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now what? (was Heidegger's influence)

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  • Shawn Kelley
    ... I don t have a great answer to that question, although I recognize it as an important one. I ve spent all my recent energy trying to track the influence
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 1998
      Stevan posed the following question to me:

      > What would be the alternative? To give equal credence to each text
      > as it stands? That works from a literary critical perspective, but
      > it would be the end of historical inquiry, wouldn't it? The texts
      > would no longer be sources of information for something outside
      > themselves. Historical inquiry does tend to take the texts as
      > evidence for something more authentic than themselves, e.g.
      > the patterns of activity that preceded and gave rise to the texts.
      >

      I don't have a great answer to that question, although I recognize it as an
      important one. I've spent all my recent energy trying to track the influence of
      Heidegger, Romanticism, Hegel and Orientalism on the discipline, and haven't
      gotten to the other side yet. I suppose I need to still work through the
      deconstruction first, before I can ask other kinds of questions.

      As is probably clear, I'm more comfortable with the literary approach than the
      historical. I'm perfectly comfortable in assuming that there are a number of
      different and competing textual pictures of Jesus inside and outside the NT- and
      stopping there. I find no need to reconstruct the historical Jesus. I want to be
      clear, though: that's a matter of preference and temperament rather than a
      particular claim about historical inquiry.

      At the same time, I'm not naive about literary studies of the Gospels. They are
      as vulnerable to the problems I've been discussing as historical studies are. As
      a matter of fact, some of the ideological issues that have been challenged on
      historical critical grounds (i.e. the easy distinction between Hebrew/Hellene)
      have resurfaced in a new aesthetic form. Shifting methodologies does not ensure
      better results, at least not all by itself.

      As for the historical question, I suppose that's better left to others who have
      the skill and temperament for analysis of that sort. I hope that my analysis
      contributes in some small way, that heightened awareness of the specific ways that
      Heideggerianism has dominated previous analysis may help scholars create positions
      of a different sort in the future. Beyond that, I don't really have much helpful
      to offer.

      I suppose the question is this: to what extent does the quest for the historical
      Jesus itself necessarily bring out the personal commitments of the scholar? To
      what extent is it desirable and/or possible to escape the modern heritage in which
      we live when we reconstruct the past? Better minds than mine are struggling with
      these questions.

      Shawn Kelley
      Daemen College

      >
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