Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
Leave wide margins in John he says, so the artists will have plenty of space. And what will artists do with all that plenty? Will they simply make everything of God as three somethings?
My sister Mary, a beloved first follower of Jesus never imagined the Gospel would be repurposed to create a humanly discernible God. If even the stars are countless one could never expect human imagination to grasp the fullness of God? All of Creation is God’s imagination, from before there was a beginning and on forever and ever. With no human words to speak it, the Gospel begins with unspeakable space. We try to reduce the blank space to a manageable definition for the sake of translators, scribes and artists. Fill in the blank: “Logos” “Word.” But maybe she meant something more — the God for whom no spoken words can be complete.
And always those of us humankinds who long for doctrine think there is a need to reinvent a god for Christians to ink. We long to know words and images beyond our own imagination for words and images. But God loves us, and knows our need to know more than we can know so it is all spread out before us anyway –the full universe of the Creation just to give us metaphor. God’s own poetry speaks what is beyond our tongue to say – as love, and life and light… And those who know God through awe and prayer, and reverence for all that is, know no word to say it.
And those who don’t think they know God begged to have a simpler diagram. The Alexandrians and Constantinoplians, and leftover Romans, and even some of the out-of-favor heretics from Jerusalem near Bethany all journeyed long through deserts and mountains; they argued and fought, and quoted books and even wrote new ones all to invent from one God too awesome for words — a working model of a Trinity.
Those newly moving over from paganism could agree that three things would definitely clarify the issue. So the clear notions from the times when gods were limited to words and form came up with all the flittings and peckings of a pictorial content: two men and a bird – A Holy Trinity.
Those of us from the Bethany table who ate and drank with Jesus heard his metaphor of the vine.[John 15] We are one with God, though now it is God who seems to be three.
(Continued Wednesday, September 1, 2021)