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Creation, Matter and the Image of God: Essays on John

Creation, Matter and the Image of God: Essays on John

  • This book gathers together a selection of my essays and articles published over the past twenty-five years or so. They have as their focus the Gospel of John or, in the case of one essay, the First Epistle of John, with some comparison with other the other Gospels included.

    These essays and articles explore the symbolism of the Johannine text and the way it communicates key themes, using a literary critical approach that pays particular attention to the narrative context and the various literary tropes and structures contained with the narrative. They also give heed to the theology which emerges from the literary form.

    The contents make clear my own formation in the historical critical method of Gospel study, with the reservation that narrative study needs to complement research into the background and setting of the Gospel in its ancient context. Without that literary move, historical methodology leaves us with the engine dismantled and the parts strewed over the road. A narrative reading helps to reassemble the pieces and to see, not just the details, but also the whole work in its entirety and integrity, with all its oddities and quirks.

    The emphasis particularly on how symbolism operates within the narrative comes through a number of the articles and essays, showing how essential they are to the message itself: not decorative but rather substantial, inseparable from the text's meaning.

    In addition to critical study, the book shows the influences of two significant but unrelated fields. The first is the influence of feminist critical studies in Gospel research. This approach, which is itself multi-faceted and diverse, asks the question of where and how female characters are presented within the biblical text. It takes issue with female invisibility in much interpretation of and commentary on the Gospels. It also seeks to understand the patriarchal context out of which the Gospels arose, exploring the way in which the text is enmeshed in its own setting and where it challenges that setting and the values with which it is associated. Feminist studies do not provide a unified answer for all time but convey the questions to be asked and the approaches that can be taken in analysing the text from the perspective of womens lives and faith.

    The second area of influence is that of Greek and Eastern Orthodoxy. The theological perspective arising from this tradition has often been neglected in the West. Yet it has maintained in some sense a more integrated approach to creation. Western scholarship, like Western Christianity more generally, has tended in recent centuries to an individualistic and highly spiritualized reading of the biblical text that neglects its earthiness: its grounded in matter.

    Traditions from the East have continued to see humanity as integral to creation, with the destinies of both coinciding. Both its materiality and its eschatology bring a challenge to the West to recover its own sense of human beings caught up in a community that transcends not only time and place but also species, acknowledging kinship with all created beings who share a common future in redemption. Moving from an anthropocentric perspective makes a different to the way we interpret the New Testament text to take seriously the role and place of creation.

    This viewpoint has challenged my own thinking and will be apparent in a number of the items in this book. The book itself is divided into three sections: Creation and Incarnation in John; Characters in John, and Themes in John.

  • Title: Creation, Matter and the Image of God: Essays on John
    Author: Dorothy Lee
    ISBN: 9781925679243
    Publisher: Garratt Publishing
    Date: 2020

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