Analyse de la réponse du lecteur au récit des origines de Jésus en Mt 1-2

Authors: Doane, Sébastien
Advisor: Hurley, Robert
Abstract: Reader-response is a literary theory which studies the reception of literary works and the role of the reader in their interpretation. Inspired by Stanley Fish’s post-formalist version of affective stylistics and Robert Hurley’s adaptation of that method for the study of biblical literature, this thesis shifts attention from the responses of theoretically constructed readers (implicit, model, ideal…) to the responses of a “real reader” to the narrative of the origins of Jesus in Matt. 1-2. What effects does Matt. 1-2 produce? This research question is answered by using an innovative methodological approach: the author describes what happens as one slows down the reading event, reporting on the effects produced by each successive word, phrase and sentence. The “text as object” dissolves in a dynamic reading experience which takes place in time, generating suspense, curiosity and surprise. The description of the reading experience shows the transformations produced at the very moment the reader gives concrete expression to the text by his interpretive act. Slowing down the reading process brings the essential, active role of the reader into view in the operation of such textual devices and strategies as irony, metaphor and the self-consuming artifact. Historically, the great diversity of reading experiences recorded in successive exegeses may partially be explained by the many gaps of Matt. 1-2. Among the ambiguous elements explored are: the presence of five women in a patriarchal genealogy (1:1-16), the number of generations (1:17) that is different from the list of generations (1:2-16), the genealogical discontinuity between Joseph and Jesus (1:16), the equivocal "justice" of Joseph (1:19), the nature of the star followed by the magi (2:2,9), and the quotation "Nαζωραῖος κληθήσεται" which has no known source (2:23). A review of available research underscores the considerable confusion that this text has stirred up. Instead of filling in textual aporias, this thesis proposes to look at the answers of the "real readers" that are Church Fathers and exegetes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Their writings are responses to the textual devices of the read text. These responses are not presented with a view to finding the one right interpretation, but in order to understand the effects this text produces in readers. Based on the effects produced by the text, it appears that from the first verses, the Gospel according to Matthew seeks to disorient its readers, preparing them for the disconcerting narrative that follows. Like an enigma, the genealogy throws its readers off balance as they begin their quest for Jesus and his origins. Matt. 1:1-17 subverts Davidic messianism by revisiting the history of Israel to propose Jesus as a Messiah, both from David and different from him. One of the innovative aspects of this thesis is to pay attention to the ways in which these male characters express their masculinities. While most studies merely scratch the context of the Old Testament quoted in Matt. 1:17-2:23, this thesis proposes to analyze the effects of the interaction between the narrative context in Matthew and the narrative contexts of the works cited. In an original way, these quotations are presented as metalepses. Using a few words, they encourage readers to think of the complete narrative world from which these words are drawn. This procedure is contrary to the usual interpretative strategy which treats these quotations as "hook words" within an interpretive model centered on the prediction and fulfillment of prophecies. The results of this intertextual study underscores the fact that the relationship between text and intertext modifies our understanding of both. Studies which concentrate on the “inscribed reader” do not to justice to the richness of the reading experience. The role of the real reader as a creator of meaning has been underestimated in biblical studies. The dialogue between real readers, past and present, emphasizes the interpretative plurality that makes it possible to discover the effects of the story of the origins of Jesus in Matt. 1-2, highlighting some of the possible relations between this text and reader.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2018
Open Access Date: 12 July 2019
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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