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Re: [John_Lit] Order in John and other stuff

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  • Jeffrey L. Staley
    ... Paul, I appreciate your willingness to challenge us NT scholars to carefully look at the logic of our arguments and to challenge the presuppositions of
    Message 1 of 12 , May 5, 2000
      >

      Paul, I appreciate your willingness to challenge us NT scholars to carefully look at the logic of our arguments and to challenge the
      presuppositions of much of Johannine scholarship. In your following statement, however, I am curious about your statement "innocent of
      such functions explicitly." If "Jesus" in John can use language in a "physical way" and "symbolic manner," and the narrator is
      practically "one with Jesus" as Jesus is with the Father (Jn 17:20), then why shouldn't we expect to find the narrator using language in
      the same way? And what theory of language and/or narrative assumes a different function of language other than symbolic?

      -- Scholars too hastily (and sloppily) attribute every detail in John to
      literarily symbolic and theological function when the text is innocent of
      such functions explicitly. Eggus to Pascha is a great example (as we
      discussed earlier). It reflects political issues rather than theological
      agendas.

      On a more general note:
      While I am not opposed to souce critical and historical critical investigations in the Fourth Gospel, it does surprise me that these
      questions continually generate the most responses on this list. Where are the "literary (narrative and otherwise) critics" of John? Are
      there any of you out there? Why do the questions posed here always seem to go back to "sources" and "history?" Has there been no
      influence on us of the past twenty years of Johannine literary crticism? I'd like to see some discussion of "how my mind has
      changed/remained the same" as a result of the wide-ranging approaches to John exhibited by feminist, poststructuralist,
      narrative-critical, postcolonial, etc. interpreters. Anyone willing to put yourself on the line and say what you think of the past twenty
      years of Johannine scholarship--how it has influenced you, and even where you might see it going in the future? It would be great to
      hear from you "lurkers!"

      Jeff Staley

      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • Moloneyfj@aol.com
      Fellow groupers, Jeffrey Staley has just made a point that has been lurking with me for the past 12 months. The list would make Bernard, the two Beckers
      Message 2 of 12 , May 5, 2000
        Fellow groupers,

        Jeffrey Staley has just made a point that has been "lurking" with me for the
        past 12 months.

        The "list" would make Bernard, the two Beckers (Gnostic source and our recent
        commentator), Bultmann, Temple and company very happy. Although they may be
        surprised that we are still debating the matters they thought that had
        solved! Does that not say something?

        Jeff, it is largely because our narrative ... and your even more
        deconstructive ... readings don't feature here that many of us are, I think,
        "lurkers." The one occasion I attempted a "narrative" response to a question
        raised (the Cana to Cana sequence) was met with silence!

        I am also sometimes surprised at some of the questions - e.g., the shift from
        the singular to the plural (and then back again) in John 3, bibliography on
        "women/woman," or the possible lectionary background to the Fourth Gospel,
        etc. There are terrific tools to find these things - starting with van
        Belle's bibliography. Maybe this is a sign of the times - no longer time or
        place for the printed page or a search through the library catalogue. Just
        jump on-line! Even there ... ATLA is a good place to start.

        Thanks for being provocative, Jeff ... but thank goodness, you are there!

        Frank Moloney
        Catholic University
        Washington, DC
      • ProfRam@aol.com
        Jeff and Frank have put their finger on why some of us have only been lurking (and maybe only skimming the list) lately. Reading the text has largely given way
        Message 3 of 12 , May 5, 2000
          Jeff and Frank have put their finger on why some of us have only been lurking
          (and maybe only skimming the list) lately. Reading the text has largely given
          way to reading behind the text. But "John," whoever he may have been, invites
          us to read his text, not the history of his community (much less of primitive
          Christianity!), which is not what he is writing. Try it, you may like it!

          Ramsey Michaels
        • Ken Durkin
          ... From: To: Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 8:53 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Order in John and other stuff ...
          Message 4 of 12 , May 5, 2000
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: <ProfRam@...>
            To: <johannine_literature@egroups.com>
            Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 8:53 PM
            Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Order in John and other stuff


            > Jeff and Frank have put their finger on why some of us have only been
            lurking
            > (and maybe only skimming the list) lately. Reading the text has largely
            given
            > way to reading behind the text. But "John," whoever he may have been,
            invites
            > us to read his text, not the history of his community (much less of
            primitive
            > Christianity!), which is not what he is writing. Try it, you may like it!
            >
            > Ramsey Michaels

            Lurking is a condition that only lurkers can cure.
          • Maluflen@aol.com
            In a message dated 5/5/2000 1:56:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time, staleyjl@plu.edu writes:
            Message 5 of 12 , May 5, 2000
              In a message dated 5/5/2000 1:56:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
              staleyjl@... writes:

              << Eggus to Pascha is a great example (as we
              discussed earlier). It reflects political issues rather than theological
              agendas.>>


              But political issues are not necessarily any more "historical" than are
              theological agenda (or theological agendas, to adopt your quaint
              double-plural form).


              Leonard Maluf
            • Horace Jeffery Hodges
              ... In a message dated 5/5/2000 1:56:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time, staleyjl@plu.edu writes:
              Message 6 of 12 , May 6, 2000
                Leonard Maluf posted the following:

                -------------------------------------------------------

                In a message dated 5/5/2000 1:56:58 PM Eastern
                Daylight Time, staleyjl@... writes:

                << Eggus to Pascha is a great example (as we
                discussed earlier). It reflects political issues
                rather than theological
                agendas.>>

                But political issues are not necessarily any more
                "historical" than are theological agenda (or
                theological agendas, to adopt your quaint
                double-plural form).

                -------------------------------------------------------

                If I recall correctly, it was not Jeffrey Staley but
                Paul Anderson who made the point about political
                agendas. (Also, in English, "agenda" can be used as a
                singular and "agendas" as a plural, can't they?)

                That aside, I wanted to address the question that
                Jeffrey Staley raised about narrative, feminist, or
                post-colonial readings.

                I have heard three interesting readings within the
                past year -- one narrative, one feminist, and the
                other postcolonial.

                As for the narrative one -- last year at the AAR/SBL,
                Jeffrey Staley presented a 'narrative' reading of
                John's Gospel that interwove it with his viewing of
                the movie "Liar, Liar", which I had (and have) not
                seen. I presumed -- and still do -- that his intention
                was ironic and intended as a sort of parody of some
                extremes of reader-response interpretation. Or was it
                an ironic defense of reader-response interpretation,
                and I missed it? Or was he ironically lying throughout
                and waiting for me to catch him in a falsehood? Or was
                he straightforwardly presenting his genuine views? Or
                was I even present at the talk?

                The feminist one (I have forgotten the name of the man
                who presented this reading) argued for Mary Magdalene
                as the author of John's Gospel, based partly upon her
                elevated importance in John's Gospel as the first
                witness to the resurrection and partly upon her
                prominence as a 'beloved' disciple in later Gnostic
                writings (the link being the putative Gnostic quality
                of John's Gospel and the nonidentification of the
                beloved disciple in John).

                The postcolonial one was by Musa W. Dube Shomanah, who
                was a fellow presenter of mine in one of the Johannine
                Literature Sections (the one presided over by Paul
                Anderson). She presented (so far as I recall) an
                ironic reading that portrayed the Johannine Jesus, not
                the Jewish leadership, as the collaborator with the
                Romans because of Jesus's apolitical understanding of
                his kingdom, which -- in her reading--merely
                perpetuated Roman domination of an oppressed minority.

                While I, ultimately, do not (I think) agree with
                either of these latter two readings, I found them both
                to be thought-provoking and even brilliant
                suggestions. Respectively, they forced me to think
                through why I assume a male author for John and to
                question if my admiration for the Johannine Jesus's
                apolitical stance isn't just an unreflective
                still-pious reading in need of a better grounding (or
                possibly even rejection?).

                So, I would say that one way in which such 'liminal'
                readings of the text have changed the way that I read
                John is by making me more aware of my extra-Johannine
                presuppositions. I have gradually learned to take
                fewer things for granted and to recognize that I
                belong to a community and tradition of readers who
                share certain assumptions that need reflecting upon
                and better grounding.

                Oh--and Jeffrey Staley's paper made me realize that I
                need to get out of the house and see more movies ...
                (or was the message that I should get myself a video
                player?)

                Jeffery Hodges

                __________________________________________________
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              • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                ... In a message dated 5/5/2000 1:56:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time, staleyjl@plu.edu writes:
                Message 7 of 12 , May 6, 2000
                  Leonard Maluf posted the following:

                  -------------------------------------------------------

                  In a message dated 5/5/2000 1:56:58 PM Eastern
                  Daylight Time, staleyjl@... writes:

                  << Eggus to Pascha is a great example (as we
                  discussed earlier). It reflects political issues
                  rather than theological
                  agendas.>>

                  But political issues are not necessarily any more
                  "historical" than are theological agenda (or
                  theological agendas, to adopt your quaint
                  double-plural form).

                  -------------------------------------------------------

                  If I recall correctly, it was not Jeffrey Staley but
                  Paul Anderson who made the point about political
                  agendas. (Also, in English, "agenda" can be used as a
                  singular and "agendas" as a plural, can't they?)

                  That aside, I wanted to address the question that
                  Jeffrey Staley raised about narrative, feminist, or
                  post-colonial readings.

                  I have heard three interesting readings within the
                  past year -- one narrative, one feminist, and the
                  other postcolonial.

                  As for the narrative one -- last year at the AAR/SBL,
                  Jeffrey Staley presented a 'narrative' reading of
                  John's Gospel that interwove it with his viewing of
                  the movie "Liar, Liar", which I had (and have) not
                  seen. I presumed -- and still do -- that his intention
                  was ironic and intended as a sort of parody of some
                  extremes of reader-response interpretation. Or was it
                  an ironic defense of reader-response interpretation,
                  and I missed it? Or was he ironically lying throughout
                  and waiting for me to catch him in a falsehood? Or was
                  he straightforwardly presenting his genuine views? Or
                  was I even present at the talk?

                  The feminist one (I have forgotten the name of the man
                  who presented this reading) argued for Mary Magdalene
                  as the author of John's Gospel, based partly upon her
                  elevated importance in John's Gospel as the first
                  witness to the resurrection and partly upon her
                  prominence as a 'beloved' disciple in later Gnostic
                  writings (the link being the putative Gnostic quality
                  of John's Gospel and the nonidentification of the
                  beloved disciple in John).

                  The postcolonial one was by Musa W. Dube Shomanah, who
                  was a fellow presenter of mine in one of the Johannine
                  Literature Sections (the one presided over by Paul
                  Anderson). She presented (so far as I recall) an
                  ironic reading that portrayed the Johannine Jesus, not
                  the Jewish leadership, as the collaborator with the
                  Romans because of Jesus's apolitical understanding of
                  his kingdom, which -- in her reading--merely
                  perpetuated Roman domination of an oppressed minority.

                  While I, ultimately, do not (I think) agree with
                  either of these latter two readings, I found them both
                  to be thought-provoking and even brilliant
                  suggestions. Respectively, they forced me to think
                  through why I assume a male author for John and to
                  question if my admiration for the Johannine Jesus's
                  apolitical stance isn't just an unreflective
                  still-pious reading in need of a better grounding (or
                  possibly even rejection?).

                  So, I would say that one way in which such 'liminal'
                  readings of the text have changed the way that I read
                  John is by making me more aware of my extra-Johannine
                  presuppositions. I have gradually learned to take
                  fewer things for granted and to recognize that I
                  belong to a community and tradition of readers who
                  share certain assumptions that need reflecting upon
                  and better grounding.

                  Oh--and Jeffrey Staley's paper made me realize that I
                  need to get out of the house and see more movies ...
                  (or was the message that I should get myself a video
                  player?)

                  Jeffery Hodges

                  __________________________________________________
                  Do You Yahoo!?
                  Send instant messages & get email alerts with Yahoo! Messenger.
                  http://im.yahoo.com/
                • Maluflen@aol.com
                  In a message dated 5/6/2000 5:46:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time, jefferyhodges@yahoo.com writes:
                  Message 8 of 12 , May 6, 2000
                    In a message dated 5/6/2000 5:46:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                    jefferyhodges@... writes:

                    << (Also, in English, "agenda" can be used as a
                    singular and "agendas" as a plural, can't they?)>>


                    Yes, of course. As a stickler for nostalgic accuracy, I was just implicitly
                    bewailing this, as I do also the many other deplorandas that have entered
                    English usage.

                    Leonard Maluf
                  • Jeffrey L. Staley
                    ... I m glad to see that my non-historical questions evoked some conversation on this listserve. I am in the midst of grading final papers and exams, so
                    Message 9 of 12 , May 9, 2000
                      Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:

                      >
                      > That aside, I wanted to address the question that
                      > Jeffrey Staley raised about narrative, feminist, or
                      > post-colonial readings.

                      I'm glad to see that my "non-historical"
                      questions evoked some conversation on this listserve. I am in the midst of grading final papers and exams, so will have to forgo any
                      lengthy discussion of these topics for a few days. But I plan to get back here soon, though.

                      >
                      >
                      > I have heard three interesting readings within the
                      > past year -- one narrative, one feminist, and the
                      > other postcolonial.
                      >
                      > As for the narrative one -- last year at the AAR/SBL,
                      > Jeffrey Staley presented a 'narrative' reading of
                      > John's Gospel that interwove it with his viewing of
                      > the movie "Liar, Liar", which I had (and have) not
                      > seen. I presumed -- and still do -- that his intention
                      > was ironic and intended as a sort of parody of some
                      > extremes of reader-response interpretation. Or was it
                      > an ironic defense of reader-response interpretation,
                      > and I missed it? Or was he ironically lying throughout
                      > and waiting for me to catch him in a falsehood? Or was
                      > he straightforwardly presenting his genuine views? Or
                      > was I even present at the talk?
                      >
                      > The feminist one (I have forgotten the name of the man
                      > who presented this reading) argued for Mary Magdalene
                      > as the author of John's Gospel, based partly upon her
                      > elevated importance in John's Gospel as the first
                      > witness to the resurrection and partly upon her
                      > prominence as a 'beloved' disciple in later Gnostic
                      > writings (the link being the putative Gnostic quality
                      > of John's Gospel and the nonidentification of the
                      > beloved disciple in John).
                      >
                      > The postcolonial one was by Musa W. Dube Shomanah, who
                      > was a fellow presenter of mine in one of the Johannine
                      > Literature Sections (the one presided over by Paul
                      > Anderson). She presented (so far as I recall) an
                      > ironic reading that portrayed the Johannine Jesus, not
                      > the Jewish leadership, as the collaborator with the
                      > Romans because of Jesus's apolitical understanding of
                      > his kingdom, which -- in her reading--merely
                      > perpetuated Roman domination of an oppressed minority.
                      >
                      > While I, ultimately, do not (I think) agree with
                      > either of these latter two readings, I found them both
                      > to be thought-provoking and even brilliant
                      > suggestions. Respectively, they forced me to think
                      > through why I assume a male author for John and to
                      > question if my admiration for the Johannine Jesus's
                      > apolitical stance isn't just an unreflective
                      > still-pious reading in need of a better grounding (or
                      > possibly even rejection?).
                      >
                      > So, I would say that one way in which such 'liminal'
                      > readings of the text have changed the way that I read
                      > John is by making me more aware of my extra-Johannine
                      > presuppositions. I have gradually learned to take
                      > fewer things for granted and to recognize that I
                      > belong to a community and tradition of readers who
                      > share certain assumptions that need reflecting upon
                      > and better grounding.
                      >
                      > Oh--and Jeffrey Staley's paper made me realize that I
                      > need to get out of the house and see more movies ...
                      > (or was the message that I should get myself a video
                      > player?)
                      >
                      > Jeffery Hodges
                      >
                      > __________________________________________________
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                    • Jeffrey L. Staley
                      ... The focus of this paper was on the Woman caught in adultery a text that I never discuss much when teaching John, since it is not part of the original
                      Message 10 of 12 , May 12, 2000
                        > As for the narrative one -- last year at the AAR/SBL,
                        > Jeffrey Staley presented a 'narrative' reading of
                        > John's Gospel that interwove it with his viewing of
                        > the movie "Liar, Liar"

                        The focus of this paper was on the "Woman caught in adultery" a text that I never discuss much when teaching John, since it is not part
                        of the "original" text. However, when viewing "Liar Liar" with my son, I noticed Jim Carrey quoting John 8:32. This led me to ask
                        whether there might be other allusions/connections to the Gospel of John in the film. I ended up finding quite a few--not the least of
                        which is that the film is about a woman who is "caught in the very act of adultery." Viewing the film in connection with John gave me a
                        way to read John 7-8 with the woman "back in the story." The paper, thus in part, was a study of "intertextuality," the ways in which
                        texts take on new meanings when read with/against other documents.

                        Was the essay a parody? In part, yes. But like all parody (which, incidently, is what I think John 4 is), it has a seious point. I am
                        so tired of thinking that real biblical scholars can only read John with/against things written at the same time as John was written--or
                        earlier. Or else (like Bultmann's use of Mandaean documents), if we are going to use something from later centuries, we have to invent a
                        "historical" argument for why we are using later documents (they contain the residue of earlier sources, etc.). If what we are reading
                        is canonical literature, it is also quite appropriate to read it with/against contemporary texts (as Bultmann did with Heidegger).

                        The essay is set for publication in a Festschrift for one of my mentors.

                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > The postcolonial one was by Musa W. Dube Shomanah, who
                        > was a fellow presenter of mine in one of the Johannine
                        > Literature Sections.

                        Musa Dube and I are editing a collection for Sheffield Academic Press on Postcolonial Readings of John. We have nearly all the final
                        essays in hand, and hope to complete the volume soon.
                      • Jeffrey L. Staley
                        ... I m trying to remember is I saw this. Do you still have this post? Put it back up here, I ll look at it!
                        Message 11 of 12 , May 12, 2000
                          > Jeff, it is largely because our narrative ... and your even more
                          > deconstructive ... readings don't feature here that many of us are, I think,
                          > "lurkers." The one occasion I attempted a "narrative" response to a question
                          > raised (the Cana to Cana sequence) was met with silence!

                          I'm trying to remember is I saw this. Do you still have this post? Put it back up here, I'll look at it!
                        • Jeffrey L. Staley
                          ... For instance, according of days in the early part of John to some symbolic/liturgical role is not implicit in the text, but possibly so. This makes it
                          Message 12 of 12 , May 12, 2000
                            >
                            > There are degrees of symbolization in the Johannine text (apparently
                            > non-symbolic detail, possibly symbolic or theologically-significant
                            > detail, implicitly symbolic/theological detail, and explicitly
                            > symbolic/theological detail), and interpretations should take such factors
                            > into consideration more than they do.
                            > >
                            > How about those water pots in John 2 and 4? or the Samaritan woman's "five husbands?" How does one "decide" if something is a
                            > "non-symbolic detail?" I still go back to Robert Alter's classic "The Art of Biblical Narrative" (one of my mentors at Berkeley back
                            > in the early 1980's), who argued that "biblical (read ancient Hebrew) narrators are laconic" and thus every detail counts (read his
                            > reading of betrothal scenes in Genesis and Exodus). Or perhaps, more honestly(?), I have lots more fun imagining that each detail
                            > counts, while you have more fun imagining that some are "non-symbolic."

                            For instance, according of "days" in the early part of John to some symbolic/liturgical role is not implicit in the text, but possibly
                            so. This makes it a possibility but not a
                            strong one.

                            "Not implicit in the text" for whom? So a "majority rules?" What if interpretive systems change (as they have over time)? What do we do
                            with "minority views?" The same thing we usually do with real minorities? Ignore them?
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