Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Narrative criticism, was Re: [Synoptic-L] Osborne in Rethinking

Expand Messages
  • Shawn J. Kelley
    ... Dare I ask who you have in mind here? There were some narrative critics who, at the very beginning, overreacted to the hegemony of historical criticism by
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      >
      >
      >the fact is that many who call themselves narrative critics
      >have little regard for history, and even look upon the study of anything
      >found in the texts referential field as philosophically or theologically
      >illegitimate.
      >
      Dare I ask who you have in mind here? There were some narrative critics
      who, at the very beginning, overreacted to the hegemony of historical
      criticism by rejecting all historical questions; but they are hardly in
      the mainstream of NT narrative criticism. I do think that it is
      important to distinguish between narrative theologians and narrative
      critics. I have nothing intelligent to say about the theologians, so I
      will limit myself to narrative criticism. There is no particular reason
      for narrative critics- including reader-response and postmodernist
      critics- to be seen as necessarily rejecting all historical questions.

      Reader response criticism (as defined by Wolfgang Iser, the German
      critic most often used by American reader response critics) explicitly
      calls for locating texts in historical contexts and reading them against
      that context. (It's what r.r. critics call the text's "repertoire"). As
      for the postmodernists, there's lots of history there too.
      Postcolonialism and the New Historicism are both explicitly historically
      oriented, as is most forms of postmodern feminism and ideological
      criticism. As hard as it is for people to believe, the big names in
      postmodernism use historical categories all the time and never dismiss
      the process out of hand. Foucault is incomprehensible as anything but a
      historian (of a certain type), Paul de Man's most important essays were
      explicitly historical (focusing on the aesthetic ideology of the late
      18th and early 19th century) and even Derrida brings a keen historical
      sense to his writings. There is no substance to the common stereotype
      that postmodernism is subjectivist, a-historical textuality run amok.
      The question is not "text or history". The question is, what sort of
      historical study should be undertaken? What sort of historical context
      is most helpful for reading the NT? There seems to me to be no reason to
      limit historical questions to "reconstruction of sources".

      Having said that, I will gladly acknowledge that there are plenty of
      narrative critical studies of the Gospels that are purely internal- that
      focus exclusively on one particular textual aspect of one Gospel. I'm
      thinking of, say, John Darr's book on characterization in Luke. (This is
      probably a bad example since Darr does use lots of history in his lit
      crit- it just comes to mind). There should be studies on
      characterization, on metaphors, on narrative point of view, etc.; just
      as there are plenty of studies limited to a particular aspect of Paul's
      theology or Luke's eschatology. These narrative questions- which are
      widely asked in fields from literature to classics- have been ignored
      for most of our history, and need to be raised now. That does not mean,
      however, that such studies necessarily exclude other questions. They are
      just limited in the number and kind of questions they can ask- as all
      studies must be. Does a careful study of Paul's soteriology implicitly
      rejects all questions about the makeup of the Corinthian community? Of
      course not. In the same way, a careful study of Mark's use of, say,
      boundary language does not necessarily reject all other questions about
      Mark and the 1st century.

      Shawn Kelley
      Daemen College



      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Matson, Mark (Academic)
      I would resonate with Shawn s comments here. I have found that most literary critics are still very concerned with historical context. We just had Elizabeth
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        I would resonate with Shawn's comments here. I have found that most literary critics are still very concerned with historical context. We just had Elizabeth Struthers Malbon on campus here at Milligan, and she is a classical "literary critic" in her approach. And yet the historical situation and appropriate contextualization are always present.

        I am reminded of a conversation a good friend of mine had with Stanley Fish at Duke. Fish of course has a reputation as a literary critic without regard to historical contexts. My friend asked Fish how he understood the rhetorical thrust of texts without dealing with authorial intention (a classical divide). His response was something like. "Of course I care about the author's intention. If there was not author intention then all we are doing is f***ing around with the text." This exchange is simply a reminder that even those perceived as extreme literary critics are often presumed to have little concern for classical "historical-critical" matters.

        But what is often at stake is the need to make clear that these are not the ONLY concerns... that attention to literary structure, narrative development, character development within the story world, all are very important. Sometimes it is necessary to state rather extremely the case for the internal story world because other scholars seem to jump too quickly to the world behind the text without dealing with the text itself.

        Mark A. Matson
        Academic Dean, Milligan College
        http://www.milligan.edu/Administrative/MMatson/personal.htm


        > From: Shawn J. Kelley [mailto:skelley@...]

        > Dare I ask who you have in mind here? There were some
        > narrative critics
        > who, at the very beginning, overreacted to the hegemony of historical
        > criticism by rejecting all historical questions; but they are
        > hardly in
        > the mainstream of NT narrative criticism. I do think that it is
        > important to distinguish between narrative theologians and narrative
        > critics. I have nothing intelligent to say about the
        > theologians, so I
        > will limit myself to narrative criticism. There is no
        > particular reason
        > for narrative critics- including reader-response and postmodernist
        > critics- to be seen as necessarily rejecting all historical questions.
        >
        > Reader response criticism (as defined by Wolfgang Iser, the German
        > critic most often used by American reader response critics)
        > explicitly
        > calls for locating texts in historical contexts and reading
        > them against
        > that context. (It's what r.r. critics call the text's
        > "repertoire"). As
        > for the postmodernists, there's lots of history there too.
        > Postcolonialism and the New Historicism are both explicitly
        > historically
        > oriented, as is most forms of postmodern feminism and ideological
        > criticism. As hard as it is for people to believe, the big names in
        > postmodernism use historical categories all the time and
        > never dismiss
        > the process out of hand. Foucault is incomprehensible as
        > anything but a
        > historian (of a certain type), Paul de Man's most important
        > essays were
        > explicitly historical (focusing on the aesthetic ideology of the late
        > 18th and early 19th century) and even Derrida brings a keen
        > historical
        > sense to his writings. There is no substance to the common stereotype
        > that postmodernism is subjectivist, a-historical textuality run amok.
        > The question is not "text or history". The question is, what sort of
        > historical study should be undertaken? What sort of
        > historical context
        > is most helpful for reading the NT? There seems to me to be
        > no reason to
        > limit historical questions to "reconstruction of sources".
        >
        > Having said that, I will gladly acknowledge that there are plenty of
        > narrative critical studies of the Gospels that are purely
        > internal- that
        > focus exclusively on one particular textual aspect of one Gospel. I'm
        > thinking of, say, John Darr's book on characterization in
        > Luke. (This is
        > probably a bad example since Darr does use lots of history in his lit
        > crit- it just comes to mind). There should be studies on
        > characterization, on metaphors, on narrative point of view,
        > etc.; just
        > as there are plenty of studies limited to a particular aspect
        > of Paul's
        > theology or Luke's eschatology. These narrative questions- which are
        > widely asked in fields from literature to classics- have been ignored
        > for most of our history, and need to be raised now. That does
        > not mean,
        > however, that such studies necessarily exclude other
        > questions. They are
        > just limited in the number and kind of questions they can ask- as all
        > studies must be. Does a careful study of Paul's soteriology
        > implicitly
        > rejects all questions about the makeup of the Corinthian
        > community? Of
        > course not. In the same way, a careful study of Mark's use of, say,
        > boundary language does not necessarily reject all other
        > questions about
        > Mark and the 1st century.
        >
        > Shawn Kelley
        > Daemen College
        >
        >
        >
        > Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        > List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        >
        > ---
        > Incoming mail is certified Virus Free.
        > Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
        > Version: 6.0.449 / Virus Database: 251 - Release Date: 1/27/2003
        >
        >

        ---
        Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
        Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
        Version: 6.0.449 / Virus Database: 251 - Release Date: 1/27/2003


        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
      • Shawn J. Kelley
        ... John I m still a bit puzzled by what you mean by alethiological and prelinguistic understanding of truth . I stopped reading philosophy a few years ago
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          John C. Poirier wrote:

          > I use history to denote a prelinguistical
          >understanding of truth. That is why I write in terms of a text/history
          >dichotomy. On my terms, a text/history dichotomy is conceptually
          >inescapable. In fact, you mention that there are plenty of
          >narrative-critical studies of the Gospels that are purely internal, and cite
          >these as the *exceptions* to your defense of narrative criticisms concern for
          >the historical, but according to my use of history as an alethiologically
          >complicit quantity, these exceptions represent the segment of
          >narrative-critical studies that is actually *more* history-friendly. Its
          >because they are internal studies that they are alethiologically equivocal,
          >and therefore useful to the hermeneut (like myself) who operates with a
          >prelinguistical alethiology (although equally useful to others as well).
          >
          >
          >
          John

          I'm still a bit puzzled by what you mean by 'alethiological' and
          'prelinguistic understanding of truth'. I stopped reading philosophy a
          few years ago after finishing the Heidegger research, so maybe I'm just
          rusty. Could you clarify?

          In the meanwhile, let me respond to this:

          >I would ask what you mean by the text itself?
          >
          I take it to mean the purely internal study that I mentioned and that
          Mark echoed and you seem to approve of: narrative structure,
          characterization, metaphors, type scenes, etc. Do we need a more
          thorough definition than that? There's lots of complex theoretical
          debates on the issue, but isn't that a decent starting point?

          Finally, one could go crazy looking for consistentcy from Stanley Fish.
          The first thing I ever read by him, written well before his "there is no
          text" silliness, posited 2 types of text: good, dialogic, self consuming
          texts and bad, turgid, straightforward arguments. Guess which form the
          book he wrote took? It seemed like an invitation to through his own book
          in the trash.

          Shawn Kelley


          Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
        • Mark Goodacre
          ... I quite agree. Donal Juel provides a nice illustration of the way those trained as source critics can miss important elements in the text. He discusses
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            On 7 Feb 2003 at 13:34, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

            > But what is often at stake is the need to make clear that these are
            > not the ONLY concerns... that attention to literary structure,
            > narrative development, character development within the story world,
            > all are very important. Sometimes it is necessary to state rather
            > extremely the case for the internal story world because other scholars
            > seem to jump too quickly to the world behind the text without dealing
            > with the text itself.

            I quite agree. Donal Juel provides a nice illustration of the way
            those trained as source critics can miss important elements in the
            text. He discusses Mark 14.65, the taunt to Jesus to "Prophesy!"
            while Peter is outside in the courtyard fulfilling Jesus prophecy
            concerning the denials, "One of Jesus' prophecies is being fulfilled
            to the letter - at the moment Jesus is being mocked as a prophet
            inside the house. Readers are expected to appreciate the irony in a
            way no one in he story can. The relationship between the mockery and
            Peter's denial seems obvious - but not a single commentator
            preoccupied with Mark's sources ever noted it." (_The Gospel of
            Mark_, p. 27. If one thinks of the amount of time spent by scholars
            looking at the source-critical and text-critical issues surrounding
            this verse, the point is clear. Indeed Neirynck wrote an entire
            article on the verse and its synoptic parallels without considering
            the way it functions in Mark's narrative. Moreover, I think there's
            still another element missed by Juel, that Jesus' prophecy in 10.34
            is now being ironically fulfilled, and I don't think this has been
            spotted by anyone else.

            As someone whose introduction to literary-critical approaches to the
            Gospels came via Austin Farrer and John Drury, I've never been able
            to see the alleged conflict between a literary appreciation of the
            Gospels and an approach that is also sensitive to source-critical
            concerns. But where I have found narrative-criticism hugely helpful
            in this context is in providing a valuable check against some of the
            grasshopper-perspective studies that still typify the work of source-
            critics. I'm a big fan of Farrer's use of a disparaging term for
            much form- and source-critical work as "paragraph criticism". One
            thing I tried to touch on in Case Against Q were places where
            attention to narrative-critical insights can nuance our source-
            criticism, e.g. how many source-critics have pointed out that Luke's
            "Blessed are the poor" follows on from a chapter in which disciples
            leave their possessions to follow Jesus? Yet for Tannehill, this is
            a key element in the development of the narrative.

            Mark
            -----------------------------
            Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
            Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
            University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
            Birmingham B15 2TT UK

            http://www.theology.bham.ac.uk/goodacre
            http://NTGateway.com


            Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
            List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
          • John C. Poirier
            Dear Shawn, I think our disagreement has mostly to do with what we mean by “history.” Just as narrative theologians use “narrative” to denote a
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
            • 0 Attachment
              Dear Shawn,

              I think our disagreement has mostly to do with what we mean by “history.”
              Just as narrative theologians use “narrative” to denote a linguistical
              understanding of truth, I use “history” to denote a prelinguistical
              understanding of truth. That is why I write in terms of a text/history
              dichotomy. On my terms, a text/history dichotomy is conceptually
              inescapable. In fact, you mention that there are “plenty of
              narrative-critical studies of the Gospels that are purely internal,” and cite
              these as the *exceptions* to your defense of narrative criticism’s concern for
              the historical, but according to my use of “history” as an alethiologically
              complicit quantity, these “exceptions” represent the segment of
              narrative-critical studies that is actually *more* history-friendly. It’s
              because they are “internal” studies that they are alethiologically equivocal,
              and therefore useful to the hermeneut (like myself) who operates with a
              prelinguistical alethiology (although equally useful to others as well).

              Of course, I realize that those who hold to a linguistical understanding of
              truth believe that there is such a thing as “history,” in the sense in which
              you use that term (which I acknowledge appears to be what Goodacre meant by
              “history” in the message that began all this). I’m not denying that--it would
              be like me denying that there is such a thing as “language” (broadly
              construed), when in fact the only thing I deny is that truth is a linguistical
              construct. Of course history and language both exist--it’s just a question of
              which is determinative of the other within a map of philosophical existents.

              Admittedly, there are a lot of barriers to making statements about the present
              state of things that everyone would understand. I find that the only way to
              cut to the chase is by speaking in terms of “alethiology.” Even this is
              problematic, however, in view of the fact that most scholars have errantly
              employed the word “epistemology” when they are really talking about
              alethiology. This terminological confusion has resulted in a definitional
              pre-cooking of the debate in favor of the constructionists (that is, those who
              view history as a construct): knowledge is patently a construct, so the use of
              “epistemology” (wrongly) to denote a theory of truth implies (perhaps at an
              unconscious level) that truth itself is a construct.


              John C. Poirier
              Middletown, Ohio


              "Shawn J. Kelley" wrote:

              > Dare I ask who you have in mind here? There were some narrative critics
              > who, at the very beginning, overreacted to the hegemony of historical
              > criticism by rejecting all historical questions; but they are hardly in
              > the mainstream of NT narrative criticism. I do think that it is
              > important to distinguish between narrative theologians and narrative
              > critics. I have nothing intelligent to say about the theologians, so I
              > will limit myself to narrative criticism. There is no particular reason
              > for narrative critics- including reader-response and postmodernist
              > critics- to be seen as necessarily rejecting all historical questions. . .
              > .[snip]


              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
              List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
            • Matson, Mark (Academic)
              ... Well, you are right of course about the tension here. Fish s book Is there a Text in This Class is precisely the reason my friend asked the question.
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
              • 0 Attachment
                John C. Poirier [mailto:poirier@...] wrote:

                > I would add a couple of things. First, my bewilderment at
                > Fish's statement: How can you reconcile it with what he wrote
                > in *Is There a Text in This Class?*? I understand that many
                > postmodernists who early on dismissed the author later on
                > tried to bring the author back in some way. (This is all
                > clearly discussed in Sean Burke's *The Death and Return of
                > the Author*.) I'm just not convinced that the way in which
                > they did so was intellectually honest in relation to their
                > own earlier writing. The price of bringing the author back
                > was a severe qualification of their own work, even to the
                > point of rendering it incoherent.

                Well, you are right of course about the tension here. Fish's book "Is there a Text in This Class" is precisely the reason my friend asked the question. Now we could decide that Fish is ingenuous. Or we could decide that there is something more complex the he was pursuing, and that his book was only "part of the story." I am a bit inclined to the latter, though I would not presume to speak for Fish.
                >
                > Also, I would ask what you mean by "the text itself"? It is
                > precisely what critics mean by that term that is the key to
                > the whole discussion. Does "the text itself" denote the text
                > as a free-floating association of words, untethered to the
                > author's intention, or does it denote the text as the only
                > available register of the author's intention? The difference
                > is crucial, and the history/text dichotomy cannot be
                > dismissed by insisting that text-centered critics are also
                > concerned about the author.

                You are right, of course, that here is the crux of the issue. For many "hard core" lit-crits, the text itself is intentionally (note the subtlety of the use there) disconnected from any authorial intention or cultural situation. There is some validity to this, since the text does "stand by itself" in having its own internal set of pointers and directions for interpretation. We don't have to know that much about the author. [do we, for instance, know that much about Matthew, or his audience (whoever that was), or the exact historical situation]. But having said that, I also cannot see a text without seeing it as a communication from someone to someone. If we don't know who that was, we have to construct some plausible scenario. So my personal approach is more rhetorical in that the audience, especially that "constructed" by the author, is crucial ot understanding the text. So I am sympathetic to your concerns... just not willing to jettison lit-crit for some of the extreme practicioners.

                Mark A. Matson
                Academic Dean, Milligan College
                http://www.milligan.edu/Administrative/MMatson/personal.htm


                ---
                Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
                Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
                Version: 6.0.449 / Virus Database: 251 - Release Date: 1/27/2003


                Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
                List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
              • John C. Poirier
                Dear Mark, Much of what I would say I have already said in my response to Shawn Kelley. I would add a couple of things. First, my bewilderment at Fish’s
                Message 7 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
                • 0 Attachment
                  Dear Mark,

                  Much of what I would say I have already said in my response to Shawn Kelley.

                  I would add a couple of things. First, my bewilderment at Fish’s statement: How can you reconcile it with what he wrote in *Is There a Text in This Class?*? I understand that many postmodernists who early on dismissed the author later on tried to bring the author back in some way. (This is all clearly discussed in Sean Burke’s *The Death and Return of the Author*.) I’m just not convinced that the way in which they did so was intellectually honest in relation to their own earlier writing. The price of bringing the author back was a severe qualification of their own work, even to the point of rendering it incoherent.

                  Also, I would ask what you mean by “the text itself”? It is precisely what critics mean by that term that is the key to the whole discussion. Does “the text itself” denote the text as a free-floating association of words, untethered to the author’s intention, or does it denote the text as the only available register of the author’s intention? The difference is crucial, and the history/text dichotomy cannot be dismissed by insisting that text-centered critics are also concerned about the author.


                  John C. Poirier
                  Middletown, Ohio


                  "Matson, Mark (Academic)" wrote:

                  > I would resonate with Shawn's comments here. I have found that most literary critics are still very concerned with historical context. We just had Elizabeth Struthers Malbon on campus here at Milligan, and she is a classical "literary critic" in her approach. And yet the historical situation and appropriate contextualization are always present.
                  >
                  > I am reminded of a conversation a good friend of mine had with Stanley Fish at Duke. Fish of course has a reputation as a literary critic without regard to historical contexts. My friend asked Fish how he understood the rhetorical thrust of texts without dealing with authorial intention (a classical divide). His response was something like. "Of course I care about the author's intention. If there was not author intention then all we are doing is f***ing around with the text." This exchange is simply a reminder that even those perceived as extreme literary critics are often presumed to have little concern for classical "historical-critical" matters.
                  >
                  > But what is often at stake is the need to make clear that these are not the ONLY concerns... that attention to literary structure, narrative development, character development within the story world, all are very important. Sometimes it is necessary to state rather extremely the case for the internal story world because other scholars seem to jump too quickly to the world behind the text without dealing with the text itself.


                  Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
                  List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
                • LeeEdgarTyler@aol.com
                  In a message dated 2/7/2003 4:45:28 PM Central Standard Time, ... You re right about the latter. Fish has been speaking for himself pretty thoroughly over the
                  Message 8 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
                  • 0 Attachment
                    In a message dated 2/7/2003 4:45:28 PM Central Standard Time, MAMatson@... writes:


                    John C. Poirier [mailto:poirier@...] wrote:

                    >I would add a couple of things.  First, my bewilderment at
                    >Fish's statement: How can you reconcile it with what he wrote
                    >in *Is There a Text in This Class?*?  I understand that many
                    >postmodernists who early on dismissed the author later on
                    >tried to bring the author back in some way.  (This is all
                    >clearly discussed in Sean Burke's *The Death and Return of
                    >the Author*.)  I'm just not convinced that the way in which
                    >they did so was intellectually honest in relation to their
                    >own earlier writing.  The price of bringing the author back
                    >was a severe qualification of their own work, even to the
                    >point of rendering it incoherent.

                    Well, you are right of course about the tension here.  Fish's book "Is there a Text in This Class" is precisely the reason my friend asked the question.  Now we could decide that Fish is ingenuous.  Or we could decide that there is something more complex the he was pursuing, and that his book was only "part of the story."  I am a bit inclined to the latter, though I would not presume to speak for Fish.


                    You're right about the latter.  Fish has been speaking for himself pretty thoroughly over the intervening years since "Is There a Text in This Class," largely because "Text" was not understood, generally speaking, in the sense he intended in the first place.  Fish never considered the author's intent irrelevant, since presumably no author including himself would trouble to write otherwise.  He is correct, I think, that the author's intention is constructed in most cases through the text by the reader; hence the author's intent as understood by the reader is always subjective and often merely what the reader wants it to be, or wants to make it.  But he was after something considerably more complex than just "getting rid of the author" in "Text."

                    Ed Tyler

                    http://hometown.aol.com/leeedgartyler/myhomepage/index.html

                  • John Lupia
                    For a very brief overview on literary criticism see message 2212 on the Johannine_Lit list s public archives that took place a little over 2 years ago. Fish
                    Message 9 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
                    • 0 Attachment
                      For a very brief overview on literary criticism see
                      message 2212 on the Johannine_Lit list's public
                      archives that took place a little over 2 years ago.
                      Fish comes under Epistemic rhetoric, a term coined by
                      Robert Scott (1967)
                      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/2212

                      Best regards,
                      John

                      =====
                      John N. Lupia, III
                      31 Norwich Drive
                      Toms River, New Jersey 08757 USA
                      Phone: (732) 341-8689
                      Email: jlupia2@...
                      Editor, Roman Catholic News
                      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News

                      __________________________________________________
                      Do you Yahoo!?
                      Yahoo! Mail Plus - Powerful. Affordable. Sign up now.
                      http://mailplus.yahoo.com

                      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
                      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
                    • Shawn J. Kelley
                      ... Thanks Ed and Mark for reminding me that Fish is more nuanced than I was recalling. I usually give more credit to the postmodernists than most, and I
                      Message 10 of 13 , Feb 7, 2003
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

                        >Well, you are right of course about the tension here. Fish's book "Is there a Text in This Class" is precisely the reason my friend asked the question. Now we could decide that Fish is ingenuous. Or we could decide that there is something more complex the he was pursuing, and that his book was only "part of the story." I am a bit inclined to the latter, though I would not presume to speak for Fish.
                        >
                        >
                        Ed Tyler wrote:

                        > You're right about the latter. Fish has been speaking for himself
                        > pretty thoroughly over the intervening years since "Is There a Text in
                        > This Class," largely because "Text" was not understood, generally
                        > speaking, in the sense he intended in the first place. Fish never
                        > considered the author's intent irrelevant, since presumably no author
                        > including himself would trouble to write otherwise. He is correct, I
                        > think, that the author's intention is constructed in most cases
                        > through the text by the reader; hence the author's intent as
                        > understood by the reader is always subjective and often merely what
                        > the reader wants it to be, or wants to make it. But he was after
                        > something considerably more complex than just "getting rid of the
                        > author" in "Text."

                        Thanks Ed and Mark for reminding me that Fish is more nuanced than I was
                        recalling. I usually give more credit to the postmodernists than most,
                        and I should probably do the same for Fish as well. In general I have
                        found that in most of the postmodernists I've read (Derrida, Foucault,
                        Levinas, Kristeva, Barthes, etc.), the original argument is much more
                        complicated than it appears in critical summaries and critiques- as
                        helpful as they can be. I've been reading up on intertextuality
                        recently. There are places in these writings which seem to go in the
                        "death of the author and the opening up of writing" direction-
                        particularly in Barthes. At the same time, such sentiments hardly do
                        justice to the complexity of the arguments and analysis. It could well
                        be so for Fish too.

                        Shawn




                        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
                        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
                      • Maluflen@aol.com
                        In a message dated 2/7/2003 12:40:42 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... This observation is useful for interpreting a late Mark here. The abbreviated text of (a
                        Message 11 of 13 , Feb 9, 2003
                        • 0 Attachment
                          In a message dated 2/7/2003 12:40:42 PM Pacific Standard Time, M.S.Goodacre@... writes:


                          I quite agree.  Donal Juel provides a nice illustration of the way
                          those trained as source critics can miss important elements in the
                          text.  He discusses Mark 14.65, the taunt to Jesus to "Prophesy!"
                          while Peter is outside in the courtyard fulfilling Jesus prophecy
                          concerning the denials, "One of Jesus' prophecies is being fulfilled
                          to the letter - at the moment Jesus is being mocked as a prophet
                          inside the house.  Readers are expected to appreciate the irony in a
                          way no one in he story can.


                          This observation is useful for interpreting a late Mark here. The abbreviated text of (a late) Mark by comparison to Matthew (and Luke!) here is in fact otherwise difficult to explain. By having the taunt consist in the command to prophesy -- in the absolute -- Mark opens up his text to the interpretation suggested above. On the other hand, the above interpretation of this event (displaying a larger textual irony) is impossible, or at least less cogent, in Matt. Would you not agree?

                            Moreover, I think there's
                          still another element missed by Juel, that Jesus' prophecy in 10.34
                          is now being ironically fulfilled, and I don't think this has been
                          spotted by anyone else.



                          I would be more careful here. Mark 10:34 prophesies an event that takes place after Jesus has been handed over to the Gentiles (10:33, and cf. Mk 15:1) -- an event which is fulfilled in Mk 15:16-20. It is true, however, that Matthew's parallel text (20:19) makes more clear the fact that Gentile sinners are the subject of the insulting actions prophesied. In Mk 10:34 the subject of the actions described is at best ambiguous -- so it could almost encompass both passion events (is this deliberate?). Nevertheless, the sequence of events described in vv. 33-34 suggests a connection of this text to Mk 15:15-20 rather than to Mk 14:65. The HUPHRETAI added by Mark to this text are probably envisioned as being Jewish, no?

                          Leonard Maluf
                        • Tim Reynolds
                          on 2/9/03 5:53 AM, Maluflen@aol.com at Maluflen@aol.com wrote: In a message dated 2/7/2003 12:40:42 PM Pacific Standard Time, M.S.Goodacre@bham.ac.uk writes: I
                          Message 12 of 13 , Feb 9, 2003
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Re: Narrative criticism, was Re: [Synoptic-L] Osborne in Rethinking on 2/9/03 5:53 AM, Maluflen@... at Maluflen@... wrote:

                            In a message dated 2/7/2003 12:40:42 PM Pacific Standard Time, M.S.Goodacre@... writes:


                            I quite agree.  Donal Juel provides a nice illustration of the way
                            those trained as source critics can miss important elements in the
                            text.  He discusses Mark 14.65, the taunt to Jesus to "Prophesy!"
                            while Peter is outside in the courtyard fulfilling Jesus prophecy
                            concerning the denials, "One of Jesus' prophecies is being fulfilled
                            to the letter - at the moment Jesus is being mocked as a prophet
                            inside the house.  Readers are expected to appreciate the irony in a
                            way no one in he story can.


                            This observation is useful for interpreting a late Mark here. The abbreviated text of (a late) Mark by comparison to Matthew (and Luke!) here is in fact otherwise difficult to explain. By having the taunt consist in the command to prophesy -- in the absolute -- Mark opens up his text to the interpretation suggested above. On the other hand, the above interpretation of this event (displaying a larger textual irony) is impossible, or at least less cogent, in Matt. Would you not agree?

                             Moreover, I think there's
                            still another element missed by Juel, that Jesus' prophecy in 10.34
                            is now being ironically fulfilled, and I don't think this has been
                            spotted by anyone else.



                            I would be more careful here. Mark 10:34 prophesies an event that takes place after Jesus has been handed over to the Gentiles (10:33, and cf. Mk 15:1) -- an event which is fulfilled in Mk 15:16-20. It is true, however, that Matthew's parallel text (20:19) makes more clear the fact that Gentile sinners are the subject of the insulting actions prophesied. In Mk 10:34 the subject of the actions described is at best ambiguous -- so it could almost encompass both passion events (is this deliberate?). Nevertheless, the sequence of events described in vv. 33-34 suggests a connection of this text to Mk 15:15-20 rather than to Mk 14:65. The HUPHRETAI added by Mark to this text are probably envisioned as being Jewish, no?

                            Leonard Maluf


                            If I were going to be electrocuted I could predict exactly what was going to happen:  I would be given a last meal of my choice, I'd walk with a pastor to the Chair, I would sit down, they would slit my pants and smear electrolytes on my skin and attach the electrodes and so on.

                            tim
                          • John C. Poirier
                            ... By “alethiology,” I mean simply the “understanding of truth”––that is, what is truth, in terms of its metaphysical grounding? Is it a
                            Message 13 of 13 , Feb 9, 2003
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Shawn Kelley wrote:

                              > I’m still a bit puzzled by what you mean by ‘alethiological’ and ‘prelinguistic[al]
                              > understanding of truth’. . . . Could you clarify?

                              By “alethiology,” I mean simply the “understanding of truth”––that is, what is truth, in terms of its metaphysical grounding? Is it a construct of our interpretation, or is it a preinterpretive datum corresponding to the world as it is? (Neither requires us to give a religious response to the question, although theological commitments do have a lot to do with how we might respond. *Viz.*, those who are
                              more convinced that Christianity is a book religion often go for a constructionist understanding of truth, while those who put the factic content of the NT kerygma ahead of the book-religion aspect of modern Christianity insist that truth is independent of our interpretation.) By “prelinguistical understanding of truth,” I simply mean the latter.

                              At a simple exegetical level, my question about what “the text itself” means can be answered as you answered it. But at the hermeneutical level, a choice must be made, and that’s why I asked the question.


                              Mark Matson wrote:

                              > Now we could decide that Fish is ingenuous. Or we could decide that there
                              > is something more complex the he was pursuing, and that his book was only
                              > “part of the story.”

                              I am willing, in principle, to give the benefit of the doubt to Fish and other postmodernists, but only to a certain point. When it becomes obvious that neither they nor any of their best students can give a clear account of the seeming inconsistencies, it is time to suppose that the difficulties are as real as they are apparent.

                              Among the more Parisian-style postmodernists, the limit that I set on the benefit of a doubt is even more important, because with Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, etc., you have the double problem of not only making the statements line up in consistent system, but also of making the statements themselves (that is, their language) coherent. One has to ask why all their writing is so impenetrably thick. In
                              *Quantum Dialogue*, Mara Beller has shown how the thick writing style of the (supposed) postmodernist superintelligentsia functions rhetorically: even these authors’ greatest fans don’t really understand what they are saying, and they put it all down to the towering genius of these thinkers, who are incapable of expressing their lofty thoughts in ways the rest of us can understand. To be incomprehensible
                              is seen as a badge of honor. Beller gives a particular interesting example of how fame attends the obfuscatory: Nils Bohr (the pioneer quantum physicist) wrote a paper that was hailed for decades a triumph of abstract reasoning, but not until recently was it discovered that the paper was accidentally published with the one of the pages in the wrong place. (I recommend Sokol and Bricmont’s *Fashionable
                              Nonsense*, which exposes postmodernism’s sophomoric misuse of scientific insights.)

                              I have tried to give postmodernists the benefit of the doubt for many years now, and have searched diligently for any signs of an argument for the postmodernist view that will actually fly, or that will fly with the fewest number of presuppositions. After reading many books and asking postmodernists themselves for such an argument, I am now convinced that it does not exist: without exception, the arguments
                              that they present are all highly presuppositional (e.g., the poststructuralist argument takes as its point of departure the view that meaning is a textual quantity), and the fact that these presuppositions are smuggled into their working definitions (in order to make the argument look like an act of analysis) only makes things work. A truly analytical argument for the postmodernist view you will not find.


                              John C. Poirier
                              Middletown, Ohio






                              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
                              List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
                            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.