(Augsburg Fortress, 2014)
New Testament scholars often talk about “oral tradition” as a means by which material about Jesus reached the writers of the Gospels; but despite the recent flowering of interest in oral tradition, the study of memory, and the role of eye-witnesses, the latest scholarly advances have yet to fully penetrate the mainstream of academic Gospels scholarship, let alone the wider public. There is no convenient book-length treatment that can be used by students, or indeed by anyone else wishing to be informed about this crucial topic. Behind the Gospels fills this gap, both by offering a general theoretical discussion of the nature of oral tradition and the formation of ancient texts, and by providing a critical survey of the field, from classical form-criticism down to the present day.
This collection of eleven essays published between 1990 and 2009 represents decades of Pieter Botha’s distinguished efforts at studying oral culture, scribal activities, and the intersection of oral-scribal practices in Greco-Roman antiquity and early Christian history. Challenging the Western literary vision and its habitual disposition toward understanding ancient textuality through the lens of typographic modernity and as the norm by which all forms of the verbal arts in antiquity are judged, this volume points New Testament scholarship toward promising new areas of investigation and insight. Excelling both in critical positions taken and in the productive imagination displayed, Botha’s essays announce something which, if pursued and developed further, demands a tangible shift in our perception and interpretation of the ancient Christian legacy.
Dr. Rafael Rodríguez is Professor of New Testament at Johnson University, Knoxville Tennessee, USA. This slim but information-packed volume is one of the “Guides for the Perplexed” series, which aims to provide “clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging”—especially “key themes and ideas…that makes the subject difficult to grasp”
by Jennifer Knust and Tommy Wasserman
Abstract: Sung in Christian liturgies from the earliest period, biblical Odes—a set of songs excerpted from the biblical and apocryphal books—were central to emerging Christian practices and texts, yet their significance as textual witnesses has rarely been studied. Overlooked by text critics and editors, the Odes have largely been omitted from contemporary critical editions of the biblical books, including the very recent twenty-eighth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. This analysis suggests, however, that the liturgical setting of the Odes had a double impact: whereas some of the readings possibly reflect liturgical adaptation, public performance could also set limits on how much these texts could change.
Comparison of the biblical Odes as they appear in the great fifth-century majuscule Codex Alexandrinus, both in their place among the Odes and within their appropriate biblical book, demonstrates that these songs are in fact a valuable textual resource, a conclusion that is further confirmed by an examination of the textual and paratextual features of early Odes manuscripts. A more focused study of the Song of Mary offers additional support to the hypothesis: this song remained remarkably fixed even as Odes traditions and collections remained unsettled. As this study shows, interactions between oral and written forms of transmission are complex, and thus no textual witness can be dismissed solely on the basis of its liturgical setting.
The Bible Translation section is proud to join, the academic arm of the American Bible Society, The Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship in presenting two sessions on Performance Criticism and Bible Translation.
The first session, entitled Performance, Translation and Identity, will feature 4 papers on the topic of how performance interacts with identity issues of either local communities or language groups. How does performance contribute or constitute the perception of the self vis á vis the other? Some of the question that the presenters will address are: how does translation become performance and how does translation express the identity of people groups? How does specifically Bible translation affect the identity of people groups when we take into account Performance Criticism? How does actual Bible translation “products” get absorbed in the cultural maelstrom of identity issues in different types of societies, both Western and non Western. Different aspects of performance, translation and identity will be addressed, including sign language and the identity of the deaf community, oral performance and identity both in orally oriented societies, as well as in post-modern digital societies.
The second session entitled, Translating for Performance and Performance for Translation, will address the dialectical interplay between performance and translation, in a more applied manner where 3 presenters, who are Bible scholars and performers, will address translation and performance issues that arise from translating in order to perform or performing in order to translate. The three presenters will each have a 20 minute paper where they will discuss the issues that arise from mentioned themes and will end with an actual 10 minute example of performance. The session will be complemented with a first reaction from a panel of distinguished performance criticism scholars who will afterwards interact with the presenters and the audience on both theoretical and practical aspects of Translating for Performance and Performance for Translation. One of the most pivotal and revealing questions which this session, and actually all Bible translators and performers of the Bible, ultimately would have to face is, without necessarily coming to a resolution is: Is translating not just a form of performance? Or is performance ultimately not just a form of translating?