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Cynicism about Jesus as an Easter 'treat'

By Spencer Gear - posted Wednesday, 4 April 2018


Their inventions about the resurrection come from postmodern, creative, free play interpretations. Postmodernists often use the term reader-response as the means of determining the meaning of a text. Thus, the writer of the text does not provide the meaning, according to this view. Instead, as Lois Tyson explains,

Reader-response theorists share two beliefs: 1) that the role of the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature and 2) that readers do not passively consume the meaning presented to them by an objective literary text; rather they actively make the meaning they find in literature (Tyson 2015:154).

What is a postmodernist interpretation? It's a slippery term and the mere task of defining postmodernism violates its own principles. This is my brief attempt: Postmodernism is an outlook or perspective that is sceptical about society's metanarratives (world views) and looks for the underlying plot or storyline so that postmodernism can deconstruct it.

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The theory of deconstruction began with French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, in the 1960s. He wanted to read texts or other documents not to gain the intended meaning of the original author but to contradict that meaning.

That's what we have in some of the writings of Korb and Spong. If Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism propose a world view (metanarrative) of how God deals with the world and how that is applied at the local level for persons and communities – an account of guilt, suffering, love and mercy – the postmodernist suspects this because it is an imperialising instrument (extending a country's power) that is not intended for local benefit (Thiselton 2002:234).

Postmodernism stretches the boundaries of interpretation. A postmodern view is that 'since interpretation can never be more than my interpretation or our interpretation, no purely objective stance is possible.' (Carson 1996:57). Objective truth is impossible.

2. Deconstruction of Korb & Spong's writings

I don't want you to read my article as a postmodern deconstructionist because you could make me say anything you choose. Please read it literally to obtain the plain meaning of the text. I can't imagine that Korb or Spong would want me to read their publications any other way than you read mine.

Their position is untenable because it is self-defeating. To show how irrational it would be to read these two authors as a deconstructionist, what follows is my deconstructed meaning of Korb and Spong.

Let's try my free play deconstruction of Korb. He rejects 'the miracle of a bodily resurrection' but this metaphorical resurrection 'has given the story more power'. Here goes:

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Let's apply the methodology to this news story: Hugh Button is destocking his property at Muttaburra for the second time in three years.

What Korb means is that when people reach the end of their patience in the drought-declared outback affecting the Muttaburra countryside, they will rise with encouragement as they are about to receive cash from the government as a handout to relieve this cattle-rearing family from the death throws of drought.

The resurrection provides new hope for the family and the community of that small outback town of 88 people in Queensland (2016), 120 km north of Longreach. At Easter, the compassion from the government has reached that community and families.

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About the Author

Spencer Gear PhD is a retired counselling manager, independent researcher, Christian minister and freelance writer living in Brisbane Qld.

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