Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Allusions, citations, echoes (AGAIN)

Should exegetes avoid classifying the myriad of ways in which the New Testament writers use the Old Testament as S. Pattemore suggests (see previous post)? I can appreciate Pattemore’s emphasis on understanding the text of Scripture. I would even agree that determining whether a given use of the OT is a “quotation,” “allusion,” “echo,” etc. does not directly help one interpret how that text is being used in the NT. Nonetheless, it seems the jargon used to categorize how a NT writer is using an OT text provides a helpful means of expressing how closely the NT writer “mirrors” an OT text. This in turns allows the exegete to convey the degree of likelihood a NT writer is using an OT text and thus interpret a greater number of NT texts intertextually. For example, while Paul does not indicate in Philippians 2:16b that he quoting from Daniel 12:3, an analysis of both passages indicates that he is likely directed the reader to interpret Phil 2:16 in light of Dan 12:3. In fairness to Pattemore, he would likely respond that since the cognitive environments are close enough and the results one gleans from interpreting Phil 2:16 in light of Dan 12:3 would have been relevant to Paul’s audience, then Phil 2:16b and Dan 12:3 are sufficiently parallel contexts. [One should note here that Pattemore's approach seems closely related to Hays' criteria of 'satisfaction' (see R. Hays, Echoes of Scripture).]

Pattemore’s approach to intertextuality is especially helpful for weighing the possibility that a given OT (or second temple) text is being alluded to by a NT writer. Nonetheless, using (subjective) categories such as ‘allusion,’ ‘echo,’ etc. does allow the exegete to convey the degree of likelihood that a NT writer is in fact intentionally using the OT. This opens to door to consider another possible problem with Pattemore’s methodology – an overemphasis of the audience/reader to the exclusion of the author.

More on this last point to come . . .


Alan Bandy said...

I've enjoyed reading these posts. I would agree with you that Pattemore is too negative regarding these classifications. I find them very useful, not for interpreting the text, but for isolating the relationship between the OT and the NT. Although this is a somewhat subjective venture, I think that it works in conjunction with authorial intention.
I would agree with you also about Pattemore's interest in the reader, but I do not think that he excludes the role of the author. In fact, his Relevance Theory bolsters the importance of authorial intention. Read the section on this subject in "The People of God."

Mark Owens said...

Thanks for the feedback. I would be the first to admit that I need to reread Pattemore's section on his methodology:-) As I've worked through more of his analysis of Rev 6 and 7, I would certainly agree that he does not exclude the author. This is something I probably will post about sometime in the "near" future.