Tuesday, October 5, 2010

theopn... theopn... achoo!

So everyone knows about this theopneustos business, yes? Paul's second letter to Timothy, Jerome's (maybe) third chapter, verse sixteen: All Scripture (BS-ing because my greek text is at home: pasa grafe or some such) is given by inspiration of God/is God-breathed/whatever Rev. Peterson had for breakfast = theopneustos. Reading an article by a jocular fellow named Leithart (wait for it), I happened upon this word and was filled to overflowing, much in the manner of a Bavarian Creme doughnut, with Trinitarian insight, the which I shall now attempt to share. While I'm at it, I shall also share that I am hungry. Mmm, doughnuts...

But anyhow: so the traditional (whether the so-called Orthodox want to admit it or not) view of the Trinity seems to feature God the Father and Jesus as the two key players, with the Spirit being something of an after-effect. Thus, for instance, Christ says "I will send you another helper", as though the Holy Ghost were something of an errand boy; or, as we read in Augustine, he is like a really strong emotion (Love) persisting between the Persons of the First and Second Party. Which is great and all, but note the ranking: if my love is so powerful and whatnot as to be subsistent (as opposed the normal conception of that particular passion as "an accident occurring in a substance"), what does that say about me? Is not the sender typically greater than the sent?

Mei genoita! as Paul would say (although he would probably both spell it right and follow it with something far more sensible than this). So I'll let him speak: theopneustos (as an adjective modifying "grafe") might best be translated "spirated by God". What we have here, in a word, is thus an interesting reversal of the above paradigm - to the extent that triangles can be reversed. But of course they can, because a triangle is equally a sort of arrow - it points. And far too often, this one is made with two vertices in heaven (albeit one recently returned) and the third on earth among us, possibly touching down somewhere in Minnesota. Thus, when those of us at equal latitude look up in worship, we only venerate a line. Rather, in this passage, the agent who sends appears to be a compound of the Spirit and the Father. And the package? Can we really image a fluent Graecophone keeping grafe rigidly separate from logos?

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