THE MARKAN MANDALA


MIRACLES AS METAPHYSICS

A HERMENEUTIC OF MARK


INTRODUCTION

This is non-essential reading as far as the hermeneutic is concerned. It is probably of more interest once the main argument has been grasped.

1 THE MESSIANIC MIRACLES AND THEIR PRECEDENT

This first essay is preparatory to a full-length study of what is probably the earliest of the four gospels, of which stories of miracles account for approximately one third. It selects Mark's almost complete series of 'messianic events', the series of non-healing miracles, and argues for the inclusion of the first miracle story of John in order to complete the form and intention inherent in this cycle. It then considers the relation of the Eucharist to this series. The seven 'messianic' events so constituted, correspond both logically, or in terms of the form of the propositions they contain, and referentially, to the story of the week of 'beginning', Genesis 1.1.-2.4a, to which the study defers immediately. This, the P creation narrative is interpreted as accounting for the universe in terms of  three analogously related categoreal 'forms of unity': space-time, mind-body and male-female. The hermeneutic stresses the significance of the formal contours of the narrative, explicit in the numerical ordering of its components. It is read as the locus classicus of the biblical doctrine of Trinity. The real emphasis of the Genesis text accrues to the Christological event, mind-body, as the story's continuous repetition of the light-time motif suggests. The real import of these three-six entities or conceptual forms, concerns their role in human and sub-human consciousness, mind. Three of which are essential to the doctrine of humankind as created 'in the image and likeness of God'. Thus the theological inflection of the creation story is Christological, and in keeping with  logos theology of the Johannine prologue. The meaning of the three part analogy is examined prior to the consideration of the messianic events.


2 THE MESSIANIC MIRACLES

Returning to the messianic miracles, they are understood to complete the creation narrative with which they are formally analogous. Thus the doctrine of Mind, tantamount to the doctrine of the Son, the doctrine of the triune nature of God, and the doctrine of the imago Dei  first announced in the P creation story are essential to their meaning. We concentrate firstly upon the three 'Eucharistic' or 'feeding' messianic miracles and the Eucharist itself, as complementary to the story of creation, and propose that the two series, beginning and end, creation and salvation, are mutually inclusive. The structural relation of the two narrative cycles we examine analogously to the paradigm transcendence : immanence. After a brief introduction to the presentation of sense-perception in the healing miracles, we propose that these six miracle stories reiterate the form and content of the messianic miracles. There follows an introduction to the semiotic forms, which expound the various numerical details given in the Eucharistic miracles, and the formulation of a Christian theory of perception. Hence the mind : body, is construed firstly in terms of the four immanent, Eucharistic, sense-percipient modes, and the three outstanding, primordial conceptual components of the creation taxonomy. These modes of sense-percipience, touch, seeing and hearing, are determined vis-a-vis the bifurcation of perceptual consciousness into past and future, hence memory and imagination. This analysis answers analogously with the division of the creation story into Days 1-3 and 4-7, which in turn recaptulates the opening inclusio 'the heavens and the earth'. Both textual cycles, the creation series, the narrative of 'beginning', and the messianic series, the narrative of 'end', convey the doctrine of humankind bearing the imago Dei, the 'image and likeness of God'. The two narratives of creation and salvation, of 'beginning and end', together propose a fully articulated doctrine of humankind, a theory of mind, and a Christology. The creation narrative deals with the conceptual polarity of consciousness, while the story of salvation contained summarily in the messianic events, deals with perceptual consciousness. Once again, we revert to the analogous relation between the three modes of sense-percipience and transcendence : immanence, the categoreal paradigm introduced in the story of beginning as the inclusio 'the heavens and the earth'.

3 EPILOGUE

Following a review of the four categories basic to Markan metaphysics, which constitute the two polarities of consciousness or mind, namely, pure conceptual forms, conceptual forms of unity, forms of memory and forms of imagination, we consider certain implications of the hermeneutic: the New Testament theology of creation; the Pauline adoption of the second creation story; and the two great Christological miracle stories: the miracle of Transformation Of Water Into Wine; and Transfiguration. Finally, in preparation for future studies, we investigate  some of the philosophical issues pertinent to  the idea of mind.



 MIND AND TIME

THE THEOLOGY OF SEMIOTIC FORMS


1 PROLOGUE

This essay builds on the former study, adding to discussion of the stories of 'beginning' and 'end', the creation narrative and the messianic series, The Apocalypse. The reason for which is that the formal evidence alone suggests that the three texts be considered as a synthesis. This last book of the New Testament contains four sevenfold series in obvious intertextual rapport with the two homologous sevenfold series of Genesis and the gospel, those of creation and salvation. This contextual integration of the three cycles yields the observation that each is inclined in virtue of one of the three phenomenal modes of sentience. The creation account shows a marked predilection for the acoustic; the messianic and healing miracles for the haptic; and The Apocalypse for the optic. These various predilections for the three phenomenal modes of sense-percipience serve to co-ordinate the narratives. They indicate both the basis of a Christian theory of semiotics and language, and a theology of revelation itself, and corroborate the methodological use of the three semiotic series to which the three Eucharistic miracles refer. These three narrative cycles are verbally, and so, semiologically, interdependent and Christological in keeping with Johannine Christology of 'the Word'. Syntactically, they disclose the doctrine of Christ, hence the doctrine of mind.

We briefly consider the story of The Flood, its Pneumatological strain and its relation to the theology of creation, noting references to colour, time, and the dove ('Jonah'). We then survey the epilogue of John, as it categorises the 'Eucharistic' intent of the three immanent messianic miracles, consonantly with the Christological introduction of The First Letter Of John. These texts are adduced in support of the previous hermeneutic of the messianic miracle narratives, and of the identification of the three sense-percipient modes linking the three textual cycles as well as their pre-occupation with sevenfold serial forms. The epilogue, John 21 provides succinct and important information about the order of the three Eucharistic miracles. It confirms the temporal sequence of the Eucharistic miracles. Each occupies a specific diurnal/nocturnal interval. These same durations signify the hierarchical ordering of the perceptual radicals of consciousness, and also the analogous conceptual forms of the Genesis story. The order of the seven creation-salvation events is to be understood in relation to the theology of the semeioptika, the subject of the story of The Feeding Of The Four Thousand. This narrative encodes both taxonomies, the conceptual and perceptual radicals of mind, relatively to time. It does so virtue of a specific form of perceptual memory, the optic, and so mandates and highlights the utility to theological method of colour, prefatory to the eschatological and visionary final member of the canon, in which the governing categories are all four Pneumatological radicals of consciousness: the perceptual radicals, optic memory : optic imagination, and the conceptual categories, male : female.

The outline of the diurnal/nocturnal temporal sequence of the messianic events, just as prompted by references to 'Day, morning and evening', in the creation story, following the prompt in John 21, is supplemented by reckoning with the equally paradigmatic annual temporal cycle, with its four cardinal point-instants: the two equinoxes and two solstices. These are then adopted as not only intrinsic to religious consciousness, but viewed as emblematic of the structure inherent in the fourfold form of the gospel. The hermeneutic is vindicated by the
recurrence of this same paradigm, that of the 'four living creatures' within the eschatology of The Apocalypse, confirming the visions of Ezekiel 1 and 10, a classical Pneumatological text in the Hebrew Scriptures. We next assess the implications of this hermeneutic for the two central themes of this essay, mind and time. From there, we begin the exposition of the doctrine of intentionality a propos of Christology, the doctrine of consciousness essential to understanding the person of the logos, the transcendent Son. What follows is the assignation of specific modes of intentionality to the various temporal intervals serving as paradigms, taking both the diurnal/nocturnal temporal cycle and the structure of the four cardinal points of the annual cycle, as analogous to the two orders of consciousness, the conscious and the aconscious.

Introducing the theology of semiotic forms by examining the reference to time and colour in Matthew 16.1-4, we relate this to the first messianic event recorded in the synoptic gospels, The Stilling Of The Storm, the subject of which is the Pneumatological category, optic imagination. Accounting for its implicit and explicit links with the 'sign of Jonah' saying, all of which ratify the value to theology of semiotic forms, we introduce the doctrine intentionality, the doctrine of consciousness, noting its earliest emergence in the J creation story, which refers to both desire and knowing. The hermeneutic develops the various intentional perspectives manifest in and specific to each of the four gospels.  We arrive at the postulate of four elemental modes of conscious and aconscious intentionality, operative specifically within each of the gospels, which guide the specificity of their soteriologies. The conscious intentional modes are: desire, knowing, willing and belief. The first to be discussed will be desire, in relation to the gospel of Luke, following the order of the messianic miracle series itself, whose first sign is The Transformation Of Water Into Wine At Cana (John 2.1-11).


2 MIND IN THE GOSPEL AND GENESIS

Both creation narratives, the P story, Genesis 1.1-2.4a, and the J story, Genesis 2.4b-3.24, are examined relative to the messianic miracle stories and some of the healing miracle narratives in the exposition of the first two of a total of four conscious intentional modes. These are desire and will, both conative forms of intentionality, acting as foundational to the specific theological and soteriological concerns of two of the gospels, Luke and Matthew respectively. We next examine the two cognitive conscious modes, knowing and believing, which are the intentional modes determining Mark and John respectively. These establish the basis of the further description of mind according to its division into two orders, conscious and 'aconscious', corresponding to the binary division of the annual temporal cycle, with its two overtly distinct halves; those in which the ratio of day to night culminates in one extreme at the two solstices. The 'sign of Jonah' saying is reviewed in the description of the aconscious because of its eschatological allusions. The aconscious is understood in terms of the normativity of the conscious. That is, the existence of components of mind describable as those of 'virtual transcendence' and those of 'virtual immanence', the forms of imagination of the messianic series, and forms of unity of the creation series respectively, are best understood in relation to the first level taxonomy which determines normatively what is meant by 'transcendence and immanence', or 'the heavens and the earth'. Subsequently, the four forms of the aconscious are referred to by means of the same terms used to describe the conscious. These four aconscious modes of intentionality are introduced briefly in the following order: desire-to-know, will-to-believe, belief-in-desire, knowledge-of-will. They are specifically operative in the gospels of John, Mark, Luke, and Matthew respectively; they correspond to the conscious forms of intentionality, faith, knowing, desire and will. Their relationship to the four series of events in The Apocalypse is discussed in the same context. Thus the fourfold division of The Apocalypse is to be considered in relation to the anatomy of the gospel. As was the case for the hermeneutic of the P narrative of creation, we contend that the form of the narrative of this final and most intertextual book of the canon, demands interpretation no less than do its contents.

The 'sign of Jonah' saying, the passion predictions, and other sayings relating to the 'three days and three nights' formula, are discussed in relation to the six categories which comprise the aconscious. The aconscious order of mind is further examined in relation to both series, creation and salvation, the latter including the healing miracle narratives as well as the messianic miracles. We then consider the difference regarding the sixfold and fourfold templates, opting for the Pneumatological fourfold structure, due to its greater simplicity, and in preparation for the first of the gospels to be studied a propos of the doctrine of intentionality:


3 LUKE

1 DESIRE AND BELIEF-IN-DESIRE

This is the first of the gospels to be accounted for in terms of the doctrine of intentionality and the theology of semiotic forms. On the basis of the overarching Christological premise regarding mind and time, we argue that Luke is pre-eminently aware of the reality of both desire and belief-in-desire as foundational to human consciousness. From which point of view, those chapters of the gospel leading up to the beginning of the travel narrative (Luke 9.51s), are discussed in this first section.


2 SEMEIHAPTIKA - THE BODY AND TOUCH

The doctrine of the haptic semiosis, which bears upon the Christian understanding of the logos and language, is introduced. The four Pneumatological such forms, womb and phallos, and the limbs, both upper and lower, are considered first. They are taken in relation to the Markan healing miracle stories, as well as their Lukan and Matthean recensions in certain cases. The four Christological and the four Transcendental somatic signs or semeihaptika, complete this brief survey, as the introduction to the later consideration of the instrumentality of desire to knowing, and the notion of embodied cognition. This leads to consideration of the conceptual form crucial to Luke's theology, the soma, as an interface between masculine and feminine, since all of the semeihaptika are legitimately disposed in virtue of one or the other. In turn, we examine the Day 4 rubric which incoporates three tropes: sun, moon and stars, signal of the masculine, feminine and neuter vis-a-vis embodiment. Finally we resume the discussion of the modes of antithesis which occupied our discussion of the creation narrative. These various aspects of Luke's theology of the body are then pressed into the service of an epistemology whose first objective is to confront the binary constructs of the texts. We identify the specific Christian ecclesiological or confessional stance which most nearly corresponds to Lukan theology, as well as the corresponding world religion: Lutheranism and Mantrayana Buddhism respectively.

3 THE  FOURTH DAY AND THE MIRACLE AT CANA

The Aristotelian syllogism, and the doctrine of commensurate universals are used to argue for constraint as the defining attribute of desire. Each mode of intentionality will be described in the same way. Autonomy is the definitive property of belief, and so too, of belief-in-desire. This procedure for the description of the aconscious order of mind once more avoids any unnecessary multiplication of categories. These two intentional forces which shape the theological outlook of Luke, conscious desire, and aconscious belief-in-desire, are assessed relatively to one another. We propose that the latter is the primary or superordinate member of the dyad, for it realises the inherent tendency of its class, forms of unity. This is expressed in the temporal quarter which culminates in the day at the winter solstice. Haptic memory on the other hand, whose canonical occasion is erotic desire, is the incipient member of its particular taxon or class, forms of memory.

4 DESIRE AND DETERMINISM

The three main Lukan presentations of the definitive property of desire, constraint, are examined: (i) the impersonal verb 'it is necessary'; (ii) the personae of 'servants' and 'slaves'; (iii) the theme of time and fulfilment. We resume the progressive discussion of the  travel narrative as pursuant to the same theological programme, the soteriology and eschatology of desire, leading up to its presentation Luke's particular account of the Eucharist.

5 EUCHARIST AND TRANSFORMATION

N.B. This page is still under  construction.

The meaning of the two messianic Christological miracles must methodologically employ the semiotics outlined in all three normative immanent messianic miracles. This methodology has already been both justified and utilised. It is continued in order to in establish the hermeneutic of 'transfiguration' and 'transformation'. These same two processes are to be assessed in relation to the Sabbath : Eucharist also, and consequently to the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist respectively.


4 MARK


1 KNOWING AND WILL-TO-BELIEVE

N.B. This page is still under  construction.

The initial treatment of this gospel follows the procedure adopted for the gospel of Luke. It is necessary to first address what are foundational to the soteriology specific to Mark, the intentional modes of knowing and the will-to-believe. These are both accounted for as phylogenetic rather than ontogenetic. That is, they depict consciousness in its social and public nature, rather than its personalist and individual cast. In this respect, the gospel of Mark is at complete variance with the gospel of Luke. The defining criterion of will-to-believe, namely freedom, and that of knowing, which is heteronomy, are expressed in the same pattern of syllogistic reasoning as was used for the definitions of belief-in-desire and desire, in the case of the gospel of Luke.

2 SEMEIACOUSTIKA - SPACE : TIME AND HEARING

N.B. This page is still under  construction.

Following the introduction of the haptic semiosis, this chapter interprets The Feeding Of The Five Thousand a propos of acoustic memory. Rudimentary structures including the dodecaphonic scale, the two whole tone scales, the diatonic and pentatonic scales, and the circles of fourths and fifths, are discussed before returning to the creation story. The creation story routinely refers to the will of the creator as spoken. This links it immediately with the epistemology and Christology recounted in the hymn to the logos at the beginning of the gospel of John. The P narrative also forges links with the gospel of Mark, in which the
acoustic semiosis predominates. The three forms of antithesis in the creation story, noted previously, serve to introduce the diatonic scales. The semeiacoustika which structure these sevenfold scales, likewise reveal these same formal aspects of mind. After considering the Transcendental, Pneumatological and Christological forms of opposition disclosed in the semeiacoustika, the postulate of congruence between intentional modality and the twelve diatonic scales, major and minor is introduced. The basis of difference between the two, a given major scale, and its relative minor, is determined as the affinity between cognitive and conative intentional modes respectively, whose canonical instances belong to the same taxonomic group or class; for example, knowing and desire. The defining or 'canonical' occasions of both knowing and desire, are the two perceptual radicals, acoustic memory, and haptic memory respectively.


This site adopts as a primary source for the theological enterprise the literature of both canons. 
Its foundation is in the first instance biblical, accepting the gospel of Mark as a key to the other two synoptic gospels, and as an optimal point of entiry to the Christian tradition. It is very probably the earliest of the four gospels in the opinion of the  majority of contemporary scholars. The word 'biblical' indicates a cross referencing between both testaments, the Hebrew Scriptures or Tanakh, and the New Testament. Aimed at the Anglophone member of the literate public sufficiently interested in religion generally, and in the Christian tradition in particular, the site is demotic rather than academic in character. I have deliberately avoided footnotes, and used instead, freely available online resources wherever possible.

It contains also, significant references to a variety of philosophical and religious traditions of the world,  recognizing that those religious traditions which continue to claim the allegiance of millions of humans today, the various forms of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, have much to teach us. The use of the word 'mandala' in the name of this site testifies to my conviction that certain aspects of Mark's doctrine can be best appropriated by adopting some of the theories and practices common to these other religions, which have been largely left out of account in classical Christian theism to its detriment. It is in relation to the hermeneutic of The Apocalypse that the embrace of these religious traditions will be essential. But the broad-ranging ambitions of this site however, do not end there. For it contains significant references to a variety of philosophical as well as religious traditions of the world. Fides quaerens intellectum, 'faith seeking understanding', remains a classic definition of theology. As Dorothy Emmet (1966: 126) suggests: 'On the one hand we should have intellectus quarens fidem, understanding in search of faith; on the other, fides quarens intellectum, faith in search of understanding.' My encompassing premise is that the overarching reach of such religious and philosophical perspectives as these, far from being extraneous, is intrinsic to the meaning of Mark's gospel.

The practical outcomes of the study will focus on meditation. Christianity already offers traditions of meditation both longstanding and varied. Few if any of these accept the gospels as their basis; few incorporate either philosophical or alternative religious traditions, and none contains a fully articulated and coherent doctrine concerning human nature, nor more specifically, a comprehensive theory of mind. Such as these concerns also are reflected in the use of the word 'mandala' as a description of the gospel of Mark. Another singular innovation however for the practice of Christian meditation, is that of the adoption of the theology of time in accordance with its import for the doctrine of mind or logos pursued here. Most classical Christian traditions of meditation praxis follow the basic patterns of the liturgical year with Christmas and Easter as central points, and a plethora of other festivals, numerous saints days for example. A radical departure from that is made here. The four gospels themselves provide the template for a natural theology which takes as its lynchpin the division of the year into four seasons. A natural theology of time is thus taken as fundamental to religious consciousness in general, from the inception of the literature, which frames the creation within a week of serial days. The periodic cycles of the year, season, month, week, and day, are in themselves already relevant to the practice of meditation, and the means to reconnect with nature as a source for the development of the inner life.

All quotations from the Old Testament are from the NET Bible, except for citations from Genesis. For these, I have used the translation by John J. Scullion of Westermann's translation of Genesis contained in his commentary: Westermann, Claus, Genesis 1-11, A Commentary, Translated by John J. Scullion S. J., SPCK, Great Britain and Augsburg Publishing House USA, 1984; (German Edition first published in 1974 by Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn). All quotations from the New Testament are from The Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament, The Eighth Revised Edition, 1994.

The site uses the Greek and Hebrew fonts, SPIonic and SPTiberian which can be downloaded from the Scholars Press Non Roman Fonts website
The following sites contain useful copies and translations of the scriptures:

Tanakh: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (fully vocalised and cantillated version)

Septuagint

Greek New Testament (N.A. 28)

Contact: lazaros@markanmandala.info


This page was updated on 26th July 2017.


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