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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: RE: (whorl) Fallible Narrators and Even More Fallible Copyists: a
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 16:01:58 

On Mon, 11 Jun 2001, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:

> > One of my favorite parallels:  Luke and Acts are thought to
> > have been written by the same person (arguably, "Luke").  
> Well, either him or another Hellenized Hebrew of the same name ;*)

Inevitably, some scholars suggest there may have been a later writer using
Luke's name, but I don't think they make a very good argument.

> Now, Wolfe is not writing children's books, but I think it 
> possible and even likely that he is doing something analogous
> -- presenting to us, in a fictive and cognitively "safe" 
> context, the problem of teasing out the historical facticity
> that lies behind the Gospels. 

I sort of agree.  I think Wolfe is clearly inspired by the way the church
receives the Gospels, but I think he's making broader points that have
wider applicability than just an apologetic framework for considering the

> > I strongly disagree.  Horn believes that Silk was
> > enlightened, and perhaps Silk believed it.  But I don't think
> > Silk's story is completely incoherent or unexplainable without
> > it.  
> H'mmmm.  But then, I think the Gospels are incoherent unless you
> assume that Jesus was divine. 

Here's where I think you're making the connection too closely.  Wolfe may
agree with you about the Gospels, but that doesn't necessarily mean that
he intends the Long Sun/Short Sun books to be incoherent if you don't
believe in the Outsider.

Myself, I'd prefer to say that it's very hard to explain why the Gospels
were written as they were if you don't believe Jesus was divine.  
Coherence by itself doesn't mean a whole lot.  The Gospels could be
coherent in their presentation of a divine Jesus but false.  

And the Gospels are more active at debunking rival explanations.  They
denounce the claim that the disciples stole the body as a story made up by
the Jewish Temple establishment.  Horn doesn't jump in and proclaim that
Crane's hypothesis was nonsense.  Horn's not completely convinced himself
of the Outsider's existence.

> > Did Jesus really predict the fall of Jerusalem, or is that
> > something the gospel writers added in later?  
> That is, of course, precisely the kind of question that the
> three-layered model I described makes almost unaskable. 

N.T. Wright takes a pretty good stab at it in _Jesus and the Victory of
God_.  He claims that Jesus could easily have predicted the fall of
Jerusalem as an inevitable consequence of continued defiance of the Romans
without requiring any sort of forknowledge of the future.

> "Truth is stranger than fiction," said Mark Twain, "because
> fiction is obliged to make sense." Wolfe is pushing the limit
> of that obligation, very hard, and I'm not at all certain
> that he hasn't violated it in SHORT SUN.

Interesting point.

> > This is a good point.  We're always telling ourselves 3rd-person
> > omniscient stories about the world.  Is that a mistake?  I don't know.
> If it is a mistake, it is an unavoidable mistake. We are narrative
> beings.

But could our narrations be more modest?  More aware that they are always
from a particular vantage point and not a true objective model of the


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