About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Divine breath of fire

Does God breathe fire? Yes, God does! At Pentecost we celebrate just one such occasion.
       But in order to fully understand it, we need to step back for a moment and realize, that many words and expressions for inner or higher spiritual motions and emotions were originally physiological metaphors. They were  derived from outward observations of our bodies and their reactions.

       People can hardly notice it in their own language, but it cannot be missed if we learn a new language. Take for instance the Hebrew word for anger; it simply means “a nose”. Often it is expressed in fuller form as “a hot (or flaming) nose”. It clearly harkens back to agitated breathing associated with strong emotions. The same idea is expressed in Greek language - THUMOS simply means "heavy breathing" and among other things it often translates as anger. Our English “anger” takes a little different approach, but leads to a similar end because it means “painfully restricted, narrow  (breathing)”. If, then, the Holy Spirit comes with flames of fire, it is an indication of a divine anger, indignation over injustice, and zeal for what is just and right.
       And almost instantly these metaphors of “hot nose” and fiery breath are complemented by another set of similar but opposite physiological metaphors. While patience in English is the ability to withstand hurt; in biblical Hebrew it literally translates as “long nostrils” certainly talking about calm steady breath. In the New Testament one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in New Testament Greek is called MAKROTHUMIA which means long (or deep and calm) breath which is such powerful indication of resolute endurance.
       On Pentecost God indeed breathes the fire of indignation over injustices in this world, but with the same breath presents a gift of patience, endurance and calm, long deep breath of endurance and magnanimity. On Pentecost we celebrate this gift in all its complexity, a burning indignation as well as a tenacious gentle breeze which has power to blow away all pains and soothe all hurts.
And for those who read as far as here: Interesting theory of development of physiological hypostases and metaphors and their participation in producing individual consciousness and current human mentality as we know it, was offered by Julian Jaynes in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. 

1 comment:

Muthah+ said...

Thanks, Andrew. This is a wonderful opening of language and understanding of what faith in a Spirit flinging God is like. I have been known to be a bit 'nosey' about injustice too. Good to see your post.