Monday, April 22, 2013

A Bit of Literary Theory Concerning the Literary Form of Genesis 1-11

The very nature of any form proclaims first, its existence in the real world, if such be so - and secondly, its essence or natural identity. In the case of a literary construct, being composed of the words of a certain language, there is presupposed - a certain degree of literacy. Additionally, in the case of the Bible today, most of us must depend on a translation of the original (Greek in the New Testament, - Hebrew for the Old). All that granted, let us look at Genesis One. 
Let us point out, also, that what we are asking the text alone and of itself to tell us, is the formal principle, - in other words, what the text is, assuming its existence. I am maintaining that because of certain literary facts, the text itself proclaims itself to be an historical narrative. How so? 
First of all, the Voice speaking. It is a 3rd person telling us very plainly, with practically no embellishment, just what God did on each of the seven days of the first week of the world. To Whom is the Voice speaking? There is no specified audience, and so we may fairly assume the speaker is addressing anyone and everyone. Even us! And most importantly, what is this speaker's intention? Is there any way to know this from the text alone, of itself? Yes, there is. We know the speaker's intention by the way in which He speaks, by the form He has chosen to use in order best to convey His message. And what is this mode of discourse? What is the literary form the speaker has chosen? If I asked a seven year old these questions, what do you think he or she would say? I think he or she would see clearly that this speaker was not beginning or continuing to tell us a "fairy tale" or a made-up story. This text has all the characteristics of a plain, historical narrative. We could compare it with some such narratives in the history of literature. (I attempted some such demonstration in my analysis of Cardinal Ratzinger's booklet – In The Beginning, available on request.) It is impossible to search out the intent of the author, as the modernists tell us we must do. It is impossible because the very form of the speech will forestall him and betray him if need be, by revealing what he actually accomplishes by means of his speech. A good example is Milton’s – Paradise Lost. The poet announces early in the poem that his explicit intention is to justify the ways of God to men. This is an explicitly, rhetorical purpose: to convince his readers of God’s great justice in all that happened as a result of the Original Sin. Does the epic poem achieve this purpose? I invite any reader of the poem to answer this question as honestly as he can. 
As a matter of fact, and as a student at one time, of this very poet, Milton rather achieved the purpose of the poetic mode of discourse, which is to make a speech-construct that stands on its own, as it were, apart from any other goal – end – purpose or intention, than simply to be admired, even astonished at the epic’s architectonic structure. Such a structure as was necessary to befit the poem’s real hero – Lucifer, the great Rebel – Satan as Head and Leader of the Fallen Angels, embodying all of their evil thoughts and will in himself throughout this astounding poetic discourse. There are masterpieces of rhetorical discourse in the poem, but they are contained – just as the dialogue in a great drama are contained and define the formal principle of the construct. And so it is with the text of Genesis. I like to think of all of scripture as a Divine Rhetoric, because, whatever the literary form, God’s intent is always to speak to our minds in the literal/historical sense and to our wills/hearts in the spiritual sense! These two senses are never to be separated and of course, can never contradict each other. This is what is so important about Genesis 1-11: the account of Creation and then of the Great Flood due to the wickedness of the descendants of Cain. 
The tradition – the Sacred Tradition of the Church, at one with scripture and the magisterium, was never castigated as “fundamentalism”until the evolutionary modernists began to gain control of biblical exegesis. I have documented much of this progress of error in – Canonized Heresies, and yet more in the Wiseman papers and the – Power of Darkness, but much more work remains to be done in all areas of the relation between theology and the natural sciences. Contrary to the opinion of most traditionalists today, this relationship is not only desirable but absolutely necessary. See how atheism thrives today, causing the loss of innumerable souls, all because the Church in her theology, has lost the science - the highest natural science of metaphysics, which shows us how best to demonstrate the existence of God and His necessary attributes - from natural reason alone.

This is what St. Thomas did in his Five Ways of proving God's existence, (ST, I, q.2, a3). In the Summa, Part I, q.1, a6, - St. Thomas clearly states the relation of theology, - that is of divine Catholic Faith, to the natural sciences. First of all, it must be recognized that the truths of faith constitute the highest wisdom, that knowledge through and by which all other knowledge is set in order. (ST, I, q.1, a6, ad1.) And so, theology, being concerned with the truths of faith found in Holy Scripture and Tradition, is not concerned to prove the principles of the other sciences, but only to judge them. For whatsoever is found in other sciences, but contrary to any truth of this science, must be condemned as false. And he quotes 2 Cor.10:4,5. And so, how can the Church fail to condemn as false - a theory, posing as science, which tells us that man is really made in the image of the apes rather than of God?

Genesis 1-11 and all of the Old Testament historical books are just that - real history that we ignore to our peril. And especially now, it seems to me imperative for all who call themselves traditionalists, to proclaim in their periodicals and websites, that the so-called science of evolution in all its malignant forms, masquerading as progress, is error and worse, it is heresy because it attacks the truths of Faith revealed in Sacred Scripture and proclaimed in our Credo.

Kyrie, Eleison!

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