Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] Sequence and selection
- Dear Daniel, Apologies for the delay in replying - had to take a couple of
off on family business (including seeing my daughter in a tremendous
performance of Sondheim's A Little Night Music in Leicester.
Do you really think the parallels you suggest represent the reality of a
community which lives entirely by oral memory and rehearses its tradition on a
regular basis to confirm and affirm its identity?
With respect to Bailey, I would suggest one of the strengths of my
proposal is that Bailey's model (if we may speak of it so) matches the
character of the Jesus tradition; there is an important element of mutual
confirmation, or the suggested beginning and continuation of the process
fitting so well into what we can still see to be its end product.
It certainly allows for elaboration, aggregation and various other
performance and transmission variations. And are we in danger of
exaggerating the fixity and fullness of the mission commission material? its
combination of stability and variableness, including the two commissions in
Luke 9 and 10, fits well with my model.
Daniel Grolin wrote:
> Dear Prof. Dunn,
> You wrote
> <Your illustrations are fine, except (1) they envisage the process as a
> more individual recollecting, whereas I emphasise the community
> Granted. I expect that the community memory is different from individual
> memory, in that the community assists in assuring flexible and inflexible
> elements in the tradition. It also increases total storage capacity (6000
> <and (2) are you taking enough account of the fact that the traditioning
> process as an oral exercise would inevitably fare more developed than your
> own experiments with a class in today's long-established literary world?>
> No, I certainly would expect people from an oral culture to perform much
> better in such a test. However, the memory of modern men are not
> essentially not worse than pre-modern men. We have passwords, telephone
> numbers, etc. that we must remember. Academics have host of textual memory
> that tax them. What I found more interesting, however, was what the
> experiment showed me about the process of recollection. That process I
> think is universal and applicable as much in the past as it is today.
> <So, not repetition, but teaching and story with elements of stability and
> variableness such as we see in the Synoptics still to this day.>
> My problem is that your line of argument comes from looking, not at the
> nature of oral memory (communal or otherwise), but from looking at the end
> product (i. e. the text of the Gospels). I see nothing in what you have
> presented from Kenneth Bailey that suggest this tendency.
> There are two of the texts that you mention that I think could plausibly
> be aggregated in its oral stage:
> The first is the beatitudes. We know from Thomas that they have existed
> separate. However, they have qualities that I think sufficient to argue an
> oral union. 1) They are applicable to largely the same situation without
> saying the same thing. 2) They are have the same form and one needs just
> remember the antithetical promises (poor-kingdom, hungry-feed, etc.). In
> this case placing them together may even help remembering the sayings. Yet
> even after being assembled I can imagine them used by themselves as
> proverbs for appropriate occasions.
> The mission statement, which explained the itinerant prophet's lifestyle.
> This had to be learnt and drilled in because it was a set of rules that
> were a constant in every day of the itinerant. Unlike other lifestyle
> teachings, these seem to have been a complete counter-social set of
> teachings. Each time a new itinerant joined, a fix set of teachings were
> So, to qualify my reservations: In general I think collection is a process
> of textuality (as suggested by Kelber), however, there are cases in which
> I think collection makes sense. The exceptions I have noted I think have
> particular qualities that distinguish them from other oral traditions.
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