From pulpit to fiction: an examination of sermonic texts and their fictive qualities

Smith, Allen Permar (2006) From pulpit to fiction: an examination of sermonic texts and their fictive qualities. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis will argue that the authority and power of a ‘sermonic text’ is found in its fictive qualities. The term ‘sermonic text’ is chosen in preference to ‘sermon’ to indicate the distinction between the singular occasion of a preached sermon, and the consignment of this singularity to the permanent condition of a written text, that may be read on many occasions by readers separated by time and space. A sermonic text functions in the manner of a work of fiction and creates an event and space that forces a decision upon the reader. Within the text the reader is in a place where the Kingdom of God is about to happen and is happening. Consequently, the reader is forced to make a decision. Will he or she, “Go and do likewise,” or reject the Kingdom of God?

This is possible because the sermonic text has what I describe as ‘fictive qualities.’ These qualities include setting the context in which the sermon is proclaimed which in turn creates a space and event for various ‘worlds’ to meet. Necessarily, a sermon, whether historical or in fiction, must be ‘preached’ in a particular place and at a particular time – e.g. Capernaum, the Rolls Chapel in London or the Whaleman’s Chapel in Moby-Dick. At the same time, the ‘sermonic text’ opens up a ‘space of literature’, which is universal, and of no specific time or place, but entertains the various worlds of the reader, the biblical narrative (e.g. the Jonah narrative in Father Mapple’s sermon) as well as the historical setting. Other fictive qualities include a dialogical relationship between the reader and the text and the capacity of time and place to be both specific and universal, temporal and eternal. Finally, the voice of the sermonic text has authority and authenticity because it is at once familiar in the human experience and, at the same time, set apart and distinct through a particular relationship with the divine.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Jasper, David
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-2064
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:50

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