Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On knowledge

So long as we see the Word of God take flesh in the letter of holy writings in a variety of figures, we have not yet spiritually seen the incorporeal and simple and singular and only Father as in the incorporeal and simple and singular and only Son. As the Scripture says, 'The one who has seen Me has seen the Father' (Jn 14.9), and also, 'I am in the Father and the Father is in Me' (Jn 14.10). It is, therefore, very necessary for a deep knowledge that we first study the veils of the statements regarding the Word and so behold with the naked mind the pure Word as He exists in Himself, who clearly shows the Father in Himself, as far as it is possible for men to grasp. Thus it is necessary that the one who seeks after God in a religious way never holds fast to the letter lest he mistakenly understand things said about God for God Himself. In this case we unwisely are satisfied with the words of Scripture in the place of the Word, and the Word slips out of the mind while we thought by holding onto this garment we could possess the incorporeal Word. In a similar way did the Egyptian woman lay hold not of Joseph but of his clothing, and the men of old who remained permanently in the beauty of visible things and mistakenly worshipped the creature instead of the Creator.

- St. Maximus the Confessor, from Chapters on Knowledge

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