Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May 15, 2005

Making Sense of Mark's Ending 3

Two of the more popular attempts at making sense of Mark’s ending come from feminist interpreters. The first one, a historical reconstructionist perspective, argues that the women did not remain silent and afraid. How could the gospel ever spread if the first witnesses remained fearful and quiet? The second one comes from the literary perspective. Jesus’s followers drop the ball. The men drop it first. And then the women. The Markan Jesus tells his disciples God will raise him up several times in the narrative. The men don’t believe him. The women came to the tomb to anoint a dead body. They did not go there to welcome a Risen Lord. How about us—the text’s present readers—will we also drop the ball?

If Mark were a movie, it definitely does not end like a Walt Disney movie. It’s open-ended, much like the book of Jonah. The narrative ends at 16:8 with women silent and afraid. I propose the following readings that try to make sense of that ending.

“Watch” the “movie” we call Mark. One …

How does one do Jeepney Hermeneutics?

Canaan Banana posits that the Bible is an important book of the church and that it includes liberating messages; nevertheless, there remains the sense in which, unless one embraces the Christian concept of God, one is not fully a person of God. Mary John Mananzan points out that the Bible in spite of all the reinterpretations, remains a book written from a patriarchal, dominator, imperial perspective and thus must be used to inform and not define Filipino life and struggles. How then does one do a decolonizing reading of an imperializing text? In other words, as Musa Dube puts it, “how does one read the Bible without perpetuating the self-serving paradigm of constructing one group as superior to another?” How does one do jeepney hermeneutics?

It begins with one’s view of scripture. As Daniel Patte points out in conversation, “Traditional roles of scripture are problematic, when they involve submission to the text, or more exactly, defining the authority of the text in terms of moral pr…

Window, Story, Mirror

Most interpretations can be summarized into three categories: those that locate meaning “behind texts,” those that locate meaning “in the texts,” and those that locate meaning “in front of the texts.” Those interpretations that fall under the first category presuppose that scripture serves a referential function, the text is a “window” to a privileged past—to Israel, to the historical Jesus, to the gospel writers and their intentions, to the early Christian communities, etc.—that could be recovered. Interpretation is therefore aimed at first establishing what the text meant in order to arrive at what it means for today. The task of the interpreter is to recover meaning from behind the text to the historical setting from which it came. Traditional historical-critical methods like form, source, redaction criticism, and contemporary Historical Jesus research would fall under this category.

The second category of interpretations employ “closed reading” focused on plot, characters, settin…

Salamat, Fr. Carl...

Sequels are usually less exciting than the originals. In the case of Backpack of a Jesus Seeker: Book Two, it is not. In A Third Look at Jesus, Fr. Carlos Abesamis offered us his construction of Jesus that does not look anything like the blue-eyed blond, liberal messiah most contemporary researchers' works portray. Through nineteen chapters, which he calls "stop-overs," he "travels" through Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and promise of return. But he does not take this journey alone. He walks with companions: fisherfolk, laborers at the picketlines, mothers, daughters, farmers… maraming kasama. In Backpack… Book One, Fr. Carl—as one voice among a community, a symphony of voices—articulated the essence of Jesus and Jesus’s proclamation of God’s reign. Through a series of dialogical vignettes, readers encounter a Jesus who had a bias for the poor; a Jesus who was a rebel, a heretic, and an apostate; a Jesus who did not just die but was executed; a Jesus w…