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[from Professor Dunn] The dialogue continues

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    (Forwarded from Professor Dunn) Dear Ted, Gosh, you really are fired up on this; how do you find the time to make such an extensive response? I fear I
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2002
      (Forwarded from Professor Dunn)

      Dear Ted,
      Gosh, you really are fired up on this; how do you find the time to
      make such an
      extensive response? I fear I haven't time enough to do your response
      due
      justice. But let me take up a few points.
      First, I apologise if you feel I have misrepresented your motivation
      in the
      whole discussion. What I was referring to is what Bob Schacht has
      highlighted more
      effectively - the requirement which you stipulate of a rigour of
      consistency and
      uniformity of evidence which would rule out almost any hypothesis that I
      am aware of
      (my own marginal note at the passages picked out by Bob comments, 'On
      the basis of
      such a strict criterion NO historical data could EVER give firm
      facts'). In my
      view such rigour also quite fails to appreciate the informal character
      of the
      process envisaged by Bailey - 'informal controlled', remember.
      Second, re the Hogg material. I've already indicated that Bailey
      accepts and
      regrets a degree of overstatement, precisely in reference to the point
      on which you
      savaged him so thoroughly in your first paper. Bailey also indicates
      that the Hogg
      traditions may be more complex than either his or Rena Hogg's retelling
      have allowed
      for. But I would have to leave any further clarification to Bailey
      himself on that
      point.
      In the light of your first paper I almost left out the brief
      paragraph on the
      point which I had put in my 'Jesus in Oral Memory' paper and the chapter
      from which
      it was abstracted. It is not essential to the case being made, by any
      means. And
      Bailey emphasises that his hypothesis is based primarily on his own
      experience.
      But I've left it in, with reference footnoted to your critique, since it
      has become
      an important issue in the debate sparked off by Bailey.
      Third, I note you cite Crossan again. But I question the relevance
      of his
      putative parallels, since they seem to be speaking (i) of individual and
      (ii) more
      casual recall, whereas Bailey is talking of community tradition, where
      stability is
      in direct proportion to the importance of the tradition to the
      community's
      identity. Quite different 'remembering', it seems to me.
      Fourth, you seem to think that all Bailey's anecdotes are all
      intended to
      demonstrate his 'informal controlled' thesis. I don't think that is
      quite how
      Bailey saw it when penning the articles. Several demonstrate different
      aspects of
      the character of an oral society. It is YOU who requires that they
      serve as proof
      for the 'informal controlled' thesis, and then criticizes them for
      failing to do
      so. And don't forget the evidence which Bailey sums up at several
      points apart
      from his 'anecdotes'.
      Fifth, I agree, of course, that Bailey's anecdotal data is hardly
      'hard
      scientific data', and made the point myself from the first. You may be
      interested
      to know that a postgraduate, Travis Derico (currently at St Andrews),
      hopes to do
      something to fill this gap and to test Bailey's thesis more
      'scientifically', if
      that is still possible.
      Sixth, on the 'eighth anecdote', I think you are still missing the
      point that
      Dagher's retelling would only really 'work' when audiences knew the
      traditional form
      and recognized that he had departed from it and why. To see this as
      undermining
      Bailey's thesis is another example of your rigorously unsympathetic
      reading.
      Seventh, same with the 'ninth anecdote'; I need refer you simply to
      Bob
      Schacht's mailing here too.
      A fascinating debate, and I'm grateful to you for taking such time
      and trouble
      over it. If you want to continue it when my book comes out (hopefully
      by November)
      I'll be glad to do so.
      With greetings from Durham and all good wishes,
      Jimmy Dunn


      Ted Weeden wrote:

      > Dear Jimmy,
      >
      > I am assuming that you have received my post-reply, "Bailey's Theory, Anecdotes
      > and the Burden
      > of Proof," to your response to the second part of my critique of Bailey's
      > theory. If not, please kindly let me know.
      >
      > Please also note that a correction needs to be made in one of my page references
      > to Bailey's _AJT_ article. Twice, at the beginning and the end of my reply, I
      > quote the following from Bailey's _AJT_ artice: "The storyteller [has] a certain
      > freedom
      > to tell the story in his own way as long as the central thrust of the story [is]
      > not changed. So here [is] continuity and fexibility. Not continuity and
      > change. The distinction is important. Continuity and change could mean that
      > the storyteller could change 15% of the story---any 15%. . . . " Each time I
      > introduce the quote by citing the page reference to the _AJT_ article as "_AJT
      > _, , 42." The proper page reference is _AJT_, 44.
      >
      > Thank you.
      >
      > Best regards,
      >
      > Ted
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