Re: Article on two book in latest PSCF

From: Douglas Hayworth <>
Date: Wed Oct 05 2005 - 23:07:08 EDT

Ted asked for a discussion of Tansella-Nitti's recent article in PSCF. Here are my comments.

The article was fascinating if only for pointing out how great and long is the history of the two books metaphor. Tansella-Nitti (T-N) gives what I trust is a good overview of how the metaphor was developed in various ways by different theologians throughout the ages.

Here, I think, are some of the most significant sentences from his concluding section on philosophical perspectives on the two books metaphor:

**With regard to those who have not received any historical revelation of God, the "word of creation" can play the role of a truly salvific revelation, in the place of Scriptures of other kinds of spiritual meditation. It must be pointed out, however, that nature alone does not save anyone. The capability of creation to awaken and convert human hearts to the love of the Creator, closely depends on the link existing between the natural world and the salvific humanity of Christ, the center and the scope of all creation.**

Several thoughts occur to me as I reflect on the historical overview presented by T-N. How much ought we to think of the two books as a metaphor vs. something stronger than metaphor? Given that language is uniquely human (among created beings), is language (in spoken and written form) actually a divine quality, i.e., something that is ontologically connected with being "in God's image"?

Then I think about those cultures throughout time (and even to the present) that did not have written language; the metaphor of a physical book would have no meaning to them, although the concept of the word would not. To them a written word would be as mysterious as the book of creation is to us.

Finally, even our concept of book has changed somewhat over thousands of years. In times past, the written word of Scripture (and the ability to read any word) was not available to the vast majority of any culture's people. Nowadays, nearly every person in can read and has access to Scripture. That context probably should be taken into account when attempting to understand how and why each theologian featured by T-N uses the two books concept.

Although science has taught us much about the natural world (the book of creation), I wonder if most us today are not less literate in really 'reading' what God would have us learn from the book of creation. For example, light pollution blocks most of the glory of the nighttime sky that our ancestors knew much more intimately. C.S. Lewis wrote that the automobile "annihilated space" in the sense that it got us so rapidly from one place to another that we hardly noticed what passed by.

Received on Wed Oct 5 23:10:42 2005

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