Saturday, October 29, 2011

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?

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