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Sandra Schneiders, Critical Exegesis, and the Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2021

Christopher McMahon*
Saint Vincent College


Current trajectories in biblical interpretation have increasingly shelved or even attacked historical-critical methodologies, replacing these methodologies with doctrinally grounded (meta)narratives as the primary framework for the interpretation of Scripture. This trajectory is particularly apparent among proponents of the “theological interpretation of scripture” (TIS). These interpretive trajectories tend to be self-referential inasmuch as their primary aim is to buttress the doctrinally grounded narrative framework itself rather than providing any critical function that could move readers beyond ecclesially established horizons. Sandra Schneiders, however, stands out in the field of theology as a potent exemplar of nonreductive critical biblical exegesis, and her performance as an exegete has long anticipated the concerns of TIS. Schneiders' approach marks an important path forward for interpreters of Scripture, one that is critically informed, hermeneutically sound, and both theologically and spiritually fruitful. Schneiders’ own account of the Johannine resurrection narrative may prove helpful and even exemplary for contemporary exegetes and systematic theologians alike.

Copyright © College Theology Society, 2021

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1 For an overview of TIS see, for example, Treier, Daniel, Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008)Google Scholar; Fowl, Stephen E., Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2009)Google Scholar; and Vanhoozer, Kevin J., First Theology: God, Scripture and Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002)Google Scholar. Of course, there is an equally robust critique of historical-critical methodologies from more progressive voices in theology and exegesis (see, e.g., Fiorenza, Elizabeth Schüssler, Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation [Boston: Beacon Press, 1984], esp. chap. 5)Google Scholar, but these voices are not the focus of this article. For a brief and serviceable description of historical-critical methodologies, see, for example, Fitzmyer, Joseph A., “Historical Criticism: Its Role in Biblical Interpretation and Church Life,” Theological Studies 50 (1989): 244–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar, I often use the plural (methodologies) and alternative constructions (e.g., “historical criticism,” “historical methods,” “critical methodologies”) simply to acknowledge and to highlight the fact that what is often abbreviated “HCM” is really a complex cluster of interrelated questions and methodologies designed to uncover the origins of a text, its composition, and its meanings in that context.

2 Moberly, Robert, “The Theological Interpretation of Scripture,” Journal of Theological Interpretation 3 (2009): 161–78, at 165Google Scholar, notes the potential of Schneiders’ hermeneutical theory for TIS, but he does so almost in passing.

3 C. S. Lewis’ remarks were originally delivered at Cambridge (May 11, 1959) under the title “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism,” and later included in various collections of Lewis’ writings, including Fern-Seed and Elephants and Other Essays on Christianity (London: Fontana Press, 1975), 104–25.

4 This phrase likely comes from de Lubac, Henri, Paradoxes of Faith (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 107Google Scholar. It also figures prominently in the speech Cardinal Ratzinger gave at the Erasmus Institute in 1988 and has been repeated elsewhere (see R. J. Neuhaus, ed., Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and Church, Encounter Series, vol. 9 [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1989]). Within Roman Catholic circles, the phrase is remarkably akin to the liturgical imperative to undertake a “reform of the [liturgical] reform” inaugurated at the Second Vatican Council and tends to predominate among segments of the Catholic population dissatisfied with the trajectory of Catholic life and thought and seeking to recover what was lost at the council. The “reform of the reform” is another movement vocally endorsed by Benedict XVI.

5 There is notable scholarship that seeks to close this “gap.” Of special interest has been the work of Rainer Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer. Eine Untersuchung zum Ursprung der Evangelien-Überlieferung, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, Band 2 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1981). Reisner contends that Jesus taught his followers as a rabbi, and in the rabbinic tradition, they were equipped to memorize much of Jesus’ teaching, and this memorization is reflected to the consistency of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and teaching.

6 For a brief and helpful overview of this movement, see, for example, the introduction in Pecknold, C. C., Transforming Postliberal Theology: George Lindbeck, Pragmatism and Scripture (London: T & T Clark, 2005), 112Google Scholar.

7 The two works that perhaps best exemplify the movement are Milbank, John, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1990)Google Scholar and the volume edited by Milbank, J., Ward, Graham, and Pickstock, Catherine, ed., Radical Orthodoxy (London: Routledge, 1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For insightful critiques of the movement, see, for example, Horan, Daniel, Postmodernity and Univocity: A Critical Account of Radical Orthodoxy and John Duns Scotus (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 See N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 1 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 38n18 (hereafter NTPG) where Wright admits to reading Milbank's Theology and Social Theory and stating: “I read Milbank's account of what he calls ‘a true Christian metanarrative realism’ (389), which, if I understand it correctly, seems to me quite close to what I am arguing, though of course much more finely tuned.” See also the many works by Stephen Fowl, especially Engaging Scripture: A Model for Theological Interpretation (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1998) and his essay, “Theological Interpretation of Scripture and Its Future,” Anglican Theological Review 99 (2017): 671–90. The most prolific among these three when it comes to reflection on Christian doctrine and Scripture is Kevin J. Vanhoozer; see, for example, Is There a Meaning in This Text?: The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 200, where he also admits to an indebtedness to Milbank. Regarding the hegemony of modern critical biblical interpretation, see, for example, Bartholomew, Craig and Thomas, Heath, eds., A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016)Google Scholar. The movement has even spawned its own journal, Journal of Theological Interpretation (Eisenbrauns, 2007–present), which was founded by the well-respected exegete, Joel B. Green.

9 In addition to NTPG, see Wright, N. T., Jesus and the Victory of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 2 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 327Google Scholar.

10 NTPG, 61.

11 NTPG, 37. Of course, Wright here laudably addresses what Bernard Lonergan identified as “the principle of the empty head” (i.e., one is in a better position to gain objective understanding and knowledge the less prior knowledge [bias] one has; see Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan (hereafter CWBL), vol. 14 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017), 157, but the dangers of the absolute hegemony of narrative goes well beyond correcting the fallacy. For succinct and helpful appreciation of Bernard Lonergan's account of critical realism over and against what N. T. Wright offers, see James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 110–11.

12 NTPG, 37, emphasis original.

13 NTPG, 42–43.

14 For example, both Donald Senior (“New Testament and Related Topics,” Bible Today 58 [2020]: 422–27, at 427) and Dianne Bergant (“The Bible in Review,” Bible Today 54 [2016]: 138–42, at 139) have offered words of praise for volumes in the series.

15 The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture from Baker Academic has enjoyed similar praise and criticism. It should be noted that the Brazos series (an imprint of Baker Academic) includes several prominent Catholic theologians including Matthew Levering, Thomas Joseph White, Francesca Murphy, and Robert Barron.

16 Although TIS and RO have deep roots among Protestant scholars, there are numerous Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish allies; see, for example, Levenson, Jon D., The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1993)Google Scholar.

17 For example, R. R. Reno, in his commentary on Genesis 1:2 (“The earth was without form and void …”), spends more time with Augustine's refutation of Manichee doctrines than he does with the actual text of Genesis. In the end of this section, after denigrating modern biblical exegesis of the passage, he states, “But any reading that contradicts the doctrine of creation out of nothing will undermine our capacity to read the Bible as a whole in a theologically coherent fashion.” See R. R. Reno, Genesis, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2010), 46.

18 R. R. Reno, “Series Preface,” in Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2009). For a critical evaluation of this series, see Johnson, Luke Timothy, “Interpretive Dance: How the Brazos Biblical Commentary Falls Short,” Commonweal 139, no. 4 (February 14, 2012): 17–20Google Scholar.

19 Compare Reno's preface to Barbara Reid's introduction to the Wisdom Commentary series from Liturgical Press: “Feminist scholars who use historical-critical methods analyze the world behind the text; they seek to understand the historical context from which the text emerged and the circumstances of the communities to whom it was addressed. In bringing feminist lenses to this approach, the aim is not to impose modern expectations on ancient cultures but to unmask the ways that ideologically problematic mind-sets that produced the ancient texts are still promulgated through the text.” Barbara E. Reid, “Editor's Introduction to Wisdom Commentary: ‘She Is a Breath of the Power of God’ (Wis 7:25).”

20 Throughout this article, the terms “dialectical” and “dialectic” should be understood in the sense outlined by Bernard Lonergan (rather than Hegel); see Method in Theology, chapter 10, where dialectics amounts to the functional specialty of understanding and reconciling differences and tensions on what Lonergan defines as the mediated stage of theology.

21 David Bosworth signals the shortcomings of this approach to Scripture in his review of R. Barron, 2 Samuel, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2015) in Horizons 43 (2016): 177–78,

22 See Jeffery L. Morrow, “Secularization, Objectivity, and Enlightenment Scholarship: The Theological and Political Origins of Modern Biblical Studies,” Logos 18 (2015): 14–32,, and Scott Hahn and Benjamin Winker, Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300–1700 (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2013).

23 Of particular interest are Cavanaugh, William, Theopolitical Imagination (London: T & T Clark, 2002)Google Scholar and The Myth of Religious Violence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

24 See Dei Verbum, 12, and Lumen Gentium, 48–51.

25 Gerald P. Fogarty, American Catholic Biblical Scholarship: From the Early Republic to Vatican II (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989).

26 Donald Senior, CP, Raymond E. Brown and the Catholic Biblical Renewal (New York: Paulist, 2018).

27 Two of Brown's most “controversial” books were The Virginal Conception and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1972) and Priest and Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1970). When read in light of the ensuing decades of NT scholarship, the claims made in these works seem rather straightforward. The attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the criticisms of Baltimore's Lawrence Cardinal Sheehan, however, were not to be taken lightly by a vowed member of a Roman Catholic religious community in the 1970s (Brown was a member of the Sulpicians).

28 Senior, Raymond E. Brown and the Catholic Biblical Renewal, 107.

29 For a detailed account of the opposition Brown endured, see Senior, Raymond E. Brown and the Catholic Biblical Renewal, 199–230.

30 The diminishment of historical-critical approaches to the interpretation of Scripture, approaches that had been vindicated in Dei Verbum, has been evident in the work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in the drafting of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. See Brendan Byrne, “Scripture and Vatican II: A Very Incomplete Journey,” Compass: A Review of Topical Theology, 37 (2003),

31 See, for example, Doran, Robert M., Theology and the Dialectics of History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 35CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The entire work is, of course, an exploration of theology and its development in history.

32 Gordon, Joseph K., “On the (Relative) Authenticity of Theological Interpretation of Scripture,” The Lonergan Review 9 (2018): 78102CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also, Gordon, Joseph K., Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: A Systematic Theology of the Christian Bible (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2019)Google Scholar.

33 For a rehearsal of the opposing argument, see, for example, Fowl, Stephen E. and Ayres, Lewis, “(Mis)Reading the Face of God: The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,” Theological Studies 60 (1999): 513–28Google Scholar, Gordon, for his part, has a more robust appreciation for the mystery of the historical dimensions of the text and the role of those dimensions in the holistic theological interpretation he advocates. See, for example, Gordon, Divine Scripture in Human Understanding, 243.

34 See Bernard Lonergan, “The Transition from a Classicist Worldview to Historical Mindedness,” in A Second Collection, CWBL, vol. 13, eds. R. Doran and J. Dadosky (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016), 3–10.

35 On Lonergan's contribution to the introduction of history into Roman Catholic theology, see Crowe, Frederick, “All My Work Has Been Introducing History into Catholic Theology,” in Developing the Lonergan Legacy: Historical, Theoretical, and Existential Themes (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 78110CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Crowe does a masterful job outlining the way Lonergan's attentiveness to history, especially to the questions posed by the intersecting fields of Geisteswissenschaften, played a central role in Lonergan's understanding of the differentiation of consciousness and the stages of meaning.

36 See, for example, Milbank, John, The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate Concerning the Supernatural (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005)Google Scholar. The writings of de Lubac on biblical interpretation also find a home among proponents of TIS. See, for example, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, “Henri de Lubac and the Critique of Scientific Exegesis,” Communio 19 (Fall 1992): 364–87.

37 See Josef A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development (Missarum Sollemnia), trans. F. A. Brunner, 2 vols. (New York: Benzinger, 1951–1955). Although one might challenge or nuance some of Jungmann's conclusions, his approach opened up an understanding of the liturgy that led to further discussions in other realms beyond liturgics, including theology, sociology, and literature/humanities. For a critical overview of contemporary trends in liturgics, see, for example, Albert Gerhards and Benedikt Kranemann, Introduction to the Study of Liturgy, trans. L. Maloney (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017).

38 For a wonderful and succinct account of the development of a dynamic theology of tradition and revelation, see Patrick Hayes and Christopher Denny, “Introduction: A Realist Church,” in A Realist Church: Essays in Honor of Joseph A. Komonchak, eds. Christopher Denny, Patrick Hayes, and Nicholas Rademacher (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015), 1–20.

39 On the importance of method over speculative reason and logic in the development of science, see Lonergan, Bernard, “Aquinas Today,” in A Third Collection (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017), 3452CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

40 Lonergan presents his account of conversion in Method in Theology, chapter 10.2. A thumbnail sketch of conversion from a Lonerganian point of view sees human consciousness as defined by a drive to know, value, and love, and this drive finds its limit in our ignorance, the limit or horizon of our knowing, valuing, and loving. These limits can be manifested in certain biases in these areas, biases that blind us to our ignorance, our limits. As that boundary between what we acknowledge as unknown and what Lonergan calls the unknown is moved, that is conversion. At the level of knowing, or intellectual conversion, it means one becomes aware of the process of knowing and how knowing is not like “taking a look” at something. Moral conversion involves the apprehension of value beyond oneself or one's own community. And religious conversion is likened to “falling in love with love itself,” the fulfillment of the unrestricted desire to know and to love (see Romans 5:5). It is the ongoing encounter with the living God mediated through the reading of Scripture that is at issue in this article, as well as how historical-critical approaches have a role to play in this encounter. The secondary literature on Lonergan and conversion is vast, but for a thorough account of the various dimensions of conversion from a Lonerganian perspective, see Walter E. Conn, Christian Conversion: A Developmental Interpretation of Autonomy and Surrender (New York: Paulist Press, 1986).

41 For a good overview of the emerging necessity of historical-critical method in Roman Catholic theology, see Joseph G. Prior, The Historical Critical Method in Catholic Exegesis, Tesi Gregoriana, Serie Teologia 50 (Rome: Pontifical Gregorian University, 2001).

42 Schneiders remarks that Ricoeur's Interpretation Theory was the most important academic book of her life; see “Take and Read: Interpretation Theory,” National Catholic Reporter, February 9, 2016)

43 Schneiders completed licentiate in patristics at the Institut Catholique, Paris, where she also studied ancient languages. She obtained a doctorate in biblical spirituality from the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

44 Sandra M. Schneiders, “Biblical Spirituality,” Interpretation 70 (October 2016): 417–30, at 430,

45 Schneiders, Sandra M., “The Paschal Imagination: Objectivity and Subjectivity in New Testament Interpretation,” Theological Studies 46 (1982): 5268 at 52CrossRefGoogle Scholar,

46 Schneiders, “The Paschal Imagination,” 51.

47 Schneiders, “The Paschal Imagination,” 57.

48 Schneiders, Sandra M., Jesus Risen in Our Midst: Essays on the Resurrection of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013), xviGoogle Scholar, and The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture, rev. ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999), xx.

49 See, for example, Dei Verbum, 12; see also Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.

50 See Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, xxxix–xl, n 18. On the hegemony of authorial intention in magisterial teaching, note Dei Verbum §12.

51 See Ricoeur, Paul, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth, TX: The Texas Christian University Press, 1976), 1923Google Scholar. Put simply, the ideal meaning of a text is the result of a dialectic between the sense of the text (its grammar, syntax, etc.) and its reference (its claim as a true or as reflective of reality).

52 Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, 144–48.

53 Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, xxxiv.

54 See Ricoeur, “Explanation and Understanding,” in Interpretation Theory, 71–88.

55 See Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method (New York: Continuum, 1975), 277–304. Of course, these concepts have been deployed, nuanced, and amplified in the writings of Ricoeur and David Tracy, among others.

56 See Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, chap. 3.

57 Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, xxxv.

58 Sandra M. Schneiders, “Critics Corner: Church and Biblical Scholarship in Dialogue,” Theology Today 42 (October 1985): 353–58, Schneiders has dedicated a significant portion of her work to hermeneutics, including, for example, “Hermeneutics,” in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, eds. R. E. Brown, J. A. Fitzmyer, and R. E. Murphy (Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall, 1990): §§55–70; see also Schneiders, The Revelatory Text.

59 Schneiders, “Critics Corner,” 354.

60 On distanciation, see Ricoeur, Paul, “The Hermeneutical Function of Distanciation,” Philosophy Today 17 (1973): 129–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar; see also Ricouer, Interpretation Theory, 43. The term “distanciation” has a complex pedigree, and Schneiders’ use of it is mediated through Ricoeur. For Ricoeur, distanciation includes the distance between the originating situation of the author, audience, and context to the dialectical situation of the reader.

61 Paul Ricoeur makes use of critical scholarship on the sources and structure of the Hexateuch to illuminate the relationship of Genesis 1 to the rest of the Hexateuch as a soteriological introduction. The analysis that will lead Ricoeur to his conclusion presupposed the identification of traditions, redaction, and developments within the Hexateuch, without which the disparities in meaning “cannot be made significant.” See “On the Exegesis of Genesis 1:1–2:4a,” in Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 129–43.

62 The image is found in the prologue of Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana and popularized by Karl Barth as well.

63 See Fowl, Stephen, “Theological Interpretation and Its Future,” Anglican Theological Review 99 (2017): 671–90 at 679Google Scholar, where he makes reference to the image of the Israelites plundering the Egyptians in Origen's Letter to Thaumaturgos in connection to the Christian's ability to plunder pagan philosophy for its own purposes. The image of plundering the Egyptians comes from Exodus 12 and was used in Reformed circles amid the struggle between liberal and traditional biblical exegesis in the early twentieth century.

64 Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, 65, with reference to Tertullian's De Praescriptione Hereticorum, 15–19.

65 Schneiders, “Critics Corner,” 356. See Paul Ricoeur, “Explanation and Understanding,” in From Text to Action, trans. Kathleen Blamey and John Thompson (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 121–39.

66 See Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, 134–36.

67 Schneiders, “The Paschal Imagination,” 58. See also, Sandra M. Schneiders, “Scripture as the Word of God,” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin 14 (1993): 18–35 at 26–27.

68 Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, 105; Schneiders, “Paschal Imagination,” 64–68. Schneiders presents here an application and expansion of R. Hart, Unfinished Man and the Imagination: Toward and Ontology and Rhetoric of Revelation (New York: Herder, 1968), esp. chapter 5; and Gadamer's Truth and Method.

69 Schneiders, “The Paschal Imagination,” 65.

70 The radical transformation that is the goal of scriptural interpretation for Schneiders finds helpful specification in the work of Bernard Lonergan and his interpreters, who have articulated the intrinsic intelligibility of God's saving work in Christ through an appeal to the structure of religious conversion offered in terms of the “the just and mysterious Law of the Cross” (see, e.g., William P. Loewe, Lex Crucis: Soteriology and the Stages of Meaning [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016]). At the heart of the matter for both Schneiders and Lonergan is the experience of “transformed dying and rebirth into new life,” and this experience is thematized in Christian worship as “the paschal mystery”—the participation in the dying and rising of Christ (e.g., Galatians 2:19b–20). This experience of religious conversion is also characterized more generally by Lonergan as falling love with love itself: “a radical being-in-love, a first principle of all of one's thoughts and words and deeds and omissions, a principle that keeps us free from sin, that move us to prayer and to penance, that can become the ever so quiet yet passionate center of all our living. It is, whatever its degree, a being-in-love that is without condition or qualifications or reserves, and so it is other-worldly, … Such unconditional being-in-love actuates to the full the dynamic potentiality of the human spirit with its unrestricted reach and, as full actuation, it is fulfillment, deep-set peace, the peace that the world cannot give.” See Bernard Lonergan, “Natural Knowledge of God,” in A Second Collection, CWBL, vol. 13, 99–110, esp. 110.

71 See, for example, Rambo, Shelly, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2010), 81110Google Scholar, and Rambo, Shelly, Resurrecting Wounds: Living in the Afterlife of Trauma (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017)Google Scholar.

72 See Lonergan, Method of Theology, 37; see also, King, Jason E., “Feelings and Decision Making,” New Blackfriars 97 (2015): 3951CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

73 For a fuller and more robust discussion of the theological power and value of metaphor (and not just analogy) in bridging the theological and spiritual, see Ryliškytė, Ligita, “Metaphor and Analogy in Theology: A Choice between Lions and Witches, and Wardrobes?Theological Studies 78 (2017): 696717CrossRefGoogle Scholar,; Wassell, Blake E. and Llewelyn, Stephen P., “‘Fishers of Humans’: The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor, and Conceptual Blending Theory,” Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2014): 627–46Google Scholar,; and Robert Masson, Without Metaphor, No Saving God: Theology after Cognitive Linguistics, Studies in Philosophical Theology, 54 (Leuven: Peeters, 2014). Masson is quite clear about this feature of metaphorical language: “Religious and theological assertions, doctrines, analogies, and symbols can be metaphorical or figurative and at the same time can be semantically proper, logically warranted, and factually the case, in other words, can qualify as ‘literal truths’” (8).

74 Tracy, David, Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1981), 71Google Scholar. See also Lonergan, Bernard, The Subject (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1969)Google Scholar.

75 See Sandra M. Schneiders, The Johannine Resurrection Narrative: An Exegetical and Theological Study of John 20 as a Synthesis of Johannine Spirituality, 2 vols. (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1982) and Schneiders, Jesus Risen in Our Midst.

76 Schneiders, Jesus Risen in Our Midst, xvii.

77 For a succinct presentation of these limitations, see Sandra M. Schneiders, The Resurrection: Did It Really Happen and Why Does It Matter? (Los Angeles: Marymount Press, 2013), 16–25.

78 See Brown, Raymond E., The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1979)Google Scholar. Brown regularly and profitably engaged Bultmann even as Brown eschewed Bultmann's philosophical commitments and his emphasis on both gnosticism and the history of religions in his interpretation of John.

79 See John Painter, The Quest for the Messiah: The History, Literature, and Theology of the Johannine Community, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1994), 73–74, cited in F. Martin and W. Wright, The Gospel of John, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015), 18n9.

80 For what follows in the next two paragraphs, see Schneiders, Sandra M., “‘Because of the Woman's Testimony …’: Reexamining the Issue of Authorship in the Fourth Gospel,” New Testament Studies 44 (1998): 513–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar,

81 Mary Magdalene is called “apostolorum apostola”; see Rabanus Maurus, De Vita Beatae Mariae Magdalenae, 27, and Thomas Aquinas, In Ioannem Evangelistam Expositio, 20, 3. In his commentary, Aquinas actually gives her the rank of “prophet” and “angel” as well as that of “apostle.”

82 See Bultmann, Rudolf, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1971), viiGoogle Scholar. Of course, Bultmann sees the hand of this redactor in far more places than does Brown or Schneiders; see Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the Gospel of John, ed. F. J. Moloney, Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 40–86, esp. 84. In particular, Schneiders argues that “regardless of who actually penned the chapter” (Schneiders will admit to indications of a redactional hand), John 21 ought to be interpreted as an integral part of the Fourth Gospel, as reflecting the experience of the first generations of Christians and their encounter with the risen Christ. On the theological consistency of John 21 with the rest of the Gospel, see “Contemplation and Ministry (John 21:1–14),” in Written that You May Believe, 224–29. For Schneiders’ affirmation of a redactional hand behind John 21, see “‘Because of the Woman's Testimony …,’” 535. Schneiders’ approach is defined by a privileging of literary, theological, and canonical concerns rather than concerns centered on source or redaction criticism.

83 See Sandra M. Schneiders, The Resurrection, 29–32. Schneiders references, among others, Robinette, Brian, “A Gift to Theology?: Jean-Luc Marion's ‘Saturated Phenomenon’ in Christological Perspective,” The Heythrop Journal 48 (2007): 86108CrossRefGoogle Scholar, On Marion's account of “saturated phenomenon,” see Marion, Jean-Luc, “The Saturated Phenomenon,” Philosophy Today 40 (1996): 103–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness, Cultural Memory in the Present, trans. J. Kosky (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002).

84 See especially, Sandra M. Schneiders, “The Resurrection of the Body in the Fourth Gospel: The Key to Johannine Spirituality,” in Jesus Risen in Our Midst, 61–98.

85 See Bultmann, Rudolf, The Theology of the New Testament, vol. 2 (New York: Scribners, 1955), 56Google Scholar, quoted in Sandra M. Schneiders, “Touching the Risen Jesus: Mary Magdalene and Thomas the Twin in John 20,” in Jesus Risen in Our Midst, 36.

86 C. H. Dodd is often regarded as one of the heralds of realized eschatology in the Fourth Gospel, over and against those who valorized a “consistent” or apocalyptic eschatology (e.g., J. Weiss, A. Schweitzer). In the context of early Christianity, realized eschatology is characterized by its investment in the moral response to the teaching and person of Jesus in the gospels and tends to downplay or recast notions of a future intervention by God in terms of battle and cosmic destruction/recreation. On the emergence of a realized eschatology based on Old Testament wisdom traditions (i.e., a “sapiential” eschatology) in relation to apocalyptic eschatology, see A. Y. Collins, “Aspects of New Testament Thought,” New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Edgewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), 81:25–56. The distinction between these two approaches to eschatology is contested and unclear at times. For a fuller discussion, see George Nicklesburg, “Wisdom and Apocalyptic in Early Judaism,” in Conflicted Boundaries in Wisdom and Apocalypticism, eds. L. Willis and B. Wright, SBL Symposium Series (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2005), 17–38. For fuller picture of realized eschatology in the preaching of Jesus, see, for example, J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol 2: Mentor, Message, and Miracles, The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library (New York/New Haven: Doubleday/Yale University Press, 1994), 398–454.

87 Schneiders, “Touching the Risen Jesus,” 40.

88 Schneiders makes this connection by the fact that the Greek word, “soudarion,” is a Latin loan word (“sudarium”) used in an Aramaic transliteration in Targum Pseudo-Jonnathan and Targum Neofiti to render the technical Hebrew term used for the veil used by Moses (Ex 34:33); see Schneiders, Sandra M., “Seeing and Believing in the Glorified Jesus (John 20:1–10),” in Written that You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, rev. ed. (New York: Herder, 2003), 207Google Scholar.

89 Schneiders, “Seeing and Believing in the Glorified Jesus (John 20:1-10),” 207.

90 Schneiders, “Seeing and Believing in the Glorified Jesus (John 20:1-10),” 208.

91 The competition between Peter and Mary Magdalene is also well documented in early Christian literature, especially in the Pauline and Lukan traditions of Simon Peter rather than Mary or “the women” as the first to encounter the Risen Christ. On the basic historicity of the initial appearance to Mary, see Brown, Raymond E., The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1973), 101n170Google Scholar.

92 An earlier version of this article was presented at the International Institute for Method in Theology at Marquette University, March 14, 2019. Special thanks to Joseph Gordon, Luke Briola, Patricia Sharbaugh, Debra Faszer-McMahon, and Catherine Petrany for commenting on earlier drafts of this article. The comments and suggestions from the anonymous reviewers, Elena Procario-Foley, and Christine Bucher at Horizons were also extremely insightful and helpful.

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