Analogia Entis


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Biblical Revelation and the analogia entis (the "analogy of being")

Analogia entis is an approach to the Divine which holds that the created world offers, by analogy, a means of grasping the nature of the Divine.

Without it, the Divine becomes utterly unknowable, incommunicable, inconceivable, and so on. As St Thomas said, nothing is in the mind that is not first in the senses, and the analogia entis then is the means by which the mind can rise in contemplation of God.

"All created things of the sensible world lead the mind of the contemplator and wise man to eternal God... They are the shades, the resonances, the pictures of that efficient, exemplifying, and ordering art; they are the tracks, simulacra, and spectacles; they are divinely given signs set before us for the purpose of seeing God. They are exemplifications set before our still unrefined and sense-oriented minds, so that by the sensible things which they see they might be transferred to the intelligible which they cannot see, as if by signs to the signified"
(Bonaventure Itinerarium mentis ad Deum, 2.11)

The danger, of course, is to take the analogy as real, and assume that in some way nature is itself divine, that nature is God, and we arrive at pantheism and later panentheism. Scripture speaks of God as ‘He’ and ‘Father’, but that does not mean that God is a man, or indeed any body; that God is composed of parts, or that God comes into being and passes away, grows and diminishes, as men do.

The Catholic Faith ruled that no matter what analogy we can draw, no matter what likeness we can refer to, God is simultaneously infinitely and immeasurably unlike the created world: God is not created, is not temporal, is not spatial, is not finite, is not contingent, is not relative … and here they employed the metaphysical language of the Hellenes to express these fundamental principles. Where Anaximander had arche (principle) and apeiron (the boundless) the Fathers deployed arche for the Son and arche anarchos (principle without principle) for the Father.

And, of course, Logos.

The Incarnation is not, as many suppose, a rehash of the old agrarian myths, but is the incarnation of Divine Union this side of the veil, as it were. If Divine Union is possible, then Incarnation is possible, as as the lower cannot appropriate the higher, Incarnation is a pre-requisite of Divine Union!

(The Church views the Body of Christ to be itself triform: First is the body born of the Virgin, the corpus natum, He of whom the Gospels speak. The second is the Eucharistic body, the corpus eucharisticum spoken of in John 6, and the third is the Mystical Body, which is the community of the faithful, the corpus mystical, spoken of by Paul and the Johannine letters. It was a teaching goes back to Amalaire of Metz (775-850) and was reiterated by Paschasius Radbertus (785-865) and taken up by Honorius of Atun (1080-1154). In more recent times it has been picked up by the like of de Lubac (1896-1991) and Jean Borella (b1930).)

Almost from the outset, that Fathers asserted this: “God became man that man might become God” – it’s there in Scripture – and this was not the purpose nor the metaphysical meaning of the appearance of demigods in the Greek and Roman traditions.

Benedict XVI said:
"The faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason, there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language… the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf"

So firstly: "unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness."

Secondly: the analogia entis preserves us from the errors of pantheism and its derivative forms, by on the one hand acknowledging the likeness, whilst on the other observing that ‘like’ is not ‘the same as’. Sensible and intellectual objects can serve as sign or symbol, but they are not the thing signified or symbolised – that way idolatry lies.

Thirdly, the analogia entis is related to the logos, because without logos there can be no useful or meaningful contemplation of the Divine whatsoever.

On the matter of ‘logos’, it’s worth considering the following:
It is difficult to say how far the rabbinical concept of the Memra, which is used now as a parallel to the divine Wisdom and again as a parallel to the Shekinah, had come under the influence of the Greek term "Logos," which denotes both word and reason, and, perhaps owing to Egyptian mythological notions, assumed in the philosophical system of Heraclitos, of Plato, and of the Stoa the metaphysical meaning of world-constructive and world-permeating intelligence (see Reizenstein, "Zwei Religionsgeschichtliche Fragen," 1901, pp. 83-111; comp. Aall, "Der Logos," and the Logos literature given by Schürer, "Gesch." i. 3, 542-544).

The Memra as a cosmic power furnished Philo the corner-stone upon which he built his peculiar semi-Jewish philosophy. Philo's "divine thought," "the image" and "first-born son" of God, "the archpriest," "intercessor," and "paraclete" of humanity, the "arch type of man", paved the way for the Christian conceptions of the Incarnation ("the Word become flesh") and the Trinity.

Possibly on account of the Christian dogma, rabbinic theology, outside of the Targum literature, made little use of the term "Memra.” (
This argument has questionable merit, and has led many Intelligent Design advocates to try and force the evidence in the objective nature of our physical existence to be evidence for the existence of God. There is problem with how Thomas Aquinas viewed the definitions of objective and subjective concerning the nature of our existence.

This type of claim remains highly subjective in terms of 'reasons to believe.'