Saturday, 20 March 2010

Written that you may BELIEVE!

In the Gospel of John, Thomas believed after he saw the Risen Jesus (John 20:27-29). As Thomas saw Jesus and then believed, in one sense the modern reader is invited to read the narrative and make a decision: either to reject or accept Jesus as the Son of God.
This means that the text has a PERFORMATIVE function. It refers to or reports on a reality (and actions), pulling the reader into its world. Nobody who reads the text can remain neutral after reading. You either accept or reject it.

This example in John illustrates at least one aspect of what has come to be regarded as "Speech Act Theory" (SAT). The latter has, at least for some, become a viable alternative for on the one hand Deconstruction, and on the other Scripture as talisman (as in some African contexts - where the physical paper is attributed with magical powers). Much more can and should be said about SAT, but what I reported here was quite interesting for me in prof. Jan van der Watt's paper (Who's the Boss: text or reader?), presented at Radboud University on 17 March 2010.

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