The opening lines of St. John's Gospel, from a
12th Century manuscript, reproduced in: Crosby & Shaeffer, An
Introduction to Greek (Allyn & Bacon, 1928).
According to the "old
teaching of the logos," Barfield writes in
the Appearances, "in the course of the earth's history, something
like a Divine Word has been gradually clothing itself with the humanity
it first gradually created--so that what was first spoken by God may eventually
be respoken by man" (127). Barfield takes this "old teaching" very seriously.
"To be an Anthroposophist, after all,"
he concludes, "is to seek to unite oneself not with any groups of words,
but with [that] concrete thinking, whose existence can only be finally
proved by experience. It is to refrain from uniting oneself with words
in the humble endeavor to unite oneself with the Word" (RCA 77).
of consciousness has gradually transformed awareness of the power of
the divine word. In the ancient world, the advent of Hebraic monotheism,
for example, changed radically understanding of the relation of the self
For He [Yahweh]
had now only one name--I AM--and
participated by every being who
had eyes that saw and ears that heard and who spoke through his throat.
But it was incommunicable, because its participation by the particular
self which is this moment uttering it was an inseparable part of its meaning.
Everyone can call his idol "God," and many do; but no being who speaks
through his throat can call a wholly other and outer Being "I."
Herein lay the mystery
of the Divine Name. (SA 114)
The radical diminution
of participation this new stance produced (see Hebraic
Mind) was only to be expected, as Barfield reminds:
experience of the inwardness of the Divine Name was the proper counter-pole
to [Hebraic] loss of participation. . . . By the time Jesus was born the
Divine Name had ceased to be spoken by man in the Temple or elsewhere.
The Pharisees had made it the name of a Being exclusively objective, remote,
inaccessible, infinitely superior to, yet imagined as existentially parallel
with man. Thus, the Jews had barely glimpsed, before they again lost sight
of, that which is the opposite to man's otherness from the I AM, namely
his supreme identity with it. (SA 157)
With the coming of Christ,
for Barfield "the turning point of time itself. . . , the change-over to
[the] directionally creator relation
. . . , " the old teaching of the Logos is reborn
in the metaphor of "the sowing of the word,"
which stands for "the coming of God himself into nature and man." The true
meaning of the "hard sayings" in the parables which contain these teachings
(in Matthew xiii, 34 and 35) must remain inexplicable unless . . .
truly "receive" such sayings who is without some inkling of all that the
word and the Incarnation of the Word stand for in human evolution. . .
. An understanding of the essence of it, in a different, older perspective--that
is, in Greek and Hebrew versions of a "Logos"
teaching--had already become possible . . . before Christ came to the earth.
To this understanding he appealed in the hard sayings.
Christianity has not
entirely lost the meaning of the "teaching of the Creative Word." Indeed,
testimony to a creation which was not a mere creation of idols, and to
an evolution which was not a mere evolution of idols, is one which Christian
thought, thanks to the opening verses of St.
John's Gospel, has never been able entirely to ignore, though it has
now come near to doing so. (SA 125)1
"There will be a revival
of Christianity," he predicts, "when it becomes impossible to write a popular
manual of science without referring to the incarnation of the Word" (SA
|See in particular
the Appearances, Chaps. XXIV and XXV; and The Rediscovery of Meaning
to imagine" the effect of Christ's own teachings concerning the Divine
Name on his receptive followers, we must practice historical imagination:
we must have ears to hear; to hear the
Christ as the Representative of Humanity actually speaking to the handful
in Palestine long ago. We shall recall, for instance, the great series
of 'I am-' sayings in St. John's Gospel: 'I am the way, the truth, and
the life. . . .' 'I am the light of the world. . . .' 'I and the father
are one . . .' and we shall reflect how near was the Aramaic dialect he
spoke to Hebrew-so that at each 'I am' the disciples must almost have heard
the Divine Name itself, man's Creator, speaking through the throat of man;
till they can hardly have known whether he spoke to them or in them, whether
it was his voice which they heard or their own. (SA 181-82)