Saturday, August 22, 2009

Anderson on 'the close nexus between Temple appurtenance and the presence of God'

"Brown's observation . . . was made solely on the basis of the Exodus narrative and as such grounds the theology of the prologue in a singular act--the moment when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle on the day of its completion. What we have shown in this article is that this momentous theophany was routinized in the daily life of the cult. It was not only the Israelites of Moses's day who saw God as he entered his newly dedicated Tabernacle; all Israelites could see God as they ascended to the Temple to participate in the rite of the furniture. What the post-biblical Jewish materials we have examined provide is a more phenomenological, or even cultic, background against which we can set John's own theology of a visible and tabernacle-like presence of the Logos."

"It has often been stated that because of Israel's radically anti-iconic stance, it came to prefer forms of revelation that were mediated by Word rather than by sight. This assertion like all such truisms, is to some extent accurate. Nevertheless, as we have seen in this article, it should not be assumed that because Israel rejected the representation of God in statuary form in the Temple, it thereby rejected all linkages of God to a specific physical location", e.g. the Temple and its furniture.

"According to Dionysius, who is clearly following the lead of the biblical text, Moses does not see God himself but rather confronts the next best thing. He is allowed to contemplate the invisible God in the the visible form of his domestic furniture. For, as he argues, it is through this furniture that 'his unimaginable presence is shown.' To paraphrase Dionysius, we cannot see God face to face but he has graciously consented to let us see where he dwells."

Gary A. Anderson, "To see where God dwells: the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the origins of the Christian mystical tradition," Communio: international Catholic review 36, no. 1 (Spring 2009): 56, 64-65, 68.

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