11.24.2008

Concerning [...]

"The [...] from the dead. [...] to be, but now [...] perfect. [...] flesh, but this [...] is true flesh. [...] is not true, but [...] only an image of the true."

--from The Gospel of Philip

7 comments:

Monica said...

From John 1:1-- "In the beginning...the Word...was God."

So what happens now? Or, what has happened since the word...was God. Which word? Whose word?

Casey said...

I love the way you ask that question, Monica: What happens now?

It implies that G-d is changing, which is so perfectly central to what I believe. It's not an easy question to answer, tho'... my instinct is to do something like you're doing with midrash. As I've suggested before, that's why I love these fragmented Nag Hammadi texts so much: they demand midrashic reading.

On the other hand, I'm mounting a slow and deliberate attack against criticism that would probably undermine the practice of midrash: it has to do with the tendencies of Protestantism -- always toward reinvention.

Instead of criticism, instead of turning the same old text over (and over), we would simply write new Bibles...

I'm borrowing this from my latest favorite book, E Pluribus Unum, by W.C. Harris... but I don't think he takes it quite far enough. He sees that Whitman is trying to write a new "American" Bible in "Song of Myself," but I think we might see Twain, Wharton, Eliot, O'Connor, Ellison, etc. as doing the same thing -- as writing new gospels all the time.

If the face of G-d changes form, then our reports should shift too... this leaves critics in a tough spot: either become producers of literature or become less attuned to the nature of G-d.

But I'm not sure if all this will work.

Casey said...

Oh, and I should add: G-d is also always staying the same, obviously. That's why criticism of the same "old text" is always also a valid enterprise.

In my view, we must always have both The (One) Old Testament and the (Many) New Testaments. The OT here being exactly that: "The Old Testament." The NT here being something else: The New Testament itself and every "new Bible" written since...

And we need both, because G-d changes, and stays the same.

fenhopper said...

you believe the old testament is a unit? interesting.

Casey said...

Good point, Michael. Hmm...

Would it be fair to say the Old Testament describes One god? (Maybe not)

[Don't ruin this idea yet; nurture it... it's very young. I'm convined that I'm on the trail of something lately. It has to do with the way that philosophy cannot account for conversion, but narrative can... and the way that America is more a narrative than it is a philosophical idea. And that the important part in all of this might not be "to what--" or "from what--," but "that" one converts.

Conversion as the thing itself. Maybe. Monica? -- you're a convert! Still here?

Key words: Time, transformation, schizophrenia, mystical experience, narrative, perspective

Monica said...

But is it necessarily "new" bibles that are written? Are they not perhaps simply extensions of the original--"new" texts that extend the primary in an attempt to reveal what was always already contained within it? Is not the New Testament simply an extension of (a midrash on) the Old Testament? Isn't Christianity an extension of (a midrash on) Judaism? I don't know that we have to see "Song of Myself" as a new Bible; why can't it simply respond to the gaps in the old with something "new" that makes sense for "our" time?

Just a thought(s)...

fenhopper said...

i love the idea of whitman as a part of the ketubim. not so much an addition as a continuing completion.