Ages of Ages: Doxological Time

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“Be not afraid, I AM the first and the last, the living One; I died and behold, I AM alive unto the ages of ages, and I have the keys of death and hades”  (Rev 1:18).  Many Scriptural doxologies refer to doxological time, giving glory to God ‘unto ages of ages, Amen: eis tous aionas ton aionon, Amen.’  The Septuagint readings of Psalms 83:5 and 145:1 speak of blessing the Name not in this present age alone but unto ages of ages, which many modern versions translate as forever and ever, implying linear time lived chronologically from past to future by way of a fleeting present.  But doxological time always begins with the eschatological age of glory to come, Olam Ha Ba, which ends this present worldly age, olam hazeh, when glory to come weds past paradisal glory in the ever-present presence of radiant glory, shekhinah.  The ‘age of ages’ referred to in Ephesians 3:21 is the age of the Name, which wisdom discerns as glory that includes all generations falling within this ‘age of ages.’  

In other New Testament doxologies the singular ‘age of ages’ is replaced by the plural ‘ages of ages,’ because wisdom steps back to take in the ineffable, expanding expanse of glory.   Close in, so to speak, glory’s ‘age to come’ is called the ‘Day of ‘I AM,’ or the ‘Eighth Day.’  Patristic tradition refers to a ‘week’ of seven ages consummated on the Eighth Day with the revelation of the glory of the Name.  Doxological time is not  a linear, chronological sequence of ‘past-present-future’ but an angelic, circular motion of ‘future-past-present’ when the ‘Age to Come’ ends all ages, times and worlds with glory now, forever fulfilling past ages in present glory, indicated with the words: ‘ glory, unto the ages of ages, Amen.’  Glory, then steps back from the ‘age of ages’ to behold eternal, encircling ages that complete our temporal ages, or invisible worlds like spiralling spheres that co-inhere our spatial worlds, encompassed wholes within encompassing wholes, like angelic wheels within wheels, that resound with wholesome glory, from glory to glory, without end.

Scriptural doxologies in the Epistles (Gal 1: 5, Phil 4: 20, 1 Tim 1:17, 2 Tim 4: 18, Heb 13:21, 1Pet 4:11) all speak of ‘ages,’ in the plural, as in ‘unto ages of ages,’ unlike Ephesians 3:21, which, as we have seen, speaks of generations within a single ‘age of ages.’  The Book of Revelation refers to glory’s ‘ages of ages’ twelve times, (Rev 1:6, 1:18 quoted above, 4:9, 4:10, 5:13, 7:12, 10:6, 11:15, 15:7, 19:3,  20:10, and 22:5)  The glorified are described in Revelation 22: 4-5 as seeing God’s Face, illumined on the forehead by the uncreated light of the Name, reigning in glory ‘unto the ages of ages.’  These scriptural doxologies passed into the language of prophecy and prayer, entering the Holy Liturgy and daily prayers so that a Logos of glory inspired illumination and glorification at the heart of a coherent, Hesychast way of life, unfolding in the light of wisdom.   It is the uncreated ‘I AM’ that reigns in glory, and crowns the saints, not the created ‘me’ or what is ‘mine.’  The Kingdom of ‘I AM’ is not a kingdom of this world, nor is it to be found among secular worldly worlds in their many varied forms.  it is glory’s ‘age to come’ that opens to wisdom’s embrace of ages within ages and ages of ages, times and eras and worlds within worlds.  

There are many references in the Hesychast tradition to seven ages which are transcended but included in the age or world to come.  But to envisage this age of the Name as many ages of ages or worlds within worlds, glory must step back.  Glory has to be aware of glory ineffably mirroring glory, from glory to glory, if its scope is no longer confined to only one age of ages.  ‘I AM’ is ‘I AM’ mirrored in many ineffable ages of ages, having the keys of death and of hell and therefore also keys to all seven heavens.  Indian sages speak not only of yugas but also of yugas of yugas, many ages of ages or time spanning time spans, each of which embrace many lesser time spans in which eras of glory manifest.  Hell is said to last for an age, and so for an eternity, but hell is not eternal as divine glory is.  The end of this age is marked by the coming forth of the angels, but wisdom knows that glory embraces ages of ages that transcend yet include such worlds.

The ancients spoke of seven ages among many sevens, so when, on rigorous empirical grounds, the moderns more or less concur, it raises the question how these recently discovered sixes or sevens might co-inhere with the archaic Logos of glory’s ancient sevens.  The moderns discern five ages, in which premodern archaic, magical, and mythic structures underlie modernity and postmodernity, seen from an integral then translucent perspective that transcends contemporary culture wars.   Being integral and translucent, these latest structures are able to include the timeless logoi of wisdom’s archaic Logos.  If wisdom, discerning glory, were to embrace these seven ages in her ‘ages of ages,’ she would  begin to include as well as transcend the five warring worlds, archaic, magic, mythic, modern (or rational) and postmodern (or post-rational).  If wisdom were to include them in the light of an integral and translucent embrace, original glory, her lost paradise, would be restored by future glory as glory’s ever present presence in each age.  

A sound, circular wisdom is glory’s gift to Logos in any and every age, redeeming the times.  There are archaic, magical, mythic, rational, post-rational, integral and translucent logoi of this wisdom and her vision of glory, all of which an integral or translucent embrace might include.  This brings to light an expanding coherence and co-inherence of wisdom and glory amidst the rich textures of global culture.  Such wisdom can listen to the Logos of Isaiah, Heraclitus and Saint John, to the Dharma of the Buddha or to the Tao of Lao Tzu, some of them axial seers alive around 500 BC, transcending and including archaic, magic, mythic, rational and post-rational ages.  But postmodernity deconstructs all timeless logocentric logoi, plunging the sound basis of integral and translucent wisdom into impasse.   If narcissistic confusion reigns, unity is lost as well as difference and if nihilist division rules, unity degenerates so that valuable differences are dissolved.  Integral wisdom may draw on axial age Logos to handle Dharma and Tao to reclaim translucent Logos, weaving together archaic, magic and mythic wisdoms with modern rational constructions and postmodern deconstructions of outgrown myth or binary logic.  Wisdom’s vision of glory ‘unto ages of ages’ can handle archaic, magic and mythic symbols of unheard harmony that are able to heal and make peace in current culture wars, as well as wars of race and religion.  Wisdom knows the glory of God is one in many differing ages, worlds and sacred traditions, ascribing centred but no longer ‘logocentric’ logoi to Logos and integral, sound glory to translucent glory in worlds within worlds unto ages of ages.  Scripture and Patristic wisdom add: Amen.