Sunday, December 11, 2016

Full Wave Rectifier

Cover of Fleming Rutledge's book
I have just finished reading Fleming Rutledge's monumental and magnificent book "The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ".  This is not a book review (I hope that may come later).  It's just a sidenote that arises from some of her vocabulary.  But a sidenote that meant a lot to me.

One of the many things that intrigue and delight me in the book is Rutledge's insistence on translating the δικαιοσυνη... word group by "rectification", "rectify", and so on rather than the more usual "justification/righteousness". There is even a footnote (note 76 on page 337) making the connection with "rectification" as the term is used in electrical engineering - turning alternating current into direct current or, as the footnote puts it, "making alternating currents flow in the same direction". As this thought bumped around in my mind I remembered - back from the days when as a teenager I spent hours building electrical devices of various sorts - that there are two kinds of rectifier: the half wave rectifier and the full wave rectifier

Half-wave vs full-wave
Presented with an alternating current input (current that is alternately flowing in a positive and a negative direction), a half-wave rectifier produces a positive-only current in the simplest possible way: it blocks or discards the negative part of the cycle, while keeping the positive intact. [See the top part of the diagram to the right.] In terms of the analogy that Rutledge's footnote suggests, this is like a God who will purify human existence by simply excluding its negative aspects, its sin and evil and fallenness.

A full-wave rectifier [lower diagram] is more complicated and expensive.  Instead of simply discarding the negative parts of the cycle, it does something more difficult: it turns them around. Again, in terms of analogy, the full-wave rectifier suggests a God who will take up and transform the whole human being - broken heart, misdirected desires, oppressed spirit and all - and transform this entire person into one who is genuinely "whole", integer, having integrity.  Not amputation (the half-wave picture) but transformation.

The "rectification" presented in Fleming Rutledge's book is full-wave rectification.  Nothing else will do.

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