The Gospel and narrative performance: The critical assessment of meaning-as-correspondence in D. F. Strauss and R. Bultmann
Moore, Robert George
Kelber, Werner H.
Doctor of Philosophy
The concept of meaning-as-correspondence is developed and employed to demonstrate how in the modern period the meaning of a narrative is conceived as a separate entity from the narrative itself. Meaning-as-correspondence is manifest in three modes: (1) as a referent to which a narrative points, (2) as an object that a narrative describes or (3) as a content that a narrative contains. As a preunderstanding of narrative, meaning-as-correspondence eclipses the power of narrative. The enervating effect of meaning-as-correspondence on the interpretation of the gospels is demonstrated. The work of the Mythical School, D. F. Strauss and R. Bultmann is assessed. All employed a concept of myth to the gospels which presupposed that the meaning of the gospels was a separate entity from the narrative. Members of the Mythical School conceived of meaning as an ideal or historical content. Strauss understood the gospels as mythical representations of a philosophical content which must be speculatively rendered into the language of idealism. Bultmann believed that the gospels referred to the early church's proclamation of the gospel, the kerygma. The concept of meaning-as-performance is presented as a way to re-conceive meaning as an event which occurs through narrative performance. The critical tools of narrative criticism are employed to understand the way gospel narratives are structured for the experience of reading/hearing. Reader-response criticism shifts attention from the objective critical plane to the pragmatic or rhetorical plane. The story of Jesus' healing of the blind beggar is used as a test case by which to contrast the methods of Strauss and Bultmann with a performative approach.
Religion; Biblical studies