Friday, September 4, 2015

Christ in Scripture – ‘The treasure which was hidden in the field’

Reading Scripture is one thing. Understanding Scripture is another. It is interesting how, despite scripture being the basis of Christianity it has varied exegeses. Additionally, both the Jews and the Christians share the Old Testament, yet they both understand and read it very differently. Can we see Christ in scripture? Has the prophecy or prophecies been realised? St Irenaeus of Lyon gives an interesting explanation, whereby he brings together the unearthing of Christ in and through Holy Scripture, claiming that:

‘If anyone, therefore, reads the scriptures this way, he will find in them the Word concerning Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling. For Christ is the “treasure which was hidden in the field” [Mt 13.44], that is, in this world – for “the field is the world” [Mt13.38] – [a treasure] hidden in the scriptures, for he was indicated by means of type and parables, which could not be understood by human being prior to the consummation of those things which had been predicted, that is the advent of the Lord. And therefore it was said to Daniel the prophet, “Shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the consummation, until many learn and knowledge abounds. For, when the dispersion shall be accomplished, they shall know all these things” [Dan.12.4, 7]. And Jeremiah also says, “In the last days they shall understand these things” [Jer. 23.20]. For every prophecy, before its fulfilment, is nothing but an enigma and ambiguity to human being; but when the time has arrived, and the prediction has come to pass, then it has an exact exposition [exegesis]. And for this reason, when at this present time the Law is read by the Jews, it is like a myth, for they do not possess the explanation [exegesis] of all things which pertain to the human advent of the Son of God; but when it is read by Christians, it is a treasure, hid in a field, but brought to light by the Cross of Christ, and explained, both enriching the understanding of humans, and showing forth the wisdom of God, and making known his dispensation with regard to human beings, and prefiguring the kingdom of Christ, and preaching in anticipation the good news of the inheritance of the holy Jerusalem, and proclaiming beforehand that the one who loves God shall advance so far as even to see God, and hear his Word, and be glorified, from hearing his speech, to such an extent, that others will not be able to behold his glorious countenance [cf. 2 Cor. 3.7.], aw was said by Daniel, “Those who understand shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and many of the righteous as the stars for ever and ever” [Dan.12.3]. In this manner, then, I have shown it to be, if anyone read the scriptures.’[1]

[1] St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies, 4.26.1.

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