Tryout 1: New Criticism
First of all, I am going to change the work of literature that I am going to use for the rest of the semester. It is clear to me that I am not satisfied with the one I was using. For the rest of the semester I will be using the first three chapters of the book of 1 Corinthians from the Holy Bible. I thought long and hard about this change and the reason I decided on this particular literary work is because of the class discussion that we had about New Criticism and the concept of literary perfection. When we discussed literary perfection in class, we decided that according to the New Criticism method, a good work of literature must fulfill three criterion to be considered to have literary value. First, it must already contain everything you need to know for the work to be considered complete. Second, it must have a central unifying theme and use examples of that theme. Finally, it must be paradoxical.
Specifically for this tryout, I will be using an excerpt from 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verses 18 – 29. The reason that I chose this particular excerpt is because I feel that even according to the technicalities of the new criticism method, this excerpt is probably one of the most complete and perfect literary pieces in history. It has a central unifying theme, the entire excerpt is full of paradox and irony, and it is complete in and of itself.
The central unifying theme in this excerpt is the difference between man’s idea of wisdom and God’s idea of wisdom. The main example of those differences is the example of the message of the cross. To many, it would seem very foolish that the Savior of the world would die. People, in their own form of wisdom would think that He would remain here and become a literal king. They would think that He would fight wars and subjugate the entire world and create one kingdom. Thus, in man’s wisdom, it would seem that Christ was not really the looked-for Messiah. However, as the passage explains, the wisdom of God is far different. Because, according to the Bible, God can’t tolerate sin, the effect sin has on human beings is to cause their soul to die and be separated from God. That is why God sent the Messiah, not to reign as an earthly king, but to die in our place so that sin could hold no power over us. That is why the passage states that this is the power of God.
This excerpt also has a lot of paradox. In verse 27, it states that …”God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) At first glance, this may seem strange, but the next verse gives a key insight into the reasoning behind this paradox, resolving the passage. “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) In other words, the reason the passage uses this paradox is to make humans unable to boast of themselves in the end.
The irony of the literature is in the entire centralizing theme itself. The idea that wisdom is foolishness and foolishness is wisdom is highly contradictory. At first glance, it would be difficult for a person to understand, but the literary greatness of the passage shows in that it totally explains and brings resolution to the central ironic conflict. It made sense of the ironic contradiction of ideas.
From beginning to end, this excerpt begins with an ironic conflict that the author saw. He sought to explain it and gave examples and arguments until finally it resolved the conflict into idea that made perfect sense. One can definitely see why the Bible is considered one of the oldest and most highly venerated literary canons in history. Though the Bible is not taught any longer in schools, it used to be the one of the only texts that was taught. Unfortunately, people have become so determined to be politically correct that the Bible can no longer even be taught as the literary masterpiece it is. It makes me wonder why people can’t be more objective and at least not deprive the future generations of such a wealth of literature even if they don’t teach it as non-fiction and truth.
Thomas Nelson, Inc. "The Open Bible New King James Version." Nashville: Thomas Nelson