Sorting by


“The Same” Traditions in Oral Cultures

As I have been discussing my next book Jesus Before the Gospels, I have been trying to summarize the issues I’ll be addressing and the points I’ll be making, without spilling all the beans and stealing my own thunder.  My idea is to get people interested in the book without making them think they don’t now need to read it!  I’m not sure how successful I’m being at that, but it’s at least the goal. As I started indicating in the previous post, chapter 5 deals with issues involving oral tradition as preserved in oral culture.   It turns out that most of what many (most?) of us have heard about oral cultures, or what has to many (most?) of us seemed commonsensical about them, is wrong.  At least in so far as research has been able to show, by actually studying oral cultures. What many of us have heard or thought is that oral cultures were particularly keen to keep their oral traditions intact and preserved without significant (or any) variation.   We’ve heard stories about [...]

2020-04-03T13:48:57-04:00April 17th, 2015|Book Discussions, Memory Studies|

Differences Between Oral and Written Cultures

Chapter  5 of my book Jesus Before the Gospels (tentatively titled) is called “False Memories and the Life of Jesus” (tentatively titled).   The first part of the chapter deals with a very common misconception about oral traditions in oral cultures – a misconception I hear all the time from lots of people, including my students who get upset when I discuss how traditions about Jesus appear to have been altered in the process of retelling in the years before the Gospels were written.  The misconception is that in oral cultures, people had better memories than those of us who live in written cultures, and that they went out of the way to make sure that they preserved their cherished traditions – including their sacred traditions – with great accuracy, since there was no other way to preserve them in a world without writing. You may well have heard that yourself.  You may well have believed it.  It’s widely believed.  But it appears to be wrong. My hunch is that this is one of those modern [...]

2020-05-10T06:34:33-04:00April 16th, 2015|Book Discussions, Memory Studies|
Go to Top