What Matters? (from a lecture for Dr. Richard Arnold’s class a few years ago)
By Bob Lane
I want to thank Richard for inviting me and thank you for letting me participate in your class discussion. I want to share with you some general ideas today – ideas about life and about art, especially literary art.
Intention, text, interpretation
Myth = something that never happened but is always true.
• All bachelors are unmarried adult males. (analytic)
• 2 + 2 = 4
• There are 22 people in this room now.(synthetic)
• If there are 22 people in this room then there are more than 10.
• Tay John chopped of a part of his arm. (fictional “fact”)
John Dominic Crossan
“”Just because the Bible says “Jesus is the Lamb of God,” it doesn’t follow that Mary had a little lamb.”
- “…The classical mind says, that’s only a story, but the modern mind says, there’s only story.”
“The ultimate limit is that human beings cannot get outside of story; we can get outside of particular stories, or particular forms of stories, but not outside of story as such. The world in which we live is a narrative world, created by and in our stories.”
My general notion of literature includes these claims: literature is about the world, interpretation is a creative act, intention is a necessary condition for writing of any kind, there are four focal points for any work of literature: poet, text, world, and reader. The biblical text is complex and sophisticated narrative exhibiting many layers of intention in its final form. In the second book of Samuel, for example, we read the exciting love story of David and Bathsheba, and learn how David, driven by desire for the beautiful Bathsheba, brings her to his bed and makes her pregnant while her husband Uriah is in David’s army fighting the enemies of Israel. David eliminates Uriah by sending a letter (carried by Uriah) to the commander telling him to place Uriah in the fiercest fighting and then to fall back leaving him alone to be killed. After Uriah is killed Bathsheba mourns for him for the appropriate time and then David brings her into his house and takes her as his wife. (2 Sam. 11,12) Shortly after this we are told “what David had done was wrong in the eyes of the Lord.” And then, as we read in the King James Version:
And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto
him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one
rich and the other poor.
2. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
3. But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb,
which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together
with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and
drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a
4. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he
spared to take of his own flock and his own herd, to dress for the
wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s
lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
5. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man;
and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done
this thing shall surely die:
6. And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did
this thing, and because he had no pity.
7. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.