Deconstruction and the concept logos in the Gospel of John and the binary opposition between the oral and the written text, with special reference to primarily oral cultures in South Africa.
This thesis examines the Historical Critical method and its opponent Deconstruction in relation to the Logos tradition from the perspective of Orality-Literacy Studies. The resultant paradigm seeks to revise the logical procedures underlying the Historical Critical method and Deconstruction, so as to approximate the media realities that underlie the Logos tradition and its power for resistance. The first part of the thesis undertakes a detailed historical critical analysis of the Logos tradition and the proposed religious influences in the Gospel of John. The Historical Critical Method of the Logos has focused exclusively on written text, i.e.Words committed to chirographic space. This analysis is followed by a critical analysis of the Logos-Hymn, which is followed by an indepth exegetical study ofJohn's Prologue (1: 1-18) in locating the form and character of the Logos-Hymn. The Logos tradition will serve as bedrock in understanding the polemic in Chapters five and six and its relationship to John's Prologue (1: 1-18) in the Gospel of John and that of primarily! oral communities prior the 1994 democratic era in South Africa. The second part of the study will focus on Derrida' s Deconstruction critique of the metaphysics of presence against the Logos which presents as a leading case for Logocentrism. Deconstruction should be seen as a series of recent displacements among philosophy, literary criticism and Biblical studies. Current reaction to Derrida in philosophy and literary criticism includes enthusiastic acceptance but also hostility and rejection from academic humanists who perceive him as a threat to their metaphysical assumptions. Reaction from Biblical scholars could be similarly negative, although most of Derrida's writings should stimulate them to a healthy rethinking of their positions. Derrida's insistence that meaning is an affair of language's systems of difference "without positive terms" and his proposition that writing is prior to speech are two main elements in his attack on the foundations of Western metaphysics and its 'logocentric' convictions that we can experience meaning in 'presences' removed from the play of differential systems (Schneidau 1982:5). Derrida repudiates the classical logos behind this assumption but also the Christian Logos, yet the Biblical insistence on our understanding of ourselves in relation to a historical past, rather than in terms of a static cosmic system, breaks with the tendencies of logocentrism and allows us to align Derrida and the Bible. This radical way of appropriating history, without the possibility of reifications of various sorts, should lead Biblical scholars further into kerygmatic reflection. Derrida's deconstruction demonstrates the dubious status of ordinary language, literal meaning, and common sense thinking and invites us to see the illusory metaphysics behind the written text, a metaphysics that some Biblical structuralists seem to accept uncritically. It is these metaphysical analyses of the Word that unravel the binary opposition between the spoken Logos and that of the written text and its relation to meaning and representation in the reality of primarily oral cultures. The third part of the thesis will focus the attention on tradition perceived as transmissional processes towards a means of communication in primarily oral cultures. In the place of the Historical Critical Method and Deconstruction henneneutics of the Logos tradition, an oral thesis is developed which will focus on an Anthropology of Liberation. The Logos can be seen as a liberating force for primarily oral communities against the falsely constructed realities of the written text in our South African context. The written text has played a major role in the social engineering of segregation and social boundaries by the Apartheid government in South Africa. It is suggested that Orality-Literacy research is an appropriately inclusive metaphor in understanding the Logos as a collective memory for primarily oral cultures shared by hearer and speaker alike. Orality-literacy helps us to understand the literary dynamics between speech and writing and to dialogue with the history of the 'Other' or those from the 'otherside, 'the marginalized and the dispossesed. Finally this thesis suggest that the discourse of the 'Other' is able to produce meaning and representation in the construction of knowledge, and is a discourse that is shared by hearer and speaker alike.