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  • a l l e g o r y i n t h e f i c t i t i o u s s e n s e c o m m o n l y u n d e r s t o o d f o r l i t e r a t u r e i n g e n e r a l C l o s e r t o t h e b i b l i c a l a p p r o a c h i s t h e d e f i n i t i o n o f a l l e g o r y a s a t e c h n i q u e o f c r e a t i n g o r i n t e r p r e t i n g w o r k s o f l i t e r a t u r e a r t a n d m u s i c s o t h a t t h e y w i l l c o n v e y m o r e t h a n o n e l e v e l o f m e a n i n g s i m u l t a n e o u s l y 3 O r a g a i n a l l e g o r y i s t h e i n t e n t i o n a l c o n v e y i n g b y m e a n s o f s y m b o l a n d i m a g e o f a f u r t h e r d e e p e r m e a n i n g t h a n t h e s u r f a c e o n e s o t h a t a l l e g o r y m a y t h u s b e s a i d t o b e e x t e n d e d m e t a p h o r w o r k e d o u t i n m a n y r e l a t i o n s h i p s 4 T h e a l l e g o r y a p p e a r i n g u n d e r t h e l e t t e r o f S a c r e d S c r i p t u r e i s f i g u r a t i v e l a n g u a g e i n w h i c h r e a l p e r s o n s o b j e c t s a n d e v e n t s o f t h e O l d T e s t a m e n t h a v e b e e n g u i d e d b y d i v i n e p r o v i d e n c e s y m b o l i c a l l y t o r e p r e s e n t r e a l i t i e s o f t h e N e w T e s t a m e n t a n d o f t h e o r d e r o f s a l v a t i o n a n d i n w h i c h s u p e r n a t u r a l r e a l i t i e s a r e m i r r o r e d i n n a t u r a l t h i n g s A s S t T h o m a s e x p l a i n s t h i s n o t i o n T h a t m e a n i n g w h e r e b y t h i n g s s i g n i f i e d b y w o r d s h a v e t h e m s e l v e s a l s o a m e a n i n g i s c a l l e d t h e s p i r i t u a l s e n s e w h i c h i s b a s e d o n t h e l i t e r a l s e n s e a n d p r e s u p p o s e s i t N o w t h i s s p i r i t u a l s e n s e h a s a t h r e e f o l d d i v i s i o n F o r a s t h e A p o s t l e s a y s H e b 1 0 1 t h e O l d L a w i s a f i g u r e o f t h e N e w L a w a n d D i o n y s i u s s a y s t h e N e w L a w i t s e l f i s a f i g u r e o f f u t u r e g l o r y A g a i n i n t h e N e w L a w w h a t e v e r o u r H e a d h a s d o n e i s a t y p e o f w h a t w e o u g h t t o d o T h e r e f o r e s o f a r a s t h e t h i n g s o f t h e O l d L a w s i g n i f y t h e t h i n g s o f t h e N e w L a w t h e r e i s t h e a l l e g o r i c a l s e n s e s o f a r a s t h e t h i n g s d o n e i n C h r i s t o r s o f a r a s t h e t h i n g s w h i c h s i g n i f y C h r i s t a r e t y p e s o f w h a t w e o u g h t t o d o t h e r e i s t h e m o r a l s e n s e B u t s o f a r a s t h e y s i g n i f y w h a t r e l a t e s t o e t e r n a l g l o r y t h e r e i s t h e a n a g o g i c a l s e n s e 5 I a d d t h a t t h e p e r c e p t i o n o f t h e a l l e g o r i c a l s e n s e r e q u i r e s a l s o t h e u s e o f t h e a n a l o g y o f f a i t h a n d t h e c o m p a r i s o n o f s t a t e m e n t s o f S a c r e d S c r i p t u r e w i t h o n e a n o t h e r s o a s t o b e a b l e t o d i s c e r n w h e r e t h e r e m a y b e i d e n t i t i e s o f p a t t e r n i n d i f f e r e n t c o n t e x t s S u c h i n t e r p r e t a t i o n d o e s r e q u i r e a k n o w l e d g e o f w h a t i s s a i d e l s e w h e r e i n S a c r e d S c r i p t u r e n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p 4 2 T h e a l l e g o r i c a l s e n s e o f M a t t h e w 1 1 n b s p b o o k o f g e n e r a t i o n T h e w o r d s b i b l o s g e n e s e M s c a n a l s o b e t r a n s l a t e d b o o k o f g e n e s i s T h e S e p t u a g i n t v e r s i o n f r o m w h i c h M a t t h e w o f t e n q u o t e s t i t l e d t h e F i r s t B o o k o f t h e P e n t a t e u c h G e n e s i s f r o m G e n 5 1 w h i c h i n t h e G r e e k t e x t r e a d s T h i s i s t h e b o o k o f g e n e r a t i o n b i b l o s g e n e s e M s o f m a n k i n d a n d i n t h e H e b r e w r e a d s T h i s i s t h e b o o k o f g e n e r a t i o n s o f A d a m T h e G r e e k w o r d g e n e s i s m e a n s o r i g i n s o u r c e p r o d u c t i v e c a u s e a n d d e r i v a t i v e l y g e n e r a t i o n r a c e c a r n a l d e s c e n t A s t h e B o o k o f G e n e s i s p r e s e n t s t h e c r e a t i o n o f m a n k i n d i n t h e o l d A d a m s o M a t t h e w p r e s e n t s t h e r e g e n e r a t i o n o f m a n k i n d i n t h e g r a c e o f t h e n e w A d a m A n d a s A d a m w a s t h e f a t h e r o f a l l m o r t a l h u m a n l i f e s o J e s u s i s t h e f a t h e r o f a l l i m m o r t a l h u m a n l i f e c f R o m 5 1 4 1 C o r 1 5 4 7 T h u s J o h n C h r y s o s t o m s a y s t h a t M a t t h e w s G o s p e l w h i c h t h e C h u r c h h a s p l a c e d a t t h e v e r y b e g i n n i n g o f t h e N e w T e s t a m e n t i s c a l l e d t h e b o o k o f g e n e r a t i o n b e c a u s e t h i s i s t h e s u m o f t h e w h o l e d i s p e n s a t i o n t h e r o o t o f a l l i t s b l e s s i n g s n a m e l y t h a t G o d b e c a m e m a n f o r o n c e t h i s w a s e f f e c t e d a l l t h e o t h e r t h i n g s f o l l o w e d o f c o u r s e 6 A s R a b a n u s M a u r u s p o i n t s o u t M a t t h e w i s o p p o s i n g t h e n e w A d a m t o t h e o l d f o r b y t h e o n e w e r e a l l t h i n g s r e s t o r e d w h i c h h a d b e e n c o r r u p t e d b y t h e o t h e r 7 F r o m t h i s i t s e e m s t o f o l l o w t h a t i n t h e a l l e g o r i c a l s e n s e o f M a t t h e w t h e b o o k o f g e n e r a t i o n t h a t h e i s b e g i n n i n g e x t e n d s t o a t l e a s t t h r e e d i f f e r e n t l i m i t s a i t i s t h e r o l l o f t h e g e n e a l o g y b i t i s t h e e n t i r e G o s p e l o f M a t t h e w c i t i s t h e e n t i r e B i b l e t h e t r u e m e a n i n g o f w h i c h c o m e s f r o m t h e G o s p e l 8 n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p o f J e s u s C h r i s t n b s p T h e n a m e J e s u s i n H e b r e w m e a n s t h e L o r d s a v e s o r s i m p l y s a v i o r T h u s t h e e n t i r e e c o n o m y o f s a l v a t i o n r o o t e d i n J e s u s i s i m p l i e d i n h i s n a m e J o s h u a s o n o f N u n h a d t h e s a m e n a m e a s J e s u s a n d i s a f i g u r e o f J e s u s A s J o s h u a l e d t h e c h o s e n p e o p l e o f t h e O l d T e s t a m e n t i n t o t h e P r o m i s e d L a n d s o J e s u s c a m e t o l e a d t h e e l e c t o f t h e N e w T e s t a m e n t o u t o f s i n a n d i n t o t h e K i n g d o m o f G o d T h e n a m e C h r i s t i n d i c a t e s t h a t J e s u s i s t h e o n e a n o i n t e d b y G o d f o r t h i s p u r p o s e a n d i s i n f a c t t h e S o n o f G o d O b v i o u s l y b y r e a s o n o f t h e I n c a r n a t i o n t h e d i v i n i t y o f J e s u s i s s e t d o w n i n h i s h u m a n i t y a n d i s d i s c e r n e d f r o m t h e p r e a c h i n g a n d h i s t o r i c a l e v e n t s s u r r o u n d i n g h i s h u m a n i t y s o n o f D a v i d s o n o f A b r a h a m T h e a l l e g o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e n a m e s D a v i d a n d A b r a h a m i s m o r e a p p r o p r i a t e l y e x a m i n e d w h e n t h e y o c c u r a g a i n i n t h e g e n e a l o g y b e g i n n i n g i n v e r s e 2 H e r e w e n o t e t h a t t h e h u m a n i t y o f J e s u s w a s a n o i n t e d b y t h e f u l l n e s s o f g r a c e o f t h e H o l y S p i r i t f r o m t h e f i r s t m o m e n t o f h i s I n c a r n a t i o n a n d f o r t h i s r e a s o n h e w o u l d b e c a l l e d a n d w o u l d r e a l l y b e t h e S o n o f G o d c f M a t t 1 2 0 L u k e 1 3 5 B u t a t t h e t i m e o f t h e I n c a r n a t i o n o f t h e e t e r n a l W o r d i n t h e w o m b o f t h e V i r g i n M a r y t h e a n g e l s a i d H e s h a l l b e g r e a t a n d s h a l l b e c a l l e d t h e S o n o f t h e M o s t H i g h a n d t h e L o r d G o d s h a l l g i v e t o h i m t h e t h r o n e o f D a v i d h i s f a t h e r a n d h e s h a l l r e i g n i n t h e h o u s e o f J a c o b f o r e v e r L u k e 1 3 2 W h y d o e s M a t t h e w m e n t i o n b o t h A b r a h a m a n d D a v i d a s a n c e s t o r s o f J e s u s A c c o r d i n g t o J o h n C h r y s o s t o m b e c a u s e t h e p r o m i s e h a d b e e n g i v e n t o b o t h t h a t t h e C h r i s t w o u l d b e b o r n f r o m t h e i r s e e d 9 A n d J e s u s w a s b o r n f r o m t h e i r s e e d i n t h a t M a r y w a s o f t h e i r s e e d S o t h e b i o l o g i c a l f u l f i l l m e n t o f t h i s p r o m i s e i s i m p l i e d h e r e b y M a t t h e w B u t D a v i d a n d A b r a h a m a r e m e n t i o n e d a l s o c o n t i n u e s C h r y s o s t o m b e c a u s e C h r i s t w a s t o h a v e t h r e e s p e c i a l d i g n i t i e s t h o s e o f a k i n g a p r o p h e t a n d a p r i e s t A b r a h a m w a s a p r i e s t a n d a p r o p h e t D a v i d w a s a p r o p h e t a n d a k i n g T h u s H e i s e x p r e s s l y c a l l e d t h e s o n o f b o t h t h a t t h e t h r e e f o l d d i g n i t y o f h i s f o r e f a t h e r s m i g h t b e r e c o g n i z e d b y h e r e d i t a r y r i g h t i n C h r i s t 1 0 B u t t h i s w a s i n t h e e y e s o f h u m a n s o c i e t y I n t h e f u l l e r r e a l i t y A b r a h a m a n d D a v i d a r e m e r e f i g u r e s o f t h e C h r i s t w h o w a s t o c o m e a n d t h e y r e c e i v e t h e i r e t e r n a l d i g n i t y f r o m H i m c f M a t t 2 2 4 5 J o h n 8 5 8 n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p n b s p 4 3 T h e a n a g o g i c a l o r f i n a l s e n s e o f M a t t 1 1 n b s p T h e a n a g o g i c a l s e n s e r e l a t e s t o t h e h i g h e r a l l e g o r i c a l p a t t e r n s o f t h e T h r e e D i v i n e P e r s o n s n a m e l y t h e F a t h e r t h e S o n a n d t h e H o l y S p i r i t a n d o f t h e F o u r L a s t T h i n g s n a m e l y d e a t h j u d g m e n t H e a v e n a n d H e l l W e c a n s e e a n a g o g y i n t h e u l t i m a t e p u r p o s e o f t h e I n c a r n a t i o n o f t h e D i v i n e W o r d J e s u s i s t h e S o n o f G o d M a t t 1 2 0 n o t p r i n c i p a l l y b e c a u s e h i s h u m a n i t y w a s c o n c e i v e d w i t h o u t h u m a n p a t e r n i t y a n d b y t h e d i r e c t o v e r s h a d o w i n g o f t h e H o l y S p i r i t b u t b e c a u s e h i s P e r s o n i s t h e P e r s o n o f t h e e t e r n a l S o n o f t h e e t e r n a l F a t h e r a n d j u s t a s t h i s n e w b o o k o f g e n e r a t i o n r e f l e c t s t h e e t e r n a l g e n e r a t i o n o f t h e S o n b y t h e F a t h e r s o a l s o D a v i d i n s o m e w a y p r e f i g u r e s t h e e t e r n a l S o n a n d A b r a h a m p r e f i g u r e s t h e e t e r n a l F a t h e r T h e v e r y w o r d g e n e r a t i o n i s e v o c a t i v e o f t h e e t e r n a l g e n e r a t i o n o f t h e S o n b y t h e F a t h e r w h o i s t h e o r i g i n o f a l l o r i g i n s o f J e s u s C h r i s t A g a i n t h e n a m e C h r i s t r e f l e c t s t h e a n o i n t i n g o f J e s u s b y t h e H o l y S p i r i t a n d t h e r e f o r e t h e p r e s e n c e o f t h e H o l y S p i r i t H e r e t h e n a s e l s e w h e r e o n e f i n d s t h e s u b t l e s i g n a t u r e o f t h e M o s t B l e s s e d T r i n i t y u p o n t h e i n s p i r e d t e x t 1 1 s o n o f D a v i d T h e s o n s h i p o f J e s u s p o i n t s t o w a r d H e a v e n T h e t h r o n e o f D a v i d t h a t t h e L o r d G o d g a v e t o J e s u s c f L u k e 1 3 2 i s t h e t h r o n e o f t h e e t e r n a l W o r d o f G o d i n H e a v e n t h e h o u s e o f J a c o b w h e r e H e s h a l l r e i g n f o r e v e r i b i d i s t h e H e a v e n o f t h e b l e s s e d I t i s o f t h i s k i n g d o m t h a t t h e r e s h a l l b e n o e n d L u k

    Original URL path: http://www.rtforum.org/study/lesson7.html (2016-04-25)
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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 8: THE FOUR SENSES OF MATTHEW 1:17
    comprehensive study of the allegory of numbers in the background of Sacred Scripture has to my knowledge been done since Petrus Bongus published his Numerorum mysteria at Bergamo in 1599 Hence the need for renewed study of the three spiritual senses as called for also by the Catechism of the Catholic Church nos 115 119 always with the understanding that the results of our research are tentative and subject to correction by legitimate authority and by those who can improve upon them Let me suggest some possible background meanings for the numbers implied in Matt 1 17 The number 1 unity origin it is the origin of the other numbers eminently the one true God and by appropriation the Person of God the Father The number 2 doubling distinction intelligence eminently the wisdom of God and by appropriation the Person of God the Son The number 3 basic life eminently divine life and by appropriation the Person of the Holy Spirit The number 4 bodies in general four points are needed to make a solid the four points of the compass the universality of the Gospel The number 6 3 times 2 or 4 plus 2 man life times intelligence or body plus intelligence The number 7 3 plus 4 the sanctification of man through the theological virtues of faith hope and charity plus the moral virtues of prudence justice fortitude and temperance or through the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit 6 plus 1 the eternal rest of man with God The number 10 moral law the Ten Commandments The number 11 sin as a transgression of going beyond the moral law The number 12 a collectivity of human persons the Chosen People of the Old Testament the Church of the New Testament 48 Some comments of the Fathers on the allegory of numbers in Matt 1 17 The number 14 In Hebrew the consecutive letters of the alphabet were used also to express numbers and from the earliest times it was recognized that the letters d v d in the name David which is the fourteenth name in Matthew s genealogy also represent the numbers 4 6 4 which add up to 14 Already some sort of allegory could be implied here St Thomas quotes the tenth century commentator Remigius of Auxerre as having noted that 14 as the product of 7 times 2 conveys the idea of the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit conferred upon the body and the soul of man Remigius also suggests that 14 as the sum of 10 plus 4 implies the decalogue of the Ten Commandments plus the Four Gospels St Thomas adds that 4 plus 10 also conveys the linear descent of Christ from Abraham and of the New Law from the Old Law in that the linear digits in the number four 1 2 3 4 added together equal ten Also God ordered the Paschal Lamb of the Old Testament to be sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 9: THE FOUR SENSES OF MATTHEW 1:2a: Abraham begot Isaac
    up from all nations many children of the Resurrection And if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead dwell in you he who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies because of his Spirit that dwells in you For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God they are the children of God Rom 8 11 14 Jesus is the rightful Son of God Luke 1 35 Ps 2 7 God the Father is in a wider sense and by appropriation the Father of all men both as the Creator of all things and as the Creator of each individual human soul but He is above all the Father of a multitude inasmuch as the faithful of all times have been made his adopted children in the grace of his Son Jesus For whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son in order that he might be the firstborn among many brethren Rom 8 29 In the teaching of St Paul the Law of Moses did not annul the promise to Abraham nor was it given in fulfillment of the promise but it took its definitive form because of the sinfulness of the people As Moses himself recalled For I know your obstinacy and your most stiff neck While I am yet living and going in with you you have always been rebellious against the Lord how much more when I shall be dead But the Mosaic Law was given also in expectancy of the coming of the promised seed who is Jesus Christ Gal 3 19 56 The anagogical sense of Matt 1 2a The hope of Abraham in the promises of God was by no means confined to the goods of this world He Abel Noah and others died in faith not having received the promises but beholding them from afar and greeting them and confessing that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth But now they desire a better that is a heavenly country Heb 11 13 16 They saw the spiritual significance of the promises and of the heavenly kingdom where God in Three Persons dwells Thus the understanding of Sarah as representing that Jerusalem which is above pertains directly to the anagogical sense of this physical conception But it pertains indirectly to the Church of Christ on earth as the body of believers living in accordance with the teaching of Jesus and partaking of his saving grace with their minds turned towards the heavenly Jerusalem Therefore if you be risen with Christ seek the things that are above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God Col 3 1 And the personality of God seems also to be anagogically imprinted upon these words Abraham in begetting Isaac was chosen to represent God the Father inasmuch as God the Father exults with infinite joy as He eternally begets God the Son Ps 2 7 and eternally spirates God the Holy Spirit and all Three Persons exult in the fact that the one utterly simple and uncomposed God eternally exists in them Furthermore to be able to laugh is characteristic of intelligent being and God in his infinite intelligence laughs joyfully with his adoptive children both in their inability in this life to comprehend the divine mysteries and in their fuller comprehension when they are blessed with the beatific vision It was in the best of humor that God ordered Abraham to name his son He laughs And thus did the historical Isaac come to prefigure by his name the eternal Son of the eternal Father both in his eternal generation and in his worldly incarnation 57 The tropological moral sense of Matt 1 2a Tropologically Abraham symbolizes Christian faith while Isaac symbolizes Christian hope Abraham is in faith the father of us all Rom 4 16 He received the sign of circumcision that he might be the father of all those who believe being uncircumcised that to them also it may be reputed unto justice Rom 4 11 As St Ambrose explains For Abraham was the first who deserved the witness of faith because he believed God and it was reputed to him unto justice It behooved therefore that he should be set forth as the initiator of the line of descent who was the first to deserve the promise of the restoration of the Church In you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed 6 However it is not written only for him that it was reputed to him unto justice but also to us to whom it shall be reputed if we believe in him who raised up Jesus Christ Our Lord from the dead who was delivered up for our sins and rose again for our justification Rom 4 23 25 Isaac is interpreted laughter the laughter of the saints is not the foolish contortion of the lips but the rational joy of the heart which was the mystery of Christ For as he was granted to his parents in their extreme age to their great joy that it might be known that he was not the child of nature but of grace thus Christ also in this last time came of a Jewish mother to be the joy of the whole earth the one of a virgin the other of a woman past the age both contrary to the expectation of nature 7 Christian hope is the joyful confidence arising from firm belief in the object of faith Rejoicing in hope patient in tribulation constant in prayer Rom 12 12 There is no hope where the realities of the object of faith are not affirmed and these realities include of necessity the existence of God in three divine Persons the state of Original Sin the Incarnation of God in Jesus the existence of Heaven and the need of the grace of Jesus in order to arrive there Therefore any

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 10: THE FOUR SENSES OF MATTHEW 1:2b: And Isaac begot Jacob
    principalities and powers against the world rulers of this darkness against the spirit powers of wickedness in the high places Eph 6 11f 10 66 The literal meaning of the name Israel When he was well along in life Jacob had occasion to wrestle with an angel Gen 32 24 32 Commentators over the centuries have been unsure of the literal meaning of the words in this episode The text says that a man ish wrestled with Jacob in the latter part of a night until the break of day v 24 but Hosea Osee 12 3 4 tells us regarding Jacob In the womb he supplanted his brother and by his strength he had success with an angel And he prevailed over the angel and was strengthened he wept and made supplication to him a Origen suggested that the man who wrestled with Jacob was a demon in bodily form and for this reason he said to Jacob Let me go for it is break of day since demons work at night and fear the daylight In this interpretation verse 28 would seem to read Your name shall no more be called Jacob but Israel for you have striven with gods and with men and have prevailed Now the El in Israel is short for Elohim which in the vast majority of cases in the Old Testament stands for the one true God but can mean any supernatural being such as also an angel or even a departed soul cf 1 Kg 28 13 but this angel blessed Jacob v 29 which a demon would not have done If nevertheless the man who wrestled with Jacob in this episode was a demon the name Israel could have the literal meaning of prevailing over a god that is over an evil angel and verse 30 would read I have seen and wrestled with a god that is with an evil angel face to face and my life has been spared But this reading is unlikely b Some Fathers of the Church understood the man to be the appearance in human form of a good angel sent by God 11 According to this reading in verse 28 the angel says to Jacob Your name shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel for you have striven with God that is with an angel representing God and with men and have prevailed In the match the angel did not prevail over Jacob even though he was able simply by touching Jacob s thigh to put it out of joint Gen 32 25 In this reading the name Israel could have the literal meaning of prevailing over a god that is over a good angel or even of prevailing over God in the sense that for mystical reasons God brought it about that Jacob prevailed over a good angel who had been sent by God 12 Bruce Vawter agrees with this opinion where he says The name Israel is of uncertain etymology but here it is made to mean strive with God and prevail 13 Thomas Aquinas read this episode to convey that Jacob struggled late in the night either against a vision of God or against an appearance in bodily form of an angel and that this struggle was principally one of prayer in the sense that Jacob prayed so fervently throughout the match that God was won over and had the angel yield to him bearing out the point in the expression God cannot deny the entreaties of his friends And Jacob s injured hip was the evidence of the reality of this struggle St Thomas following Jerome considered the name Israel to mean a prince with God or strong with God 14 that is being a strong prince like God and he understood Gen 32 28 to mean if you have been strong against God by the strength of your detaining prayers and your insistent embraces so as to bend God s rigor how much the more shall you prevail over men 15 c Many of the Fathers of the Church say that the man who wrestled with Jacob was a prophetic apparition of the Divine Word as the God Man who would come later to give his life for the redemption of mankind 16 Thus the name Israel could mean prevailing against a vision of the God Man Jesus Christ both as a personal grace from the Rock that was to follow him in time and as a prefigurement of the self surrender of Jesus to his adversaries for the sake of their salvation d Augustine and some others are of the opinion that the name Israel relates to verse 30 and means a man seeing God 17 This reading supposes that the is in Israel was originally pronounced like ish man or at least meant the same as ish 67 From a neo Patristic perspective and in accordance with Catholic exegetical tradition the literal sense of this encounter of Jacob illustrates especially the greatness of divine mercy and the power of prayer The purpose of this wrestling match does not seem to have been to prepare Jacob for battle with Esau as some have conjectured In fact Jacob was not noted in his life for strength of body or for prowess in battle he was rather a wily individual who lived by his wits and he did not have to struggle with Esau after his match with the angel Esau ran to meet his brother and embraced him and clasping him fast about the neck and kissing him wept Gen 33 4 And Jacob went on to bring his descendants into four hundred years of slavery in Egypt But Jacob had stayed behind to spend this night in prayer and thus he prayed O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac deliver me from the hand of my brother Esau for I am greatly afraid of him You did say to me that you

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 11: The Calling of Nathanael (John 1:45-51): Literal Sense
    the Person of Jesus was understood at the later time when the episode was composed and not how Jesus understood Himself or how these disciples understood Him at the moment depicted in the Gospel In taking this position Brown displays a lack of the technical apparatus needed to deal with the approach of Bultmann and other rationalist critics But Brown does challenge Bultmann s claim that the Gnostic Redeemer myth is the source of John s idea that Jesus is the God Man Brown notes that classic Gnosticism as we know it did not appear in fully developed form until the second century A D that is until after the Gospel according to John had already been composed and the form of the Gnostic Redeemer myth cited by Bultmann comes from that later era so that Bultmann illogically assumes that it existed in the same form even before John s Gospel was written And the extant Gnostic documents indicate to Brown that it was the figure of Christ that shaped the Gnostic Redeemer myth rather than vice versa But Brown weakens his case considerably when he concludes nevertheless that one cannot claim that the dependence of John on a postulated early Oriental Gnosticism has been disproved although the hypothesis remains very tenuous and in many ways unnecessary with the result that the existence of Bultmann s proto Mandean Gnostic source remains dubious 9 Thus Brown leaves us with the thought that the Incarnation of the divine Word of God the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven could after all possibly be just fantasies derived from Gnostic mythology as Bultmann affirms and this conclusion opens to doubt the object of Christian faith 10 75 The neo Patristic approach The neo Patristic approach begins from the realization that Jesus of Nazareth is really and in the most objective historical sense the Messiah sent from God the Father that He is the God Man the second divine Person of the Most Holy Trinity become incarnate in this man Its act of faith is as follows O my God I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine Persons the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit I believe that thy divine Son became man and died for our sins and that He will come again to judge the living and the dead I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them who canst neither deceive nor be deceived When the neo Patristic exegete says I firmly believe he means I historically and scientifically know on the evidence of what God has told us And on the basis of this act of faith the neo Patristic interpreter undertakes two things to study the interpretations of the Fathers of the Church and of the faithful exegetes who have followed their method over the centuries and to examine critically the attacks upon these interpretations by rationalist critics like Rudolf Bultmann The neo Patristic interpreter seeks in prayer the strength of mind and will to resist the kind of diabolical temptations that led Gnostic dreamers into their Gnostic errors and which continue to lead unwary scholars into erroneous interpretations of the Holy Scriptures As a case in point neo Patristic interpreters critically examine Bultmann s reasoning and find the flaws in his arguments Bultmann s desire to attack the historical truth of St John s Gospel led him to turn history around by making the Gospel depend upon a Gnostic myth when in fact the myth was just a distortion of the previous historical events being reported in Christian preaching 76 The Patristic approach All of the Fathers of the Church understood the passage about the calling of Nathanael to be an exact historical description of what actually took place Regarding the text St Augustine points out that Nathanael s reply to Philip in verse 46 can be read in the Greek original either as an interrogative sentence Can anything good come from Nazareth or as a declarative sentence Something good can come from Nazareth The declarative reading would eliminate the somewhat guileful irony in Nathanael s remark but it is the common opinion that the interrogative reading seems more in keeping with the context In verse 47 Jesus calls Nathanael an Israelite in whom there is no guile Augustine says that Nathanael was without guile not as implying that he was not a sinner but inasmuch as he admitted his sins and did not pretend to be more righteous than he actually was Regarding verse 50 in which Nathanael says to Jesus You are the Son of God you are the King of Israel St John Chrysostom notes that many have been puzzled to learn that Peter was called blessed Matt 16 17 for calling Jesus the Son of God after having experienced the miracles and the teaching of Jesus while Nathanael was not called blessed for using the same title before he had had this experience The reason is Chrysostom says that Nathanael intended the expression Son of God to mean a merely human savior whereas Peter understood Jesus to be the God Man In fact the Messiah is sometimes referred to in the Old Testament as the Son of God without specifying the divinity of his Person cf 2 Sam 7 14 Psalms 2 67 88 89 27 28 Coming to verse 51 Chrysostom points out how Jesus elevates the mind of Nathanael above the natural horizon to consider Him no longer as merely human but rather as the Lord of the angels and the King s own Son to whom the servants of the King ascend and upon whom they descend 11 77 The literal and historical sense of John 1 45 51 Beneath the simple literal and historical sense of this passage expressed in the interpretation of the Fathers given above there seems to be a more subtle historical happening that completes the meaning on the level of the

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 12: The Calling of Nathanael (John 1:45-51): Spiritual Sense
    this world in order to take up a vocation apart from this world and centered upon the next This conversion is the tropological sense of the episode and we can see traces of further tropological meaning especially if Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew the Apostle 82 Nathanael son of Tholomew It has been disputed over the ages whether this Nathanael is to be identified with Bartholomew the Apostle In a thoroughgoing review of the question in 1940 Urban Holzmeister concluded that Nathanael was Bartholomew 3 St Augustine felt that he was not Bartholomew for the reason that Nathanael was versed in the Scriptures whereas Jesus chose unlettered men to be his Apostles This could be true for the most part without necessarily applying to all of the Apostles In fact Matthew too seems to have had some formal education But looking at the origins of names in relation to the idea of being indeed an Israelite Nathanael tropologically fares not well The name Nathanael meaning God has given seems to have been not of Hebrew but of Babylonian origin And Bartholomew means son of Tolmai or Tholmai a Canaanite name cf Num 13 23 meaning covered with furrows while the name Canaan itself means low ground In addition Nathanael was from Cana in Galilee John 21 2 and the name Cana means a place of reeds a tall grass that grows usually in low and swampy waters Hence in any play on the origin of names this Nathanael comes off in very low estate While in fact he was probably a descendent of Israel he comes out pagan in both his name and his surname while he lies flat on the ground covered with furrows or close to it in low and swampy waters Now the word humility comes from the Latin word humus ground and it was to humility that Jesus was calling Nathanael in this deep reply Humility is the ground or mental condition for the infusion of sanctifying grace and it is the foundation on which the supernatural virtues can grow Jesus saw Nathanael when he was still in the physical ground from which Adam was formed and Jesus here invites Nathanael to recognize the lowness of his origin in order that he may receive the true Gift of God which is Jesus Himself and his sanctifying grace 83 Greater things than these shall you see Nathanael has begun to turn away from pride in himself and pride in his race he has begun to feel the power of the intelligence of Jesus and to believe in Jesus as the Messiah This is a moment of grace and of conversion and Jesus leads him and the other disciples present to hope for even more Israel Jacob was a man of hope chosen by God for an eternal destiny After wrestling one night with a mysterious opponent he was able to say I have seen God face to face and my life has been spared Gen

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 13: Jesus the Nazorean (Matthew 2:23)
    Virgin Mary Jesus sprang by virginal conception like a flower from the branch of Mary And the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus in the highest prophetical sense cf Luke 4 16 30 esp verses 16 and 18 And there are many other places in the Old Testament which expand the scope of this prophecy 2 89 A neo Patristic interpretation of Matt 2 23 To the unskilled observer the alleged prophecy in Matt 2 23 may appear to be an error of fact on the part of the Evangelist seeing that the names Nazareth and Nazarene are not to be found anywhere in the Old Testament But a more careful study using the neo Patristic framework of the Four Senses can lead to the discovery that not only did the Evangelist not make an error of fact but also he actually sewed a deeper factual meaning into the wording of his text The literal meaning of Matt 2 23 It is not clear from the text of this verse whether Matthew has added the element of prophetic fulfillment on his own or he is saying that Joseph went to Nazareth because Joseph saw this to be a fulfillment of prophecy If the latter be the case then the literal and historical sense of the verse is the affirmation that Joseph had this reason for going to Nazareth and settling there But the style of Matthew earlier in his infancy narrative leaves the impression that he himself may have added this reference or at least approved of its historical truth The expression spoken by the prophets in this verse is a clue to the possibility that Matthew is not referring to the words of one specific prophet but is rather referring to a more general fact contained implicitly in the wording of several prophecies The root meanings of names often have an important function in the meaning of biblical prophecies The word Nazorean used in this verse has at least three possible Hebrew roots Etymologically that is in terms of the word root a Nazorean could be someone who is consecrated and holy someone who wears the crown of high priesthood or of kingship or someone who has come forth from the root as a branch or flower If any one or any combination of these root meanings constitutes the prophetic fulfillment understood by the sacred writer then this single or multiple meaning would also be the literal sense of the text and consequently the verse will be literally and historically true if the root meaning has a real fundament in the wording of the Old Testament Consider these possibilities If the name Nazorean was seen to derive from the Hebrew root meaning consecrated then the literal emphasis of the verse is upon the supreme holiness of Jesus If the name Nazorean was seen to derive from the Hebrew root meaning crown then the literal emphasis of the verse is upon the high priestly and royal status of Jesus

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  • RTF Study Program - Lesson 14: A Brief Reply To Jehovah'S Witnesses
    places Thus in Jn 5 22 The Father has given all judgment to the Son And in Jn 14 2 I go to prepare a place for you h In Mark 13 32 But about that day and hour no one knows neither the angels in heaven nor the Son except the Father However as St Thomas points out Sacred Scripture sometimes says that God knows what in fact He is simply making known to others or that God knows in fact what he has simply not made known to others Thus Gen 22 12 for now I know that you fear God Similarly Jesus simply did not intend to make this date known to his disciples i In Eccli Sirach 24 9 Wisdom says From eternity in the beginning he created me and for eternity I shall not cease to exist However this is the wisdom that God has instilled in creatures Compare Eccli 1 9 he poured her out upon all his works Or the word created is to be understood in the broader sense of begot By paralleling the idea of create with the idea of beget cf Prov 8 22 25 two notions are conveyed namely that of the immutability of the Father and that of the unity in nature of the Father and the Son 6 j In Col 1 15 He is the image of the invisible God the first born of all creation However it is in the broader sense see 93i above that the Son is called the first born of all creation He is from the Father and receives the same divine nature from the Father as his only begotten Son Jn 1 18 94 The Divine Word is true God It is Catholic belief that the Divine Word the Son of God is consubstantial with the Father that is one only God with him CCC 242 That the Divine Word who became incarnate in Jesus Christ is true God and equal to the Father is clear from many texts of Sacred Scripture 7 a Heb 1 5 For to what angel did God ever say You are my Son this day have I begotten you Nor does it suffice to say as St Thomas points out that the Divine Word is an angel of a higher order than the others because there is already a range of orders among the angels b Jn 1 14 and we saw his glory a glory as of the only begotten of the Father c 1 Jn 5 20 and we are in the True One in his Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life d Rom 9 5 and of their race according to the flesh is the Christ who is God over all blessed forever Amen e Titus 2 13 awaiting our blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ f Colos 2 9 For in him dwells bodily the entire

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