Revelation is a Holograph

God is an indivisible whole, so any bit of him is all of him. Nothing new can ever be added to revelation, then, because wherever revelation occurs, the whole of God enters into the prophet, and is present there, fully disclosed to him who has eyes to see.

With each ingression of God to the created order, the whole of him enters in. So each instance of his ingress, and each instance of every type of him, is a synecdoche of the whole of him. Thus is he completely present in every atom of creation, in each speck of consecrated host, each Christian, each congregation – and in every passage of the Scriptures.

In principle, the prophet can see the whole of God in any part of him. Because the whole of God is present in every bit of him, a vision of any such bit is for the seer a glimpse that takes in all that God knows. So it is that those who return from the mystical ascent report having seen “everything.”

But why then does it take so much time for Israel to learn? Why does doctrine develop, so that, e.g., the Trinity present in scripture from earliest times was not recognized explicitly until 300 or so? The Heavens tell the Glory of God, as do we, members of the sky; but the telling by which we take our places in the host of creation takes our time. And there is not room in the whole world for all the books that telling would fill. Each bit is a system of all things, and all participate in each; but no bit can express more than a few things, these few in their unique combinations each furnishing our differentiations, defining our beings, and specifying our stations in the ranks, our ontological addresses.

All that happens, then, from one particular historical development to the next, is that some saint or other notices some aspect of the whole of God’s revelation for the first time in history. The newly discovered pearl of great price is not itself new. It has been lying out in the field the whole time, waiting for us to stumble upon it, the scandal and subvenient means of all subsidiary searches. The pearl is the root of the field, its omphalos and bound, its matter, foundation, source, and end.

Any telling is finite, but the tale is not. So creation is ever complete – how not, since it is of God? – yet the worlds are without end.

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10 thoughts on “Revelation is a Holograph

  1. Pingback: Revelation is a Holograph | Reaction Times

  2. Question: “Why does doctrine develop, so that, e.g., the Trinity present in scripture from earliest times was not recognized explicitly until 300 or so?”

    See also “omphalos,” “synecdoche,” etc., in the original post.

    Answer: Because that doctrine as it has developed since New Testament times was not, in fact, in the original word of God. Moreover, the New Testament presents its message with an unassuming and unpretentious vocabulary. The vocabulary of the New Testament is quite modest: 5,624 words in Greek. The Old Testament has a vocabulary of just 8,674 Hebrew words. The English Bible (King James Version) has a vocabulary of just 12,143 words.

    The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. This is some fifteen times larger than the biblical vocabulary.

    While John 21:25 suggests that the world could not contain all the books that could be written about the works of Jesus (and I concur), apparently a fairly simple vocabulary was all that was necessary for our salvation. It was a vocabulary simple enough for the everyday Galilean or Judean to understand when enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and this sufficed for the prophets and the apostles.

    • So? Can propositions be true only if they are expressed in the most commonly used words? Ought we all always to abjure any but the 600 most common words, for all our purposes? Are the less common words somehow wicked?

      Or, are nursery rhymes better than Bach, so that we ought not to explore polyphony, harmony or counterpoint because, even though they are implicit in the logic of music, they are not present in nursery rhymes?

      I don’t mean to suggest that scripture is simplistic, like nursery rhymes. On the contrary. All I’m doing is elucidating a reductio.

      I could of course have pitched the post at four year olds, avoiding all the Greek and sticking to four letter words in Good Old Anglo Saxon. In doing so, I could have expressed all the same ideas. It would have taken a bit longer, is all, and I was in a hurry to get it all down before I forgot it. Happens to me a lot these days.

      • Word of the day: sesquipedalian

        A typical college-level English vocabulary is 12,000–17,000 words. A junior-high level vocabulary is perhaps 10,000-12,000 words. This roughly brackets the vocabulary of the KJV.

        By the end of the Old English period (Anglo-Saxon) the size of the lexicon was well over 10,000 words, perhaps as large as 50,000 words, much smaller than modern English, but still considerable. About 25% of modern English derives from Anglo-Saxon. Some examples with more than four letters: notwithstanding, aforethought, contrariwise, officialdom, mettlesome, hireling, foundling, beholden.

        A four-year-old’s vocabulary is perhaps over bit 1,000 words. This vocabulary would be precisely appropriate when you are speaking to a four-year-old.

        So what pertaining to our salvation cannot be expressed in the vocabulary of the Bible or in a vocabulary roughly that size? Would arguments be better expressed or more appealing if they were less intelligible to the reader? I admit that the Savior sometimes spoke in parables, but that was not an issue of vocabulary.

        Christianity was not originally a religion of philosophical adepts. See 1 Cor. 1:26.

      • You have not responded to the question: Can propositions be true only if they are expressed in the most commonly used words? Or, for that matter, in any given set of words, in any language?

        When the New Testament and the resolutions of the first Councils were written, the English lexicon consisted of 0 words. They were devised and written in Koiné Greek. Does this mean that we should confine discourses on Christianity to Koiné Greek?

        Everything concerning our salvation can be expressed without the use of a single word, in any human language. The Faith transcends language. But then, so does reality: a mite of dust far outpasses all human telling. Does this mean we should never say anything?

        Christianity was not a religion of philosophical adepts? Verses 26 through 31 of First Corinthians is a philosophically adept response to sophists. Paul is a brilliant philosopher. He is the greatest theologian in history. He ran rings around the Athenians at Mars Hill.

        As reality outpasses all language, so truth outpasses all philosophy. This most emphatically *does not mean* that language refers to nothing real, or that philosophy can attain to no truth.

      • Word of the day: lexiphanic

        The relevant question is not whether something can be true only if it can be expressed in simple terms, though if you can’t express something in simple terms, maybe there is something wrong with your understanding of the thought. After all, a dictionary defines a word in terms of other words, native or foreign.

        The relevant question is can something be understood if it is not in the language of its hearers? I view it has a great triumph of Christianity when the Bible was made available in the vernacular (something that cost the blood of martyrs) and when the services became available in the vernacular. It has taken the Catholic Church some 500 years to catch up with the Protestant world on that score, and the Orthosphere seems to bemoan the change.

        The objective of being understandable to the target audience is why the Bible was translated into many languages. There is nothing special about English, except that it spoken by a lot a people, including the readers of this blog. Why not write all your posts in Greek or Latin? Because you would lose your audience.

        Faith comes by hearing. See Romans 10:17. It is true that the Spirit can move someone without conscious words, but a distain of language would also lead one to similarly distain preaching, the scriptures, and even oral tradition. Do you really want to go there? If you reject the Protestant appreciation of the written and spoken word, you are not left with Catholicism, but with a form of Pentecostalism.

        Early Christian thought was not grounded in neoplatonism or any Greek school of thought. Harnack in What is Christianity? observed: “Yet we cannot say that the earliest Christian writings, let alone the Gospel, show, to any considerable extent, the presence of a Greek element.” James Shiel of the University of Sussex correctly notes in Greek Thought and the Rise of Christianity that St. Paul is a severe critic of Greek philosophy as a “dangerous deception.” See Col. 2:8 and 1 Tim. 6:20. However, as Shiel notes, a few centuries later the situation is reversed and the religious message is presented as a philosophy and in philosophical terms, as it is in the Orthosphere. But that presentation was not in the original. Hence the need for the creation of a new, non-Biblical vocabulary and the controversies that accompanied that introduction. But such a development was not an improvement on the original.

      • The relevant question is not whether something can be true only if it can be expressed in simple terms …

        Yes, it really is the relevant question. If you have an argument with *what* I have said, because you think it is untrue, that’s one thing. If you have a problem with the way I have said it, that’s quite another. So far as I can remember, you’ve offered not a single counter-argument to any of my substantive arguments. All you’ve done is complain about how I express things in ways that are too complex and philosophical, using terms that are not found in Scripture or Anglo Saxon. You seem to think that if an idea isn’t expressed in short common words that any high-schooler can understand, then that somehow renders it illegitimate. I keep asking you why that should be so, and you don’t answer. You just say the same thing again in a different way: too complex, too abstruse, too philosophical, too Greek. I offer argument after argument that the Apostles and Fathers were quite familiar with Greek philosophy, sophisticated in the use of its terms and adapting its concepts for their purposes; you pay no attention.

        Why? Why do you persist in this? If you don’t like the style around here, there are millions of sites that talk about things in much simpler terms. Why don’t you just go and read them instead? If you hate philosophy so much, why do you hang around here and subject yourself to it?

        What, precisely, is the axe you are grinding here? If you think anything I’ve said is false, show me why. But please leave off with this business of going on about the vocabularies of this or that slice of the population at this or that period of history, as if that mattered to the substance of what is being said.

        Go back and read Col. 2:8 and 1 Tim. 6:20. They are warnings, not against philosophy as such, but against *false* philosophy, that has not been baptized by Christian truth.

  3. Why does doctrine develop, so that, e.g., the Trinity present in scripture from earliest times was not recognized explicitly until 300 or so?

    Perhaps there’s a little lack of clarity with regard to “recognized explicitly.” Did you mean something like ‘formalized in words,’ or ‘defined with philosophical rigor’, to which all the faithful were required to assent? I’m also not sure that Nicea was a development of doctrine (regarding the Trinity), but rather a formalization of what was already known so as to separate the Christians from the Arians. I feel confident that Paul and the other Apostles transmitted a knowledge of the Trinity sufficient to allow such a distinction in the first place.

    I’m not sure what Leo means by ” that doctrine as it has developed since New Testament times was not, in fact, in the original word of God.” If he means this in reference to the Trinity, then Protestants and Catholics who hold in common the Nicene Creed are worshiping a false God. But I trust he is targeting instead what many Protestants like to call “Catholic accretions.”

    Also, words like “omphalos” don’t bother me. It gives me something to do.

    • Your more careful wording is better than mine, although I was indeed aiming at expressing the same thing: an explicit, philosophically rigorous formalization of notions already present from the beginning in the deposit of faith.

      I’m also not sure that Nicea was a development of doctrine (regarding the Trinity), but rather a formalization of what was already known so as to separate the Christians from the Arians. I feel confident that Paul and the other Apostles transmitted a knowledge of the Trinity sufficient to allow such a distinction in the first place.

      Me, too. In fact, I doubt it is quite accurate to say that doctrine itself develops at all. It’s our understanding of the doctrine that develops. The Trinity for example is implicit throughout scripture, both OT and NT (there are quite a number of websites that take note of OT references to the Trinity). It is spelled out in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19. All that happened at Nicea is that it was explicitly formalized.

      One of the tests that the Church applies to proposed dogmatic definitions is to check to make sure that the doctrine in question has always been believed by the faithful.

  4. “there are quite a number of websites that take note of OT references to the Trinity”

    Now that is interesting, and since you haven’t told me where they are, I’m going to hunt them up.

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