In a message dated 3/9/2004 8:08:35 PM Eastern Standard Time,
The question at stake
here is not so much John-as-literature, but John-as-christology. As I see it,
"christology" is an ideational, ideological content that the FG effects.
First, a gentle reminder: you will shortly be asked to provide your full name
and location;perhaps you can do this in your response.
This statement above is provocative. Can there be a "John-as-christology"
prior to a "John-as-literature?"
"Christology seeks to stabilize this play; Chalcedon cannot sustain the irony
the literal/figural distinction because of the hypostatic union. Nor can it
collapse Jesus ontologically into the totality of the Godhead. In any case,
christology is a frame from which we "see" certain things in the text and
which we seek to either limit connotations or open denotations to "fit the
frame." Christology is one contextualization which opens up the FG and
allows us to make sense of it."
So which, then, is the more appropriate(?) lens through which to read the FG,
Chalcedon or the christology "effected" by the FG itself? If I were to
hazzard a guess, I would say that Chalcedon might tend to "collapse" meaning, where
the Johannine christology (whatever that actually is) might tend to expand
meaning. Perhaps you will show how each lens might read the same passage.
"If the irony of the FG destabilizes to become paradox, then perhaps,
too, the barrier between christology, the reader, and the text does as well.
seems to me that you strike a nerve which challenges the grafting of a purely
descending, high christology onto the FG's narrative. Such a christology that
emphasizes the WORD become flesh (the vertical descent of the Logos into
human history) becomes unstable when faced with the radical physical and
material thrusts of the story."
Jeff Staley and Tom Thatcher, members of this forum and occasional
contributors, have commented about the instability of Johannine irony. I will not
present their theses, but *The Print's First Kiss* and *The Sabbath Trick* each
contribute to a growing awareness of the problem of irony in the FG. Is your
reading informed by these works?
I certainly am sensitive to the contrast between a pre-existent Logos, and
the very fleshly moments in the FG. I find it difficult to posit a "spiritual"
gospel that detracts from a discourse in which a palpable corporeality anchors
any christology firmly alongside witness, disciple, narrative, rhetoric etc.
One (of the many) ironies of the experience of the FG is its uncanny ability to
create in the reader nearly identical problems encountered by the characters.
It is this very problem of literary distance that puts the narrative, the
theology, christology etc on notice of being read, and puts the reader on notice
that she is being read. This is one of the effects that makes the FG a great
"It is not only the metaphorical, divine living water
which brings salvation, but also the bloody watershed of Jesus' human death.
We can't decide between flesh or glory, below or above. The christological
orientation of the FG is paradoxical; like Mary Magdalen, we are confronted
I quite agree that, as you say, the hypostatic-union-as-christological-key
tends to open up the gospel's binaries of above/below, spirit/flesh,
suffering/glory, narrative/christology etc. I hope you will comment further on the
paradoxical orientation you have spoken of here. I would just add that it would seem
that the FG is the most self-consciously liminal of the four canonical texts,
and liminality is a major focus of the FG's interrogation. Last year I posted
a work in progress in this forum, and this effect and focus of liminality was
one of the elements I discussed in my paper. Were you in the forum at that
Joseph Calandrino, FAAFP
Assistant Professor of Medicine
University Hospital School of Medicine
SUNY Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY
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