The Bible as Revelation and History

Mariano Magrassi on the Bible as both revelation and history:

The Bible is both revelation and history. Playing on these words, someone has said that it is the history of revelation and the revelation of history. In any case, the two ideas are closely connected, because the Word of God is creative. It creates the event and moves the course of history ahead, at the same time shedding light on its salvific meaning. Gregory says this concisely in the Moralia: “With the same words it tells a story and reveals a mystery.”

The two realities meet and are supremely actualized in Christ. He is the final realization of what God intended to do; He is the final expression of what God intended to say. In the mystery of Christ, all the themes of salvation history converge, and the entire message of revelation is summed up: “A short Word, a concise Word” (Bernard).

Early tradition enthusiastically tried to explain these two things. First, Christ is the fulfillment of the divine plan. No one said it better than Irenaeus: “He recapitulated in Himself the long history of humankind and procured for us a ‘short cut’ to salvation.” He recapitulates the divine plan because He finalizes it from beginning to end. This radical christological orientation lies within the entire Old Testament. It was not imposed from without, like a label, by Christian apologetics: “It is within it and penetrates all its parts” (Hoskyns). If we represent salvation history by a line, Christ is at its end, middle, and every point in between.

This fundamental insight, which is the true heart of all traditional exegesis, is very impressive. Thanks to it, we are witnesses of the great central event as it advances relentlessly, looms, and becomes a crescendo; from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of the Apocalypse, where Christ appears as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the keystone who gives a single meaning to all the events of history, blending them into perfect unity.

All the elements that make up this divine plan are signs that proclaim its mysterious coming. They also effect its mysterious presence. The Old Testament is not only an external preparation for the mystery of Christ; it is already an integral part of it. Israel already lives it and is aware of it–although imperfectly–thanks to the prophetic revelation, which points with increasing clarity to the eschaton at the end of time. His mystery is already at work in the People of God and their institutions, which prepare hearts to receive Him and foreshadow His redeeming work. It is already at work in the history of Israel, which from its beginning is determined by its end, and whose biblical figures present a mysterious sketch of it. As the mystery is gradually revealed, Israel experiences it under the veil of institutions and figurative events. Christ gives life to all these things from within. He draws them along toward His coming like a powerful river current that irresistibly sweeps everything in its direction.

Praying the Bible, pp. 45-47

4 thoughts on “The Bible as Revelation and History

    • Yeah. This book is incredible. Lots of great quotes and points made. It’s basically an overview of lectio divina which jives close to what most readers of Witness Lee would identify as pray-reading. One definition in the book provided by Jean Leclercq is, “Lectio divina is prayed reading.” I’m planning on doing a 20 quotes post on it when I finish reading it.


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