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Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] Orality, Textuality and Control

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  • Meta Dunn
    Dear Ted Weeden, Thanks for your essay. I wish I had time to go into it more fully, but I can only give so much time to this fortnight s dialogue (and I m
    Message 1 of 2 , May 6, 2001
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      Dear Ted Weeden,
      Thanks for your essay. I wish I had time to go into it more fully, but I
      can only give so much time to this fortnight's dialogue (and I'm behind in
      it). More to the point, most of your essay has to do with Paul and with the
      function of written text. On the points which bear most directly on my own
      1) I am talking primarily about Jesus tradition, not the larger question of
      Paul's gospel and how we should relate his initial preaching (how it was
      received and 'observed') to his subsequent writing. So far as Paul and the
      Jesus tradition is concerned, nothing you say directly deals with the case I
      have made in my Theology of Paul (and elsewhere), to the effect that (a) Paul
      did know, and assumed that his readers knew, a substanital body of Jesus
      tradition, (b) he refers to it quite often and in ways that indicate that it was
      taken for granted as 'word of the Lord', and of continuing authority. That
      seems to be consistent with my hypothesis.
      2) The complicating factors in the case of Paul's churches are as follows: (a)
      the issues which exercised Paul most strongly in the cases you cite arose from
      the fact the he had given the accepted gospel a 'Gentile-slant', to which others
      objected; (b) those missionaries which objected had powerful claims to speak
      for the 'founding fathers' of the church in Jerusalem - so though the authority
      of Jesus tradition was not in question, the authority of those who could now
      'speak for Jesus' was very much in question; (c) the more remote from Palestine
      the Christian mission became, more Gentile than Jewish, etc., the more there
      were issues which arose which the Jesus tradition did not give clear enough
      answer to. Hence the kind of treatment we have in 1 Corinthians.
      3) Regarding Scott: we are enviosaging not so much village communities per se,
      but disciple-groups/churches where the Jesus tradition is one of the primary
      formative influences, a central part of their distinct identity. So the
      dynamic of great tradition and little tradition may not be an appropriate
      4) Re Q. Insofar as I buy Q, I do not think we are in a position to demarcate
      its extent or content as clearly as the IQP have envisaged. The CritEdnofQ
      includes traditions which I think are better seen as oral; and no doubt there
      were other traditions, whether in Matthew or Luke (or wherever!)
      which did not make it into Q. In particular, I have by no means been convinced
      that we can distinguish a Q1 as a coherent (written?) composition prior to Q.
      We simply do not have the ability to distinguish gathering of earlier material
      (some already in clusters) from the composition of Q itself.
      With that I'll have to end. But thanks for taking the trouble to write at
      such length. I will want to return to these issues when my research returns to
      the Paul period.
      Jimmy Dunn

      Ted Weeden wrote:

      > Dear Professor Dunn,
      > Thank you for engaging us in a dialogue with you over your very stimulating
      > and thought- provoking article. As I have reflected upon it, critical
      > questions have been raised in my mind, certain ones of which I wish to raise
      > with you here in what is a very long essay. The length is necessitated
      > because of the need to address with you significant substantive issues of
      > hermeneutics and social-scientific perspective on orality and textuality
      > that lead me to a different understanding from your own of the roles played
      > by orality and textuality in the Jesus movement(s), and, in particular, how
      > those roles functioned in relationship to each other in the formative stages
      > of the movement(s).
      > I apologize to you and others who have been participating in this seminar
      > for both the length of my essay and the fact that it comes so late in the
      > life of the seminar. But the press of other matters and the need to give a
      > thoughtful and substantive response to your essay, and articulate as clearly
      > and comprehensively as I can my own differing view, has unfortunately
      > delayed this submission for your consideration until now.
      > Hopefully, should you find my essay sufficiently stimulating to elicit a
      > response, even at this late date, your response will help enlighten me as to
      > any misunderstandings or lack of clarity I may have with respect to your
      > thesis, as well as indicating any problematic issues you may find in my own.
      > First, if I have understood you correctly, your case for the earliest
      > Christians preserving, essentially in tact, the memory of the words and acts
      > of Jesus, as well as events related to Jesus' public ministry, is based on
      > the insights Kenneth Bailey derived with respect to the way Middle East
      > village life, with which he was associated, preserved and "canonized" (my
      > term) their oral culture in its transmission through what Bailey calls
      > "informal controlled tradition." Quoting you from 1.5: "In informal
      > controlled tradition the story can be retold in the setting of a gathering
      > of the village by any member of the village present, but usually the elders,
      > and the community itself exercises the 'control.'" You then conclude nine
      > paragraphs later: "The hypothesis which Bailey offers on the basis of his
      > reflections on these experiences is that informal, controlled oral tradition
      > is the best explanation for the oral transmission of the Jesus tradition.
      > Up until the upheaval of the first Jewish revolt (66-73) informal controlled
      > oral tradition would have been able to function in the villages of
      > Palestine." Then two paragraphs later you note what you find significant
      > for your own thesis with respect to the oral transmission of the Jesus
      > tradition, namely, "the recognition of the likelihood that (1) a community
      > would be concerned enough to exercise some control over its traditions; (2)
      > the degree of control exercised would vary both in regard to form and in
      > regard to the relative importance of the tradition for its own identity; and
      > (3) the element in the story regarded as its core or key to its meaning
      > would be its most firmly fixed elements."
      > To begin my response to your thesis, I want to raise the question as to
      > whether there is, in fact, convincing evidence of early Christian practice
      > of intentionally exercising, and successfully so, such informal controlled
      > oral tradition in an analogous way to what Bailey found in his experience in
      > the Middle East village. Our problem of course, as you well recognize (2),
      > is that we do not have the advantage that Bailey had. Bailey was able to
      > sit in on the Middle East village at its community gatherings to observe how
      > the village dealt with its oral "transmissioning." We do not have the
      > luxury of sitting in on early Christian communities to observe how
      > faithfully they sought to preserve oral transmission about Jesus from those
      > most closely associated with him during his public ministry. But we do have
      > at least one voice from the first century who reports to us something about
      > the character of early Christian communities he was associated with and how
      > faithfully they did or did not exercise informal control over the tradition
      > they had received. Of course, the voice I have in mind is that of Paul,
      > as he comments in his various letters on his observance on how his various
      > churches adhered to faithful preservation of the oral transmission of the
      > tradition they received from him. And the record in many of his churches,
      > according to Paul, is not good at all.
      > For example, in writing to the Galatians, Paul is incensed over the fact, to
      > quote Paul, "that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the
      > grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel (hETERON EUAGGELION),
      > not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and
      > want to METASTREYAI ("alter," "pervert") the gospel of Christ" (1:6f.).
      > If we accept Bailey's model of informal control as the modus operandi
      > exercised in the early Christian communities to preserve the integrity of
      > the oral tradition as received, how could the leaders of the community, or
      > even the community itself, have allowed any one to alter, much less accept
      > an alteration to, the gospel Paul delivered unto them in oral transmission?
      > Why did not those in leadership positions in Galatia say "no" to the hearing
      > of a different spin on the oral tradition as soon as they heard it, and
      > insist that whatever anyone tries to promulgate, which is contrary to what
      > they received from their founder Paul, is rejected as false and tampering
      > with the truth? Why was not informal control being exercised to prevent
      > what Paul perceived to be the community's abandonment of the gospel
      > tradition he had proclaimed to them?
      > To press the issue further by citing yet another such case, in a series of
      > Pauline correspondence with the Corinthians, preserved fragmentarily in II
      > Corinthians (2:14-7:4; 10-13; 1:1-2:13/7:5-8:24; 9:1-15-so Gunther Bornkamm,
      > Dieter Georgi, et al), it is clear that Paul was "pushed to the wall" in
      > Corinth by the appeal of the gospel of certain opponents, who not only
      > debunked the oral tradition Paul had left with the community, but sought to
      > discredit Paul's credibility and authority, which for Paul served as the
      > very basis for the viability and authenticity of the community's faith.
      > Paul reports that his opponents claim that "[h]is letters are weighty and
      > strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech [his oral
      > proclamation of the gospel] of no account" (II Cor. 10:10). So persuasive
      > have Paul's opponents been in this incident in Corinth that the community
      > has "bought" the oral proclamation of the opponents and abandoned, according
      > to Paul, the oral tradition they received from him and upon which the faith
      > of the community was founded. Paul in writing a scathing attack upon his
      > opponents, as well as the community itself, bemoans the community's fickle
      > faith when he sternly remonstrates to the Corinthians with these words:
      > "...if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached,
      > or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if *you
      > accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it
      > readily enough* (emphasis: mine).
      > How could it be that the Corinthians could "submit...readily enough" to a
      > different gospel from the one upon which their faith was founded if informal
      > control of their received tradition was being actively exercised within the
      > community by either the indigenous leaders or the community itself, as
      > Bailey, and now you, would contend was the normal modus operandi in the
      > early Christian communities? It appears to me, in one more case, that
      > what Paul is railing against is precisely what is not operative in Corinth,
      > namely, an internal, "informal control of the oral tradition" he gave the
      > Corinthians in founding them as a Christian community.
      > To put the issue in yet a different way, if informal control of oral
      > tradition was exercised as a rule within Christian communities to preserve
      > the integrity of that tradition, as Bailey and you contend, why, in the two
      > cases just cited, was Paul forced to exercise formal control from outside
      > the community to prevent tampering with the integrity of the tradition or
      > deviating from it or outright abandoning it? The only control, informal or
      > formal, that I see being exercised over the oral tradition in Galatia and
      > Corinth is that which Paul is trying to impose from the outside of the
      > community through the *textuality* of correspondence. Within the
      > communities of Galatia and Corinth, there does not seem to be anyone who has
      > or is interested in exercising informal control on the oral tradition which
      > served initially as the foundation of the respective members' faith. In
      > my judgment Bailey and your thesis that Christian communities exercised
      > informal control over oral transmission of the received tradition does not
      > appear to hold true with respect to these two communities. And based on
      > the insights and conclusions of the widely respected work of James C. Scott
      > ( "Protest and Profanation: Agrarian Revolt and the Little Tradition, Part
      > I, " _Theory and Society_), I have serious doubt that such informal control,
      > as Bailey envisions it, worked as a governing principle in early Christian
      > communities generally. Let me explain.
      > James Scott, drawing upon the nomenclature of Robert Redfield (_The Little
      > Community and Peasant Society and Culture_), argues for the co-existence in
      > pre-literate civilizations of two separate but interdependent forms of
      > social organizations. There was the social organization of the elite, an
      > extremely small minority of literate power brokers who exercised domination
      > over the masses of illiterate, essentially powerless peasants in the social
      > order which the elite governed. The elite were informed and guided by
      > their "great tradition," their paradigmatic formulation of their community's
      > corporate identity and historic meaning. The elite controlled and
      > manipulated to their advantage the illiterate non-elite of the community by
      > forcing the non-elite to conform to the principles and raison d'etre of the
      > elite's great tradition. Within the context of the dominating social order
      > of the elite, the non-elite developed their own indigenous social
      > organization as village polity-subset of the larger order. This village
      > subset social ordering was guided by the non-elite's own indigenous "little
      > tradition," village customs and belief patterns developed over periods of
      > time and which provided historic meaning and identity for the non-elite
      > within the context of subordination to the elite and their great tradition.
      > .
      > Scott's findings about the character of oral or little tradition in the
      > ancient world appear to me to conflict with Bailey's conclusion about the
      > informal control of oral tradition in the contemporary world, conclusions
      > which Bailey extrapolates from his experience in a Middle East village to
      > use as a template for understanding how village communities dealt with oral
      > tradition in the ancient world. Scott's findings suggest that the little
      > tradition of ancient illiterate, non-elite communities is more open and
      > adaptive to new formulations. Scott observes, with respect to folk or
      > village religion, in particular (26f.): "Left to itself, it would appear
      > that folk religion is inherently syncretist. The eclectic tendencies of
      > the little tradition are to a large extent, the consequence of its oral
      > culture. By their nature, oral traditions are *plastic* [emphasis: mine];
      > they may be embroidered and transformed in accord with the needs of social
      > groups and the vicissitudes of history. Since there is no original text to
      > which reference can be made, the past may serve the present without any
      > sense of heresy..... Moreover, folk syncretism seems to have an additive
      > quality to it. Imported elements are incorporated to find their place
      > among existing practices, many of which are residue of earlier borrowing....
      > [N]ew practices [are] adopted without replacing earlier patterns and
      > 'without rationalization of the accumulated and transformed elements'"
      > [single-quote material is cited by Scott from McKim Marriott, "Little
      > Communities in an Indigenous Civilization," Village India: Studies in the
      > Little Community, 196].
      > >From my perspective, Scott's suggestion that the illiterate, non-elite
      > villagers are inherently eclectic,and syncretistic with respect to their
      > oral formulation of their religious traditions, and that those oral
      > formulations are plastic, rather than fixed, flies in the face of and is a
      > formidable challenge, in my judgment, to Bailey's argument. Furthermore,
      > and again from my perspective, Scott's observation that the religion of
      > illiterate, non-elite culture characteristically tends to be eclectic,
      > syncretist and additive by nature, and, further, that new elements are often
      > imported and adopted into such folk religion along side of existing
      > features, "without replacing earlier patterns and 'without rationalization
      > of the accumulated and transformed elements,'" explains very well what was
      > happening in the Pauline communities at Galatia and Corinth, and which was
      > causing Paul such consternation. Those communities were not adhering
      > strictly to the Pauline oral tradition they had received. Rather, as
      > situations warranted it, they modified and sometimes significantly deviated
      > from Paul's kerymatic traditon by importing new elements into it. I would
      > submit, also, that, when Paul finds fault with these communities for
      > abandoning the gospel he gave to them, they were not in actuality rejecting
      > outright the oral traditions they had received from Paul's gospel. Rather,
      > they were altering (METASTREYAI, Gal. 1:7)-perverting, as Paul might have
      > thought from his advocacy of his own pristine position-Paul's gospel as a
      > result of the influence of others who came preaching and teaching a
      > different spin on Christian faith, a spin which to the community made sense
      > given its application to their own faith circumstances.
      > This is precisely how Dieter Betz describes the situation at Galatia when
      > the Galatians found it necessary to deviate from the purity of Paul's oral
      > tradition to accommodate to the faith crisis they were facing. It was,
      > according to Betz, the new, imported elements from the oral traditions of
      > others-whom Paul looked upon as enemies of "the ways in Christ" which he
      > taught "everywhere in every church (I Cor. 4:17; cf. Gal. 1:8-9)-that helped
      > them to resolve their faith crisis to their satisfaction. As Betz puts it
      > in his commentary, _Galatians_ ( I quote snippets from pages 8-9):
      > "After a period of initial enthusiasm, the Galatians apparently ran into
      > problems which they could not handle under the terms which they were
      > familiar through Paul's teaching. Consequently, they had listened to other
      > Christian missionaries who impressed them to such a great extent that they
      > expected from them a solution to their problems.... The opponents must have
      > made sense in terms of the problems the Galatians had with themselves....
      > [T]he problem with which the Galatians felt they were confronted was this:
      > how can the 'pneumatic'... live with trespasses in his daily life? At
      > this point Paul's opposition had concrete help to offer. According to the
      > opponents' theology, Christian existence takes place within the terms of the
      > Jewish Torah covenant.... [T]he opponents ... urged the Galatians to accept
      > Torah and circumcision in order to become partakers of the Sinai covenant.
      > Presumably they were told that outside Torah there is no salvation."
      > Thus the Galatians had not totally reject the gospel that Paul had delivered
      > to them, and which served as the foundation of their faith. Rather what
      > they did was modify what they had received from Paul by importing and
      > syncretist adopting of the ideas of Paul's opponents and incorporating those
      > ideas into their Pauline oral tradition to resolve their crisis of faith .
      > I would argue for the same procedure and practice being operative in the Q
      > community to meet its own faith crisis when it faced rejection of its
      > original oral tradition (1Q). Scribal members of the community responded
      > to their faith crisis by reshaping and significantly modifying the
      > theological perspective of 1Q and in so doing produced the first recension
      > of Q (1Q plus 2Q), as well as converting Q from pure orality to orality
      > expressed through the medium of textuality. The scribal members
      > accomplished this theological transformation of Q by performing a
      > Deuteronomistic midrash on its original oral tradition (cf. John
      > Kloppenborg-Verbin, _Excavating Q_, 121f. and passim) and appropriating such
      > new elements into its previous Jesus tradition, as well as creating de novo
      > others (e.g., in 2Q 7:18-28, 31-35: appropriated sayings= Q7:24-26, 28/GTh
      > 78:1-3, 46:1-2; newly created sayings: Q7:18-23, 27 and perhaps most, if not
      > all of 31-35) to meet its pressing hermeneutical needs. Thus in the Q
      > community, as was the case in the Pauline Galatian and Corinthian churches,
      > rather than there being informal control within the community, the community
      > treated its oral tradition as *plastic,* as Scott puts it, and became open
      > to new voices that helped it rethink its theology to account for its present
      > crisis and provide meaningful vision for its future.
      > The imposition of control on the oral tradition with respect to the Galatian
      > and Corinthian communities came from outside, from Paul, via *textuality.*
      > My point is that it was not the oral voices within these communities that
      > controlled the oral tradition. Rather it was the voice of Paul communicated
      > via textuality that sought to reign in attempted abberant and deviant
      > alterations to the received oral tradition. The fact that Paul chose to
      > voice his imposition of control on the oral tradition he had delivered to
      > Galatians and Corinthians with textuality is not surprising at all when one
      > understands the role and function of writing in antiquity. Paul's
      > recourse to the use of textuality to impose control on the alteration,
      > misuse and misinterpretation of his oral kerygma is precisely what one would
      > have expected from a person in Paul's leadership capacity in the Greco-Roman
      > world of his time. In order to make his will known and enforce as leader
      > of the churches he founded, Paul followed the common practice in antiquity,
      > as William Harris has so well articulated, of using the utility, the
      > efficacy and the authority and power of the written word to accomplish his
      > purpose.
      > According to Harris (_Ancient Literacy_) writing in the Roman Empire served
      > two distinct but interrelated purposes: (1) writing bound the empire
      > together and, textuality alone, made possible administrative cohesiveness
      > and coherency of the vast reaches of the empire possible; (2) writing was an
      > instrument, among others, used to control the enormous empire-wide
      > population of rural and urban non-elite people. I want to explore the role
      > and function of these two distinct and interrelated purpose for writing in
      > the Roman Empire because they shed light and explain why Paul chose to use
      > writing as an instrument of his own missionary enterprise. I turn my
      > attention first to the importance of writing for holding the empire together
      > and making it administratively possible. To do so I present the following
      > snippets of quotes drawn from Harris' work. Harris states with respect to
      > the role and function of writing for the binding of the empire together the
      > following:
      > "Rome ... would have found it entirely impossible to extend power much
      > beyond Latinum if it had not been for the written word, and in this case too
      > the upper order maintained its power over the rest of the community partly
      > by its superior command of written texts" (333). "The power of the Romans,
      > who conquered many lands where writing was well-known, in other cases
      > introduced or disseminated written culture. Without this wide diffusion of
      > writing, political and administrative control would have been infinitely
      > harder, probably impossible; the Roman Empire depended on writing. The
      > affairs of magistrates and later of the imperial court, the taxation of
      > citizens and provinces, the affairs of innumerable city governments, the
      > maintenance of the armed forces-for all these writing was indispensable"
      > (206). "Political control over what happened in the provinces and beyond
      > (208) depended heavily on correspondence.... [T]he emperor exercised power
      > over his absent subordinates largely through correspondence, and indeed used
      > texts on a large scale to deal with his subjects. The degree of his
      > personal involvement in this paperwork is debated, but in any case his
      > control over distant events, such as it was, depended upon it. Most of the
      > information he received about the army, about revenues, and about all other
      > government affairs outside Rome itself was transmitted in writing, and so
      > too were his instructions" (209).
      > I turn now to the second purpose for textuality in the Roman empire. Again
      > I quote snippets from Harris' articulation of this purpose: "There
      > cannot be the least doubt that writing was an indispensable instrument of
      > imperial domination." (335). "The imperial government imposed itself
      > through force and persuasion and by more or less general consent, but a good
      > part of the effect was obtained by means of the written word" (211).
      > [W]riting was often an instrument of power ..... It sometimes resulted in
      > forms of lying, obfuscation and conservatism unknown to pre-literate
      > cultures. By helping to undermine a traditional culture of an essentially
      > oral kind, literacy may undeniably lead towards a relatively 'modern' world
      > which contains its own forms of exploitation" (36).
      > Reflecting generally on writing as an instrument of power and domination
      > throughout antiquity, Harris draws these wider conclusions, and again I
      > offer snippets from his book. Harris quotes initially (38) from
      > Levi-Strauss from his _Tristes Tropiques_ in which Levi-Strauss ruminates
      > upon writing as a tool of the oppressor: "The only phenomenon with which
      > writing has always been concomitant is the creation of cities and empires,
      > that is the integration of large numbers of individuals into a political
      > system, and their grading into castes or classes.... [I]t seems to have
      > favoured the exploitation of human beings rather than their
      > enlightenment.... My hypothesis, if correct, would oblige us to recognize
      > the fact that the primary function of written communication is to facilitate
      > slavery." Then Scott quotes from H. J. Graff (ed.), _Literacy and Social
      > Development in the West: A Reader_, who takes the position that literacy
      > functions as an instrument of "social and cultural control and hegemony."
      > And then, finally, Harris, after his extensive study, returns in his
      > conclusion to agree with Levi-Strauss, namely, "The primary function of
      > written communication is to facilitate slavery"... 'and it is easy to see
      > that writing can serve systems of political power and social hegemony in
      > many different ways."
      > Why did the written word, textuality, have such power to control and
      > dominate in the Greco-Roman world? And from whence did it derive its
      > authority and power to do so? According to Harris the written word,
      > textuality, had the power to control, dominate and exploit people in the
      > Roman Empire and similar pre-literate civilizations and societies "which
      > combine a high degree of literacy among the elite and the servants of the
      > elite with a high degree illiteracy in the rest of the population" (333).
      > And the Greco-Roman world was one such instance in which there was enormous
      > disparity between those who could read and write and those who could not.
      > Harris estimates that less than 10% of the Roman Empire in the period from
      > 100 BCE to 250 CE were literate (22), with the highest percentage amounting
      > to 15% or less in Rome and Italy (267). Richard Rohrbaugh ("The Social
      > Location of the Markan Audience," INT, 1993: 381) posits that "Probably no
      > more than two to four percent of the population in an agrarian society could
      > read, or read and write."
      > Harris (39) points out significantly that: "[i]n societies hierarchically
      > structured by distinctions in classes and social stratification the
      > privileged use of writing by the literate elite intensifies the existing
      > class distinctions and social stratification." Written procedures, Harris
      > observes, in a highly stratified society "assist control from above." And
      > while such written procedures would presumably empower those underneath to
      > assert their rights by virtue of those procedures, according to Harris, it
      > was "only rather rarely at Rome that the latter possibility comes to the
      > fore" (206). Consequently, the illiterate masses felt, by and large,
      > powerless, even fearful, to contend against the awesome and dominating power
      > of the written word. Textuality was inaccessible to them because of their
      > illiteracy. Therefore, they experienced it as an oppressive tool of the
      > elite against which they had no defense from being controlled and exploited.
      > Rohrbaugh observes (381) that "[f]ear of writing and of those who could
      > write was widespread among peasants, who often regarded letters as a tool of
      > elitist deception." And Harris notes (325) that "[e]ven among the
      > educated it [textuality] often seems to have generated suspicion."
      > Of particular significance for this present discussion is that the power and
      > authority of textuality was often perceived by the illiterate, non-elite as
      > deriving from some religious source. Harris submits from his study of this
      > phenomenon that "[t]he written word itself ... exercise[d] some religious
      > power: that is to say, it was sometimes felt to have some special solemnity
      > about it which allowed people to bring about extraordinary results" (219).
      > This religious authority of the written word was particularly understood,
      > Harris posits, '[i]n the case of ancient societies ordered or founded upon
      > religious principles." For with the advent of writing, the gods were
      > imagined as expressing their authority by means of the written word. Over
      > and over again 'divine' ordinances have assumed written form; Moses is
      > simply the most famous 'intermediary.' Zeus acquired writing-tablets soon
      > after the Greeks. What this means, Harris concludes, "is that men who
      > claimed religious authority employed the reality or the image of the written
      > word to enhance their authority."
      > This whole discussion on the religious dimension of textuality and its use
      > to enhance authority has profound relevance and implication for our
      > understanding of how Paul, in my judgment, utilized textuality both for the
      > administrative success of his missionary enterprise and as his instrument of
      > control on the affairs of the respective churches he founded. In fact,
      > Harris specifically underscores the unusual and innovative way in which the
      > early Christian leaders, the elite among Christians, used writing to enhance
      > their power and authority over the non-elite. As Harris puts it (221f.):
      > "It is Christian writings which suggest a coming change in the religious
      > importance of the written word. Apparently it was the habit of religious
      > and philosophical sects to maintain a measure of contact and coherence with
      > the like-minded by exchanging letters.... It can reasonbly assumed that
      > widely scattered Jewish communities sometimes corresponded with each other
      > on religious matters. In any case, some Christians began early on to
      > attach special importance to letters and other pious writings. Something
      > of the kind was happening by the 50s and 60s, for otherwise the letters of
      > Paul would probably not have survived. The forcefulness of his writing
      > may in fact have contributed to the new development." And then Harris
      > observes, "What was most strikingly new [about Christianity] was the
      > organized community and the gradual accumulation of a group of virtually
      > unchangeable texts.... [t]hey could easily be transmitted within and between
      > Christian communities and served as something of a fixed point. The written
      > word thus came to exercise religious power in a somewhat novel way."
      > I find all the aforementioned observations of Scott and Harris together to
      > provide valuable insight and enlightenment with respect to Paul's own modus
      > operandi in his administrative management of his missionary enterprise and
      > his assertion of authority over his churches through textuality, as well as
      > his use of it as an instrument to control any deviation from the character
      > or content of his EUAGGELION. Moreover, I find some interesting and
      > striking parallels between the role and function of writing in the Roman
      > Empire body politic and the role and function of writing in Paul's
      > missionary enterprise.
      > First, just as the administrative and political control of the Roman Empire
      > would have been almost impossible without writing, Paul's shepherding and
      > administration of his widely flung churches would have been virtually
      > impossible without his writing to them. Second, just as the emperor
      > exercised authority and power over the illiterate, non-elite population of
      > the empire through textuality, so Paul exercised authority and power over
      > his non-elite congregations through textuality. In some respects, Paul,
      > if I may suggest an analogy (without pushing it too far), was like a little
      > emperor to his churches. Like the emperors at the time, who claimed to
      > exercise power over the people by divine authority, Paul claimed that his
      > power over the churches was given him by divine investiture (II Cor. 10:8;
      > 13:10).
      > And Paul certainly viewed himself as having power over all the churches. He
      > considered himself and the proclamation of his gospel which he received
      > directly by revelation from the risen Jesus himself (Gal. 1:11f.; cf. 15:8)
      > to be their raison d'etre. Furthermore, he considered himself among the
      > elite if not the quintessential elite of the Christian movement. He let
      > it be known to his churches that he had an elite pedigree. He staunchly
      > held that he was an apostle equal to all other apostles of note. He did so
      > in part by attaching his name to the list of the apostles known to having
      > had the resurrected Jesus appear to them (see I Cor, 15:3-8). He cites
      > from time to time his elitist position in Judaism prior to his conversion
      > (see Rms. 11:1; II Cor. 11:22; Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:5f.): a descendent of
      > Abraham, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin.
      > He saw himself as a Jewish elite of the elite: "advanced in Judaism beyond
      > many of my own age," extremely zealous ... for the traditions of my fathers,
      > a strict and observant Pharisee, righteous and blameless before Torah. As
      > a Jewish elitist leader, and because of his unwavering devotion to the
      > elitist great tradition of his Judaism, he became a zealous persecutor of
      > the fledgling Jesus movement which he viewed with disgust and held in
      > contempt because its "little tradition" about Jesus was a scandalous offense
      > to the great tradition of his Judaism.
      > Upon his conversion, Paul joined the Jesus movement, not, according to him,
      > because of human persuasion but through direct divine intervention (I Cor.
      > 15:8; Gal. 1:11-12, 15-16). As a result he deferred to no human
      > authority, much less any other Jesus movement leaders, no matter what their
      > stature in the movement, including Peter and James the brother of Jesus (cf.
      > Gal.1:17-20; 2:1-14). He was convinced that they could contribute nothing
      > to his understanding of faith in Christ (Gal. 2:6f.). He had received all
      > the understanding he needed through the direct revelation of God and Christ
      > himself (Gal. 1:11f., 15f.). Like an emperor, Paul was convinced that
      > there was no human authority greater than he and that he had been divinely
      > appointed to his position by God, even before his birth (Gal. 1:15).
      > Despite his claims that the body of Christ was an egalitarian order of
      > believers, in contrast to the hierarchal, social stratification found in the
      > social and political orders of the world (Gal 3:27f.), Paul operated as an
      > elitist, hierarchal leader to his congregations, congregations which he
      > viewed as being largely composed of the non-elite of the world (cf. I Cor.
      > 1:26-28). Thus in his hierarchal and patriarchal stance toward his
      > congregations, he addressed them as his children and called himself their
      > father (I Cor. 4:14ff.; Gal. 4:19; I Thess. 2:11).). They were his
      > creation, his workmanship (I Cor. 9:1). And part of that workmanship was
      > his shaping them, as their elite leader, according to his view of the Church
      > 's "great tradition," the great tradition of "the ways of Christ" which he
      > promulgated to all seekers and believers "everywhere in every church" ( I
      > Cor. 4:17). It was the individual congregation's departure from that great
      > tradition by choosing to follow the path of their own indigenous "little
      > tradition" that caused Paul such consternation. They forced him to use a
      > "heavy hand" to correct their deviant beliefs and behavior through recourse
      > to the power and authority of textually, a medium of power and control used
      > by the emperor, and the elite throughout the empire, to keep the non-elite
      > in line.
      > With respect to Paul's comment that he teaches the "ways of Christ"
      > everywhere. It is noteworthy that he does not say that he teaches the
      > teachings of Christ, or the teaches of Jesus, for that matter. Paul's
      > appears to studiously avoid referring to the orality of Jesus (or the acts
      > of Jesus), except on rare occasions (e.g., I Cor. 7:10), and only makes
      > passing allusions to sayings attributed to Jesus, for example his
      > hermeneutical use of blessings found in Q 6:20-21 in I Cor. 4:8. Paul
      > indicates no interest in the orality of Jesus or its transmission. He is
      > entirely focused upon his own orality and when it becomes challenged or
      > distorted, he draws upon the big gun of textuality to give his orality the
      > additional authority and power of the medium of textuality, a medium that is
      > inaccessible to the illiterate in his congregation and before which they
      > stand in awe of because of its culturally invested power and authority .
      > To return to the emperor analogy, Paul was strong on imitation, often
      > admonishing his churches to imitate him (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 12:1; Phil.
      > 3:17), and it appears that in one very important organizational and
      > administrative sense, he followed the model of the Roman emperors in
      > exercising administrative authority over their scattered empire. Paul
      > proceeded to use writing as a tool to maintain authority and power, as an
      > emperor did, in order to ensure coherence to his prescribed gospel in
      > matters of faith and practice and to ensure cohesiveness in the body politic
      > of his scattered churches. He gathered his elite retainers and despatched
      > them to his various congregations to bring his messages to them in his
      > absence, as well as to observe and report back to him how well they were
      > toeing his kerygmatic line (I Cor. 4:17f.; Phil. 2:19; I Thess. 3:1-7).
      > But when it came to critical matters about which he needed to deal directly
      > with the church, he chose the power and authority of the written word,
      > textuality, to exercise authority over the churches and to chastise them and
      > bring them back into line when they deviated from the path he had set for
      > them.
      > He used those letters, like an emperor would in promulgating decrees, to
      > chasen and threaten his largely illiterate non-elite flocks when they lapsed
      > and to warn them of his punishment (I Cor. 4:18_17; II Cor. 10:6; 13:2, 10)
      > if they did not obey him (Phil. 2:12), correct their errors, mend their ways
      > and return to be faithful imitators of himself (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 12:1;
      > Phil. 3:17). He used the power and authority of textuality to
      > excommunicate a member of one of his congregations for a scandalous moral
      > offense, and did so by detailing instructions on when and how such
      > excommunication should take place (I Cor. 5:1-5). He used the power and
      > authority of textuality to intercede on behalf of a community offender (II
      > Cor.2:5-8), and to castigate, condemn and pass judgment on what were to him
      > false and deceptive leaders who were undermining his authority over the
      > congregation ( II Cor. 10:7-12; 11:5, 12-15). He used the power and
      > authority of textuality to admonish leaders in a congregation to resolve
      > their differences (4:2) And, of course, he used the power and authority
      > of textuality to give advice and counsel to his various congregations on how
      > to conduct themselves in all matters of faith and practice, and often at a
      > congregation's behest (e.g., I Cor. 7:1ff., 25ff.; 8:1ff.; 12:1; I Thess.
      > 4:13).
      > That the textuality of his letters held for his congregations an usual power
      > and authority, that even his oral proclamation could not match, is suggested
      > by the way, according to Paul, his opponents categorize the textuality of
      > his letters over against the orality of his proclamation. Paul reports
      > his enemies belittling him by saying, "His letters are weighty and strong,
      > but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account" (II
      > Cor.10:20). They accused him of hiding behind the authority and power of
      > his textuality. In response to them Paul tries to bolster the authority
      > and power of his action when present with the community by equating it with
      > the power and authority they have experienced in his textuality:, namely,
      > "Let such people understand that what I say by letter [textuality] when
      > absent, we will do [with orality] when present" (II Cor. 10:11).
      > And Paul knew how to use the authority and power inherent in the medium of
      > textuality to his own advantage when he needed a textuality which had even
      > more power and authority than his own to persuade or correct certain
      > illiterate, non-elite Christians. I have reference to the times he cites
      > scripture, namely, the LXX. When Paul does quote LXX textuality he
      > invariably does so with the heavy hand of textual authority by introducing
      > it with the authoritative formula GEGRAPTAI ("it is written"). Paul uses
      > it thirty-three times (the formula only occurs sixty-seven times in the
      > whole NT), in the seven canonical letters considered authentically Pauline.
      > What is striking about the thirty-one times in which Paul draws upon the
      > formula is that twenty-five of his uses of the formula occur in two letters,
      > Romans and I Corinthians. He uses GEGRAPTAI sixteen times in Romans (1:17;
      > 2:24; 3:4, 10; 4:17; 8:36; 9:13,33; 10:15; 11:8, 26; 12:19; 14:11; 15:3, 9,
      > 21), evenly dispersed throughout the letter, and nine times in I Corinthians
      > (I Cor. 1:19, 31; 2:9; 3:19; 4:6; 9:9; 10:7; 14:21; 15:45)
      > Why is use of this authoritative formula for textuality and the use of LXX
      > textuality so concentrated in these two letters? My suggestion is that
      > with respect to first Corinthians, Paul uses LXX textuality, introduced with
      > the authoritative formula, GEGRAPTAI, to combat and counteract the power of
      > the SOPHIA orality of his pneumatic opponents in Corinth and the profound
      > influence their SOPHIA orality was having upon the Corinthians, as well as
      > to undergird his own orality now couched in the authority of the textuality
      > of his letter (see, particularly, I Cor. 1:19; 3:19; 4:6). My suggestion
      > for why Paul cites in Romans the textuality of the LXX, introduced as it is
      > with the authoritative formula GEGRAPTAI, is this. Unlike his other
      > letters to churches, Paul's letter to Rome is the only letter he writes to a
      > church which he had not himself founded. In writing them, he is
      > introducing his own kerygmatic view of the faith. To underscore the
      > strength of his arguments for his point of view, arguments which are
      > addressed, among others, to the Jewish Christian members of the
      > congregation, Paul cannot build his case on the basis of the authority he
      > can claim for having founded the church in the first place, an authority he
      > could draw upon to be persuasive in his textuality addressed to the other
      > churches. So lacking that personal authority, which the other churches
      > had to recognize, Paul draws upon the authority of the textuality of the LXX
      > to back the kerymatic arguments he is making to the Roman community.
      > This discussion of Paul's use of textuality to enforce his own control over
      > the faith and practice of his congregations brings to mind two insightful
      > observations William Harris makes. First, with respect to the authority
      > and power attributed to textuality, as the way the gods in the ancient world
      > "were imagined as expressing their authority by means of the written word,"
      > Harris concluded: " What this means is that men who claimed religious
      > authority employed the reality or the image of the written word to enhance
      > their authority" (39). That is what I am stating Paul did. As one who
      > unmistakably "claimed religious authorty" Paul "employed the reality ... of
      > the written word to enhance" the authority of his orality.
      > Second, Harris observes that a novel direction in textuality took place as a
      > result of the Jesus movement. He expresses it this way, and I quote him in
      > part again: "It is Christian writings which suggest a coming change in the
      > religious importance of the written word..... [S]ome Christians began early
      > on to attach special importance to letters and other pious writings.
      > Something of the kind was happening by the 50s and 60s, for otherwise the
      > letters of Paul would probably not have survived. The forcefulness of his
      > writing may in fact have contributed to the new development.... The written
      > word thus came to exercise religious power in a somewhat novel way (221)."
      > Now, the only extant letters we from a Christian in the 50s and 60s are the
      > letters Paul. It is thus with the Pauline correspondence, I submit, that
      > textuality in the Jesus movement took on a sacred "aura," as almost a quasi
      > "Torah." We know that Paul intended his letters to be read when the
      > communities gathered together for worship (see, e.g., Wayne Meeks, _The
      > First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul_, 143).
      > Certainly, in those worship services the scripture in the form of the
      > textuality of the LXX must have been read. To have Paul's letters read in
      > the same worship context as the LXX, I submit, lent to the textuality of the
      > Pauline letters a solemnity, to use Harris' term, that imbued to them the
      > power and authority Paul intended his textuality to have as it was orally
      > performed in worship services. As Harris notes, it is unlikely that the
      > letters of Paul would have survived and been collected by later Paulinists,
      > if his textuality was not considered to have religious power. And the
      > purpose of this power, as Harris notes, is to effect conservative control on
      > the excesses of orality by creating fixed texts that bridle the plastic,
      > eclectic and additive character of orality.
      > Now when I state the latter I am not suggesting that there is a radical
      > distinction between orality and textuality.. Textuality and orality are
      > something like matter and energy. They are not separate entities but
      > different phases of the same phenomenon. So it is with orality and
      > textuality. They are different expression of the same phenomenon, human
      > communication. Textuality is orality expressed through a more stable and
      > fixed medium, lacks the plasticity of orally and resists the openness of
      > orality to additives. Textuality becomes orality when it is orally
      > performed. In this regard Harris contends that "[a]lmost any genre of
      > writing might be presented in oral form" (125).
      > The medium of textuality in the ancient world gave added power and authority
      > to orality, even a religious or sacred character when the orality expressed
      > through that medium was perceived, particularly, by the illiterate,
      > non-elite, as divinely imparted. But textuality also has a conservative,
      > controlling effect upon orality when it is couched in that medium. As
      > Harris submits, "It [textuality] might, for instance, be thought to have
      > assisted conservatism in religion" (336). That was the effect that Paul
      > sought to achieve, in my estimation. He tried to reign in the tendency of
      > his various communities to engage in "free lance" orality to reshape their
      > understandings of the faith with the latest inspirations in order to solve
      > existential crises of faith. For Paul, such reformulations only led to
      > distortions and aberrant representations of the faith he had imparted to
      > them.
      > Unfortunately, already this essay is of such length that I cannot treat here
      > with the care of argumentation that is necessary each of the case studies
      > you cite from the Synoptic tradition in support of your thesis. I find the
      > texts speak often to different issues than you do. Maybe at some other time
      > if you are interested I can indicate how I see the issues in the texts
      > differently. But as for now, I do not find that Paul, who is the only first
      > generation Christian voice that comments on the way oral tradition was
      > handled in the early church, would support the three stated tenets of your
      > thesis: namely "the likelihood that (1) an [early Christian] community would
      > be concerned enough to exercise some control over its traditions; (2) the
      > degree of control exercised would vary both in regard to form and in regard
      > to the relative importance of the tradition for its own identity; and (3)
      > the element in the story regarded as its core or key to its meaning would be
      > its most firmly fixed elements. From my analysis of Paul's experience
      > with the Galatians and Corinthians, I am left with the inescapable
      > conclusion that those two communities failed Paul on at least the first
      > count, and likely all three.
      > I want to thank you for your patience in reading this long essay. Should
      > you wish to respond to any part of it, I would be very appreciative for your
      > time and interest in doing so.
      > Best regards,
      > Ted Weeden
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