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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Dancing with cadavers

Some of us in Darwin were privileged last Wednesday to sit at the feet, as it were, of an outstanding communicator and biblical scholar (the two don’t always go hand in hand). To my shame I hadn’t heard of Paula Gooder when + Greg told me a year or so ago that she was coming. Since placing the final full stop on my doctoral dissertation two years ago I have lost touch with the constellations of scholars out there, and while Paula was publishing well before I finished she somehow slipped under my radar. She won’t do so now, and I shall add happily to her 50p of royalties.

She held in wondrous balance that ability to engage with and critique the texts of our faith (what Anne, borrowing from L.T. Johnson, refers to as dissecting the cadaver) with the reverence and joy that comes from knowing that these are the texts in which our encounter with the risen, living Christ begins (or, if not begins, for that beginning can be in liturgy and fellowship, then continues and is anchored). Dr Gooder wove introductions to the inordinately difficult realm of biblical-critical methodology with faith-radiating encounters with the Christ in the text, and did so in such a way that as far as I could see all present, across the conservative-liberal spectrum of  faith, and across a vast range of academic interest and experience, were engaged and energised. She danced with her beloved, to cite Anne’s L.T. Johnson reference again, rather than merely dissecting a cadaver.

I hope and pray that this inspirational lecturer, whose impact in and on the English Anglican Church is quite considerable, continues to maintain the energy and integrity she demonstrated here, and that something of her enthusiastic reverence for the texts of our faith continues to rub off on those of us called to teach and live the faith of Jesus Christ.

(Unfortunately, on the next day I managed a linguistic mishap, that Paula characteristically dubbed phraseological dyslexia, as I spoke of the enjoyment of 'dancing with cadavers' ... perhaps given Paula's love of 1 Corinthians 15, we might agree that this is an image of serendipitous insight!)

έ̉ν Χριστω̣̃ – (Fr)  Michael

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