Saturday, 8 June 2013

Power of Four

In The Seven Sacraments, All Things Made New, and even Beauty for Truth's Sake, I have written about the importance of the number FOUR in Christian cosmology. Patterns of four are found everywhere, including the four cardinal virtues, the four rivers of paradise, and so on. Over on the Beauty in Education site I have been writing about the four senses of scripture. Now Angelico Press has published a brilliant study by Eduardo P. Olaguer, Jr called The Power of Four: Keys to the Hidden Treasures of the Gospels.

Though brief, the book goes much deeper and more brilliantly into the question of "why four gospels?" than I have ever been able to do. In his Introduction to the book, biblical scholar Gregory Glazov explains that Olaguer "takes as his principal goal the unlocking of the Four Gospels to explain Jesus' identity and mission... by identifying four types of symbolic patterns or keys... that unblock the spiritual treasures contained in the Gospels."

It is much more than the usual association of the Gospels with the four faces of the Cherubim (Lion, Ox, Eagle, Man or Angel). That is only the first key. Another is the correspondence of the Gospels with the four parts of the Old Testament (as understood by Christian writers). A third is a set of four "maps" or rhetorical structures used by the Evangelists to organize their writing (chiasmus, diptych, inclusio, and parataxis). The fourth involves four sets of seven, one for each Gospel: seven mountains (Matthew), seven remembrances (Mark), seven Temple visits (Luke), and seven Signs (John).

This book, and Olaguer's other scripture commentaries, show how much richer the field of exegesis could be if scholarship took the text and the authors of the Bible more seriously. Highly recommended.

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