Apostle & Epistle

The term apostle derives from L.L. apostolus, from Gk. apostolos “person sent forth,” from apostellein “to send away, to send forth,” from apo– “from” + stellein “to send.”

One sent-forth is a messenger. To have a message is to be an apostle. Who sends forth the messenger with the message?

A potentate recognizes some few as his/her messenger. The message is to be carried with little in the way of augmentation. Jesus, who brought a message from the LORD, directly entrusted his WORD to 12 messengers. In Islam, this special relationship of Jesus to the LORD is recorded whilst critiquing what was made of the message by the messengers. For this reason, though we often hear it translated differently, the credo of Islam is “There is no god but the GOD and Mohammed is his Mesenger.”

The word “messenger” actually translated from Arabic into Greek as, Mohammed is his APOSTLE. And with Mohammed, we see a significant departure from the likes of Buddha, Kungfu-tse, Socrates, and Jesus. Mohammed writes down the message and gives copies of this to those who will go out to spread it. That is, he makes a pragmatic move and sends an EPISTLE (also from same words as apostle) of sorts.

So a copy of the message goes forth. Buddhists waited almost three centuries to write down their founder’s message. Kungfu-tse’s students waited a generation to scribble down their master’s ideas as did Plato and Xenophon in waiting a generation to write down Socrates’ thoughts. The disciples of Christ Jesus, depending on the wing of the early Church, waited any where from one to four generations to write down Jesus’ message.

To have a message from your contemplation of the ONE–often named the Good, God, Being, Life, the Encompassing, etc et al–is often to PROFESS a transformative notion. To send out word that you bear witness to someone else’s more direct contemplation of the ONE is to CONFESS.

All of this applies still within the academy where actual PROFESSION is confounded all too often with CONFESSION.

I have become famous around the academic circles of Denton, Texas, for again & again making the observation that Friedrich Nietzsche is an overrated philosopher.

I say this not because I believe that Nietzsche accomplished very little. He was an exceptional thinker precisely becasue he accomplished an amount of real PROFESSion that is equaled in the 19th Century by a very rare few philosophers.

Rather, I say this because I do not see a lot of PROFESSIONal elucidation going on when people make use of Nietzsche. Rather, there is a lot of CONFESSIONal explication. All of the time is spent trying to unpack what Nietzsche said rather than trying to do what Nietzsche did. He is appropriated as a facade behind which thinkers can go on living their hetero-normalized commitments in the superstructure.

This, of course, is the basic ordering of the 21st Century Academy: Find your “neutral living space” (academic departments) while simultaneously confessing your allegiance to analytic, continental, environmental philosophy (or whatever your tradition may be) precisely by what you choose to ignore or to attack. By whatever means, the caution is to avoid the nasty areas where ownmost Profession would keep you from being able to publish lest you perish.

Embrace all these who have professed. Embrace their confessors that remind us to profess for ourselves.

But reject those who confess another’s experience whilst having little of their own, who never plagiarize the words but forever plagiarize the living possibility of their objectified touchstone.

Throw out the work of those who peer to the point of obsession at some spec of dust in Nietzsche, or whomever’s, words whilst not seeing the log that blinds their own eyes and retards them from any kind of ownmost profession.

There is no necessity in some confessional obsessive acting as the priestly bridge betwixt you and LIFE, you and BEING.

There is also no need to privilege some other’s Professional musings over your own.

How can you confess what is simply not yours and never comes directly into your ownmost sensibilities?

How can you profess what you have not even honestly reached out to grasp?

Write the epistle of Transcendent Reason on your soul…

Profess the Encompassing Message to the World!


  1. As old fashioned as this sounds – live with courage and passion – take time to process what you have experienced and then – write it down! Give yourself the opportunity to make something transformative (present) become eternal (past, present AND future). I think it is the ephemerality of transformative moments that dilutes its power (per Keith’s points re: lapse in time between oral and written texts.) Profess!
    Thanks for this blog – good start to the work week.

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