It has been several months since I last blogged here; it is about time that I made some sort of return. As a number of you already know, this blog is currently convalescing after having been hacked by blog spammers. I trust that, in time, everything will return to normal. However, at present there are still several posts with hidden script at the end of them, and a couple of dozen other posts have been deleted altogether. My blog has also been removed from Google’s index. Lord-willing, I will be able to get it back on within the next month or so. Fortunately, most of the damaged and deleted posts can be recovered and, thanks to the generous help of Jon Barlow and my brother Peter, most of the problems seem to be resolved.
I thought that I would start with a relatively brief links post, before blogging some more substantial material within the next few weeks.
There are a number of parts of the post that invite thoughtful engagement. My initial questions have to do with the strength of the exegetical underpinnings of Jüngel’s approach, most particular with regard to his understanding of the New Testament’s teaching on the subject of faith. One of the general effects of the New Perspective on Paul has been that of throwing the Christological (subjective genitive readings of pistis Iesou Christou), corporate and active dimensions of faith into sharper relief, situating the faith of the individual within the faith of the community that exists out of the faithfulness of Christ, who is the manifestation of the faithfulness of God and the author and perfecter of the whole narrative of Faith. While Bultmannian and overly existential understandings of faith might be called into question, one wonders whether such exegetical readings of faith might provide a more secure foundation for Jüngel’s theological approach and provide an even more Christological reading of faith.
Levering’s decision to focus attention on history is a brilliant theological and rhetorical move. Theologically, Levering recognizes that exegesis always assumes some conception of history. Typology, as de Lubac recognized, was not so much a way of reading texts as a way of reading history. Rhetorically, by focusing on history, Levering upends historical-critical exegesis in its own living room. Historical-critical scholarship has boasted of its historical achievements, often with considerable justification. Yet it has also used historical scholarship as a solvent of theological interpretation. Levering could have taken the easy, polite route of saying that historical critics only need to add a theological layer to their historical interpretation. Instead, he mounts a direct assault: “Historical exegesis can’t even get history right.”
However I want to suggest that the term is not really that helpful. Of course it does have handy political uses. I am accused of homophobia; I reply ‘but I am not!’ Therefore according to the well-known theorist in political rhetoric, George Lakoff, in that moment of reply I lose the argument. By resisting the label, I actually give the game away to my accuser. In the odd ways of modern political discourse, to resist a definition actually makes it stick all the harder. To protest that I am not-a-homophobe (or not-a-anything-else) somehow proves that really, I am.
My accuser’s terms of engagement have won the day.
The 97 page-long introductory essay — ‘The New Perspective: whence, what and whither?’ — is itself worth the price of admission. Guy Prentiss Waters’ Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul comes in for particularly scathing criticism. Anyone who was ever under the delusion that Waters fairly represented Wright and Dunn should be completely disabused of that notion by the time that they finish reading this essay.
When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is re-created in the Net’s image. It injects the medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws, and it surrounds the content with the content of all the other media it has absorbed. A new e-mail message, for instance, may announce its arrival as we’re glancing over the latest headlines at a newspaper’s site. The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration.
The Net’s influence doesn’t end at the edges of a computer screen, either. As people’s minds become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media, traditional media have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations. Television programs add text crawls and pop-up ads, and magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets. When, in March of this year, The New York Times decided to devote the second and third pages of every edition to article abstracts, its design director, Tom Bodkin, explained that the “shortcuts” would give harried readers a quick “taste” of the day’s news, sparing them the “less efficient” method of actually turning the pages and reading the articles. Old media have little choice but to play by the new-media rules.
Read the whole thing.
The legality of the shot has been called into question. Unlike the traditional reverse sweep, switch-hitting involves a changed hand position and stance, effectively changing the offside into the legside, complicating lbw and legside no-ball rules, apart from anything else. Jonathan Agnew discusses it here. I suspect that it will be banned, which will be a pity. It is an entertaining thing to watch. UPDATE: It has just been given the all-clear by the MCC!
‘Well, when we started out we were trying to cure Alzheimers. Now we have a sheep with the mind of a goat…’