From the Review of Biblical Literature:
There is great merit in Mathews’ s performance reading of Habakkuk. She elucidated many important features of the book, especially the book’s ability constantly to surprise the audience with subtle twists in the “script” and in the actions of its main actors : Yahweh, the prophet, and the Chaldean king. I fully endorse her conclusion that “reading Scripture through the lens of performance studies ensures that these ancient texts are not locked away as historical artifacts but instead continue to have an impact on communities of faith and the surrounding world” (200).
An international colloquium of RRENAB (Réseau de recherché Narratologie et Bible = Research Network on Narratology and Bible) gathering French speaking scholars from Canada, France, Belgium and Switzerland. It possibly will be the first colloquium on orality and performance in the Bible in French. David Rhoads will read one of the main papers.
Depuis les travaux de W. J. Ong et W. H. Kelber, on est conscient que la culture gréco-romaine du 1er siècle, qui a donné naissance au Nouveau Testament, était marquée par l’oralité. Sur un continuum entre un pôle de prédominance de l’oralité et un pôle de prédominance de l’écriture, J. A. Loubser situe comme « intermediate manuscript culture » cette période où le manuscrit demeure un support à l’oralité et lui est subordonné. En faisant abstraction de cette dimension, ne s’empêche-t-on pas de comprendre pleinement la Bible?
Le fait de conjuguer narrativité et oralité peut s’appuyer sur le parcours de D. Rhoads, dont le Mark as Story a constitué une pierre de touche dans l’application de la narratologie à la Bible. Progressivement, Rhoads s’est tourné vers le performance criticism et a proposé des « interprétations » théâtrales des textes du Nouveau Testament qui font appel à la gestuelle, aux intonations, au rythme et à la corporalité tout en s’appuyant sur une solide analyse, narrative ou rhétorique. Aux États-Unis, il s’agit d’une nouvelle voie de recherche à peu près ignorée du côté de la francophonie. Cette intuition semble valable, à condition de contrôler la reconstitution théâtrale par des observations fines, linguistiques, rhétoriques ou narratives, faites sur le texte. En un mot, peut-on articuler narrativité, oralité et performance? Cette conjugaison est-elle pertinente et féconde?
from SBL 2013 in Baltimore
I have a clear recollection of an incident that once more demonstrated what I had admired most about John: his immense erudition. In one of our many talks I asked him about the Alexandrian Library: what was the purpose of the assiduous collection of Homeric manuscripts, variant versions most of them? Were the guardians of the Library, I asked, philologists in our sense, eager to compile what we would call a critical edition, and in a sense betraying, or at the very least challenging, the powerful oral performance tradition of the Homeric epics that was still ongoing and alive in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean while the Alexandrian Library was in operation? John had written about what he called “the Alexandrians’ treatment of Homer,” and deeply thought about numerous issues related to the Library. In response to my questions he gave me off the top of his head five or six references that, he suggested, I needed to consult to find the answers. These bibliographical references that he conveyed to me orally were detailed: name of journal, title of article, and in one instance the actual page numbers -- chapter and verse, as it were. In contradiction to many, perhaps most, classicists, John thought that there was “no hard evidence of any editions whatsoever.” The idea of an Alexandrian critical edition, he asserted, was a dream concocted by modern philology’s assumptions and aspirations.
(Oxford University Press, 2013)
Social memory studies offer an under-utilised lens through which to approach the texts of the Hebrew Bible. In this volume, the range of associations and symbolic values evoked by twenty-one characters representing ancestors and founders, kings, female characters, and prophets are explored by a group of international scholars. The presumed social settings when most of the books comprising the Tanak had come into existence and were being read together as an emerging authoritative corpus are the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods. It is in this context then that we can profitably explore the symbolic values and networks of meanings that biblical figures encoded for the religious community of Israel in these eras, drawing on our limited knowledge of issues and life in Yehud and Judean diasporic communities in these periods. This is the first period when scholars can plausibly try to understand the mnemonic effects of these texts, which were understood to encode the collective experience members of the community, providing them with a common identity by offering a sense of shared past while defining aspirations for the future. The introduction and the concluding essay focus on theoretical and methodological issues that arise from analysing the Hebrew Bible in the framework of memory studies. The individual character studies, as a group, provide a kaleidoscopic view of the potentialities of using a social memory approach in Biblical Studies, with the essay on Cyrus written by a classicist, in order to provide an enriching perspective on how one biblical figure was construed in Greek social memory, for comparative purposes.