Loading...

Indian Poetics (Kāvya Śāstra) and Narratology Towards the Appreciation of Biblical Narrative

by G. Ayyaneth (Author)
Monographs XXXII, 300 Pages
Series: Studies in Biblical Literature, Volume 165

Summary

Though the biblical and the Indian literary traditions had independent origin and growth in terms of spatial and cultural milieux, there are literary landscapes of confluence where the literary fabrics of their collective wisdom are interwoven. Both narrative traditions have rich oral and folk prehistoric traditions in their records and this attribute provides a substratum where their narrative patterns and paradigms can find a common ground. A Hebraic reading of the Bible does not exhaust the meaning of the biblical texts; on the other hand, an Indian reading of the Bible could bring more flesh and blood to the living text. Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra (Poetics) and its modern rendering narratology being multifarious and mutually integrative will be able to supply a variety of poetical tools and devices with which the great and vast miscellany of biblical narrative can be approached and appreciated. Indian religious tradition is more narrative/story rather than doctrinal or dogmatic. This demands an Indian reading of the Bible endowed with a narratological and synchronic approach to disentangle the biblical narrative from the burden of dogmas and doctrines and to re-launch its primordial narrative/story culture. The application of the canons of Indian Kāvya Śāstra with its narratological elucidations to the biblical narrative has categorically proved that it can open up a new horizon to an Indian reading of the Bible. Various such narrative approaches, heuristic devices and models thus evolved have been applied to selected narratives in the Davidic Episode of the Books of Samuel.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Series Editor’s Preface
  • Foreword by Prof. Dr. Philippe Lefebvre O. P.
  • On the Threshold of a Thesis
  • Inspiration for an Indian Approach to the Bible
  • Setting of the Subject
  • “Appreciation” over “Criticism”
  • Story of the Study
  • Not a “Distorted Glimpse”
  • The Strangeness of Ancient Texts
  • Agreeable to the Reader
  • Models of Interpretation
  • An Example: I Sam 1
  • A “Noble Reading”
  • Some Critical Observations
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Introduction
  • General Purport and Prospects of This Study
  • Guiding Mode and Motif
  • Some Notional Explication
  • Narrative
  • Kāvya Śāstra
  • Appreciation
  • Thematic Texture
  • Part One. Biblical Narrative and Indian Kāvya Śāstra
  • Chapter One. The Point of Departure for an Indian Approach to Biblical Narrative
  • Biblical Narrative in the Realm of Literary Appreciation
  • Bible as Literature
  • Narrative Integrity of the Biblical Literature
  • Narrative Integrity as a Result of Divine-Human Creativity
  • Literary Appreciation of Biblical Narrative—A Method of Approach
  • Biblical Exegesis and the Indian Dilemma Thereof
  • Panoramic View of the Exegetical Methods and Approaches
  • The Indian Dilemma in Biblical Exegesis
  • Main Trends in an Indian Reading of the Bible
  • Classical Criticism—Literary Reading of the Bible
  • Philosophic
  • Semiotic and Semantic
  • Aesthetic
  • Contextual Approach—Social Reading of the Bible
  • Indian Context
  • Contextualised Exegesis
  • Comparative Approach—Religious Reading of the Bible
  • Indian Weltanschauung Towards an Indian Approach to Biblical Narrative
  • Narrative (Story) Weltanschauung
  • Mythical (Non-Rational) Weltanschauung
  • Cosmocentric (Non-Anthropocentric) Weltanschauung
  • Holistic (All-Inclusive) Weltanschauung
  • Dhárma (Cosmic Rythmus) Weltanschauung
  • Darśan (Seeing) Weltanschauung
  • Chapter Two. Locating Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra and Modern Western Narratology
  • Locating Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra
  • The Classical Age of Indian Kāvya Śāstra
  • The Masterminds of Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra
  • The Compilers or the Commentators of Kāvya Śāstra
  • Locating Modern Western Narratology
  • The Historical Evolution of Narratology as an Academic Discipline
  • A Retrospection to Plato and Aristotle—Offset of Narrative Reflection
  • Semiology by Ferdinand de Saussure—Offspring of All Narrative Theoretical Investigations of the 20th Century
  • Russian Formalism—Latent Potential of Narratology
  • French Structuralism of the 1960s and 1970s—Forerunner of Narratology
  • Structuralist (Classical) Narratology
  • Poststructuralist (Postclassical) Narratology
  • The Proprium of Narrative
  • The Possible Objectives of Narratology
  • Study of Narrative in View of the Appreciation of the Literary Genre
  • Study of Narrative in the Investigation of Meaning
  • Study of Narrative in the Realm of Religious Experience
  • The Study of Narrative as an Initiation and an Impulse in Learning the Art of Language
  • The Study of Narrative for Theologising in Indian Context
  • Narratology on the Threshold of New Horizons
  • Locating Biblical Narrative in the Realm of Poetics
  • Storytelling: The Science of Salvation (Mokṣa)
  • Poetics Towards the Appreciation of Biblical Narrative
  • Ancient Hindu and Hebrew Literary Traditions—The Oriental Offshoots
  • Chapter Three. The Proposed Models Proper to an Indian Literary Appreciation
  • The Four-S Model in the Making of a Poetics of Cohesiveness
  • Śruti (The Heard or The Revealed)
  • Sūtra (Aphoristic)
  • Smṛti (The Remembered)
  • Śāstra (Scientific Treatise)
  • The Basic Models of the Indian Narrative Paradigm
  • The Vedic Model—Cryptic
  • The Purāṅic Model—Mythic
  • The Itihāsic Model—Epic
  • The Main Distinctive Features of Indian Narratology
  • Interiorisation
  • Serialisation
  • Stylisation and Improvisation
  • Elasticisation of Time
  • Fantasisation
  • Cyclicalisation
  • Allegorisation
  • Anonymisation
  • Spatialisation
  • Three Classical Theories of Kāvya Śāstra
  • Rasa (Aesthetic Relish): Reader-Response
  • Rasa-Initiation in Unfolding Various Bhāvas
  • Bhāva (Mental State)
  • Sthāyibhāvas (Permanent States)
  • Vyabhicāribhāvas or Sancāribhāvas (Transitory States)
  • Sāttvikabhāvas (Physical Effects Resulting from an Emotion)
  • Vibhāva (Stimuli)
  • Anubhāva (Response)
  • Rasa-Evocation in Merging Various Bhāvas
  • Rasa-Realisation in the Appreciator (Sahṛdaya) of a Kāvya
  • The Categorisation of Rasa
  • Dhvani (Suggestion): Text-Oriented
  • The Basic Sources of the Theory of Dhvani
  • Three Types of Dhvani in Relation to Kāvya
  • The Five Dimensions of Dhvani
  • The Three-Fold Division of Meaning in Dhvani
  • The Poetical Purport of Dhvani
  • Alaṅkāra (Embellishment): Rhetoric and Structural
  • The Classification of Alanṅkāra
  • The Nature and Purpose of Alaṅkāra
  • Alaṅkāra and Alaṅkārya
  • The Trinity of Alaṅkāras: Svabhāvokti (Natural–Speech)—Vakrokti (Roundabout-Speech)—Atiśayokti (Exaggerated-Speech)
  • Part Two. An Appreciation of the Davidic Episode in the Books of Samuel from the Vantage Point of Kāvya Śāstra
  • Introduction to Part Two
  • Chapter Four. The Compositional Coherence of the Books of Samuel on the Framework of the Four-S Model
  • Śruti (The Heard or The Revealed)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: Krauñcha Episode in the Rāmāyaṅa
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: Hannah’s Temple-Experience (1 Sam 1)
  • Sūtra (Aphoristic)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: Brahma Sūtras
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: Temple Narrative (1 Sam 1–3) and Ark Narrative (1 Sam 4–7)
  • Smṛti (The Remembered)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: The Bhagavad Gītā in Relation to the Mahābhārata
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: The Canticle of Hannah
  • Śāstra (Scientific Treatise)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: Dhármaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र)
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: Rāja-dhárma and Saul’s Transgression (1 Sam 15)
  • Chapter Five. The Basic Models of the Indian Narrative Paradigm towards the Appreciation of the Davidic Episode
  • Vedic (Cryptic)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: Indra-Hymns in the Ṛgvéda
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: The Song of Thanksgiving by David in 2 Samuel 22
  • Interiorise Certain Kinds of Narratives which Can Be Elaborated into Stories or Episodes
  • Establish Resonances between the Natural and the Supernatural or the Divine and the Human
  • Affinity with Ancient Imageries and Allegories
  • Versified Narration Imbued with the Power of Vāk
  • Invitation to Discover Thematic Associations
  • Purāṇic (Mythic)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: The Ark Narrative: 1 Sam 4–7:1
  • The Overarching of the Ark Narrative
  • The Role-Shift of the Ark Brought into the Mythical Framework
  • The Pitting of Evil against Evil in the Supra-National Level
  • The Chain Narrative and Recursiveness
  • Itihāsic (Epic)
  • The Indian Point of Reference: Mahābhārata—The Making of an Itihāsic
  • The Biblical Point of Reference: The Davidic Story as Davidic Itihāsic
  • Whether Succession Narrative or Davidic Itihāsic?
  • Multiple Embedding in the Davidic Itihāsic
  • Multiple Embedding at the Level of Main Plot
  • Multiple Embedding at the Level of Individual Episode
  • Family Saga to Nationhood
  • Gītāic Genre in the Davidic Episode
  • Chapter Six. The Main Features of Indian Narratology towards the Appreciation of the Davidic Episode
  • Interiorisation and the Narrative Miscellany of 2 Sam 21–24
  • The Basic Narrative Structure of 2 Sam 21–24
  • The Conventional Perception of 2 Samuel 21–24
  • An Outlook of 2 Sam 21–24 Based on Interiorisation
  • The Interiorisation of the Messianic Role of David towards Sin and Salvation
  • Serialisation and the Narrative Miscellany of 2 Sam 21–24
  • Stylisation and Improvisation and the Narrative Miscellany of 2 Sam 21–24
  • Elasticisation of Time and the Narrative Miscellany of 2 Samuel 21–24
  • Fantasisation in David’s Song of Thanksgiving (2 Sam 22:7–19)
  • Fantasy and Reality
  • Transcendental Motif of Fantasisation
  • The Ambiance of Natural and Supernatural
  • The Legitimisation of David’s Exploits
  • A Narrative Break
  • Cyclicalisation and Re-Cycling of Literary Artifacts in the Davidic Episode
  • Re-Cycling of Story: The Death of Saul (1 Sam 31 § 2 Sam 1); Saul’s First Encounter with David (1 Sam 16 § 17)
  • Re-Cycling of Literary Patterns: Saul Pursuing David (1 Sam 24 § 1 Sam 26)
  • Re-Cycling of Myths, Proverbs, Etc.: “Is Saul Also Among the Prophets?” (1 Sam 10 § 1 Sam 19)
  • Allegorisation in Various Narrative Contexts of the Davidic Episode
  • Allegorisation in Order to Impart Moral Precepts and Practices: The Story about a Rich Man and a Lamb by Nathan (2 Sam 12:1–14)
  • Allegorisation in Order to Change the Course of Affairs: The Story of the Woman of Tekoa (2 Sam 14:1–24)
  • Allegorisation in Order to Describe the Virtual Realities: Allegorical Expressions in David’s Song of Thanksgiving (2 Sam 22)
  • Allegorisation in Order to Evoke Narrative Retrospection: Saul Spares the Amalekite King Agag against the Will of the Lord (1 Sam 15) and the Story of Saul’s Death by an Amalekite (2 Sam 1)
  • Suggestive Allegorisation in Order to Lay Out the Confluence of Paradoxes
  • Anonymisation and the Apauruṣeya Nature of the Davidic Episode
  • To Facilitate the Narrative Interventions and Interactions of the Omniscient Narrator—Interprets the Past, Describes the Present and Foresees the Future
  • To Consolidate the Disparate Sources, Collective or Individual—Anonymous Narrative Sources and Anonymous Author
  • To Merge the Subjective Self of the Narrator in the Collective Readership—No Author Is Just an Individual and Language Is an Instrument of Collective Expression
  • To Attribute Impersonal, Universal and Collective Nature to Narrative—A Work of Art Transcends the Temporal and Spatial Limitations
  • To Leave Room for Internalised Characters to Be Authors—The Transposition of Characters and Authors/Narrators
  • To Facilitate the Organic Growth of the Urtext—The Text Grows in Its Full Dimension through Various Spatio-Temporal Contexts in the Hands of Commentators (Vyakhyata Vetti or Jañti)
  • Spatialisation and the Spatial Precedence in the Davidic Episode
  • Mutuality of Space and Time
  • Polycentric Perception of Space
  • Cosmocentric and Anthropocentric Spatial Perceptions
  • Chapter Seven. Three Classical Theories of Kāvya Śāstra towards the Appreciation of the Davidic Episode
  • Rasa (Aesthetic Relish) Appreciation of the Davidic Episode Based on the Puruṣārthas
  • The Rasa Dialectic of Kāma: Hannah (1 Sam 1) and David (2 Sam 11)
  • The Rasa Dialectic of Artha: Eli’s Sons (1 Sam 2:11–36) and Samuel (2 Sam 2:11–36; 12:1–5)
  • The Rasa Dialectic of Dhárma: Saul and David (1 Sam 24)
  • The Rasa Dialectic of Mokṣa: Various Bhāvas and Related Characters
  • Hannah towards the Lord (1 Sam 2:1–10)—Bhakti Bhāva (Devotion)
  • Samuel towards His Life and Mission (1 Sam 12)—Vairāgya (Disgust)
  • Jonathan towards David (1 Sam 18:1–4; 20; 2 Sam 1:18–27)—Mitra (Philia)
  • Rizpa towards Her Impaled Sons (2 Sam 21:8–14)—Vatsa (Pathos)
  • Dhvani (Suggestion) Appreciation of the Plot of ‘David and Goliath’
  • An Appraisal of the Prevailing Reading of the Story of ‘David and Goliath’ (1 Sam 17)
  • Vastu-Dhvani Implied in the Story of ‘David and Goliath’
  • Alaṅkāra-Dhvani Implied in the Story of ‘David and Goliath’
  • Rasa-Dhvani Implied in the Story of ‘David and Goliath’
  • Alaṅkāra (Embellishment) Appreciation of the Davidic Episode on the Trinity of Alaṅkāras: Svabhāvokti (Natural-Speech), Vakrokti (Roundabout-Speech) and Atiśayokti (Exaggerated-Speech)
  • Conclusion
  • Glossary of Sanskrit Words
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Biblical Index
  • Author Index
  • Series Index

| xv →

Figures

Figure 1 Main Methods of Biblical Exegesis

Figure 2 Main Approaches of Biblical Exegesis

Figure 3 Methods Employed by Historical Criticism

Figure 4 Main Concerns of Canonical Criticism

Figure 5 Main Concerns of Rhetorical Criticism

Figure 6 Main Concerns of Narrative Criticism

Figure 7 Main Trends in an Indian Reading of the Bible

Figure 8 Indian Weltanschauung

Figure 9 Masterminds of Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra

Figure 10 The Compilers or the Commentators of Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra

Figure 11 Modern Narratology—Critical Reassessment and Proposals

Figure 12 The Four-S Model

Figure 13 The Basic Models of the Indian Narrative Paradigm

Figure 14 The Main Distinctive Features of Indian Narratology

Figure 15 Three Classical Theories of Kāvya Śāstra

Figure 16 Rasa as the Combination of Bhāvas

Figure 17 The Components of Bhāvas

Figure 18 Two Aspects of Vibhāva

Figure 19 The Three-fold Division of Meaning in Dhvani ← xv | xvi →

Figure 20 The Classification of Alakāra

Figure 21 The Canticle of Hannah—Setting the Plot for Smti

Figure 22 Temple Narrative and Ark Narrative

Figure 23 Interiorisation in David’s Song of Thanksgiving

Figure 24 Historical and Purāṅic Settings of the Ark Narrative

Figure 25 The Role-Shift of the Ark in the Mythical Framework

Figure 26 Chain Narrative and Recursiveness in the Ark Narrative

Figure 27 Multiple Embedding at the Level of Main Plot

Figure 28 Multiple Embedding at the Level of Individual Episode

Figure 29 A Comparative Outlook of Covenant/Dhárma-Motif

Figure 30 The Progression of Covenant/Dhárma-Motif in 2 Sam 1–7

Figure 31 Gītāic Genre in the Davidic Episode

Figure 32 Gītāic Allusion in the Davidic Episode

Figure 33 David’s Prayer in the Setting of the Gītāic Genre

Figure 34 Interiorised Theme of 2 Sam 21–24

Figure 35 Fantasisation in David’s Song of Thanksgiving

Figure 36 Re-Cycling of Stories in Jātaka Tales

Figure 37 Re-Cycling of Stories in Davidic Episode

Figure 38 Re-Cycling of Literary Patterns in Davidic Episode

Figure 39 Re-Cycling of Myths, Proverbs, etc. in Davidic Episode

Figure 40 Allegorisation in Order to Impart Moral Precepts and Practices

Figure 41 Allegorisation in Order to Describe Virtual Realities

Figure 42 Allegorisation in Order to Evoke Narrative Retrospection

Figure 43 Suggestive Allegorisation and the Confluence of Paradoxes

Figure 44 Spatial Precedence in the Books of Samuel

Figure 45 Rasa Dialectic of Kāma in the Bathsheba-Episode

Figure 46 Rasa Dialectic of Artha in the Story of Eli’s Sons and Boy Samuel

Figure 47 Rasa Dialectic of Moka in the Books of Samuel

Figure 48 Śānta Rasa Attained through Various Bhāvas in the Books of Samuel

Figure 49 Vastu-Dhvani Implied in the Story of ‘David and Goliath’

Figure 50 Unfolding of the Plot of ‘David and Goliath’ through Vastu-Dhvani

Figure 51 Rasa-Dhvani Implied in the Story of ‘David and Goliath’

Figure 52 Conflation of Svabhāvokti with Other Alakāras

Figure 53 A Collection of Alakāra in the Form of Vakrokti and Atiśayokti

| xvii →

Series Editor’s Preface

More than ever the horizons in biblical literature are being expanded beyond that which is immediately imagined; important new methodological, theological, and hermeneutical directions are being explored, often resulting in significant contributions to the world of biblical scholarship. It is an exciting time for the academy as engagement in biblical studies continues to be heightened.

This series seeks to make available to scholars and institutions, scholarship of a high order, and which will make a significant contribution to the ongoing biblical discourse. This series includes established and innovative directions, covering general and particular areas in biblical study. For every volume considered for this series, we explore the question as to whether the study will push the horizons of biblical scholarship. The answer must be yes for inclusion.

In this volume, G. Ayyaneth explores Indian Poetics with particular reference to the Davidic pericopes in the Books of Samuel. The author argues that the biblical narrative can be read and interpreted through the lenses of Indian poetics. Given the ancient shared traditions of the Biblical material and Indian narrative traditions, the connections appear to have a natural interpretive platform. Even though the particular study focuses on specific Indian Poetic texts, the larger issue developed here expands the spectrum of the many lenses through which the biblical material might be read and interpreted. Moreover, the emphasis here is on the narrative itself in both bodies of literature. The study reminds us that the ← xvii | xviii → biblical narrative and its interpretation is not restricted to one method, and narrow ownership for its meaning and application. Indeed the richness of multiple lenses serves as a reminder that the hermeneutical possibilities are practically inexhaustible. This study will assuredly add to the rich texture of these narratives, and it is certain to generate ongoing discourse, and will not only further expand the biblical horizon, but will do so in a direction that invites further conversation.

The horizon has been expanded.

| xix →

Foreword

On the Threshold of a Thesis

In 2008, George Ayyaneth (GA) presented, at our faculty, a dissertation for the licentiate in Theology entitled, An Appraisal of the Western and Indian Narratological Approaches in View of Its Application on the Old Testament Narratives, with Special Reference to Mike Bal and K. Ayyapa Paniker. This was but the first step to a work of far greater depth which led to his thesis, presented at our faculty in 2013: “BIBLICAL NARRATIVE (OT) FROM THE VANTAGE POINT OF ANCIENT INDIAN KĀVYA ŚĀSTRA, A Literary Investigation into the Extent of the Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra (Poetics) in the Appreciation of the Biblical Narrative (OT) with Special Reference to the Davidic Episode in the Books of Samuel.” If some students of the doctorate bring their research work to an end with the completion of their thesis, others—and GA is certainly one of these—open themselves to a whole life of research work: they have found their way. They still have a lot more to say; they will be of immense help to other students. GA’s setting himself the task of studying biblical texts in the light of the Scriptures of ancient India struck me as extremely interesting. ← xix | xx →

Inspiration for an Indian Approach to the Bible

It would not be out of place to say a word about GA’s interest in this kind of subject. He belongs to a Congregation founded by Bishop Mar Ivanios (1882–1953), who had been a professor at the University of Calcutta. He was inspired to start a religious community that would blend the Oriental Christian tradition with traditions of Hindu religiosity. This community (the Congregation of the Imitation of Christ) is commonly called “Bethany Ashram” in India. GA has produced a work in keeping with the spirit of his congregation: to aim at a meeting point between Christianity and the Indian tradition, a tradition which has expressed itself through the work of a series of remarkable personalities and noble initiatives.

Setting of the Subject

In his introduction, GA explains at length the basic question of his project, which may sound surprising to some of us: how to understand the biblical text in the light of Indian narrative tradition. Their two worlds, notes our author, “are characterized by stories and storytelling.” The biblical world, as well as that of India, is situated in a traditional society where words and writing are rooted in the cultural past. GA develops this point in Chapter 2 of the 1st part. Here he evokes first the notion of salvation as history and then puts the biblical account of a story of liberation alongside the Indian presentation of the notion of moka. Thus, we come to an outline of a “science of salvation and of liberation.” But the questions that lie at the root of all others include the following: how does one appropriate the Bible for oneself, if one is Indian and Christian? Is there an Indian way of reading the Scriptures? Here arises the problem of the “borrowed models” (an expression figuring in a volume of George Soares-Prabhu, one of those who inspired GA). Is it necessary to first integrate for oneself one of the Western models of reading in order to enter into an understanding of biblical texts and their problems?

That could become a cliché, but, in fact, the question arises very specially within an ancient culture that lives out of the recalling of its revered texts and has developed over the millennia a profound reflection on how a text can be. It might be worth one’s while to let the members of such a culture appropriate the biblical text, leaving aside all discussion about methods, scientific or historical presuppositions, etc. ← xx | xxi →

“Appreciation” over “Criticism”

The term “appreciation” also occurs in French: it evokes the taste one experiences when one samples something (one “appreciates,” for instance, good poetry); it connotes esteem (one “appreciates” someone); it also designates a sizing-up, as it were, by the intellect (one “appreciates” a distance or the impact a text can have on its readers). It comes, etymologically, from price: to “appreciate” is to recognize the price of something. All this is implied by GA in his approach: “in contrast to ‘literary criticism’ which provides theories of interpretation, ‘literary appreciation’ provides tools and devices to approach and to savour the flavour of biblical narrative.” “Therefore, this study prefers the term ‘appreciation’ (rasāsvāda) to literary analysis or literary criticism or interpretation. Although it is an arbitrary choice, it has got the backing of Indian tradition and according to which kāvya or sāhitya rasāsvāda (= literary appreciation) is savouring a work of literary art.”

There is, therefore, a certain gentleness in the method of GA, which expresses itself, however, with firmness. There is a particular way of reading a text: we should not approach it with the goal of immediately exposing to the light the various threads that lay bare the amalgam or variety of sources that reveal its composite character. Rather, we should first look for the “coherence and unity,” the “narrative coherence,” the expression of one “life formed of various tissues that make up a coherent whole.”

Story of the Study

In fact, my guidance of this thesis, which was done in a very regular manner, didn’t seem to me very directive. I felt I was more a witness of the meditative discoveries made by GA—the stories of the Books of Samuel in the light of Indian “appreciation”—and experienced certain shocks and perplexities when he read me some of his well-argued conclusions. For instance, take the canticle of Anna (I Sam 2:1–10), which reputed critics tend to see as a later insertion: a poetic passage placed in the midst of a narration, which seems to have no real link with the preceding. However, GA seemed to be just waiting for it, right after I Sam 1. After all the foregoing details of this chapter (the sterile Anna, ridiculed by her rival Pennina, humiliated by the priest, makes a vow to the Lord …), indeed a moment of song was called for! If one were to make of this story a Bollywood film, GA tells me—and such films are inspired by a style of composition that comes from traditional literature—everyone would have expected something to be sung after such events. And all this, not just to defend the point of view of the spectator or ← xxi | xxii → audience, but also to re-present, in the course of the song, the preceding situation, as it were, on the following day (whence comes the “Western” impression that the song is not truly rooted in the events one has just spoken of). There must be, GA tells me, a cosmic dimension to these happenings: a human story lived with God should indicate this cosmic aspect and Anna’s canticle does that. Anna invokes the God who made and governs the world (I Sam 2:8): she understands her personal experience as written against the background of a world created by God. And she must present this event as going beyond the limits of her own personal experience: whereby the unexpected announcement of the Messiah King is made to an age or a people not yet spoken of (I Sam 2:10). This is but a sample of the results of GA’s study.

Not a “Distorted Glimpse”

Indeed, I would prefer that my report be made up of these reactions which seem to me to be more telling than the formal exposition of GA’s written text. I listened to his surprise that we see this passage as an interruption of the narration, an insertion, a secondary thing. On the contrary, he saw it as an articulation full of meaning, of statements that we could expect to hear, well versed as he was in his formation, according to the literary tradition of India. I felt that his approach was quite valid and such an alternative view should be allowed. Thus, one avoids the charge of what Dariush Shayegan calls the “distorted glimpse.” It is not a matter of renouncing the approaches of our Western universities, who have proven their worth as regards crucial issues of the historicity of events, the discovery of sources, etc. Rather it is a matter of accepting that these other (Eastern) methods also co-exist with ours, granting their own sophistication, too, and that they can also demonstrate their worth. University scholars are text specialists, granted; but we should not forget that “those who deliberated deeply up on scriptures were sages, seers, saints, hermits, poets and narrators imbued with a variety of arts of expression.”

The Strangeness of Ancient Texts

Details

Pages
XXXII, 300
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433136146
ISBN (PDF)
9781453917671
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433136153
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433132957
Language
English
Publication date
2016 (September)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XXIX, 299 pp.

Biographical notes

G. Ayyaneth (Author)

Originally from Kudamuck, situated in the town of Pathanamthitta on the southern part of Kerala, India, G. Ayyaneth is a licentiate in biblical theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He received a diploma in German language (ZOP) from the Goethe Institute in Germany and a doctorate in biblical theology from the University of Fribourg. He is currently the director of Bethany Vedavijnana Peeth (BVP), an extension center of Jnana Deepa Vidayapeeth (JDV) or Pontifical Athenaeum in Pune, India, as well as a Catholic Religious Priest of Order of the Imitation of Christ (Bethany Ashram). Ayyaneth is also a columnist and writes articles in theological journals, along with poems and dramas in his mother tongue ‘Malayalam’.

Previous

Title: Indian Poetics (Kāvya Śāstra) and Narratology Towards the Appreciation of Biblical Narrative