In the current context of globalization, relocation of cultures, and rampant technologizing of communication, orality has gained renewed interest across disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. Orality has shed its once negative image as primitive, non-literate, and exotic, and has grown into a major area of scientific interest and the focus of interdisciplinary research, including translation studies. As an important feature of human speech and communication, orality has featured prominently in studies related to pre-modernist traditions, modernist representations of human history, and postmodernist expressions of artistry such as in music, film, and other audiovisual media. Its wide appeal can be seen in the variety of this volume, in which contributors draw from a range of disciplines with orality as the point of intersection with translation studies. This book is unique in its exploration of orality and translation from an interdisciplinary perspective, and sets the groundwork for collaborative research among scholars across disciplines with an interest in the aesthetics and materiality of orality. This book was originally published as a special issue of Translation Studies.
Foreword by Dr. Glenn S. Holland
Translated by Lindsay Elias, Brent Blum
Receiving a letter from Paul was a major event in the early churches. Given the orally oriented culture of the time, a letter was designed to be read out loud in front of an audience. The document was an intermediate state for the local transport of the message, but the actual medium of communication was the performance event. This event was embedded in the written text in a manner comparable to a theater script. After careful preparation because of high expectations from ancient audiences, a presenter embodied the message with his voice, gazes, and gestures and made it not only understood but jointly experienced.
After presenting a short history of performance criticism, this book clarifies what is meant by the highly ambiguous term "performance" and develops steps to analyze ancient texts in order to find and understand the embedded signals of performance. This leads to a critical assessment of the potential of performance criticism as a method. Then, the method is applied to the Pauline Epistles and other early Christian letters. It proves to be highly rewarding: difficult passages become comprehensible, new aspects come to light, the text's impact on the audience is felt--in short, the texts come alive.
"Biblical Performance Criticism is a way of understanding the Bible. It is the result of many streams of thought meeting over the last century, including form criticism, oral-tradition studies, rhetorical criticism, narrative criticism, memory studies, media studies, and performance studies. In some way, each of these streams analyzes four elements: (1) someone speaking, (2) someone hearing, (3) a text, and (4) a social situation. Each has contributed to the understanding that the Bible should be read in terms of the interaction of those four elements rather than any one of them in isolation."
Edited by Werner H. Kelber, Paula A. Sanders
In April 2008 a conference was convened at Rice University that brought together experts in the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The papers discussed at the conference are presented here, revised and updated. The thirteen contributions comprise the keynote address by John Miles Foley; three essays on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible; three on the New Testament; three on the Qur'an; and two summarizing pieces, by the Africanist Ruth Finnegan and the Islamicist William Graham respectively.
The central thesis of the book states that sacred Scripture was experienced by the three faiths less as a text contained between two covers and a literary genre, and far more as an oral phenomenon. In developing the performative, recitative aspects of the three religions, the authors directly or by implication challenge their distinctly textual identities. Instead of viewing the three faiths as quintessential religions of the book, these writers argue that the religions have been and continue to be appropriated not only as written but also very much as oral authorities, with the two media interpenetrating and mutually influencing each other in myriad ways.
The book of Ruth is probably best known as a romantic love story that, through the expression of loving devotion, overcomes tragedy and ends with the founding of the most famous family in all of biblical Israel. But the book wasn't always this way. In fact, it wasn't a book at all but rather a story told with a very different purpose in mind. Before Ruth, there was the Story of Naomi, a subversive story designed to challenge a male-dominated status quo. Through comedy, sarcastic irony, and unparalleled rhetorical skill the Naomi storyteller holds up for inspection social gender roles and the power of sexuality in a manner that resonates yet today. The Story of Naomi--The Book of Ruth goes behind the literary rendition of the story and recaptures the original oral tale, with script and performance directions that brings to life the humor, tragedy, and transparent honesty shared between the Naomi storyteller and her audience.