Re: [XTalk] Re: Re; refuting bad apologetics
- 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
> 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instances of historical reference...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.