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RE: [John_Lit] Discussion of Michael Willett Newheart's SBL1999 Paper

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  • Horace Jeffery Hodges
    Concerning Michael Newheart s paper, Bob MacDonald ... death.) ... poetry. ... Good question and clever example. It s certainly easier to set off on a
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 7, 2001
      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,
      > 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 is
      > 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
      literary interpretations.

      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.

      Jeffery Hodges

      Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges, Lecturer
      College of Continuing Education
      Kyungnam University
      449 Wolyoung-Dong, Habpo-Gu
      Masan, Kyungnam 631-701
      Republic of Korea

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