Monday, February 02, 2009

Its the Narrative, stupid! Wright gets it Wrong

I am a great fan of Narrative Criticism as a tool for understanding the Scriptures. I am also rather keen on the results that the intelligent use of Rhetorical Criticism throws up. In fact, I guess you could say that Narrative Criticism and Rhetorical Criticism are the same thing for just two different sorts of genre: both work on the assumption that if you understand something about the kind of text you are reading and the rules that govern that genre, you will come closer to understanding the intention of the author and the meaning of the text.



We saw the film "Hotel for Dogs" with the kids on the weekend. Before we went into the cinema, and only with the barest idea of what the film was about, I told the kids what the story line would be. Orphaned kids save stray dogs, hide them in an old hotel, get chased by the police/city pound, catastrophe is followed by eucatastrophe (a little bit of Tolkien thrown in there) and everyone ends up living happily every after. As soon as the film started, it was clear that the orphans would be adopted by their social worker and his wife. Everything went according to script. Maddy said afterwards: "It had The Narrative." They teach primary school kids things like that here.

Anyway, it isn't only in fiction that there are arguments over narrative. History is a minefield for that. You think it is about "facts", but it is really about the way in which the facts are strung together. Thus we get the different narratives of Palestine and Israel driving the current conflict, Bishop Williamson's disagreement about the established narrative of the Shoah, etc.



Preparing for the new program of Reading Paul (see the previous blog), I was reading Tom Wright's short popular commentary on Acts "Acts for Everyone", and came across this clanger on page 74 of the second volume:
Just north of where I am writing this, and visible from not far away, is the small but famous island of Lindisfarne, commonly known as 'Holy Island'. It was the first beachhead of Christian faith in England, long before the Romans sent Augustine from Rome to the south of England to annexe the flourishing native movement on behalf of the increasingly powerful Roman see.
Well, I guess that's one narrative. Another would be that St Gregory was sending St Augustine on an Christian mission to preach the gospel.

8 Comments:

At Tuesday, February 03, 2009 12:36:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

Is this the same Bishop of Durham who made comments questioning the Deity of Christ?

 
At Tuesday, February 03, 2009 1:44:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

Sorry Schutz I stand corrected. If i remember it was after Tom Wright's predecessor had made these statements that Durham Cathedral sustained some damage due toa lightning bolt striking the building on an otherwise clear sunny day??

 
At Tuesday, February 03, 2009 5:22:00 pm , Anonymous Past Elder said...

Hell matthias, the guy from Norfolk was probably one of my ancestors and hell yes it's a different country!

Everybody knows those goofs North of the Umber are just nuts. You gotta watch out for the damn Mercians too, you know. Kent is south of Essex which is south of us.

Who's us? The right, true, and proper Kingdom of East Anglia, of course. The dude was saying good-bye! Although, he being one of the North Folk (Norfolk)and me being from South Folk (Suffolk) stock maybe we weren't related!

Yeah, they called it the United Kingdom for a reason, all right.

 
At Tuesday, February 03, 2009 7:52:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

hey my people were in Sussex
one lot being saxons but the others-my surnamed ancestors- came over on a tourist trip in 1066 ,and we had 'de" in front of our name for a couple of hundred years,although the farm they first lived in was known by the 'de" name up until the Napoleonic Wars.
had a distant relative who was a vicar and who painted nudes-very low Church that

 
At Wednesday, February 04, 2009 9:19:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

Ah the narrative,King Harold was not killed by a lucky shot but rather the archer was an existentialist seeking to make a statement by removing-he hoped the shackles of an imperialistic monarch in the name of archo-syndicalism .(Apologies to Monty Python's THE HOLY GRAIL)

 
At Wednesday, February 04, 2009 2:21:00 pm , Anonymous Past Elder said...

And btw, taking a break from pseudo-bishops in white sport coats and red clerical shirts (the real thing never dresses like that!), I saw "Hotel For Dogs" too with the boys. What's wrong with going according to narrative if it's a good narrative?

 
At Thursday, February 05, 2009 9:50:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

As I explained to the kids, in the whole history of literature, there are really only seven different stories. All good ones.

 
At Thursday, February 05, 2009 2:17:00 pm , Anonymous Past Elder said...

The only thing that would have made "Hotel For Dogs" better is a Schnauzer in there, but as ours was not with us for the movie, she wasn't offended.

 

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