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Light From Light
Gerald O'Collins & Mary Ann Meyers

As we continue exploring the theme of light in scripture this Advent season, here is an excerpt from Light From Light by O'Collins and Meyers about the intersection of science and theology concerning physical and spiritual significance of light.


In biblical imagery "light" comes across as thoroughly interconnected with "glory," or the splendor/radiance of the divine presence. One can describe "glory" (kabod) as the light streaming from God and thus as the glory that makes its home in the Temple (Ps. 26:8). Hence the psalmist yearns to gaze on God in the sanctuary and see the divine power and glory (Ps. 63:2). The "glory of the Lord" visibly manifests and expresses the divine presence, the  overwhelming power, and majesty that settles on Mt. Sinai (Exod. 24:16), appears at the Tent of Meeting (Num. 14:10; 16:19), fills the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34-35), and eventually permeates the Temple built by Solomon (1 Kings 8:10-13). "Glory," for all intents and purposes, designates the divine reality. 

Human beings, while they cannot see the deity as such, can perceive the glory that symbolizes God's presence. Moses is granted a fleeting glimpse of God's"glory" (Exod. 33:18-23). This visible divine glory serves as a kind of envelope for the unearthly bright light that, paradoxically, veils GOd's being. ONe of the New Testament's pastoral letters expresses this conviction: "God dwells in unapproachable light; him no one has ever seen or can ever see" (1 Tim. 6:16) A screen of light hides God, who is utterly holy and beyond human perception. God remains an invisible figure. "Light" articulates and symbolizes this divine otherness and holiness.