Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Goodacre on Berlinerblau and Reception History

Mark Goodacre picks up on Berlinerblau’s implicit comments on Reception History and offers his own comments.

I think this misreads the strengths and the attraction of Wirkungsgeschichte. One of the things that is so enjoyable and intellectually stimulating about reception history is that it is a collaborative enterprise. You do not have to be an expert on 16th century French renderings of Jezebel to be an expert on 20th century Ethiopian ones; indeed, you could organize a conference in which you get together a variety of scholars with different expertises to discuss Jezebel, and you could engage, each bringing something different to the table. Let me illustrate. I am not at all an expert on the reception history of the Passion Narrative, but I do know a bit about the Passion in twentieth and twenty-first century cinema. At a really stimulating conference in March 2005, I was lucky enough to talk about the Passion in film as one small part in a larger gathering at which there were experts on music, art and a variety of other things, all towards an appreciation of the Passion across history. I was not excluded from talking about the Passion in contemporary film because I didn't know about the Passion in eighteenth century European music. That the study of reception history is a growing concern at the conferences is quite clear, SBL included, and I repeat that one of its attractions is its collaborative, inter-disciplinary nature.”

Mark’s point is an excellent one as far as it goes. Those who specialise in many areas of Biblical Studies should definitely be encouraged to attend such conferences and give their input into some of these very interesting questions. But, of course, the problem is that these scholars will not likely organise such conferences. The Passion conference that Mark mentions was organised, I believe, by the Centre for the Reception of the Bible in Oxford (run by Chris Rowland and Chris Joynes). So someone probably still needs to sit between these people and draw them together, i.e. someone interested in Reception issues per se. The conference organised here in Bristol in September involved people rather more explicitly interested in these issues, but still some participants found the interdisciplinary aspect of the experience worthy of positive comment. The implication of Mark’s comments—and something I had not thought of before—is that a few people doing this could make a significant difference to the type of work being done if others are willing to view their efforts positively. Very encouraging thought.


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