I don’t want to do anything complex here, but I want to attempt to make an argument based on particularity.
There is a current trend in Biblical studies and theology, where STORY/narrative is emphasized, and that’s fine, since we have found the blind spots of historical criticism. But let us just no throw out the baby with the bath water as the cliche goes. I am beginning to think that where narrative and history collide is in the history of genres. We cannot have a story without a genre,, I don’t think, otherwise, we are just re-affirming our embedded theologies or our own personal autobiographies into the text.
I arrived at these thoughts through my second reading of The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?, a book by Slajov Zizek and John Milbank. I find myself oddly enough agreeing alot more with Zizek, but really wanting to root for Milbank but I can’t bring myself to it. Anyhow, in Zizek’s first essay in this work, he repeatedly goes to novels that are detective mysteries, yet, he does not admit openly his preference, in this particular essay, for them. No, I am not saying Zizek is hiding behind “The Man of Universal Reason”; don’t be silly. What I am saying is that we need to start taking seriously the histories of genre, not only in the biblical text, but also those books we include in our little canons.
Scripture is a nice example of how genres are blended, so, like many postcolonial thinkers, I believe that there is no such thing as a “pure” form of one genre or another. That’s what makes science fiction all the more appealing to me, that it can change with each generation, and become more hybrid, like the appearance of more Western-themed science fiction works, or horror that is blended with romance (ala The Vampire Diaries).
Just as Christian theological reflection is rooted in the life of a man who lived his life out in time, in a specific place and history, stories, because of genre are also historically determined.
We just have to learn to admit it.
- On Zizek, Theology, Women, and Anti-Judaism (politicaljesus.com)
- John Milbank on Traditional Marriage, Sexuality, and Late Capitalism (politicaljesus.com)