Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And Citing My Doctoral Thesis on John's Gospel . . .

I thought that I'd long been forgotten by the world of religious studies, but as I was doing some vanity Googling, I stumbled upon this recent book, published only last year by Dr. Esther Kobel, that cites my doctoral thesis, Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts, rather extensively in fact, often with approval, though parting ways where I go too far . . . in Kobel's opinion. There's no need to take my blog readers through each citation, but the summary provided might be of interest . . . even if the Kobel does get my name rather radically wrong, e.g., "Jefferey H. Hodges," "Jeffery Horace Hodges," and so forth:
The challenge of considering all Johannine passages containing meal scenes and food issues has been met by Jefferey H. Hodges in a doctoral thesis entitled Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts. Hodges explores the ingesting images in various religious traditions including Gnosticism. To date, this is the most comprehensive study of Johannine food imagery and its symbolic interpretation. Hodges suggests that basically all food passages explored are to be understood as eucharistic. Hodges also identifies a synecdochical use of food in the Gospel of John, according to which food signifies and is part of the heavenly as well as earthly realms. This dualism related to food is then compared to dualisms in Gnostic texts and texts of late-antiquity Judaism and Early Christianity. Although there are obvious parallels between John's food-related dualism, and the respective dualism found in Gnostic texts, Hodges affirms that the latter significantly differ from the former. The Johannine understanding presupposes an ethical dualism: a righteous God and a world that has grown sinful. The Gnostic texts, however, presuppose the dualism to be ontological: a perfect spiritual realm, versus the evil, material world. Thus, Hodges suggests, there is a different meaning to Jesus' avoidance of food[,] different from the abstention revealed in Gnostic texts. Drawing on his investigation into early Jewish traditions, Hodges suggests that vinegar symbolizes the corrupted world. By accepting the earthly vinegar at the crucifixion, Jesus synecdochically consumes the entire world, and thereby eliminates its sinfulness. The fact that this happens willingly points to an irreconcilable difference when compared with Gnostic thinking. Johannine uses of food, Hodges argues, derive not from Gnosticism (despite the obvious parallels) but from Jewish traditions. (Esther Kobel, Dining with John: Communal Meals and Identity Formation in the Fourth Gospel in its Historical and Cultural Context, Brill Academic Publishers, 2011)
For any readers interested in pursuing this further, there's an online pdf copy of the book on Google Scholar, where one can use the search function to look for "Hodges" and see what Dr. Kobel says about my thesis.

I just wish I knew why my name is so difficult for everybody, for Kobel is neither the first nor that last to stumble over its spelling and the order of its first and middle names (and even my surname here in Korea) . . .

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At 8:59 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

re: name difficulties

Stop saying "Call me Jeff," and just let everyone call you "Horace," since your name is Horace Jeffery Hodges.

I have a friend whose first name is Franklin, but he insists that everyone call him "Joe," his middle name. Go figure.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But I don't feel like a "Horace"! That wouldn't help anyway, for Dr. Kobel doesn't know me personally and doesn't know my name preferences, but got my name confused nonetheless!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:40 PM, Blogger ilTassista Marino said...

Dear Jfefery, I don't know if this is a compliment, but your essay may really please Catholic readers/theologians, in whose tradition the Eucharistic interpretation of the Johannine Gospel always played a major role, and still does. I could even suggest it to a publisher for a translation in Italy, if you agree.

In such a long series of studies, focusing on basically every micro-detail in John's words, the vinegar theory sounds absolutely new: has it been worked out by you? Intriguing!

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Much, including the vinegar, was new, but I'd want to rewrite the entire thesis before trying to publish.

Jeffery Hodges

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