Circumlocution and Christology

Just dropping a bit of a flag here:

I’ve long been sceptical about the idea that the Johannine ego eimi Sayings constituted an allusion to the Divine Name or Divine identity; it seems to derive a lot of its fascination from readers who encounter the expression in translation (and Christian readers), rather than directly in Greek or Hebrew. That’s not to suggest a fault in scholars who manifestly read in the original, by the way, but to flag up the existence of a base of popular support among non-readers.

Anyway, as I work through the two works I take to be most relevant — Catrin Williams’s ‘I Am He’: The Interpretation of Anî Hû in Jewish and Early Christian Literature and Jason Coutts’s “My Father’s Name”: The Significance and Impetus of the Divine Name in the Fourth Gospel, I’m struck by the phenomenon of avoidance and circumlocution with respect to the Name. That is: we can easily see that in the first century, authors avoid using the Divine Name altogether — it never appears as such in the New Testament, for instance — and has become the object of circumlocution or substitution. Rather than reading ‘I am’ and pondering whether it refers to the Name, then, I wonder whether it wouldn’t be more productive to see whether ‘I am’ can be seen to function as a substitute or circumlocution for the Name, or (if it is as ‘blasphemous’ as some readers of GJohn want to propose) whether we can find signs that it too is the object of avoidance.

I haven’t thought this through yet, and haven’t finished reading Williams or Coutts, so they may cover this later on. It just strikes me as a possible trajectory for further investigation.


Wednesday, in the middle of St Stephen’s House’s Advent Retreat (with 40 Hours Devotion), I ran 10:47. I pushed my break-stride to Leopold Street, but I don’t remember anything else about it.

This morning I ran 10:34, on mildly resentful upper legs. Break-stride pushed to Aston Street.

Remarkable Recollection

10:27 on Sunday. As I ran past Henley Street, a pedestrian greeted me with ‘Morning, Son’, and I spent the next two blocks wondering how old one has to be to call a man in his sixties ‘Son.’ Quick answer: He didn’t look that old.

Pushed my single not-break-stride close to Leopold Street. There were headwinds every direction I turned. This seems profoundly unfair.

Rehydrating, Externally

10:47 again today, in the rain. My body was resisting much of the way — harder breathing, muscles complaining about being tired (after a good night’s sleep). I did push my single break a few paces past the Rusty Bicycle, but mostly just very glad it’s over.


Mostly the same run as Wednesday — I did, however, push my single break-stride back to the Rusty Bicycle at Magdalen and Hurst. The weather wasn’t as cold as Wednesday, and I felt a definite tension in the small of my back (more than any other ache or weakness): time, 10:45.

More History of Interpretation

The Bangorian Controversy is probably not the most prominent topic on most readers’ minds — not even most Anglican readers’ — not even most Anglican controversialist readers’ — but in the seventeenth century, the question of the relation of church and state in post-Restoration England touched on practically everyone’s concerns. If I had more time, I might whip up editions of some of the pertinent documents from the Non-Jurors; but the Bishop of Bangor’s sermon attained wide circulation as a statement of Latitudinarian Erastianism (over against those Anglicans and Scottish Episcopalians who could not in conscience acknowledge William and Mary as legitimate monarchs while James II was alive). Non-Jurors might hew to a catholic, Jacobite line, or a principled Protestant primitivism, so the non-juring movement was constituted with internal conflict from the outset. On the other hand, the Latitudinarians who accepted William and Mary could argue (as Bishop Hoadly does herein) that the very idea of church government was non-biblical and that the state was the only proper seat of temporal authority.

Cover of Benjamin Hoadly's 'The Nature of the Kingdom'

Anyway, it’s not a long sermon, and you can read it here, in either single-page or two-up versions.


Cold morning, very strong disinclination to get out of bed, but I pushed the single break-stride interval further up the Magdalen Road and kept to a peppier pace. 10:57, back closer to what had been normal.


I ran my mile this morning, cautiously, since I have had a vexing, lingering head cold and cough for more than two weeks (during which interval I forswore my exercise regimen). I set a very modest pace and planned to break at Magdalen Road, if I could get that far.

As it turned out, the break at Magdalen Road was the only break I took, which was encouraging since I’ve been able to pare away extra breaks over my past few runs. I’ll be very pleased if I can resume pushing my single break later and later in the run. Various muscles and joints protested mildly, but on the whole my body did its job very well, and the time came in at 11:24 (not good, but very good for my first day back, with an unambitious pace and chilly air).

Re… Something

Still only one break (this time I pushed it to Aston Street), time overall came in at 10:35. First quarter mile I was wondering why I was even out in the cold; second quarter mile I was thinking of my friends from Squirrel Hill and times I’d been to Tree of Life; third quarter I pondered the pace I had set and how soon I’d break stride; and the last quarter I was aching to get home and stop running.


Not my time, which was only 10:40, but my steadiness. I didn’t break stride until Leopold Street, again, and today this was my only break. That means I’m one break away from running the whole mile straight through.
Still wheezy, still gasping, but on the verge of running the whole mile. (And I’m eyeing Friday morning for a short sprint, perhaps 1/3 mile at my highest speed.

Return to Form

I pushed my don’t-break-stride back to Leopold Street, and broke only one other time (around Bullingdon), set a decent pace, and got home in 10:29. Very pleased to be cutting down the walking breaks, and although I’d rather be hovering around 10:00 flat, I’m making progress on steady running, and that’s good too.
It pretty much — but not quite — makes up for the young man who whizzed pass me at the start of my run, going faster than I ever can, without the laboured breathing that is my lot. I remain a bit concerned by my breathing; I don’t hear other runners wheezing and gasping as I still do. But I’m keeping at running, and that’s a great deal more for my lungs than I might be doing.