To recreate is a harder task than to create.
Peter Leithart’s survey of the Gospels, The Four, models what it means to read Scripture iconically – that is, paying attention to the images, connections, and echoes found throughout. In his chapter on St. John’s gospel, Leithart mentions, almost in passing, that one could view the book as a walk through the tabernacle. And upon close inspection, it seems clear that this is yet one more beautiful thread John weaves throughout his writing.
Like Matthew, John begins his gospel at the beginning. Matthew’s gospel opens with the genealogy or the “genesis” of Jesus Christ and John opens with an even more direct reference to Genesis – “In the beginning…” John then adds that the Word was the Creator. The Word “was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:1-5).
Christ is the New Creation, the One in whom all things are made new. Verse 4 echoes this – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Last week I contemplated the cycle of Death and Rebirth in Nature and how it reflects that great spiritual reality of the Resurrection. In particular I focused on how, in the Resurrection, God makes even Death itself beautiful. I’ve continued to meditate on this idea—the relationship between Christ’s defeat of Death and the cultivation of Beauty.
As best as I can tell, the longest chapter in Augustine’s City of God is the eighth chapter of Book XXII, which is about miracles Augustine either saw personally or heard about from reliable sources. After the hardships of Books XIX, XX and XXI, which largely deal with hell and judgment and what an awful place the Earth is, Book XXII delivers us through the pearly gates and into the beatific vision.
The year 381 witnessed the writing of a most high and hearty poem. Squeezing cosmic scope into twenty-seven lines, it spoke of an almighty Father, of things visible and invisible, of an unending kingdom, of people awaiting the resurrection of the dead. The poets were theologians; the occasion was the Second Church Council; the poem was the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.