Monday, October 31, 2011

Intertextuality - Author vs. Audience

In my previous post I noted Hays key foundation in claiming an intertextual echo. 
The concept of allusion depends both on the notion of authorial intention and on the assumption that the reader will share with the author the requisite “portable library” to recognize the source of the allusion…
For an intertextual echo to be affective and effective, the audience must be able to the following successive mental steps: they must be able to recognise, recall, connect, assess and trust  an intertextual reading.  Without these successive steps, the echo/allusion is missed, and the communicative intent of the author is potentially mistaken.  Like Virgil's phrase, Audentes Fortuna iuvat, misunderstanding the context and the communicative intent could lead to serious misrepresentation and misunderstanding. 
Fortune favors the bold is one of those phrases that are quoted so frequently that they bear none of the weight of their original contexts. The appeal of its underlying message — luck is not something that merely happens to people, but rather the other way around — ignores the fact that it was originally written, by the Roman poet Virgil, as the battle cry of a fool whose boldness shortly leads to his death.
One strategy around this herculean boulder of what the audience would have understood or picked up on, is to pass the audience and focus solely on the author. Thus Stanley Porter,

Although investigation of an audience-oriented approach has merit in establishing the shared assumptions and biblical knowledge of the audience (in fact, much more could and should be done in this area), it is questionable whether it provides the proper basis for establishing the author’s use of the Old Testament. If one is interested in establishing a given author’s use of the Old Testament, it would appear imperative to orient one’s discussion to the language of the author, rather than supposed, reconstructed “knowledge” of the audience.
Why would an author go to so much trouble to allude to a text, knowing the audience would probably not pick up on the allusion or echo?  Thus, in response to this it must be noted that rhetors in the ancient world would be aware of the audience to whom they were speaking, and would speak accordingly.  Thus to ignore the problem of the audience's ability to recognise, recall, connect, assess and trust an intertextual reading, could seriously undermine the integrity of the proposed intertextual echo.  And it would not pass Hays' criteria noted before.   What we need is a better model for understanding the audiences to whom NT authors wrote.  And thankfully, such a model exists and provides us with helpful insights and a way of carefully assessing the validity of such claimed echoes. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Intertextuality - Hays Criteria and Assumption

Richard B. Hays in his celebrated work, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, offers seven criteria for determining an “echo” or an “allusion” to Scripture.
  1. Availability: Was the proposed source of the allusion/echo available to the author and/or original hearers?
  2. Volume: What is the degree of explicit repetition of words or syntactical patterns?
  3. Recurrence: How often does Paul elsewhere cite or allude to the same scriptural passage?
  4. Thematic Coherence: How well does the alleged echo fit into the line of argument that Paul is developing?
  5. Historical Plausibility: Could Paul have intended the alleged meaning effect?
  6. History of Interpretation: Have other readers, both critical and pre-critical, heard the same echoes?
  7. Satisfaction: Does the proposed reading make sense?
Intertextuality is built on several key assumptions, which Hays outlines below.   
Prominent among these conventions are the convictions that a proposed interpretation must be justified with reference to evidence provided both by the text’s rhetorical structure and by what can be known through critical investigation about the author and the original readers. Any interpretation must respect these constraints in order to be persuasive in my reading community. Claims about intertextual meaning are strongest where it can credibly be demonstrated that they occur within the literary structure of the text and that they can plausibly be ascribed to the intention of the author and the competence of the original readers.
The concept of allusion depends both on the notion of authorial intention and on the assumption that the reader will share with the author the requisite “portable library” to recognize the source of the allusion…
This last quote is the achilles heel in many claims to intertextuality, as many of the audiences to whom New Testament authors wrote, simply did not have that "portable library" to recognise, recall, connect, assess and trust Paul’s intertextual reading.  And without this ability, claims to intertextuality are severely weakened and often undermined. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Intertextuality - What Constitutes an Echo or Allusion?

Providing some methodological clarity and specificity to the topic of intertextuality in biblical studies, is the careful work of Christopher Beecham, which I draw from in this post.  By specifying and clarifying his criteria, something many engaged in intertextuality have failed to do, Beecham brings guidance to an at times unclear conversation. 

Items that are Essential to Identifying Something as an Allusion.

1. First, an allusion is an intentional, conscious attempt by an author to point a reader back to a prior text.

2. The second item that is essential to allusion is that an allusion has “in each instance, a single identifiable source.”

3. Third, an allusion must adequately stand out in order to be perceived by the audience. This presupposes that the author and reader share a common language and tradition. For an allusion to be successful, the prior text must be “. . . part of the portable library shared by the author and his ideal audience.” If the work is unfamiliar to the reader, the allusion will race past the ear like an arrow that missed its target.

4. The final item essential to allusion is that an author employing it expects that the audience will remember the original sense of the previous text and link the appropriate components that the new context requires in order to be most fully understood.

Items that are essential for identifying an Echo

1. First, unlike allusion, an echo may be either a conscious or unconscious act. Echoes are faint enough that often it is impossible to gauge whether its appearance in the text was consciously or unconsciously performed by the author.

2. Every echo derives from one specific text, event, tradition, person, or thing (whether animate or inanimate, concrete or abstract). If the echo is a textual or literary echo, it stems from a text that the author has read (or heard) at some point in the past.

3. Third, unlike allusion, by echo the author does not intend to point the audience to the precursor. Intention implies a conscious activity, and echo is often but not always a conscious act. Echo is a linking of texts accomplished without the aim to render a communication for public consumption… Echoes surface in a text largely because the author’s mind is saturated with the source text.

4. Unlike allusion, an echo is not dependent upon the original sense of the precursor to be understood. The meaning in the new context is not tied to the previous context; that is, the audience does not need to “recognize, remember, realize, and connect” the two texts to grasp the author’s intended public communication in the new context. The original context may or may not have been taken into consideration.

The strongest, most explicit mode of reference is quotation. The citation of the former reference is verbatim or nearly so, and is long enough to be recognized as such. An allusion, while still overt by definition, is less explicit, being more “fragmentary or periphrastic.”
Quotations may be further divided up into two categories: formal and informal. A formal quotation is a quotation that is accompanied by a quotation formula, which serves as a clear marker to the reader that what follows (or immediately precedes) is a citation from a previous source… An informal quotation, on the other hand, is a quotation that lacks a quotation formula. An informal quotation is just as much a quotation as a formal one; it merely wants for an explicit introductory marker.

This is from Christopher A. Beetham. Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. Biblical Interpretation Series 96. (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 16-20.

Intertextuality - What is it?

Recently I was giving a paper on Philippians, and made the claim that Philippians never quotes the Hebrew Bible. I thought this was a standard position given the claim of Moisés Silva, who notes that “Paul’s letter to the Philippians is totally lacking in direct OT quotations, and even its allusions to the OT are subtle enough that they can easily be missed.” [See Moisés Silva, “Philippians” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament eds. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 835.] However, someone pointed out that Philippians 1:19 could be a quotation from Job 13:16 LXX, which states: τοῦτό μοι ἀποβήσεται εἰς σωτηρίαν. Before exploring this, we must first clarify the key idea of intertextuality.

When two texts are juxtaposed, as occurs when an OT text is quoted in the Pauline epistles, an intertextual space is defined that forms a new interpretive context. Concepts from each text mutually play upon and amplify one another within this intertextual space. [K. H. Jobes, “Jerusalem, Our Mother: Metalepsis and Intertextuality in Galatians 4:21-31” Westminster Theological Journal 55 (1993) 299-320, here 305.]
When a literary echo links the text in which it occurs to an earlier text, the figurative effect of the echo can lie in the unstated or suppressed (transumed) points of resonance between the two texts… Allusive echo functions to suggest to the reader that text B should be understood in light of a broad interplay with text A, encompassing aspects of A beyond those explicitly echoed… Metalepsis places the reader within a field of whispered or unstated correspondences. [Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 20.]

These two quotes set the stage for what it is we are looking for, when we engage in the work of intertextuality. But this raises many methodological questions about what constitutes a quotation, allusion and even an echo.

In the next post, we’ll explore the work of Christopher A. Beetham. Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. Biblical Interpretation Series 96. (Leiden: Brill, 2008), who has offered a helpful analysis of what constitutes an echo, allusion and quotation. And does Philippians 1:19 constitute a verbatim quotation of Job 13:16 LXX?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gehenna - What rubbish

What do J. I. Packer, Rob Bell, and Edward Fudge have in common about Hell? They're wrong! Gehenna was NOT a rubbish dump outside Jerusalem. [I must confess that I too at one stage believed this myth.]

The simple fact is that there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that this is true in the first century. There is no archeological or literary support for this claim. So where did the idea come from? It appears to have come from a Rabbinic commentary on Psalm 27:13, written in 1200 CE!
See further:
  • Peter Head, “The Duration of Divine Judgment in the New Testament” in The reader must understand: Eschatology in Bible and Theology. eds. K.E. Brower and M.W. Elliott; (Leicester: Apollos, 1997), 221-227.
  • G. R. Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom of God. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 376n.92.
  • Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud and Midrasch, 5 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1922-56), 4:2:1030.
  • Lloyd R. Bailey, “Gehenna: The Topography of Hell,” Biblical Archeologist 49 (1986): 187-191.