Thursday, 21 July 2016
Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 64
What happens then, when a text becomes canonised? Assmann explains:
Canonisation is a special form of writing. Texts are not merely written down, their auhority is increased. This increase in authority refers both to their shape (their wording) and their status, which is closely boubd up with it.
What does Assmann mean by authority?
Authority means that everything the text says possesses absolute normative validity, and what ever claims to normative validity must be able to prove itself to be the meabing of the text.
So the text must be closed?
This implies that the text cam be neither continued nor supplemented by further texts. This closure conditions its shape, the literal wording of which must now be fixed. We are dealing here with a genuinely final version.
And any earlier versions, any draft copies?
The normative character of the text, its authority and binding status, are functions exclusively of this final version, and not of any earlier or primal versions.
And all the parts, the components? What about them?
Within this canonical final version, there are no degrees of authority, no sentences that are of greater of lesser importance, no primary and secondary components.
Whilst almost all church would pay lip service to that, in practice, the Old Testament - as its very (unfortunate) name betrays - has much less authority than the New Testament.