Albert & Thomas: Selected Writings

By Simon Tugwell | Go to book overview

From the Prologue to the
Commentary on St. John

I saw the Lord sitting on a high, elevated throne and the house was full of his majesty, 1. and the things which were beneath him filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1).

The words quoted here are the words of someone contemplating, and if we take them as coming from the mouth of John the evangelist they are quite apt as a comment on his gospel. As Augustine says, the other evangelists instruct us about the active life in their gospels, but John instructs us also about the contemplative life in his gospel. 2.

In the words quoted above, the contemplation of John is depicted under three headings, in line with the three ways in which he contemplated the Godhead of the Lord Jesus. It is depicted as being high, expansive and complete. It is high, because he "saw the Lord sitting on a high, elevated throne." It is expansive, because "the house was full of his majesty." It is complete, because "the things which were beneath him filled the temple."

On the first point, we should realize that the height, the sublimity of contemplation consists chiefly in the contemplation and knowledge of God. "Lift up your eyes on high and consider who made these" (Is. 40:26). So we lift up the eyes of our contemplation on high when we see and contemplate the very Creator of all things. Since John, then, rose above every creature, above the very mountains, the very skies, the angels themselves, and reached the Creator of all, as Augustine says, 3. clearly his contemplation was very high. And so he says, "I saw the Lord sitting on a high throne." And because, as John himself says, "Isaiah said this when he saw his glory," Christ's, that is, "and it was about him that he spoke" (John 12:41),

____________________
1.
This phrase, which is not found in current editions of the Vulgate, occurs in some Parisian manuscripts from the time of Thomas.
2.
Augustine, De Consensu Evang. 1.5 (PL 34:1046).
3.
Augustine, Tr. in Io. Ev. 1.5.

-529-

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