Caravaggio's Paul in Damascus
Si Pablo muere, yo muero:
¿Qué es esto, Pablo?
If Paul dies, I'll die:
What's this, Paul?
"I've fallen into Thought, and then Intellect," he tells Synagogue, and he is physically blind, but he sees more than he has ever seen before in his life.
Ciego estoy; pero mal digo,
Que nunca he llegado á ver
Más que cuando estoy más ciego.
Blind am I, but I would be lying
If I didn't say that never have I been able to see
More than when I have been blind.
Synagogue wants to know what it is that his favorite son sees, but Paul stammers. It is hard to say what it is hard to know. All he can say is that he has gone about it backwards. Whereas others fall when climbing, he has climbed while falling. He claims that he went to the Third Heaven, whether in body or spirit he does not know. (cf. 2 Cor. 12:2-4).
Synagogue is solicitous, asks Paul to come to him for rest, but Paul has changed, and sees Synagogue as untrustworthy:
La acción deten,
No halagüeñamente fiera
Do not come near me
You flattering fiend.
Paul flees the embrace of the Synagogue, and the disbelieving Synagogue asks if Paul flees him:
Sí, escandalosa; sí, infiel;
Sí, tirana; sí, alevosa;
Sí, traidora; sí, cruel.
Yes, scandalmonger, yes, unfaithful on,
Yes, tyrant, yes, treacherous,
Yes, traitor, yes, cruel one.
Is this Paul? No, it is no longer Paul. Who then?
Cristo es el que vive en mí.
It is Christ who lives in me.
It is Paulus Christianus, not Paulus Judaeus. Synagogue is flabbergasted. Is this not the very same Christ against whom Paul was sent to battle? But Paul has learned, through God's grace, that the Christ that was crucified was, in fact, truly the Son of God. Synagogue's flabbergastedness turns to fury, but she stays her hand because her favorite son is blind. And Intellect seizes the opportunity to address Paul to see if he can convince him on behalf of Synagogue, only to become convinced of Paul's faith himself. And so the following dialogue:
Intellect: The Crucified One, you say that he was the Son of God?
Intellect: Well, is there more than one God, then?
Intellect: Well how is he Son of God without being God as well?
Paul: He is also God.
Intellect: How, if he is also God, is the one God two persons?
Paul: More than two, because there are three.
Intellect: Three, and yet one God?
Thought interjects to the audience that it is important to attend to the conversation that follows, because Intellect here is now the Dionysius that Paul historically converted in the Areopagus. Paul then enters into a Trinitarian theology: God, who is all good, must needs communicate his infinity. Since God is infinite, however, he cannot communicate himself fully to an finite being. So it follows that God, in his infinity, must communicate to someone with infinite nature as well. If he could not communicate with someone perfectly, then he would be imperfect. So the perfection of God requires that there be another infinite person in God with whom he fully can communicate his infinity. Thus, it was part of God's essence, and a perfection of God's being, that through an infinite act of understanding, he engendered a Son, that is the Son, to whom communication was infinite. The Father, then, who saw the Son, and the Son who saw the Father, shared in the infinite and faithful love for each other, which is nothing other than the Spirit who, being infinite, is equal to the Father and the Son, proceeding from them both. None of these persons was before or after any other, first or last relative to each other, greater or lesser between each other, but they are all equally and substantially God. And so the dogma that Paul saw in the Third Heaven:
Una en los tres la deidad,
Uno en los tres el poder,
Uno en los tres el amor,
Y uno en los tres el saber,
Cierto es que en la esencia es uno,
Siendo en las personas tres.
One and three in Godhead,
One and three in Power
One and three in Love,
And one in three in Knowledge,
Certain it is that they are in essence one
Being in persons three.
The Intellect is absolutely not offended by this mystery, as it does not contradict any tenet of reason:
Sobre la natural luz
Del Ingenio, que al fin es
Parte del alma, he quedado
Satisfecho, al parecer,
With regard to the natural light
Of Intellect, which in the end is
Part of the soul, I remain
Satisfied, it appears,
Up to this point.
Even Synagogue is not offended by this doctrine, as it accords with the faith of Abraham:
Y hasta aquí yo
Poco me debo ofender,
Pues ver tres, y adorar uno,
Me enseñó de Abraham la fe.
And to this point
I also am little offended,
In that seeing three, but adoring one
Is what Abraham taught of the faith.
Abraham Entertains Three Vistors, Father, Son, Holy Spirit
(The reference is to Genesis 18:1-3:
1 And the Lord appeared to him in the vale of Mambre as he was sitting at the door of his tent, in the very heat of the day. 2 And when he had lifted up his eyes, there appeared to him three men standing near him: and as soon as he saw them he ran to meet them from the door of his tent, and adored down to the ground. 3 And he said: Lord, if I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away from thy servant.This is a classic Trinitarian source text. As one example of many, one may quote St. Augustine's exegesis on this passage in his On the Trinity (De Trinitate):
But since three men appeared, and no one of them is said to be greater than the rest either in form, or age, or power, why should we not here understand, as visibly intimated by the visible creature, the equality of the Trinity, and one and the same substance in three persons?
Cum vero tres visi sunt nec quisquam in eis vel forma vel aetate uel potestate maior ceteris dictus est, cur non hic accipiamus visibiliter insinuatam per creaturam visibilem trinitatis aequalitatem atque in tribus personis unam eandemque substantiam?
On the Trinity (De Trinitate) II.X.20)
Intellect the asks about the purpose of the Son's coming to earth. To which question Paul replies that, in offending against God, man's fault was infinite. Infinite man could not render satisfaction for an infinite offense. It was out of the bounty of God's mercy that the Son came to make infinite satisfaction for man's sin. Incarnate of the Virgin Mother, who was Virgin ante partum, in parto, post partum, without breaking, in the most delicate language, by the "rude pride of human contact, the purity of the white lilly, nor of carnation's hood." (Grosero cierzo de humano / Contacto la candidez / Del botón de la azucena, / Ni el capillo del clavel.)
This also does not offend reason, and Intellect is able to go this far. Likewise, Synagogue accedes, though it believes it will occur in the future, though it has not yet. And still, Paul insists, the Messiah is come.
At this point in the play, Synagogue and Paul get into a religious dispute, almost a litany of opposition, in fact what is technically known as a stichomythia, about whether Jesus Christ is the Messiah, largely based upon whether or not he met with scriptural prophecies concerning the Messiah. It is obvious that neither is making progress convincing the other, and finally Intellect interrupts. At its kernel, Synagogue's grievance is that Christ, being man, claimed to be the Son of God. And Intellect obtains concessions from Synagogue that, beyond this claimed sin, Christ's life was without obvious flaw. One would think, Intellect reasons, that someone who made this claim duplicitously would show in other behavior the effects of have a duplicitous heart. Yet, Synagogue is unable to proffer any evidence of such.
And so Intellect is ready to render his judgment, and he calls Gentility, Atheism, Africa, and Synagogue before him. "Why do you call us again?" they ask:
Para que todos notéis,
Sin que ninguno alegar
Pueda ignorancia después,
Que el Dios ignoto pasible,
Que ojos, manos y oidos es,
Y primer causa de causas,
En boca de Pablo hallé.
So that all of you may note,
Without any of may assert
Ignorance at a later time,
That the unknown, passible God,
That is eyes, hands, and ears,
And that is First Cause of all causes,
I've found in the mouth of Paul.
By ‘doctrine’ and ‘experience’ [Intellect] accounts himself obliged to love and believe in the deity whose ‘law’ has established a rational order beneficient to all humanity. And he now perceives the law in its fundamental unity. The various kinds of laws discovered in the final apariencias are all specific manifestations of the eternal law through which God has created and ordered the universe. The auto’s procedure of applying reason of state to the diverse laws of human religion has ended in an apprehension of the one supreme law. Because reason disposes the human soul to put itself in harmony with the eternal law, this procedure alone is sufficient to lead man to God. Dionysius has turned to the Christian confession for reasons of state, in an act that parallel's Paul’s conversion for reasons of faith
Natural reason accepts the Apostle's preaching as not against reason. Synagogue is incensed, draws forth a sword, and threatens to slay both Paul and Intellect, when Paul and Intellect seek out the protection of Gentility.
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