Ok, it’s really just a creed about me. Meant in jest.
One of my dear friends and colleagues is of the historical-critical methodological persuasion (don’t judge me by the company I keep!!! ha!). We will often razz one another on matters of method. I basically say his method is inherently circular, deconstructive, overly skeptical, and highly prone to over-interpretation. He responds that my literary-theological methodology is simply an aversion to questions of how the text came to be. He’s not entirely wrong on this . . . but I would clarify. For me, questions of the tradition and redaction history of the biblical text are fascinating indeed; put simply, though, they are not my primary questions. I can employ these methods with competence and have in some of my earlier work and even a small bit of my more recent work. But again, they are not questions that define my scholarship. That is another post for another day.
So yesterday my friend emails me the following, which he titled the Literarian Creed. To clarify a few points, in the off-chance someone doesn’t get the fact this is a joke:
1) Yes, my methodology is literary, and theological. I do, however, see a great value in historical-critical methodologies. I just wish they were handled more responsibly oftentimes (see my criticisms above).
2) Yes, I do very much respect and appreciate Brueggemann’s work. I find it to be an honest, thoughtful, and serious engagement with the text, and one that does not attempt to smooth over tensions. Rather, tensions are the locus of meaning. Let it be said, however, that I do disagree with Brueggemann on several matters.
3) Perhaps most important, the final part of what I am about to quote from my friend seems to imply the Bible is a bit of an afterthought for me. I think (hope!) he would recognize this is entirely not the case. In fact, the biblical text–given my methodology–is by necessity front and center. Truth be told, I also think it should be the basis from which comes one’s faith.
Regular readers of this blog will likely find this quite a bit more humorous than those who may just be beginning to follow me. Either way, here is a parody, from a colleague of mine, of . . . well, me (and note that I say parody . . . satire . . . ). Ok, enough preamble . . . here it is:
Literarian Creed (Inspired by the Nicene):
I believe in literary readings,
the irrelevance of historical-critical methodology for all biblical texts,
whether in heaven or in earth;
An in Brueggemann its foremost begotten son,
scholar of scholars, reader of readers,
retired, but not dead, and icon of predominant American biblical scholarship;
In light of whom all biblical texts must be read,
By scholar and theologian alike;
And whose tome was written in postmodern spirit,
suffered neglect, but will rise again for a third unrevised edition,
and against which all scholarship will one day be judged;
Oh yeah, and in the Bible (which is an important book, too),
Which proceedeth from someone, somewhere, some time, and somehow, and for some purpose, but none of which I know, nor do I care to try to find out.