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Re: [John_Lit] Order in John and other stuff

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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 1 of 12 , May 6, 2000
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      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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    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 5/6/2000 5:46:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time, jefferyhodges@yahoo.com writes:
      Message 2 of 12 , May 6, 2000
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        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 3 of 12 , May 9, 2000
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          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 4 of 12 , May 12, 2000
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            > 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 5 of 12 , May 12, 2000
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              > 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 6 of 12 , May 12, 2000
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                >
                > 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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