Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The "Anonymous" Comment that Slipped Through

This comment came through on my last post, anonymously (which don't comment anonymously ... from this point on I will delete all such comments, unless you leave your name in the body of the comment because you don't know how to comment any other way). It showed up in my email, but oddly not here at the blog (not even as a deleted comment); so I have no idea how that happened. Let me transcribe it (it's short), and then respond to it; quickly! Here it is:

Bobby, there is a distinction between dialectical and dialogical theology. Your thesis seems somewhat confused in that regard.
 Also, not sure how you can claim that theological exegesis should be the 'only' way Christian thinkers and readers engage scripture. This comes across as nonsense when we consider the ways in which Bultmann's theology grew out of his historical-critical methods and interaction with existentialism -- he did not do theological exegesis as such. More often than not theological exegesis looks like isogesis in that there is a reading of the creed back into the text in a rather unhelpful way. 

In response to this "commenter's" first gripe on the distinction between dialectical and dialogical theology. The really strange (presumptuous) thing about this, is that this commenter has never read what Myk and I develop in regards to this thesis. Beyond that, this commenter simply makes an assertion, and then presumes that he has made some sort of substantial point by simply asserting something without explanation!

As far as Bultmann. At the end of the day, I don't really care whether or not Bultmann did theological exegesis or not; I am simply reporting what Rowe and Hays "argued" (V. asserted) in their essay.

As far as theological exegesis usually leading to isogesis; this is just a ridiculous assertion. This presupposes that an exegete can come to the text of scripture without informing theological suppositions. But the fact that a person (any person) comes to the text of scripture to interpret it, presupposes that said exegete has already committed themselves to a particular theological grid (whether it be 'Christian' or not is another story). Furthermore, the fact that orthodox Christians believe in the Trinity etc., commits the Christian exegete, at least, to a fundamental theological principle that will shape their interpretive endeavor both dialectically and dialogically!


  1. I have no idea why, but for some reason this "anonymous" blogger's (when he comments) comments, don't show up here; they only show in my inbox at growba@gmail.com. So then, let me paste his most recent anonymous comment in here; and then I will respond in kind. Here's Bloggius Annonymous Maximus in his own words:

    Bobby, the thesis is written in such a way as to make dialectical and dialogical synonymous. I was meerly making an inference from the grammatical construction of the thesis.

    Second, if you don't care whether Bultmann does theological exegesis, why claim him as you did in the post? You might want to distance yourself via Hayes and Rowe's claims, but throughout the post there was no indication of any kind of dissent on your part, so I felt it was a reasonable assumption.

    Finally, I did not suggest that at any point we approach a text without theological perspectives - that would be a stupid claim. My simple suggestion was that we ought be conscious of reading into a first century text theological positions developed only by the fourth century. This is exegesis 101 surely? There is no inevitability to reading credal positions into the text.

    All that said, Annonymity is an option provided on blogger so I prefer to use it so as to avoid being caught up in silly debates like this.


    Bloggius Annonymous Maximus.

    My Response

    Let me preface my comments, Bloggius, by simply noting that your esteemedness and eruditeness proceed you.

    1) Your thesis problem. And yet, you haven't read how this is parsed out in full. Beyond that, you seem to be appealing to some sort of understood distinction that you have as of yet spelled out. So spell it out, so we can understand how we've erred according to you.

    2) Bultmann. I don't need to distance myself by relying on Rowe and Hays; instead, I am reliant on Rowe and Hays for the subsequent comments I made following---viz. in re. to Bultmann. Barth I know, Bultmann, just by reputation (really). That's why I said I don't really care so much. There's no need for you to push me where I don't need to go if what I originally wrote doesn't warrant it. So I am in a reliant relationship not a distant one relative to Rowe's and Hays larger essay. So further, I don't really know what you're talking about; or what your real point is. What is it? To be snarky, or a know it all, or what?

    3) You're right, that would be a stupid claim; I am glad you clarified. Since, I inferred from your first comment that you must have been somewhat stupid to suggest what you seemed to be suggesting originally. You're obviously not stupid, bloggious, or maximus; but, you do come off as a "smarter-than-thou" type ... which I can only really appreciate when I know that person's real name. It is quite silly (or wimpy) to go around commenting on people's blogs, making critical remarks in the tone of "snark," and not let me know who you are (how do you expect me to sleep at night?).

    Anyway, Bloggius, I might respect you if I knew who you were; but since I don't, I don't. All you are is an un-named electronic voice who has no face, with commitment problems. And if you were really above the bloggy fray, as it were, and you are as concerned as you make out to be (relative to my grammar, and thinking); then you would email me, and not toy with me like this on the blog. You're not as mature or dignified as you want us all to believe (all those who might read this). But yes, email me at growba@gmail.com; that way we can have an actual dialogue, w/o you being able to hide behind your anonymity.


    Bobby Grow

    1. Let me also add; that the avoidance of isogesis is actually the crux of what Rowe's and Hays' piece is about. It is seeking to place systematic theology and biblical studies into constructive dialogical relationship. By the way, there really isn't any competition between the Creeds and the New Testament, per se or necessarily. Indeed, the Creeds, are trying to provide a grammar to the so called 'inner-theo-logic' that makes the world of the Bible go 'round. It would be isogesis if the Creeds got the Trinity wrong (for example), but in turn, it would also be isogesis to say that the NT authors (for example) didn't presuppose the theo-logic of trinitarian grammar, when (or if) in fact they did (which they did!). So there is both a dialectic and dialogic relation inherent to this. Bloggius, are you there? If so, why don't you clarify for us dummies (at least this dummy) how we ought to define dialectic & dialogic that would satisfy your intellect (and maybe mine).

  2. Bloggius has written further (and again, it's not showing up here?):

    My comment on Bultmann isnt intended as snarky, I just simply dont agree with your (even if you want to hide behind Rowe and Hayes) appropriation of him.

    Dialogic has to do with Bakhtinian critical theory. Dialectic has to do with certain forms of philosophical reasoning. There is a relation, dont get me wrong, but they are not identical. Bakhtin's notion of dialogic (see his The Dialogical Imagination) has to do with the dialogue within (or between) a given text(s) and persona within. Dialectic obviously has it's roots in the Socratic tradition - the search for truth through dialogue. But, in post-Hegelian thought it has obviously undergone some fairly radical shifts into more ontological territory. I dont mean to suggest to you that these concepts are not related - they inevitably are. Or that somehow you arent familiar with them, but a simple equation of dialectic and dialogic seems misplaced without some serious qualification.


    Bloggius A. Maximus

    I reply:

    Yes, I don't want to oversimplify the intellectual history between either of these modes used for critical/constructive engagement. Yet, a thesis is just that. Again, you haven't read how Myk and I develop this in the book. Although, I will say that we don't get into the kind of etymology and genesis of the terminology that you are noting. Instead, our thesis ought to invite folks to understand a certain kind of mood from which we think and work. I will just emphasize that the Thesis is a thesis that remains such; with some gesturing, in the book, toward how that applies toward our prolegomena. Are you saying that there isn't a place for this, oh Bloggius? Theses w/o getting into all the technical parlance associated with it (esp. amongst specialists---if you're a specialist, then a thesis amongst 14 others in a book on Evangelical Calvinism would be lost on someone with your depth anyway---a prolonged or proshortened discussion on the genesis of such things might actually detract from the broader point about our method anyway---as a specialist you can infer and surmise what we are after anyway).


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