Shuck and Jive

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Art, Story, Symbol, what have you...

Conversations with Bob! Join right in!

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your thoughts.
My sitemeter is going nuts with folks from Presbyweb. I no longer subscribe, but I sure am curious what I am famous for today. I may have to cough up 50 cents to read it.

First, Family Saga is my working substitution for Word of God, it also includes our Christian/Reformed/Presbyterian story to the present time. Call it Tradition. I used to use the word family history but it makes it seem that the Bible in particular is best seen as an historical document, which I think is incorrect. The curious can read my ramblings about that here (take notes, put in their files, whisper about it at presbytery meetings, sneak it over to my exec, you know--the usual).

Second, I think our differences regarding scripture have to do with trying to understand the type of literature we are reading. It doesn't have anything to do with whether I trust the witness or whatever. God could reveal Godself through fiction as well as history one could think.

I appreciate John Dominic Crossan's quip a few years ago on the PBS series "From Jesus to Christ." Crossan said,

"Are we so smart that we understand these stories symbolically when they were written literally, or are we so dumb that we read them literally when they were meant symbolically?"

He added: "I think the latter is more true."

In my view (not only my view, others Catholic, Protestant, or non-religious), the Gospels, including Mark here, are proclamations made through symbol and legend. They are long parables. Mark begins his story with an anti-empire phrase, so you know where he is going. He begins...

"The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

Crucify him already for treason! Caesar is Son of God. Caesar is the good news! The whole book is about empire vs. anti-empire, or the rule of Caesar vs. the rule of God via Jesus.

Legion is not just a name such as Harry or Jill. Legion refers to the Roman armies on the outposts, the visible, presence of Empire. Jesus casts out legion!

For those curious about reading the Gospels in this way, there are a number of resources,

Burton Mack, A Myth of Innocence
Mary Ann Tolbert, Sowing the Gospel
Robert Price, the Incredible Shrinking Son of Man
John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography
and on and on....


1 comment:

  1. I DO subscribe to Presbyweb and you are famous John! Someone must have sent a link to Hans about your response to me entitled "Authority and Truth." That is what the link is to.

    I'm going to send a letter to Hans suggesting that people read the whole conversation. After all, I should be famous too!