Holy Tradition in the desert is a wisdom transmission of the Name, a golden chain which imparts the explicit Name, EHYEH or ‘I AM,’ in two different forms, unique and complete. The explicit Name is transmitted from elder to disciple in accordance with ‘I AM’ sayings with and without predicates in the Gospel of John. The unique Name is the Name ‘I AM’ without predicates, as in ‘Before Abraham was, I AM.’ ( John 8:58). The complete Name is the name with predicates as in ‘I AM the way, the truth and the life,’ ( John 14:6). The unique Name is unveiled as ‘I AM, be not afraid,'( John 6:20) when Jesus said ‘I AM,’ ( John 18:5). The complete Name is the name with divine predicates such as bread of life, light of the world, gate of the fold, good shepherd, resurrection and life, and true vine, ( John 6:35 8:12,10:7,10:11,11:25, and 15:1). Wisdom’s mysterious sevens are clearly in evidence here, seven sayings without predicates unveiling uniqueness, and seven sayings with predicates unveiling completeness. Seven signs in the Book of Signs unveil the explicit Name ‘I AM’ in action as uncreated glory and grace, unique and complete.
In the desert, inspired by the Beloved Disciple in the Fourth Gospel, the Logos therefore transmits the explicit Name ‘I AM’ in two forms, the unique Name without predicates and the complete Name with predicates. Both are apophatic but in different ways, the unique by excluding all comparison, the complete by including comparison through divine analogy and symbol. The Logos in the desert is said not to describe but to give signs, so we are given seven signs, a sacred marriage when water becomes wine ( John 2: 1-11), two wondrous healings, one at a distance (John 4: 46-54), the other of a paralytic (John 5: 1-15), a glorious feeding of five thousand (John 6: 1-15), a wondrous walking on water ( John 6: 16-21), a mysterious healing of a blind man who says I AM ( John 9: 1-12), and the glorious resurrection of Lazarus ( John 11: 1-44). In the desert, signs are an apophatic language imparting logoi, ineffable words of the Word which communicate wisdom as a coherent way of life. Wisdom is transmitted through ineffable words of mystery and glory: sacred tradition transmitting a life of glorification lived in the light of the glory of Logos. This is what Archimandrite Sophrony imparted to those who were able to receive the Logos in his logoi, but to all he was a sign that God was not dead, even though the current consumer age had indeed murdered God in every version except mammon and the many god-substitutes to which modern atheism is addicted.
The Name EHYEH, ‘I AM,’ is the quintessence of the Name of Israel, YHWH, the Name of Jacob, YAH, as in HALLELU YAH in the Holy Liturgy, and the many names of God that Scripture transmits to elders and saints. Archimandrite Sophrony awoke to the Name EHYEH in Exodus 3:14, and left many writings that spoke of ‘I AM’ together with the mysteries of first personhood in God and man. “When the living God – I AM that I AM, enters the heart, the joy thereof is full of light…When I am in Him, then ‘I am,’ also…He is my life: his life in mine.” (We shall see Him as He is, 1988 p 209) Again and again, the elder would point back directly to ‘I AM’ in the midst, piercing the heart with word and gesture, unveiling where God is to be found. ” Now, O my Christ, in Thee and by Thee, now… I am” (We shall see Him as He is. 1988 p 234.)
The desert has not always expressed this wisdom in the language of Logos in the Gospel of John, but Elder Sophrony was witness to this profound turn, this metanoia, which wisdom inspires with her holy injunctions: turn and see! The ineffable Name YAH causes to be what comes to be, but the Name EHYEH explicitly saves, completes and redeems. Praise of this Name hallows the heaven of heavens and the etherial waters of glory above the heavens emptying every abyss of hell. Youths and maidens join elders and children taught by the explicit Name: the Name ‘I AM’ is unique, negating all negation of God, the Name is complete, inverting every inversion of God. ‘I AM’ rides the waters of glory with wings of wind, consuming confusion with flames of fire. The Name in each and all expands into an etherial expanse as primordial sound, turning the firmament into light and fire, illumining elders and hallowing saints in glory wherever it alights. There is union without confusion and communion without division wherever the Name is praised. By this Name ‘I AM,’ we come from God and by it we return. By this Name, EHYEH, the voice of creator and creature sound as one, when glory resounds over many waters. “Let everything that hath breath, praise YAH! Hallelu Yah!” ( Psalm 150: 6) Amen, so be it, the sound of a great multitude like many waters, thunders with one voice: ‘I AM,’ our God reigns. (See Rev 19: 6-7).