Lamerson, Samuel, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Jesus Framed. By George Aichele. New York: Routledge, 1996, 200 pp., $17.95.
This work is part of a series called "Biblical Limits," which endeavors to bring a postmodern perspective to the reading of familiar Biblical texts. George Aichele is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Adrian College and is the co-author of The Postmodern Bible.
Postmodern literary criticism is making headway in many areas, not the least of which is biblical criticism. One only needs stroll down the book aisles at the annual meeting of the Society cf Biblical Literature to see volume after volume devoted to a postmodern view of the text. I make no claim to be an expert in such literary criticism, and so my discussion oi this work should be taken as a review by one who is much more familiar with the gospel of Mark than with postmodern literary criticism. This book states at the outset that it uses "literary theory, most notably the writings of Roland Barthes" (back cover). Among Barthes' most notable literary ideas is his view that the text has an infinite number of possible meanings, and that these meanings are by no means reduced or controlled by the author's intentions. The author takes a back seat to the text, ;as a person who is not necessary in the interpretive task (see Roland Barthes, "From Work to Text," in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in PostStructuralist Criticism, pp. 73-81). In the introduction, Aichele (following Barthes), states that this "reading is a discourse about the 'possibility' of meaning, rather than about meaning itself" (F. 3). He seeks to "produce readings from a text which is itself, finally, unreadable" (p. ix). Thus at the outset I find myself at odds with the aim of the book.
The book consists of an introduction, seven essays and a postscript, all of which deal with some specific aspect of the gospel of Mark. The title comes from the first essay, which uses the word "frame" to refer both to the "literary frames" around the passion narratives, as well as to the fact that Jesus was "framed" by his enemies.
These essays are mixed in character, some dealing with specific texts or pericopes in the gospels, others dealing with larger issues (e.g. chap. 2, "Desire for an End," deals with the textual problera inherent in the ending of Mark). …