Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D Part 6- Destructive Waters

Water covers approximately 70-75% of the earth’s surface makes up about 70% of the human body. Water is arguably the most important natural resource in the entire world. All life depends on it. On the other hand, water may be a terrifying life changing force when it comes in the form of hurricanes, floods, or blizzards. Because of the universal nature of water, it is not surprising that H20 plays a central role in the Bible as well.

Today we are going to explore the watery events in the Old Testament that foreshadowed the New Testament sacrament of Baptism. Drawing from both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, I will focus on the two major aquatic events that prefigure baptism. Finally I will explain how the destructive powers of water superbly describe our faith life.

destructive waters

Great Flood of Genesis

Genesis 7 tells of a large flood that covers the earth after 40 days of continual rain. Whether or not a literal flood covered the entire earth or if it was a localized deluge does not matter. What is important is the symbolism used and the ways the Early Church Fathers interpreted this event as a prefiguration of the sacrament of Baptism. According to St. Justin Marytr in chapter 138 of his Dialogues with Trypho,

You know, then, sirs, that God has said in Isaiah to Jerusalem: ‘I saved you in the deluge of Noah.’ By this which God said was meant that the mystery of saved men appeared in the deluge. For righteous Noah, along with the other mortals at the deluge, i.e., with his own wife, his three sons and their wives, being eight in number, were a symbol of the eighth day, wherein Christ appeared when He rose from the dead, forever the first in power. For Christ, being the first-born of every creature, became again the chief of another race regenerated by Himself through water, and faith, and wood, containing the mystery of the cross; even as Noah was saved by wood when he rode over the waters with his household. Accordingly, when the prophet says, ‘I saved you in the times of Noah,’ as I have already remarked, he addresses the people who are equally faithful to God, and possess the same signs.

Geometric Goodness

octagon baptismal font
By P.Cox

Interestingly, Christians built traditional Baptismal fonts in octagonal structures to represent the eight souls saved in the Genesis Flood. The number eight in ancient times represented eternity. According to
Dr. Denis McNamara in his article The Sacred Depth of the Baptismal Font: The Place of Re-Creation,

In many historical examples, the octagon has taken precedence from the list of possible shapes, likely because of the symbolism of the number eight and its association with the theological “eighth day.” Genesis speaks of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, and so the “eighth day” is the metaphorical day of eternity as the day “after” the earthly sabbath, a day of re-creation into eschatological completion. Relatedly, there were eight souls in Noah’s ark who became the source of new life after the deadly flood. Since baptism is the door to this new life, the eight-sided baptistery takes on a symbolic significance particularly appropriate to the sacrament’s effect.

Another way the Genesis flood foreshadowed Baptism is the dove Noah sent out to test the subsiding of the waters in Genesis 8:10. Cardinal Jean Danielou states that this reference is a foreshadowing of the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove in the Gospels. Lastly, the Church Father Tertullian viewed the saving wood of the ark as prefiguring the wood of the Cross by which Jesus dies for our salvation.

Crossing of the Red Sea

crossing of the red sea

 Aside from the Genesis flood, the most common typological Old Testament event that foreshadows Baptism occurs in Exodus. Here the Crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites represents a freedom from slavery [they were under the rule of the Egyptians]. Using Moses as an instrument of His power, God parts the Red Sea and allows the Israelites to leave slavery while at the same time destroying the Egyptian army that tries to chase after them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1220 declares, “But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism: You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh, bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea, to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.”

Baptism Kills

Tying the previous two examples together, the common thread is that Baptism represents a type of death—this sacrament KILLS original sin and makes us ADOPTED sons and daughters of God! St. Paul states it best, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our process in becoming a new creation starts with the sacrament of Baptism. What is more, the Greek word βαπτίζω [Baptism] translates to submersion under water. When I hear the verb submerge the image that is usually associated in my mind relates to drowning or death. In a real sense a spiritual death occurs—death to one’s sins, namely original sin.

I do not think it was a coincidence either that the Gospel writers placed Jesus’ baptism at the beginning of his public ministry. The submersion of Jesus in the baptismal waters of the Jordan River prefigures his death on the Cross and the death to self we are all called to partake in!

plunge in water

Related Resources

https://adoremus.org/2018/01/14/sacred-depth-baptismal-font-place-re-creation/

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01289.htm



Advertisements
Thank you for sharing!

Why Catholic Must Have Bible A.D.D Part 6- Old Man vs. New Man

I found the meanings of names fascinating. Discover the meaning of your, siblings, or children’s name(s) and it might generate nice table talk at your next family gathering or shed light on a particular personality trait. The same is true for names within the Bible. Each and every name in the Old and New Testament has a meaning whose knowledge of its enhances one’s ability to learn about the biblical story. For example, the name Jesus means “God saves”—this is key in understanding the purpose of the Gospels in telling us about God’s plan of salvation for mankind.  The name that I want to focus on today is Adam.

First mentioned in Genesis 2, Adam is created by God as the first human. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word āḏām actually translated to “human or man”. This is an important point because as I will demonstrate today is that through a contextual reading of the Old and New Testaments God plan for all of humanity is salvation! There are three ways by which a contextual approach to Scriptures will show Adam as the Old Man and Jesus as the New Man.

new vs old

  1. Priest, Prophet, and King- Both Adam and Jesus exercise roles as priest, prophet, and king. I will briefly chart out evidence for all three of these roles and explain why Jesus is the perfect priest, prophet, and king. Regarding Adam, he is a priest because he is asked to tend the garden [which the Early Church Fathers commonly symbolically saw as a foreshadowing of the Temple]. Secondly, Adam had a prophetic role in being called to be a role model for his wife Eve. Thirdly, Adam exhibited kingly dominion over the garden [see Genesis 2:19-20]. In spite of these initial roles, the Old Man [Adam] is imperfect—he is expelled from the garden and blames his wife for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.. On the other hand, Jesus is the perfection of the roles of priest, prophet , and king. Jesus offers the most perfect sacrifice—himself in the Eucharist offered to God the Father. Next Jesus’ message of God’s love shows him to be a prophet par excellence. Lastly, John 19 shows Jesus as a king and the last Sunday of the Liturgical Calendar celebrates the Kingship of Jesus as well!

 

  1. Disobedience vs. Obedience- Paul juxtaposes the disobedience of Adam versus the perfect obedience of Jesus in Romans 5:15-19,

 But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many. 16And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal. 17For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ. 18In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k 19For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.l

Through the eating of the fruit of a tree in an act of disobedience sin and death came into the world. Ironically, it is through eating of the fruit [Jesus’ body and blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist] of a tree [The wood of the Cross] that grants us salvation and the graces to overcome sin and death!

  1. Eve and Mary’s Role- Another parallel between Adam and Jesus is the comparison of the major women figures in their lives. Eve fell into sin through the temptation posed by the serpent whereas Mary in Luke 1:38 accepts God’s will in being the Mother of Jesus. Moreover, there is a promise in Genesis 3:15 where the offspring of the woman will be at odds with the serpents offspring. I wrote in 3 Reasons Why God May Not Be the Devil’s Greatest Enemy in relation to this topic. I suggest reading this post for more information.

In sum, the New Testament is all about God’s plan of salvation coming to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. He is the perfect man and ushers in a new humanity through the sacramental system whereby we may become ADOPTED children of God. Though we are born to original sin and are connected to Adam at birth, God’s mercy allows us to wash away that original sin through Baptism and increase our family bond with Him through the other sacraments!

Thank you for sharing!

Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. Part 5- War of the Serpent

scary snakes I have yet to meet a person who loves snakes. Possessing fangs, venom, and an ability to suffocate makes snakes simply sinister. Moreover, the lack of limbs to their deadly array of weapons further add to the peculiarity of snakes! Throughout history snakes appear in a majority of creation stories. The Bible is not exception.

A contextual reading of Genesis and Revelation opened my eyes to the genius of the Holy Spirit in ordering and confirming the canon of Scripture. Conflict with a serpent occurs at the beginning and end of the Bible!

First Serpent

mary battling the dragon

According to Genesis 3:14 God places the following curse on the serpent, “Because you have done this [led Eve into sin], cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” Immediately following in verse 15 predicts Satan’s animus towards the Woman. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 410, “This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium (‘first gospel’): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers. Fast forwarding to the end of the Bible a similar opposition occurs.

Last Serpent

Revelation 12 describes in vivid symbolic language a battle between a woman and a dragon. The writer of Revelation identifies the dragon as the Devil and Satan in verse 9. It is interesting to note that the bible is book-ended by this theme of the battle between a woman [Mary] and the dragon [Satan]. According to Alice Camille in her U.S. Catholic article In the Garden of Good and Evil,

In the Bible, snakes appear at the launch of creation and again just before the apocalypse. The first serpent is really a proto-snake: He only loses his legs after enticing the first couple to sin. The final serpent is a full-blown dragon, which in ancient mythology was just a snake with wings. These biblical book-end snakes are no accident. The story in Revelation of the woman snatched away from the dragon’s harm is a conscious reenactment of the creation story, with happier results the second time around (U.S. Catholic September 2014, page 45).

Without reading the Bible through an A.D.D. contextual lens, I would not notice the perfect book-ending of theme. There is a logical flow and order to the canon of Scripture and it is an amazing experience to discover. I hope that you found today’s topic to be interesting and I continue to challenge you to find connections between the Old and New Testaments!

Thank you for sharing!

Why Catholics MUST Have Bible ADD!- Intro

I recently finished up teaching high school Scripture this past May. Some of my students complained when I started the Old Testament as to why I was going to the New Testament to better understand passages like the Temptation in the Garden or the Passover event in Exodus. I responded whimsically, “I ensure you I do not have Bible ADD, I simply want to show how the Old Testament prepares us for the New Testament and how the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament!”

 

I had to mention this many times to lackadaisical students. We as a Church have lost a sense of the Bible as containing an over-arching story line — God’s plan of salvation to overcome sin.

The sheer number of books in the Bible should not distract or overwhelm us. Rather, I believe Bible ADD is the perfect way to capture how Catholics must approach reading the Bible.

 

groot gif

 

This being an introductory post on understanding the bible in a contextual way I will not go into too detailed of an example. But I do think a starter example will aid in how a Catholic needs to approach the Bible. For example, to best understand the reason for Jesus’ death we have to turn the pages to Genesis 3 which features the fall of humanity out of God’s grace. Thus, knowing that humanity is not in favor with God the life and death of Jesus makes more sense.

 

Reading the Bible Contextually

 

Now, when I use my term “Bible ADD” I am not saying that Catholics should scan the pages of the holy text in a frenzied hyper-squirrelly way without any regard for order and thought. I used the term “Bible ADD” because my students told me it helped them remember the importance of reading the Bible contextually.

 

They can remember the importance to look at the entire Bible as a whole and not in fragments. Furthermore, Catholics have to be wary of a fundamentalist viewing of the Bible which limits passages to a single-literal meaning. Some passages [I will demonstrate this in future posts] are meant to be taken symbolically because they are poems or parables.

 

They can remember the importance to look at the entire Bible as a whole and not in fragments. Furthermore, Catholics have to be wary of a fundamentalist viewing of the Bible which limits passages to a single-literal meaning. Some passages [I will demonstrate this in future posts] are meant to be taken symbolically because they are poems or parables.

 

words have different meanings

 

Words contain multiple meanings. The inspired authors wrote with the ability for their words to be interpreted to meet the needs of our current situation today. A rubber-band has limits to how far it can stretch.So toopassages in the Bible must be interpreted in light of Church Tradition. They must make sense in light of the whole context of the Bible.

 

I guess to go back to my above example to properly read the Bible as a Catholic is to have Bible ADD. I should qualify that to say we should avoid moving to having a Bible ADHD because our theological “rubber-band” might break. We will jump into the Bible with concrete examples later. 

Thank you for sharing!