Is it possible to "see God"? A close examination of the Bible suggests that answering this question is more complex—and interesting—than one might imagine. Following The Word of the Lord and The House of the Lord, this sweeping conclusion to Steven C. Smith’s trilogy asks whether it is possible to see God. After properly framing the question and citing scriptural examples, Smith takes the reader on an epic journey into the literal and spiritual meanings of biblical interpretation.
Smith’s thesis is that the multiplicity of "senses" is a pathway and progression toward the face of the Lord. He leads the reader through five Old Testament theophany scenes, beginning with the patriarch Jacob "wrestling" with God and concluding with Job’s contending with the Voice from the Whirlwind. These five encounters span all three parts of the Old Testament: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.
A tour de force much like Smith’s previous books, The Face of the Lord thoroughly examines each biblical episode from the standpoint of the Literal, Allegorical, Tropological (Moral), and Anagogical (Heavenly) senses. Smith engages all of the relevant literature—from ancient Jewish sources to Christian medieval masters to present-day theologians—without taking his eye off the central question: Can we see God? The result is a fresh, robust exploration of Sacred Scripture, drawing upon ancient, medieval, and contemporary exegesis in pursuit of this fascinating biblical question.
"Far from representing an outmoded approach to biblical interpretation, the four senses draw us to the contemplation of God. Steven Smith rightly insists that we cannot do without patristic and medieval hermenutics - the company of the saints guides us on our pathway to spiritual progress. Combining theory and practice, The Face of the Lord doesn't just probe key theological questions surrounding interpretation; it also explores the Scriptures themselves in search for the face of Christ. Eminently readable, thoroughly conversant with relevant scholarship, and never losing sight of the final end of the beatific vision, this book is a genuine combination of wisdom and piety."~Hans Boersma, Nashota House
"In The Face of the Lord, Steven Smith offers a reading of the Old Testament that provides a powerful integration of ancient and modern perspectives by looking at specific passages in the Old Testament. With writers such as Joseph Ratzinger, Smith asserts that historical-critical analysis is 'indispensable' and carefully engages the insights of contemporary biblical scholars. At the same time Smith shows how reading the Old Testament accounts in the light of the wisdom of the Fathers and Doctors allows the reader to transcend the letter and encounter Christ himself in the sacred page. The end product is not simply a 'return' to past approaches but a powerful and much-needed model of how biblical scholarship can move forward in ways informed by both past and present readings."~Michael P. Barber, Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology
"The final installment of Steven Smith's remarkable trilogy on Sacred Scripture, The Face of the Lord, invites Christians to shed their suspicions of the Old Testament as dry and legalistic and to see it as a remarkable search for the face of the Lord. Key to Smith's approach is a reappropriation of the classical hermeneutic of the four senses of the Bible that pay due respect to the literal and historical meaning of the text and yet push beyond to a spiritual meaning that recognizes the providence of God in all his holy words. The Face of the Lord is an outstanding fusion of the best of modern biblical scholarship and the wisdom of the ancients."~Michael P. Foley, Baylor University
"My colleague Steven Smith here completes his groundbreaking trilogy with a volume as audacious as it is important. First, he dares to propose that biblical scholarship should be concerned with the contemplation of the face of God in Christ. Second, he retrieves the four senses of Scripture within his own constructive exegetical practice. The ancient question was, What has Athens (philosophy) to do with Jerusalem (faith)? The urgent question in our day is, What has scholarship to do with spirituality? Smith shows what the answer must be: everything."~Matthew Levering, Mundelein Seminary