Monday, April 13, 2009

No Stairway? Denied!

Jacob's Dream
Augustus Lunn
And he dreamed
and behold, 
a ladder set up on the earth,  
and the top of it reached to heaven:  
and behold, 
the angels of God 
ascending and descending 
on it.
Genesis 28:12 NRSV

I am currently writing an essay on the above passage. It has been easily the most enjoyable writing experience I have had. The research has been going like a dream; I am finding articles and books easily, they seem to appear as from nowhere.

My usual process in exegeting a passage is to let it rummage around in my head for a day or so. Then I go to the marginal references in the RV. These are very useful. 

I then like to go through a couple of commentaries: The Anchor Bible and International Critical Commentary are my first stops. Then the Fathers, the Apocryphal literature, the Rabbinical literature........

By this time, I will have a fair idea of where I am heading.

I was attracted to this passage because of it's relation to John 1:51 (my favourite Bible passage), but I am now appreciating it for it's own mystery. John's passage is an obvious allusion to Jacob's vision. 

The idea of a ladder, or stairway, to heaven is a nice idea, something almost instinctive to think of. In Jacob's dream, he sees the ladder, firm in the ground, it's top reaching to heaven. Angels are going up and down. 

The ladder is the joining of heaven and earth, but this is not a stairway to climb. The angels do the moving. It is a connection between the celestial realm and the earthly. The "ladder" is earthly man's consciousness. 

The angels ascend and descend. They go up from the earthly realm to the heavenly. The ability and to experience God is already within man. The desire must start from man. The angels descend from heaven: once man reaches out to God, He will reciprocate. 

Early thoughts. It's not due until the end of next week.

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