I’ve got be studying for these last weeks of school- I just need a little distraction before I start, so thank you for providing me with this opportunity.
I’ve written on my previous blog about reading the Word typologically, poetically- an art I strongly believe in, and a thing which I think Christians are leery of today. There is good reason for this, no doubt. If you start assigning hidden meanings and symbolism to Scripture at will, it may end up looking more like Alice in Wonderland than orthodoxy pretty quickly. Nevertheless, I think it can be done responsibly, and even in a way which doesn’t presume upon Scripture.
What I’m talking about is thoughtful reflection on the Scripture, followed by creative expression. George Herbert is, I feel, the master of this. In his poem “The Sacrifice,” he points out over and over again these ironies in Christ’s Passion which are both poignant and deeply tragic.
For example: in speaking of the soldiers blindfolding Jesus to strike him, Herbert says (from the viewpoint of Christ), “My face they cover, though it be divine/ As Moses’ face was veiled, so is mine/ Lest on their double-dark souls either shine.”
Now, is that a comparison that the text would lead us to make? Probably not. But what insight it brings! It’s clear that Herbert thought deeply about the event of Christ’s trial, connected this event to Moses covering his face, and expressed it in such a way that we would see the sad irony in this bit of the story.
Another example: speaking of the crown of thorns, he writes, “So sits the earth’s great curse in Adam’s fall/ Upon my head: so I remove it all/ From th’ earth unto my brows, and bear the thrall.”
I had never thought of it like that- of course it’s true that in his crucifixion Jesus bore Adam’s curse, but is that what the crown of thorns represents? Maybe. Maybe not.
My point: Herbert isn’t saying that the authors of Scripture intended that these connections be made; in making them for us, he is simply helping us to think deeply about Scripture ourselves. We don’t have to pretend that everything we imagine Scripture might be saying is gospel truth, and it certainly isn’t going to kill us to try.
Back to work,