Scripture Citing Scripture: Intertextuality

James McGrath remarks on a mythicist position today on his blog:

The other problematic criterion claims that, if something in the New Testament resembles some detail in Scripture, that is reason to believe that the story was fabricated on the basis of that Scripture.

But James is perhaps unfamiliar with the fact that, as I have said again and again, this is a mainstream academic position.  This has nothing at all to do with mythicists; it just seems that some mythicists are actually up to date on more recent trends in mainstream scholarship.  The idea of intertextuality (which perhaps James just refuses to look into?) has been around since Julia Kristeva coined the term following her time in Tel Quel and the discussions ongoing between the poststructuralists and (neo)structuralists in the 1970’s.  The concept behind intertextuality, however, goes back to Ferdinand de Saussure and his Course in General Linguistics (1916).

I am continually amazed that scholars are seemingly clueless about this, since monographs and edited volumes concerning methods and studies of intertextuality in New Testament have been published for decades.  I am even told (al la Steph Fisher) that in Europe, intertextuality is part of the NT curriculum.  I imagine that it is also a part of OT Theology courses in Europe as well (since every scholar I talk to from Sheffield and Copenhagen–or who might have studied under a scholar from these Universities–knows about it and incorporates it in some of their works).  Among those many studies, Dennis R. MacDonald and Thomas L. Brodie were crucial in introducing this into mainstream academia some time ago, and they weren’t alone (links will bring you to various monographs and studies on the subject; obviously this isn’t comprehensive). And the concept has been in the field of Classics for longer than that.

James might have some quarrels with certain arguments for intertextuality with a certain part of the text (e.g., he might have a problem with my comparison between 1 Sam and 2 Cor and Acts) but he will have to demonstrate that via an actual argument rather than claiming the whole concept of intertextuality is bunk which seems to be his position here.   Intertextuality has become the prime consideration in almost every modern exegetical work by scholars.  It shocks me that he’d make this sort of claim; some might wonder if James might need to expand his reading list when he finds the time.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 771 other followers

%d bloggers like this: