The consistent image of Christ in the Gospels
#1
Kind of a spur of the moment thought, but, upon reflecting on the purported "disparity" between the details of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John, which so many enemies of Christ like to point out; I've noticed that there is a complete consistency in the personality, or image, of Christ across all four Gospels. Now, forgive me, but I don't have time to draw out examples (maybe later), but as I've read Matthew through John for the sixth or seventh time over the past year and a half, I've noted that the Person of Christ shines through with perfect consistency throughout all four Gospels. So often the details of these Gospels are picked at as "contradictory" but never is it pointed out that their continuity is derived from the Image of Christ they portray, rather than the details of His works. For example, if we look at a spurious writing like the gnostic Gospel of Thomas or even the Gospel of Judas, we are given a different "flavor" of Christ than in the true, canonical Gospels. Testifying to the truth that these so-called "Gospels" are nothing but fabrications.

I find it difficult to articulate, but, much as how the author of a book will shine through its pages, the same effect is even here in a much different form through all four Gospels. Christ as depicted in Matthew is the exact same Image of Christ as to be found in Mark, as well as Luke, as well as John; but not at all those gnostic and, arguably, those apocryphal Gospels. And I believe this perspective is a good way to tear through those arguments which focus on Synoptic/Johannine scriputures and the details of the Acts of Christ in them.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

'Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.' - Ecclesiastes 1:2
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#2
Great insights.  I've always tried to read ALL of scripture as a seamless whole.  Christ is present from Genesis to Apocalypse. That's how the Fathers looked at Scripture and its how (I'm speaking mostly from an Eastern perspective)  the hymns, Canons and the Liturgy and Office look at it as well.  It's only in relatively modern times that people try to dissect the Bible into the tiniest individual parts while looking for contradictions. 

You're absolutely right about spurious books like the "Gospel of Thomas" (I have a whole collection of apocryphal texts, including that one), the "tone" or "flavour" or perhaps "fragrance" of Christ is utterly alien and Gnostic compared to the Christ of the Canonical Gospels. 

I like to think Matthew,Mark,Luke and John all reflect different things about Christ.  John is obviously the most "mystical" but even the most straightforward, fast paced and sober minded Mark reflects the same Christ , perhaps seen through a different lens.
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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#3
(12-13-2019, 09:19 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Great insights.  I've always tried to read ALL of scripture as a seamless whole.  Christ is present from Genesis to Apocalypse. That's how the Fathers looked at Scripture and its how (I'm speaking mostly from an Eastern perspective)  the hymns, Canons and the Liturgy and Office look at it as well.  It's only in relatively modern times that people try to dissect the Bible into the tiniest individual parts while looking for contradictions. 

You're absolutely right about spurious books like the "Gospel of Thomas" (I have a whole collection of apocryphal texts, including that one), the "tone" or "flavour" or perhaps "fragrance" of Christ is utterly alien and Gnostic compared to the Christ of the Canonical Gospels. 

I like to think Matthew,Mark,Luke and John all reflect different things about Christ.  John is obviously the most "mystical" but even the most straightforward, fast paced and sober minded Mark reflects the same Christ , perhaps seen through a different lens.


Would you advise reading the Bible this way from Genesis to the Apocalypse? I have never read it all the way through. I’ve read different books here and there but would really like to read all of it.


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#4
The detractors and skeptics will often claim that the disparity between John and the Synoptics is so great as to portray either a completely different person, or to treat John as a very late-written "theological reflection" making Jesus into a God. They will claim things like long-winded passages or description of Jesus which are overly divine to make their case.

However, these people do not know how to read the Gospels through a "Jewish lens," so to speak, as is so greatly done by the contemporary Catholic scholar Dr. Brant Pitre. By connecting the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and the use of Old Testament language in the Gospels, even Mark's Gospel jumps out as portraying an extremely divine Jesus who shows through both words and examples that he is indeed God.

Furthermore, they will often claim how Jesus "rambles on," so to speak, in John's Gospel, which they say is out of character compared to the others. But one need only peruse a "red letter" Bible to find lengthy sayings of Jesus in the other Gospels as well.

Lastly, what do they expect from biographical writing? I'm sure somebody can find dozens of biographies about even a contemporary political figure, say Barack Obama. Some of these biographies may start with his childhood and end with his last day in office. Some may focus on just his economic or foreign policies, and neglect other things that aren't on topic. He served in politics for probably many years before there was even warrant to write a biography about him. But nobody would claim that the different books written about him were actually about different people, or that they reported errors or made up stories to embellish his life.
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#5
(12-16-2019, 10:22 PM)nightshade Wrote:
(12-13-2019, 09:19 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Great insights.  I've always tried to read ALL of scripture as a seamless whole.  Christ is present from Genesis to Apocalypse. That's how the Fathers looked at Scripture and its how (I'm speaking mostly from an Eastern perspective)  the hymns, Canons and the Liturgy and Office look at it as well.  It's only in relatively modern times that people try to dissect the Bible into the tiniest individual parts while looking for contradictions. 

You're absolutely right about spurious books like the "Gospel of Thomas" (I have a whole collection of apocryphal texts, including that one), the "tone" or "flavour" or perhaps "fragrance" of Christ is utterly alien and Gnostic compared to the Christ of the Canonical Gospels. 

I like to think Matthew,Mark,Luke and John all reflect different things about Christ.  John is obviously the most "mystical" but even the most straightforward, fast paced and sober minded Mark reflects the same Christ , perhaps seen through a different lens.


Would you advise reading the Bible this way from Genesis to the Apocalypse? I have never read it all the way through. I’ve read different books here and there but would really like to read all of it.


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Absolutely.  If Christ is truly the "Logos" than He was present at the Creation and can be seen all the way from Genesis to Apocalypse. At least as an Orthodox Christian I look at all the various "theophanies" from the OT as being the pre- Incarnate Logos--Christ leading His people to the fulness of revelation in the New Testament. 

Best thing you can do is put aside the modern stuff in toto and read the Church Fathers and the Service Books. At least in the Byzantine services the words,hymns and prayers actually show you how to read the OT. It's chock full of NT and Christological and Mariological interpretations of the whole of Scripture.
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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#6
(12-18-2019, 04:57 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Absolutely.  If Christ is truly the "Logos" than He was present at the Creation and can be seen all the way from Genesis to Apocalypse. At least as an Orthodox Christian I look at all the various "theophanies" from the OT as being the pre- Incarnate Logos--Christ leading His people to the fulness of revelation in the New Testament. 

Here's one thing I've tried to wrap my head around regarding Christ in the OT: if eternity is outside time, and God in eternity sees time as a whole; and since the Incarnate Christ ascended to the Father, He entered eternity, then Christ incarnate sees time as a whole, yes? Therefore, would it be unreasonable to presume that Christ could have appeared bodily in His glorified form at any point in the OT? Clearly He does in the vision of Daniel, but I've often wondered this when Genesis speaks of God "walking in the garden." Which, I am aware is often taken allegorically.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

'Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.' - Ecclesiastes 1:2
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#7
(12-18-2019, 05:56 PM)Augustinian Wrote:
(12-18-2019, 04:57 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Absolutely.  If Christ is truly the "Logos" than He was present at the Creation and can be seen all the way from Genesis to Apocalypse. At least as an Orthodox Christian I look at all the various "theophanies" from the OT as being the pre- Incarnate Logos--Christ leading His people to the fulness of revelation in the New Testament. 

Here's one thing I've tried to wrap my head around regarding Christ in the OT: if eternity is outside time, and God in eternity sees time as a whole; and since the Incarnate Christ ascended to the Father, He entered eternity, then Christ incarnate sees time as a whole, yes? Therefore, would it be unreasonable to presume that Christ could have appeared bodily in His glorified form at any point in the OT? Clearly He does in the vision of Daniel, but I've often wondered this when Genesis speaks of God "walking in the garden." Which, I am aware is often taken allegorically.
Somehow through the Divine Energies I suppose it's possible,  but I would agree it's probably not Christ as He looked in the Incarnation but perhaps in another form, but who knows for sure,  it's a deep mystery. 

 I am one that believes God was somehow walking in the garden and Eden was not merely allegorical  but how that was the case is as mystery, as Eden is something we only know about through the theoria of Moses in Holy Writ and the visions of the various saints who caught glimpses of it. 

What I love so much about the Eastern Service Books is that there is a strong sense of "Lex Orandi,Lex Credendi"; the words actually interpret scripture in a very holistic, mystical and Christological way.

  While not nearly as explicit I would argue that the traditional Benedictine Breviary does as well, especially if you have access to Matins with all the extra lessons and antiphons. Everything connects scripture to its intended meaning. From the Western perspective one place I used to see this rich take on the Breviary was on Dom Kirby's blog Vultus Christi. Every antiphon or psalm has a very deep, very rich Christological aspect. 

It's always meant to be interpreted through the lens of Faith in light of the ancient tradition, NOT by academics who are not steeped in it. In the East we say like Colossians (1:15-17) says that everything was created in and through Christ, and that only through cleansing the heart can the nous (that spiritual faculty by which we know the logoi, the spiritual essences of things)  be opened to interpreting things rightly.  

Like you say though, there are some mysteries.  I think it's perfectly reasonable that Christ could- - did- - appear in the OT in some fashion.
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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#8
(12-18-2019, 07:38 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote:   While not nearly as explicit I would argue that the traditional Benedictine Breviary does as well, especially if you have access to Matins with all the extra lessons and antiphons. Everything connects scripture to its intended meaning. From the Western perspective one place I used to see this rich take on the Breviary was on Dom Kirby's blog Vultus Christi. Every antiphon or psalm has a very deep, very rich Christological aspect. 

Wow, that blog is an absolute treasure given that I recite Lauds, the Hours and Vespers in the Monastic Diurnal each day. Thank you for sharing that, I can see what you mean about the rich Christology on display in the Breviary.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

'Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.' - Ecclesiastes 1:2
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#9
(12-18-2019, 10:41 PM)Augustinian Wrote:
(12-18-2019, 07:38 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote:   While not nearly as explicit I would argue that the traditional Benedictine Breviary does as well, especially if you have access to Matins with all the extra lessons and antiphons. Everything connects scripture to its intended meaning. From the Western perspective one place I used to see this rich take on the Breviary was on Dom Kirby's blog Vultus Christi. Every antiphon or psalm has a very deep, very rich Christological aspect. 

Wow, that blog is an absolute treasure given that I recite Lauds, the Hours and Vespers in the Monastic Diurnal each day. Thank you for sharing that, I can see what you mean about the rich Christology on display in the Breviary.
I'm glad it was helpful.  I used to pray as much of the Benedictine Office as possible, especially during seasons like Advent. If only people had an inkling of just how incredibly rich the Breviary is they wouldn't ignore it.  Dom Kirby's blog is a real gem for those praying the Office.  Tip o' the hat
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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#10
(12-18-2019, 04:57 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote:
(12-16-2019, 10:22 PM)nightshade Wrote:
(12-13-2019, 09:19 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Great insights.  I've always tried to read ALL of scripture as a seamless whole.  Christ is present from Genesis to Apocalypse. That's how the Fathers looked at Scripture and its how (I'm speaking mostly from an Eastern perspective)  the hymns, Canons and the Liturgy and Office look at it as well.  It's only in relatively modern times that people try to dissect the Bible into the tiniest individual parts while looking for contradictions. 

You're absolutely right about spurious books like the "Gospel of Thomas" (I have a whole collection of apocryphal texts, including that one), the "tone" or "flavour" or perhaps "fragrance" of Christ is utterly alien and Gnostic compared to the Christ of the Canonical Gospels. 

I like to think Matthew,Mark,Luke and John all reflect different things about Christ.  John is obviously the most "mystical" but even the most straightforward, fast paced and sober minded Mark reflects the same Christ , perhaps seen through a different lens.


Would you advise reading the Bible this way from Genesis to the Apocalypse? I have never read it all the way through. I’ve read different books here and there but would really like to read all of it.


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Absolutely.  If Christ is truly the "Logos" than He was present at the Creation and can be seen all the way from Genesis to Apocalypse. At least as an Orthodox Christian I look at all the various "theophanies" from the OT as being the pre- Incarnate Logos--Christ leading His people to the fulness of revelation in the New Testament. 

Best thing you can do is put aside the modern stuff in toto and read the Church Fathers and the Service Books. At least in the Byzantine services the words,hymns and prayers actually show you how to read the OT. It's chock full of NT and Christological and Mariological interpretations of the whole of Scripture.


Thanks for the advice. The next question is which English translation is best? There are so many!


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