Thursday, September 29, 2011

Text and People

I am in the middle of reflecting upon the role of scripture in God's ongoing revelation to the world. From my "research", one of the tentative conclusions I'm drawn to is that scripture is only useful to the extent that a community of readers has been made competent to read it rightly.

In the fourth chapter of Echoes -- the chapter on the possibility of a Pauline hermeneutic found in 2 Corinthians -- Richard Hays takes this community beyond the written text, beyond readership, and into the realm of embodiment where not texts but lives are read. the new covenant incarnation eclipses inscription.
             By incarnation I mean not the incarnation of the divine Son of God as a human being, but the enfleshment of the message of Jesus Christ in the community of Paul’s brothers and sisters at Corinth. That fleshy community is, according to Paul, Christ’s letter, which is to be recognized and read by all people (v. 2b)....In this eschatological community of the new covenant, scribes and professors will be useless, because texts will no longer be needful. Scripture will have become a “self-consuming artefact”; the power of the word will have subsumed itself into the life of the community, embodied itself without remainder.

I'm not sure that what Hays writes can be sustained. These words, after all, are the words of a professor who is exegeting a written text - moreover, a professor who is very much a part of the "eschatological community of the new covenant" and by no means useless.

Perhaps Hays is thinking more of our final destiny as the people of God, which he imagines as a scriptureless destiny. This ties in with some of the things Sameul Wells writes, especially his notion that the location of theology -- that is, the location of the word about God -- is not in sacred texts but in a sacred people.

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