Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Locomotion Entelechy and Jesus’ “Race” (Gospels 9)


Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author [
archēgon/ἀρχηγόν from the root archē/ἀρχή] and finisher [teleiōtēn/τελειωτὴν from the root telos/τέλος] of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)



Coming to Aristotle’s fourth and final type of entelechy or kinēsis, we encounter it as a metaphor, as it pertains to Jesus, such as in the “race” referred to in the Hebrews 12:1-2 passage (above).  Paul is also fond of the “race” metaphor for his own life, and sees his life as having been a race, in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NKJV):

[T]he time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

A race is an example of Locomotion Entelechy.

In addition to the “race” metaphor, the book of Hebrews uses entelechial terminology (cognates of of archē/ἀρχή and telos/τέλος) in describing the beginning and end of the work Jesus came for:

·         Hebrews 2:10 (NKJV) says: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain [archēgon/ἀρχηγόν from the root archē/ἀρχή] of their salvation perfect [teleiōsai/τελειώσαι from the root telos/τέλος] through sufferings.”


·         Hebrews 5:9 (NKJV) says: “And having been perfected [teleiōtheis/τελειωθεὶς from the root telos/τέλος], He became the author [i.e., cause/aitios/αἴτιος—indicative of Aristotle’s four “causes” of kinēsis or entelechy (of which one is archē/ἀρχή)] of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”


Loco-Motion and Kinēsis



Kinēsis generally means motion or movement.  And, in order for entelechy to exist, there must be some type of motion/kinēsis.  In English-speaking countries, we know the word kinēsis from such phrases as “kinetic energy,” the energy that exists when something, such as a train, is in “motion.”  An advertising slogan for Trane HVAC Heating and Cooling uses the play on words: “It’s hard to stop a Trane.”  Of course, they want you to picture in your mind a “train” in motion.  The kinetic energy of such motion is so great that, even if the fuel is removed, the engine stopped, and the brakes applied, the train will continue to move forward, due to kinetic energy.  This is why one would not be wise to remain in a vehicle that is stalled on a railroad track with a train approaching.  It’s hard to stop a train!  However, the motion described in the train example is only one of Aristotle’s four types of kinēsis.  This type is appropriately entitled “locomotion.”  I point out on page 43 of Implicit Rhetoric that the four types of kinēsis are:


(1) substance--the one is positive form [morphê], the other privation [sterêsis]; (2) in quality, white and black; (3) in quantity, complete [teleion] and incomplete [atelês]; (4) in respect of locomotion, upwards and downwards or light and heavy. (Physics 201a5ff.)


Types #1, #2, and #3.  We have already encountered the first three types of kinēsis (or entelechy).  Type #1 was involved in the “growth” of Jesus’ human body. His body increased in physical substance.  Type #2 was involved in the qualitative change of Jesus’ form from the human form to the form of God (at his transfiguration) to the form of a servant (again) to the resurrected form to the ascended form.  His form changed in quality.  Type #3 was involved in Jesus’ filling his mind with knowledge/wisdom and filling up his authority until “all authority” had “been given to” him.  There was an increase in the quantity of knowledge and authority Jesus possessed.

Type #4.  Since trains are often called “locomotives,” I used the train example for type #4.  Notice that the word “loco-motion” includes both the term “motion” and the root of the term “location.”  This type of change or kinēsis involves a change of location, moving upwards or downwards, or (as a train does) moving from place (location) to place (location). 

One may observe that in the “locomotion” entelechy, there is no need for the concepts of form/eidos/εἶδος or material/hulē/ὕλη.  There is a need for both of these terms in a “substance” entelechy, because the form/eidos/εἶδος is either “growing” (as in the seed example or as Jesus’ material/hulē/ὕλη “substance” began to grow in form/morphē/μορφή in Mary’s womb) or it is withering/decaying/diminishing.  There may sometimes be a need for both terms in a quality entelechy, but if the quality of Jesus’ body changed again, at the ascension, to a purely spiritual essence, the terms would be unnecessary, there.  There is sometimes a need for both of these terms (form/eidos/εἶδος and material/hulē/ὕλη) in a “quantity” entelechy, because the form/eidos/εἶδος is either a complete “filling” (“full” form as in the grain tank example and the material/hulē/ὕλη “substance” with which it is filled is grain).  However, when it comes to Jesus’ “filling” his head with knowledge or filling his authority, it is hard to see that knowledge or authority acquisition has an actual form/morphē/μορφή or material/hulē/ὕλη.  We return, therefore, full circle to an observation I made in my earlier blogpost The Logos and Entelechy (Gospels 3): “The Book of Revelation employs the same important terminology that is fundamental to Aristotle's concept of entelechy.  I note, especially, the language of archē/ἀρχή and telos/τέλος, usually translated ‘the beginning archē/ἀρχή and the end telos/τέλος’ with which Revelation refers to God and Jesus.”  These two terms, archē/ἀρχή and telos/τέλος, are required and fundamental to all four types of entelechy, including (4) locomotion.  Whereas, the terms “form/eidos/εἶδος” and “material/hulē/ὕλη” are important or required only in the entelechies of (1) substance, (2) quality, and (3) quantity.  I conclude that, wherever there is discussion of the two primary terms (causes), archē/ἀρχή and telos/τέλος, in the New Testament, an entelechial interpretive perspective is appropriate.


Other Biblical Examples of Locomotion Entelechy


One can easily recall numerous locomotion entelechies in the Bible.  The heavenly bodies God created usually travel on circular routes (around other heavenly bodies).  The Earth (to put things simply) completes a circular entelechy of locomotion around the sun, once annually, just as the moon orbits the Earth each month (or 28 days).  These circular motions starting from one relative location and ending at the same relative location comprise entelechies of locomotion.  Not all entelechies of locomotion are circular, however, and not all are matters of “nature.”  When God told Abraham to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees in order to go to the promised land, Abraham began an entelechy of locomotion—motion from one location to another.  Likewise, in Exodus, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land, they traveled from an Egyptian location to the land of Canaan location, with various important (middle) stops in the wilderness, in between (such as the Red Sea and Mt. Sinai). 


Jesus’ Locomotion Entelechy


The Gospel of John 19:30 (NKJV) indicates the precise end/telos/τέλος of Jesus’ race when Jesus, on the cross, declares “It is finished [tetelestai/τετέλεσται from the root telos/τέλος]!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  John 19:28 (NKJV) had prepared us for this final declaration by Jesus with the observation: After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished [tetelestai/τετέλεσται from the root telos/τέλος], that the Scripture might be fulfilled [teleiōthei/τελειωθῇ from the root telos/τέλος], said, “I thirst!” 

When Jesus left Samaria, writes Luke, “it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 NKJV).  This was “purposeful” motion on Jesus’ part.  Jesus knew that a telos/τέλος awaited him at the Jerusalem location.  So, when Hebrews 12:2 uses a “race” analogy for Jesus, it is not far removed from the actual, literal locomotion entelechy of Jesus going to Jerusalem: “Jesus [was] the author [archēgon/ἀρχηγόν from the root archē/ἀρχή] and finisher [teleiōtēn/τελειωτὴν from the root telos/τέλος] of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (NKJV).  Jesus’ “race,” like all races had a starting line (archē/ἀρχή) and a goal line (telos/τέλος).  We’ll consider his starting line in the next blogpost.  Jesus (as he was both archē/ἀρχή and telos/τέλος in Revelation) serves as our paradigmatic example of author (archēgon/ἀρχηγόν from the root archē/ἀρχή) and finisher (teleiōtēn/τελειωτὴν from the root telos/τέλος) of our faith.  Paul, who wrote to Timothy that he had “finished [teteleka/τετέλεκα from the root telos/τέλος] the race [and] . . . kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), understood who defined the race for the faith by his own example.  Jesus defined the starting line (archē/ἀρχή) and goal line (telos/τέλος) for each Christian.  Jesus’ race, therefore, serves as what Kenneth Burke would call our ”representative anecdote.”  His “race” entelechy “represents” ours.


In terms of Jesus’ and Paul’s respective races, as well as our own by extension in Hebrews 12:1-2, our “finish line/end/telos” (enduring the cross and sitting down at the throne of God) is implicit at our “starting line/archē.  Hebrews 12:1-2 spells out the entelechy: “[L]et us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author [archēgon/ἀρχηγόν from the root archē/ἀρχή] and finisher [teleiōtēn/τελειωτὴν from the root telos/τέλος] of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”).  Jesus is the archē/ἀρχή and telos/τέλος of our own individual “races.”  Paul may well have died a martyr’s death, but (despite church legends from the second century) we do not know for certain when or where that may have occurred.  Clearly, not every Christian dies a martyr’s death.  Not even will every

Christian “die.”  As Paul observes, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed . . . the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed(1 Corinthians 15:51 NKJV).  Nevertheless, as Mark sets out the entelechy (See my blogpost The Four Extremist Gospels (Gospels 2), every Christian must be prepared to die a martyr’s death.  Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35 NKJV).  This is the entelechy of locomotion.  The life of Jesus represents the starting line and the finish line.  When one becomes a Christian, one begins the “race.”  The point at which Jesus began his “race,” as I mentioned, is grist for the next blogpost.

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