My little radio spiel March 2003

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by Neil Godfrey

I gave the following little spiel on ABC’s Bush Telegraph Country Viewpoint radio segment back at the start of the 2003 Iraq war. It looks much better on the good version — ABC’s online site here.

My son decided to join the army at time of the East Timor troubles when people were coming out into the streets begging our government to send our armed forces over there. My son saw service in the army as something to be proud of, an honourable duty. He now faces the prospect of going as part of a conquering force to Iraq instead of joining the liberation force in East Timor. How will he look back on his experience there? If he dies or is maimed there, what will have been the point of that?

I will support my son and hope for his safe return of course, but I have been doing all in my power, and will continue to do all I can, to oppose this war in Iraq. All the advice of our intelligence and foreign affairs experts is that this war is only going to make us less safe from terrorism. Why do Bush and Howard reject the advice of their experts?

In Toowoomba I have been involved with hundreds of others here in public rallies and last weekend more than a dozen of us stood in the rain as part of a worldwide candlelight vigil for peace. At every one of those rallies two things have been stressed; that Saddam has to be dealt with, and our argument is not with our troops and they must always be supported. So why does Howard continue to misrepresent our case accusing us of being naive about Saddam and betrayers of our troops?

Most of the world can see clearly that this war is not a last resort to justify what will inevitably mean the slaughter of thousands of innocents, and no clear case has been made for Saddam being a threat to us. The inspectors were, even if slowly, making progress. It seemed to me it was Bush who was the one not cooperating with the inspectors since he kept saying he would not tell the inspectors all he knew about where the illegal weapons sites were.

I’d rather pay extra taxes to keep pressure on Saddam than see my son come back in a body bag or to have him live with memories of butchery of conquered civilians and soldiers alike, with Australia’s place in the world being less secure than ever before.

Another Q versus literary competence argument

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

My copy of George Kennedy’s “New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism” has just arrived today. Can’t recall what footnote originally compelled me to purchase it online however many weeks ago, but already I’m impressed with one little gem.

A doctrinaire insistence on source criticism tends to underestimate Matthew’s abilities as a writer and the perceptual sensitivity of his intended audience; rhetorical criticism can help to redress that estimate. (p.42)

and before that:

He was surely not deliberately leaving his readers clues to unravel his use of sources. (p.42)

That last sentence says heaps. Do we really think that one well enough versed in Greek to compose a gospel that would last 2000 years so limited that they found it too much effort to adjust wording of their sources to fit the thematic contexts of their larger composition?

Kennedy in this section focuses on the apparent contradiction in the Sermon on the Mount that appears to begin with Jesus addressing his inner circle of close disciples only yet concluding as if he had been addressing the larger multitude.

The explanation to Kennedy is really elementary, my dear Watson:

In classical oratory, apostrophe, or the turn from the nominal addressee to someone else, is even more common than in modern public address. What perhaps should be envisioned in Matthew, as in Luke, is that Jesus first looks at the disciples and then begins to refer to the crowd in the third person, shifting abruptly to the second person in 5.11. (p.41)

Kennedy further points to the obvious intended audience throughout the rest of the Sermon — that Matthew clearly intended his Sermon to be read/heard as a speech, and among it audience were “the poor, the grief-stricken, the meek, those contemplating divorce, all Jews who will pray.” (p.40)

There is much, much more to Kennedy’s exposition of Matthew’s rhetoric, but I have chosen to isolate for the purpose of this moment this sole point, which is worth my digesting for before moving on and reading much else.