Just returned to Cliff after a few days in Cornwall - half term with the kids – great time relaxing, walking on the beach, driving home through the storm! But now overwhelmed by all the work!
While in Cornwall, I (belatedly) ploughed through the first section of Dunn’s 'Jesus Remembered' (Thanks! You know who I mean!). It strikes me that the work is magisterial in its breadth although I notice an over indulgent use of secondary sources - for example Thistleton and Mueller whatshisname...and as for the stuff on Postmodernity...well, let's just not go there.
Dunn, in this first section, seems to be exploring the Running from History/Running from Faith debate and has been startled/struck/captivated by Kahler’s contribution to the Quest which he thinks that Gadamer (via Thistleton) backs up through 'wirkungsgeschichte bewusstsein' (history making knowledge???). The rather thin methodological crust on which Dunn is walking is rather apparent, although that crust is backed up by all the stuff he does beforehand on the Jesus Quests. To me this is a kind of Christology from above.
I am in conversation with a PhD candidate at Sheffield, Rafael Rodriguez, who is exploring the concept of social memory from a different perspective to Dunn's and an email to him about this sparked off this post. I suggested that what Raf is trying to do, as I understand it, is to explore Gadamer’s principle of history-making knowledge – i.e. that knowledge of certain events or people actually creates a social memory which lies behind the Gospel accounts of Jesus. To me this is a kind of Christology from below.
If this process happens in other situations/histories/cultures, it could also have happened with Jesus. What is history – it is the outworking of 'history-making knowledge' - well, then, that is the history of Jesus???
Scarily, what Dunn does not do, in this extended discussion of methodology (139 pages +) at the beginning of a book on Jesus, is to consider the whole importance of social memory, socialisation, or anything. This has been picked up by Byrskog et al. in JSNT but I don't think it has been explored fully yet. Come on, Raf, write the thesis, get the article done!
In a parallel vein, Loveday Alexander has done some good work on classic texts in Curtis and Marguerat’s book on Intertextuality. In it, and in the supporting literature, they discuss the importance of the role of classic texts in providing/cultivating/creating the assumed reading responses for those involved in Hellenistic society. In other words, the use of these classic texts in Hellenistic education and culture are themselves part of this 'wirkungsgeschichte bewusstsein' - they effect the making of history. If the classic texts change, then the reading responses change and history changes - if history is the narrative recollection of the past. It strikes me that this is similar to what Gadamer is saying – this is wirkungsgeschichte bewusstsein in operation.
As an aside, does that mean that we can bring John back into the arguments about the historical Jesus – because his whole Gospel is based on a response to the history-making knowledge of Jesus?
Just some idle thoughts…I think I need to read more Gadamer…