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Re: [John_Lit] Kings and Cana, Amos and (h)Andy Texts

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  • Matthew Estrada
    SemioticSymphony@aol.com wrote: The discussion on Matt Estrada s reading of the Cana story is a metaphor of critical presuppositions. Matt appears to be
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 24, 2004
      SemioticSymphony@... wrote:
      The discussion on Matt Estrada's "reading" of the Cana story is a metaphor of
      critical presuppositions. Matt appears to be confortable in a hermeneutic
      (loosely used) where benign eisegesis can nonetheless lead to powerful effects,
      effects that justify perhaps dubious means.

      Allegoresis, specifically the type originating with some of the early Fathers
      (e.g., Origen), has its basis not in philosophical theory, but in faithand
      doctrine. Readings of biblical texts that are constructed to illustrate points
      of faith, doctrine, dogma etc., tend to reduce textuality to "proof-text." Of
      course, texts cannot be so reduced, for their richness is explosive when
      confined in such a manner.

      When "water=OT/prophets/JBap" eisegesis is in play. These are very
      traditional connections, and an approach that seeks to strengthen these connections is
      less interested in critical method than confirmation of the status quo within
      an interpretive community.

      When Matt uses OT texts as a lens through which to read the fouth gospel, he
      dabbles in both premodern traditional patristic
      exegesis/eisegesis/allegoresis, but also flirts with postmodern notions of intertextuality (already
      mentioned in this discussion as problematic) and deconstruction. Matt's difficulty
      arises in his method's unfamiliarity with postmodern discourse. As the
      allusion/illusion thread has intimated, it is not so clear what is present/absent in a
      text, but more to the point, it is even less clear what is present/absent in a
      "reading." If intertextuality has something to do with a text's presupposition
      of anterior/adjacent texts, of a relationship to prior/adjacent discourses,
      then much is possible hermeneutically.

      The problem, of course, is in the conceptual space within the idea of
      intertextuality itself, which purports to say something anbout intertextual
      space---and this is difficult stuff. Julia Kristeva, credited by the postmoderns with
      formulating the notion, has difficulty pinning the concept down (does it apply
      only to prior texts? is the intertextual space a matrix or does it skip?) and
      Harold Bloom, a great contributor to this arena, seems to want to confine the
      concept to the relationship between text and some ultimate pretext, that texts
      refer to a master text (he states/implies that poetic texts contain words
      that refer to words in other poetic texts ad infinitum).

      I think most critics would agree that intertextuality is a much more
      voracious notion than literary allusion or overt reference. I would suggest that
      intertextuality interrogates the idea of textual boundaries---where does one text
      end and another begin---and I therefore favor a "matrix" view of intertxtual
      space, and this is of course merely conjecture on my part.

      What Matt must do is come to grips with his own formulation, perhaps after a
      healthy confrontation with Kristeva and Bloom. I think Matt's case could
      become stronger if, as a reader, Matt comes to grips with himself-as-text, and with
      the idea that he may be reading John through Amos as easily as he may be
      reading Amos through John, and all of this through himself as a reader who has
      read.

      Joe C.

      My response:

      Thank you, Joe, for sharing. I do state in my paper, in trying to come up with a "technical" term that will define John's method of using Scripture (both OT and NT Scripture), that there seems to be a mixture midrash, rhetorical Imitation, prophecy historicized, intertextuality, typology, and allegory. I think it safe to say that John was a "Christian". He had a belief, and wanted others to take hold of this same belief. These "others" were his own people, who held to "the Law and the Prophets". They were raised believing in these writings, even as John was. But now John has learned of a new way of reading these writings- through the events of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. He thus turns to these writings to show his own people that they, too, can believe in Jesus without abandoning these writings. These writings- the Law and the Prophets (=John the Baptist)- in fact, testify in favor of seeing Jesus as their messiah. In creating the stories that he has written to show Jesus
      as the Messiah, he has filled them with allusions to these writings that will testify in Jesus' favor. Does he expect his readers to pick up on these allusions? Yes, even as I have done. I "know" John's purpose in writing. I know that he wants to "prove" that Jesus is the messiah from these writings. Thus I know "where" to look for these allusions.

      Yes, I am "a text", reading another "text" (John) that has interacted with many other "texts" (OT and NT writings), even as John was a "text" that interacted with many other texts in the writing of his gospel for his own community which is another "text", and even as John expected his readers, who were also "texts", to read/hear his gospel text and discern where he interacted with these other texts which would apply to their own "text".

      Yes, allusions can be elusive. However, with all of the "support" that has been provided for this interpretation, offering reasonable answers to many prior difficulties raised by the scholars... Is there a better interpretation?

      Again, Joe, I appreciate your words. I especially like: "Matt's difficulty arises in his method's unfamiliarity with postmodern discourses." Do you think that this would also be true of the gospel author?




      Matthew Estrada

      113 Laurel Court

      Peachtree City, Ga 30269


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