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RE: [John_Lit] Readers

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  • Matson, Mark A. (Academic)
    ... While I appreciate that documents were read orally in antiquity, are we sure that the gospels were always written to be read in a church assembly? Are
    Message 1 of 17 , Dec 3, 2001
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      Ross Saunders wrote:

      > They knew that somebody would stand up in an assembly of the faithful
      > and read out some of their words to those listening.
      > The only 'reader' was the one appointed to read the text
      > aloud, and the
      > only 'listener' was those who had gathered on the Lord's Day
      > to worship
      > and be taught in their faith.

      While I appreciate that documents were read orally in antiquity, are we sure
      that the gospels were always written to be read in a church assembly? Are
      there other venues (e.g. private gatherings, synagogues, symposia, etc) that
      might have been envisaged as possible situations in which a document may
      have been read? I think this possible reconstruction of the audience of a
      text is crucial, and I am not at all sure that it is always a church
      setting, let alone a liturgical type (i.e. worship) setting.

      > The FG was written for those believers in a particular
      > community. We may
      > differ on where that community may have been. But the
      > author/s designed
      > it for that community, and knew it would be read aloud and studied
      > within that community's worship environment.

      And here is where I am really having some trouble with both the FG and other
      gospels. Why do we assume that a gospel was written to a specific
      community? Can we be that sure? Here I want to echo also what Ken Litwak
      wrote in his recent post. It is possible, is it not, that John as well as
      the other gospels were written to be distributed and read in more than one
      setting, more than one community? When I read John's statement of
      intention, in 20:30-31, it sounds more evangelistic than sectarian. What if
      we took him seriously -- does that change the way we read the FG? It seems
      we have come under the sway of those who suggest a sectarian community, a
      narrow group, a Johannane school, etc. But I am not convinced (and I would
      welcome suggestions on where the text mandates such a reading) that John was
      written only for a specific community and meant to be read within that
      community.

      > I want to make this very clear: I am not in any way denying
      > the value of
      > some of these methods of interpretation. I have found them valuable in
      > reading modern texts. The course in semiology I did as part
      > of my first
      > degree was invaluable and a real eye-opener. But as a way of
      > getting at
      > the connection between the author/s of the FG and the first
      > community of
      > listeners, I find it seriously flawed. It presupposes a culture of
      > reading and writing that did not come into being for several hundred
      > years.

      Now what I am suggesting is not a private reading, a private interpretation.
      But I do want to problematize the Johannine community or any narrow
      community orientation for the 4G, and indeed for all the gospels. Returning
      the beginning of this thread, is the implied reader of this gospel
      necessarily (a) already a Christian, (b) a sectarian Johannine christian,
      (c) such that the gospel is meant to affirm and strengthen the peculiar
      approach of that group. Can we not imagine the implied reader to be a
      broader fictional construct on the part of the writer, that is a group of
      readers who have a variety of views toward Jesus, perhaps even "Jews" who
      have questions about the nature of this Jesus and therefore might be
      implicated and examine their own beliefs in light of the totality of the
      story?

      Mark A. Matson
      Academic Dean, Milligan College
      http://www.milligan.edu/Administrative/MMatson/personal.htm


      >
    • Matson, Mark A. (Academic)
      ... While I appreciate that documents were read orally in antiquity, are we sure that the gospels were always written to be read in a church assembly? Are
      Message 2 of 17 , Dec 3, 2001
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        Ross Saunders wrote:

        > They knew that somebody would stand up in an assembly of the faithful
        > and read out some of their words to those listening.
        > The only 'reader' was the one appointed to read the text
        > aloud, and the
        > only 'listener' was those who had gathered on the Lord's Day
        > to worship
        > and be taught in their faith.

        While I appreciate that documents were read orally in antiquity, are we sure
        that the gospels were always written to be read in a church assembly? Are
        there other venues (e.g. private gatherings, synagogues, symposia, etc) that
        might have been envisaged as possible situations in which a document may
        have been read? I think this possible reconstruction of the audience of a
        text is crucial, and I am not at all sure that it is always a church
        setting, let alone a liturgical type (i.e. worship) setting.

        > The FG was written for those believers in a particular
        > community. We may
        > differ on where that community may have been. But the
        > author/s designed
        > it for that community, and knew it would be read aloud and studied
        > within that community's worship environment.

        And here is where I am really having some trouble with both the FG and other
        gospels. Why do we assume that a gospel was written to a specific
        community? Can we be that sure? Here I want to echo also what Ken Litwak
        wrote in his recent post. It is possible, is it not, that John as well as
        the other gospels were written to be distributed and read in more than one
        setting, more than one community? When I read John's statement of
        intention, in 20:30-31, it sounds more evangelistic than sectarian. What if
        we took him seriously -- does that change the way we read the FG? It seems
        we have come under the sway of those who suggest a sectarian community, a
        narrow group, a Johannane school, etc. But I am not convinced (and I would
        welcome suggestions on where the text mandates such a reading) that John was
        written only for a specific community and meant to be read within that
        community.

        > I want to make this very clear: I am not in any way denying
        > the value of
        > some of these methods of interpretation. I have found them valuable in
        > reading modern texts. The course in semiology I did as part
        > of my first
        > degree was invaluable and a real eye-opener. But as a way of
        > getting at
        > the connection between the author/s of the FG and the first
        > community of
        > listeners, I find it seriously flawed. It presupposes a culture of
        > reading and writing that did not come into being for several hundred
        > years.

        Now what I am suggesting is not a private reading, a private interpretation.
        But I do want to problematize the Johannine community or any narrow
        community orientation for the 4G, and indeed for all the gospels. Returning
        the beginning of this thread, is the implied reader of this gospel
        necessarily (a) already a Christian, (b) a sectarian Johannine christian,
        (c) such that the gospel is meant to affirm and strengthen the peculiar
        approach of that group. Can we not imagine the implied reader to be a
        broader fictional construct on the part of the writer, that is a group of
        readers who have a variety of views toward Jesus, perhaps even "Jews" who
        have questions about the nature of this Jesus and therefore might be
        implicated and examine their own beliefs in light of the totality of the
        story?

        Mark A. Matson
        Academic Dean, Milligan College
        http://www.milligan.edu/Administrative/MMatson/personal.htm


        >
      • Joe Gagne
        I would refer you to the Pilots held at the Hanoi Hilton who put together a fairly good new testament from memory. This was tapped out in code through the
        Message 3 of 17 , Dec 3, 2001
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          I would refer you to the Pilots held at the Hanoi Hilton who put together a
          fairly good
          new testament from memory. This was tapped out in code through the walls with
          different people responsible for portions of the N.T. that they knew. We tend
          to think today that our generation is far ahead of previous people, but I
          believe also that are capabilities today have changed due to the way out
          society communicates.

          Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:

          > A note of skepticism about some of the claims being
          > made concerning memory in antiquity.
          >
          > There have been a lot of modern studies of memory by
          > modern psychologists and neurologists, and from what I
          > have read of their work, I would be very surprised if
          > it were common for people to remember every word
          > spoken in a lengthy discourse upon a single occasion.
          >
          > Why do I say this? Because it has been shown that most
          > of us have rather limited short-term memories -- I
          > recall (or hope that I do) reading that our short-term
          > memories can hold only 5 to 8 items of information at
          > a time. So, for an individual to remember everything,
          > he or she would have to transfer everything said by
          > the speaker into his or her long-term memory at a
          > rather rapid rate.
          >
          > Now, I realize that people in antiquity had techniques
          > for remembering, and I guess that they had rhetorical
          > devices for speaking in a way to make their words
          > memorable, but I still find unlikely that people could
          > commonly recall every word spoken in a long discourse
          > upon a single occasion.
          >
          > Has anybody tested this assumption in contemporary
          > oral cultures? I would be interested in knowing if my
          > skepticism is misdirected.
          >
          > 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
          ... I think that you need to re-read what I wrote, but let me draw your attention to my central point: I would be very surprised if it were common for people
          Message 4 of 17 , Dec 3, 2001
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            Joe Gagne wrote:

            > I would refer you to the Pilots held at the Hanoi
            > Hilton who put together a fairly good new testament
            > from memory. This was tapped out in code through the
            > walls with different people responsible for portions
            > of the N.T. that they knew. We tend to think today
            > that our generation is far ahead of previous people,
            > but I believe also that are capabilities today have
            > changed due to the way out society communicates.

            I think that you need to re-read what I wrote, but let
            me draw your attention to my central point:

            "I would be very surprised if it were common for
            people to remember every word spoken in a lengthy
            discourse upon a single occasion."

            Now, if a single pilot had only heard the New
            Testament one time and could reconstruct it from that
            one reading, then I would be most impressed. I am not
            surprised to hear that a group of people who had
            (probably) read the New Testament several times heard
            the New Testament preached upon any number of times
            could collectively have put together a fairly good
            reconstruction from memory.

            Jeffery Hodges

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

            __________________________________________________
            Do You Yahoo!?
            Buy the perfect holiday gifts at Yahoo! Shopping.
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          • Matson, Mark A. (Academic)
            ... While I appreciate that documents were read orally in antiquity, are we sure that the gospels were always written to be read in a church assembly? Are
            Message 5 of 17 , Dec 4, 2001
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              Ross Saunders wrote:

              > They knew that somebody would stand up in an assembly of the faithful
              > and read out some of their words to those listening.
              > The only 'reader' was the one appointed to read the text
              > aloud, and the
              > only 'listener' was those who had gathered on the Lord's Day
              > to worship
              > and be taught in their faith.

              While I appreciate that documents were read orally in antiquity, are we sure
              that the gospels were always written to be read in a church assembly? Are
              there other venues (e.g. private gatherings, synagogues, symposia, etc) that
              might have been envisaged as possible situations in which a document may
              have been read? I think this possible reconstruction of the audience of a
              text is crucial, and I am not at all sure that it is always a church
              setting, let alone a liturgical type (i.e. worship) setting.

              > The FG was written for those believers in a particular
              > community. We may
              > differ on where that community may have been. But the
              > author/s designed
              > it for that community, and knew it would be read aloud and studied
              > within that community's worship environment.

              And here is where I am really having some trouble with both the FG and other
              gospels. Why do we assume that a gospel was written to a specific
              community? Can we be that sure? Here I want to echo also what Ken Litwak
              wrote in his recent post. It is possible, is it not, that John as well as
              the other gospels were written to be distributed and read in more than one
              setting, more than one community? When I read John's statement of
              intention, in 20:30-31, it sounds more evangelistic than sectarian. What if
              we took him seriously -- does that change the way we read the FG? It seems
              we have come under the sway of those who suggest a sectarian community, a
              narrow group, a Johannane school, etc. But I am not convinced (and I would
              welcome suggestions on where the text mandates such a reading) that John was
              written only for a specific community and meant to be read within that
              community.

              > I want to make this very clear: I am not in any way denying
              > the value of
              > some of these methods of interpretation. I have found them valuable in
              > reading modern texts. The course in semiology I did as part
              > of my first
              > degree was invaluable and a real eye-opener. But as a way of
              > getting at
              > the connection between the author/s of the FG and the first
              > community of
              > listeners, I find it seriously flawed. It presupposes a culture of
              > reading and writing that did not come into being for several hundred
              > years.

              Now what I am suggesting is not a private reading, a private interpretation.
              But I do want to problematize the Johannine community or any narrow
              community orientation for the 4G, and indeed for all the gospels. Returning
              the beginning of this thread, is the implied reader of this gospel
              necessarily (a) already a Christian, (b) a sectarian Johannine christian,
              (c) such that the gospel is meant to affirm and strengthen the peculiar
              approach of that group. Can we not imagine the implied reader to be a
              broader fictional construct on the part of the writer, that is a group of
              readers who have a variety of views toward Jesus, perhaps even "Jews" who
              have questions about the nature of this Jesus and therefore might be
              implicated and examine their own beliefs in light of the totality of the
              story?

              Mark A. Matson
              Academic Dean, Milligan College
              http://www.milligan.edu/Administrative/MMatson/personal.htm


              >
            • Staley, Jeffrey
              Mark Matson wrote: Can we not imagine the implied reader to be a broader fictional construct on the part of the writer, that is a group of readers who have a
              Message 6 of 17 , Dec 4, 2001
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                Mark Matson wrote:

                Can we not imagine the implied reader to be a
                broader fictional construct on the part of the writer, that is a group of
                readers who have a variety of views toward Jesus, perhaps even "Jews" who
                have questions about the nature of this Jesus and therefore might be
                implicated and examine their own beliefs in light of the totality of the
                story?

                Jeff Staley writes: Yes, I can imagine this, especially when looking at the
                various characters one finds in FG and the multiplicity of responses to
                Jesus (e.g., the lame man, blind man, Samaritan woman, Mary and Martha).
                These characters responses to Jesus are more fully developed than most in
                Synoptics

                Jeff
              • Staley, Jeffrey
                Just a boring question from me: Is Prince French or American? In starting this thread, I referred to him as French -- based upon the following bibliographical
                Message 7 of 17 , Dec 4, 2001
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                  Just a boring question from me:

                  Is Prince French or American? In starting this thread,
                  I referred to him as French -- based upon the
                  following bibliographical entry:

                  I have thought French, but I never tried to verify this.

                  Jeff Staley
                • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                  How many readers/hearers do we have now? 1) Narratee 2) Implied Reader/Hearer 3) Ideal Reader/Hearer 4) Actual Reader/Hearer Are there any others? I can
                  Message 8 of 17 , Dec 4, 2001
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                    How many readers/hearers do we have now?

                    1) Narratee

                    2) Implied Reader/Hearer

                    3) Ideal Reader/Hearer

                    4) Actual Reader/Hearer

                    Are there any others? I can imagine at least one
                    other. Previously, I stated that we hermeneuts are
                    actual readers striving to be ideal readers, but that
                    doesn't quite capture our way of reading -- if I
                    understand "ideal" reader correctly. An Ideal Reader
                    would follow and understand every move made by the
                    writer as the writer intended it. I think that we fit
                    into a different category:

                    5) Critical Reader

                    I suppose that there could be a Critical Hearer, too.
                    Anyway, a Critical Reader would understand more than
                    the writer understood -- in effect, could understand
                    better. What, for example, are Freudian readings but
                    an attempt to do precisely this, i.e., to understand
                    the writer's meaning better than the writer did.

                    Jeffery Hodges

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

                    __________________________________________________
                    Do You Yahoo!?
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                  • Staley, Jeffrey
                    Anyway, if there are phenomenological differences, then this should have implications for reader-response theory. But would it mean the deconstruction of
                    Message 9 of 17 , Dec 7, 2001
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                      Anyway, if there are phenomenological differences,
                      then this should have implications for reader-response
                      theory. But would it mean the deconstruction of
                      categories like "narratee"? We can still make
                      distinctions among types of "hearers", can't we?
                      Couldn't we have:

                      Ideal Hearer

                      Implied Hearer

                      Addressee

                      Actual Hearer

                      Jeff Staley writes:

                      Jeffery, I do find SOME of these distinctions can be helpful when thinking
                      about narrative. First, however, I think the term narratee is valuable and
                      should be kept--over against the narrator. For example, in Jesus' parable
                      of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is the narrator, the lawyer is clearly the
                      narratee, not the ideal, implied, or actual hearer/reader. Typically, the
                      narratee may or may not function as the implied/ideal hearer/reader. In
                      this case, since we do not know what the lawyer's response was to the
                      Jesus-narrator's "Go and do likewise," we can't be sure how the
                      narratee-character functions from this text alone (we would have to look at
                      all lawyers in Luke-Acts to see what particular ideological point of view is
                      connected with them). Should we assume the implied/ideal hearer/reader
                      should obey Jesus' words regardless of lawyer's response? Probably yes.
                      Should we assume the addressees obeyed? Not at all. We don't have a clue
                      as to their response. Should we assume that actual hearers/readers did/do
                      obey? Depends on who you are talking about.

                      Jeff Staley
                    • Staley, Jeffrey
                      How many readers/hearers do we have now? 1) Narratee 2) Implied Reader/Hearer 3) Ideal Reader/Hearer 4) Actual Reader/Hearer 5) Critical Reader/Hearer I
                      Message 10 of 17 , Dec 7, 2001
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                        How many readers/hearers do we have now?

                        1) Narratee

                        2) Implied Reader/Hearer

                        3) Ideal Reader/Hearer

                        4) Actual Reader/Hearer

                        5) Critical Reader/Hearer

                        I suppose that there could be a Critical Hearer, too.
                        Anyway, a Critical Reader would understand more than
                        the writer understood -- in effect, could understand
                        better.


                        jeff Staley writes:
                        these categories are better, Jeffery. I would only want to reiterate, that
                        #1, #4, #5 can also be resistant "readers," that is, objecting, rejecting
                        and revising in response to hearing/reading. #1 and #4 can be stupid,
                        misunderstanding readers/hearers. I trust that whatever #5 means, its
                        objections, critical responses are not based upon stupidity--though this
                        could be a value judgment . . .

                        Jeff Staley
                      • Paul Anderson
                        ... Thanks, Jeff, and there are certainly many sorts of critical readers today. Any sense of how to find overlap between these types, as well as distinctives?
                        Message 11 of 17 , Dec 7, 2001
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                          johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com writes:
                          >
                          >How many readers/hearers do we have now?
                          >
                          >1) Narratee
                          >
                          >2) Implied Reader/Hearer
                          >
                          >3) Ideal Reader/Hearer
                          >
                          >4) Actual Reader/Hearer
                          >
                          >5) Critical Reader/Hearer
                          >
                          >I suppose that there could be a Critical Hearer, too.
                          >Anyway, a Critical Reader would understand more than
                          >the writer understood -- in effect, could understand
                          >better.

                          Thanks, Jeff, and there are certainly many sorts of critical readers
                          today. Any sense of how to find overlap between these types, as well as
                          distinctives?

                          Paul Anderson
                        • Staley, Jeffrey
                          Thanks, Jeff, and there are certainly many sorts of critical readers today. Any sense of how to find overlap between these types, as well as distinctives?
                          Message 12 of 17 , Dec 7, 2001
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                            Thanks, Jeff, and there are certainly many sorts of critical readers
                            today. Any sense of how to find overlap between these types, as well as
                            distinctives?

                            Just an additional note, Paul, when I said that "I would only want to
                            reiterate, that #1, #4, #5 can also be resistant "readers," that is,
                            objecting, rejecting and revising in response to hearing/reading" I would
                            also say that surprise, reconsideration, revising, and objecting" can also
                            be part of the "implied/ideal readers/hearers" repetoire, but that
                            ultimately, when the reading is done, "implied/ideal readers/hearers" are
                            finally "assenting readers/hearers," whereas many real audiences and
                            critical readers can finish the book and reject it; and not be transformed
                            by it in the way the narrative rhetorics "demands/invites."

                            Oh my, I really must get back to grading final exams!

                            jeff Staley


                            Jeff Staley
                          • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                            Paul, did you mean to address me (Jeffery) or Jeff (Staley)? I wrote: How many readers/hearers do we have now? 1) Narratee 2) Implied Reader/Hearer 3) Ideal
                            Message 13 of 17 , Dec 7, 2001
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                              Paul, did you mean to address me (Jeffery) or Jeff
                              (Staley)?

                              I wrote:

                              How many readers/hearers do we have now?

                              1) Narratee

                              2) Implied Reader/Hearer

                              3) Ideal Reader/Hearer

                              4) Actual Reader/Hearer

                              5) Critical Reader/Hearer

                              I suppose that there could be a Critical Hearer, too.
                              Anyway, a Critical Reader would understand more than
                              the writer understood -- in effect, could understand
                              better.

                              You (Paul) asked:

                              > Thanks, Jeff, and there are certainly many sorts of
                              > critical readers today. Any sense of how to find
                              > overlap between these types, as well as
                              distinctives?

                              All of them can probably be deconstructed, but that's
                              not my goal.

                              There is certainly overlap.

                              I'd say that an actual reader could be an implied
                              reader in some cases. A private letter might have only
                              one implied reader who happens to be the actual
                              reader.

                              This actual reader might also strive to be a critical
                              reader -- striving to understand things that the
                              writer himself might not have understand.

                              An ideal reader is an idealization and so would
                              (probably) never be actualized though some critical
                              readers might strive for this status.

                              Could a narratee be any of the others? If the narrator
                              happens to be the author who happens to be addressing
                              a real person who happens to be reading the text, I
                              guess that the various permutations already mentioned
                              are possible.

                              Of course, if we want to take the deconstructionist
                              turn, all readers -- like all writers -- are
                              idealizations, ideological constructs that attempt to
                              fix the flux of uncentered and multiple subjects....

                              Jeffery Hodges

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

                              __________________________________________________
                              Do You Yahoo!?
                              Send your FREE holiday greetings online!
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                            • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                              ... I reply: I was thinking of the Addressee as the equivalent to the Narratee in a dramatic reading of a text. But I m quite willing to stick to
                              Message 14 of 17 , Dec 9, 2001
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                                I previously wrote:

                                > > Couldn't we have:

                                > > Ideal Hearer

                                > > Implied Hearer

                                > > Addressee

                                > > Actual Hearer

                                Jeff Staley responded:

                                > Jeffery, I do find SOME of these distinctions can be
                                > helpful when thinking about narrative. First,
                                > however, I think the term narratee is valuable and
                                > should be kept--over against the narrator.

                                I reply:

                                I was thinking of the "Addressee" as the equivalent to
                                the "Narratee" in a dramatic reading of a text. But
                                I'm quite willing to stick to "Narratee".

                                Jeffery Hodges

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

                                __________________________________________________
                                Do You Yahoo!?
                                Send your FREE holiday greetings online!
                                http://greetings.yahoo.com
                              • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                                ... I reply: I was thinking of the Addressee as the equivalent to the Narratee in a dramatic reading of a text. But I m quite willing to stick to
                                Message 15 of 17 , Dec 9, 2001
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                                  I previously wrote:

                                  > > Couldn't we have:

                                  > > Ideal Hearer

                                  > > Implied Hearer

                                  > > Addressee

                                  > > Actual Hearer

                                  Jeff Staley responded:

                                  > Jeffery, I do find SOME of these distinctions can be
                                  > helpful when thinking about narrative. First,
                                  > however, I think the term narratee is valuable and
                                  > should be kept--over against the narrator.

                                  I reply:

                                  I was thinking of the "Addressee" as the equivalent to
                                  the "Narratee" in a dramatic reading of a text. But
                                  I'm quite willing to stick to "Narratee".

                                  Jeffery Hodges

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

                                  __________________________________________________
                                  Do You Yahoo!?
                                  Send your FREE holiday greetings online!
                                  http://greetings.yahoo.com
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