were written, they were composed in the warm light shed quietly upon the Church during this time. The Church would never be able to look back at the life of Jesus except through the post-Resurrection lens. Indeed, the very attempt would be irreverent, like analyzing the physics of a kiss. (This is the reason why, by the way, there is a radical frustration built into later attempts to find "the historical Jesus." The Church rightly reacts against such efforts. These forty days were an essential component, even a defining part, of that history!)

The Lord’s final act is to raise His hands in blessing, as He ascends into heaven, after which we faithful return to the upper room for a prayerful retreat to assimilate intp our hearts the mystery so recently, so gently too, and so deftly revealed.

How long will it last? We have no idea. "When" is none of the Church’s business. It is not for us to know the times or seasons that the Father has put in His own authority (Acts 1:7). Concerns about God’s schedule are a great distraction and open to terrible deceptions.

And this is perhaps the most important lesson that we learn during these forty days of His mysterious lingering with us. He will do what He will do, and He will pick the time and place of doing it. Until the end of the world our task, according to the earliest page of the New Testament, is simply "to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Monday, April 7

John the Theologian: Almost from the beginning of Christian history attentive readers of Holy Scripture have referred to the author of the Fourth Gospel as “John the Theologian,” thereby testifying to the special theological depth that seemed to set him apart among the evangelists. Only in recent times, however, have biblical students been disposed to analyze, critically and systematically, those distinctive features that render John so unique, and to arrange those features into a synthetic picture.

We may contrast their treatment of John, in this respect, with their treatment of Paul. Even as Christians referred to John as the “Theologian,” it was the theology of Paul that they critically and systematically analyzed and arranged into a synthetic whole. There seem to be three reasons for this anomaly.

First, it is a fact that the New Testament contains more information about Paul than about John. The Acts of the Apostles in particular provides a biographical outline, of sorts, for the Apostle to the Gentiles, an outline that gives the careful student a measure of critical and analytical control in the study of the Pauline epistles. (This was true for centuries. In more recent times, alas, these students have been largely controlled by non-biblical presuppositions that often prompted them to doubt the very authorship of various epistles of St. Paul.)

Thus, it is possible to detect a personal development in Paul’s theology. Under the influence of the Acts of the Apostles, a synthetic reading of Paul’s thought takes on something of a biographical character, which links his theology more closely to his person. Such an approach to Paul is discernable as far back as St. John Chrysostom.

This kind of approach is far more difficult in the case of John. Except for a few extra-biblical references, there is no historical way to control the study of John’s writings. Among the works traditionally ascribed to John, only the Book of Revelation actually claims to have been written by him (if it is the same John!). For this reason we do not have a clear picture of John, such as we have for Paul, so that we are somewhat deprived of a personal center around which to focus our study of Johannine thought.

This consideration leads immediately to a second reason why a synthetic study of John is so difficult. Readers of the Johannine corpus have often differed very much among themselves about which of the various Johannine writings should rightly be ascribed to John. To say the least, this situation makes it very difficult to form a synthesis of "Johannine theology."

There is a third reason why a systematic, synthetic analysis of Johannine theology has been relatively slow in coming: Unlike Paul, who dominates the epistolary section of the New Testament, the Gospel of John, which is the major component of the Johannine corpus, is simply one of four gospels. Hence the study of John has tended to be just a subsection of a more ample category, namely, “Gospel studies,” in which category John was compared and contrasted with the Synoptic Gospels. While it was always recognized that John is special among the four gospels, it was always a case of “among.” There was no consistent pattern of isolating John’s theology itself as distinctive, because the study of John was normally part of a larger picture.

Of these three impediments to a Johannine theology, the most difficult is surely the second—the determination of limits of the Johannine canon. How can we arrive at a synthesis of Johannine thought if we are uncertain about which books John really did write?

The problem in John’s canon usually has to do with the Book of Revelation. If this book is set aside from the Johannine corpus, however, the final product of Johannine study will be more abstract, less historical, because it will be missing the prophetic, apocalyptic dimension supplied by that book. We shall certainly end up with a different John if we eliminate the Book of Revelation, very much as those who deny the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles end up with a different Paul.

How then should one proceed? I believe that the only viable presupposition on which to base a systematic study of John is the prior acceptance of Johannine authorship, at least broadly understood, for all the writings traditionally ascribed to him–to wit, the Fourth Gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation. This hypothesis is not attractive to those who find it difficult to imagine that a single author was responsible for works that differ so much among themselves with respect to genre and style. I confess to a lack of sympathy for their failure of imagination.

I believe that the full synthesis of John’s theology requires the study of three different literary forms, each with its separate characteristics: meditative narrative, epistle, and apocalyptic vision. This combination is true of no other New Testament writer.

It is also my persuasion that the acceptance of this authorial hypothesis is amply justified by the resultant fruits of such a study.

Tuesday, April 8

Psalm 28 (Greek and Latin 27): Holy Church has long interpreted this psalm in reference to the Lord’s Resurrection. Some lines of it tend to make that association inevitable: “My helper and protector is the Lord; in Him my heart hoped, and I was helped. And my flesh took life again, so I shall praise Him with ready will.”

This revival of the very flesh of Christ was not a simple return to a life in the flesh, for the risen body of our Lord is saturated with the transforming energies of the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual and heavenly body, not in the sense of being immaterial, but in the sense that its material composition is itself completely filled with, and inwardly transformed by, God’s definitive outpouring of the divine life. The risen flesh of Christ is thus the first fruits of the new creation, the root and initial installment of that universal transformation by which God will make things new.

The Apostle Paul wrote of this sacred mystery of the Resurrection during the paschal season of the year 55. He was addressing the church at Corinth sometime during the fifty-day interval between Pascha and Pentecost, and, even as he wrote, he referred to the extended paschal season that the Christians were observing: “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast” (1 Cor. 5:7, 8). He wrote these words from Ephesus, where he was planning to stay until Pentecost, which would come presently (16:8).

Writing during that paschal season, St. Paul used the occasion to expound on the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus, particularly with respect to the new quality of the risen body. The resurrection of the dead, he insisted, is not a simple return to the corruptible life of the body that all men know. It is something marvelously different, analogous to the transformation that takes place when the sown seed rises to new life in the growing plant: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body (soma physikon), and there is a spiritual body (pneumatikon)” (15:42–44).

The spiritual body of the Resurrection is not some kind of “shade.” Jesus is no ghost. “Handle Me and see,” says the risen Christ, “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). The risen body is still a body, which is to say that it is still composed of matter. To say that the risen body is spiritual does not mean that it is immaterial, but that it is incorruptible. Indeed, in order to emphasize the point that His risen body is still a reality composed of matter, the Lord insisted on actually eating a honeycomb and a piece of fish in the presence of the Church (24:42, 43).

Therefore, the contrast involved here is not one of matter and immateriality, but of two different states of matter: matter subject to corruption, or matter suffused with the Spirit-given dynamism of immortality–matter that is subject to death and corruption, or matter that can never again die.

Our corruptible bodies were descended from Adam; our new bodies are derived from Christ: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . . . The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Cor. 15:45–49).

Such is the divine mystery celebrated in our psalm. The resurrection of the Lord (“my flesh took life again”) is contrasted with the lot who simply go down unto death: “O my God, be not silent to me, for if you are silent to me, I shall be like unto those that descend unto Hades.”

Our psalm also teaches that the life of the Resurrection is a life of divine praise. Indeed, the Church’s praise of God is rooted in the Resurrection of Christ: “The Lord is the strength of His people, and the protector of His anointed one’s salvation.”

(From P. H. Reardon, Christ in the Psalms

Wednesday, April 9

The Prophecy of Ezekiel: Among those exiles who in sorrow hung their harps on the willows beside the waters of Babylon was a priest named Ezekiel, whose book of prophecy we begin today. Ezekiel, in fact, arrived early in Mesopotamia (Greek for “in the midst of the rivers”), part of the group of hostages that Nebuchadrezzar took from Jerusalem in 598, by way of discouraging rebellion and political agitation in the Jewish capital (2 Kings 24:10-17). Not everyone that made that arduous journey survived it, but Ezekiel was still young and strong. We will find him still writing until about 571.

Ezekiel was one of those exiles that were settled by the Chebar Canal, one of the many man-made waterways included in what the Psalmist called “the waters of Babylon.” We are not sure what occupied Ezekiel’s time during the first five years, but in 593 he was given a special revelation from God, who therewith called him to be a prophet (Ezekiel 1:1-2). He wrote what he saw, and he precisely recorded the date of the vision, as he would do for all subsequent revelations. His habit of dating his visions conferred on Ezekiel the distinction of being considered the world’s first religious diarist. 

Interspersed with these revelatory visions are Ezekiel’s own reflections on their significance. While the former are described with intense passion and color, showing the prophet as a visionary, the latter are calm and reflective, showing the prophet to be a critical thinker of great depth. These are the two sides of this very complex man who was called to enlighten that entire generation of Jews in Captivity.

Ezekiel’s interest in chronological precision is of a piece with what we may call an autobiographical perspective in his prophecy. This perspective is somewhat new among the prophets, but one suspects it is related to Baruch’s biographical interest in Jeremiah, Ezekiel’s earlier contemporary. There had been prophetic biography before, of course, as we see in the 9th century stories of Elijah and Elisha. There had also been elements of the autobiographical, as seen in the “vocation narratives” of Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. In Ezekiel, however, the entire perspective is explicitly autobiographical.

And this process of autobiography tends to render Ezekiel’s perspective more “objective” than Jeremiah’s, in the sense of being less emotional. We find in him even a disposition toward abstraction, in which his habit of leisured reflection is able to scan broad vistas in a unified vision. Thus, we do not find in Ezekiel the highly emotion, deeply troubled soul of Jeremiah. Hence, the biographical elements of Ezekiel differ considerably from those in Jeremiah. He is able to stand back and look at his message in a calm, reflective way. He has enough “detachment” even from his ecstatic visions that he can take care to record their dates!

Ezekiel’s perspective is also visionary. Hitherto there have been visionary elements in the prophets. One thinks of Elijah, Isaiah, and Amos. Ezekiel is the first, however, whose entire prophetic ministry is essentially tied to visionary experiences. Subsequent prophets, such as Daniel, Zechariah, and St. John the Divine would share this characteristic.

Like most of the prophets, Ezekiel suffered, though suffering is not so noticeably a component of his spiritual growth, as was the case with Jeremiah. The year 587 was arguably Ezekiel’s hardest year. That was the year Jerusalem was destroyed and Ezekiel’s wife died.

Ezekiel was clearly a well-educated man, arguably one of the most educated of the biblical authors. His knowledge of the world around him, his familiarity with “current events” as well as ancient history, his vast store of information on trade, travel, and political alliances put him on a par with such cosmopolitan writers as Herodotus and Polybius.

Ezekiel was also a priest, and perhaps this is the key to understanding him. In his youth he had ministered in the Temple. This explains his deep sympathy for priestly interests. Unlike Jeremiah, who was also of a priestly family, Ezekiel’s thought is dominated by the Temple, and in the descriptions of his visions there is recourse to the imagery of the Temple liturgy. Finally, the closing chapters of  his prophecy are taken up with visions of the New Temple.

Chapter 1 describes Ezekiel’s call to be a prophet. In the second half of summer Ezekiel received his inaugural call by the banks of the Kabari Canal, a man-made waterway that flowed out of the Euphrates, through the city of Babylon, and then back to its mother river. This “fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiakin” is calculated to be the period between April 30 of the year 593 and April 18, of the year 592. The “fifth day of the fourth month” of this year was August 4, 593. This was the date of Ezekiel’s calling.

Like the inaugural callings of Moses (Exodus 3:1-4) and Isaiah (6:1-6), the calling of Ezekiel is glorious and visionary. Above the “four living creatures,” who support the vault of heaven, he sees “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” God’s glory, because it fills all of heaven and earth, can be revealed anywhere, whether in a burning bush in the Sinai Peninsula, or in the temple at Jerusalem, or, as now, by the banks of a waterway in Babylonia.

Thursday, April 10

Ezekiel 2: After his inaugural vision in Chapter 1, Ezekiel now formally receives his call in Chapter 2. The Spirit (in Hebrew Ruach), of which Ezekiel spoke in 1:4 (where the same Hebrew word is usually translated as “Wind”), now enters into him, causing him to stand up. This is the same Ruach that will enliven the dry bones in Chapter 37.

It will be another six years before Jerusalem will be destroyed, and the exiles, to whom he is sent to preach, are rebellious. Ezekiel is exhorted not to be impressed by them, nor necessarily to expect positive fruits from his preaching. In terms very reminiscent of the calls of Moses and Jeremiah, Ezekiel is instructed to continue preaching to his contemporaries, no matter how they receive his word. It is God’s word, after all, that he will speak.

Toward the end of this chapter he will be handed a scroll of God’s word, which he is instructed to eat. This is one of several places in Holy Scripture where God’s Word is likened to food.

This image also indicates the prophet is to assimilate God’s Word and to preach it from within the digestive processes of his own mind and heart. It is always the word of man as well as the Word of God. According to Christian theology God speaks to man through the inner creative workings of his mind and heart. In that inspiration by which God caused the Holy Scriptures to be written, man himself was a co-worker with God, a synergos. God’s word is likewise, then, the word of some human being who is properly called an "author."

Friday, April 11

Ezekiel 3: The point of eating the scroll was that the prophet should internalize God’s message, assimilating it into his own being, so that he could speak God’s word as his own (cf. Revelation 10:8-11). It remains one of the great images of prophetic inspiration: “All my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart.”

Thus, we believe that the teaching of the Pentateuch is not simply the word of God, but also the word of Moses. We contend that God spoke to Moses through divine inspiration, a Spirit-breathed process that included the thinking and imaginative powers of . . . Moses. Biblical Inspiration means that God’s word was filtered through—digested by—fermented in—the mind and heart of a human author.

Revelation comes to us, accordingly, through the inner anguish of Jeremiah, the soaring minds of John and Isaiah, the probing questions of Job and Habakkuk, the near despair of Qoheleth, the structured poetry of David, the disappointments of Jonah, the struggles of Nehemiah, the mystic raptures of Ezekiel, the slow, patient scholarship of Ezra, the careful narrative style of Mark, the historical investigations of Luke, and that pounding mill, the ponderous thinking of Paul.

God’s Word finds expression in inspired literature, because it first assumed flesh in human thought and imagination.  This truth is indicated in that vision where Ezekiel sees God’s word on a scroll that he must eat. That is to say, God’s word always comes to us in a fermented, pre-digested form.

This great vision is then followed by seven days of reflection (verses 15-16), at the end of which Ezekiel is made aware of his new vocation as a watchman for God’s people. Whether they heed him or not, the watchman has a divinely commissioned responsibility to give proper warning. This theme will return in Chapter 33.