Bakhtin and MacIntyre

Generalizing from “literary genre” to “tradition” and substituting the term “faith” for “literature” on pg. 106 of M.M. Bakhtin’s Problem’s of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, we get:

A tradition, by its very nature, reflects the most stable, “eternal” tendencies in faith’s development. Always preserved in a tradition are undying elements of the archaic. True, these archaic elements are preserved in it only thanks to their constant renewal, which is to say, their contemporization. A tradition is always the same and yet not the same, always old and new simultaneously. Tradition is reborn and renewed at every new stage in the development of faith and in every individual work of a given tradition. This constitutes the life of the tradition. Therefore, even the archaic elements preserved in a tradition are not dead but eternally alive; that is, archaic elements are capable of renewing themselves. A tradition lives in the present, but always remembers its past, its beginning. Tradition is a representative of creative memory in the process of the outworking of faith. Precisely for this reason, (healthy) tradition is capable of guaranteeing the unity and uninterrupted continuity of this development.

For the correct understanding of a tradition, therefore, it is necessary to return to its sources.

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2 Responses to Bakhtin and MacIntyre

  1. John at #

    Hi, I am from Australia.
    But what if the Christian tradition was at its best only partially true, based on institutionally created power-and-control-seeking fabricated lies (by those who won the inevitable culture wars of their time and places), and simultaneously well beyond its useful use-by-date?
    Please check out:
    Jesus of course was never ever in any sense a Christian, – he was always and only a Jew. Nor did he create one smidgen of an iota of the tradition about him.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      My first answer is that you’ve obviously got strong opinions on the Christian tradition, opinions I’m sure you’ve arrived at through careful thought and study. So for me to attempt to answer (which as you might guess, would be in disagreement with your conclusions), I think we’d have to spend some time fleshing out a few things first.



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