Reflections and Echoes

  • Lionel Kochan


‘The hearing ear, the seeing eye — the Lord made them both’ (Prov.20:12). The two organs co-operate, for the voice that is heard at Sinai is also ‘seen’(Ex.20:19). The verbal message is put into the terms of visual perception.1 The inference does not necessarily have to be that the exemplar of cognition is the eye, or that aural perception has attained to the level of the visual — rather that the two senses create a unity of perception. But if this vocabulary serves to recall that both ‘the hearing ear’ and ‘the seeing eye’ are part of the creation, it serves also to recall that the eye needs at times to be corrected by the ear lest what is seen becomes incitement to corruption. That the favourable relationship to sound is internally consistent with, and in fact inseparable from, the struggle against idolatry is already evident in the instructive contrast with the guarded and at times negative relationship to what is made visible, whether as image, symbol, artifact, soil, natural phenomenon or simply ‘the holy’.


Verbal Message Favourable Relationship Greek Temple Grave Image Platonic Theory 
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© Lionel Kochan 1997

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  • Lionel Kochan

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