Tuesday, April 27, 2010

still reading

I'm still reading Anthony Le Donne's The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009), but both my reading and my commenting have slowed down considerably for a number of reasons. First, I'm currently in the eye of a hurricane (in reverse, perhaps). On the one hand, my oldest sister was married on 10 April in Phoenix, AZ; my wife was a bridesmaid, my daughter the flower girl, and I officiated. On the other hand, my youngest sister gets married this Saturday, 1 May. Only Janelle is involved (hence the in reverse comment), but this still requires serious adjustments to our schedules. Second, and much more significantly in terms of time, we have take custody of a baby girl we plan to adopt later this year. The move from one to two children has deprived me of sleep, productive work time, and (of course) time writing for the blog.

Even so, I did manage to read Le Donne's sixth chapter ("The Therapeutic Son of David" [137–83]) and his brief excursus, "The Presupposition of Davidic Descent" (185–9). Of course, the chapter depends rhetorically and historiographically on the identification of traditional trajectories, and I have registered elsewhere my objection to this approach to history (especially here). But that aside, there is much to praise in this chapter. First, I was pleased with how overlapping are his analysis of the Beelzebul controversy with my own analysis (see chapter 7 of my Structuring Early Christian Memory), even though we have very different emphases and agenda. Second, I think Le Donne is exactly right to point out that exorcisms and healings were not necessarily distinct therapeutic phenomena in the ancient world. Luke clearly blurs the distinctions between them, both in his account of the healing of Simon's mother-in-law (Luke 4.38–9) and in the healing of the bent woman (Luke 13.10–13); Le Donne focuses on Matthew's similar blurring. Third (and again, similar to my discussion of exorcisms in chapter 7 of Structuring Early Christian Memory), Le Donne draws attention to the ways the evangelists localized Jesus' exoricisms within Hebrew biblical traditions. This is no small feat, given the paucity of Hebrew biblical traditions that could be read demonologically (really, only 1 Sam 16.14-23). Even so, Matthew (as Le Donne argues) reads Jesus' exorcisms from the perspective of Isaianic therapeutic traditions (see Isa 35.5–6; 61.1–2 [LXX]), especially in Matthew 12.


Christian said...

So I'm actually interested in reading your book and clicked to see how to get it. Who priced this thing? $140?? What in the world? Clearly they don't expect anybody outside of your field to read this. Maybe I'll be able to check it out from one of the Universities.

I look forward to reading it whenever that can happen.

Rafael said...

Sorry, Christian. I wish I had some say (any say at all, really) in the price. Your best bet certainly is to find it in a library. Maybe CCU has or will have it soon?

If it helps, you can buy the book for nearly half-price from Amazon.co.uk.

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