Peter Ochs,
University of Virginia

Remembering three at the lake…

What a joy to celebrate the 60 th birthday—according to a rabbinic tradition, the birthday of wisdom—of David Ford, the theologian who holds the promise and the company of a whole generation of scriptural reasoners in his broad embrace. And what a joy to celebrate by reading this feast of writings by David?s students. According to an oft-cited rabbinic midrash, the students of sages increase peace in the world; through their study of God [?s word], they gain the wisdom of discernment [and such wisdom is a path of peace, for ?there is great peace for those who love your Torah? (Ps. 119:165).]

And all of your children will be taught by God; and great shall be the peace of your children. [Isaiah 54:13]
Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Haninah: Disciples of the Sages increase peace in the world, as it is written: And all of your children ( banayikh ) will be taught by God; and great shall be the peace of your children ( banayikh ). Do not read the second appearance of the word banayikh as ?children,? but rather as bonayikh — those who possess wisdom and understanding. [Berakhot 64a]

So here, in this Festschrift is, at once, a many layered study of Christian wisdom by leading theologians of this generation, a celebration of a sage teacher of Christian wisdom, and a gathering of student-scholars who, in their performance of Christian scriptural reasoning, enact, prove, and extend the wisdom of their teacher and, therefore, spread peace in the world!

In this Coda to the Festschrift, a Jewish colleague and friend of David?s celebrates the friend by celebrating the words of these students: drawing from their words a portrait of the many faces of God?s presence that light up David?s work and, in that light, attract so many to His peace.

Introduction: The Face of Facings

One of the characteristic marks of David?s theology is that each decade or half-decade of his writings is marked by a different centering trope that refracts as if through a single prism the whole light of God?s glory or name ( kavod ). To use one of these tropes, we might call each one a ?facing?: a way that the One makes itself known to the many, a patterning whose character declares, at once, that it is of the One and that it is but one of an indefinite multitude of such patternings. We might call this a mark of David?s ? facial realism,? since each facing is not merely an appearance (or ?glow,? Schein in Hegel?s usage) , but a direct appearing ( Erscheinung ) of what it signifies. It is far, however, from any direct or naïve realism, since each face also reminds us of the superabundance of facings not this moment seen. In these terms, we may delight in this Festschrift as a feast of such facings. In both different and overlapping ways, the essays celebrate a definitive array of David?s central tropes: examine them, turn them over and then inter-relate, reframe (sometimes rename), and extend them into a discerning group portrait of these facings of David?s theological wisdom.

The following pages offer a sampling of these facings. Mixing metaphors—and trying readers? patience—each sample will be dubbed a ?course,? in memory of multicourse feasts at Cambridge enjoyed as respite from days feasting on scripture and reasoning. Each of the courses will bear a label, naming either one of David?s tropes or new tropes through which David?s students have explored and extended his work. Each course will begin with a text of Tanakh (alias Old Testament) which is then interpreted by some Jewish classic: to draw from the Scriptural text a Jewish spicing that appears to complement the Christian fare. Then the fare: quotes and paraphrases from the essays and comments about how the various authors contribute to a given course. There are ten courses in all. While each is brief, the set of sixteen should suffice to provide readers enough of a tasting to understand why David?s ?cooking? has not only nourished so very many but also inspired and guided them to prepare such meals—and students—of their own.

Setting the Table: the Faces of Wisdom

Seder: the set table. ?Karpas??

If you have enjoyed a Passover Seder, you may have noted that the Haggadah, or telling of the Passover story, includes a literal menu for the meal and that the menu is recited before the story and its accompanying eating begins. The menu is itself a seder , or ?order? of the meal, and the meal is also a seder, or order of communal and familial observance. This Festschrift is, similarly, at once an order of telling (a ?menu?), a telling and a performance of various dimensions of David?s discernments of wisdom, and those dimensions are themselves ways of ordering, telling and performing words of the divine Word.  In Rachel Muers? captivating image, the student of God?s Word imbibes the Word as a babe does her mother?s milk. And, she says, Christ both serves this milk and is the milk?and, we may add, proclaims the coming of the milk. This is, then, a feast in which the menu itself is eaten. And what kind is that? For the authors of this Festschrift, it is a feast in which all the discernments of wisdom are present at once, a meal with endless courses: of tasting, dancing, inhabiting, encountering incarnation, theo-politicking, reparatively reasoning, discerning, receiving sacrament, receiving the Word, and scripturally reasoning.

In the language of Tom Greggs? essay, each course of such a feast displays ?the one and the many faces of Christ.? A rabbinic midrash sets Gregg?s account within its Jewish heritage:

?One word God spoke, two words have I heard, for might belongs to God? (Ps. 62:12). One scriptural passage issues as several meanings, but only meaning does not issue from several scriptural passages. In the school of R. Ishmael is it taught: ?[Behold My word is like fire, declare the Lord,] and like a hammer that shatters rock? (Jer. 23:29). Just as a hammer divides into several sparks, so too one scriptural passage issues as several meanings. [ Sifre Deuteronomy ] … So too each and every utterance which issued from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, divided into seventy languages. [B. T. Shabbat 88b]

In Paul Janz?s words, it is an epistemology and theology of ?polyphony and particularity.? In Greggs? words, ?Christ is endowed with many names in Scripture and… we should attend to the plurality of these and their significance.? Each name discloses one of the innumerable epinoiai or ?aspects? of Christ?s identity and each aspect guides a given creature?s life according to its capacity to know and follow Him. As Muers writes of the recipients of Paul?s letter: ?they are being reminded about the multiple embodied relationships through which they receive what they need for their ?growth? and learn to cry out for it.?

In this way, each trope in David?s work celebrates another face of the divine identity and illumines contemporary theology through the prism of its distinctive characteristics. Thus, the one and the many of David?s sapiental pneumatology and the one and many that inform the following feast.

A Feast of Facings

1: The Taste of Wisdom

?      Taste and see how good is the Lord….[Psalm 34:9]

?       ?Come, eat!? [the words of every Jewish grandmother.] Why quote the somewhat more male written tradition when the oral tradition of mothers celebrate even more directly what this psalm is about—literally feeding each one of us, and in that way glorifying in the creator and in the life of each of His creatures?

For Rachel Muers, the occasion of her teacher?s 60 th birthday is served by a sensuous, playful and spirit-filled reading of 1 Peter 2:2-3:

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Muers invites us into a reading that imbibes 1 Peter—and through its verses scripture?s word and God?s incarnate Word — as a child would her mother?s milk. Milk is offered as sustenance, in answer to her cries; which is also sustenance delivered by this mother?s breast, one?s flesh to another; and delivered with a mother?s cry of Joy. Milk as the Word that flows in response to humanity?s cries; delivered by way of an Other?s flesh to humanity?s flesh, and delivered with a cry of worldly agony that rises to a cry of cosmic joy. She comments, ?As I read this text, I find that the milk metaphor is hard to contain. It refuses to keep its distance from the realities it is being used to describe ? because its primary reference is to something universal and unavoidable. All the readers of this letter really were once crying children who needed sustenance.? It is an account of the materiality of Christian hope, of how God?s presence comes not just to be acknowledged or even proclaimed, but to be touched, tasted, and ingested.  Thus, the milk of David Ford?s teaching, as Muers cites him, ?Desire is… the embracing mood of a life immersed in history and oriented towards the fulfillment of God?s purposes.?

2: Play, Dance and Sing: a feast is after all jubilation

? Halleluhu b?tsiltsile truah, ?Praise Him with resounding cymbals? (Ps. 150:5)

?      Lord our God, may there always be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem voices of joy and gladness, voices of bride and groom… the voices of young people feasting and singing? [from The Seven Blessings ( Sheva Berachot ) for a Wedding Meal]

For Rachel Muers, the time of receiving and giving the word is a time of play as well as feasting. Consistent with the spirit of rabbinic midrash, she offers her exegesis of 1 Peter as ?a brief play.? With David Ford, however, she notes the play is also serious theological work—even as that work is also play:

David Ford has never been prepared to compromise on the seriousness of the theological task, and its significance for what he describes as ?the world?s great challenges?; but he also takes seriously the playfulness of theology, a consequence of its orientation towards God for God?s own sake and ?for naught? else. Wisdom, we hear (on at least one possible translation of the relevant text) is in the presence of God at the establishment of the heavens and the earth, playing like a little child (Prov. 8:30-1).

This play shows itself, for one, as sporting or as what Paul Janz calls the play of ?contingency.? In David?s work, this is ?wisdom which is … presented as offering the promise of holding together both heterogeneity and commonality, both deep particularity and genuinely principled responsibility, both the fierce vigil of contingency? and the hope of ?congruence? ( Long Rumour of Wisdom ). This is the recognition that human life is experienced within ?particularities and polyphonies? that gainsay any effort to pre-judge, predict and legislate all that we shall know and do. Play is that life in the spirit that knows that knowing follows waiting and seeing and following.

Play also means opening up the universe of possibility and imagination . In his study of ?Theology on the Road to Damascus,? Ben Quash therefore bemoans that kind of positivist biblical scholarship that leaves ?not much space for play … ; for the imaginative developments of biblical metaphors for new situations; for thinking with and out of the Bible; for adapting features of the Bible-city to one?s own needs. There is only the application of texts.? For Muers, such play ?is also joy? ?the abandon, joy on earth—the capacity of matter to act like spirit. This is, finally, to engage in a given action for its own sake : l?shma in Hebrew, or literally, ?for its name.?

3: Inhabiting God

?      How lovely is Your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Ps. 84:1-2)

?      The master key is the broken heart. When one truthfully breaks the heart open to God, then one can enter into all the gates of the apartments of the  Holy Blessed One. (Baal Shem Tov)

The rhythm of the thing is that drinking, sporting, and enjoying the word means living, enacting, inhabiting it. It is what one is tempted to call David?s incarnational pneumatology . That is, perhaps, too much to claim, but us see how close any of David?s students come to conceiving of his project that way. ?Inhabiting God? is the defining trope in Ben Quash?s essay, ?Theology on the Road to Damascus,? and Quash?s focus is, indeed, on embodiment and the Spirit. He focuses, foremost, on Norman Adams? painting of Paul?s encounter on the road to Damascus, but first, on Paul?s Letter to the Romans:

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Quash?s study of the painting introduces tropes that we will consider later (Scriptural word, suffering, repair), but for now we may note his treatment of spirit and habitation. On one level, what is inhabited is Scripture, as noted in these words of David Ford?s that Quash cites in conclusion:

Will [we] really inhabit scripture […]? Will our language have something of the intensity and vitality of the Bible? Above all, will we find in scripture the authoritative exposure of the deepest reality of our world, and in God and the blessing of God the deepest truth of our history and of ourselves? [Spoken at the Lambeth Conference, 1998]

The habitation in question appears Christological, rather than pneumatological: it is the Word that is inhabited. As Quash reads it, however, David?s effort at Lambeth was to nurture practices of reading that open what members of the Communion too often take to be Scripture?s finite borders: releasing a Spirit that is also there with the Word so that meaning overflows, melting over-determined accounts of the identity of Christ and of the paths taken to follow Him. In this light, ?Play, Dance, and Song? bring Spirit to body and movement to Word, so that Christianity is reduced neither to spirit nor to body, but that through such rhythms the body (and the body of the word) receives its capacity to move as the spirit.

For Quash—adopting a vision of Luke Timothy Johnson?s — the Scripture we inhabit is like a house or building or, better, like ?a city of buildings.? That is, I take it, the city we visit is already inhabited, so that its words are not directly transparent, but carry their own human-filled histories. But hospitality is offered and we may bit by bit find our own places in these buildings, bringing our own histories to them, even over time finding that room has been made for us, specifically. Or perhaps we learn to make room as well, since David?s writing and Quash?s reading release ?the unsettling energy of the biblical material.? I take this to mean that this Word-home is also of the Spirit, a home that moves.

4: Incarnation: the incarnate word and incarnate spirit:

?      Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed? (Exodus 31:16?17).

?      The Sabbath is a synonym for the Shekhinah , for the presence of God in the world ( Zohar , III, 257a)

Our three previous ?courses? lead from tasting and enjoying to inhabiting the divine Word or perhaps Word and Spirit. For this Jewish reader, the movement sounds incarnational, and I mean this in strictly Jewish terms. Read as it presents itself, the plain sense of Tanakh is replete with images of the embodied God. Rabbinic midrash adds even more vivid accounts that hint, for some readers, at what appears explicitly only in the Kabbalah: that anthropos may be literally the divine image and that Torah may disclose paths of movement from image to what we might dub ?face of the source.? But all the immanence one needs is available, in the most overt Judaism, through the weekly practice of Shabbat : life now, as the sages put in, in the end of time.

Incarnation is a strong trope for David?s students. Tom Greggs? ?Many names of Christ in wisdom? captures what we might call the pneumatological breadth of the incarnation in David?s work: that his work is Christ-centered—as displayed in the dominant tropes of both ?face? and ?(scriptural) word—and that the identity and name of Christ is Spirit-filled so that it appears no single way but in this name, and this, and this…. In Greggs?s words,

It should perhaps be of little surprise to us, therefore, that Christ is endowed with many names in Scripture, and that we should attend to the plurality of these and their significance. However, so often theologians are selective of only a few of Christ?s titles which become the norm for all of the others.

Greggs suggests that this wisdom is displayed in the writings of both David Ford and Origen:

If Ford?s concerns are to present the face of Jesus Christ as the foundation for face to face, person to person relationships of which humans cannot have a total overview, Origen?s concern is to present the names of Christ as the foundation for a superabundant number of interpersonal relations with the Son of which humans cannot have a total overview.

And, like David?s, Origen?s more vivid treatment of Christ?s identities appears in his readings of John?s Gospel.

For Greggs, there are three most significant features of Origen?s treatment. (i) The epinoiai , or ?aspects? of Christ?s identity and name, each of which displays a particular character of His relations to humans and to the world (his economic functions). (ii) That each aspect and name is displayed in relation to each creature?s capacity to know and follow Him, so that:

?We do not … all come to him [Christ] in the same way, but each one ?according to his own proper ability.?? [1] Therefore, Christ is ?named in different ways for the capacity of those believing or the ability of those approving it.? [2] Attention is given to the plurality of Christ?s names in order to allow for the plurality of means by which one might come to and know the Saviour.

(iii) And that,

according to Origen?s interpretation of Prov. 8.22f., Origen sees this plurality of names as an aspect of the highest title of Christ—wisdom. [3] The wisdom of God exists hypostatically and eternally in Origen?s thought; and subsisting in wisdom ?was implicit every capacity and form of creation that was to be.? This is because … ?she was created as a ?beginning of the ways? of God, which means that she contains within herself both the beginnings and causes and species of the whole creation.? [4]

The parallel with David?s work should be clear: as we will restate it in a later course, Christ is both One and many, and to know this (and follow this knowing) is wisdom.

There are complementary observations throughout the Festschrift, and we will mention only a few for the sake of illustration. Paul Janz writes of the two most prominent features of Ford?s ?this worldly attentiveness?: ?(a) an engagement with scripture, and (b) a fundamentally this-worldly attentiveness, even when asking about the wisdom of God.? Put together, these two resonate with Gregg?s characterizations of Origen/Ford on the wisdom of Word and worldly Sprit. Muers? study of 1 Peter is thickly incarnational, but with that pneumatological face that appears to undercut any over-determined reading of Christ?s identities. Of significance here are here images of what we might call ?incarnate milk and breast,? tropes perhaps for the embodied spirit and of what she and David call ?desire?: that our desire for God and God?s desire for us are actual dimensions of incarnation. For Chad Pecknold, David?s Johanine attention to the divine pleroma is matched by his more clearly Christocentric attention to the divine panta : that is, the all :

Ford has especially taught us that ?facing Jesus? in every aspect of his experience of being human is central if we are to understand both the inter-personal, social, political and cosmic significance of the atonement. Rather than enter the pleroma of God through some esoteric knowledge (Ford is thoroughly anti-Gnostic) we enter through the public face of Jesus:  a face that we know through narrative, through icon, through sacrament, through authority, through nature, through praise in the Spirit. We enter the pleroma of God by growing up before the Father, living into the abundant life of the Son.

For Jason Lam, finally, the challenge of a Christian-Buddhist encounter in China is to locate a non-exclusivist doctrine of incarnation. The result appears to approach the unification of Word and Spirit we discussed in a previous course.  Lam draws us through a series of reasonings that test the degree to which Christology and pneumatology can interpenetrate and thereby lend doctrines of the incarnation features of the Spirit?s indeterminacy. Consider—by way of illustration — the text of Luke 4:18 citing Isaiah 61:1-2: ?The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.?  This teaches, says Lam, that ?Jesus is also depicted as the one inspired by the Spirit apart from the incarnation account.? Since, however, Paul?s writings lack such an account, it is therefore ?easy to find direct correspondence between Christ and logos or wisdom? in the New Testament and early Church, but His relationship with the Spirit is somehow ?not identical.? If they are non-identical, Lam reasons, then Christ will lack the indeterminate identity Buddhism requires. Lam seeks a solution through doctrines of the ascension. If incarnation renders logos determinate, will ascension reintroduce indeterminacy? Lam reasons that resurrection enabled ?the sending of the Spirit,? which is then shared, after Pentecost, with all those present. It is the Spirit that resurrects Christ and transforms ?the incarnated/inspired and resurrected Jesus into the Lord of the Spirit. Therefore the divine wisdom/logos is still present after ascension through the cooperation with the Spirit.? Therefore Lam leaves us with a closing hint that the cooperative spirit that marks David Ford?s work is a sign of this co-presence: Logos without exclusion.

5: Theo-Politics: ecclesial and global

?      Through wisdom is a house built; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Prov. 24:3-4)

?      R. Shimon says there are three crowns: the crown of Torah and the crown of priesthood and the crown of civil rule and the crown of a good name rises above them all. ( Pirke Avot 4:17)

Rare in any generation, all the more so in modern times, David?s theological practice is at once thoroughly ecclesial and academic and theo-political. In my heritage, this was a mark more of those few medieval and early modern Jewish scholars who somehow lived as well as religious leaders within the Jewish community and political figures in relation to the host nations. One and many, pleroma and panta, logos and spirit: even a third of the way through this Festschrift one senses that the authors are celebrating someone who inhabits the interstices or in-betweens of a world too vast to permit such habitation. The point is not to try to keep up—the idea is exhausting—but to contemplate what lesson is to be learned about how the centre holds.  If the lesson can be measured by what appears most often in most of the essays then it may have to do with something we might dub ?theo-political feasting.? Let us imagine that this means: (a) you cannot just think or just pray without also getting involved (to be sure, within the economy of some division of labor) with how there comes to be a building to think or pray in, a polity to have buildings in, and many kinds of neighbor to have your polity with or next to or far from; and (b) if you didn?t pray as well as think you would soon lose your way in all these involvements. Here the ?all? and the ought belong to ?a?, the condition for your being given to what beloved Daniel Hardy z?l called the extensity of the world; the mercy, shelter, and life belong to ?b?, the condition for your being given to what he called its intensity. Put together, ?a+b? are political (since ?a? is explicitly so, and since ?b? presupposes ?a? as much as mind and spirit presuppose body) and theological (since ?b? is explicitly so and since ?a? depends on ?b? as much as creature depends on Creator—even if the reason is not self-evident) and they involve feasting (since ?a? makes you very hungry and ?b? makes you want to celebrate).

For Chad Pecknold, David?s ?extensity?—his reaching to the all—is a mark of his (Anglican) catholicity. And, as we might expect, it is also a mark of the political reach of his theology—reaching to the world outside. As Pecknold suggests, this aspect of David?s reach has parallels in the work of de Lubac, for whom

The sacraments are an opening, and cultivate our openness to the gifts of the Spirit needed for this growth in the Body of Christ.  This can be seen especially in the Pauline theme of the Christian ?body politics? growing to maturity [e.g. Ephesians 4.15] and which I have said is a helpful theme for understanding Ford as well.

This citation is doubly helpful for our theme, since it characterizes both the movement ?outward,? from sacramental intensity (?b?) to ?body politics? (?a,? both ecclesial, I assume, and of the world) and the movement back in (?a to b?): ?…?bringing redemption to maturity,? by bringing all humanity into contact with the fullness of Christ who is all in all? (cf. Ephesians 1:22-23).

Ben Quash attends in particular to David?s practice of ecclesial politics: efforts at primates? meetings, such as Lambeth 1998 and later, to call a divided ecclesial body to the reparative word of Scripture. As Quash narrates, this dimension of Ford?s theopolitics is strictly reparative: not a politics of building from out of the stuff of the world but a politics of healing and caring for what is already in the world out of the movement of Spirit and the sacrament of Word. Such a politics begins by attending to contexts of division and suffering, bringing to them context-appropriate practices of reading and of fellowship. In this case, Quash recalls that it was

a conference riven with bitter disputes and politicking … where the theological debate, to quote Rowan Williams, ?so readily polarise[d] between one or another variety of positivism (biblically fundamentalist, ecclesiastically authoritarian, or whatever) and a liberalism without critical or self-critical edge?, his wise inhabiting of the Bible with a mind alert to the demands of history and ethnography was a timely and gracious gift.

Ford?s method ?was to relativise the terms of immediate debates in Anglicanism by eschewing any direct engagement with their detail. Instead, he used a deep meditation on the Bible, born out of months and months of regular scriptural study with our small group in Cambridge in the run up to the Conference.?   ?Bracketing detail and focussing on God and fellowship and text, [he let] the Spirit work.?

6: The Cry of Suffering and the Face of Reparative Reasoning

?      One day, Rabbi Johanan ben Mathia said to his son: Go hire some workers. The son included food among the conditions. When he came back, the father said: My son, even if you prepared a meal for them equal to one King Solomon served, you would not have fulfilled your obligation toward them, for the are the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (TB Bava Metsia 83a)

?      Here are some indications as to the extent of the other man?s right: it is practically an infinite right. (Emmanuel Levinas, ?Judaism and Revolution?)

Ben Quash?s account of David?s reparative politics already introduces our next course: David?s reparative reasoning. Norman Adams? painting introduces the relevant tropes: the face of Paul in agony and ?the radiant heavenly face [of a risen Christ,] emerging in blues and golds, with flowers for eyes, weeping with compassion.? Here the reparative word of Christ becomes scripture through its healing performance. Jason Lam offers a complementary trope: the self-negating cross that rends the incarnate Word with the indeterminacy of Spirit. For Lam, this is at the same time, the performance of Christian wisdom as reparative practice:

Only if we are crucified with Christ, then may he lives in us through the Spirit (Gal. 2:19-20). Self-negation becomes the final word and key of recognizing the presence of Christian wisdom.

But the main serving of this course is Susannah Ticciati?s essay as a whole, ?Paul as Reparative Reasoner: Group Rivalry in Galatia.?

For Ticciati as for Quash (and Muers and Higton), scriptural reading is a performance, at once, of repairing some divided practice of reading (reading the revealed word) and, by way of that, of repairing some divided practice of living ( embodying the created word).In this case, the illustrative text is Galatians , and the reading is divided between two rival methods of academic scriptural reading: historicist and universalist. At the same time, Ticciati?s Galatians is itself a reparative reasoning: Paul?s bringing Christ?s Word as means of healing the human rivalries that tear the Galatian community into two, between Gentile and Jew. The way Ticciati resolves each binary introduces a sub-course of Reparative Reasoning, which we will label:

6b) Reparative reasoning from 2 to 1 or 2 to 2-in-1.

For Ticciati, each binary pair is marked by futile efforts for supremacy by each member of the pair over the other: Jewish versus Gentile, law versus faith, historicist versus universalist. And in each case she argues that Paul?s reparative response renders the two into complementary parts of a one, by transforming self-assertive opposition into cooperation. Ticciati?s most general move is to recommend reparative reasoning itself as an alternative to either of the two reductive reading practices: historicist or universalist. She then suggests reading Paul?s own practice as reparative reasoning, so that his response to the Galatians is not to promote either rival, but to recommend removing what divides Jew and Gentile. For the historicist scholar Esler, the division is caused by ethnic parochialisms endemic to the region, which, within the more specific context of religious community, generate corresponding conflicts of religious identity: which community better fulfils the promise of Abraham? Paul?s removing the division means subverting the principle of rivalry itself: replacing ethnic competition with peaceful difference, the conflict of law and grace with the reappropriation of law as scripture, and competing claims to Abraham with the discovery of Abraham?s ?excessive identity?: that is, of its power to yield identity without exclusivity.

Mike Higton?s study of Psalm 1 is a conversation partner to Ticciati?s study of Galatians. We have two scriptural readings and reasonings: one of a NT  portrayal of conflict in a Christian community between Gentiles and Jews, the other of an NT song of distinctions between the lives of the righteous and the sinner; one examining how the (NT) text resolves its conflict (replacing the way of conflict with a way for peace), the other examining how the (OT) text discerns its distinctions; one asking how the text would be read by opposing schools of contemporary scholars, the other asking how it would be received in mutually exclusive ways by ancient Christian and Jewish exegetes; one drawing from the (NT) text itself a third (Christian) way of reading to replace the two conflicting schools, the other introducing another (Christian SR) way of reading that preserves differences between Christian and Jewish exegeses but in non-mutually exclusive ways.

This remarkable dialogue of essays performs on numerous levels the model of conversation that all festschrift authors learn from and celebrate in David Ford. For this ?sub-course? of our feast, the defining conversation is between the two essays themselves and the two models they offer of how to resolve conflicting readings. For Ticciati, Paul brings a Word (1) in light of which a path of peace internal to the text (that transforms a conflictual 2 into a non-conflictual 2-in-1) may be applied to replace the conflict of historicist/universalist exegeses (2) with a single peaceful way of reading the text (Christian SR). For Higton, Christ?s Word offers a path of exegesis (SR) that replaces supersessionist Christian reading (1 in place of 2) with a Christian exegesis that differs from but does not replace a potential Jewish exegesis of the same text (leaving a different but non-conflictual 2-in-1). Do Ticciati and Higton not offer two different ways of practicing SR? For Higton, Psalm 1 generates irrepressibly different sub-traditions of reading whose polyphony is good but irresolvable. For Ticciati, Galatians recommends a unified practice of reading that preserves human differences while resolving hermeneutical difference. Generalized, Higton?s practice in this particular reading would appear to leave us with (at least) two non-universal communities of reading that could enjoy conversation but without exegetical agreement. Generalized, Ticciati?s practice in this particular reading would appear to leave us with a potentially single and universal community of reading in which human persons could enjoy conversation within the context of exegetical agreement. For Higton, communal differences may display the marks of different paths of religious law. For Ticciati, the replacement of law with hermeneutics may lesson communal difference and may tend to replace it with differences among individuals. One may say that Ticciati muses on how each 2 may share in the 1, while Higton muses on how each differs from each other but in indeterminate ways.

If the essays of Higton and Ticciati may, in this way, represent a conversation within Christian SR, then perhaps the essays of Pecknold and Lam represent another such conversation. For Lam, Buddhism and Christianity retain unresolved hermeneutical (and epistemological) differences that would leave a potentially Buddhist Christian with unresolved inner religious conflicts. At the same time, Lam perceives the pneumatological conditions for a potential resolution: cooperation between Logos and Spirit, so that the incarnation is (or would be) as many as it is one. One might call this a hermeneutic of waiting for the (fulfilled) ascension. Pecknold?s concern, on the other hand, is that Christian scriptural reasoners may, in the name of Christ?s self-negation, neglect the unity of the body of Christ, so that the All may be occluded by the many. Reading Lam/Pecknold in light of Ticciati/Higton, we may have before us a feast of four different practices of SR. Examined from different perspectives, for example, the essays would appear to overlap in 4 different ways, where the essays of Ticciati and Pecknold share a relatively greater hope for the all; those of Higton and Pecknold share a greater trust in Christology; those of Ticciati and Lam a greater trust in pneumatology; and those of Higton and Lam share a greater sense of hermeneutical indeterminacy. In these terms, finally, the essays by Muers and Quash seem to share yet a fifth approach to both scriptural reasoning and Trinity. We might say that, in both their essays, the Thirdness of relation is realized pneumatologically but without over-determining Christ?s identity. Like Ticciati?s, the essays by Muers and Quash seeks ways of replacing the dialectic of extrinsicist (or universalist and positivist) and historicist (or experiential) scholarship with an irenic, embodied, and integrated practice of reading and reasoning. Can this practice, however, be extended to the all, that is, are there ways of clarifying its principles? Or does it assume different, regional forms, each specific to a community of practice? The essays hint at different answers. Meanwhile, these doubled and re-doubled conversations pay fitting homage to David?s conversational example.

7: Wisdom as the Virtue of Discerning Judgment

?      For learning wisdom and discipline,

For understanding words of discernment…. (Prov. 1:2)

?      Hillel said: The more Torah the more life, the more schooling the more wisdom; the more counsel the more understanding; the more righteousness the more peace. ( Pirke Avot 1:8)

Paul Janz?s ? Cantus Firmus : Wisdom, Reason and ?Love?s Congruence?? offers the Festschrift?s most comprehensive treatment of Wisdom as a virtue: what Janz calls the virtue of ?discerning judgment.? The essay also best serves the philosophic side of David?s work, extended here into a general account of the difference between rationalized models of wisdom and what Janz considers true representatives of David?s wisdom pneumatology. One may add that Janz associates David with a distinctly Reformational epistemology, sharply distinguished in Janz?s terms from an Aristotelian-Thomistic account of prudential reasoning. The result is not fideism, skepticism, or apophasis, but an account of knowing that is appropriate to scriptural reasoning. Here, knowing is marked at once by ?commonality and contingency,? ?polyphony and particularity,? ?plurality and pneumatology,? ?an engagement with scripture and a fundamental this-worldliness.? The doctrinal ground for these juxtapositions is Janz?s account of an incarnate logos that—in the various ways we have seen through these courses ?remains inseparable from the movement of Spirit. The philosophic ground is his distinction between the criteria of unity and of distinctness: unity as the condition of human rationality and the I-think, distinctness as the condition of sapiental discernment—or also, we might add, of the order and ratio of creation, where ?God separated light from darkness.?

Here are three illustrative moves in Janz?s argument. The first is that, for Aristotelian-Thomistic thought, both theoretical and practical reasoning are measured by the criterion of I=I or unity and coherence. This, Janz explains, is synonymous with the criteria of ?excellence,? ?demonstrability,? ?perfection? and of self-reference—whether displayed in the analytic self-reference of formal systems or what we might call the lived coherence of habits, customs and the like. The latter claim is significant, for it means that Janz reads classical virtue theory (and will that mean the theory of ?language-games? as well?) as in this way another form of rationalism. Janz?s second move is to ground judgments of wisdom in moral consciousness or conscience, rather than in practical reasoning, and to identify these as discriminating rather than unifying judgments:

We have no choice therefore but to say that moral consciousness confronts us with the immediacy of something like a law within us. It is a law, moreover, which speaks from within us, never as something unifying, but intrinsically and always as something dividing.

This law, says Janz, is the law of the heart that cries out for discernment, and this is the cry David Ford identifies with the cry of wisdom calling in the streets. [5] Janz?s third move is to claim that, in the languages of both Genesis and Gospel, this law of the heart is shared by sinners and saved alike, for sin is possible only by way of self-legislation and salvation is possible only if the self-legislator lends him or herself to the agency of God?s word. Janz?s fourth move is, with Paul, to identify God?s word with both Mosaic legislation and the incarnate logos, which means that ?the ?law of sin and death? … is not, as it is sometimes treated, the Mosaic law—which is itself ?holy, righteous and good? (Rom. 7.12)—but rather the moral law within us, by which we have become a law unto ourselves.? It is only by way of the law that we become aware of the sin of self-legislation (Rom 3.20), and for Janz the Word that is Christ is law as much as Mosaic law:

For even ?the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? is not the annulment of the Mosaic law but its fulfillment, and indeed as this fulfillment, a kind of radicalization of the law, as Matthew 5-7 makes clear.

In this way, Janz?s claim is very close to Higton?s:

I can?t really avoid asking whether Jesus? righteousness, the way of the cross, can be understood as ?delight … in the law of the Lord.? [6] I might find myself led to think of Jesus? claim that not one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until it is all accomplished (Matthew 5:18) …. I might also find myself thinking of Jesus? claim that the whole of the law and the prophets hangs on the command to love God and to love neighbour (Matthew 22:40).  In the reading of [Psalm 1] that Jesus provides, or is, the way of righteousness is the way of the cross, the way of the cross is the way of love and justice, and the way of love and justice is the way of obedience to and delight in the law. Once again, the Christian reading need not be seen in opposition to the field of possible Jewish readings, but as a particular position within that field

For Janz, delighting in the law in this way is what David calls loving God for God?s sake:

The command to ?love God for God?s sake? declares itself not in the ?likeness of a supernatural perfection?, which must always be in the remoteness of a distant ideal, but rather in the nearness that is immediate to every human heart—i.e., ?in the likeness of sinful flesh? (Rom 8.3). Or as Deuteronomy also echoes this…: ?this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say ?who will go up into heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say ?Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear and observe it?? No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe? (Deut. 30. 11-24).

8: Sacrament

? Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
the whole earth is full of his glory.
(Isaiah 6:3)

?      Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai was once walking with his student Rabbi Yehoshua near Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple. Rabbi Yehoshua looked at the Temple ruins and said: ?Woe unto us! The place that atoned for the sins of the people Israel through the ritual of animal sacrifice remains in ruins!? Then Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai spoke to him these words of solace: ?Do not grieve, my child. There is another way of gaining atonement even though the Temple is destroyed. We must now gain atonement through acts of kindness (g?milut hasadim), for it is written: Lovingkindness I desire, not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6).?

Chad Pecknold?s essay attends most explicitly to the place of sacrament in David Ford?s practice of Christian wisdom. The model comes from de Lubac:

The Eucharist is the ?source and summit? of Catholic Christian life, it is what gathers up all the fragments of truth, hope, and life into Christ?s Body, the Catholic One.  In the words of the encyclical Veritatis Splendor , ?The presence of Christ to men of every time is actualized in his Body, which is the Church? (No. 25).

Pecknold explains that, while David shares this view of sacraments as the means through which the body of Christ is built up,

What makes Ford?s practice so different from de Lubac … is that his stress has not been on the Eucharist but on Scripture. That certainly has to do with a Protestant catholicity that envisions opening the Scriptures to all people. But Ford never detaches the Scriptures from their rightful place in the nexus of Scripture-Eucharist-Church; he rather sees the Scriptures as an opening for both the performance of the love of God and the love of neighbor.

And, in another place:

It is as if his participation in the Eucharist has trained him to read Scripture with exactly the same reverence. He feasts on the Word. Balthasar?s phrase, ?the adoring act of listening to the Word of God? sums it up nicely.

In the terms of our earlier courses on feasting, dancing, and habitation, this is to view sacrament as the means through which individuals come to embody Word and Spirit. We need, however, to clarify what is distinctive to a sacrament of Scripture.

9: Scripture in the Church

?      And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying …

?      Rabbi Meir taught: Whoever engages in the study of Torah for its own achieves a host of merits; moreoever, it is worth creating the world for that person?s sake alone. This one is called: beloved friend, lover of God, lover of humanity, a joy to God, a joy to humanity. (Pirke Avot vi:1)

For all the authors in this Festschrift, Scripture is the primary sacrament that unites Spirit and Logos in David Ford?s theological, ecclesial, and theopolitical work: the embracing arms of fellowship in he Church and of communion with God?s light and love. For Muers, Scripture is the spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—and so that if you have tasted it you know that the Lord is good. It is the gift of the Spirit through whose ingestion God indwells?the stuff of play and the engine of care for other. For Janz, engagement with scripture is the primary medium of David?s sapiental discernment and of David?s movement between the Word?s indwelling spirit and theo-political outreach. For Greggs, it is the primary place where Christ?s many names are disclosed and through each one of the members of Church receive personal guidance in how when and where to follow after Christ.  For Higton, it is the irrepressible source of divine instruction, out of which all wisdom may flow and without pre-determined limit, so that

When freed from our control and rediscovered in conversation, the text yields more abundant fruit.  It becomes an arena for delighted, multi-voiced, sometimes cacophonous exploration; it becomes more uncontrollable, more surprising, more irrepressible.  If it is, as this Psalm 1 suggests, a stream of water, then it is not a slow, calm and silent upwelling from which one may sip in a controllable, predictable way.  It is something more like a garden hosepipe in the hands of unruly toddlers.

For Ticciati, it is the stimulus to communal fellowship so that conversation over scripture is the tissue of communal relationship. It is moreover, the doctor?s medicine case, the source of reparative reasoning that mends broken and divided hearts. It is the way that law becomes grace and that finite possession discovers the means of divestment.  For Pecknold, Scripture is David?s Sacrament, his means of entry into both conversation and tradition, creative collaboration with souls both past and present. For Lam it is the means through which Word moves like Spirit?and Spirit returns to word?the place where Wisdom is named, its story told, its virtues spoken, and where guidance is offered to meet members of the church where they are. For Quash Scripture is a city of buildings in which the community of believers has lived and it is itself the building where each church member finds domicile now?The place where God is centered on us and where we acquire God centering. It is what David turns to as primary agent of peace and fellowship and repair:

?The Bible is extraordinarily complex and multi-dimensional?, said David in his opening address to the Lambeth Conference. ?How do we take account of dramatic narratives, of prophecies and radical questions, of passionate poetry and visions, of laws, teachings and letters, of cries and longings, of Abraham, Solomon, Ezekiel, Ruth, Job, Mary, Paul, and the angels of the seven churches? Who can do justice to them all??

10: Scriptural Reasoning in the World: Christianity and Abraham

?      Make His deeds known among all peoples. (1 Chron. 16:8)

?      Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Ps. 133:1)

Most powerfully, one of the many original consequences of this Festschrift is to frame SR indirectly as enactment of the incarnate spirit, or at least of the movement of resolving Christ?s relation to Spirit in the eschaton. In Jason Lam?s words, SR is the means through which members of the Church may do theology and render hospitality to others.

Scriptural reasoning is a way that David Ford brings the peace of God?s light to this world. Bless him.

Openness. Again and again to realign.

Another face and the moves must begin.

Anew. And we unfold into our design.

I want to dance for ever.

(?Dance,? Micheal O?Siadhail)


[1] HomGen. 1.7

[2] HomEx. 7.8

[3] He.93f.

[4] De Princ. I.2.2

[5] CW, p. 14.

[6] Augustin, vol.9 (New York: Christian Literature Co., 1898), 236.