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Re: Definitions, please

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  • David C. Hindley
    On Sat, 05 Aug 2000, Scott M. Williams responded to a post by Bill Arnal: Sorry, but I am a little confused by a couple of things you have asserted above.
    Message 1 of 32 , Aug 6, 2000
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      On Sat, 05 Aug 2000, "Scott M. Williams" responded to a post by Bill
      Arnal:

      Sorry, but I am a little confused by a couple of things you have
      asserted above.

      >>I admit my question may seem out-of-the-blue, but I must ask because
      of [Bill's] popular reference to redaction-criticism. What is your
      view on the existence or non-existence of determinate-meaning within a
      text? For it seems to me that by affirming redaction-criticism you
      assume a determinate-meaning [Mark is such and such.. proto-Mark is
      such and such. Matthew is such and such], is this so? IF you do not
      affirm a determinate-meaning within a text, how then can you even
      begin to think you are talking about what Mark or Matthew actually
      believed or thought about Jesus or circumcision or the Law? If on the
      other hand, you do affirm determinate-meaning, on what grounds do or
      can you affirm this? Certainly it cannot be based on
      redaction-criticism alone, as persons like Stanley Fish and Jacques
      Derrida have de-constructed New Criticism/Formalism, which I suppose
      may have been the intellectual roots for form-criticism and
      redaction-criticism. Which, if form-criticism and redaction-criticism
      likewise has been de-constructed, why should we privilege either
      methodology? Unless of course, there is another
      possibility besides what Fish or Derrida have done or un-done.<<

      It is not clear to me what you mean by "New Criticism" and
      "Formalism." Are you referring to "Russian Formalism" originating in
      that country about 1915, based upon the linguist theories of Ferdinand
      de Saussure, or the American version of this movement, which was given
      the name "The New Criticism" with the publication of John Crowe
      Ransom's book by that name in 1941. "Form Criticism" on the other
      hand, originated with Gunkle in the late 19th century. It seems you
      are thinking specifically of Redaction Criticism, a sub-discipline of
      Form Criticism that did originate in the late 40's. But why compound a
      comment about Redaction Criticism with its parent Form Criticism?
      These terms all seem to be chasing one another the way you have used
      them.

      Also, it does not appear to me that Derrida (on the 1950's) ever
      directly "deconstructed" New Criticism, unless you are referring to
      the way he deconstructed the structural linguistics of Saussure (upon
      which New Criticism is based) in order to identify a powerful,
      systematic and irrepressible desire on the part of Western thought for
      a "transcendental signified," which would serve as an order of being
      that would be fundamental and immutable.

      >>To make my point as clear as possible, I would like to suggest that
      redaction-criticism must be tempered by a Realist hermeneutics,
      rationality, and responsibility [as Prof. Kevin Vanhoozer of Univ. of
      Edinburgh has put forth in _The Bible, The Reader, and The Morality of
      Literary Knowledge - Is There a Meaning in This Text?_] which allows
      for the possibility of multiple [plural] non-contradictory
      descriptions of a singular event or text, namely, the unity in
      diversity [diverse contexts: Jewish or Gentile audiences] of the 4
      [canonical] Gospels concerning the historical person of Jesus.<<

      Why bring up, in the first paragraph, the paradox between the
      consequences of either affirming or not affirming the concept of
      determinate-meaning? The paragraph above claims to be clarifying your
      point, but I still don't get it. Your point appears to be connected to
      concepts developed within the new dispensation of Narrative Criticism,
      specifically Vanhoozer's variety of Reader-Response Criticism.

      Yet this new form of Narrative Criticism has a great deal of affinity
      with Redaction Criticism, although grafted to elements of secular
      narratology (the main form of literary structuralism) which stress the
      "conception of the literary text as a communication between an author
      and a reader conducted through a set of intermediary personae (implied
      author, narrator, narratee, implied reader), joined to a conception of
      the narrative text as an autonomous story whose basic elements are
      plot, characters, and settings, with a preoccupation with the
      rhetorical techniques used by the author to transmit the story to the
      reader" (Stephen D Moore, _Post Structuralism and the New Testament_,
      1994, 67-68).

      Are you, then, questioning whether we can ever really establish a
      "determinate-meaning within a text"? In other words, you question
      whether the meaning conveyed in a text is more important than, and
      somehow independent of, its historical background? That seems to leave
      all documents floating in creative limbo. What value should historical
      factors have in connection with the meaning of a text? They certainly
      must have some relevance, if only to assess the mental state,
      motivations and symbolic universe of the author.

      Regards,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    • Jacob Knee
      Just to remind folks that this thread has already been closed at the request of the moderators:(see my message dated 24 August in the archives). Best wishes
      Message 32 of 32 , Aug 31, 2000
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        Just to remind folks that this thread has already been closed at the request
        of the moderators:(see my message dated 24 August in the archives).

        Best wishes
        Jacob Knee
        Gospel of Thomas moderator
        (Cam, Gloucestershire)
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