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Showing posts from May 8, 2005

FPJ, Asedillo, and Aguila

Most Filipinos love stories, telling them, listening to them, or watching them. Filipinos who do not enjoy movie watching are quite rare. I remember the moviehouses in the barrios where we used to go during summer vacations. Most of these had double programs. Your ticket bought you two movies to watch. A few had triple programs. We saved up for those triples, especially if they starred Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ). We came in before lunch and came out six or so hours later. My kuya (older brother) and I are FPJ fans. In grade school I saw my kuya, on two occasions, apply the FPJ rapid-punching technique on two bullies bigger and taller than him. The technique worked. I was 7 when I first went to see a movie by myself. It was FPJ’s Asedillo. It was the first movie I saw that painted a totally different picture of America, and Manuel Quezon, and the period of American occupation many among our elders, even today, longingly call “peacetime.” It was the movie that introduced me to the Sakdal up…

Making Sense of Mark's Ending 2

Take a single verse in the Bible, say John 11:35 (“Jesus wept”). Take five biblical scholars using the same method for interpreting scripture, say redaction criticism. And what do you have? Five different readings. There’s no such thing as a disinterested reading or reader. Interpretation is always perspectival and particular. Interpretation always involves choices. Take a popular telenovela, say Darna. Take five faithful followers of the show, including my 8-year-old son Ian, and ask them why nobody in the narrative recognizes Narda as Darna, and vice-versa. And what do you have? Five different reasons.

Take Mark’s ending, 16:8 which reads, “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Check out your Bible. Most have a footnote on verse 8 that says ancient manuscripts end on this verse. Verses 9 to 20 are later additions—attempts of ancient communities to make sense of Mark’s ending. If you s…

Making Sense of Mark's Ending

Imagine you are part of the original audience of the Gospel of Mark. Christianity is about 30 or so years old. You are a second-generation believer. You believe, like many in your community, that Jesus is risen. You believe, like many in your community, that he appeared to Peter, and then to many others, and then to Paul. Then, this short gospel comes along. It's disturbing. It does not have any stories of the risen Christ appearing to his disciples. Moreover, it ends with women at the empty tomb silent and afraid.

You don't even shake the hands of the one who read the gospel. No one did in the whole congregation. Actually, even today, most people don't care about Mark. They'd rather read Matthew, Luke, and John. These gospels end right--like Walt Disney movies. Matthew ends with the Great Commission and the Risen Christ's promise of Immanuel. John has the "Do you love me" cycle, and a beach scene to boot. Luke has special effects, Jesus ascending to the h…

Reading John inside a Jeepney

Jeepney hermeneutics is but one among many “Canaanite” readings. And it is a reading that (1) presupposes that the Bible is a “jeep,” an imperializing text, and that said jeep can be (2) transformed into a “jeepney.”

Let me offer a brief example using the Gospel of John. The connection of the Bible, its readers, and its institutions to Western imperialism do not call for special pleading. As Alan Lawson and Chris Tiffin insist: “Imperial relations may have been initially established by guns, guile, and disease, but they were maintained largely by textuality” (Lawson and Tiffin: 3). Simply put, the Bible was and is the key tool in the “textual takeover of the non-Western world” (Boehmer: 94). Yet, most commentaries and expositions on John available in Philippine seminaries take for granted or do not find problematic the gospel’s imperial rhetoric.

Spivey and Smith’s popular introductory text (Anatomy of the New Testament. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995) describes the Gospel as reminding…