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Re: [John_Lit] Gerald Prince: The "Narratee" and John's Gospel

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  • Jgabriel22@aol.com
    just to put in my two cents in I believe the writer of John had only one reader in mind which was both the ideal reader and the actual reader. I would like to
    Message 1 of 11 , Nov 25, 2001
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      just to put in my two cents in I believe the writer of John had only one
      reader in mind which was both the ideal reader and the actual reader.

      I would like to point out that at first I believe these 4 surviving gospels
      and others which no longer survive were secret texts to be read only to and
      by those who had spent a long enough time (from what I understand up to three
      years) learning about their new faith. As a matter of fact I have read
      somewhere that one of the very earliest church fathers writes that only upon
      the end of their acolyte period did they, in a special cerimony first hear a
      reading from one of the New Testament Gospels.

      There is no reason to believe that the church of John did not function in a
      very similar way. That's why I believe the writer of John fully expected that
      in the end only the ideal reader would be exposed to the words of the gospel.
      The ideal reader, the actual reader would all be one and the same because
      only a human being perfected by years of study could be accepted into the
      earliest church.

      Also would certainly have gone through this work with the episcopos of the
      church and made sure that what may have been unclear in the text would be
      clearly interpreted by the future teachers of the church. I mean let's face
      it, the author was the first interpreter. Human logic dictates that unless he
      died before his work was finished he would want people to understand exactly
      what he meant and that probably entailed him sharing this work with those in
      charge who would be responsible to pass on the right interpretation to future
      generations of believers.

      He also would most certainly have made sure that the future so-called gospel
      of John would comport to present standards and practices and beliefs, and
      that would be a further reason why after it was finished he would have shared
      it with the elders first, so that no doctrinal inconsistencies or
      misunderstandings would leave the stench of heterodoxy on his work.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Horace Jeffery Hodges
      Thanks for the various responses so far on Prince s narratees and other sorts of readers . I ll try to respond better when I have a bit more time. For now, I
      Message 2 of 11 , Nov 25, 2001
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        Thanks for the various responses so far on Prince's
        narratees and other sorts of 'readers'. I'll try to
        respond better when I have a bit more time.

        For now, I have a question for Jeff Staley, who wrote:

        "I think he [i.e., Prince] is trying to nuance the
        Narratee a bit too much."

        What do you mean? That he qualifies the narratee too
        much when he allows the narratee to exist not only as
        one addressed by the narrator but also as a character
        in the story?

        Jeffery Hodges

        =====
        Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
        447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
        Yangsandong 411
        South Korea

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      • Staley, Jeffrey
        Gerald Prince: The Narratee and John s Gospel Thanks for the various responses so far on Prince s narratees and other sorts of readers . I ll try to respond
        Message 3 of 11 , Nov 26, 2001
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          Gerald Prince: The "Narratee" and John's Gospel


          Thanks for the various responses so far on Prince's
          narratees and other sorts of 'readers'. I'll try to
          respond better when I have a bit more time.

          For now, I have a question for Jeff Staley, who wrote:

          "I think he [i.e., Prince] is trying to nuance the
          Narratee a bit too much."

          What do you mean? That he qualifies the narratee too
          much when he allows the narratee to exist not only as
          one addressed by the narrator but also as a character
          in the story?

          Oh no, this is fine, and correct, as I see it. For example, in the film
          "Little Big Man" the narratee is the anthropologist/historian who is
          interviewing "Little Big Man", but for most of the film we do not see the
          narratee. He literally disappears and the narratee and "implied
          reader/viewer" seem to coalesce. This rhetorical device makes it easier for
          real viewers to identify with the narratee/implied viewer of the film. The
          same rhetorical device is operative in FG. By not explicitly identifying
          the narratee of FG ("in order that you [pl] might/may believe")we real
          readers can more easily identify with the implied reader/s.

          My major point, as I remember it, was that unless the narratee is explicitly
          marked in the narrative (again--think of film--or Luke's "Theolophilus"), it
          is more helpful simply to speak of the implied reader/viewer
          /audience (in part what ancient rhetoric called the "pathos") than the
          narratee.

          For the rest of my critique of Prince, you will have to wait until I get
          home and can look at what I wrote back in 1988!

          Jeff Staley
        • Horace Jeffery Hodges
          ... In other words, the fourth evangelist wanted his actual readers to achieve ideal readership and thus understand the evangelist s every move, motive,
          Message 4 of 11 , Nov 26, 2001
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            Jgabriel22@... wrote:

            > I believe the writer of John had only one reader in
            > mind, which was both the ideal reader and the actual
            > reader.

            In other words, the fourth evangelist wanted his
            actual readers to achieve ideal readership and thus
            understand the evangelist's every move, motive,
            emotion, and message.

            That's asking a lot of all actual readers -- though I
            think that the evangelist did want readers to
            understand his gospel as fully as possible.

            > ... I believe these 4 surviving gospels and others
            > which no longer survive were secret texts to be read
            > only to and by those who had spent a long enough
            time
            > (from what I understand up to three years) learning
            > about their new faith.

            Why do you think this? I would think, rather, that
            with a text like John's Gospel, there is a strong
            possibility that the text was open for general
            reading/hearing by Christians (or at least by
            Johannine Christians) but that some especially
            promising readers/hearers were instructed in the
            deeper meaning of some symbols, messages, etc.

            Some texts are more clearly meant to hide things than
            other texts -- the Apocalypse of John, for instance --
            and thus very likely are intended to have an esoteric
            meaning in addition to an exoteric one.

            > ... I have read somewhere that one of the very
            > earliest church fathers writes that only upon the
            end
            > of their acolyte period did they, in a special
            > ceremony first hear a reading from one of the New
            > Testament Gospels.

            Do you recall which church father?

            Jeffery Hodges

            =====
            Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
            Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
            447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
            Yangsandong 411
            South Korea

            __________________________________________________
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          • Horace Jeffery Hodges
            Jeff Staley earlier wrote: I think he [i.e., Prince] is trying to nuance the Narratee a bit too much. I (naively) asked: What do you mean? That he qualifies
            Message 5 of 11 , Nov 26, 2001
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              Jeff Staley earlier wrote:

              "I think he [i.e., Prince] is trying to nuance the
              Narratee a bit too much."

              I (naively) asked:

              What do you mean? That he qualifies the narratee too
              much when he allows the narratee to exist not only as
              one addressed by the narrator but also as a character
              in the story?

              Jeff Staley then replied:

              > Oh no, this is fine, and correct, as I see it. ...
              My
              > major point, as I remember it, was that unless the
              > narratee is explicitly marked in the narrative
              > (again--think of film--or Luke's "Theolophilus"), it
              > is more helpful simply to speak of the implied
              > reader/viewer/audience (in part what ancient
              rhetoric
              > called the "pathos") than the narratee.

              I see -- about 180 degrees opposite of what I
              wondered. So, a narratee works best as a character in
              the text -- albeit a character who disappears by
              merging with the actual reader.

              (By the way ... on "Luke's 'Theolophilus'" -- is that
              a textual variant in an ancient witness or a narratee
              who completely disappeared?)

              > For the rest of my critique of Prince, you will have
              > to wait until I get home and can look at what I
              wrote
              > back in 1988!

              That is a long time to remember even one's own ideas.
              I have difficulty remembering mine after only a couple
              of days. I recently published an article on Milton's
              invocation of the Holy Spirit as muse in "Paradise
              Lost", and when I was asked to write an abstract, I
              couldn't recall my argument and actually got a major
              point wrong (which I caught and corrected,
              fortunately)!

              I've always admired scholars with phenomenal
              (noumenal?) memories. When I was an undergraduate at
              Baylor University, I took several history courses
              taught by Professor James Vardaman. The man had (still
              has) what must be total recall of everything that he
              has ever read. It's a humbling experience to encounter
              such people.

              Anyway, since I can't remember things very well, I
              instead try to think of interesting things to ask...

              Jeffery Hodges

              =====
              Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
              Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
              447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
              Yangsandong 411
              South Korea

              __________________________________________________
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            • Horace Jeffery Hodges
              Thank you, Frank Moloney, Gary Salyer, and Jeff Staley for the bibliographical references. I hope that I can access these texts somehow. I am interested in
              Message 6 of 11 , Nov 26, 2001
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                Thank you, Frank Moloney, Gary Salyer, and Jeff Staley
                for the bibliographical references. I hope that I can
                access these texts somehow.

                I am interested in Reader Response Theory -- along
                with Structualist, Poststructuralist, and other genres
                of theory -- so I'm trying to develop more theoretical
                sophistication during my time in the wilderness.

                Jeffery Hodges

                =====
                Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
                Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
                447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
                Yangsandong 411
                South Korea

                __________________________________________________
                Do You Yahoo!?
                Yahoo! GeoCities - quick and easy web site hosting, just $8.95/month.
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              • Jgabriel22@aol.com
                In a message dated 11/26/2001 3:47:16 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... I believe that you are correct. He was asking much from his readers but then if he wasn t
                Message 7 of 11 , Nov 26, 2001
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                  In a message dated 11/26/2001 3:47:16 PM Pacific Standard Time,
                  jefferyhodges@... writes:

                  >
                  >
                  > >In other words, the fourth evangelist wanted his
                  > >actual readers to achieve ideal readership and thus
                  > >understand the evangelist's every move, motive,
                  > >emotion, and message.
                  >
                  > >That's asking a lot of all actual readers -- though I
                  > >think that the evangelist did want readers to
                  > >understand his gospel as fully as possible.
                  >
                  I believe that you are correct. He was asking much from his readers but then
                  if he wasn't his recollections would have been nothing more than an
                  egotistical attempt at self-aggrandisement by describing his relationship
                  with Jesus as just beneath (in importance) the personal relationship he had
                  with his Father.

                  We are not talking about a religion like the mormons or Roman Catholics.
                  These churches are entrenched and their followers (I'm a RC myself) will not
                  dissappear tomorrow.

                  In John's congregation the survival of these new ideals themselves may have
                  been facing extinction. The writer was faced with a very small congregation
                  who had discovered not a truth but "the truth" while the rest of the world
                  was awash in evil. Infact, in John's world view the evil one might have had
                  almost full control of the earth (the prince of darkness was our regent so to
                  speak), and only Jesus stood between the complete loss of God's creation to
                  the dark side and full, immediate salvation by simply believing in him. This
                  group of Christians had a much darker and more apocalyptic world view which
                  made their way of thinking much more immediate.

                  You've heard the saying
                  if not now when?
                  They would say
                  If not now, never.

                  Let us remember that even before the gospel was written, (as the letters of
                  John show) the congregation was rent asunder by schism. This was an
                  extreemely precarious situation.

                  I would venture to say that the gospel was written as a last gasp effort to
                  save humanity from itself. I don't mean that literally but I do believe that
                  this was the driving force behind the author finally coming out and writing
                  his own version of the events of Jesus' life. He believed the message to be
                  that powerful.

                  Under these circumstances, these beliefs, I believe the writer needed for his
                  readers to not just get the gist of things, not just become acolytes, but to
                  understand the new truth as well or almost as well as he understood it. There
                  was no second option. These are not the christians Clement of Alexandria or
                  that a bishop in Milan in the early 5th century faced, rich, fat, upper
                  middle classers who had just become part of the movement through mass
                  conversion. The message those people heard was one of not perfection but as
                  long as you try hard, that's good enough. The fights over the apostates in
                  north Africa were still one hundred and fifty years away when John was
                  writing down the 4th gospel but I believe John would have been on the side
                  that lost that fight. (I believe it was the Donatians who refused to easily
                  re-absorb those who had turned their back on the church during the
                  persecution.)


                  I also wrote:
                  > > ... I believe these 4 surviving gospels and others
                  > > which no longer survive were secret texts to be read
                  > > only to and by those who had spent a long enough
                  > time
                  > > (from what I understand up to three years) learning
                  > > about their new faith.
                  >

                  and your response was:

                  > Why do you think this? I would think, rather, that
                  > with a text like John's Gospel, there is a strong
                  > possibility that the text was open for general
                  > reading/hearing by Christians (or at least by
                  > Johannine Christians) but that some especially
                  > promising readers/hearers were instructed in the
                  > deeper meaning of some symbols, messages, etc.
                  >
                  > Some texts are more clearly meant to hide things than
                  > other texts -- the Apocalypse of John, for instance --
                  > and thus very likely are intended to have an esoteric
                  > meaning in addition to an exoteric one.
                  >
                  In this respect I believe you may be partly right if we are talking about ad
                  135 in Rome. But I really think this was a very unique group of believers.

                  Also I did not mean to imply (although it is very possible) that the 4th
                  gospel in part or in whole is a pesher. I just meant that the document was
                  so special, simply as a rite of passage, acolytes were not allowed to hear
                  long passages quoted from it until some time into their studies that's all.



                  > > ... I have read somewhere that one of the very
                  > > earliest church fathers writes that only upon the
                  > end
                  > > of their acolyte period did they, in a special
                  > > ceremony first hear a reading from one of the New
                  > > Testament Gospels.
                  >
                  > Do you recall which church father?

                  It may have been Tertullian. As a matter of fact I have quoted him on a
                  couple of paper's I've written abou this very topic, but my hard drive
                  crashed last week and only after I send it out for data recovery will I be
                  able to be more specific. If frankly has all the research I've done in the
                  last 10 years on this topic.

                  Regards,
                  Roberto Scrofani





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Staley, Jeffrey
                  I see -- about 180 degrees opposite of what I wondered. So, a narratee works best as a character in the text -- albeit a character who disappears by merging
                  Message 8 of 11 , Nov 27, 2001
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                    I see -- about 180 degrees opposite of what I
                    wondered. So, a narratee works best as a character in
                    the text -- albeit a character who disappears by
                    merging with the actual reader.

                    Yes this is the point, I beleive, of Prince's "Zero degree narratee"--which
                    I think is not a useful narratological or rhetorical term. I discuss all
                    this in "Print's First Kiss, pp. 41-47, esp. in relation to FG. My take on
                    the Johannine narratee as recently been critiqued by Stephen Motyer, in
                    _Your Father the Devil? A New Approach to John and 'The
                    Jews'_ (Cambridge: Paternoster, 1997), 141-159.



                    (By the way ... on "Luke's 'Theolophilus'" -- is that
                    a textual variant in an ancient witness or a narratee
                    who completely disappeared?)

                    He is the brother of Acidophilus (a sweet young thing)

                    I recently published an article on Milton's
                    invocation of the Holy Spirit as muse in "Paradise
                    Lost", and when I was asked to write an abstract, I
                    couldn't recall my argument and actually got a major
                    point wrong (which I caught and corrected,
                    fortunately)!

                    Oh good. I thought it was just me making these kinds of mistakes!
                  • Staley, Jeffrey
                    just to put in my two cents in I believe the writer of John had only one reader in mind which was both the ideal reader and the actual reader. . . . The ideal
                    Message 9 of 11 , Nov 27, 2001
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                      just to put in my two cents in I believe the writer of John had only one
                      reader in mind which was both the ideal reader and the actual reader. . . .
                      The ideal reader, the actual reader would all be one and the same because
                      only a human being perfected by years of study could be accepted into the
                      earliest church.

                      Jeff Staley writes:

                      Theoretically speaking, from the perspective of rhetoric, the ideal reader
                      and actual reader are ALWAYS to be distinguished from each other(think
                      Aristotle's concept of "pathos"). As you yourself note by the expression "in
                      mind," your ideal reader is the "author's" mental image (I would say
                      "rhetorical construct")of an audience. And it may or may not correspond to
                      the (first) actual audience.

                      I find it hard to imagine from Paul's letters, for example, that "only a
                      human being perfected by years of study could be accepted into the earliest
                      church." And I find it hard to imagine that in a few short decades (if FG
                      was written in the 90's) that such a situation pertained then either. We
                      construct the FG's ideal (my term would be implied) reader from the FG
                      itself. We construct ACTUAL readers from data outside the FG (or from some
                      theory of FG redaction--in which case these readers are still quite
                      obviously imaginary constructs). Some of our best and earliest evidence of
                      ACTUAL readers of FG are, of course, the 2nd century "Gnostic" commentaries.

                      To give you another, somewhat silly scenario. Supposing the author of FG
                      dictates his narrative. There is your first "actual reader." But this
                      person taking the dictation may not be the reader the author has in mind as
                      the "intended" "ideal" reader. Then supposing the finished narrative is
                      given to a community for reading in the ecclesia, but before it is read
                      publically, a child sees the document and begins to read it. Here is
                      another actual reader, and one who is still not the "ideal/intended reader."
                      My point in developing this little scenario is to point out how much our
                      ideas of "actual readers" are in fact nothing but extrapolations from the
                      text's "implied reader," often times having little or no connection to
                      actual readers.

                      Jeff Staley
                    • Jgabriel22@aol.com
                      Dear Jeff, I don t believe that the churches Paul founded, their membership, their belief system and their organizational structure could for the most part be
                      Message 10 of 11 , Nov 28, 2001
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                        Dear Jeff,

                        I don't believe that the churches Paul founded, their membership, their belief system and their organizational structure could for the most part be compared to what I believe is the truly unique congregation from which sprang the writer of the 4th gospel.

                        I even think that the differences between Paul's churches and James' flock in Jerusalem were greater than their similarities.
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