Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Creation and the Lamb Slain

Revelation 13:8 has an enigmatic phrase, “…the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The “Lamb” in Revelation is Jesus, I think we can all agree on this. What does the “foundation of the world” mean in this verse? I’ve discussed the Greek word “katabole” which is translated in this verse as “foundation” previously, but I didn’t really come to any conclusions. I think it’s reasonable to say that “foundation of the world” relates to Genesis 1. Let’s go with that, Revelation 13:8 refers to Genesis 1. Is that text telling us that Jesus has been slain at creation or slain repeatedly since the “foundation of the world”? The other choice we have is that the “foundation of the world” occurs when Jesus dies on the Cross. Are there any other options?

At this point I think it’s time for some quotes from Rene Girard.

“That only an investigation of the founding of religion will yield the secret of man.”
Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, 3

“The mechanism of the scapegoat victim can always be recognized behind all religious operations.”
Double Business Bound, 104

“All religious rituals spring from the surrogate victim, and all the great institutions of mankind, both secular and religious, spring from ritual. Such is the case with political power, legal institutions, medicine, the theater, philosophy and anthropology itself. It could hardly be otherwise, for the working basis of human thought, the process of symbolization, is rooted in the surrogate victim.”
Violence and the Sacred, 306

“The sole purpose of religion is to prevent the recurrence of reciprocal violence.”
Violence and the Sacred, 55

The writer of the Book of Revelation is referencing something when he says, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” We have to try to figure out what he is referencing.

Luke 11:47-51 says, “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world.” So that’s interesting, the blood of the prophets was also shed from the foundation of the world. Another thing that I noticed is that the word “shed” could be translated as “poured forth.”

So now back to the creation narrative in Proverbs 8:22-31. In Proverbs 8:23 the word translated “set up” looks to me like it could be translated “poured forth.” My interlinear bible software says "I-was-poured-libation" is a possibility. This appears to be a word study on the Hebrew word “nawsak". This section in Proverbs is describing creation and Wisdom. I think we can at least allege that based on John 1 that Wisdom is Jesus.

If I’m understanding Girard correctly, we should be able to find, in the Biblical creation stories, hints of a murder or of someone being slain, or of a life being poured forth.

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