Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gager Again: Another Caveat

And one I'd fully intended to mention last time, but then forgot about through the course of my last post.

One of the key premises of Gager's work is that, in his seeming criticisms of Judaism, Paul is acting as an "unreliable author," a rhetorical ploy to lure the reader away from the correct conclusion, which Paul provides in Rom.9-11. Gager's reasoning here is that this reading will keep Paul thoroughly consistent. Of course, I could come up with another rhetorical ploy (with a spiffy name, though I don't know that I could top "unreliable author.") suggesting that it is the latter--Paul's praise of Judaism--that is unreliable. And, of course, therein lay the problem.

What it seems to amount to to me is nothing more than a spiffy ad hoc. An extra spiffy one, in fact: Rather than the mundane "He didn't really mean it!" which simply offers a defense, Gager tells us "Not only didn't he mean it, he actually meant the opposite!" and while the term "unreliable author" may sound measured and official, it really amounts to little more than that. I think it is fortunate that most exegetes cannot, in good conscience, employ this reasoning.

This relates, of course, to my earlier caveat regarding the emphasis on the necessity of continuity. If continuity comes at such a price that we need to read Paul with such arbitrariness, then I think we can do without. It amounts, IMO, not simply to reading into Paul, but outright distortion of him.

That said, while I hate to do so, my 'blog being in its infancy and all, my posting will likely be sparse at best and non-existent at worst for the next few weeks: moving is a pain in the ass.

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