Reflections on “Nomadic Text” (Part II)

Open BibleIn this first half of Nomadic Text, Breed does much to complicate a notion of biblical reception history.[1] The problematic nature of borders frames this argument, specifically the murky ways in which biblical scholars often define (or fail to define) the differentiations between the composition and reception of texts. No longer may complicated zones be neglected and ontological assumptions about the character of the biblical text be allowed to dictate the approaches of biblical scholars to the biblical formation and reception. Instead, Breed highlights the problem of determining where authorship and editing mix, how textual combination, redaction, and editing indistinguishably merge with the beginnings of scribal copying and textual corruption. Reception history involves more than just what happens after the final form of a text comes into existence. Rather, this field of inquiry should encompass the complex and pluriform ways in which the multiplicity of biblical texts have arisen, the difficulties of explanatory contextualization, and the recognition of the sign/signifier/substitution realities of language. Continue reading

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C. S. Lewis on Myth (Part II)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining C. S. Lewis’s view of “myth.”

An Experiment in CriticismIn An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis approached “myth” in several ways, most importantly as a story which has “a value in itself –a value independent of its embodiment in any literary work” (Experiment in Criticism, 41). Here Lewis defined myth in several ways. First, myth is ‘extra-literary’ as it has value outside its manifestation within a literary context. Second, myth elicits pleasure from the reader, but not pleasure based upon any specific literary device such as surprise or suspense (Ibid., 43). Third, human sympathy is minimal –the reader generally does not project himself into the myth (Ibid., 44). Fourth, myth is fantastic and deals with the seemingly impossible (Ibid., 44). Fifth, the experience of the myth, while possibly joyful or sad, is always serious and grave (Ibid., 44). Finally, even within the midst of the seriousness, the myth is awe-inspiring, portraying the communication of some great truth to the reader (Ibid., 44). From this literary perspective, the importance of myth to Lewis was the experience: “When I talk of myths I mean myths as we experience them: that is, myths contemplated but not believed, dissociated from ritual, held up before the fully waking imagination of a logical mind” (Ibid., 45). Myth is to be thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, and contemplated. Yet, the appreciation of myth does not necessarily have to be literary and scholarly. While any man can read myth, only the truly literary will be impacted by both the literature for its own sake as well as the delight that accompanies the meaning behind the myth (Ibid., 46-47). Having viewed Lewis’ literary approach, we now turn to examining his perspective on myths in terms of their historicity. Continue reading