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Re: [Synoptic-L] Osborne in Rethinking

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  • Shawn J. Kelley
    ... Let me make 2 points on this, as a narrative critic. The first is a personal pet peeve, the second is more substantive. i) The last sentence strikes me as
    Message 1 of 40 , Feb 7, 2003
      >
      >
      >Second, from the same volume, Scot McKnight, pp. 67-8:
      >
      >"Streeter and other Synoptic-porblem scholars think that you can't
      >understand a text accurately unless you know its context and its
      >tradition history. The narrative critics think that the text *is*
      >the context. This, I believe, is a mistake, but it surely makes
      >learning scholarship easier: you don't have to read the old books,
      >because they mistakenly believed that texts don't have contexts;
      >rather they have textual clues, and if you read carefully (which
      >means following the latest trend of narrative criticism), you will
      >see all you need to see. And if we look hard enough, once again, we
      >will find the *Angst*." (emphasis original).
      >
      Let me make 2 points on this, as a narrative critic. The first is a
      personal pet peeve, the second is more substantive.

      i) The last sentence strikes me as rather cryptic. I take it to mean
      that literary critics, having disregarded all the important stuff, are
      free read a bunch of nonsense about "Angst" into the text. (Am I
      reading the implication correctly here?). If you want to find critics
      using angst you need to look in places other than narrative criticism.
      You actually need to look at the traditional criticism that McKnight is
      championing. "Angst" is a technical philosophical terms that migrates
      from Kierkergaard to Heidegger to Bultmann to Bultmann's students to
      parable scholarship. (For a detailed critique of Angst in Heidegger-
      including its relationship to his fascism, see my "Racializing Jesus"
      chapter 4. To see how it migrates to Bultmann, Funk and Crossan, see
      "Racializing Jesus" chapters 5-6, see especially the Bultmann quote on
      p. 138). In short, Angst and other existentialist terms come to NT
      scholarship through the older forms of criticism- not through new trends
      in narrative theory. There is little interest in existentialism in
      current literary theory (Derrida, Levinas and Foucault take a lot from
      Heidegger, but have no patience for the existentialism), and little
      explicit use of the term in NT narrative critics. My fellow NT
      narrative critics have probably not done enough to get rid of the
      Heideggerian framework that NT scholarship has inherited from Bultmann.
      That, anyway, is what I am arguing in the sequel to "Racializing
      Jesus". Having said that, it is simply historically and factually
      mistaken to deride narrative critics for employing trendy terms like
      angst. After all, you can hardly read NT scholarship from the 30s to
      the late 60s without tripping over "angst", "das man", "das verfallen"
      et al. You don't see this stuff in narrative criticism.

      ii) On the more substantive methodological question raised by Mark:

      >What evidence is
      >there that narrative-critics are uninterested in a text's context,
      >tradition history etc.? One of the first names that comes to my mind
      >when I think of contemporary narrative critics is Mark Allan Powell
      >and he, as much as anyone else, gives the strong impression that
      >narrative criticism can function alongside historical-critical work; indeed his most recent publications are on the Historical Jesus.

      There is no single position on this. Some are sympathetic to historical
      reconstruction, some are skeptical. I put myself in the latter
      category. In any event, the question is hardly one of sloth but of
      method. (Really, is McKnight's snide tone about how we just don't want
      to read old books serious or in any way helpful? It does little to
      encourage thoughtful dialogue between competing methodological
      perspectives.) The question really is this: do the Gospels consist of
      disconnected traditions strung together by editors with little sense of
      what these traditions mean or how they fit together? Or are the Gospels
      coherent stories with some unified narrative perspective and point of
      view? When doing my dissertation I worked my way, passage by passage,
      through Haenchen's commentary on Acts. As far as I can remember (and
      this is 20 years ago) he started by "demonstrating" that no single
      passage in Acts made sense on its own. From there begins the historical
      reconstruction. We all know the drill: Luke misunderstood what the
      source was about, we can reconstruct it more accurately thusly, from
      there we can see how Luke redacted this hypothetical source, from there
      we can see Luke's narrative and theological tendencies, etc. It all
      seems, at least to me, to be a rather odd and cumbersome way to read a
      text. When I pick up Acts, put it in its historical and cultural
      context, and read it, it makes a whole lot of sense. The individual
      passages are hardly the mess that traditional historical reconstruction
      demands. It also seems to me that a generation of narrative criticism
      has more than demonstrated that there is much to be gained by employing
      the latter methodological perspective. It is hardly just a matter of
      making stuff up left and right. Narrative critics, even those without
      much concern for historical reconstructions, recognize lots of different
      forms of context- historical, textual, cultural, ideological, narrative.
      What we, or at least I, have trouble with is the elaborate
      reconstructions of preGospel traditions. There just doesn't seem to me
      to be much to be gained by reconstructing an elaborate and speculative
      textual prehistory and then using that hypothetical prehistory to read
      an extent text. Is this not a hopelessly circular process?

      Shawn Kelley
      Daemen College


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    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/11/2003 8:27:12 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... Cela veut dire: vous avez certainement raison! Leonard Maluf In a message dated 3/11/2003
      Message 40 of 40 , Mar 12, 2003
        In a message dated 3/11/2003 8:27:12 PM Pacific Standard Time, jlupia2@... writes:


        Oui, Larry, vous ĂȘtes certainement correct.


        Cela veut dire: vous avez certainement raison!

        Leonard Maluf
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