I want to start off with a quote from one of the most read books on the gospel of Mark, Let the Reader Understand by Robert M. Fowler. Just ponder this quote for a few moments and then I would invite anyone who would like to make a comment on this to feel free to do that.
So here we go …
“The shift from talking about the gospel, per se, to talking about the experience of reading the gospel brings with it a number of shifts. One is a shift notably away from looking for a static structure in the text and toward an awareness of the dynamic, temporal experience of reading the text.”
This part, I think, is really important …
“No longer can meaning be understood to be a stable, determinate content that lies buried within a text, awaiting excavation. Rather meaning becomes a dynamic event in which we ourselves participate. Furthermore, the shift from meaning as content to meaning as event, leads us to understand the workings of the language of the gospel in new ways. No longer can the language of the gospel be regarded as referential or informative. It has become rhetorical, effective and powerful.”
Now, I certainly have some thoughts about these quotes and the whole of this book, but what do you think?
Anyone like to make a comment or offer an observation?
(The first part about the meaning of the gospel seems to indicate that we all understand the same meaning or we all have the same meaning … but we are all individuals and therefore we all understand meaning perhaps slightly differently. And the second part seems to indicate that emotion is very important as well, and we all have different standard emotions).
Okay, thank you. Yes …
(Well, what it sounds like to me is that he’s applying a style of literary analysis that was created after the time period in which the book of Mark was written, so would it be applicable to the book of Mark? And you would still have to look at the intent of the author while reading it instead of deconstructing it)?
Ok, good. What would you say that Fowler’s primary concern seems to be in this quote? Do you think he has a primary concern? I mean in one sense you alluded to something and that was the author … from what I’ve cited, would it seem that Fowler was very much interested in the author?
(No, I think he’s interested in the readers, not actively with the author).
Right, ok … anyone else?
I tell you the thing that strikes me about Fowler is what I would call: polarization. He’s polarizing with his statements like: “No longer can meaning be understood to be a stable, determinate content … but rather meaning becomes a dynamic event.”
So, for me, I would see a polarization here. My questions to Fowler would be: Why can’t we have both? Why do I have to choose between whether meaning is a dynamic event or something stable as content in a narrative? Why does one necessarily cancel out the other? In other words, and we’ve talked about it a little already this term in L’Abri, there is perhaps a notion of what we could call meaning, and meaning for me … or even truth, and truth for me … and that one need not cancel out the other, but there’s a dialogue that needs to take place between the two. If we don’t have a dialogue we embrace monologues, and monologues or polarizations in this kind of context are going to be problematic. Do we really have to choose between one and the other, in the way that Fowler has set it up? I would say, no. I don’t think that we do. I would go for a “both - and” … in this context, rather than an “either - or”.
READ THE BOOK - FIND THE RHYTHM