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3160[XTalk] Re: Reynolds Price and Jesus at 2000

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  • Robert M Schacht
    Dec 4, 1999
      On Fri, 03 Dec 1999 22:23:23 -0500 Brian Tucker <jbtucker@...>
      writes:
      > Greetings
      >
      > I have received a number of emails from people this week asking my
      > opinion on the article by Reynolds Price in Time magazine. Does anyone
      > know his background?

      No.

      > Second, I would like some opinions from the list
      > that I may share with my class tomorrow, concerning his article. (Time
      > Dec. 6, 1999, 84-94)
      >

      Reynolds Price's piece is heavily influenced by two things: His task as a
      storyteller, and his own visionary experience (which he summarizes near
      the end of the article.) These are not bad things, but they are important
      to understand his novellette re-telling of incidents from the Gospels.

      Given his task as a storyteller, he must perforce look at the
      possibilities in the texts, not their impossibilities. That is, unless he
      is to remake the story out of whole cloth, he must base it on
      possibilities in the Gospels and in related stories of the first
      centuries C.E. Thus, he will take and use the gray and even black
      material in The Five Gospels and The Acts of Jesus if he needs it to
      round out a story line. Retelling the story based only on the strictest
      contemporary standards of historical "fact" would leave him with very
      little to work with.

      His task as a writer also allow-- even demand-- that he endow his cameos
      with a sense of mystery. Mystery is what creates and sustains interest in
      a story. Even the most factual account must contain mystery-- if only in
      the form of gaps in the narrative for which there is no reliable
      evidence. So for his task as a writer he must use both mystery and mood.

      I write the above not to trash his article in Time, but to defend his use
      of poetic license. This does not mean that I agree with his novelization
      but that, given his task, it would be difficult for him to do otherwise.

      His own personal experiences reinforce his writer's need to look at the
      possibilities in the text that go beyond mere historical literalism. In
      this regard, he is probably more in the tradition of Raymond Brown, L. T.
      Johnson, Tom Wright or Ben Witherington than J.D.Crossan or Burton Mack.

      In other words, in this sample from Time magazine, Reynolds Price shows
      himself less as a cautious critical scholar then as a scholarly novelist.

      IMHO.

      Bob


      > Thanks
      > Brian Tucker
      > Riverview, MI
      > jbtucker@...
      >
      >
      >
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