A Metatextual approach in the transformation of narratives on Christ's birth and death

A text relation with other texts has been an important subject, which attracted the attention of researchers such as Kristeva, Barthes, Riffattere, Genette, ete. In the 1960s, it was Julia Kristeva who used "Intertextuality" for the first time, indicating any relation between different texts. Thereafter, Gérard Genette expanded the study domain of Kristeva, and called relation between a text with other texts or different from its own as "transtextuality" and subdivided this type into five categories where intertextuality was only one type. Other categories were called "arcitextuality", "paratextuality", "metatextuality" and "hypertextuality", each with their own subcategories. According to Gerard Genette's theory, whenever a text sets to criticize and interpret another text, it will be considered as a Metatext for that text. In Metatextuality as a form of Intertextual intercourse, a text can explain, condemn or endorse another text. This paper studies and discusses all the elements of narratives related to the birth and death of Christ based on comparison of the narratives in New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Quran, Islamic interpretations (Tafsir al-Tabari, Tafsir-i Sur abadi, Rawz al-jinan wa ruh al-jinan, Qisas Al-Anbiya) and Persian poems (until 6th century AH). Furthermore, this paper sets out to analyze the transformation of narrations as well as similarities and differences based on a Metatextual approach. This study documents that not only there are various narratives between Christian and Islamic sources, but also there are differences among Islamic sources (even in a single text) that have been reflected in Persian poems. A way of determining "Metatextual" relationships is examining of the similarities between two or more texts in the type and manner of the narrative differences of these references in a single subject compared to other sources. Moreover, it turned out that differences in narrations is depends on interpretations and interpretations itself is depends on translation. (As the term "taqi" is translated both in the noun and adjective; causing to make two different narratives of Mary's life) Considering Persian poems, especially poetic texts until 6th century AH, such as poems of Muslim poets who were living in Arranand Shirvan, we found out that both Christian and Islamic narratives have been reflected on poems. It shows that not only the author's ideological background makes narrative differences, but also cultural and historical context is effective. This study documents that, on Mary's getting pregnant, there are four interpretations based on the verse 12 of Surah At-Tahrim, as well as four narrations: 1. Blowing into her mouth (based on Tafsir-i Sur abadi's narrative) 2. Blowing into her sleeve (based on Tafsir al-Tabari's narrative) 3. Blowing into her vagina (based on Qisas Al-Anbiya's narrative) 4. Blowing into her dress (based on another story of Qisas Al-Anbiya). The poetic sources that have been examined on Mary's pregnancy are metatext of Tafsir al-Tabari that shows Blowing into her sleeve is the reason of getting pregnant; however, Mary's pregnancy in Manuchehri Damghgani's poems has been narrated based on Tafsir-i Sur abadi's narrative. Therefore Blowing into her mouth is the reason of pregnancy; these two texts can be considered as metatext of each other. Among interpretations are mentioned above, overall, Tafsir al-Tabari is more consistent with Luke's Gospel. While the going of Jesus near "his Father" is rejected by Nasser Khosro's poem, it is can be a metatext of Bible. While Khaghani's belief on the "accusation of being God" is a criticism of Christian belief, and also Nezami's interpretation of "being alive during crucifixion", is a denial of Jesus's crucifixion, all of them are metatext of the bible. Examination of Persian poetry until 6th century AH shows that there are the frequency of vocabulary such as blowing, sleeves and virginity which are related to birth of Jesus, as well as the cross, the fourth heaven, the position of the sun, Baitul Ma'mur, and the needle, that are related to the crucifixion / ascension of Jesus. We can say that these words are influenced by Christian and Islamic narratives in the same way; therefore, these words, which confirm the Christian and Islamic narratives, can be considered as metatext of both of them. As the Islamic interpretations (both Shi'i and Sunni) on Christ's birth and death are the Metatext of the Holy Qur'an and New Testament, there is also a Metatextual relationship between the Islamic interpretations. Consequently Persian poems (until 6th century AH) can also be a Metatext of Islamic interpretations, and hence they are a Metatext of the Holy Quran as well as Christian sources.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Comparative Theology, Volume:11 Issue: 23, 2020
19 - 34
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