Thursday, May 09, 2013

Critical Scholarship as applied to Jack and Jill

For those of you who might have some doubts about the value of studying for an advanced degree in Biblical Scholarship, I have included a copy of an article summarizing scholarly analysis of Jack and Jill.  By removing the analysis from the religious setting and applying it to something familiar, it should demonstrate the degree of seriousness and rigor required by modern scholars.

Verse 1: "Jack and Jill went up the hill, to fetch a pail of water."


The word "and" presents some difficulties which are not apparent to the casual reader.  There is considerable doubt in the minds of most scholars as to whether Jack was actually accompanied by Jill, in the sense that the phrase is intended to record a historical event.

In setting out upon this expedition, which was apparently undertaken for a specific purpose, or, at least, with some definite object in mind, it seems likely that Jack was stimulated to undertake this mission by a basic need for water.  Since most functions in the home involving water, such as cooking, washing clothes, scrubbing floors, and so on, are normally undertaken by the distaff side, it is widely held that the force of "and" in this context probably means that Jack set out with a strong picture image of Jill in his mind, and several existential scholars also insist that her parting words were undoubtedly ringing in his ears.

Grosskopf, in his monumental essay entitled Jackmitjilldamrotarung, takes a contrary view.  He dates this passage considerably earlier than is generally believed (somewhere between 404 BC and the 19th Amendment). On this basis he maintains that the hewing of wood and the drawing of water was exclusively carried on by women at this period, and that the words "Jack and" are a gloss by some later copyist, and did not appear in the original manuscript.

"Went up the hill" is obviously allegorical.  The ancients, although probably ignorant of Otis' First Law of Elevation ("what goes up must come down"), were well aware that the transfer of water by artificial means normally involves transportation from an inferior to a superior position(c.f. "The Old Oaken Bucket," "Down by the Old Mill Stream, " etc.).  Professor Gard de l'Eau, the distinguished hydrographer and mystic, suggests that this anabasis symbolized man's struggle to rise nearer to ultimate unity with the cosmic.  The water, he continues, has precisely the same symbolism as the crossing of the Red Sea, the Jordan, Lindberg's trip across the Atlantic, and the landing on Omaha Beach in World War II, with which everyone is familiar.

Author unknown


Rummuser said...

I have no problem in accepting that you are a scholar. I bow to you oh Sage!

Inklings said...

I guess I am not the only one who overthinks things. :0)

Looney said...

@Rummuser, that is what I am afraid of! ;-)

Delirious said...

Actually Looney, I quite admire that you are pursuing this course of education. I think my only disapproval comes when others require this before a person can serve in the church. Book sense is important, but common sense, which can't be learned from books, can sometimes be even more important. And the gift of the Spirit, which can never be gained merely by attending a class can surpass any knowledge when teaching. Point being, I know that you have much to offer in service in the church, even without any sort of further education. :)

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

I am inclined to agree to Grosskopf; but then again that verse may mean just that: Jack and Jill went together to fetch water and faced the vicissitudes of life together - they are one flesh and understand that they are there to help each other.


PNG Travel said...

I like your approach on the topic. Your article is as interesting as your previous writings. Keep up the good work, thanks a lot.

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