30 April, 2006
The Symbol of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Surely, this is not an original thought, but I will think it nonetheless.
The Tao is a big deal for most people. In everything good, the seed of evil. In everything evil, the seed of good. This makes great sense! The Tao is really right on. In the most awful of deeds, you can find evidence that the person who committed it knew that their evil was evil. And that knowledge is a seed of future good. It probably won't grow, but it's a seed all the same. In the most altruistic deed is the possibility of future reward or vainglory.
This is it. This is the symbol of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
When a man understands it, he attains as highly as he possibly can on his own. He has mastered godlike-ness as well as ever he will. This is what satan sold to Adam.
So what is the symbol of the Tree of Life? What is the symbol of Christ?
Count to 10 before you answer. :-)
No, I don't believe it is the cross.
Neither did the early church. Berger Pearson reviews Ante Pacem by Graydon Snyder. I have Ante Pacem, and highly recommend it (though I last read it over a decade ago).
Snyder argues that the specific Christian symbolism of the cross did not exist before Constantine. He refers to the “striking lack of crosses in early Christian remains,” and states that the crosses that do appear in Christian—and Jewish—art are “crypto-crosses” and are not symbolic of the crucifixion of Jesus.
The images of the first churches were happy. Jesus is pictured as a happy, happy man, and so many of the things happening in the images were joyous. That's how and why the church went 300 years without using the cross as its symbol. 300 years! 300 years ago, the 13 colonies were still happily paying their tiny little taxes to Great Britain, and George III would still not be born for another 30+ years. 300 years after the death of Christ is a long, Long, LONG time for the church to live happily without using the cross symbolically.
Snyder finds in ancient Christian art, these symbols:
... the lamb, anchor, vase, dove, boat, olive branch, orante (a female figure depicted with outstretched arms and hands upraised in prayer), palm or tree, bread, Good Shepherd, fish, vine and grapes, and the cross.
The fish made the biggest impression on me. Forget the Ixthos fish. That came much later. The original fish is a great picture of Christ and of the church as well. The sea is figurative of death, so a fish alive in the midst of death is a perfect picture of Christ and His church living in this world.
So, what do you think our best symbol is?