Development of a Second Theme Gregory of Nyssa Allegoria and the Spiritual Sense

Having examined the association of mimesis, praxis and knowledge, we return to the original focus of this study — the reading of Scripture and the nature of God's revelation attested there. In introducing Gregory of Nyssa's work at this point, the intention is not to establish a comparison and contrast between Aristotle and Gregory. It would be important to do such work — examining the similarities and differences of their thinking on the pursuit of the good life, their anthropologies, ontologies and epistemologies. Others have demonstrated how profoundly Gregory has been influenced by Aristotle and how un-Platonic is the general character of his thought, despite several critiques of Aristotelian technologia in Contra Eunomium.62 The intention here is to develop Aristotle's appreciation of the inseparability

60 De Interpretatione, 16a3.

62 See Hans Urs von Balthasar's study of Gregory of Nyssa's work, Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa, tr. Mark Sebane (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995) (first published in 1942). Also E. von Ivanka, 'Vom Platonismus zur Theoriemystik. Zur Erkenntnislehre Gregors von Nyssa', Scholastik 11 (1936), pp. 163—95. D.L. Balas is right when he states that Gregory's knowledge of philosophy included middle Platonism and early Neoplatonism as well as strong Aristotelian and Stoic elements (Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Bd. XIV Berlin: de Gruyter, 1985, p. 177). The work of Heinrich Dorrie has emphasised the parallels with Plato's work — the Phaedo on Gregory's De Anima and Timaeus on Gregory's exegesis of Genesis. (See here also of mimesis and phronesis, rhetoric and logic, the temporality and movement of matter and the universal speculation of theoria in terms of an allegorical reading of the Scriptures. This reading will, in turn, imply and issue from a theology of representation and reading, as we will see. From analysis of the metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics of representation we move to the practice of reading, the inner dynamics of reader—author—text installed by narrative. We will proceed through an examination of that classic spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures found in The Life of Moses.63

In Book I of that study, Gregory retells the story of Moses as it can be pieced together from the Books of Deuteronomy and Numbers, the Letter to the Hebrews and Jewish Midrashim. The emphasis is upon the historical and the psychological. Where he deviates from the Scriptures he is concerned with painting a certain realism, a concreteness, about this figure and a plausibility about the events within which he participates. Before the smoking Mount Sinai, Moses's 'whole being so trembled with fright that his faintness of soul was not concealed from the Israelites, but he was as terrifed as they were, at what he saw and his body shook violently'.64 Corporeality may exist without appetitive passion, sustained without food or drink, for forty days and nights while Moses was wrapped in the darkness of God on the summit of Sinai (I.58, 60), but Gregory nevertheless wishes to affirm the historical particularity of this man and his actions. It is only on the basis of such that he can move from the material and mutable to the practical wisdom, the general outline of the perfect life. Like Aristotle, it is the particular that must embody the universal. 'Always remaining the same, [Moses] preserved in the changeableness of nature an unchangeable beauty.'65

It is in Book II that 'a more figurative spiritual sense' (literally 'a more tropical theoria')66 is worked out. The soul is to be trained in an ascent towards divine illumination, just as in Plato's Cave allegory the philosopher

Monique Alexandre, 'L'exegèse de Gen. 1, 1—2a dans l'In Hexaemeron de Grégoire de Nysse: deux approches du problème de la matière , who argues that Gregory's concept of matter is thoroughly Aristotelian: Gregor von Nyssa und die Philosophie, eds. Heinrich Dorrie, Margarete Altenburger and Uta Schramm, Leiden: Brill, 1976, pp. 159—92.) Nevertheless many other scholars have pointed out Gregory's indebtedness to Aristotelian vocabulary and concepts. From his work Werner Jaeger infers that 'Gregor hat die aristotelische Kategorienlehre offenbar gut studiert': Gregor von Nyssa's Lehre vom Heiligen Geist (Leiden: Brill, 1966). Jean Daniélou, examining Gregory's understanding of theoria 'comme méthode discursive pour arriver à une connaissance sure' points that that 'c'est à Aristotle que se rattache la méthodologie de Grégoire': L'Etre et le temps chez Grégoire de Nysse (Leiden: Brill, 1970), p. 5.

63 Throughout this essay I am making reference to the translation by Abraham J. Malherbe and Everett Ferguson (New York: Paulist Press, 1978).

king is to be trained. Once Moses has been illuminated at the burning bush he is to liberate the Hebrews from Egypt in the same way as the philosopher king is to return to the Cave to release the prisoners. The move from bestiality to enlightenment is mapped out metaphorically in terms of transcending the mud, clay and chaff of the sensual in themselves rather than being released from its bondage. This is where Gregory does not follow Plato. In itself this materiality is good. But we must be released from our dependence upon materiality in and for itself: Benjamin's 'soulless materiality'. What affects the transformation is being able to see the invisible as it pertains to the visible creation, to read the Logos in human beings and the wider world. Creation has to be reread, theologically. We need instruction for this, hence the important role of the teacher and the mode of the teaching (of which we will say more later). For the soul is to be trained in its reading of the world, trained in understanding the perceptions and experiences which inscribe themselves upon that soul. The dynamic of this training is two-fold, the soul's desire for God who is 'alone desirable'67 and the operation of the Spirit in creation. This philosophy of desire is theologically dependent upon the divine Personhood of the Spirit, which Gregory insisted was necessary for a coherent understanding of the Trinity. Through the Spirit the soul is led to a knowledge of that which subtends all other knowledges and understandings of what is, the Logos: 'It seems to me that at the time the great Moses was instructed in the theophany he came to know that none of those things which are apprehended by sense perception and contemplated by the understanding really subsists, but that the transcendent essence and cause of the universe, on which everything depends, alone sub-sists.'68 The condition for ontological and noetic possibility is theological. The recognition of this is both given, via revelation, and earned, by the employment of the intellect. We are enslaved to the material and sensual without the exercise of our rationality (II.46) and without our participation in the eschatological economy of the Spirit. The recognition of the universal and immutable in and through the particular and mutable finds expression in terms of the virtuous life; a life now ordered, orientated and interpreted by that which has been revealed.

The narrative of Moses's life becomes, when interpreted allegorically, a model for our imitation; a paradigmatic form is discerned within the material details. The allegorical text, then, parallels (and it is the nature, operation and significance of that parallel which interests us) the historical people, circumstances and events themselves. Just as these details compose a

reality (for Gregory would not have doubted these things occurred as they were transcribed) which is poised between what Aristotle would call matter and form, so too is the text, as it composes the narrated world, poised between historia and theoria. Both realities — the concrete universal and the narrative — provide spaces for the operation of what David Tracy terms 'the analogical imagination'.69 Both in the actual experience of Moses before the burning bush, for example, and in the narrated account of Moses before the burning bush, a space is opened between sign (or what Aristotle would call symbol) and meaning. Within this space lies what Gregory will frequently term 'a hidden doctrine' ready for disclosure by the reader.

Paul de Man, commenting upon the structure of allegory, states that 'the relationship between the sign and meaning is discontinuous, involving an extraneous principle that determines the point and manner at which the relationship is articulated ... [T]he sign points to something that differs from its literal meaning and has for its function the thematization of this difference.'70 De Man reappraises and understands allegoria within a poststructural view of the construction of all worlds of meaning from the free-floating and endless dance of signs. And this is evidently neither Gregory's cultural context nor anything he would understand by an allegorical appreciation of the world. For Gregory what is allegorical primarily is creation; it is a description of the created order as the invisible is apprehended within the visible. His allegorical readings are readings of the world, but they are also readings of Scriptural texts. The Scriptural texts disclose the nature of the world. Creation is represented in these texts in a way that instructs the soul in the things which are hidden. Scripture is a reading of creation. As such, the discontinuities between sign and meaning in allegory, which de Man alerts us to, are not only evident, they are more complex. Because the sign is not simply the literary sign in the Scriptural text, is it also the body out there in the world that points towards other possible disclosures. So, for example, there is no evident connection between a burning bush and the immaculate conception (II.21), the staff of Moses and the incarnation (II.26, 27), Aaron and the angels (II.51). Yet Gregory insists there is a theological, a hidden, connection. Furthermore, each of these signs can change their meaning as the narrative and interpretation unfolds — the burning bush becomes a picture of the incarnation, the rod becomes 'the word of faith'71 and then the cross, Aaron is a sign of an angel while he stands alongside

69 The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (London: SCM Press, 1981). I would distinguish, though, between my understanding of 'analogy'and Tracy's correlational understanding.

70 Blindness and Insight, p. 209.

71 Life of Moses, II.36.

Moses before the Pharaoh and a sign of a demon when he leads the Israelites in the worship of idols. Gregory emphasises this discontinuity between object and name, sign and meaning, perception and knowledge: 'The whole creature cannot go outside itself by means of a comprehensive knowledge. It always remains in itself. And whatever it perceives, it forms a perception of by itself. It is incapable of seeing a thing outside its own nature, even if it thinks it is glimpsing an object that goes beyond it.'72 He associates this with his theology of diastasis — the separation between God as uncreated and created human beings.

Let me draw out two consequences of this dislocation between sign and meaning, imaged peception and knowledge, and the allegorical procedure which both creates and perpetuates while seeking to resolve this dislocation. First, with reference to Paul de Man's analysis of allegory, it is the 'extraneous principle' imposing itself upon the object perceived (in Moses's case, the burning bush) or the object depicted which disrupts identification. A is no longer A, A is also B (and C and D). It does not just disrupt once, but having disrupted it continually disrupts. As the narrative continues, the reidentifications, A as B, are not standardised. Shoes with reference to Moses before the burning bush are identified as dead, earthy things which have to be stripped away before illumination is possible. 'Sandalled feet cannot ascend.'73 Shoes with reference to the eating of the passover are identified as forms of necessary protection against the 'thorns of life'. 'Shoes are the self-controlled and austere life.'74 In this processive reidentification, nakedness also undergoes a semantic shift. What this affects is an inability to grasp any object as a self-subsisting entity, a body to be owned. There is no stability of the identification. All possession and understanding is provisional, for, as Dorrie points out, 'Nun ist der Logos keineswegs das als solches passive Objekt des Forschens und Suchens.'75 Allegory as such forestalls what otherwise would be idolatry. We are pushed beyond the symbiotic equation of knowledge and perception because what is seen 'kindles the desire for the hidden through what is constantly perceived'.76 If the play of the invisible within the visible, the incorporeal within the corporeal, is not perceived there is no perception. There is blindness. Such uninformed perception, such grasping of objects and bodies as if they were self-subsistent entities leads to lust, the misdirection of desire. Gregory speaks of 'the very root of evil — namely, the

72 Contra Eunomium, 12, II, 1064 BC

73 Life of Moses, II.22.

75 Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, Bd. XII (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1983), p. 882.

76 Life of Moses, II.231.

desire which arises through sight'.77 He follows here a line of theological thinking which has consistently offered a critique against what has come to be called, by Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray, ocularcentrism — the ideology and pornography of visibility. Seeing belongs to God alone — theoria is associated with theos.

Secondly, what determines the multiple reidentifications in Gregory of Nyssa's text is three-fold. There is (a) the iteration of the object elsewhere in the Scriptures — for example, the various emplotments of 'serpent' in the books of Genesis and Numbers and the Gospel ofJohn redefine each other. The serpent that tempted Eve (Genesis) is related to the serpent of bronze in Numbers 2.4—9, which Moses set up to save those bitten by poisonous snakes, which is then related to Jesus's words in the Gospel of John (3.14) predicting his own death. The mention of the word invokes a system of correspondences such that 'you of course understand the "cross" when you hear "wood"'.78 We might term this the Scriptural principle of intratextual-ity. Augustine in De Doctrina Christiana expounds the principle (and its theology): 'the Holy Spirit has magnificently and wholesomely modulated the Holy Scriptures so that the more open places present themselves to hunger and the more obscure places may deter a disdainful attitude. Hardly anything may be found in these obscure passages which is not found plainly said elsewhere.'79 This principle blurs distinctions between primary text and secondary interpretation and the hierarchy which privileges one text above another. Intratextuality presents a flat field of signs and displays a constant trafficking between one text and another through the processes of allusion, citation, iteration, reinscription and rewriting, examples of all of which Gregory of Nyssa's text provides. Then there is (b) the tradition of the Church Fathers or the rule of faith. For the staff's transformation into a snake as a sign of the incarnation appears in Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.28, and it will appear later in Cyril of Alexandria, Glaphyra in Exodum 2.299. We can include here Gregory's appeal to Jewish Midrashim and his indebtedness to the allegorical reading of Philo. We might, following the work on reader—response theory by Stanley Fish, term this an appeal to the interpretive community, if Fish's understanding of this operation was not in fact a secularised notion of ecclesia and paradosis. Such communities stabilise, by authorising, certain meanings; they create certain ideological readings and in shaping these readings they shape, at the same time, the readers.80 We will

79 De Doctrina Christiana, II.6.

80 Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), p. 336.

return to the politics of this 'readings shaping readers' and the relationship between the operation of the analogical imagination and ideology later. Gregory also (c) employs theophany itself as determining reidentifications, just as in his telling of Moses's life there are three moments of revelation — the light of the burning bush, the darkness on Mount Sinai and the view of God's back as he passes by. As a theophany this last episode, which is God's response to Moses's desire to see him, is most significant. The first theophany is mediated (through the bush). The second on Mount Sinai is an entry into darkness and incomprehensibility. This third theophany is the only one where Moses 'sees' God, but not face to face. Throughout his work Gregory emphasises that God is 'The-Always-Greater'81 and the soul will never reach its final perfection.82 Only a spiritual rewriting of 'God's back' as the traces of God's operations in the world restores the narrative's intention. The revelation, then, turns out to be a figure for God's mediated presence, a representation of a representation. As theophanies the three events do not suggest the immediacy of knowing God. There is always a distance, a dia-stasis, traversed by representation and desire. Moses's final contact with God is his subsumption into heaven 'leaving behind no sign on earth nor any grave as a memorial'.83 These theophanies, then, are emphatically moments of negative knowledge, knowledge beyond intelligible knowing, knowledge only that God is and not what God is. Nevertheless, the theophanies are disclosures of ultimate truth, moments of authorisation that hold the whole narrative progress in order. The meaning and unfolding structure of the action (the history) and the contemplation (the spiritual interpretation) circulate about these moments; moments when the narrative is suspended, frozen in light or darkness. This suspension of the narrative is not, though, accompanied by lacunae in the telling, the writing itself. However filled with light or consumed by darkness, however ineffable — Gregory's language still proceeds. Theology, attestation, requires its rhetoric: oxymoron, paradox and analogy take over. The writing is necessary 'to signify our reasoning',84 to trace the allegorical in both the Scriptural text and Moses's experience. We write as we reason and this is our teaching. The presence of God is staged; his passing is performed.

Where knowledge, perception, representation and true presence coincide is in the Logos. Heinrich Dorrie notes: 'Folgerichtig fordert Gregor, das Bild Christi in der eigenen Seele aufzusuchen and es von aller Verdunklung

81 In Canticum Canticorum, 8; I, 941 B.

84 De Hominis Opificio, VIII.2.

und Verunklarung zu reinigen und zu befreien.'85 '"The senses of the soul" are pleasured by the charm of the apple tree of the Word.'86 What is finally revealed to Moses, having been led towards it by trumpets that signified preaching and prophecy, 'the Spirit through his instruments',87 is the Word itself. The Word is a two-fold divine form of writing. First, there is the Logos presented through the representation, the analogy, of the heavenly tabernacle. The divisions within the tabernacles correspond to Christ's human and Christ's resurrected body (II.174). In II.216 the incarnation is pictured as God writing upon human material. Again the presentation is not finally perspicacious, the rhetoric slides — as the narrative and the exegesis follow each other the tabernacle is also the celestial world (II. 179), the Church (II.184) and the human body (II.245). Perhaps this semantic slipping is why prayer and praise even in the tabernacle are described as 'a verbal sacrifice'88 — the meaning of the words is handed over, abandoned, from the moment of their utterance. Words, like the Word, experience a kenosis.89 Secondly, there are the tablets of stone written by God which are also a picture of the soul. These are first written upon by the hand of God and subsequently rewritten upon by the action of the Word (II.316). At the pinnacle, holding the rest in order, the form to which all aspires is writing itself, divine and human interwoven, one providing the conditions, even necessitating, the other. Scriptura, écriture. 'The Holy Spirit is called "finger" in many places in Scripture'; Gregory notes that revelation is written.90

Despite the Platonic/Neoplatonic motif of ascent and the disciplining of the senses through eros, there are sufficent parallels here with Aristotle's understanding of the relationship between mimesis, theoria, metaphysics and theology. Not least is the concern to affirm the corporeal, not disregard it. The aporetics of ontology and epistemology are also evident in Gregory's allegorical reading of the pursuit of truth and the virtuous life. We will develop this. These aporetics follow, as I said, from the ultimate diastema between creator and creation. They lead to a process of coming to know, not a knowledge. They announce a new kind of space for reflection. Allegory —

85 Reallexikon, p. 882.

86 In Canticum Canticorum, 4; I, 844 B.

87 Life of Moses, II.159.

89 See here II.247, where no fewer than 18 redefinitions are given for 'the opening in the rock' into which Moses retreated when God passed by.

90 Ibid., II.216. Philo's work also stressed the written form of revelation, unlike Clement of Alexandria who, later, drew attention to the voice as revelatory. See David Dawson, Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria (Berkeley: University of Califonia Press, 1992), especially pp. 73-126 and 183-234.

by opening the semiotic can of worms, disassociating sign from meaning, installing an ontological and noetic aporia and indeterminacy — both creates this space and seeks to work productively within it, containing the arbitrary. The opening of this new spatiality through allegory is clearly presented in Gregory's interpretation of the ascent of Moses up the mountain and into the darkness of God (II.152—69). For as the narrative proceeds upwards so the allegorical interpretation, which views this ascent as an interiorised event of illumination beyond sense impressions and reasoning, speaks of penetrating depths and elevation of the mind. If allegory always operates beyond real time (see de Man), transposing and disrupting the historical, it is also a strategy for the disruption of geographical space, installing a deliberate obfuscation of spatial dimensions. A sacred space is opened, what Gillian Rose has called the 'broken middle'.91 This is a space which is constantly transgressing its own dimensions, a space that cannot be located 'here' or 'there' because it is a space that cannot be contained, a space that deconstructs its boundaries. '[I]n speaking of "place" he [Moses] does not limit the place indicated by anything quantitative (for to something unquantitative there is no measure) .'92 This space can neither be limited nor defined. It is a space for dispossession. Read in terms of ecclesiology, this is a liturgical space.93 Read theologically in terms of contemplation, this is a place for the interpretative play within representation itself. As such, allegoria is like the convex mirror at the centre of Jan van Eyck's famous painting of The Arnolfini Marriage. It announces a certain reflexivity about representation and interpretation itself; a self-consciousness, within mimesis, of the dialectic between semiosis and interpretation; a self-consciousness about the way representation constructs our worlds, our notions of identity and reality and how that linguistic construction remains continually open to being rewritten, reinterpreted. The allegory, the hidden doctrine, of the created orders themselves and the allegory of the representation of those orders draw attention to the rhetoric of our knowledge of God's world, its metaphoricity. Furthermore, allegoria offers a reflection upon reading itself — the reading which always rewrites, performs the textual score in its own key, according it its own rhythm, with its own attention to certain details and blindness to others. It is in this sense that Paul de Man calls allegory 'metafigural'94 — it is

91 The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1992). See especially pp. 277-96.

92 Life of Moses, II.242. See II.243 for a temporality which is eternal: 'how the same thing is both a standing still and a moving', like Aristotle's concept of God.

93 See Jean-Yves Lacoste, Expérience et Absolu (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1994) for an exploration of how personhood experiences a dispossession and kenosis in and through liturgy.

94 Allegories of Reading, p. 275.

both a strategy of reading and writing and a reflection upon the act of representation itself with respect to reading and writing. Allegoria provides Hermes with a mirror in which to contemplate his own character as messenger of the gods, diplomat, trickster and thief.

What then of the reader, who is also pupil, the one under instruction, both for Aristotle and for Gregory of Nyssa? Daniélou notes how Gregory's concept of akolouthia depends upon Aristotle's.95 It is important to point out that allegory never speaks in its own name. The principles of intratextuality and interpretative communities, and the advent of the theophanous, are appeals by the exegete to symbolic fields larger than the single reader, other voices that keep a check upon the arbitrary. The self as author is authored and given authorisation from elsewhere. Ethically, in destabilising identity, allegory destabilises selfhood. The 'I' dissolves into the others which speak in, through and for the I. Allegory creates not only reading but readers, it is a form of discursive power like prayer and confession,96 rhetoric in the service of soul-making. The 'I' is led on a narrative of purification; the reading is a spiritual exercise, for in the reading the 'I' enters this space of dispossession and is continually renamed — as Moses, as an Egyptian, as an Israelite, as a pillar, as a sanctuary light. 'For not everyone is named brother or friend or neighbour in a good sense by Scripture. It is possible to be both brother and foreigner, both friend and enemy ... Scripture ... gives indication of the double meaning of brotherhood, that the same word does not always signify the same thing but may be taken with opposite meanings.'97 Reading as contemplation is a form of ethical praxis, integral with the pursuit of the virtuous life. The place and identity of the 'I' is ambivalent, it is an ambivalence which results from a disassociation of name and meaning. This engineers a space for the operation of the Spirit and what Balthasar, discussing the work of Gregory, terms a 'knowledge by desire' as distinct from a 'knowledge by image'.98 Gregory names God as 'You whom my soul loves' and emphasises that in desire alone do we see God, insofar as we can.99 Not that representation can be transcended, as we have seen, only that representation can be transfigured through and in desire, through and in the Spirit.

95 L'Etre et le temps chez Grégoire de Nysse, pp. 43—5. This word returns us to Robert Scharlemann's term 'acoluthetic reasoning', explored in the first essay, 'Christology and Mimesis'.

96 See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1, tr. Robert Hurley (London: Penguin Books, 1981) for a discussion of confession as social engineering (pp. 18—21, 60—1). Also Talal Asad, The Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), pp. 83—167.

97 Life of Moses, II.208, 210.

98 Presence and Thought, p. 133.

99 See In Canticum Canticorum, 8; I, 941 AB and 12; I, 1024 BC.

It is at this point that we can only appreciate Gregory's concern with allegorical reading of creation and text, and the destabilisation of identity, within wider systematic concerns in his theology. Primarily, there is his concern with the Trinity as the community of processive love. This is linked to his desire to establish the deity of the Holy Spirit, who as union of Father and Son is Person, and who, as processing from the Son, also crosses the diastema of creator/creation. This leads Gregory to begin his theology from an existential philosophy of desire as we have seen elsewhere in this collection, and a theological understanding of human beings made in the image of God. We are created with passions that we might be drawn to love God.100 The operation of this desire will move us beyond the inertia and lust of 'soulless materialism' towards deification.

Where narrative, allegory, knowledge and virtue meet is in this theological understanding of personhood. Here what is 'I', what is identified, what is named — 'all names have equally fallen short of accurate description, both those recognized as insignificant as well as those by which some great concept originated in sense impression'101 — finds its place in 'the power which encompasses the universe, in which lives the fulness of the divinity, the common protector of all' (II.177). There is here a doctrine of participation, but to enter into the possibilities of that participation, to begin to ascend towards the truth and the good life, requires faith and free-choosing. Symbiotic analogies of God and creation are not self-evident. An irreducible opposition between God and human beings prevents such a natural theology. A space remains, a distance, and it is this space which allegoria installs and works productively within so that it may be resolved. The presence of God pervades creation, and our knowledge of that presence develops in, through and as the vocation to true personhood, the move towards becoming a person in Christ. All exists within the Word. The Word is unitary. All things find their definition then in and as the Word. Knowledge of God comes through illumination, the employment of one's reason towards that which is invisible and the necessary dispossession this precipitates. Revelation in all its forms is the continual perichoretic receiving and pouring out of love which is the Trinity and within which all things move. As such, divine disclosure occurs only in and as time and narrative, as history, as metonymy or the ongoing chain of signs. Just as salvation is a matter of the body and the soul, so revelation is story, our story within God's own story. The metonymic and horizontal axis of movement into the future from out of the past has a vertical, metaphoric or analogical axis, a transcendent reference. Both are

101 Life of Moses, II.176.

required. Analogy cannot present a frozen glimpse of the eternal truth. It is part of a larger and more dynamic symbolics. Knowledge of God can only issue from allegory, an allegory created as the invisible operates through the visible, an allegory created by infinite love: God's love for us and our desire to close the space which separates our signs from their meaning, our desire for the first, last and only Word. Within a doctrine, then, affirming that 'the term "Godhead" is significant of an operation, and not of nature',102 narrative — the representation of an action — is not simply the vehicle for disclosure (that is, a divine disclosure is contained within it and is extractable by some hermeneutic process), nor the means for disclosure (that is, illumination uses the form of narrative as an instrument for its own purposes). Both these understandings of the relationship of divine communication to narrative are docetic — the body of the text is epiphenomenal. Rather, narrative as the allegorical representation of God and human salvific action in the world is disclosive — for the disclosure itself is not an event but an eventing, an always in the process of coming to be. The disclosure is the continuing outwork through the Spirit of God's revelation of Himself in Christ. The operation of the Logos is not yet complete — that is why allegory remains; the work of Christ is unfinished until human beings through an economy of response are deified: 'all will be one body and one spirit'.103

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