This is the fifth follow-up to the post, “Gagarin and the Seven Heavens“. The first follow-up post is here. The second follow-up post is here. The third follow-up post is here. The fourth follow-up post is here. The fifth follow-up post will be broken up into several parts; follow-up post five-one is here, post five-two is here, post five-three is here, and post five-four is here.
In Theodoret, God’s presence is apparently cautiously ciphered as his “providence”. When the psalmist writes “Do not thrust me from your presence, and do not remove your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11), Theodoret suggests that the psalmist is “not bereft of the grace of the all-holy Spirit”, and that he is, instead, “beg[ging] not to be deprived of it, nor kept far from divine care, calling care presence here.” [Theodoret, Commentary on the Psalms 1-72, 300] Similarly, the psalmist’s cry, in Psalm 84, for his hearers (or is it God?) to “gaze on the face of your Christ [anointed]” is ciphered as the psalmist “begging […] God […] to grant the people […] his peculiar care, calling this face of the Christ“. [Theodoret, Commentary on the Psalms 73-150, transl. Robert C. Hill (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press, 2001), 65] This seems to deny the theophanies a status as particular divine presences. Nonetheless, the doctrine that the divine presence is “divine care”, and the teaching that imagery of the divine body is a cipher for “divine activities” (commentary on psalm 5), together suggest that God’s activity is not everywhere the same — or that God’s providence can even be absent, as Theodoret interprets the meaning of Psalm 88:5 (“I was like a person devoid of help” — Theodoret says “they are cut off from your providence” [Commentary on the Psalms 73-150, 82]). The contradiction between the uncircumscribability of God and his differentiatedly present powers, and even the affirmation that in some significant sense God has the heaven as his “dwelling” (commentary on Psalm 115, Commentary on the Psalms 73-150, 227), is, with regard to location, not far from a God located in the sky and needing to move to the earth — though it becomes more like ‘action at a distance’, so to speak.
In short, the particularly Platonistic framework being employed still suggests location in a sense that is not insignificant, because divine care, no less than divine appearance, can be displayed in bounded contexts.
Header image found here.