Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
Where the Bible is concerned, I would say the literary critic should understand the source criticism (he can't be clueless about it in any case) in the way a driver using a manual transmission at least needs to know which gear he's in. Wellhausen identifies four gears--four sources--although there may have been others. Some certainly had oral antecedents, and most probably had multiple written sources that were redacted and rewritten according to a particular perspective. It is impossible to say whether this was the perspective of an individual or a group sharing a common outlook at a given time and place. So the idea of a gear (even though I just made it up) is more useful than an author as we would understand the term.
Yes, a source as a cultural background and the historical contexts that allowed the construction of such texts. It is more important to know why they started to be registered than know the blood type of however started doing it. I mean, I am not going to open the windows and scream "the author is dead", but even with modern authors this background is more important than x or y. The difference between individuals may be even minor than the product of their work.

But that doesn't mean differences in gears aren't essential to the drive. J is not just just the source that calls God YHWH. J may have been redacted as early as the 9th or 10th century BCE, when the Davidic dynasty was trying to centralize and control religious power through the Temple cultus in Jerusalem. P was produced centuries later, probably in the Babylonian Exile after Jerusalem had been destroyed. Not to belabor the point, but D's provenance is also exceptional. It was produced during the militant revival of Yahwism during Josiah's failed attempt to reestablish the Davidic monarchy as a regional power. It's intolerance of religious experience outside the Jerusalem Temple contrasts strongly with E, in which God communicates through personal revelation such as dreams and visions. E probably represents traditions from the northern kingdom of Israel (as opposed to the southern kingdom of Judah) that came south after the Assyrian destruction of Samaria in 722 BCE. It is really from a different religious world than that of J or D (or P for that matter).
Yeah, I personaly like the idea the "name" of God is a clue about the authorship. It is so logical that is hard to imagine nobody guessed this before (i suppose if someone did, they didnt matter or were ignored). A good poet would have to try hard to come with something like this, considering how important the name of God is and all mistery behind it.

Now a literary critic doesn't have to be source critic or an ancient historian, but neither can he go off half cocked about things he don't understand. To switch metaphors, it is as if there were four or more connect-the-dots puzzles placed side by side. Go ahead and do each and then compare and contrast them. You can figure what you learn into your literary analysis. But no fair connecting dots from one puzzle sheet to the next. You may be able to create a picture that way, but it will be an illusion of your own making. And there has been enough of that where the Bible is concerned.
That is what I suspect Bloom did... a illusion for , as you say, his ego.

The name of the author or redactor of the Matthew material matters less than understanding how the source material fits together, parallels and differences between Gospels and other writings, and the hazards of harmonizing. Without these, the literary critic is only applying theory to an illusion--a kind of Frankenstein's monster who will be glad to waste your time before throwing you into the pond. You really have to understand the Bible before you can analyze it. At least you have to understand that it can't be approached monolithicly.
Yeah, I know, Mathew name is funny because at least John is a "character" with some personality in the gospels, Mathew is one of the disciples you remember the name and his profession. His gospel is way more relevant and memorable.



The problem with Bloom is that he can't deal with the ambiguity of the source criticism and the flexibility it requires. As I said, he wants everything carved in stone with his name on it. You can't do that with ancient texts. Those of us who love antiquity are hardened to remaining open where we would prefer to be sure. Bloom knows you have to do that as well as I do. He should get over himself and admit there are things he doesn't know. He has nothing to lose but his ego.
I think he lost a bit of his ego early, I really, one day, expect him to write a text claiming Shakespeare wrote Iliad and Odissey. It would be great if Bloom could provide a few lines of a better Iliad and Odissey that Shakespeare wrote, but even that would be not original, and just a copy of Borges.



Oh, I meant to mention Lilith to you in a different context. I was listening to a podcast about fairy lore in which one of the speakers was drawing a connection between the European child-stealing fairies and Lilith. European fairies, she claimed, couldn't have babies that lived long, so they dumped them on mortals and took their babies. Lilith's problem was that her milk was poisonous and would kill her babies when she tried to nurse them. This left her with painful breasts that still needed to be emptied, so she would relieve herself by nursing human babies in the cradle--killing them and freeing herself to conceive again. It seems to me both traditions are responses to the horrors of crib death, and especially the misogynistic social tendency to blame mothers. If everyone can agree that a supernatural agency was responsible then the poor woman will at least be spared censure. And in the case of changeling belief, grieving parents can tell themselves the baby who died wasn't really theirs--theirs is off with the fairies somewhere. It's grim, but that is probably how it worked.
Yes, albeit it is hard to imagine Lilith exactly being the main source, as her past relevance have been rewrote in the last decades, she is pretty much an archetype demon/divinity that was probally behind such stories. Astarte or Ishtar was her original source, if I recall the main theories, from a sexual temptress she became a night hag of sorts. Not the only one, Lamia was smilar too. As we talked, the child importance was huge, those stories may pinpoint for the bad nourishment of mother, unable to keep the baby save, or maybe even that syndrome of rejection (was probally high, considering how more dangerous labour could be and how some of those marriages are far from ideal). Lilith and other hags may be also "evil eye" from other mothers that were "childless".

Now, I remember some years ago an oral storyteller told me a tale she collected in a travel to africa, a polygamic society: the husband had 2 wives, they lived in different houses, but both got pregnant at same time. THe elder wife didn't like her baby (a girl) while the younger had a boy. The elder wife demanded to have the boy traded, but she couldn't feed him because she was dry, so she killed the boy and took the girl back. The boy came from his grave and killed the elder wife and the baby girl revenging himself and his mother.

The story was more or less like this (and better in the words of the storyteller) with this dry and nasty stuff typical of old oral tales, but I think we can find source for those night hags such Lilith and also the fear of newborn "faery changes" (albeit, the changeling thing also ocurred with older boys, which may be related to the incapacity to understand well the changes children pass during childhood instead).




MOVIE VERSION:
Ludwig Wittgenstein: William Shatner
Karl Popper: Ricardo Montalban
Bertrand Russell: Leonard Nimoy
Sundely, Capitan Wittegenstein rips his shirts and kisses Simone de Bevouir (performed by Nichelle Nicholls) and his poke...