Historical, Rhetorical, Literary, Linguistic, Cultural, and Artistic Intertextuality: A Response
Vernon K. Robbins, Emory University
From Semeia 80 (1999), pp. 291-303.
Reading this volume of essays is like surveying analysis and interpretation of the NT from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. The nineteenth century is known for the rise to prominence of historical-critical interpretation. With it emerged historical-theological intertextuality, which dominated in one form or another for more than a century. During the 1970s, a whole new range of intertextualities began to emerge: literary-cultural, rhetorical-cultural, linguistic-cultural, socio-cultural, and what might simply be called cultural intertextuality. All of these types of intertextualities are present in this volume, plus artistic intertextuality.
The volume opens with essays and responses by Dennis MacDonald, Richard Pervo, and Robert Stoops that take historical-critical analysis and interpretation as their point of departure and build twentieth century insights into it. The issues here are like those that dominated the middle of the nineteenth century, when the discovery of early fourth century Greek codices gave vibrant life to close comparison of NT texts to determine which ones had been used as sources for the composition of others (Kummel: 144-205; Baird 295-329). One of the keys to this kind of scholarship is the development of a coherent set of criteria for establishing chronological order. Dennis MacDonald introduces three criteria for determining relationships of dependence among the apocryphal Acts: (1) generative external traditions; (2) internal consistency; and (3) secondary improvement. These criteria are related to criteria text critics use to establish a chronology of variant readings among manuscripts. Here the interpreters are engaged in detailed intertextual analysis and interpretation but of a type that approaches the words, phrases, clauses, and sentences as historical artifacts. With this type of analysis, the interpreter focuses on texts as objects that represent historical activity. On the level of the form of the words, phrases, clauses, and sentences, texts are scribal artifacts representing past scribal activity. On the level of the content of the words, texts are historical artifacts representing past action and speech. Especially characteristic of this approach during the nineteenth century was vigorous exploration of the synoptic problem, which inverted conventional wisdom about the order of dependence between the gospels of Matthew and [] Mark. Matthew, which for centuries had been viewed as a source for Mark and Luke, emerged as a substantive expansion of Mark. Mark, which for centuries had been viewed as an epitome of Matthew, emerged as one of two major sources for the composition of Matthew and Luke.
For the purpose of public assessment of MacDonald's work, Pervo and Stoops accept the criteria he sets forth and both question his particular application of them. Pervo praises MacDonald for setting forth "a general list of clear and explicit criteria," and Pervo considers this to be a significant advance over the work of previous scholars. He questions MacDonald's use of the criterion of "secondary improvement," asserting that his application presupposes a stable trajectory for the history of the apocryphal Acts alongside one another. The correlate of a secondary improvement is a mark of degeneracy, Pervo states, and here interpretation is especially open to the subjective judgment of the interpreter. Comparing the prison escape episodes in Acts of Paul 7 and Acts of John 72-73, Pervo questions MacDonald's interpretation of the keys in the two accounts, suggesting that his insights could be inverted, because the response in Acts of John is not at all theological. The Acts of Paul, in Pervo's view, could be dependent on the Acts of John, rather than vice versa as MacDonald views it. Then, turning to Acts of Peter and Acts of John, Pervo argues that, from a theological perspective, MacDonald's view could be inverted to suggest that Acts of John is prior to the best extant version of Acts of Peter. For Pervo, Acts of Peter 20-21 exhibits use of Acts of John 87-105. The topic of polymorphy in Acts of John appears to be a more original, integral theme, while in Acts of Peter it is more artistic. Also, the presentation of the Transfiguration appears to be more secondary in Acts of Peter. In addition, Acts of Peter is a consistently more "catholic" writing, a tendency that appears to be a "secondary improvement."
Pervo's argument that many of MacDonald's insights could simply be inverted calls to mind John Dominic Crossan's analysis a decade ago of the relation of Gospel of Peter to the NT gospels. For traditional interpreters, Gospel of Peter appears to be a compilation text that freely used and adapted portions of the Markan, Matthean, Lukan, and Johannine Passion accounts. Crossan displays a historical-critical and theological analysis and interpretation that inverts this process. For him, an early continuous narrative embedded in the Gospel of Peter, which he calls the Cross Gospel, was the earliest written account of the Passion. Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John subsequently used various portions of this Cross Gospel as a resource when they composed their accounts (Crossan).
A major challenge for interpreters engaged in historical-theological interpretation is to break through "intuitive" presuppositions to display "counterintuitive" possibilities. The counterintuitive views that withstand rigorous public testing regularly set a new paradigm for research. The counterintuitive views that do not withstand rigorous testing function as catalytic, or [] simply bothersome, "static" in the context of ongoing analysis. In other words, a major driving force in this kind of discussion is an artful "scientific" mode of procedure. The goal is to establish insights into the data which will "free" interpreters from conventional presuppositions that limit the focus and horizons of analysis. MacDonald's preference for the priority of Acts of Paul and Acts of Peter could be the unwitting result of an intuition that the earliest apocryphal Acts would likely be an expansion, initially, of the activities of Paul in canonical Acts and, secondly, of the activities of Peter in the synoptic gospels and canonical Acts. Pervo uses basic literary analysis to raise a counterintuitive possibility that Acts of Peter could be prior to Acts of Paul. Then he uses historical-theological analysis to raise a counterintuitive possibility that Acts of John could be prior to Acts of Peter. Perhaps, in his view, both the Acts of Paul and the Acts of Peter were dependent on the Acts of John, rather than the other way around. For him, it would be preferable theologically if at least the Acts of John were independent of the Acts of Peter, because of the polymorphic presentation of Jesus in Acts of John. The success of Pervo's counterintuitive moves in the study of the apocryphal Acts will be dependent on discovery of additional evidence that might win public support for his alternatives. Only a significant configuration of additional evidence would put the Acts of John in a position of independence or priority and shift the burden of proof upon those who would place the Acts of Paul in a position of priority, followed by the Acts of Peter.
In public debate driven by scientific impulses, warrants of the time play a major role. Pervo uses literary and historical-theological criteria, two modes of analysis that have been important in NT studies for many years. Stoops applies yet another mode, insights into rhetorical composition in antiquity. This leads not only to careful analysis of rhetorical attribution, recitation, elaboration, and abbreviation, but it leads also to analysis of cultural intertexture in Acts of Peter and Acts of Paul.1 With this analysis, Stoops moves the discussion beyond historical-theological intertextuality to rhetorical-cultural intertextuality. For Stoops, Acts of Peter and Acts of Paul present two fundamentally different cultural worlds. Acts of Peter is organized around the theme of personal competition, and major concerns in the narrative are health, money, and Simon's seduction of people who are already Christians. Acts of Paul, in contrast, offers a daring theological program in which confrontation with civil society is inescapable. Sex and celibacy are dominant topics in a narrative that presents political rather than personal confrontation. Acts of Peter exhibits basic features of religious propaganda, while Acts of Paul, in Stoops' view, is a response to the first widespread persecution of Christians authorized by Marcus Aurelius. As Stoops carries out his [] rhetorical-cultural analysis, he introduces a phenomenon of historical intertexture in support of his conclusion that the Acts of Paul used the Acts of Peter.2 Stoops, then, does not limit himself to the practices of historical-theological interpretation as he analyzes the intertexture of these two apocryphal Acts. Rather, he views the words in the text as rhetorical-cultural phenomena that emerged in an environment characterized by a dialectical relation among rhetorical, cultural, and historical phenomena. Here, then, we see a movement beyond historical-theological intertextuality to rhetorical-cultural intertextuality.
While Stoops' analysis and argumentation are highly persuasive, the major difficulty, which he admits, is the extant texts of Acts of Peter. Christine Thomas's essay addresses this problem directly, but she has her eye more on literary intertextuality than rhetorical-cultural intertextuality. For her, the textual tradition of Acts of Peter is an ongoing, dynamic process that occurs simultaneously with the emergence of multiple textual recensions and translations of NT literature. Early in the process, Acts of Peter shows no relation to NT texts. As the tradition continues, it emerges in a Latin version in Actus Vercellenses that is a clear attempt to supplement the narrative of canonical Acts by presenting Paul's journey to Spain. The Quo Vadis story in Acts of Paul is, in her view, clearly secondary to its use in the Actus Vercellenses version of Acts of Peter. Only the words of Jesus that he is about to be crucified again (anôthen in Acts of Paul and palin in Acts of Peter) are really close. While Acts of Paul was surely a written text by this time, the Actus Vercellenses does not borrow the story but only alludes to it as though it were generally known. The relationship between Acts of Peter and other early Christian literature became more explicit but less substantive as time passed. The obvious precursors to Acts of Peter are, in agreement with Stoops (and Bovon), the canonical gospels rather than canonical Acts. Thomas's approach, then, remains within the domain of literary intertextuality. In this domain it calls attention to the inner nature of the extant textual tradition of Acts of Peter and calls for attentiveness to the textual version one is using at every point in the discussion.
Christopher Matthews expands the analysis of "literary-cultural intertextuality" as he joins the discussion of Acts of Peter. For him, Acts of Peter reveals a "cultural internalization" of a Lukan compositional achievement in canonical Acts. Acts of Peter, he argues, reveals literary-cultural rather than oral-scribal dependence on canonical Acts. In other words, for Matthews various stories and phrases in canonical Acts have become a culture of speaking and thinking that creates a context for repositioning themes from one person in canonical Acts to another person in Acts of Peter. For this reason, he argues, it is possible that Acts of Peter is simultaneously: (1) a production free from [] "literary" dependence on canonical Acts; and (2) an intertextual testament to Luke's literary achievement in early Christian thought, story, and practice. With this argument, Matthews moves beyond historical-theological intertextuality into literary-cultural intertextuality without including rhetorical-cultural intertextuality. For him, Lukan Acts has become culturally internalized by the writer of Acts of Peter in a manner that allows the writer to transfer themes from one person to another in later literary composition.
While interpretation of Acts of Peter in this volume takes us from historical-theological intertextuality to rhetorical-cultural and literary-cultural intertextuality, analysis and interpretation of Acts of Paul takes us through these modes of intertextuality into linguistic-cultural intertextuality. Willy Rordorf's essay shares with Matthews's essay a literary-cultural approach to intertextuality. Rordorf argues that both canonical Acts and Acts of Paul know Galatians 1. Again, the relation is not oral-scribal but literary-cultural. This means that the content of Galatians 1 has been internalized by the writers of canonical Acts and Acts of Paul in a manner that allows the writers to compose various stories and speeches that reflect the content and themes of Galatians 1. The bold step in Rordorf's argument is to assert that Acts of Paul is not dependent on canonical Acts in its portrayal of the conversion of Paul. Julian Hills continues in the domain of literary-cultural analysis, but his approach to the entire text of Acts of Paul and canonical Acts calls attention to common devotional language that, in his view, must derive from canonical Acts. Again, this is not an argument for oral-scribal dependence but for literary-cultural dependence. For him, a significant range of expressions distinctive to canonical Acts has been internalized by the writer who composed Acts of Paul. This writer, then, is a participant in what could appropriately be called a canonical Acts culture. Especially the devotional language of the writer of Acts of Paul reveals, in Hills' view, a relation to expressions distinctive to use of language in canonical Acts.
Richard Bauckham's essay continues the literary-cultural mode of analysis and interpretation characteristic of a number of essays in this volume, but his eye is on 2 Timothy, Titus, and 1-2 Corinthians as he investigates Acts of Paul. Bauckham's essay brings to mind Ferdinand Christian Baur's introduction of a new understanding of the chronological emergence of NT and early Christian literature while holding to an intuitive truth that the Gospel of Matthew was the earliest and most reliable Gospel, even though trends were moving in another direction in the context (Kümmel: 139; Baird: 268). Bauckham will not entertain the possibility that Acts of Paul did not know canonical Acts. For him, this is an established, "intuitively accurate" tradition of scholarship that he cannot challenge. Bauckham argues that Acts of Paul is rewritten Bible, a mode of composition to be found in the Old Testament apocrypha and Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities. This gives both canonical Acts and Acts of Paul a form of canonical validation, placing canonical Acts in the [] position of the Bible and Acts of Paul in the position of traditional reformulation. Nothing, then, is to be construed as extraordinary in the compositional procedures of Acts of Paul. From this position, Bauckham formulates a position that Acts of Paul is a rewritten form of canonical Acts. The author has rewritten Acts following the chronological and geographical schema presented in 1-2 Corinthians, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Clement's brief summary of Paul's sufferings in 1 Clement 5:5-7. The author considers his story to be chronologically subsequent to canonical Acts. The story in Acts of Paul is not, Bauckham counters against Pervo, a deliberate correction of canonical Acts with a desire to supplant the NT narrative. Rather, it is a narrative sequence of stories the writer of Acts of Paul developed "by means of the kind of creative exegesis which can easily be paralleled in Jewish scriptural exegesis � and in Hellenistic biography." Acts of Paul, in Bauckham's view, is creative exegesis rather than polemical narrative. Bauckham pits a literary-cultural analysis based on conservative traditional intuitions against Pervo's historical-theological analysis that perceives the theological differences to be grounded in significant theological controversy. For Bauckham, the theological differences between canonical Acts and Acts of Paul are "no greater than those between Acts of Paul, on the one hand, and 2 Timothy and Titus, especially Titus, on the other hand." This last argument may appear to be a strange move on Bauckham's part, since one might expect him to establish a measure of tolerance for exegetical creativity on the basis of variation within the NT canon itself. Rather, he argues that, unless the later literature was obviously tainted with a few well-known heretical positions, "[m]ost second-century Christians reading older Christian literature �, were much more inclined to appropriate and to harmonize than to distinguish theological positions." For Bauckham, then, a writing can be accepted as "creative exegesis" rather than "theological polemic" if it does not contain some obvious heretical point of view. In Bauckham's view, then, NT writings gave rise to a "Christian culture" in which certain inner participants in that culture could creatively rewrite NT narratives within boundaries that can be accepted as "canonically acceptable boundaries." The theological differences between these writings and NT writings is not to be seen as an attempt to correct or supplant earlier writings. Rather, these writings have a "literary-cultural intertextuality" that should be accepted as creative exegesis in the mode of rewritten Bible.
Daniel Marguerat accepts Bauckham's analysis as a "brilliant contribution" but disagrees decisively with the literary-cultural mode Bauckham uses to explore it. Using a linguistic-cultural intertextual typology developed by Gerard Genette, Marguerat identifies the relation of Acts of Paul to canonical Acts as "hypertextuality." This means that Acts of Paul is "grafted" to canonical Acts in a manner that is a "rereading" rather than a commentary. Acts of Paul, the hypertext, stands in "a perceivable dialectic of continuity and shifting of accent, modeling and distance" to the hypotext, canonical Acts. In [] contrast to Bauckham, Marguerat points to the contrast between the synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John as analogous to the relation of canonical Acts to Acts of Paul. For Marguerat, countering Bauckham, there is no evidence that Acts of Paul is a sequel to canonical Acts. Rather, Acts of Paul exhibits a rereading of canonical Acts occasioned by changes in the historical situation. Conflicts with Roman authorities created an occasion for elevating the status of Paul in keeping with developing hagiographic tradition, and the portrayal of Paul more closely to the divine figure of Christ in the narrative moved other characters, in particular Thecla, into the role of ideal disciple. Marguerat's analysis and interpretation moves beyond literary-cultural intertextuality into linguistic-cultural intertextuality. Here the reader encounters a much more robust concept of culture, one that emerges through a perception of linguistic activity throughout all of culture, rather than simply linguistic activity within the boundaries of literature in a culture.
Analysis of Acts of Thomas in the second and third parts of this volume takes the reader from literary-cultural intertextuality to cultural intertextuality in a late twentieth century mode. Harold Attridge's approach to intertextual analysis of the Acts of Thomas is literary-cultural, but the focus remains on oral-scribal intertextuality rather than moving to literary-cultural intertextuality like the studies of Rordorf or Hills. Attridge's literary analysis and interpretation explicitly exhibits the characteristics of literary interpretation as it has developed during the last thirty years in NT studies. Around 1970, interpreters like Dan O. Via, Robert Tannehill, R. Alan Culpepper, David Rhoads, and David Barr decided to move away from issues of historical dependence to issues of the internal literary nature of NT texts. Attridge adopts this orientation, describes the internal nature of the Acts of Thomas as story, and comprehensively displays every kind of oral-scribal intertexture he can discover in the text.3 Acts of Thomas explicitly cites sayings of Jesus known from the canonical gospels and Gospel of Thomas. The presence of a typological reference to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden in the Syriac version, in place of a series of dominical sayings in the Greek version of Acts of Thomas 36, leads Attridge to a conclusion that varying sacramental practices in the "Great Church" and the Syriac church may account for the variation. Overall, Attridge observes that Acts of Thomas is not greatly influenced by canonical Acts. Rather, the influence is primarily from early Christian gospels. Christoper Matthews applauds Attridge not only for the wide scope of his search and display but for his discovery of the differences between the Syriac and Greek recensions. Matthews uses the occasion to reflect on the need to search for broader intertextual milieus in intertextual studies.
In Part III of this volume, Richard Valantasis moves beyond literary-cultural analysis to a cultural-intertextual analysis and interpretation of Acts [] of Thomas in a mode characteristic of late twentieth-century analysis of intertextuality. For him, intertextuality refers to the interaction of cultural texts of all sorts: performances, concepts, images and metaphors, as well as literary texts. Texts are "any cultural phenomenon with a material base that communicates." Thus, "texts materialize cultural systems of communication and discourse." Texts can be distinguished from discourse by understanding that "discourse is the social process in which texts are embedded," while a text is a concrete material object produced in discourse. Valantasis refers to his focus of interest as cultural intertextuality. From my perspective his mode of analysis is thoroughly at home in socio-rhetorical interpretation (Robbins 1996a; 1996b; 1996c).
Proceeding in a manner characteristic of socio-rhetorical interpretation, Valantasis constructs a taxonomy of cultural intertextuality: (a) inter-religious; (b) intra-traditional; and (c) discursive. Inter-religious intertextuality in Acts of Thomas incorporates non-Christian philosophical systems of male formation into Christian formation. The groom's response to Jesus' invitation and exhortation to the bridal chamber in Acts of Thomas exhibits this mode of intertextuality and results in a fully empowered male participant in an elite philosophical community. Intra-traditional intertextuality in Acts of Thomas reveals that Thomas tradition becomes a site for "continuing conversation about the role and status of women" in Christianity. Within this intra-traditional intertextual context, the bride in Acts of Thomas replaces a social husband with a heavenly or spiritual husband. This kind of intertextual analysis and interpretation does not posit a "Thomasine community." Rather, it identifies a "textual" conversation that occurs in "discourse associated with a particular person," in this instance Thomas. This is a mode of analysis and interpretation that should, in my view, supplement and refine other kinds of "trajectory" analyses in the future. It will be important to include the inter-religious and intra-traditional intertextuality of Infancy Gospel of Thomas in this analysis. From the point of view of inter-religious intertextuality, in Infancy Thomas Jesus resists persistent attempts to initiate him into Hellenistic civilization by teaching him "Greek" letters. From the point of view of intra-religious intertextuality, Jesus resists and becomes civilized through a process in which the divine powers within him gradually transform into beneficent actions as a result of the efforts of the divine Jesus himself, without the aid of cultural paideia. This reveals the manner in which Thomas tradition is a site for negotiating the power of the individual to seek and find understanding that can transform divine attributes within him or her into a person who can participate fully in the saving activity of God. Valantasis exhibits discursive intertextuality in Acts of Thomas by placing the bride's response, which reveals the status and meaning of marriage in Christianity, alongside discussion of procreation and children in Gospel of Philip. Between these texts one sees a cultural discussion about birth of spiri-[]tual children. In other words, in the cultural environment of these two writings a concept of spiritual procreation calls for a context of contemplative rest necessary for spiritual life that replaces a context in which a person is preoccupied with physical children who take a person away from concerns of the soul. Valantasis treats us to a fully-developed cultural mode of intertextual analysis that, if followed by other interpreters, can contribute richly to interpretation of NT and early Christian literature in the years to come.
Judith Perkins's analysis of the relation among Greek romances, the apocryphal Acts, and Apuleius' Metamorphoses moves yet one step further into analysis and interpretation of cultural intertextuality. One of the major achievements of Perkins's essay is to draw a carefully-defined distinction between society and culture. Only a few people engaged in textual interpretation draw such a distinction clearly and carefully. For Perkins, "society" refers to structures and institutions that are widespread, well-known, and accepted publicly. "Culture," in contrast, refers to internal meanings of things that regularly set one over against commonly accepted values and goals. In her words, culture is the creation and interpretation of the social world by humans "through the imbricated framework of their cultural beliefs, symbols and representations." There is always, Perkins states, an ongoing dialectic between society and culture, and "[i]t is through this dialectic that new cultural and social formations emerge and take hold."
Perkins's analysis proposes that the second and third centuries were a pivotal point in a transition from the civic person of classical Hellenistic antiquity, where authority was located externally in various social institutions, to the person of the late antique and medieval world who searched within for otherworldly authority. Christianity as a social institution benefitted from this transformation, since it was a social formation that nurtured and supported people who presupposed and engaged in this search for otherworldly authority. In Perkins's approach we see social and cultural intertextual analysis and interpretation in a rich, full form. For her, each writing calls for careful internal analysis and interpretation, but it also calls for a perception that these writings are participants in widespread, dynamic social and cultural processes of interaction.
Perkins's essay, along with her book The Suffering Self, invites this interpreter to reflect on yet another shift that appears to have been occurring from the second century BCE to the second century CE. Apocalyptic views during the two centuries prior to the Common Era brought into prominence the presupposition that divine powers were finding it necessary to bring about, very soon, the destruction (death) and renewal of the present created order. During the first two centuries of the Common Era, this worldview modulated into a "death-appropriating" view of the world in which baptism into death-renewal, dying daily, or martyrdom as a seal of eternal life became a way of internalizing the death, destruction, and renewal required by divine [] powers. In apocalyptic, God or one or more of God's emissaries must enter this world to end this order and create a new one. In the apocryphal Acts, internalization of the death (destruction) of earthly sex, marriage, and other practices became a way of renewing the self and the world without the actual destruction and recreation of the present created order. By adopting a mode of life that invited God to offer "outside direction and support" to the self, humans could accept death and destruction for themselves in the place of death and destruction for the world in which humans live and move and have their being. Central to this is a direct reversal of the traditional approach to human "self" focused on self-control and self-mastery. A central requirement of this new world view is that people search within themselves for the external divine power that can nurture and support them through all of life's vicissitudes, including death.
F. Stanley Jones has contributed an informative essay by displaying in parallel columns twenty-nine instances in which the Syriac and Latin versions of the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27-71 may have an oral-scribal intertextual relation to canonical Acts. He considers three of his examples to be secure, three more examples to be probable, and twenty-three more to be possible. After making very brief interpretive remarks in the context of his displays of parallel texts, he proposes that Recognitions is a very early commentary on canonical Acts. It is an unusual commentary among early Christian writings, he proposes, because it is highly critical of canonical Acts. In contrast, he suggests, most early Christian commentary is basically uncritical and accepting of its predecessor text. He calls attention to the use of Hegesippus and Jubilees, especially, as additional sources and suggests that the author perceived himself to be writing a new history.
While Jones's essay establishes a good foundation for future study, it is limited by a focus only on oral-scribal intertexture between canonical Acts and the Syriac and Latin versions of Recognitions 1.27-71. Analysis of rhetorical, literary, linguistic, or cultural intertexture could advance the discussion to a point where it might be used to address Pervo's proposal that many early Christian writings show a desire by their authors to rival and displace earlier works. In addition, it might be especially helpful in a future study to introduce the Western text of canonical Acts into this analysis. Is there any substantive intertextuality between the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis version of canonical Acts and the Syriac and Latin versions of Recognitions 1.27-71? Careful intertextual interpretation of the variations among canonical Acts, the Cantabrigiensis text, and the Syriac and Latin versions of Recognitions 1.27-71 could contribute to a discussion in which interpreters are trying to decide if a subsequent text should be viewed as "rewritten Bible" or "highly critical commentary" designed to rival or displace the predecessor text. In addition, the absence of attribution of miracles to apostles in Recognitions 1.27-71 is an important insight, since canonical Acts, like the Gospel of Luke, has a vibrant [] thaumaturgic texture that begins with the miraculous pregnancy of Elizabeth and ends with the miraculous escape from shipwreck and from viper bite during the voyage to Rome. In the context of widespread imitatio of Jesus' miracles by apostles in canonical Acts and the apocryphal Acts, the absence of such imitatio in Recognitions 1.27-71 is a highly significant variation. In this essay Jones has started a conversation that could bear rich fruit in future analysis and interpretation.
David Cartlidge's essay presents a fascinating reminder that artistic depictions of scenes are candidates for significant intertextuality with written literature. His analysis of the scene of John the Evangelist's leaving of his betrothed to cling to Christ presents another mode of intertextual analysis and interpretation interpreters must learn to incorporate. One of the underlying reasons for the separation between NT studies and study of patristic, Byzantine, and Medieval Christian literature is an oral-scribal focus that has resisted both cultural and artistic analysis and interpretation. Intertextual investigation naturally leads out from literary analysis into rhetorical, linguistic, cultural, and artistic intertextuality. Many thanks to Cartlidge for this careful study of the relation of an artistic portrayal on an illuminated manuscript to literary depiction of John's turning away from traditional marriage toward Christ.
This rich volume of essays teaches us many things, but two things in particular stand out to this respondent. First, it is very important to be attentive to the specific text or range of texts with which a particular text has a dynamic intertextual relation. A number of interpreters in this volume notice that apocryphal Acts have a dynamic relation to NT gospels rather than to canonical Acts. Others notice that during particular phases certain writings establish a dynamic intertextual relation with portions of the Hebrew Bible. One of the tasks of careful intertextual analysis and interpretation is to exhibit the writings with which a later writing does or does not have a substantive intertextual relation. In the context of all of the studies of the use of the Old Testament in the NT, there still has been no careful, systematic, and comprehensive analysis of the overall nature of NT intertextuality to all the writings in the Old Testament. The Q material exhibits dynamic intertextuality with the stories and heritage of Solomon, Jonah, Noah, and Lot. In addition, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob come into view, and a program of redemption in Isaiah breathes vibrantly through many passages. Noticeably absent from this list are David, Adam and Eve, and Elijah and Elisha. Moses and Torah are present in the temptation account, and in one possible reference to Moses and the prophets. The Gospel of Matthew interweaves rich, intertextual resources from the Torah and from the Moses story into Q material in the Sermon on the Mount and in other tradition in the Matthean account. In contrast, the Gospel of Luke expands on the program of Isaiah in the Q material, emphasizing the bringing of good news not only to the poor, [] the lame, the blind, and the leprous, but also to those who are excluded because of arbitrary boundaries and stereotypes. Both Matthew and Luke interweave into this material miracle and controversy stories with dynamic intertextuality with Moses, Elijah, and Elisha stories they have gotten from Mark and elsewhere. Still the story of David does not play a strong role in all of this material. Rather, the crucifixion story and Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem provide the context for inviting the story of David decisively into the story of Jesus by means of Psalms attributed to David. Then, both Matthew and Luke create a context for Jesus' birth in the Davidic city of Bethlehem and present genealogies through Joseph to David. By this means, both the city of Jesus' death and the city of Jesus' birth acquire rich intertextuality with the story of David, who provides a thick heritage for presentation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel. In contrast to all of this, the Epistle of James has its major intertextuality with the story of Abraham (Robbins 1996c). Analysis and interpretation that exhibit the inner nature of the intertextual growth and emergence of NT literature could be a major step forward in NT interpretation. With this kind of insight, we could gain a new perception of the manner in which early Christians wove together the inner fabric of Christian story, Christian wisdom, Christian argumentation, and Christian theology.
Second, this volume teaches us the importance of analysis and interpretation of overall socio-cultural shifts as a context for textual interpretation. Jonathan Z. Smith and Peter Brown have called our attention to the overall shift from holy place to holy person during late antiquity. Judith Perkins has made a strong case for an overall shift from a traditional classical approach to inner self-discipline in a context of traditional community institutions to inner virtue dependent on an outside deity in a context of communities that challenge the values of traditional institutions. If we build further on these insights, it will be possible for interpretation of NT and early Christian literature to begin to takes its rightful place in broader discussions in the humanities and social sciences, and in environments where careful, systematic analysis and interpretation is being made of the literature, rituals, and practices of religions throughout the world. Many thanks to the writers of the essays in this volume.
1For definition, discussion, and exhibition of cultural intertexture, see Robbins 1996a: 108-115, 129-142; 1996b: 58-62. Back
2For the nature of historical intertexture, see Robbins 1996a: 118-120, 124-127. Back
3For the range of oral-scribal intertexture, see Robbins 1996a: 97-118; 1996b: 40-62. Back
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