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Title: Texts reading texts, sacred and secular : two postmodern perspectives
Author: Jack, A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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The language, themes and imagery of the Bible have been read and re-written in texts across time. In the Revelation of John, the Hebrew Bible echoes and is re-invented just as, in James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), many explicit and implicit readings and interpretations of the Bible are offered. In this thesis, these readings of the Bible, and the ways in which Revelation and Hogg's Confessions have themselves been read, are considered from two postmodern perspectives. The validity of reading the Bible as literature is defended in the Introduction to the thesis by demonstrations that many of the problems which might prevent such a reading, such as the multiplicity of available manuscripts and the undefined role of the author/editor, also have to be overcome by those working in the field of literary studies. In the following chapters I suggest that postmodern ideas of marginalisation and deconstruction offer new contexts in which to read both Revelation and Hogg's Confessions. In Part 1 of the thesis (Chapters 2 and 3), I argue that readings of the Confessions which are sensitive to the "ex-centricities" of the text enable new readings of Revelation from the same perspective. In Part 2 (Chapters 4 and 5), I suggest that readings of Revelation from the perspective of deconstruction open up new possibilities for readings of the Confessions. Chapter 2 argues that Hogg's understanding of the Bible and its interpretations may be regarded as marginal in a postmodern sense. Readings of the Bible offered in the Confessions, and in other examples of Hogg's work, demonstrate this "ex-centricity". When, in Chapter 3, Revelation is read in a way which highlights its marginalised status within society, its readings of the Hebrew Bible take on new significance. Both texts are shown to offer readings which are subversive and sceptical of the claims of the dominant master narratives of their time. The insights of postmodernism illuminate these previously silenced "ex-centricities". In Part 2 of the thesis, various modern readings of Revelation and the Confessions are discussed, and their inadequacies are demonstrated from the perceptive of deconstruction. In Chapter 4, a reading of Revelation from the perspective of the "abyss" makes possible a reading of the Confessions in which Robert's assumed culpability is questioned and Gil-Martin's role is redeemed. When the burden of explanation of every ambiguity in the novel is lifted, the horror of the text stands without any natural and supernatural explanation, and is placed within the locus of everyday experience. A new reading of Revelation is offered in Chapter 5 which foregrounds the nightmarish aspects of the text, and re-considers the conflicting roles assigned to the Christ character. When Revelation is read as a nightmare, the text is robbed of its status as scripture. When the text's apparent message about the necessity of choosing God over Satan is deconstructed, the boundary between the lost and the saved is blurred.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available