There is an excerpt of a new book by Richard Bauckham here. I have seen him go hammer and tong with other theologians - love the passion. The first section is on the individual's relationship to Jesus. This is language quite foreign to scholars. He himself writes that he is quite against the search for the imaginary Johannine community.
I have been thinking of the individual recently because I recognize that although some things I have done are unique, they are all repeatable, and I am dependent on a myriad of technicians, scholars, theologians, and just plain old people, not to mention the formation of my language, the interpretation of foreign languages, the dictionaries, concordances, coding systems, and the internet and publishing companies and the whole distribution systems that keep me alive while I pursue 'my' project.
Example, no one to date, except me, has written a program to automatically read the Old Testament text and produce a musical score. But I could not have done this without the source in Unicode and the language MusicXML, not to mention the cantillation inferences of Suzanne Haik-Vantoura, all these things only available together in the last 10 years. Also I am dependent on a music program to read the XML and put it into a score that I can sing.
Many people also read in the ancient Hebrew - and I am a neophyte here. But what can I say about the Synagogue for teaching me, the ancient and modern publications in English, Hebrew, Latin, etc that allow me to reach into this mysterious place and pull out a gloss or two. And what can I say about the formation of English from Shakespeare and Tyndale to the abusive Latin teacher I had in the 1950s - even this man formed some of my ability to read, and sing, God rest his tortured being in us all. And even those philosophers I have only heard the names of affect my speech - Foucault, and Wittgenstein, and Kant, not to mention all the scholars too many to list alive and deceased..
None of us stands alone - so how can the individual be important? I am as Bauckham notes, among those who are closely entwined with the narrative of groups to which I 'belong' - though some of them might not even recognize that I am theirs. Are they scholars? So am I. Are they bibliobloggers? So am I. And what about all the other sticky labels that are attached to our backs. How can I even be an individual here?
I am derived.
I might enjoy this chapter.