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Orality and Scribality

August 2009
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If asked what is new in the horizon of Biblical scholarship, one aspect that should be mentioned is the interest now in how stories and sayings where transmitted in an oral culture. Some prponents of this new interest are stting that there has been much to great emphasis on the textual transmitting to the cost of aspects of oral transmission of the biblical stories.

However, a certain emphasis on an oral stage of e.g., the New Testament texts has not been totally neglected, compare the interest of ‘Traditionsgeschicht’e and ‘Formgeschichte,’ and some further and later elaborations. This new emphasis on orality is nevertheless to be welcomed. A short but good introduction and assessment of some of this more recent research can be found in JDG Dunn’s Jesus Remembered (2003), pp. 192-254.

Now, however, there has been produced a film that presents and discusses these new developments, made by Eugene Botha:

Orality, Print Culture, and Biblical Interpretation.

A trailer of the film can be downloaded at http://www.eugenebotha.co.za/trailer.htm

The background of the film is work carried out in a SBL Seminar, carried on from 2005-2008. I have not seen the film yet, only the trailer, and the announcement on this webpage seems a little bit influenced by a wish to present a definitive new ways of Biblical Interpretation, and as in some other cases, a little overdone. But this new emphasis and research interest is surely something to be welcomed, and something we have to take note of in studies of both testaments of the Bible.

Several of the scholars involved in biblical orality studies in recent times are invoved in this fil production. We quote from the webpage:

In this controversial new film the ramifications of Orality Studies and its impact on New Testament Studies are explored by a number of prominent Biblical scholars like Werner Kelber, Jimmy Dunn, Phil Towner, David Rhoads, David Carr, Gosnell Yorke, James Maxey and others. The interface of Orality Studies and Performance Criticism and the implication of this for Bible Translation are also explored.

How ‘controversial’ this film will be remains however to be seen. I hope it will be representative and thus informative on what is going on in this department of biblical studies.


1 Comment

  1. Excellent site, keep up the good work

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