The nose knows

Paul describes knowledge as a scent. God “uses us to spread abroad the fragrance of the knowledge of himself,” he says. (2 Cor. 2:14, REB) I understand that the sense of smell brings back memory and emotion more viscerally than does any other sense. I remember smelling my grandmother’s apartment in some strange place six years after she had died. It was as if she were in the same room with me.

Who else might an acquaintance of mine experience while with me? If I have knowledge like a scent, the possibilities are endless, I suppose. Paul goes on: to those on the way to salvation he and his pals are “a deadly fume,” but to those on their way to destruction they become a life-giving fragrance.

Paul understood the kind of religious knowledge I focused on for years. It’s a cheap substitute for knowledge like a scent. “’Knowledge’ inflates a man, whereas love builds him up. If anyone fancies that he has some kind of knowledge, he does not know in the true sense of knowing.”