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versión On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versión impresa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.76 no.3 Pretoria  2011


Jesus's direct experiences of God the Father: A paradox within Jewish theology and gateway to human experience of God


Jesus se direkte ervarings van God: 'n paradoks in Joodse teologie en deurgang na die menslike ervaring van God



J. Slater

Department of Philosophy & Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, Pretoria E-mail:




With the unavailability of a consistently similar and collectively accepted biblical definition of a 'direct experience of God', this article sets out to explore Jesus's direct experience of God the Father within the Hebrew environment, which states that no one can see God 'face to face' and live (Exod. 33:17-20). An immediate or direct experience of God is no doubt biblically rooted, but the nature and understanding thereof is largely a product of philosophers and theologians within the context of their worldviews. This article makes the case that Jesus had immediate experiences of God the Father, and this operates from the position that a direct experience of God is a fundamental property of the human reality. It sets out to explore the intimate nature and characteristics of Jesus's immediate experiences of God the Father. This is done in the light of the paradoxical religious considerations of the Israelites (Gen. 32:30; Exod. 33:20) where God said to Moses: 'You cannot see my face; for no one can see me and live.' But Genesis 32:30 records Jacob as saying: 'For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.' While the paradox is furthered by John 1:18: 'No one has seen God at any time ...', Christians in Paul's time appear to have departed from such Hebraic reticence. The article sets out to identify some characteristics of Jesus's direct experiences of the Father and use these as a yardstick to measure the plausibility of human experiences of God. Complying with the limitations imposed on the scope of this article, the vastness of this topic has been restricted to what is reasonable within these confines.

Key concepts: human unworthiness, immediate/direct experience of God, paním-el-paním (face-to-face), transcendent reality, transformation


Met die onbekombaarheid van n konsekwent-ooreenstemmend en gesamentlik aanvaarde bybelse definisie van n 'direkte ervaring van God', gee hierdie artikel n uiteensetting van Jesus se direkte ervarings van God die Vader binne die Hebreeuse milieu wat bepaal dat geen mens God van aangesig tot aan-gesig kan sien en bly leef nie (Eks. 33:17-20). n Onmiddellike of direkte ervaring van God is sonder twyfel in die Bybel ge-wortel, maar die aard en begrip daarvan is grootliks die resultaat van filosowe en teoloë se werk binne die konteks van hulle eie wêreldbeskouings. Hierdie artikel maak die stelling dat Jesus wel onmiddellike ervarings van God die Vader gehad het en dat dit funksioneer vanuit die posisie dat 'n direkte ervaring van God 'n wesenseienskap van die menslike werklikheid is. Dit verken die intieme aard en eienskappe van Jesus se onmiddellike ervarings van God die Vader. Dit vind plaas in die lig van die paradoksale godsdienstige oorwegings van die Israeliete (Gen. 32:30; Eks. 33:20) waar God vir Moses sê: 'Vir my kan jy nie sien nie, want geen mens kan vir my sien en bly leef nie.' Maar volgens Genesis 32:30 sê Jakob: 'Ek het God van aangesig tot aangesig gesien en tog het ek nie omgekom nie.' Hierdie paradoks word voortgesit deur Johannes 1:18: 'Niemand het God ooit gesien nie ... .' Dit blyk dat Christene in Paulus se tyd wegbeweeg het van die sodanige Hebreeuse terughoudendheid dat God nie direk ervaar kan word nie. Die artikel poog om 'n paar eienskappe van Jesus se direkte er-varings van die Vader te identifiseer en as n maatstaf te gebruik om die geloofwaardigheid van menslike ervarings van God te meet. In ooreenstemming met die beperking wat geplaas is op die bestek van die artikel, is die omvang van die onderwerp beperk tot wat redelik is binne die grense hiervan.

Kernbegrippe: menslike onwaardigheid, onmiddellike/direkte ervaring van God, paním-el-paním (aangesig-tot-aangesig), transendente werklikheid, transformasie



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