Saturday, December 01, 2007

Study on the Gospel of John: Day 5

We did quite a bit today continuing where we left off last night on the Raising of Lazarus, then onto missiology according to the Gospel of John, the pericope on the vine and branches and finally the passion narrative.

Allen brought us through the narratives using Mark Stibbe's John as Storyteller: Narrative Criticism and the Fourth Gospel as a guide.

As much as it was interesting at certain junctures but I felt more incredulous than ever of Stibbe's claims. Allen too highlighted where he felt it was really farfetched and dubious.

I am not familiar with narrative criticism, but so far I think Stibbe is reading too much into the text. For example, Stibbe apparently highlighted a connection where Jesus called in loud voice for Lazarus to come out of the tomb with Jesus' crucifixion, where there too were the loud calling of the people to mock Jesus. He also highlighted on the light and darkness theme by contrasting in the narrative of the arrest of Jesus, the disciples in the dark in the olive grove and the light of the torches of the soldiers!

Here's a couple of reviews of the book:

Stibbe's desire to integrate various approaches to a biblical text is commendable; he appreciates the strengths and limitations of different methods. Nevertheless, it is not clear that this book attains the integration desired. The connections between the Good Shepherd discourse and the arrest cannot bear the weight S. places on them, and the link between the tragic mythos of the passion and the familial imagery is not adequately developed. While a fresh consideration of the gospel's historicity is welcome, the proposal of a Bethany Gospel written by Lazarus is tenuous. The book is perhaps more important for the questions it raises than for the answers it gives.
(Craig R. Koester, Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, St. Paul MN 55108, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 55 no 2 Ap 1993, p.400-1)

For those unacquainted with narrative criticism this well-informed and clearly written book could serve as a stimulating introduction. But those already familiar with the method may find that S. delivers less than he promises. Only two chapters address the genuinely narrative concerns intrinsic to the text of Jn 18-19. Elsewhere S. deals with largely extrinsic concerns, which, while perfectly legitimate in themselves, contribute little or nothing to the true aim and method of narrative criticism, viz. understanding a narrative through close and careful analysis of its textual strategies. S. would have done better to apply his obvious talents to a more detailed, full-scale narrative reading of Jn 18-19. Instead he offers us a conflation of diverse methods that ends up diffusing the focus on what narrative criticism really is and does.
(J. Warren Holleran St. Patrick's Seminary Mento Park, Calif, Theological Studies 54 no 1 Mr 1993, p 194)


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