Comment Exegesis

A few days ago, I wrote a post about a comment that Henry Neufeld of the Participatory Bible Study Blog discussed. Somehow the whole affair turned into a “serious” exegesis of the comment – and also into a sort of satirical criticism of what we often will read in commentaries (such as is discussed HERE). I’ll let you in on the conversation:

I initially wrote:

But the comma usage! My goodness, I don’t even know what it means!

Henry Neufeld, You are the one, in error here.

Look at that comma pair! What does it mean? Is it parenthetical? “Henry Neufeld in error here.”

Or is the first one marking a vocative and the second one performing some myserious act of comma-ness?

The world may never know!

But Matthew R. Malcolm was quick to point out a better explanation using a literary analysis and some redaction criticism:

I think there is obvious interference by a later redactor here: The original no doubt looked something like this: “Henry Neufeld, You are the one [who wrote about the KJV], [and I would be] in error here [if I failed to mention that I appreciate your comments].

This literary reconstruction makes perfect sense of both the words and the punctuation. It is therefore to be preferred to the (manifestly later) redacted version appearing in the blog itself.

This led me to realize that 1) the comment was originally a praise of Neufeld and 2) perhaps he intended something more. Further reflection brought me to this conclusion:

Perhaps the commenter was incorporating some traditional material into his comment?

I think that the commenter, with the phrase, “You are the one,” intended for his readers to have the Matrix come to mind. In combination with your literary reconstruction, it would then seem that the intention of the comment was not to condemn or criticize Henry Neufeld, but really give him the highest praise.

Matthew quickly confirmed my suspicion:

The commenter’s cultural context is illuminating: A Google search indicates over 85,000 instances of the phrase “You are the one” in relation to the movie “The Matrix”. Of course, it is impossible to PROVE dependence of the commenter on this important tradition, but this demonstration of the tradition’s influential role in the cultural thought-world of the commenter hardly leaves us in any doubt: It would seem fair to say that we have moved from the realm of “hypothesis” to the realm of “established fact”.

Finally, Nathan Stitt discovered a parallel statement from a much older source:

I have found a prophecy from last year that indicates that Henry is indeed, the one. See comment five here.

In Matthew’s words, “Another exegetical mystery solved.”

We definitely need to write a monograph on this.

Do you think WUNT would be interested?

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