None Greater: Chapter 1

April 26, 2020

My initial thoughts at the opening of chapter one were of disagreement with how Barrett portrayed Moses. The disagreement doesn't really matter ultimately, but since we are talking about our responses to the book, I bring it up. I don't ever remember thinking / feeling / picturing Moses as "petrified" and in "the fetal position" as he had this experience with God's glory.

And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:17-23 ESV).

Moses' disposition from my view is one of curiosity and desire to experience more of God. Maybe there is another portion of Scripture referring back to this passage that gives us the idea of Moses' fear and overwhelm, but in this passage I don't see it. I do agree to the overarching point that Matthew Barrett is making of God's incomprehensibility and that is what God is communicating to Moses here (19).

This is a stylistic preference I am making. I tend to pick up on it when authors use what feels like something that is overly dramatic to grab people's attention. I don't mean to attribute this motive to this author, it is just how it struck me. A couple other examples of this same feeling are when Matthew says that Moses "feels so bold as to ask the unimaginable" (17) and "Moses learns that day" (19).

Some other random thoughts:

  • I love Isaiah 40 - the whole chapter. I think many people miss this rich chapter because all they can see is verse 31. Perhaps I am overreacting; however, it has been my prevailing perspective for over a decade.
  • Love the quote from Augustine: "We are speaking of God. Is it any wonder if you do not comprehend? For if you comprehended, it is not God you comprehend." (23).
  • I don't remember ever reading the word "quiddity" before. How about you?
quiddity /ˈkwɪdɪti/ ■ noun (plural quiddities) chiefly Philosophy the inherent nature or essence of a person or thing. —origin Middle English: from medieval Latin quidditas, from Latin quid ‘what’. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • I have read the word "ineffable" before, but I read it so rarely that I need to re-look it up each time.
ineffability. That which cannot be expressed in intelligible language. Many mystics have claimed that an experience of God is ineffable (though that has not stopped them from attempting to describe the experience). See also mysticism; religious experience. C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 60.
  • Good reminder that reason is not enough. I quickly can get caught up on matters of reason as the only way to substance.
  • "God's incomprehensibility (that is a huge word to type and say) is a helpful reminder that whenever we speak of the infinite God, there is a proper, biblical role for mystery" (25). We so often are afraid to let mystery stand like it is a boogie man in the closet that we need to shoo out.
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