Revista Studii Teologice


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«În cer şi pe pământ toate câte El a voit a făcut» (Ps 116, 3). Fenomenologia minunii în tradiţia vetero-testamentară

“Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth” (Ps 134/135:6): The phenomenology of miracle according to the Old Testament tradition

Autor(i): Cristinel IATAN

Our understanding of miracles depends on our understanding of the manner in which God operates in the world and the way in which the creature relates to the supernatural. Unfortunately, the modern man increasingly deems the universe to be a closed space, impervious to the intervention of divine providence. Thus any thing or phenomenon that is seemingly unexplainable is considered to contradict nature or even to manifest influences from outside our familiar space, or even an intrusion on our space and privacy. However, the theological view on this reality has not changed and it retains the correct stance regarding these processes that elude our rational, limited understanding. Blessed Augustine put forth the principle underlying our understanding of miracles. They are not actions opposing nature, although they might seem to be so, but merely actions that transcend our capacity for understanding, in other words actions above and beyond everything we know about nature. God uses the world in order to accomplish His design regarding the welfare of the created world, however He does not abolish or determine people’s will and choices. Thus, the miracle appears as a mysterious, discreet element in creation. The people of old understood this very well and were not afraid to assert and proclaim it (Ps 103).
Thus miracles may be irrepetable, as unique, impressive phenomena leaving deep imprints on the conscience of their witnesses (the Exodus from Egypt) or repeatable in their forms of manifestation. Their role is to awaken conscience, transform lives and change them radically. However, a miracle may elicit different responses or may be hidden from everyone’s eyes, revealing itself only to those it was intended for (Balaam’s mule). This selection can only be operated by God, who is the origin and source of all miracles.
To signal the presence of a miracle, the Holy Scripture employs either certain terms, or certain special contexts re-creating the specific atmosphere. Although there is no particular term to designate miracles in the Old Testament, this does not prove they have never existed. The explanation lies in the relationship between the man of the Scripture and divinity. Man was fully aware of the divine presence and would not deny it, but was receptive to the intervention of Iahve (most of the times, a salvific one). Miracles are mysterious, discreet occurrences precisely in order not to impede on human freedom; they merely provide guidelines for human behaviour. Consequently, the most frequently used terms in designating wonders have ordinary, common meanings: ʼôt, means „sign”, also „divine sign”, môpēt, „unusual thing”, thus also „miracle”, nēs, usually means „flag”, but also „something visibly placed high up”, gědôlôt, „great things”, niplāʼôt / niplāʼîm and peleʼ, „amazing things”. The most frequently employed are ʼôt and môpēt.
Beside words, certain events, things or people may act as God’s agents to awaken the conscience of fallen people. Many times, miracles cannot be discovered in the Old Testament through an etymological analysis of the above terms, but rather by the way in which a biblical account’s form and content renders the details of reality (Exodus 20, 18). Reality elements are transfigured and the created world participates in God’s salvific acts. Things seem to depart from their normal course in order to signal the presence of an exceptional event (Balaam’s speaking mule)!
We mention that not every Old Testament event is a miracle. Usually, miracles occur during times of deep spiritual crisis, when spiritual laws are being neglected and ignored. Therefore one should refrain from deeming any divine action as a miracle. Usually, a miracle brings about a radical change in the life of the community witnessing it.

Pagini: 95-126