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Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Configuration in Action

Memory and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity,
Tom Thatcher ed., SBL, 2014, page 44

Combining Ricoeur and the idea of the master narrative, Newsom asserts:

allows one to account for the fact that the historical résumés of the Hebrew Bible and related literature can differ not only in details, but in some cases, to such a degree that they could be seen as nearly contradictory understandings of the common tradition.

It is configuration that makes various details and episodes from the cultural memory relevant in a particular performance or context. There is a choice - from the whole - of what to include and what to ignore.

If the configuration is successfull and the emplotment establishes coherence, then what is left out will not be perceived as an omission that threatens credibility but rather simply as details that, while true, are not relevant to the story being told.

Newsom's theory here can be easily demonstrated in the way the gospels tell their stories and episodes in different orders and combinations, with more or less detail, customised for the audience, style and genre of each gospel.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0