"Picardy Third" : when a composition in a minor key ends with a shift to a major chord.
The minister yesterday talking about how the Gospel of Mark ends starkly with three women fleeing from the empty tomb, "for they were afraid." Later a more upbeat epilogue was tacked on, with the disciples meeting Jesus in Galilee (as the "young man in white" at the empty tomb predicts they would, earlier in Mark). Said this epilogue acts as a sort of "Picardy Third".
The earlier, very stark & abrupt ending (after the "young man" promises they'd find him in Galilee) sends the reader back to the beginning of that Gospel, to Jesus' origins in Galilee. So in a sense the sharpness of the ending is a literary maneuver, encouraging the reader to re-read : a "circular text" phenomenon.
As I was listening to the sermon I was reminded of John Irwin's Mystery to a Solution (a wonderful book), which discusses how Borges & Poe got around the problem of the ephemeral nature of mystery tales, ie. how do you get people to RE-read a tale that works somewhat mechanically to solve a puzzle? Why would a reader re-read a mystery if they already know the meaning of the "clues"? Very Borgesian, the idea of a circling text, endlessly re-read.
Was also thinking as he spoke of the article in Saturday NY Times by Edward Rothstein, about current interest among some theologians (including the new Archbishop of Canterbury) in the "productive ambiguity" of the resurrection texts. The Big Mystery : where's the Body? "Where the body lies, there the eagles (or vultures) will gather."
That the earliest gospel might work as a "circular" text would seem to be of special interest to writers. If the empty tomb scene is not one of triumphalism but of fear & trembling, & while sending the disciples back to a literal Galilee, sends the reader back to the beginning of the narrative, to a literary Galilee - this would seem to appeal to a certain sense that writers have, of the interpenetration of text & "life". That is, writers would find, or re-discover, the "Resurrected Life" particularly in the written record, the recounting, the news of that life's beginning actions.
But this sense of "re-reading" reality has consequences for our notions of time & history, immanence & transcendence. Eternity & transcendence & resurrection might interpenetrate time & mortality & history in a way analogous to the way we "read" reality in texts : as though everything is there, in front of us, but hidden, until we're able to "read" it right. Reading as perception (listening).