Puzzled by Vos on Hebrews!

Discussion in 'The Literary Forum' started by jmark, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. jmark

    jmark Puritan Board Freshman

    Any Vosian experts out there?

    I was helping a Chinese friend translate a section of Geerhardus Vos on Hebrews - and came across a passage which I understand the general drift, but his specific illustration is puzzling me. If the purpose of an illustration is to clarify - then I must be missing something!

    It is in reference to Heb1:3. The particular illustration is “The word, however, can mean refulgence; that is, it can mean a shining back, an effulgence that has become separated from its source, like a moon that is a replica of another moon, instead of an effulgence such as the mere tail of a comet, for instance.”

    Maybe I am getting tangled up in the fact that he moon reflects the sun's light. Maybe that has nothing to do with it. Is he just thinking of the moon as a light in the night sky? And God the Father being as a light, and God the Son being as an exact replica of that - a distinct but separate entity, as opposed to being a blaze of glory emanating from the other?

    You can see the full context in the attached photo. It's on p80 and the illustration is in the middle of the page
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Not a Vosian expert, not even a great devotee here.

    But I will offer my proposal, and invite you to make of it what you will. I start with the latter portion of the illustration, that of the comet.

    If we imagine the "burning" head of the comet (which is not a "scientific" interpretation, but an "observational" description), from a distance it seems somewhat rounded. So, if we imagine being behind it streaming directly away from us, and the castoff appearing to our vision as a disc of brightness (moon-shaped), it is a brightness that is not "separated from its source." It is the "tail" of the comet, an "effulgence" in the author's terms.

    Whereas, the reflection of the moon in a pool of water is wholly distinct from the moon above. Yet, it also seems to give off the same light as the moon above. I suppose the moon is a better illustration than the sun might be, because the sun shining on the pool just causes the water to glare, without producing a sun-sized ball of light on the surface. The moon's gentler light does not dazzle, so allowing the illustration. The mirrored moon one could say "shines" and lights up a body on the shore of the pool, unlit from above due to shade. It is a "refulgence," if we consider the moon as the primary source of the light (again, not science, but observationally descriptive).

    Perhaps this is helpful.
     
  3. jmark

    jmark Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Bruce for your thoughts - it's hard to know how much scientific background or sanctified imagination we are to bring to such a brief sentence, isn't it? If the purpose of an illustration is to clarify, then I'm not so sure this one does - yet I suppose these are only his classroom notes - not necessarily the full thing fleshed out. Maybe he was more expansive in the lectures!

    Here's what I ended up saying before your reply came in:

    His point seems to be that effulgence is the glory coming from the object itself (like the tail of a comet). And refulgence is where the glory is reflected from somewhere else like the moon reflects the suns light.

    I think he is saying that the Son is not merely the glory coming from the Father (like the tail coming from a comet) but is separate and identically glorious – like if we had a second moon exactly like our own moon.
     
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Actually, Mark, if I read read correctly the whole section (as much as you provided) Vos uses the language of "indifference," as to whether one prefers effulgence or refulgence. Each one carries a distinct theological or cosmological freight.

    If the translator prefers effulgence, the proper theological inference has to do with the Son's eternal generation; and the proper cosmological inference has to do with exhibiting the Father's glory to the world.

    If the translator prefers refulgence, the proper theological inference has to do with the Son's perfect equality with the Father; and the proper cosmological inference has to do with the Son's Personal divine exhibits in the world.

    Finally, I would say that Vos' sticking with the astronomical metaphors has somewhat to do with the natural "glory" of heavenly bodies. It makes less sense to postulate a "second sun," when the singularity of that body is sort of essential to it. But Vos knew that some planets have multiple moons. Stars "differ from one another in glory," 1Cor.15:41, whereas the moon could be imagined doubled without variation.

    Just a few other thoughts...
     
  5. Col33

    Col33 Puritan Board Freshman

    He is the radiance [ἀπαύγασμα] of the glory of God ... (from Heb. 1:1–4 ESV)

    “The Radiance of the Glory of God”
    Regarding the first phrase—”the radiance of the glory of God” (ESV)—there are two possible translations of the word απαύγασμα (“radiance”).

    #1) απαύγασμα: “Refulgence” shining back (e.g., the moon reflecting the sun)

    Trinitarian-Theological:
    Marks the Son as a separate person in the divine Trinity Christ is immanent in the world, duplicating the glory of God in the world

    Cosmical: Christ is immanent in the world, duplicating the glory of God in the world

    #2) απαύγασμα: “Effulgence” (e.g., the mere tail of a comet)

    Trinitarian-Theological: Refers to the eternal generation of the Son from the Father Christ is carrying God’s glory into the world, never being detached from God

    Cosmical: Christ is carrying God’s glory into the world, never being detached from God

    According to Vos, “effulgence” has stronger support.

    REFERENCE SOURCE: This is an excerpt from https://reformedforum.org/scaling-heights-hebrews-13/

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