Creating a New “Great Divide”
The Exoticization of Ancient Culture in Some Recent Applications of Orality Studies to the Bible
by Paul S. Evans
JBL 136.4 (Winter 2017), pp. 749-764
Abstract: One of the main contributions of orality studies in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible studies has been to reject the thesis of the “great divide,” which posited a gulf between oral and written cultures of the ancient world. While critique of the thesis is to be welcomed, some of the criticisms have set up an artificial great divide of their own. This new divide exoticizes ancient culture by exaggerating the differences between modern and ancient cultures. I caution against this trend and show that this exoticizing of ancient culture can be seen in the perceived function of ancient and modern texts and the perceived differences between the mind-set of ancient literates and modern literates. I suggest that a balanced approach needs to take into account the complexity of both orality and literacy in reconstructing the function of scribes and their texts in ancient Israelite circles.
Read the full article at https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.15699/jbl.1364.2017.284912
Stone, Keith A
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016
Find the review by Don C. Benjamin in the RBL 12/2017 that reads in part:
“Stone explains how his work with performance criticism contrasts with previous scholarship on the genre of the Song of Moses (Deut 32:1–43). … he argues that the intention of performances in Mediterranean cultures is not simply to remind actors and audiences of something that happened in the past but to allow actors and their audiences to participate in the experiences they recount—creating and re-creating their cultural identity…”
Hakola, Raimo, Jutta Maria Jokiranta and Samuel Byrskog, editors
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016
Find the Review by Jonathan Draper in the RBL 11/2017 which concludes:
“… the exploration of theories of social memory and social identity is a relatively new but growing enterprise … Hence this volume of twelve studies applying the interlocking theories from a variety of perspectives to a variety of texts is a welcome addition to the work long advocated by scholars in the field of oral studies, especially by Werner Kelber … In the last of the studies on social memory, Dan Nässelqvist’s “The Oral Delivery of New Testament Writings” challenges an emerging consensus of recent studies of orality and oral performance in the New Testament that most or all of the early Christian texts were memorized and performed…”
Description: The concepts of social memory and social identity have been increasingly used in the study of ancient Jewish and Christian sources. In this collection of articles, international specialists apply interdisciplinary methodology related to these concepts to early Jewish and Christian sources. The volume offers an up-to-date presentation of how social memory studies and socio-psychological identity approach have been used in the study of Biblical and related literature. The articles examine how Jewish and Christian sources participate in the processes of collective recollection and in this way contribute to the construction of distinctive social identities.
Image, Space, Performance, and Vision in the Religion of the Roman Empire
Eds. by Marlis Arnhold, Harry O. Maier, and Jörg Rüpke
The first inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary work of its kind, this book focuses on the importance of visual culture in the study of classical, Roman, and Christian antiquity. It explores the role of the visual in helping to create a vision of the gods and how commitment to the visibility of the divine affected ancient religious practices, rituals, and beliefs. The essays deploy a wide range of disciplines that include archaeology, iconology, cultural studies, visual anthropology, the study of ancient rhetoric, and the cognitive sciences to consider the visual aspects of ancient religion from a variety of angles. The contributors take up the role of the visual in multiple contexts including domestic art, the imperial cult, martyrology, ritual practice, and temples. This groundbreaking book, which includes essays by classicists, Roman historians, archaeologists, biblical scholars, and scholars of ancient Christian iconography, promises to advance the discussion of the importance and role of visual culture in shaping the religions of antiquity in significant new ways.