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Seeing the Word: Forms of theological memory
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St. Paul’s statement about the community at Corinth, “you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3), reminds us of the concern Socrates manifested in the Platonic dialogue Phaedrus, when he stated that if speech is to be effective and capable of transforming a person, it must come from the soul of the speaker and reach the soul of the listener.

If we pay attention to Paul’s text, we see his discourse has the form of a letter. It has an author, Christ, who is outside time and space, and an editor, Paul himself, through his ministry in time and space. It has addressees (“you are”). It is then the word of Christ that the Spirit of the living God, acting on the recipients through the ministry of the writer, engraves in their hearts. This is the living word, which is capable of giving life, in that “he has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6).

The discourse that touches the soul is both sustaining and life-giving. It is the “Word” that comes forth from God, the “Father,” and is imprinted in the human soul through the action of the Spirit (cf. John 14:26). In this way, theological discourse has, from the speaker’s point of view, a Trinitarian origin. The Word – Scripture – becomes the foundation of the relationship between God and human beings.
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