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[HJMatMeth] Re: Story - right in art is right in practice (Sayers)

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  • John Dominic Crossan
    I think my answer to you, Bob, is very redundant with the answer to Davidson. I cannot accept that our historical reconstruction of Jesus is just about present
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 14, 2000
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      I think my answer to you, Bob, is very redundant with the answer to
      Davidson. I cannot accept that our historical reconstruction of Jesus is
      just about present experience. Nor would I be willing to accept the
      statement that "right in art is right in practice." I am quite ready to
      admit that my historical reconstruction, like any other historical
      reconstruction, could be wrong in part or in whole. But I am not ready to
      agree that it is simply a good story. It makes claims about what actually
      happened, as best that can be reconstructed. Its alternative is another
      reconstruction making similar claims. An example. Imagine I am writing an
      historical novel about Jesus and everyone recognizes the intended genre. If
      I have him born at Nazareth or Bethlehem, if I have Mary an adulterer and
      Jesus a bastard or Mary a virginal birth and Jesus divine, what sort of
      claims am I making in that "story?" I must say it scares me very much to use
      an argument that something must be true because it "moved an audience." I
      would want, whether we are dealing with story or history, fiction or fact,
      at least to know to what did the presentation move them?

      >From: "Bob MacDonald" <bobmacdonald@...>
      >To: <hjmaterialsmethodolgy@...>
      >Subject: [HJMatMeth] Story - right in art is right in practice (Sayers)
      >Date: Sun, Feb 13, 2000, 5:48 PM

      > Dear Dr Crossan
      > In your overall statement of method (BoC p93), you imply that source and
      > redaction criticism might be 'wrong'. "If it is wrong, any historical
      > reconstruction of Jesus built upon it is methodologically invalid."
      > I first heard The twelve radio plays of Dorothy Sayers, The Man Born to be
      > King, (BoC p 91) some 28 years ago (circa '72 Easter Saturday on CBC, 12
      > hours in a row). As I have thought about this experience, it has struck me
      > that the point of good drama about the Life of Jesus is not to uncover
      > historical 'fact' but to reveal present experience. Sayers uses her
      > detective skills along with the populist reconstruction of "Who Moved the
      > Stone?" (F. Morrison) to arrive at a set of plays that _moved her audience_
      > such that the un-critical would ask from week to week, 'Eh mate, is that
      > really in the Bible? - show me where.' (May I say that I also am moved by
      > BoC with gratitude to its author - I particularly love the rejected title
      > 'Life after Jesus' and the invitation to justice.).
      > It seems to me that your contrast between Sayers story-telling and the three
      > '-criticisms' is not so much one of conflict of 'common sense against the
      > eccentricity of scholarship' as one of differing audiences. What is
      > 'methodologically invalid' may still be moving - As Sayers puts it in the
      > mouth of one of her characters: "Right in art is right in practice".
      > {In one of the surprising turns of my own life, I find myself cast in the
      > role of story teller. I would wish that others much better trained in
      > languages, culture, history, and text than I would also write more (eg as
      > Gerd Thiesen has attempted)).
      > Granted that Sayers and Morrison come from a different time in the history
      > of criticism, what advice do you have for story tellers today who, while
      > recognizing the (potential) peril of a literalist view of 'history', still
      > want together with others to rejoice in the Presence of the Holy One of
      > Israel, incarnate through the Spirit in our own time as in 1943 CE or for
      > that matter the first year of Domitian or the eighth of Claudius, and
      > incarnate in the flesh from about the time of Caesar Augustus when Quirinius
      > was governor of Syria till about the 17th year of Tiberius.
      > Thanks for your good story written for us.
      > Bob
      > BobMacDonald@...
      > + + + Victoria, B.C., Canada + + +
      > Catch the foxes for us,
      > the little foxes that make havoc of the vineyards,
      > for our vineyards are in flower. (Song 2.15)
      > http://members.home.net/bobmacdonald/homepage.htm
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