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Re: Re[2]: [John_Lit] Canonical Placement and John

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  • Peter Hofrichter
    Gary D. Sailer proposed a change of the cononical order of the Gospels. My comment: I agree totally to the canonical order you propose: Jn-Mk-Mt-Lk. At least a
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 31, 1969
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      Gary D. Sailer proposed a change of the cononical order of the Gospels. My comment:
      I agree totally to the canonical order you propose: Jn-Mk-Mt-Lk. At least a similar order order (Jn-Mt-Mk-Lk) is already observed in early Egyptian tradition in a socery text.

      Univ.-Prof. DDr. Peter Hofrichter
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    • gds@dor.kaiser.org
      Folks: This is a serious, but for fun question I have entertained for some time. I should explain that I have always had an interest in canon issues, both
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 10, 2000
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        Folks:

        This is a serious, but for 'fun' question I have entertained for some time. I
        should explain that I have always had an interest in canon issues, both
        historical and literary. Lately, I've been pondering the question, how
        hermeneutical are canons, and in particular, canonical ordering. To me, there
        can be no debate that at some level, canonical ordering, at least in the later
        lists for both the OT and NT, reflect some kind of hermeneutical ordering via
        importance. In the OT, the Torah begins it all, and the Writings, reflecting
        the least 'authoritative', occupies the position of 'the rest' to quote Sirach
        1. In the NT, the Synoptics occupy the first position, while the Catholic
        epistles and Revelation seem to occupy a position similar to the 'rest' as
        mentioned in Sirach. It is also quite true, that such ordering and lists,
        though reflecting ancient hermeneutical lists, can be argued as being rather
        secondary to the whole process. Yet, those ancient lists are reflected in
        nearly every Bible, and most publishers would not dream of changing the order,
        so important has this aspect of canon become for most Christians. Even if they
        follow one of the several orders that are out there, the order they presuppose
        as 'canonical' seems to be as canonical for most as are the very books
        themselves.

        I have wondered, therefore, what ordering per se might have on the reader's
        perception of the whole NT if one were to invoke reading theory along the lines
        of Wolfgang Iser. Assuming for the purpose of asking this question, that
        serious faithful readers might read the NT starting at Matthew and ending in
        Revelation (as I did at one time in college), it seems legitimate to assume with
        Iser that what happens at the beginning of a 'story' is indeed, very important
        for shaping the particular response of the reader. In other words, Matthew has
        had an important effect on the reading of the NT as a holistic religious
        document above and beyond its role as one of the Synoptic Gospels.

        This leads to my question. What do you suppose would be the effect of one's
        understanding of the NT, for the average reader mind you, if John had started
        the NT canon rather than Matthew? What if John were in the place of Torah,
        rather than Matthew's Gospel, which seemingly, functions as 'Christian' Torah in
        some sense for the NT. Or, put it this way. What might be the repercussions if
        a publisher decided to publish a Bible with a canonical ordering to reflect
        Johannine spirituality as the 'hermeneutical lens' from which to view the rest
        of the canon, rather than the 'Torah spirituality' of Matthew's Gospel? I do
        believe that what occupies the initial interest and focus of readers acts very
        much as a hermeneutical lens for interpreting the rest of what follows. Iser
        mentions this, as well as many other reader response critics like M. Perry, R.
        Fowler, etc. Why, one sees the effects of 'front matter' on the reader all over
        Brevard Childs' reading of the OT in his peculiar holistic fashion, as he many
        times refers to the initial chapters of many book functioning as a
        'hermeneutical lens' for what follows. And, if memory holds, he even argues as
        such for Romans in the NT as the key to reading the Pauline Corpus. If I extend
        the insights of Childs, Iser, Perry, and Fowler to the holistic reading of the
        NT canon, how would many of you respond to this idea? What is the effect of the
        Synoptics, and in particular, Matthew occupying this hermeneutical role, rather
        than John? For, it seems to me, that within the reading history of
        Christianity, these two Gospels occupy the greater roles of influence throughout
        the centuries. (At least, it seems to me that Mark especially and also Luke have
        never been the really popular Gospels.) Matthew and John may even function as a
        sort of inclusio of canonical authority for the 'four Gospels', so to speak,
        given that they surround Mark and Luke, neither of which to my knowledge, have
        been as influencial as these two Gospels. And yet, Matthew and John are so
        different, giving such vastly different views of Christ, Christianity, and
        indeed, spirituality. I have wondered what might happen if we dropped the
        Origen-like preference for Matthew in our published Bibles, and catered to those
        who prefer Johannine spirituality above Matthean spirituality by doing what the
        early Church did, that is, give John the place of prominence so that its
        narrative rendering of Christian experience would be the hermeneutical lens for
        the whole.

        Would any of you venture what might be the effects, if any, on the reader, if a
        publisher offered a Bible with a new ordering of John, Mark, Matthew, and
        Luke-Acts, Paul, the rest? Or, supposing that Johannine Christianity had had a
        greater influence on the ordering of the canon, what might have been the effects
        had this been the case all along? Or, you can feel free to say it would have
        none or little, and why you believe this? I guess I'm raising textuality,
        intertextuality, and canonical ordering issues in this question, but I think, it
        might be interesting to ask how such literary issues might affect the reading of
        John. I hope in asking this, that such literary interests are acceptible to the
        readership along with the traditional historical ones that occupy the greater
        interest.

        Gary D. Salyer
      • ProfRam@aol.com
        Gary: Ferrar Fenton, in his The Holy Bible in Modern English (1903) did what you propose,*almost* exactly: John, 1 John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans,
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 10, 2000
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          Gary:

          Ferrar Fenton, in his The Holy Bible in Modern English (1903) did what you
          propose,*almost* exactly: John, 1 John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans,
          etc., etc., with 2 and 3 John in their proper places just before Jude and
          Revelation. This had the benevolent side effect of joining Luke with Acts.
          But no one paid much attention.

          Ramsey Michaels
        • Horace Jeffery Hodges
          Gary Salyer wrote: To me, there can be no debate that at some level, canonical ordering, at least in the later lists for both the OT and NT, reflect some kind
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 10, 2000
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            Gary Salyer wrote:

            "To me, there can be no debate that at some level,
            canonical ordering, at least in the later lists for
            both the OT and NT, reflect some kind of hermeneutical
            ordering via importance. In the OT, the Torah begins
            it all, and the Writings, reflecting the least
            'authoritative', occupies the position of 'the rest'
            to quote Sirach 1. In the NT, the Synoptics occupy
            the first position, while the Catholic epistles and
            Revelation seem to occupy a position similar to the
            'rest' as mentioned in Sirach."

            Gary, I'm not sure that this analysis works for the
            book of Revelation. Conclusions are pretty impotant,
            and Revelation seems ot function as a -- no, as THE --
            conclusion to sacred history.

            Jeffery Hodges

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