I don’t want to call this a tagmemic analysis.
But (you could say) it is.
And didn’t really want to entitle my post “David Ker’s Christ.”
It could’ve just as easily been called, “The Lovely Heap,” or “Stepping Into That River of Heraclitus,” or “A Pro-Lifer Foetus,” or “Nother dying come home father.”
To talk about somebody else’s talk about anything, especially what rubs him or her the wrong way, is rather dicey. Nevertheless, it may be worth the risk. David entitles his most recent lingamish blogpost, “The Gospel rubs me the wrong way.” Notice his variant phrases and even clauses for “The Gospel”:
“The teachings of Christ”; “His teachings”; “Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2 and Romans 12 and Matthew 5-7”; “to be patient and kind”; “to consider others more important than ourselves”; and “that the path to exaltation passes through humility.”
And those are just in the first paragraph. Now notice David’s variants for “Christ”:
masculine third-person personal pronouns such as “He” and “His,” always capitalized; “Jesus himself”; “the Evangel”; “‘Jesus'”; and “The Great Messiah.”
What is it, this “Christ” of Ker’s? The synonyms and appositives and pronouns and adjectivally modified noun phrases begin to help us. But for a more accurate description of what it is (that is, what this “Christ” of Ker’s is), we might do well to read more of Ker’s writing, to listen into the conversations around his post. Bob MacDonald, the first to comment on Ker’s post, for example, plays off of Ker’s (rhetorical) question, “In practical terms can Christian piety thrive without the cross?” We get the sense that Bob is an insider to David’s talk, understanding that “Christian piety” IS “the Gospel” and that “the cross” IS part and parcel of “Christ.” At any rate, not much of David’s talk is the kind of “natural English” that his co-bloggers at Better Bibles Blog often call for in better translations of the Bible. It’s what they call Biblish, or what you might call Christianese. So the second commenter, Codepoke, suggests that David IS one N. T. Wright, advising that David’s being “rubbed the wrong way” IS in N. T. “exactly the frustrations [David is] expressing, though in a very differently flavored way.”
If, then, we go to the David Ker corpus, the lingamish body of words, we begin to get what David Ker’s Christ IS not. Try his talk in his posts “The Bible is not the Gospel” and “What to do with the vengeance of the Old Testament? Skip it.” What you see is that Ker is not in the least talking like one David Rosenberg, who writes the following:
Every word and action of Jesus’ life is an echo of the Hebrew Bible–and not least, the concept of Messiah. (on page 214 of An Educated Man: A Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus).
David Ker’s “Christ” is not really the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible, not the Jesus whose life is an echo of the Hebrew Bible, in word and in deed. So we get the sense that David Ker’s “Christ” or even “The Great Messiah” of his would not talk the same way as David Rosenberg’s “Messiah.”
This post of mine has been about talk. It’s about talked-about reality. The thing is with talk that we use it, often, to mark what is and what isn’t.
My wife, for instance, texted me today, just the word, “Heap.” So I wrote her back to ask, What IS heap. Now, to my mind, a grain is not a heap. Nor are two grains or three or six. But seven grains might make a heap, and seventy surely would. A heap is a pile of seventy grains. But my wife said, “It means I love u”; and I love that! Heap IS how she loves me, some seventy grains and maybe more. The Lovely Heap.
And Plato’s Heraclitus (i.e., the Heraclitus he has his Socrates quoting) talks like this: “δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.” Which IS exactly the same as saying “you cannot step twice into the same stream.” So I say this whole little episode, even with the English translation by Harold N. Fowler from 1921, IS, in 2010, just “Stepping Into That River of Heraclitus.”
“A Pro-Lifer Foetus” IS a human baby, albeit unborn, and undefined by many Pro-Choicers as necessarily viable. And “Nother dying come home father” IS meaningful and literary even though in that context is it NOT; rather, in the context of the characters of James Joyce’s Ulysses , it IS a typo on an telegraph. The character Leopold Bloom says it IS a “tell a graphic lie.” It really IS “mother is dying.” Talked-about reality really is something. So IS David Ker’s Christ.