Articles Bibliography Websites Curricula and Syllabi




pdf Performance Criticism as Critical Pedagogy (457 KB)

by Phil Ruge-Jones
An excerpt:

I don't merely want to deliver ideas about transformation and reciprocity, I want us to experience these virtues in the classroom...I have used biblical performance criticism in several ways in my undergraduate classrooms. I perform stories for my Introduction to Theology students; I have taught a unit on performance criticism in an interpretation course; I have worked with students on extended performances like the Gospel of Mark, Galatians, and the Jacob Esau cycle.


pdf Performing Scripture: Implications for Pedagogy (191 KB)

by David Rhoadsrhoads2.jpg
An excerpt:

I invited each student in my Gospels class to learn and present one story to the rest of the class, such as "the parable of the unjust steward" or "the healing of a blind man" or a "conflict over the Sabbath laws." It was amazing what happened. Each student presented one story, and all students heard twenty or twenty-five stories-by different people from different social locations with different styles and approaches. The encouragement for students was considerable. It was one thing to hear the teacher perform. After all, they sort of expected it from me. But to hear their peers tell the stories was jaw-dropping for them. And each one came away knowing that they could do it!


pdf Performance in the Classroom (109 KB)

by David Rhoads
An excerpt:

I really felt as if students got a grasp of first century life in ways they never would have done without this "involvement." ... What made the difference? Why was performance so central to the success of this class? Why were the students so engaged? And why were they motivated to do so well? There are probably a lot of good answers to those questions. But a key one is this: An activity done in a classroom is artificial, but a performance to an outside audience is for real.

pdf Putting on the Word: Using Performance to Teach OT Narratives (143 KB)

Travis West (Western Theological Seminary) shares the Hebrew Readings course he designed using Performance Criticism, its methods and some of its results.

pdf Translation for Performance-2 Kings 4 (268 KB)

by Travis West (Western Theological Seminary)



Margaret K. Brady, "Problematizing the Great Divide: Teaching Orality/Literacy," Journal of Folklore Research 33 (1996)

Joseph J. Comprone, "Teaching Writing in the Condition of Secondary Orality," Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (68th, Louisville, KY, November 4-7, 1982)

John Miles Foley, Teaching Oral Traditions (MLA, 1988).

David P. Hirvela, "The Critique Circle: A Technique for Teaching Oral Performance Criticism." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Speech Association (Lincoln, NE, April 7-9, 1983).

Susan Niditch, Folklore and the Hebrew Bible (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004).

Richard W. Swanson, Provoking the Gospel: Methods to Embody Biblical Storytelling Through Drama (Pilgrim Press, 2004).



Pedagogy at the Network of Biblical Storytellers Website

Teaching as Performance:

By Doug Brent, Professor in the interdisciplinary Faculty of Communication and Culture at the University of Calgary

People see the classroom - and not the book or the videotape - as the center of learning for the same reason that they stand in the rain for hours to buy tickets to a concert when they could purchase a technically better performance on CD for much less money. As a live performance, every class is slightly different. Even if the professor uses the same notes or even the same written lecture, the constant, living interaction between teacher and audience makes every performance a new event.

Teaching Orality: Talking the Talk
Compiled by Mark Feldman


Curricula and Syllabi 

pdf Scripture by Heart Course (241 KB)
Developed by David Rhoads at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

The purpose of this course is to train parish leaders in the memorization and presentation of biblical stories for congregational life. A major focus is on the life-changing power of stories. Students have opportunities to practice performing biblical selections in class and in public presentations. They also learn how to the incorporate biblical storytelling into preaching, worship, Bible study, and pastoral care.

pdf Performance Exercises (53 KB)

pdf Orality and Literacy Syllabus (62 KB)
Developed by Klaus-Peter Adam at Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marbur

pdf From Scribalism to Storah-Telling: Bible Performance through the Ages (131 KB)
Developed by Elsie R. Stern, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia

Step-by-step instructions by Dennis Dewey, Tom Boomershine and others in the Network of Biblical Storytellers.