RE: [John_Lit] Discussion of Michael Willett Newheart's SBL1999 Paper
- Concerning Michael Newheart's paper, Bob MacDonald
> How does one 'discuss' this?Then took off on a poetic riff:
> I had a discussion with a man named 18th percentile,death.)
> a pagan with only distant interest in religious
> things. (Only for when I really get afraid of
> He's still too young since 82% of the world ispoetry.
> younger than he.
> Maybe the presence will get through with this
> Clearly the population in eternal life is One.Good question and clever example. It's certainly
easier to set off on a discussion of more traditional
approaches to John than what you or Michael have
provided (though I take it that yours was meant more
humorously than seriously).
I think that part of the problem here is that we're
dealing with poesis and its attendant category of
Let me briefly (if roughly) clarify what I mean.
Traditionally -- as we all know -- there are two
general theories of truth: correspondence and
coherence. Historical approaches to a text generally
favor the former, whereas literary approaches to a
text generally favor the latter. We know, more or
less, how to proceed in in analyzing historical and
What Michael Newheart has done, however, is to
interpret the text by writing a poem. He is not
particularly interested in its correspondence to
historical reality or its internal literary coherence.
Thus, there is little to say on either of those
A poesis category of truth is truth as creation --
truth that is made by the poet. It either resonates
with readers/listeners, or it doesn't. We can, of
course, analyze the creation in terms of its basic
poetic devices -- rhythm, sound, and imagery and
everything deriving from these three -- but unless the
poem resonates with us, there might be little point to
As for me, I enjoyed reading Michael's paper.
I liked the wordplays, appreciated the fun that he had
with language (and if you look at the blurb for his
book, you'll find a nice pun in every chapter heading:
e.g., fore-word, bye-word, sky-word, etc.).
I liked the twisted, quasi-Germanic-sounding
participials used as adjectives, for these brought an
immediacy to the text that made me want to look again
at the Johannine Greek itself to see there were
parallels (though I haven't done so yet).
I even gained some insights about how to reread John
-- such as the possibility concerning
temple-body-church that I've already posted on. The
theme of home as community -- and its other-poem
parallels to homes/communities that we may wish to
construct today gave Michael's poem a larger relevance
for me than it would have had if it had remained a
purely internal soul-hermeneutic.
The only thing that didn't seem to fit Michael's poem
was his soapbox stance in a couple of instances near
the end. (Hey, did you catch my puns?) This is merely
an aesthetic point that I'm making, not an ideological
Okay, that's all from me . . . for now. I hope that
this will motivate more responses.
Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges, Lecturer
College of Continuing Education
449 Wolyoung-Dong, Habpo-Gu
Masan, Kyungnam 631-701
Republic of Korea
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