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extending the notion of "oral performance"

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  • Tony Prete
    My interest is not primarily in the formation of the Synoptics, but in the extent to which the process of oral performance might be applicable to the
    Message 1 of 3 , May 3 6:54 AM
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      My interest is not primarily in the formation of the Synoptics, but in the
      extent to which the process of "oral performance" might be applicable to
      the narrative traditions in the Old Testament. Applying to these traditions
      the characteristics that Prof. Dunn ascribes to the development of the
      Jesus tradition seems to shed new light on them, especially in the thorny
      area of reactive interpretation (when presenting academic insights to a
      non-academic group in a Bible study setting).

      To think of the ancient biblical stories as based on communal celebratory
      performances takes away some of the burden of facticity that people want to
      read into them. The same is true of seeing them as sharing the impact
      of the events they describe, rather than the details. In short, Prof.
      Dunn's description of the oral performances as being "...in the nature of
      sacred repetition in celebration and affirmation of a community's
      identity-forming tradition" (just before 3.2) seems to reflect the process
      behind the development of Israel's traditions as well.

      Of course, there are differences. What the early church did in decades, the
      Israelites did over centuries. And whereas the early church had the direct
      and concrete experience of Jesus to work with, the ancient Israelites--in
      my opinion--didn't have anything so tangible. For them, I think, reflection
      on apparently ordinary events led to awareness of Yahweh's involvement in
      those events, and they told about this awareness in a way that emphasized
      the involvement over the specifics of the event. I also think that, over
      time, they came to distill out of these experiences a collection of core
      convictions (e.g., in Exod. 34:6-7), which then influenced how they
      reflected on subsequent events and narrated subsequent experiences.

      Finally, I understand Prof. Dunn to be saying (in part) that the early
      church communities needed first to trust in the witness of visiting
      storytellers and accept the validity of what they were saying; only then
      could those communities filter the message through their own experiences
      and retell it in their own words. (The Didache, in its suggestions about
      visiting prophets, indicates that this trust was not always forthcoming--or
      even warranted). And this, too, seems to apply to the Old Testament: first
      we seek to grasp and appreciate the core convictions that the written
      narratives communicate (in a communal and celebratory way); only then can
      we create our own stories that celebrate the communal impact of these core
      convictions on our own lives.

      A professor of mine once explained that "The Bible is not the words God
      spoke; it is the words through which God speaks." If my application of
      what Prof. Dunn presented (and further explored in his responses to
      questions) is valid, he has provided additional impetus to focus on
      listening carefully for what God is saying through the OT narratives,
      before we jump in with our own comments and reactions.


      Anthony Prete
      Haddonfield, NJ USA

      Masters Candidate
      La Salle University
      Philadelphia, Pa.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Meta Dunn
      Dear Tony Prete, 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 2 of 3 , May 6 1:50 AM
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        Dear Tony Prete,
        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.
        Thanks for the message. Yes, I had in mind the parallel with
        Israel's
        celebration of its sacred tradition and think it throws light on the
        traditioning process in the Jesusbtradition.
        Several of the contributers seem to think primarily in terms of the
        initial
        evangelistic/church-founding part ofnthe process. That of course is
        important. But for me the norm would be more the established community
        celebrating in its regular gatherings the shared tradition. Perhaps we
        should
        distinguish three scenarios for analytic purposes.
        1) The church-founding/community-constituting preaching and teaching.
        I
        envisage this as a substantial process. Not just an evangelistic hit
        and run,
        leaving the new group with a few slogans of faith. But
        teaching/inducting
        into the Jesus tradition as part of the founding process itself -
        building the
        tradition-foundation of the new church. Alternatively expressed,
        making the
        community sufficiently familiar, in some detail, with the identifying
        story
        that they could identify themselves to themselves and others.
        2) The regular gatherings where those responsible within the community
        (elders/teachers) would teach again, or together they would
        consider/celebrate
        parts of the tradition for theis edification and instruction.
        3) Visits from other apostles/prophets;emissaries, where the means of
        testing
        the prophecies and gospel preached would be the foundationg
        teaching/tradition
        first given. Paul seems to appeal to this test procedure on several
        occasions.
        Thanks for the stimulus.
        JDGD

        Tony Prete wrote:

        > My interest is not primarily in the formation of the Synoptics, but in the
        > extent to which the process of "oral performance" might be applicable to
        > the narrative traditions in the Old Testament. Applying to these traditions
        > the characteristics that Prof. Dunn ascribes to the development of the
        > Jesus tradition seems to shed new light on them, especially in the thorny
        > area of reactive interpretation (when presenting academic insights to a
        > non-academic group in a Bible study setting).
        >
        > To think of the ancient biblical stories as based on communal celebratory
        > performances takes away some of the burden of facticity that people want to
        > read into them. The same is true of seeing them as sharing the impact
        > of the events they describe, rather than the details. In short, Prof.
        > Dunn's description of the oral performances as being "...in the nature of
        > sacred repetition in celebration and affirmation of a community's
        > identity-forming tradition" (just before 3.2) seems to reflect the process
        > behind the development of Israel's traditions as well.
        >
        > Of course, there are differences. What the early church did in decades, the
        > Israelites did over centuries. And whereas the early church had the direct
        > and concrete experience of Jesus to work with, the ancient Israelites--in
        > my opinion--didn't have anything so tangible. For them, I think, reflection
        > on apparently ordinary events led to awareness of Yahweh's involvement in
        > those events, and they told about this awareness in a way that emphasized
        > the involvement over the specifics of the event. I also think that, over
        > time, they came to distill out of these experiences a collection of core
        > convictions (e.g., in Exod. 34:6-7), which then influenced how they
        > reflected on subsequent events and narrated subsequent experiences.
        >
        > Finally, I understand Prof. Dunn to be saying (in part) that the early
        > church communities needed first to trust in the witness of visiting
        > storytellers and accept the validity of what they were saying; only then
        > could those communities filter the message through their own experiences
        > and retell it in their own words. (The Didache, in its suggestions about
        > visiting prophets, indicates that this trust was not always forthcoming--or
        > even warranted). And this, too, seems to apply to the Old Testament: first
        > we seek to grasp and appreciate the core convictions that the written
        > narratives communicate (in a communal and celebratory way); only then can
        > we create our own stories that celebrate the communal impact of these core
        > convictions on our own lives.
        >
        > A professor of mine once explained that "The Bible is not the words God
        > spoke; it is the words through which God speaks." If my application of
        > what Prof. Dunn presented (and further explored in his responses to
        > questions) is valid, he has provided additional impetus to focus on
        > listening carefully for what God is saying through the OT narratives,
        > before we jump in with our own comments and reactions.
        >
        > Anthony Prete
        > Haddonfield, NJ USA
        >
        > Masters Candidate
        > La Salle University
        > Philadelphia, Pa.
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        > 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 Tony Prete, Thanks for the message. Yes, I had in mind the parallel with Israel s celebration of its sacred tradition and think it throws light on the
        Message 3 of 3 , May 6 10:55 AM
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          Dear Tony Prete,

          Thanks for the message. Yes, I had in mind the parallel with
          Israel's
          celebration of its sacred tradition and think it throws light on the
          traditioning process in the Jesusbtradition.
          Several of the contributers seem to think primarily in terms of the
          initial
          evangelistic/church-founding part ofnthe process. That of course is
          important. But for me the norm would be more the established community
          celebrating in its regular gatherings the shared tradition. Perhaps we
          should
          distinguish three scenarios for analytic purposes.
          1) The church-founding/community-constituting preaching and teaching.
          I
          envisage this as a substantial process. Not just an evangelistic hit
          and run,
          leaving the new group with a few slogans of faith. But
          teaching/inducting
          into the Jesus tradition as part of the founding process itself -
          building the
          tradition-foundation of the new church. Alternatively expressed,
          making the
          community sufficiently familiar, in some detail, with the identifying
          story
          that they could identify themselves to themselves and others.
          2) The regular gatherings where those responsible within the community
          (elders/teachers) would teach again, or together they would
          consider/celebrate
          parts of the tradition for theis edification and instruction.
          3) Visits from other apostles/prophets;emissaries, where the means of
          testing
          the prophecies and gospel preached would be the foundationg
          teaching/tradition
          first given. Paul seems to appeal to this test procedure on several
          occasions.
          Thanks for the stimulus.
          JDGD

          Tony Prete wrote:

          > My interest is not primarily in the formation of the Synoptics, but in the
          > extent to which the process of "oral performance" might be applicable to
          > the narrative traditions in the Old Testament. Applying to these traditions
          > the characteristics that Prof. Dunn ascribes to the development of the
          > Jesus tradition seems to shed new light on them, especially in the thorny
          > area of reactive interpretation (when presenting academic insights to a
          > non-academic group in a Bible study setting).
          >
          > To think of the ancient biblical stories as based on communal celebratory
          > performances takes away some of the burden of facticity that people want to
          > read into them. The same is true of seeing them as sharing the impact
          > of the events they describe, rather than the details. In short, Prof.
          > Dunn's description of the oral performances as being "...in the nature of
          > sacred repetition in celebration and affirmation of a community's
          > identity-forming tradition" (just before 3.2) seems to reflect the process
          > behind the development of Israel's traditions as well.
          >
          > Of course, there are differences. What the early church did in decades, the
          > Israelites did over centuries. And whereas the early church had the direct
          > and concrete experience of Jesus to work with, the ancient Israelites--in
          > my opinion--didn't have anything so tangible. For them, I think, reflection
          > on apparently ordinary events led to awareness of Yahweh's involvement in
          > those events, and they told about this awareness in a way that emphasized
          > the involvement over the specifics of the event. I also think that, over
          > time, they came to distill out of these experiences a collection of core
          > convictions (e.g., in Exod. 34:6-7), which then influenced how they
          > reflected on subsequent events and narrated subsequent experiences.
          >
          > Finally, I understand Prof. Dunn to be saying (in part) that the early
          > church communities needed first to trust in the witness of visiting
          > storytellers and accept the validity of what they were saying; only then
          > could those communities filter the message through their own experiences
          > and retell it in their own words. (The Didache, in its suggestions about
          > visiting prophets, indicates that this trust was not always forthcoming--or
          > even warranted). And this, too, seems to apply to the Old Testament: first
          > we seek to grasp and appreciate the core convictions that the written
          > narratives communicate (in a communal and celebratory way); only then can
          > we create our own stories that celebrate the communal impact of these core
          > convictions on our own lives.
          >
          > A professor of mine once explained that "The Bible is not the words God
          > spoke; it is the words through which God speaks." If my application of
          > what Prof. Dunn presented (and further explored in his responses to
          > questions) is valid, he has provided additional impetus to focus on
          > listening carefully for what God is saying through the OT narratives,
          > before we jump in with our own comments and reactions.
          >
          > Anthony Prete
          > Haddonfield, NJ USA
          >
          > Masters Candidate
          > La Salle University
          > Philadelphia, Pa.
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          > 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/
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