Also John’s notes regarding cultural divisions are very important. “Culture” is a tough concept. Where does one culture begin and another end? How do we know? Are these divisions simply arbitrary? Just heuristic devices we use to keep our questions and answers straight? I think they are probably more than arbitrary but it’s hard to know where to draw those lines. One significant corollary for me is the question of the relationship between various levels of social interaction (family, community, culture, etc) and various sub-divisions of language (register, idiolect, dialect, language, etc). One of the papers I’ll be writing in the near future will explore the possibility of using linguistic markers in concert with literary form in order to help identify and delimit passages in the Latter Prophets. I still haven’t the faintest clue if it will work, but the problems inherent in inter-cultural relationships that John identifies in his post are the same problems that I’ll be facing as I try to eke out my methodology in that paper (albeit my questions will probably be more intra-cultural).
The moral of the story? Whether inter or intra-cultural, these kinds of questions are difficult and lend themselves to tendentious arguments. Great care is required.
*As a brief side-note, there are notable post-modern authors (e.g. Umberto Eco) who do make intentional use of intertextual irony, but even here I think such authors (Eco for certain) would admit that there are significant and important instances of intertextuality that are not a product of conscious authorial intention. To extend John’s web metaphor, some strands are woven on purpose, and some strands are not.