DSpace Repository

Narrative strategies in the gospel according to Luke : a Bakhtinian exploration

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Whitake RA, Prof en
dc.contributor.author Fischer BI en
dc.date.accessioned 2016-09-22T09:11:34Z
dc.date.available 2016-09-22T09:11:34Z
dc.date.created 2003 en
dc.date.submitted 2004 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11892/46330
dc.description.abstract Using the theory of the twentieth century Russian literary scholar and linguist, Mikhail Bakhtin, this thesis has set out to explore narrative strategy in the Gospel of Luke, the aim being to consider how this would affect a generic reading, and what implications this would have in assessing the discourse of this text. Bakhtin classifies early Christian writings as part of the Menippea, a collective name for a body of parodying-travestying literature of the Graeco-Roman period. In contrast to the classical genres of the mainstream, epic, love-poetry and tragedy, Bakhtin rates Menippean texts as being essentially dialogic, engaged in exploring ideas of life and death from the perspective of a carnivalistic view of the world. He uses the genre of the Greek Romance, seen by him as a forerunner of the European novel, to demonstrate some of his theory. Having selected the Romance, Chaereas and Callirhoe, by Chariton, as a comparative text to the Gospel of Luke, both texts are explored in terms of the Bakhtinian concepts of chronotope, carnival, and intertextuality. Regarding the organization of time and space, both texts were found to function according to a combination of biographical time and adventure time in abstract alien space, which Bakhtin identifies as the chronotope of the adventure novel of ordeal. The heroes in both texts were found to be unchanging, in line with Bakhtin's theory that the protagonist of this type of text embodies the viability of the idea being tested, the integrity of the character signifying the integrity of the idea. Furthermore it was found that both texts share a number of motifs that are characteristic of this genre. Concerning the discursive function of the chronotope, it was found that the location of the episodes recounted supported the discourse of the Gospel as a whole. Having rooted itself in the established religion as represented by the Hebrew Bible and the Temple, the discourse then diverges from it for the greater part of the narrative, to finally challenge the practice of that religion on its own ground before setting off to disseminate itself as a new religion throughout the world. Both the Gospel of Luke and Chaereas and Callirhoe were found to be shot through with the carnival element in the Bakhtinian sense, presenting parodying and utopian doubles of what may be surmised to have been the world of the intended reader. The protagonist of the Gospel embodies the carnival movement of life, death and rebirth, as well as the image of the crowning and de-crowning of the carnival king. This points to the Gospel's free use of invention in order to test the concept of the coming Kingdom of God. The carnival element reinforces the idea of the latter as the movement of life (as opposed to stasis) that Jesus propagates in inverting the status quo. The dialogically engaged parodic and utopian doubles of the world represent the battle of good and evil that underlies this text, responsible for its dramatic tension. Parables in the Gospel also display the use of carnivalistic inversions. An intertextual exploration of the Gospel and Chaereas and Callirhoe has found that the former is heavily engaged with the books of the Hebrew Bible, while the latter is engaged with the Iliad and Odyssey, both making use of the primary canon of the culture in which they are set. Using the older texts as sources, they also engage dialogically with them. A closer reading of the relations between the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Zechariah has found an extensive use by the Gospel of the older text as a source for characters, scenes and discourse. At the same time, the new text diverges from the older text, carnivalistically inverting scenes and concepts of power, in this way presenting the utopian Kingdom of God as an alternative. The Book of Zechariah acts as a sub-text to the Gospel, creating the awareness of the underlying battle and of the divine council. Both the Gospel and Chaereas and Callirhoe are shown on a far less grand scale than the canonical texts that they interact with. In comparing the findings of this thesis with views held by biblical scholars concerning the genre of the Gospels it was found that a Bakhtinian reading of the Gospel of Luke has brought to light aspects in this text that are not accounted for in readings informed by form criticism and redaction criticism. In regarding the Gospels as Kleinliteratur, the deliberate intricate intertextual use of the discourses of books from the Hebrew Bible by the Gospel of Luke are missed. Further, if the Gospels are identified as kerygma, the carnivalistic dimension of the Gospel of Luke, and therefore the presentation of its complex dialogic relations between the parodic and utopian versions of the world are also lost. Thirdly, in isolating the Gospels from other Graeco Roman texts, no account is taken of the fundamental generic affinity between the Gospel of Luke and the Greek Romance that has been demonstrated in this thesis. The Baktinian exploration of the Gospel has furthermore demonstrated that the model that has been used to identify the Gospels as ancient biographies or bioi does not make an adequate distinction between the genre of biography and that of the Greek Romance. As ancient biography is seen as a flexible genre, the aspects in the Gospel of Luke that do not fit into model, such as the happy ending, have not been seen as a reason to exclude it from the genre as such. The investigation along Bakhtinian lines has shown these differences to be significant insofar as they can be seen to be consistent with the results of the investigation concerning the chronotope, the carnivalesque and intertextuality, which points to the Gospel being generically closer to the Greek Romance than to ancient biography. In showing this affinity new possible ways of reading the Gospel open up. First, the release from the constraints of historicity and verisimilitude allows for an unimpeded testing of the central idea under scrutiny, namely the coming Kingdom of God as embodied by Jesus. The high incidence of the supernatural with its sensational excitement would therefore not be seen as anything unusual. Secondly, the Romance genre is believed to have been popular in the Graeco-Roman era, which would imply a large and varied intended readership. Thirdly, it is less dangerous to propagate a radical discourse in the form of fiction. Any historical elements in terms of character, time and space can be incorporated by a text of this type as a literary device, which would make the story feel more 'real' to the reader. This thesis does not claim to have exhausted all the possibilities of exploring the Gospel of Luke along Baktinian lines. It is only a beginning. What it has shown is that the Gospel of Luke shares a number of generic features with Romance literature of the Graeco-Roman period. This means that the longstanding tendency to read it as bios or as an historical account misses what the writer of this text has done as a self-conscious author. It misses the complex and highly dialogic nature of this text. . en
dc.language English en
dc.subject English literature en
dc.title Narrative strategies in the gospel according to Luke : a Bakhtinian exploration en
dc.type Doctoral degree en
dc.description.degree PhD en


Files in this item

Files Size Format View

There are no files associated with this item.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record