Friday, January 30

The Man Born to Be King

Reading Dorothy Sayers' classic play cycle. Shows what I mentioned the other day: the full-flowering of Oxford Christian Modernism. Oh, there are faults to be found. Those of us armed with the postmodern critique can easily bring it to bear. The amount of damage done depends on your opinion of pomo (mine: important and to be counted, but not ultimately materially damaging).

Again, Sayers is in good company with Lewis and Tolkien. Many great things at work here. She seems truly master (she would say, though we might say 'mistress') of the Gospels and their relation to each other and I like almost all of her hermeneutical choices.

The clincher for me to buy and read 'The Man Born to Be King' was that CS Lewis read it every Easter.

One part that really stands out: the best, most plausible filling-out of Judas that I've ever read. Now, she makes him a real intellectual and that pride is his downfall. Characteristic of Oxonians and probably me, too, but still very valid. She decides Judas is important, but speculates much more orthodoxly than Kazantzakis' damned (I use that word advisedly) portrayal.

Paul and Mary, the Chronological Bible readers, will especially be interested in the harmonization of the four Gospels. Again, I like her choices very much. And she has a lot of nice commentary on them, particularly in the introduction.

The biggest failing of these plays is the excessive contextualization she put into them. The local color does not read near as well outside of 1940s England. Casts new light for me on all of the recent contextualization projects in Evangelicalism including Eugene Peterson's work. I've no doubt the plays were 'smashing' for contemporary listeners, and I can get rather into that, from a distance, but ultimately they sound strange today. A strength and a weakness.

Anyhow, if these issues resonate with you at all, you should definitely get a hold of it. (Not in print, so you'll have to buy it used, like I did (Amazon has a number of links) or get it from a library (ours did not have it)).
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