17. Travel Greece with a Bible in Your Suitcase | Varlaam Church at Metora, Greece

At the Varlaam church at Meteora, Kostas gave us an introduction to Greek icons (while I modeled a skirt based on historical usage at the Monastery.) The most important part of this picture is the golden halo seen in the icon behind me.

Look, first, at how the 3 main figures (Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist, and the angels) are depicted. There is no shape behind the figures, at all. The figures are flat. Do you see the abstractions and the lack of proportion?  The abstractions became, no longer the main characteristic of the primitive art, but also the main characteristic of the modern art, i.e. art that used abstraction on purpose, because of philosophical (theological in this case) ideas.  

See the name of Jesus being depicted on his halo? ὁ ὢ ν

Omicron, Omega, Nu.

I would like us to speak a little bit about the three letters: The omicron on the left side is faded out in my picture, but you can clearly see, in his halo, the Omega above and the Nu to the right.

These three letters form two words, ὁ ὢν “the/that being.”

  1. – Omicron is a word by itself. The/That. It is the definite masculine article.
  2. ὢν – Omega and Nu form another word, the participle of the verb “I am,” the verb “to be.”

The participle form of these two words, ὢν, was adopted by the Greek philosophers. This happened between two cities, Ephesus and Miletus, major cities of Asia Minor, Turkey today, Greek Ionia of that time It was also adopted in the Bible to describe God and Jesus generally. I say adopted because the Greek philosophers used it first! Here’s the history of how that happened.

In the 6th century BC, Greece had thinkers who were no longer satisfied with the Greek myths. Why? Myth, for them, was not able to explain the first origins of nature. So, they decided to find out if the origins of nature were part of myth. So they studied nature, intensively … and what did they discover? 

  1. They discovered, first, that nature is a chain, it is not compartmentalized. From the very little to the very big is a chain, a continuous chain.
  2. Secondly, they saw mathematics everywhere.  
  3. Thirdly, they discovered that all living nature (that means, plants, animals and humans in their outer form) has the same tendency to fulfill the same one mathematical formula, 2x + 1/x (which possibly is known to you from your mathematics class.) This is the tendency of all living nature.
  4. The ancient Greeks of Ionia, at that time, considered this mathematical formula the expression of the ideal and harmony and they called this formula the Golden, or Divine, Ratio.
  5. As their conclusion, these people considered nature as a unique mathematical artifact, not many artifacts in a row, but one single mathematical artifact. And they were the first who called this artifact, “Jewel.”  The Greek word for “Jewel” is Cosmos (Cosmetics in English.)
  6. And these people were the first who formed the idea that the concrete (the visible) went to the invisible (to abstraction.)

They became the first real philosophers, because they made up this question: “If what we see, all around us, is a perfect mathematical jewel (a Cosmos) then who is the “Jewel” maker? Who is the Cosmos maker?”

  1. Their answer to this question, was a conclusion that, “There should be, definitely, one mathematical mind (or more than one mathematical mind) able to express themselves, mathematically, in a way parallel to the human mind.
  2. So, through mathematics we can have with Him, or Them, a kind of communication.
  3. The second question became, Is this communicator one person (one mathematical mind) or more than one?
  4. They reasoned that many minds see the same reality from a different point of view, something which in art destroys harmony and for that reason, in all of art history, every single artifact, is signed by one artist who expresses his own personality.
  5. That made them to say that: behind this “Jewel,” this mathematical artifact, there should be one and only one great mathematical mind
  6. This great mathematical mind was not identified with the other gods of the myths.
  7. So, here we have the roots, the beginnings, of the concept of the great mathematical mind, the Creator, the Unknown God.

Now, while all these things were happening in philosophy, King Darius was expanding his empire from India to the West (remember we spoke about that in Thermopylae.)

Darius called for all these places, places where thoughts were being developed, so he created a wave of immigrant thinkers.

One of the immigrants was called Xenophanes. At the second part of the 6th century BC, Xenophanes, immigrated from Asia Minor (from the city of Colophon, close to Ephesus.) He, finally, with some other immigrants from Asia Minor, built a Greek city in South Italy and built his home.

Xenophanes was a carrier of his ideas.

  1. Since he brought his own ideas with him, he was the first person in history to make a severe criticism against Homer.
  2. He accused Homer of being sacrilegious; because Homer depicted divinity in a very brutal anthropomorphic way, attributing all the defects of human nature onto divinity. 
  3. And that, for Xenophanes was sacrilegious. 

The next “president” of this school was Parmenides.  Parmenides combined Xenophanes’ ideas and the duality that we see nature. In nature we see death and life, darkness and light, lies and truth.

So, Parmenides said,

  1. If everything we see around us is subjective, in possibility and death, then the Great Mind should be the light.
  2. If everything is in darkness and the light comes to destroy darkness, then the Great Mind should be identified with the light.
  3. And the Great Mind, in the many lights, is the only truth.
  4. As a conclusion Parmenides identified the Great Mind with the truly-existing-one, using the two words, ὁ ὢν.
  5. Parmenides was the first who spoke about “The Being,” using two words, ὁ ὢν (the participle form of the verb “I am.”)

At the 2nd century before Christ, in Alexandria, 72 pious Jewish scholars, sponsored by Ptolemy II, came to translate the Holy Books of Israel into Greek. 

  1. 72 wise Jewish men arrived to translate the name Jehovah.
  2. For the 72 men the translation came down to translating the name of Jehovah, “the God who presented Himself ” to Moses in front of the burning bush.
  3. So, they translated the Holy Name of the God, Jehovah, as “the God who presented Himself ” with a phrase in Greek, ὁ ὢν. They chose these two words, ὁ ὢν, to speak to the Greeks.
  4. ὁ ὢν, God who presented Himself to Moses in front of the burning bush, He is sending you to set them free.

The Apostle Paul based his speech on Mars Hill, in Acts 17 to the Athenian philosophers, on the concept of the great mathematical mind, the Creator, the Unknown God.

The Gospel of John, which is mostly addressed to the Greek mind, identifies Jesus as ὁ ὢν. Jesus uses these two words to present Himself and the Apostle John also uses these two words to present Jesus .

In the book of Revelation, the participle form of the verb “to be” is the only title that is continuously used from the beginning of the book to the end, to describe the Coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

These two words, ὁ ὢν, connect The Being with

  1. The Great Mathematical Mind (from the Greek philosophers)
  2. Jehovah (from the Old Testament)
  3. Jesus (from Nazareth of the Gospel of the Apostle John) and
  4. The Coming Messiah (from the Book of Revelation.)

These two words, ὁ ὢν, are so important; The Being. Jesus “The Being” depicted in the icon at the church in Meteora, Greece is the truly existing one, presented to you – to set you free. 

Jesus, “The Being,” depicted in the icon at the church in Meteora, Greece, the truly-there-really existing one, presented to you – to set you free.