DATE: Monday, November 12, 2012
TIME: 6:30 p.m
PLACE: South Hall, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: S. Asher Sund
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Living the Text: A Pentateuchal Study in Exegetical Poesis"
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-E; 2007
CHAIR: Dr. Christine Downing
READER: Dr. Victor Faessel
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Eric Downing
Sund, S.(2012). Living the Text: A Pentateuchal Study in Exegetical Poesis (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)
When approaching a text—any text—we learn much about what it means to be saying by what is missing or is otherwise not clearly articulated. Nowhere are such gaps as evident as in the Pentateuch. Since the nineteenth century, these Pentateuchal fissures have been taken up by the higher criticism of the documentary hypothesis. With its focus on source and redaction criticism, the problem with the documentary hypothesis, at least traditionally, is that even if these sources (the redactors J, E, P, D) can be identified within the text, it begs the question: “How can these parts illuminate the whole?”
For many contemporary biblical scholars, conversely, these textual gaps are purposeful by design. The problem in this case is one of authorship. Whose purposeful design are we appealing to, after all? To claim divine authorship in this contemporary milieu is a death by exegesis. The Author’s purposes are irrelevant to the work at hand, to the work in our hands, at any given moment. The text is what lives on and makes meaning. Coming as we are on the far post-side of new criticism (Russian formalism before that) and the tripartite of Barthes-Foucault-Derrida, we must conclude, furthermore, that the Author has not yet returned, or has so, yes, but only in a fractured, anonymous, pseudomodern form.
What this project aims to do, through a structural, phenomenological, reception-oriented and, finally, historical reading, is to bring together the documentary hypothesis with the assumption of “inner unity” so basic to the literary approach to the Pentateuch. The fictional frame, furthermore, from epigraph to epilogue, situates the literature in a larger discussion about the purpose of poesis for reanimating the text from within our own hermeneutical enclosures. “Living the Text” means, in essence, that life is, by nature, narrative, and also fictional. We live as we want to see ourselves living, and we proclaim these interpretations as truth. What we do not understand about our individual texts, on the other hand, are those narratives that continue to author us, as it were, from between the lines of our lives. Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.