Re: RE: Re(2): [John_Lit] Post Colonialism, Jeff?
- Thanks, Jeff, for engaging these issues with me.
>Okay, but John asserts that the truth will set people free. Do
>>What is meant by "colonial"? Jesus is a king,
>>but his kingdom is one of truth; this is why his followers do not fight.
>Many would argue this is not much of an improvement, if the Johannine
>community is the one defining truth . . . cf., Musa Dube's essay on John
>a recent Semeia volume.
post-colonialists take issue with that? (See Walter Wink's work on
engaging the powers. Truth versus deception is paramount for liberation.)
If it is felt Johannine Christianity did an inadequate job of truth
advocating (a view I do not hold) how are post-colonialists going to do it
>This is my point above. If Dube or others believe Johannine Christianity
>the fact that John's
>>universalizing inclinations emerged within a context of opposing the
>>imperial wiles of Rome (Cassidy), pointing to the ultimate value and sway
>>of the truth, restores an authentic reading of John over its distortions.
>"Restores an authentic reading" is problematical language, I think. It
>us another option? opens up new, more helpful (less destructive?)
>possibilities, perhaps? Why does it have to be "more authentic"?
is an imperial group running over Roman soldiers undaunted with its
rhetorical polemicizing, and if it to be considered that sort of
colonialism, this is misconception, and asserting so is a distortion.
Likewise Johannine dialogues with larger and more established Jewish
communities. Johannine Christianity was the smaller and more vulnerable
partner in these first-century dialogues, and to build a theory of
interpretation upon an anachronistic notion of Johannine domination is
So, if you prefer "less destructive" over "more authentic" does this mean
you value the hermeneutical outcomes over exegetical faithfulness to the
text? I imagine you agree with me that an adequate reading of the text is
the first responsibility of the exegete. Nonetheless, outcomes are
>Absolutely! This, I think is the problem, and the main place I think
>>Likewise for monological distortions: John contains the scandal of
>>particularity (14:6f.), but it also contains the herald of universalism
>Yes, I like to read these texts against each other, too. Though, as you
>many do not, and probably the history of most Johannine interpretations
>support the monological readings. An interesting historical study of
>interpretation could be done here!
Post-Colonial interpretation has a contribution to make. The employment
of a dialectical gospel narration in ways monological and dogmatic is not
only problematic in terms of outcomes; it falls short of an authentic
reading of the Johannine text, which has its own correctives to dogmatism
built into it.
After your (and others') reviews of the social-sciences commentary on John
in the Boston meetings, I spoke with one of its authors about his concern
over John's particularistic dogmatism. I asked him what he did with John
1:9 and 6:45, and he said he had not thought about those passages. Sigh.
>Good point, Jeff. What we must guard against is the tendency of scholars
>I must say it smarts
>>a bit to have one's work on the human sources of the pre-Marcan and
>>Johannine traditions presented as something I'm trying to "prove" and
>>devoid of all its nuance;
>Sometimes internet responses do not leave much time for nuance! Sorry!
to be lazy and to take reductionistic statements as representing a work or
an approach, forming positive or negative opinions on the basis of such.
I'm just reminded that there's no substitute for reading the secondary
literature, and even re-reading it in the light of further deliberations.
It's amazing to note, for instance, how many people will tell you what
Bultmann thought without having read anything he wrote.
>This background is helpful. Thanks. We always need to be about the task
>I also realize you've given up on the historical-critical enterprise, so
>Oops, maybe I'll nuance this! I use elements of the "historical-critical
>enterprise" nearly every day in my teaching and research. I read a
>Greek text of John (telling my students about nuances of the language),
>about text-critical problems, chief priests, Pharisees, etc. Yikes, I
>Greek major in college, and have taught it for 8 years.
>I read with historical-critical issues in mind, but I don't want to
>NECESSARILY give "historical-critical" questions precedence over others,
>imply NECESSARILY a hierarchy of values when I choose to speak of them
>In this sense I have "given up on historical-criticism."
of asking better questions.
>The payoff is great, I feel, but my primary interest has been
>>It's a mistake, though, to see the particularity of personalities as
>>something I'm trying to prove. Whoever the traditional sources of Mark
>>and John might have been, though, we need to look at these traditions as
>>persons, full stop, rather than disembodied sets of ideas floating around
>What is the value, the payoff in "looking at these traditions as persons"
>you? I can see the value of thinking of you as a person (you are alive,
>can be hurt, helped, loved, killed, etc). But with the thing we call
epistemological. Where did these ideas (John's unitive and disunitive
christology) come from? Did they simply result from borrowing religious
ideas (religionsgeschischliche) from Jewish and pagan sectors? Is John
based upon alien sources or derivative from the Synoptics? Is John a
historicized drama and fictionally so? Having investigated much of the
evidence for all these theses, none of them stacks up as convincing. Here
historical/critical theses are also subject to historical/critical
analysis, and as theses, they themselves are largely unconvincing, which
compels one to explore other approaches to the Johannine riddles.
This traditionsgeschichlich approach also emerged as I began considering
the particular contacts between Mark and John. None of them are identical
contacts, and this implies engagement in the oral stages of the tradition
rather than the written, which would have involved preachers (human ones)
telling and hearing each other telling traditional stories. I began to
ask why they told the stories in the particular ways they did, as well as
how persons come to think dialectically, and this has led me to explore
cognitive aspects of tradition formation.
>Many payoffs, I believe. It depends on whether and how others also take
>I am indeed trying to rehumanize our approaches to gospel traditions.
>tend to be far too mechanistic and operational.
>Both are quite fictional, are they not? So is the payoff: ethical?
>theological? authority? something else?
up the approach.
>P.S., I hope others will contribute to one of this listserve's first