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Essay/Term paper: Light and darkness found within the gospel of john and in sophocles' drama antigone

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Philosophy

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Light and Darkness Found Within the Gospel of John and in Sophocles' Drama
Antigone


As a child, my world was enraptured by the wonderful Fisher-Price toy
known as the Lite-Brite. By inserting multicolored little pegs into their
corresponding slots on a detailed guide, I could transform drab, dull, and dark
pieces of paper into wondrous works of brilliant art. The light that filled and
transformed the plastic pegs closely parallel concepts of light and darkness
found within the Gospel of John and in Sophocles' drama Antigone. The Gospel of
John focuses on the profound meaning of the life of Jesus, whom he saw as the
manifestation of God's Word (logos). Teiresias, of Sophocles' play Antigone, is
a blind prophet whose lack of vision does not prevent him from recognizing the
truth. The words of John and the characterization of Sophocles, although
similar in many aspects, differ in the extent to which their concepts of light
and darkness affect humanity. Sophocles' light, in the form of Teiresias,
allows truth to permeate throughout one's lifetime. John's light, as the
manifesta tion ofthe logos, presents truth and enlightenment to humanity, but
also ensures a glorified and joyous afterlife through Christ's salvation.

Teiresias, the voice of fate and harbinger of truth in Sophocles' play
Antigone, humbly enters the drama by addressing the malevolent Creon and stating
that he "must walk by another's steps and see with another's eyes" (Antigone,
102). The wise prophet was metaphorically declaring that he delivered the
message of a higher truth. This truth existed as Natural Law. Teiresias advised
his monarch to choose a different course in life. His divine vision more than
compensated for his lack of physical sight, for it allowed him to walk on a wise
and virtuous path. The sage shared the knowledge and truth that he perceived
with others who were too caught up in conventional matters to realize the
existence of a higher purpose. Teiresias allowed those who stood "on fate's
thin edge" (Antigone, 102) to walk safely to a plateau of illumination. The
blind prophet combated pride, arrogance, and ignorance to deliver his message of
enlightenment.

John's message of the illumination and enlightenment provided by Christ
is very similar to Sophocles' Teiresias. John explained that "In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). The
Word or Logos that John is referring to manifested itself on earth in the form
of Jesus Christ. The prophet states that Jesus is "the light [that] shines in
the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome [him]" (John 1:5). According to
John, Jesus had redefined the Jewish covenant with God and allowed all people
realize the truth. By following the examples of Christ, one can see actions
and faith define a virtuous life, not actions-in-themselves. Jesus carried with
him the divine message of God and shared his words with everyone. All people,
from the despised prostitute to the aged blind man experienced a fraction of
God's glory through interaction with Christ. Like Teiresias, Jesus allows
people to depart from the sinful path of worldly consumption to tread upon a
more virtuous path. Jesus allowed people to walk within the footsteps of the
Lord.

Light and darkness both play integral parts in the Gospel of John and in
Sophocles' play Antigone. In both literary works, a person serves as a divine
tool who delivers the message of a higher purpose to the ignorant masses
engulfed by darkness. Although the purposes of these messengers are similar, a
vast difference exists between them. Teiresias offered and gave advice to
individuals to allow them to live a virtuous life while on earth. The Gospel of
John illustrates that Jesus came to earth to bring more than enlightenment.
Jesus came to bring salvation to the masses. In Sophocles' Antigone, Teiresias
states that "honest counsel is the most priceless gift" (Antigone, 103). John
disagrees with the words of the worldly sage, for with Jesus it is shown that
human actions pale in comparison to the acts of God. Jesus condemns the
judgements of men in saying "You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one.
Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone that judge,
but I and he who sent me" (John 8:15-16). Although the judgments of Teiresias
may appear to be wise and virtuous, they seem dull and corrupt when compared
with the holy radiance of God. To John, the most priceless present is that
which God lovingly gave. To John, the greatest gift to humanity was Jesus
Christ who shared his holy message to not only individuals but to the entire
world. Jesus proclaimed that "I am the light of the world; he who follows me
will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

The Gospel of John and Sophocles' Teiresias in his drama Antigone shared
many common concepts regarding light and darkness. Both emphasized that the
truth and enlightenment could not be found with worldly means. Teiresias, the
blind prophet, and Jesus Christ, the humble Messiah, shared the message of a
higher existence with people who had not yet experienced the light. A
difference exists in the fact that while Teiresias attempted to follow the path
of virtuosity, the limits of his human mind and actions could not provide
salvation for the ignorant masses. Jesus carried with him a divine purpose that
not only enlightened but saved. Christ did not solely emphasize on the physical
existence, but also explained matters belonging to the realm of the divine.
Teiresias's message made profound changes in the lives of individuals. Jesus's
message broke through the barriers of ethnocentricity and engulfed the entire
world in its light. In the ways that the Gospel of John and Sophocles' play
Antigone are similar, they are also different. The very path to righteousness
that makes the two literary works comparable makes them different. While both
allow people to embark on the path of light, only the Gospel of John carries the
secret to eternal salvation. In a way similar to a child playing with a Lite-
Brite, the Gospel of John and Sophocles' character Teiresias allow rainbows of
light to exist in a world devoid of color. While both allow the existence of a
form of the truth, it is only the Gospel of John that provides a detailed guide
that will allow a person to find order in their truth. Through such truth and
enlightenment, an abstract world of chaos and ignorance can be engulfed by a
world full of order and wisdom. Realms of beauty and glory can manifest
themselves to individuals who accept the truth and the essence of light as a
message from a higher existence. Great joy and pleasure shall come to the child
who can find beauty and order in a bleak world full of ignorance and emptiness.



 

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