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The concept of Two Books of Revelation of God is found in early Christian Tradition. Generally speaking it points to comparison between the Jewish-Christian revelatory Scriptures and the scientific knowledge of nature, and allows us to see as God’s creation the nature which the scientists investigate. More precisely this metaphor lets us understand nature as a ‘book’ whose characters we can learn to read. Nature is just as intelligible as the human mind is rational. The metaphor assumes that nature has a language, and it call the signatures of nature a ‘script’ which human beings can read.
NATURE SPEAKS TO HUMAN BEINGS THROUGH A LANGUAGE OF SIGNS WHICH CAN BE DECIPHERED.
To put it theologically: all created things are creations of the divine Word: God The Idea of two Books: Holy Scripture and ‘The Book of Nature
said ‘Let there be light! And there was light’. What we get to see in nature there are creations of God’s Word. ‘In the beginning was the Word..Jon 1:1-3. There perceptible reality is an expression of the eternal Logos, in which the human mind and spirit also shares.
Nicholas of Cusa declared that sensory perception was an appropriate way of understanding the language of God in nature. Things are the books of the senses. In them, the will of the divine reason is inscribed in images accessible to the senses’.
‘Two Books of Revelation’ in the early writers of the Christian Church
Abbot Antinius (3rd century) ‘My book is the created nature, one always at my disposal whenever I want to read God’s words’
Basil the Great believed that our reason was so perfectly created by God that ‘through the beauties of created things we can read God’s wisdom nd providence as if these beauties were letters and words’
Augustine: Although only the person who has learnt to read can read Holy Scripture, even the illiterate can understand the book of the universe.
Maximus the Confessor: Nature and Scripture are the two robes of Christ which shone bright in the Transfiguration, his humanity and his divinity: in Christ the ‘two books’ have the same content.
John Scotus Eriugina, the Celtic theologian, thought that the two books were the two theophanies, the one through the medium of letters (apicea), the other through forms (species). This tradition talks about the book of nature , or the book of the world, or the universe, less often about the book of creation.
Raimundus Sebundus called the reading of the book of nature, theologia naturalis (natural theology), and this has remained in general usage.
The idea of the two books and their inner harmony was supposed to express the harmony between faith and reason.
The book of nature, in theology, was always read in the light of Holy Scripture. Through the revelation of Scripture the wisdom hidden in nature becomes legible as the wisdom of God : through the general knowledge of God we can become wise, through the knowledge of Scripture we can become saved though unfortunately not become wise.
We must also reverse the order of things: we may be able to read the Bible in the light of the book of Nature. Much is superseded and belong to the past eras in which the writings originated: only that which is compatible with scientific reason or which opens up for science new horizons of interpretation can count as divine revelation.
The importance of Memory: An essential component of our religious and cultural memory is the revelation given to our fore fathers through their experiences and liberations; the successful and unsuccessful forms of life they initiated: we interpret these things for the present and the future. Every culture is a universe of signs, and is therefore dependent on hemeneutics for its survival.
Scientists are concerned in a special way with the ‘memory of nature’: the stars can unlock the past history. In the cosmos since the Big Bang, and in life on earth since the beginning of evolution, nature has been involved in an irreversible ‘history of nature’.
Read On! Other Topics from Moltmann’s Book
The General Doctrine of Signs: the Signature of All Things (pp198-200)
The theological Doctrine of Signs (pp 200-202): The Signature of History is read in the light of the Signs of the times “the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the time and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel” . The coming of Christ, the realised presence of Christ in the Eucharist: a sign that He has come and also is to come.
The World as Nature and as Creation: Theological Interpretation Patterns (pp2002-2006)
The Sighs of the Spirit in All things and in All Peoples:
Through the Creative Spirit God is already present in all things. His presence is the presence of his coming. Consequently every expression of the divine is at the same time a prefiguration and an advance radiance of the Glory of God which will be manifest to everything.
God’s spirit is in all things, that makes the world in which we live a spiritual world. We will become the resonance of a cosmic spirituality. It will become a Pentecostal spirituality not only of the soul but of the body too. Not least in an ecological spirituality we shall rediscover the worship of the earth. That is the Sabbath which, according to biblical tradition the earth is supposed to celebrate in the years of release, during which its fertility will be restored in a realistic way. The Sabbath of the earth will be an anticipation and a foretaste of the ‘new earth’ on which ‘righteousness dwells’.
Louisa Poole SSL, London.
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