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[XTalk] Re: Re; refuting bad apologetics

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  • Robert Griffin
    Hi Gordon, From what I ve read, I believe most such metaphorical usages are intended to be read as straightforward narrative. Some examples from the far
    Message 1 of 15 , Feb 9, 2007
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      Hi Gordon,
      From what I've read, I believe most such 'metaphorical' usages are
      intended to be read as straightforward narrative. Some examples from
      the far fringes:
      My favorite: When Yogananda claims that his parents saw the man who
      was to become his guru several hundred miles away from where that man
      actually was, Yogananda appears contextually to be claiming that
      something extremely unusual happened.

      When the Ahmadiyya (Qadiyani) Muslims claim that Jesus survived the
      crucifixion, fled through Galilee, Nisibis, and Afghanistan to settle
      and die in Kashmir, they go to a lot of trouble to treat this as non-
      metaphorical history.

      The various claims that Jesus visited India, Kashmir, or Ladakh (or
      Tibet) are handled by their propagators as non-metaphoric fact.

      All of the above can be neatly and nicely treated as metaphor, but
      the literary context makes it clear that this is not the authors'
      intent. I understand you probably disagree with me on this. I'd be
      interested in a demonstration with regards to any of the above.

      A somewhat similar modern American phenomenon is UFO material. We
      can get a lot of inspiration from treating it all as metaphorical,
      but is that an appropriate approach to the literature?

      Be Well,
      Bob Griffin


      > > The claim the Paul (and the other disciples) were only referring
      to a
      > > re-evaluation of the impact of Jesus' life when they spoke or
      wrote
      > > about the resurrection seems extremely farfetched to me.
      >
      > I, of course, accept that this is your evaluation. I quite
      > disagree. I would argue that the whole of the TANAK heritage
      > capitalizes in the use of creative theological writing to give
      > expression to theo-ethical convictions. Moses, for example,
      wanted
      > to see God, and so there's that marvelous of him having to hide
      > behind the rock, God passes quickly by and only allowing for Moses
      to
      > see his hind parts:)! That's an "appearance" story and one filled
      > with "revelation:)!" If one will, for arguments sake, think
      through
      > the 3rd option above, then one will find it none to surprising that
      a
      > crowd of Hebraic/ Jewish folk utilized this metaphorically rich,
      > theological/ ethical story telling tradition and framed their
      > understanding of Jesus in terms of precisely this kind of creative
      > theological communication. And my point is, this can be
      understood
      > as intellectual work... very careful and thoughtful intellectual
      > work, whether one is religiously drawn to it or not.
      >
      > Back to Paul. The language of Galatians is revelation language
      about
      > what God did. In I Corinthians the 15th chapter explicitly begins
      > with Jesus' death and resurrection as being "in accord with
      > scriptures." This is theological writing that utilizes a
      theological
      > heritage of communication. It "appears" to me, that it is most
      > "revealing" to think through the 3rd option as central and
      essential
      > to understanding what resurrection means even if one wants to make
      a
      > case for either metaphysical or emotional understandings:)!
      >
      > Gordon Raynal
      > Inman, SC
      >
    • Gordon Raynal
      Hi Bob, ... I m not exactly sure what you mean by this statement, but, of course, most all stories, save surreal ones, are told with narrative realism. Said
      Message 2 of 15 , Feb 9, 2007
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        Hi Bob,

        On Feb 9, 2007, at 3:36 PM, Robert Griffin wrote:

        > Hi Gordon,
        > From what I've read, I believe most such 'metaphorical' usages are
        > intended to be read as straightforward narrative.

        I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this statement, but, of course,
        most all stories, save surreal ones, are told with narrative
        realism. Said realism gives us absolutely no indication that said
        story is a historical or biographical account.

        > Some examples from
        > the far fringes:
        > My favorite: When Yogananda claims that his parents saw the man who
        > was to become his guru several hundred miles away from where that man
        > actually was, Yogananda appears contextually to be claiming that
        > something extremely unusual happened.
        >
        > When the Ahmadiyya (Qadiyani) Muslims claim that Jesus survived the
        > crucifixion, fled through Galilee, Nisibis, and Afghanistan to settle
        > and die in Kashmir, they go to a lot of trouble to treat this as non-
        > metaphorical history.
        >
        > The various claims that Jesus visited India, Kashmir, or Ladakh (or
        > Tibet) are handled by their propagators as non-metaphoric fact.

        Many traditional stories, once generations removed, are regarded by
        those later as factual remembrance or essentially factual. But the
        ancients just like the moderns knew how to spin myths, legends,
        parables. And the creators and hearers/ readers knew what they were
        doing in such literary creations. That later readers/ generations
        historicize such stories, of course, doesn't turn creative fictions
        into facts.
        >
        > All of the above can be neatly and nicely treated as metaphor, but
        > the literary context makes it clear that this is not the authors'
        > intent. I understand you probably disagree with me on this. I'd be
        > interested in a demonstration with regards to any of the above.

        Yes, we quite disagree. I'm not quite sure what would count as "a
        demonstration" for you. If you want a list of Bible stories that I
        think are creative theological fiction, well... let's start at
        Genesis 1, proceed on to the 2nd chapter... and go right on down to
        through the Gospels. This is not to say that I believe there are no
        instances of historical reference... remembrance of some actual
        persons, some deeds, some words ... some underlying accounts of
        events that did occur. But I don't at all think the vast majority of
        the Bible stories are historical/ biographical materials, but rather
        as a whole are better understood in terms of the poetics and creative
        narratives of explicitly theo-ethical communication. It has only
        been in very modern times that the questions of scientific
        historiography have been asked of these and such stories as you
        sight. And to this day most all people in all cultures don't study
        much history and for the most part could care less about it. To say
        the least the theological/ ethical and communal value for all
        societies is not based in "the historicity" of narratives. I don't
        for a minute think, for example, that the powerful story of Jonah has
        any thing to do with the accounting of some guy named Jonah who was
        swallowed by a big old fish and later vomited out. Neither do I
        think the author of said story thought he was crafting a story to
        remember such a set of events. But that in no way at all suggests
        any diminished value to the story. Quite the opposite, actually. To
        understand a story in terms of genre is absolutely important in terms
        of understanding the very nature of the communication. And so with
        that judgment about Jonah, it remains theologically and ethically
        one of the most profound stories. That the majority of church folks
        in SC think it is a remembrance doesn't exactly work to push me to
        think they're on to something;)! But at the same time it is not hard
        at all to engage such persons in conversations about the theological,
        ethical... and human meanings is such story telling. To do so one
        precisely points to the matters of thought and poetry in such a story.

        Should you want to entertain this alternative to your position, I'd
        suggest you read Thomas Thompson's, "The Mythic Past." Thomas, has
        now and again, actually written a few notes on this list. And then
        again, if you have not, read such as Crossan, Mack and the Five
        Gospels by the Jesus Seminar, they will provide other resources for
        thinking about this alternative.
        >
        > A somewhat similar modern American phenomenon is UFO material. We
        > can get a lot of inspiration from treating it all as metaphorical,
        > but is that an appropriate approach to the literature?

        Pardon, but I don't at all get your point about this. I don't at all
        think the production of cultural/ communal theological and ethical
        craftsmanship... speech and writings that connect persons across
        generations in terms of theology, ethics, communal and personal
        praxis... is at all on par with UFO stories. And who is going to get
        what sort of inspiration??? Unless you are meaning this as a joke
        that I'm just missing, what is the relevance of this to the crafting
        of the the TANAK, the Christian Scriptures, the Koran, the Gita,
        etc? So, you'll have to clarify the point here.

        Gordon Raynal
        Inman, SC
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