The Bible, the Veil, and the Spirit

Mention was made in a Facebook conversation I had recently of Paul’s reference (2 Cor. 3) to the Scriptures being read while veiled. Many refer to it as though it were about the inability of people to understand Scripture without supernatural assistance.

But it doesn’t mean that, despite what is so often claimed. It is echoing the story of Moses’ face being veiled after he spoke with God face to face, to hide from people that the glory faded with time. This is then applied figuratively to the reading of the Jewish Scriptures, with Paul asserting that its readers in his time fail to realize that it too has a less than permanent glory.

And so, ironically, this text is an example of how those who insist that you cannot understand Scripture without the help of the Spirit, presumably have the Spirit, and yet even so misunderstand the Scriptures.

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  • Gary

    “story of Moses’ face being veiled”…seems like there were lots of stories then…”The Antiquities of the Jews”, Josephus (265), “Whence one cannot but smile at those who say that Moses was himself afflicted with the leprosy when he fled out of Egypt….it is out of violent prejudice only that they report these things about us; but Moses was pure from any such distemper.”

  • Neko

    I appreciate these insights. Thank you.

  • Hydroxonium

    Thanks, posts like this are much of what I come here for!

    On another note, the idea that “spiritual” is “supernatural” is such a gross misunderstanding of scripture …

  • Matt

    Where is the mosaic from? It’s really Intriguing, I’d like to learn more about it.

    • Beau Quilter

      This is a contemporary mosaic, created for the Collegio San Lorenzo da Brindisi in Rome, by Friar Marko Ivan Rupnik. As well as being an artist, he is a catholic theologian, a teacher at pontifical institutions, and the director of Centro Aletti, a research exchange institute for artists and scholars.

      You can watch Friar Rupnik discuss the mosaic (and see the rest of the piece) in this youtube video:

      • Matt

        Thank you!

        • Beau Quilter

          I’m an atheist myself, but I still found his description of the theology behind his artistry fascinating!