During the second session on Friday morning, I deserted the Johannine Lit group and invaded the Hermeneutics group. I shared the Intertextuality paper which I have delivered in Limerick and also at the Ehrhardt Seminar in Manchester. It is about to be published. Here are the details:
The Intertextuality of the Epistles: Explorations of Theory and Practice
Edited by Thomas L. Brodie, Dennis R. MacDonald, Stanley E. Porter, Sheffield Phoenix Press, Oct 2006, c. 320 pp., £27.50 / $47.50 / €41.25 (Scholar's Price)
Part 1: Chapter Three is the paper - nestled between Steve Moyise's discussion on "Intertexuality, Historical Criticism and Deconstruction" and Erkki Koskenniemi on "Josephus and Greek Poets"
Anyway, I delivered the paper and was then really pleased to have a good time to have a discussion about it with the people at the seminar. They raised issues about an analogy I use in the paper about centripetal and centrifugal intertextuality which I clearly need to develop a bit more. Someone later on (much later - in the bar that night) pushed me on the sense of this and whether it was the right metaphor at all. I think there is mileage in it but all analogies break down when they are pushed to their limit. The problem is whether it actually works in its basic form! Other people discussed who was responsible for the trajectory of centrifugal movement from the text. Someone confused me by saying that I focus too much on authors and readers and not enough on meanings. That got me into an internalised conversation (never a good idea when you are engaging in an external question and answer session at the same time!) about whether there is ever meaning which can be separated from readers and authors...another one to puzzle over.
Anyway, I felt really encouraged by the discussion and comments afterwards. I had a hour or so to spare later in the day and began to map out some ideas for expanding the paper into something more which I might pass around some publishers after my sabbatical...I think there is the basis for some interesting discussion. Although I wonder whether Tom Brodie has cornered the market, or whether anyone is really that interested in intertextuality - not a very sexy subject is it - well it is...but...
Angus Paddison, the co-chair of the session, followed me with an exciting paper on theological hermeneutics. I am not sure that I followed all that he was saying - it seemed to focus both on an undefined concept of theological hermeneutics and then on using the imagination in interpretation. Well, as someone said, the latter has been used in Ignatian Exercises for quite a while now! But I don't think that was what Angus was getting at - he was basically asking us how the resurrection provides a basis for hermeneutics - in other words, that the resurrection provides the key for understanding everything else - the lens through which everything else needs to be understood. For me this tied in with Tom Thatcher's social memory spin on John (been reading it over the summer, forgive me if you are now heartily sick of reading about it!) who argues that history for John = event, plus testimonia, plus interpretation. In other words, social memory constructs are not the same as history as factual event constructs. Is the text constructed in such a way that the resurrection provides the lens through which everything else needs to be understood.
Some of the paper left me a little stranded as it interacted with stuff I just didn't know - like the whole tradition of theological hermeutics. I realised there was a lot which simply passes us by while we are so engrossed in our own fields. But surely that is going to happen - unless we are all polymaths who can keep up with everything in every field. A know a few of these (I work with a couple!) but I know a few other people who are a bit thick like me! So there is hope yet.
I enjoyed my trip out of the Johannine boat, as it were. It might even move me into some different research areas. But even so it was good to get back into the boat on Saturday morning and return to the Johannine literature group for Pete Williams on his main paper and Ben Reynolds on the Apocalyptic Son of Man. More on those later...