The Berean Expositor
Volume 27 - Page 176 of 212
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The condescension of the great "I AM"
Moses and Parmenides.
pp. 90 - 92
The Eleatic Philosophy which originated with Xenophanes, was systemized by
Parmenides, and completed by Zeno. Parmenides was largely concerned with the idea of
"being", and opposed this idea to all that is complex and mutable. He maintained that,
while the reason led to truth, the senses, which were occupied with impressions received
from an ever-changing unreal world, were deceived. His arguments were chiefly directed
to proving that reality as a whole cannot change.
"If we consider everything that is, it is clear that it cannot become more than it is,
except by the addition of something else; but if we start with literally everything, there is
nothing left that can be added to it . . . . . It follows that the whole cannot change in the
parts is, therefore, an illusion" (100: E. M. Joad).
In his endeavour to preserve intact the notion of "pure being", he denied the reality of
creation. The subject was too immense for the unaided human mind.
The theme is touched upon in the Scriptures in Exod. 3:, but only to be set aside for
a lower aspect of truth to be revealed in its place. A momentary revelation of the "being"
of God is given to Moses, but this is immediately followed by the name whereby the
Most High is revealed in the O.T.
Moses enquires what he shall say to the children of Israel when they ask for the name
of the God Who had sent him. And the reply comes:--
"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say
unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exod. 3: 14).
Here we have expressed what Xenophanes and Parmenides sought for, Absolute
Unconditioned Being. But what would a nation of slaves, who had spent their days
making bricks, know of "Unconditioned Being"? Such knowledge is too wonderful for
us all; it is beyond us. We are so constituted that the unconditioned and the non-existent,
to us, much the same. That which is not bounded by space, and is not conditioned by
time, cannot be realized by the human mind. And so the Lord, in the fullness of time,
was born of a virgin, and bore the name Immanuel "God with us". More than once He
revealed that He was the "I AM" of Exod. 3:, but He usually condescended to the
conditions imposed by our human limitations and associated the unconditioned I AM
with some other title. To us He is not only the "I AM" but we also read:--
"I am
the good shepherd."
"I am
the door."
"I am
the bread of life."
"I am
the way."
"I am
the light of the world."