Post #11.11, Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Historical setting: Remembering a time, maybe 452 C.E.?

The heat of the day is upon us so we find a cool flowing creek to water the horses.

         Nic asks why they needed the Gospel of John brought all these years after the cult leader was executed. He does say, “all these years after” as though my other visit here was recent. But I’m starting to wonder if I’ve simply forgotten a vast swath of years.

         “In 384 only the instigator and a few of his henchmen were gone. The theology lingered. Cults popped up here and there. The newly appointed Suebi Bishop at the see of Bracara called for the Gospel to settle once and for all the loose ends of this heresy.”

         “When would you say that was?” Nic asks, goading me for remembering a date.

         “Somewhere near mid-century, I think.” Clearly a failing answer in not naming a century.

         “You don’t know, do you Laz. Your mind is still scrambled. So if you don’t even know when, how is it possible you could know how? How could the Gospel of John ever be considered a talisman against heresy? If starvation and execution didn’t exterminate it how could a gospel do it? In fact, compared to the other gospels, from what I know, I would think John would be the cult book supporting Gnosticism.”

         “Oh, Brother Nic. Just the opposite. It only seems to use the language of the heresy because it was finally edited and given that Roman gloss in a time and place when mysticism was spreading and metaphor sounded earthly. The gospel co-mingles the tangible with the spiritual, using symbols of light and life as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds not as a rejection of the earthly things. So it isn’t Gnostic but sounds similar. And what seems a cultish narrowing to our ears, where we still know of pagans and Zoroastrians and Jews, when John (July Chapter 10) says that we must enter God’s Kingdom through Christ alone, that was actually heard in that time of Roman fixes as a statement of widening the entrance, not a Gnostic exclusion; it was expounding the universal (catholic) acceptance into Christianity.”

          Nic argues “Calling Christianity ‘universal’ is really only said in the most narrow sense. It seems confusing.”

         “Paradoxical.”

         “Maybe I just had to be there as you say. Or maybe your scrambled mind just won’t let go of the nonsense. Which is it Lazarus? Which is it?”

(Continues Tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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