Dyck 2003

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Dyck, Paul. "'So rare a use': Scissors, Reading, and Devotion at Little Gidding." George Herbert Journal 27.1-2 (2003/4): 67-81.

"The woemn of LG cut and pasted lines and passages from the gospels, organizing them into the single story of Christ, as complete as possible. The concordances bear witness to a lively sense of the theological in the material: they involve both the action of holy industry in the making of the book, and the end of that industry: the holy book itself. They also demonstrate the extent to which holy reading was understood as an active engagement with the text, even to the extent that scissors became tools of reading. In an important way, the concordances of LG were interpretive arrangements of text, meant to suggest and enable further rearrangements (though not necessarily material ones) as readers became trained to look for many possible connections between scriptural places." (68)

"the making of the concordances was, then, first a formative discipline. It combined "feminine" handwork with the biblical literacy, and beyond that, the biblical criticism, normally though of (thought not without exception) as male activities." (68)

"The value of the concordances is not chiefly in their originality as arrangement of Scripture, but their witness of hand and heart practices. They stand out as a remarkable instance of the active reading typical of their period, in this case, a reading so active it disassembles and reassembles the text." (68)

"active reading" -- yet "does not quite say enpough about the interaction of reader and text, at least not if one takes Herbert's instruction on Scripture reading: the LG harmonies and Herbert's writing position scriptural authority not in a reified, or, to put it in Herbert's way, a 'naked' word, but rather in a word always being spoken, in which readers do not find so much a legal 'proof' of their correctness or error, but rather find themselves read. It is an ongoing formation of the self by the text, even as the text is formed by one's own hands. Active reading here is the human action, but what is really going on -- for Herbert at least -- is that the Holy Spirit is speaking, reading readers, through the text, an action that readers recognize when they find themselves described, 'set down' in the story they read." (70)

"As much as this arrangement makes possible a reading of one combined account [the Collection], it also foregrounds the overlap, or the imbrication, of the texts, drawin gattention not to monolithic unity, but to harmonic difference; the book suggests a unity that is necessarily expressed exactly through difference. The arrangement suggests distinct kinds of text and thus of reading: a liturgical and immediate story of Christ that invites a receptive response, and a scholarly and mediated story of Christ that exposes the multiple versions that constitute it, and that invites a critical awareness of the relations between the versions. While naming the differences between these kinds of reading is helpful, one must also note how tightly the two relate: receptivity and inquiry are mutually constituting conditions of the devoted reader." (72)

uncertainty -- "itself was the proper posture of the reader: an uncertainty characterized by the acknowledgement of multiple textual possibilities and also by the deferral of judgment over the text in favor of the text's judgment of the reader." (74)

"a drive toward the diachronic as well as the synchronic" (74)

"The drive to narrative, toward a single story, seems never to be only centripetal, for as much as it draws in everything, the master narrative here also works outward to everything. The story is never finished, but always invites a provisionally completing gesture, both in the act of reading as rearrangement, and in the larger act of reading as living. The gospel is precisely the concord of four fvoices, a concord discoverable in the harmonious community." (74)

Herbert on how to read the Bible; "The Parsons Knowledge" in The country parson -- Bible as storehouse of "places"

"Reading was a central and defining activity at LG." (78)

"The women of LG were accustomed to hand-work and mind-work , from needlework to family dialogues. The harmonies involve both. ... The many bit sof paper that constitute the page are a steady witness to the mobility of the text, for while they have been glued down, the hands that turned the pages to read them were also the hands that glued them, and the marginal notations always suggest other possible arrangements. Reading here is an act of participation with God: a fashioning of the reader by the Spirit, but through a page fashioned by the reader." (79)