Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Isar: On Chiasms

I love that article by Nicoletta Isar so much I have decided to publish it piece by piece so as to gain the insight as to why the Cross was so holy in early Christianity.  Of course the article has little or nothing to do with the Cross.  But that makes it all the more perfect.  You will see what I - she - means shortly.

In their book Information through the Ages: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Computer Revolution, Michael Hobart and Zachary S. Schiffman offer a broad picture of the phenomena with a special chapter (“Orality and the Problem of Memory”) devoted to the problem of memory in orality, in contrast to our notion in the era of technology: The term ‘memory’ evokes the image of a thing, a container for information, or the content of that container. Thus, from our literate viewpoint, the Iliad preserves the knowledge of the Trojan War. But in jumping to this conclusion, we lose sight of the Iliad as an oral phenomenon, as the singing of a song. It is not so much a thing as an act, a gestalt, uniting bard and audience in a shared consciousness. This phenomenon has little in common with that desiccated thing we literates call “memory.” In the world before writing, memory is the social act of remembering. It is commemoration.

Isar's point is very important even outside the study of cognitive psychology.   Why was the Cross so holy in early Christianity?  Because it represented the process of 'two becoming one.'  Don't believe me? "His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility" [Ephesians 2:15, 16]

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