Reflecting the Mind of the
Vatican Since 1850

‘From Generation to Generation’: History in perspective from the Bible to Pope Francis
Sit with me at one table / The same for ancestor and grandson / The future is being accomplished now [….] And even now, in these coming times / I stand up in the stirrups like a child.

(Arseny Tarkovsky, “Life Life”)

Biblical faith is based on experience of God in history, although biblical Hebrew, paradoxically, does not have a word to designate “history,” the course of events that is progressively studied and written down. The language of the Bible has two words that allow its readers to think of history from its innermost dynamism: tôledôt, “generations,” and dôr, “generation.” The following pages will show how these two categories overlap in the Bible; however, they will do so after a digression through the humanities. With regard to the phenomena of generations and generation, in their recent developments, sociology, history and psychology have taken paths that the Bible had already set out. Here, for those who still doubt it, is confirmation of the perspicacity of the Bible in anthropological matters.

The double biblical category is also a vehicle for a particularly far-sighted theology of history, whose relevance has yet to be rediscovered. It underlies, in fact, the thought and teaching of Pope Francis, who is attentive to the generational dynamism that runs through history. For him, as for Arseny Tarkovsky in the poem cited, the table of the family and society brings together generations, all those that coexist at any given time; for him, the youngest are called to be visionaries, like the child in the poem, standing upright in the stirrups.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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