“I went trembling into a house in Brooklyn filled with strangers and I found I had come home at last, to my own kind. There is another meaning for the Hebrew word that in the King James version of the Bible is translated ‘salvation.’
It is: ‘to come home.’ I had found my salvation. I wasn’t alone any more.“
From: Women Suffer Too.
The emotional impact of treating salvation as meaning “to come home” is powerful. That is the point I wish to explore — what the result of looking at salvation as a homecoming and seeing salvation as not being alone.
The concept of coming home as salvation has deep roots. The concept fits in well with The Hymn of the Pearl which is part of the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas which is one of the New Testament apocrypha. References to the work by Epiphanius of Salamis show that it had become well circulated by the 4th century. The complete versions that survive are Syriac and Greek. It was part of the canon until rejected by the council of Trent. Orthodox and LDS scholars have both found inspiration in the Hymn.
In the Hymn of the Pearl (an older text than the Acts of St. Thomas) the story is told of a boy, “the son of the king of kings”, who stands in for each of us. He is sent to Egypt (as we are born into the world) to retrieve a pearl from a serpent. During the quest, he is seduced by Egyptians and forgets his origin and his family (much like we have forgotten our heavenly parents).
However, a letter is sent from his father, the king of kings, to remind him of his past. When the boy receives the letter, he remembers his mission, retrieves the pearl and returns to his parents. Memory restores him. “I remembered that I was a son of kings,and my free soul longed for its natural state …”
To quote an excerpt from the hymn.
[Think of your glorious garment,
remember your splendid robe
which you will put on and wear when your name is called out from the book of the combatants.
And with your brother
With him, you will be in our kingdom.] [excerpt of the call to memory]
In the end, the boy, who represents each of us, finds salvation in returning home. It was a powerful image to the early Christians and, I think, one for us, to see finding salvation in the concept of returning home.
The term translated as Salvation in the Bible is Soteria or swthriva /σωτηρία
The word σωτηρία means “deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation” — and is a feminine word. The feminine nature is clear because the word is also the name of the Greek goddess or spirit of safety and deliverance from harm — one who rescues. In some ways it calls to mind a Mother in Heaven who calls out to save us and to bring us safely home.
The word in context wraps the concept of rescue or deliverance into the concept of homecoming and the method of rescue, of salvation, as involving the feminine divine as well as the masculine divine. It also brings home the concept of parents in heaven who are both masculine and feminine and the idea of home — finding home both in this life and the next.
More than just limited to the concept of deliverance or rescue, I liked the image of salvation as coming home, of being something that occurs in this life as well as the next when we come home to our own kind and are not alone. Even more as salvation being when we come home to our heavenly parents to love and safety.
- What do you think of when you think of salvation?
- Does it include some of the emotion or hope of coming home?
- Where do you find your own kind and where are you not alone?
Images from Wikimedia Commons.
The featured image is an excerpt about the Pistis Sophia, often treated as a name for the feminine divine or the spirit of salvation in some Christian Gnostic works.