Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.3
January 3, 2011
From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 750 B – 751 B.
Chapter 3: That the symbolic theology which has to do with images is always delineated in a bodily and perceptible way.
The divine Luke says in his holy Gospel:
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.
[1.3.1] Lk 3:21-22.
When Gregory the Theologian expounds this text, he says:
For it was fitting that, as the Son had lived with us in bodily form, so the Spirit too should appear in bodily form.
[1.3.2] Gregory Nazianzen, or. 41.11; PG 36, 444 C.
Again, the same father says elsewhere:
As for the angels’ bright attire and brilliance, when these things are expressed in a bodily way, I take this to be a symbol of their native purity.
[1.3.3] Gregory Nazianzen, or. 25.2; PG 35, 1200 A-B.
Moreover, when the divine Chrysostom treats in a general way of this incident, he says:
And if it became possible for the Holy Spirit to be seen with the eyes of the body, under the form of a dove, it was nevertheless in no way necessary that this should have been shown to everyone. For Zechariah, also, saw many things in an image falling under the senses, and so did Ezekiel, while no one else saw the same things that they did; and Moses saw many things which were seen by no one else; and the transfiguration which took place upon the mountain was not witnessed by all the disciples; nor was the vision of Christ’s resurrection made available to everyone. And Luke plainly declares this, when he says: ‘… and [he] showed him openly … to witnesses chosen before by God’ (Acts 10:40 f.).
[1.3.4] Not yet found.
And, again, in homily 26 of his work on the Gospel of John, the same Chrysostom says:
Nothing which falls under the senses is able to declare the substance of angels; it can only declare what is bodily, which has density and three dimensions.
[1.3.5] Not yet found.
From these things, it accordingly becomes clear that the symbolic theology that is expressed by a bodily form is made known to those who are worthy, while, to everyone else, it is left in a mystery and an enigma, because, by those things which are seen, it is signified in an exalted manner.