Re: [XTalk] "he who saves his life will lose it" and Contextuality
On Sat, November 12, 2005 5:21 pm, Rikk Watts wrote:
On 12/11/05 11:40 AM, "Anthony Damato" <a-damato@...> wrote:
> Dr. R. Watts misunderstands what I wrote. When I said that the statement
> "he who saves his life will lose it" is pure lunacy, I was referring to the
> statement. I was not referring to its context. Obviously a statement in
> his historical context can have meaning for its users. But it is always
> useful to begin with the statement itself and look at it logically. If it
> makes no sense on its own terms, then someone might attribute sense to it
> in the say it was used at some historical time. But at least we are
> proceeding analytically. That is all I was trying to do, and that is all
> that I said I was doing.
"Indeed, but this is precisely the issue. As has been so thoroughly
demonstrated since Dilthey's failed 19th cent attempt to ground the "human
sciences" on the same sure (at least as he thought) foundation as the
natural sciences there is no such thing as contextless language, just as
there is no such thing as presuppositionless exegesis. One must always first
begin with context, not the saying. That is, to make sense of a saying "on
its own terms" is necessarily to look at it in its context both historically
I would just wish to poke my head out of my college-dorm-of-a-hole for
just one moment. Dr. Watts makes a good point that Jesus' saying must be
placed within its historical and literal context in order to draw out its
meaning (whether in the lips of Jesus or early Christian preaching).
However, Dr. Damato's desire to "logically" analyze the statement "on its
own terms" and outside of a particular historical and literary context
involves a bit of a fallacy on his part. The phrase "he who saves his
life will lose it" does not exist in a vaccuum. As long as it is thought,
spoken, and written down it will ALWAYS be within a particular historical
and literary context.
In Dr. Damato's case the "historical context" involves his concept of
"lunacy" as of November of the year 2005, and the "literary context" of
course is the fast paced world of online digital discource on biblical
studies (Our dear X-Talk Forum, if you will).
Ever changing context? Of course. Ever changing meaning? Definetly. On
its own empirical, context-less form... uh... what?
Whether its the 1st century or the 21st one, context will always be
shaping the views and meaning-making of such material. Even trying to
discern the meaning possibly applied in the 1st century to this saying
within its own context involves looking at that saying FROM OUR OWN
CONTEXT. Hence the variety of interpretations from "its lunacy" to "its
Jesus reflection on his ministry and destiny".
Hal Childs (The Myth of the Historical Jesus, 2000) deserves more credit
for articulating (or at the very least, inspiring ;)) this type of
-Daniel J. Gaztambide
Henry Rutgers Scholar (Psychology and Religion)
New Brunswick NJ 08901
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