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Geography and the rapid growth of Christianity

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  • Ron Price
    Prof. Dunn, You claim that Bailey s research on Middle East village life is relevant to NT traditions. But surely the considerable geographical distances
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 22, 2001
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      Prof. Dunn,

      You claim that Bailey's research on Middle East village life is
      relevant to NT traditions.
      But surely the considerable geographical distances between the
      synoptic authors and the origin of their traditions, together with the
      diluting effect of the rapid growth of early Christianity, indicate an
      entirely different scenario.

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK
    • Daniel Grolin
      Dear Prof. Dunn, Thank you for putting aside the time to hold this seminar. Your paper raises some excellent points that have certainly made me think about the
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 22, 2001
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        Dear Prof. Dunn,

        Thank you for putting aside the time to hold this seminar. Your paper
        raises some excellent points that have certainly made me think about the
        certainty with which the extent of Q can be determined.

        There are two things, however, that seem problematic to me.

        The first is what you seem to propose in the section "Tradition
        sequences". You propose that even in the oral stage there was a process of
        uniting related sayings. One of the things that Kelber makes much of is
        that collection is a function of textuality. The Gospels aren't the
        natural end product of the collection of saying and narrative, but the
        culmination of textuality.

        I think there is good reason to accept this thesis. When does one recite a
        tradition? One recites it when occasion requires it. Let us look at the
        cluster in Mark 2:18ff which you propose is one oral unit. Let us say that
        a young Christian has been confronted by a neighbour Jew with the fact
        that he is not fasting as Jews are required to. The young man goes to the
        community elder and asks "Why are we not fasting?" The elder then brings
        out a saying from his store of Jesus "teachings" (as you suggest we should
        call them). Then he says: "Jesus explained this. He is like a bridegroom
        and surely the bridegroom attendants can not fast while the bridegroom is
        still with them."

        This singular point will answer the young man's question, to continue with
        the mini parables would be superfluous. The mini parables seem to address
        a broad issue of the abrogation of old practices in a new era. (Old wine
        being a metaphor for the old practices and the new wine-cloth being the
        new Christian community). Let us consider another scenario where the
        problem is less specific. It is no longer just fasting but a wholesale
        break with Jewish practice. An entirely new line of argument is needed. It
        is not the presence of Jesus, but the incompatibility of the old with the
        new. What about the other saying about the old cloth and the new patch?
        Could they not have been connected? It is the same line of argument (i.e.
        usable in same context). But what would it add? The saying would be the
        conclusive argument in an oral performance. The elder would say: "How can
        you be surprised that we have discontinued the practices of the past? Is
        it not true what Jesus said: 'No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth onto
        an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear
        gets worse.'" In an oral interaction at this point the elder will check if
        the argument has convinced the young man. If it has there is no reason to
        go further and if it hasn't there is no reason to repeat the same
        argument. Also if the argument is not accepted the young man has
        essentially rejected the authority of Jesus which may suggest than an
        entirely different approach is required.

        What I am trying to illustrate is that recitation of tradition is
        occasional and that a conglomerate of sayings that might work in one
        situation probably would not work in another. In addition to which in oral
        recitation preponderance of quotes become strained. It is only in a
        literate society, that people proudly cite extensively. When we actually
        speak to people rather than at them (as actors on a stage) they cite,
        sometimes without reference to the authority, it becomes the climax and
        final argument.

        Another point raised by you is the one in the section "Oral tradition to
        written Gospel" in which you argue against the assumption "that Q, for
        example, somehow defines its community: it is a 'Q community' in the
        sense that the Q material is its only Jesus tradition; it holds to this
        material in distinction from (defiance of?) other communities who are
        similarly defined by their document (the logic would be to suppose a
        'passion narrative' community, a miracles-source community, and then a
        Mark community, etc.)."

        However, I would say that if we accept that oral tradition is regulated
        (though not systematically) as I see you proposing does it not also follow
        that: "Neither oral composition nor oral transmission can escape the
        influence of audience and social circumstances." (Kelber 15) There is
        another and perhaps more significant reason why audience can censor the
        performer. While any author can write in opposition to dominant social
        values in his community, an orator is dependent on his audience for the
        transmission of what he is saying. If it disagrees and is not accepted by
        the community the community will not repeat it and the transmission will
        fail to take place.

        Looking forward to your response to this and other comments and questions
        raised at this seminar.

        Regards,

        Daniel Grolin
      • Meta Dunn
        Dear Ron Price, Thanks for your question. I m not sure what assumptions you are making about the places of origin of the Gospels. E.g., Q is now usually
        Message 3 of 11 , Apr 23, 2001
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          Dear Ron Price,
          Thanks for your question.
          I'm not sure what assumptions you are making about the places of
          origin of the Gospels. E.g., Q is now usually related to Galilee and
          Matthew to
          Syria, where there were large Jewish communities. And anyway, my main
          focus is on the earlier part of the oral traditioning process - during
          Jesus'
          mission, and in the earliest days of the Palestinian church and the
          transition to a Greek-language tradition. My point is that most of the
          traditions were very likely established in subject and core during that
          early period - as illustrated by the pre-Easter character of much the
          tradition (Schurmann) and its 'local colouring' (Theissen) - and that it
          retained the stability thus established through the varied performances
          over the next few decades. In my view, the character of the Synoptic
          tradition both illustrates the nature of the traditioning process and
          confirms that what the Evangelists were able to draw on had retained the
          stability as well as illustrating the flexibility of the tradition.
          I'm also not clear what you mean by 'an entirely different scenario'.
          JDGD

          Ron Price wrote:

          > Prof. Dunn,
          >
          > You claim that Bailey's research on Middle East village life is
          > relevant to NT traditions.
          > But surely the considerable geographical distances between the
          > synoptic authors and the origin of their traditions, together with the
          > diluting effect of the rapid growth of early Christianity, indicate an
          > entirely different scenario.
          >
          >
          > Ron Price
          >
          > Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > J_D_G_DunnSeminar-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > To contact the List Owner, send an e-mail to:
          >
          > J. D_G_DunnSeminar-owner@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        • Meta Dunn
          Dear Daniel Grolin, Thanks for your questions; they are the sort which genuinely help forward a dialogue. In response to your first. The weakness of your
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 24, 2001
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            Dear Daniel Grolin,
            Thanks for your questions; they are the sort which genuinely help forward
            a dialogue.
            In response to your first. The weakness of your alternative scenario is
            the implied assumption that the sort of occasion you envisage is the only time
            Jesus tradition would be brought into play. But I have already referred to
            Moule's reminder of the various life-settings in which the tradition would be
            used and transmitted. As you will also have seen from the paper, the
            more/equally typical scene I envisage is that of regular congregational
            gatherings in which particularly (a) teacher(s) would be responsible for
            rehearsing some of the Jesus tradition. My guess, on the basis of 'clusters'
            like Mark 2.18ff., is that material was grouped for such occasions.
            As to your second question. I see performance as both respecting the
            stability of the tradition and varying its presentation in particular
            performance. I assume also that the tradition itself has had a formative
            effect on the community. So performace of tradition is not an act of pure
            creativity (we would have to talk further if you were thinking more of
            prophecy), and audience respect for the tradition will have beena factor in
            their response ('censor' is your words).
            I hope I am speaking to your concerns.
            JDGD

            Daniel Grolin wrote:

            > Dear Prof. Dunn,
            >
            > Thank you for putting aside the time to hold this seminar. Your paper
            > raises some excellent points that have certainly made me think about the
            > certainty with which the extent of Q can be determined.
            >
            > There are two things, however, that seem problematic to me.
            >
            > The first is what you seem to propose in the section "Tradition
            > sequences". You propose that even in the oral stage there was a process of
            > uniting related sayings. One of the things that Kelber makes much of is
            > that collection is a function of textuality. The Gospels aren't the
            > natural end product of the collection of saying and narrative, but the
            > culmination of textuality.
            >
            > I think there is good reason to accept this thesis. When does one recite a
            > tradition? One recites it when occasion requires it. Let us look at the
            > cluster in Mark 2:18ff which you propose is one oral unit. Let us say that
            > a young Christian has been confronted by a neighbour Jew with the fact
            > that he is not fasting as Jews are required to. The young man goes to the
            > community elder and asks "Why are we not fasting?" The elder then brings
            > out a saying from his store of Jesus "teachings" (as you suggest we should
            > call them). Then he says: "Jesus explained this. He is like a bridegroom
            > and surely the bridegroom attendants can not fast while the bridegroom is
            > still with them."
            >
            > This singular point will answer the young man's question, to continue with
            > the mini parables would be superfluous. The mini parables seem to address
            > a broad issue of the abrogation of old practices in a new era. (Old wine
            > being a metaphor for the old practices and the new wine-cloth being the
            > new Christian community). Let us consider another scenario where the
            > problem is less specific. It is no longer just fasting but a wholesale
            > break with Jewish practice. An entirely new line of argument is needed. It
            > is not the presence of Jesus, but the incompatibility of the old with the
            > new. What about the other saying about the old cloth and the new patch?
            > Could they not have been connected? It is the same line of argument (i.e.
            > usable in same context). But what would it add? The saying would be the
            > conclusive argument in an oral performance. The elder would say: "How can
            > you be surprised that we have discontinued the practices of the past? Is
            > it not true what Jesus said: 'No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth onto
            > an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear
            > gets worse.'" In an oral interaction at this point the elder will check if
            > the argument has convinced the young man. If it has there is no reason to
            > go further and if it hasn't there is no reason to repeat the same
            > argument. Also if the argument is not accepted the young man has
            > essentially rejected the authority of Jesus which may suggest than an
            > entirely different approach is required.
            >
            > What I am trying to illustrate is that recitation of tradition is
            > occasional and that a conglomerate of sayings that might work in one
            > situation probably would not work in another. In addition to which in oral
            > recitation preponderance of quotes become strained. It is only in a
            > literate society, that people proudly cite extensively. When we actually
            > speak to people rather than at them (as actors on a stage) they cite,
            > sometimes without reference to the authority, it becomes the climax and
            > final argument.
            >
            > Another point raised by you is the one in the section "Oral tradition to
            > written Gospel" in which you argue against the assumption "that Q, for
            > example, somehow defines its community: it is a 'Q community' in the
            > sense that the Q material is its only Jesus tradition; it holds to this
            > material in distinction from (defiance of?) other communities who are
            > similarly defined by their document (the logic would be to suppose a
            > 'passion narrative' community, a miracles-source community, and then a
            > Mark community, etc.)."
            >
            > However, I would say that if we accept that oral tradition is regulated
            > (though not systematically) as I see you proposing does it not also follow
            > that: "Neither oral composition nor oral transmission can escape the
            > influence of audience and social circumstances." (Kelber 15) There is
            > another and perhaps more significant reason why audience can censor the
            > performer. While any author can write in opposition to dominant social
            > values in his community, an orator is dependent on his audience for the
            > transmission of what he is saying. If it disagrees and is not accepted by
            > the community the community will not repeat it and the transmission will
            > fail to take place.
            >
            > Looking forward to your response to this and other comments and questions
            > raised at this seminar.
            >
            > Regards,
            >
            > Daniel Grolin
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > J_D_G_DunnSeminar-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > To contact the List Owner, send an e-mail to:
            >
            > J. D_G_DunnSeminar-owner@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          • Meta Dunn
            Dear Daniel Grolin, Thanks for your questions; they are the sort which genuinely help forward a dialogue. In response to your first. The weakness of your
            Message 5 of 11 , Apr 24, 2001
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              Dear Daniel Grolin,
              Thanks for your questions; they are the sort which genuinely help
              forward
              a dialogue.
              In response to your first. The weakness of your alternative
              scenario is
              the implied assumption that the sort of occasion you envisage is the
              only time
              Jesus tradition would be brought into play. But I have already
              referred to
              Moule's reminder of the various life-settings in which the tradition
              would be
              used and transmitted. As you will also have seen from the paper, the
              more/equally typical scene I envisage is that of regular congregational
              gatherings in which particularly (a) teacher(s) would be responsible for
              rehearsing some of the Jesus tradition. My guess, on the basis of
              'clusters'
              like Mark 2.18ff., is that material was grouped for such occasions.
              As to your second question. I see performance as both respecting
              the
              stability of the tradition and varying its presentation in particular
              performance. I assume also that the tradition itself has had a
              formative
              effect on the community. So performace of tradition is not an act of
              pure
              creativity (we would have to talk further if you were thinking more of
              prophecy), and audience respect for the tradition will have beena factor
              in
              their response ('censor' is your words).
              I hope I am speaking to your concerns.
              JDGD

              Daniel Grolin wrote:

              > Dear Prof. Dunn,
              >
              > Thank you for putting aside the time to hold this seminar. Your paper
              > raises some excellent points that have certainly made me think about the
              > certainty with which the extent of Q can be determined.
              >
              > There are two things, however, that seem problematic to me.
              >
              > The first is what you seem to propose in the section "Tradition
              > sequences". You propose that even in the oral stage there was a process of
              > uniting related sayings. One of the things that Kelber makes much of is
              > that collection is a function of textuality. The Gospels aren't the
              > natural end product of the collection of saying and narrative, but the
              > culmination of textuality.
              >
              > I think there is good reason to accept this thesis. When does one recite a
              > tradition? One recites it when occasion requires it. Let us look at the
              > cluster in Mark 2:18ff which you propose is one oral unit. Let us say that
              > a young Christian has been confronted by a neighbour Jew with the fact
              > that he is not fasting as Jews are required to. The young man goes to the
              > community elder and asks "Why are we not fasting?" The elder then brings
              > out a saying from his store of Jesus "teachings" (as you suggest we should
              > call them). Then he says: "Jesus explained this. He is like a bridegroom
              > and surely the bridegroom attendants can not fast while the bridegroom is
              > still with them."
              >
              > This singular point will answer the young man's question, to continue with
              > the mini parables would be superfluous. The mini parables seem to address
              > a broad issue of the abrogation of old practices in a new era. (Old wine
              > being a metaphor for the old practices and the new wine-cloth being the
              > new Christian community). Let us consider another scenario where the
              > problem is less specific. It is no longer just fasting but a wholesale
              > break with Jewish practice. An entirely new line of argument is needed. It
              > is not the presence of Jesus, but the incompatibility of the old with the
              > new. What about the other saying about the old cloth and the new patch?
              > Could they not have been connected? It is the same line of argument (i.e.
              > usable in same context). But what would it add? The saying would be the
              > conclusive argument in an oral performance. The elder would say: "How can
              > you be surprised that we have discontinued the practices of the past? Is
              > it not true what Jesus said: 'No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth onto
              > an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear
              > gets worse.'" In an oral interaction at this point the elder will check if
              > the argument has convinced the young man. If it has there is no reason to
              > go further and if it hasn't there is no reason to repeat the same
              > argument. Also if the argument is not accepted the young man has
              > essentially rejected the authority of Jesus which may suggest than an
              > entirely different approach is required.
              >
              > What I am trying to illustrate is that recitation of tradition is
              > occasional and that a conglomerate of sayings that might work in one
              > situation probably would not work in another. In addition to which in oral
              > recitation preponderance of quotes become strained. It is only in a
              > literate society, that people proudly cite extensively. When we actually
              > speak to people rather than at them (as actors on a stage) they cite,
              > sometimes without reference to the authority, it becomes the climax and
              > final argument.
              >
              > Another point raised by you is the one in the section "Oral tradition to
              > written Gospel" in which you argue against the assumption "that Q, for
              > example, somehow defines its community: it is a 'Q community' in the
              > sense that the Q material is its only Jesus tradition; it holds to this
              > material in distinction from (defiance of?) other communities who are
              > similarly defined by their document (the logic would be to suppose a
              > 'passion narrative' community, a miracles-source community, and then a
              > Mark community, etc.)."
              >
              > However, I would say that if we accept that oral tradition is regulated
              > (though not systematically) as I see you proposing does it not also follow
              > that: "Neither oral composition nor oral transmission can escape the
              > influence of audience and social circumstances." (Kelber 15) There is
              > another and perhaps more significant reason why audience can censor the
              > performer. While any author can write in opposition to dominant social
              > values in his community, an orator is dependent on his audience for the
              > transmission of what he is saying. If it disagrees and is not accepted by
              > the community the community will not repeat it and the transmission will
              > fail to take place.
              >
              > Looking forward to your response to this and other comments and questions
              > raised at this seminar.
              >
              > Regards,
              >
              > Daniel Grolin
              >
              > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > J_D_G_DunnSeminar-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >
              > To contact the List Owner, send an e-mail to:
              >
              > J. D_G_DunnSeminar-owner@yahoogroups.com
              >
              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            • Ron Price
              Dear Prof. Dunn, Many thanks for your reply to my question. Please excuse the delay in following it up. ... I had in mind primarily the traditional view, to
              Message 6 of 11 , Apr 27, 2001
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                Dear Prof. Dunn,

                Many thanks for your reply to my question. Please excuse the delay in
                following it up.

                > I'm not sure what assumptions you are making about the places of
                >origin of the Gospels. E.g., Q is now usually related to Galilee and
                >Matthew to
                >Syria, where there were large Jewish communities.

                I had in mind primarily the traditional view, to which I still adhere,
                that Mark (which I take to be the earliest testimony to the details of
                the life of Jesus) was written in Rome, over 2000 km. from the scenes of
                Jesus' ministry and crucifixion.

                > ....... And anyway, my main
                >focus is on the earlier part of the oral traditioning process - during
                >Jesus'
                >mission, and in the earliest days of the Palestinian church and the
                >transition to a Greek-language tradition.

                I wondered if you would reply along these lines. This looks fine for
                the oral tradition behind the admittedly early written sayings source.
                But it appears to leave the case for reliable transmission of oral
                tradition to the later synoptic gospels (Matthew ca. 80 CE, Luke ca. 90
                CE) somewhat vulnerable, on the basis that a chain is as strong as its
                weakest link.

                >I'm also not clear what you mean by 'an entirely different scenario'.

                My apologies for not making myself clear. What I am suggesting is that
                the controls in "controlled oral tradition" would not have been very
                effective in a geographically diverse and rapidly expanding movement.
                For in this scenario, some traditions would have reached a community via
                a single missionary. Paul's use of "I" in "what I also delivered to you"
                (1 Cor 11:23) and "I delivered to you as of first importance" (1 Cor
                15:3) seems to bear this out. In Corinth, over 1000 km. from Judaea and
                Galilee, ca. 55 CE, few if any people would have been in a position to
                challenge or "control" Paul's testimony. If Paul embellished a saying
                about the fruit of the vine into the establishment of a Christian rite
                as Prof. Maccoby appears to be suggesting, would you not agree that it
                could only have been refuted if an authoritative member of the Twelve
                happened to visit Corinth before the story got established and spread to
                other churches?

                Ron Price

                Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                e-mail: ron.price@...
              • Meta Dunn
                Dear Ron, Thanks for the follow-up. My basic point is that the Synoptic tradition reflects the character of the oral traditioning process. So the indications
                Message 7 of 11 , Apr 28, 2001
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                  Dear Ron,
                  Thanks for the follow-up.
                  My basic point is that the Synoptic tradition reflects the character of
                  the oral traditioning process. So the indications of stability in the
                  transmission process which the Synoptics provide imply the same stability and
                  continuity from the early oral phase through the written material to the
                  Gospels proper.
                  As to distance, two points. Paul is able to assume knowledge of a good
                  deal of traditional material; this is clear from Romans, written to (a)
                  church(es) he had never visited. That implies confidence that such
                  traditions, Jesus tradition, kerygmatic tradition, church tradition were
                  being provided to churches when they were established - a key apostolic
                  role. Second, Paul's letter give good evidence of regular communication
                  among the churches, including the churches of Judea and those of the
                  diaspora.
                  Of course some Jewish-Christian missionaries questioned Paul's 'spin' on
                  the gospel - but it was his spin, not the gospel itself (if Gal 2.1-10 and 1
                  Cor. 15.1ff is any indication). And Paul was able to allude to Jesus
                  tradition, and to do so consistently without arguing the point, presumably
                  because the allusions were generally recognized by all - opponents as well!
                  Taken together I think we can see good reason for concluding that the
                  Synoptic-type tradition was both continuous with the earliest traditioning
                  process and was widespread through the churches.
                  JDGD

                  Ron Price wrote:

                  > Dear Prof. Dunn,
                  >
                  > Many thanks for your reply to my question. Please excuse the delay in
                  > following it up.
                  >
                  > > I'm not sure what assumptions you are making about the places of
                  > >origin of the Gospels. E.g., Q is now usually related to Galilee and
                  > >Matthew to
                  > >Syria, where there were large Jewish communities.
                  >
                  > I had in mind primarily the traditional view, to which I still adhere,
                  > that Mark (which I take to be the earliest testimony to the details of
                  > the life of Jesus) was written in Rome, over 2000 km. from the scenes of
                  > Jesus' ministry and crucifixion.
                  >
                  > > ....... And anyway, my main
                  > >focus is on the earlier part of the oral traditioning process - during
                  > >Jesus'
                  > >mission, and in the earliest days of the Palestinian church and the
                  > >transition to a Greek-language tradition.
                  >
                  > I wondered if you would reply along these lines. This looks fine for
                  > the oral tradition behind the admittedly early written sayings source.
                  > But it appears to leave the case for reliable transmission of oral
                  > tradition to the later synoptic gospels (Matthew ca. 80 CE, Luke ca. 90
                  > CE) somewhat vulnerable, on the basis that a chain is as strong as its
                  > weakest link.
                  >
                  > >I'm also not clear what you mean by 'an entirely different scenario'.
                  >
                  > My apologies for not making myself clear. What I am suggesting is that
                  > the controls in "controlled oral tradition" would not have been very
                  > effective in a geographically diverse and rapidly expanding movement.
                  > For in this scenario, some traditions would have reached a community via
                  > a single missionary. Paul's use of "I" in "what I also delivered to you"
                  > (1 Cor 11:23) and "I delivered to you as of first importance" (1 Cor
                  > 15:3) seems to bear this out. In Corinth, over 1000 km. from Judaea and
                  > Galilee, ca. 55 CE, few if any people would have been in a position to
                  > challenge or "control" Paul's testimony. If Paul embellished a saying
                  > about the fruit of the vine into the establishment of a Christian rite
                  > as Prof. Maccoby appears to be suggesting, would you not agree that it
                  > could only have been refuted if an authoritative member of the Twelve
                  > happened to visit Corinth before the story got established and spread to
                  > other churches?
                  >
                  > Ron Price
                  >
                  > Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK
                  >
                  > e-mail: ron.price@...
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  > J_D_G_DunnSeminar-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  > To contact the List Owner, send an e-mail to:
                  >
                  > J. D_G_DunnSeminar-owner@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                • Daniel Grolin
                  Dear Prof. Dunn, Since Jeffrey has encouraged more posts I will throw caution to the wind and write a second post. In response to my issue with an oral
                  Message 8 of 11 , Apr 29, 2001
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                    Dear Prof. Dunn,

                    Since Jeffrey has encouraged more posts I will throw caution to the wind
                    and write a second post.

                    In response to my issue with an oral collection you stated:

                    <The weakness of your alternative scenario is the implied assumption that
                    the sort of occasion you envisage is the only time Jesus tradition would
                    be brought into play. But I have already referred to Moule's reminder of
                    the various life-settings in which the tradition would be used and
                    transmitted. As you will also have seen from the paper, the more/equally
                    typical scene I envisage is that of regular congregational gatherings in
                    which particularly (a) teacher(s) would be responsible for rehearsing some
                    of the Jesus tradition. My guess, on the basis of 'clusters' like Mark
                    2.18ff., is that material was grouped for such occasions.>

                    I looked through the paper and found very little material on Moule's
                    "various life-settings in which the tradition would be used and
                    transmitted". I can accept the possibility of collection of oral tradition
                    in a teaching situation. That is precisely what Birger Gerhardsson
                    proposes. The situation I proposed will work with a single recitation
                    because of its "singleness" (for lack of a better word). To recollect is a
                    process of reversal. If I were the young Christian man who had asked about
                    fasting or had been present when he had asked the question, the question
                    itself would become an important part of the chain of recollection. Next I
                    would recollect the solution or the interpretation of the saying. I would
                    remember that the reason we don't fast is because that my community is so
                    blissful about Jesus' presence that it cannot fast. How did it go? Jesus
                    was like the bridegroom and we were like his bridegroom friends. And how
                    can the bridegroom's friends fast when he was with them?

                    A scenario as suggested by Gerhardsson has repetition as a means of
                    wresting the saying from a particular context and drilling it into an oral
                    textuality. In this mode of learning collection becomes possible.

                    If a teacher recites two sayings, I would need some reason to keep these
                    two sayings together, they would need to relate to each other in my mind,
                    in the way I understood them. Otherwise there will merely be two unrelated
                    interpretations and no "glue". The two sayings can not have the exact same
                    interpretation and be unpacked into their unique formulations.

                    I don't know what your teaching experiences are, but if you can get your
                    pupils to recollect sayings that they don't know (have not read before),
                    which are unrelated after a week then your experience is very different
                    from mine. My own experiment included both a parable (of my own devising)
                    a small aphorism and a paragraph from a Gnostic text (which I was certain
                    was unknown to my pupils). Overall the result was unimpressive, but not at
                    all surprising. The two first text were recoverable, the third wasn't. The
                    variations on the two first sayings illustrated the process that I
                    outlined above, the sayings were extracted from how the pupils had
                    understood the original sayings.

                    So what are you proposing? Is it repetition?

                    In response to my issue with oral reflection of the community you wrote:

                    <As to your second question. I see performance as both respecting the
                    stability of the tradition and varying its presentation in particular
                    performance. I assume also that the tradition itself has had a formative
                    effect on the community. So performace of tradition is not an act of
                    pure creativity (we would have to talk further if you were thinking more
                    of prophecy), and audience respect for the tradition will have beena
                    factor in their response ('censor' is your words).>

                    Agreed. The community does not only "censor" they also modify themselves
                    to accord with the tradition they respect. That is why the young Christian
                    man will chose to not fast despite pressures from the neighbour. Still
                    does that not mean that oral traditions are very descriptive of the
                    communities that transmit them? This most be so particularly if the oral
                    transmission is occasional or event triggered.

                    Regards,

                    Daniel
                  • Meta Dunn
                    Dear Daniel, Apologies for the delay in replying - I had server problems for 48 hours - but all seems OK now. True, I didn t make much of Moule; I pointed out
                    Message 9 of 11 , May 2 1:11 AM
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                      Dear Daniel,
                      Apologies for the delay in replying - I had server problems for 48 hours -
                      but all seems OK now.
                      True, I didn't make much of Moule; I pointed out that his concern was the
                      way the tradition became the Gospels; I will make more of the whole process
                      in a later phase of my work; just now I'm focusing on the beginning of the
                      process.
                      Your illustrations are fine, except (1) they envisage the process as a
                      more individual recollecting, whereas I emphasise the community dimension, 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? So, not
                      repetition, but teaching and story with elements of stability and variableness
                      such as we see in the Synoptics still to this day.
                      And yes, transmission would have included elaboration and change of
                      direction; we see that in points of detail, as well as in larger issues (Paul
                      and the divorce logion in 1 Cor 7, and the labourer worthy of his hire logion
                      in 1 Cor 9), and policy matters (mission to the Gentiles, despite Mt 10.5).
                      I think my 'model' takes all that in.
                      Thanks for continuing the dialogue.
                      Jimmy Dunn

                      Daniel Grolin wrote:

                      > Dear Prof. Dunn,
                      >
                      > Since Jeffrey has encouraged more posts I will throw caution to the wind
                      > and write a second post.
                      >
                      > In response to my issue with an oral collection you stated:
                      >
                      > <The weakness of your alternative scenario is the implied assumption that
                      > the sort of occasion you envisage is the only time Jesus tradition would
                      > be brought into play. But I have already referred to Moule's reminder of
                      > the various life-settings in which the tradition would be used and
                      > transmitted. As you will also have seen from the paper, the more/equally
                      > typical scene I envisage is that of regular congregational gatherings in
                      > which particularly (a) teacher(s) would be responsible for rehearsing some
                      > of the Jesus tradition. My guess, on the basis of 'clusters' like Mark
                      > 2.18ff., is that material was grouped for such occasions.>
                      >
                      > I looked through the paper and found very little material on Moule's
                      > "various life-settings in which the tradition would be used and
                      > transmitted". I can accept the possibility of collection of oral tradition
                      > in a teaching situation. That is precisely what Birger Gerhardsson
                      > proposes. The situation I proposed will work with a single recitation
                      > because of its "singleness" (for lack of a better word). To recollect is a
                      > process of reversal. If I were the young Christian man who had asked about
                      > fasting or had been present when he had asked the question, the question
                      > itself would become an important part of the chain of recollection. Next I
                      > would recollect the solution or the interpretation of the saying. I would
                      > remember that the reason we don't fast is because that my community is so
                      > blissful about Jesus' presence that it cannot fast. How did it go? Jesus
                      > was like the bridegroom and we were like his bridegroom friends. And how
                      > can the bridegroom's friends fast when he was with them?
                      >
                      > A scenario as suggested by Gerhardsson has repetition as a means of
                      > wresting the saying from a particular context and drilling it into an oral
                      > textuality. In this mode of learning collection becomes possible.
                      >
                      > If a teacher recites two sayings, I would need some reason to keep these
                      > two sayings together, they would need to relate to each other in my mind,
                      > in the way I understood them. Otherwise there will merely be two unrelated
                      > interpretations and no "glue". The two sayings can not have the exact same
                      > interpretation and be unpacked into their unique formulations.
                      >
                      > I don't know what your teaching experiences are, but if you can get your
                      > pupils to recollect sayings that they don't know (have not read before),
                      > which are unrelated after a week then your experience is very different
                      > from mine. My own experiment included both a parable (of my own devising)
                      > a small aphorism and a paragraph from a Gnostic text (which I was certain
                      > was unknown to my pupils). Overall the result was unimpressive, but not at
                      > all surprising. The two first text were recoverable, the third wasn't. The
                      > variations on the two first sayings illustrated the process that I
                      > outlined above, the sayings were extracted from how the pupils had
                      > understood the original sayings.
                      >
                      > So what are you proposing? Is it repetition?
                      >
                      > In response to my issue with oral reflection of the community you wrote:
                      >
                      > <As to your second question. I see performance as both respecting the
                      > stability of the tradition and varying its presentation in particular
                      > performance. I assume also that the tradition itself has had a formative
                      > effect on the community. So performace of tradition is not an act of
                      > pure creativity (we would have to talk further if you were thinking more
                      > of prophecy), and audience respect for the tradition will have beena
                      > factor in their response ('censor' is your words).>
                      >
                      > Agreed. The community does not only "censor" they also modify themselves
                      > to accord with the tradition they respect. That is why the young Christian
                      > man will chose to not fast despite pressures from the neighbour. Still
                      > does that not mean that oral traditions are very descriptive of the
                      > communities that transmit them? This most be so particularly if the oral
                      > transmission is occasional or event triggered.
                      >
                      > Regards,
                      >
                      > Daniel
                      >
                      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                      > J_D_G_DunnSeminar-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                      >
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                      >
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                    • Daniel Grolin
                      Dear Prof. Dunn, You wrote
                      Message 10 of 11 , May 3 1:27 PM
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                        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
                        dimension,>

                        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
                        traditions!).

                        <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
                        taught.

                        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.

                        Regards,

                        Daniel
                      • Meta Dunn
                        Dear Daniel, Apologies for the delay in replying - had to take a couple of days off on family business (including seeing my daughter in a tremendous
                        Message 11 of 11 , May 6 1:57 AM
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                          Dear Daniel, Apologies for the delay in replying - had to take a couple of
                          days
                          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.
                          Thanks again,
                          Jimmy Dunn

                          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
                          > dimension,>
                          >
                          > 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
                          > traditions!).
                          >
                          > <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
                          > taught.
                          >
                          > 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.
                          >
                          > Regards,
                          >
                          > Daniel
                          >
                          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
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                          >
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                          >
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