Silent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke
Dinkler, Michal Beth
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CitationDinkler, Michal Beth. 2012. Silent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractSilent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke
Even a brief comparison with its canonical counterparts demonstrates that the Gospel of Luke is preoccupied with the power of spoken words. Words, Luke tells us, can deceive and mislead (21.8), entrap (20.26), or save (12.11-12). Despite this emphasis, words alone do not a language make. Just as music without silence collapses into cacophony, so speech without silence signifies nothing: silences are the invisible, inaudible cement that hold the entire edifice together. Though scholars across diverse disciplines have analyzed silence in terms of its contexts, sources, and functions, these insights have barely begun to make inroads in biblical studies.
Utilizing conceptual tools from narratology and reader-response criticism, this study represents an initial exploration of what remains largely uncharted territory - the various ways that narrative intersections of speech and silences function together toward particular rhetorical ends in the Gospel of Luke. Although speech and silence are often considered to be mutually exclusive - silence as the absence of speech - this common perceptual frame limits, rather than opens up, interpretive possibilities when reading ancient narratives. In the work presented here, I consider speech and silence to be mutually constituted in intricate and inextricable ways.
Specifically, I demonstrate that attention to both characters' silences and the narrator's silences (such as gaps, omissions, or delays in recounting information) helps to delineate the complex interactions between plot, characterization, theme, and readerly experience in Luke's Gospel. Focusing on both speech and silence in the Third Gospel reveals that the Lukan narrator seeks to shape readers into ideal witnesses who use speech and silence in particular ways; one way to read the Lukan text is as an early Christian proclamation - not only of the gospel message - but also of the proper ways to use speech and silence in light of that message. Thus, we find that speech and silence are significant matters of concern within the Lukan story and that speech and silence are significant tools used in its telling.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367449