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Re: [Synoptic-L] Bailey's Theory of Oral Tradition

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  • Peter M. Head
    Many thanks to Ted for doing this important hatchet job (and Mark for forwarding it to this list, not all of us can bother wading through every list!). As is
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 10, 2001
      Many thanks to Ted for doing this important hatchet job (and Mark for
      forwarding it to this list, not all of us can bother wading through every
      list!). As is obvious from the comments cited by Dunn and Wright the
      acceptance of Bailey's theory has more to do with perceived "fit" than any
      sort of critical investigation. He has been taken on trust as someone who
      had substantial experience "in the field". His field work, for whatever
      reason, could not be checked, but the results looked appetising so any
      doubts based on cultural distance or anecdotal argumentation could be
      overlooked. This now looks extremely embarrassing!



      At 10:06 AM 9/9/01 -0400, you wrote:
      >In a message dated 9/8/2001 10:11:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
      >weedent@... writes:
      ><< Kenneth Bailey's theory ... is fatally flawed. What follows is the
      > first of three lengthy essays articulating why, in my judgment, his theory
      > of informal controlled oral tradition is flawed. >>
      >I am grateful to Ted for bringing to the list's attention this recent
      >discussion of oral tradition out of the Middle East, and from Kenneth Bailey
      >in particular, of which I, at least, was previously unaware. I have read
      >Weeden's first article only hastily and so my own point or two of criticism
      >may be premature. It seems that Ted makes some valid individual points in
      >criticism of Bailey's claims, but I find strange the intensity of his
      >rebuttal taken as a whole. It almost seems that he is terrified that someone
      >might be innocently led, through exposure to Bailey's articles, toward a
      >fractionally more trusting stance with respect to the reliability of the
      >Gospel traditions about Jesus -- and that this would be a catastrophe. In
      >particular, Ted seems eager to point out that the stories told about Hogg in
      >his daughter Rena's account are less than fully historical, and are fully and
      >explicitly acknowledged to be such by his daughter herself. This is a good
      >point to make, and I think Ted is right in questioning why Bailey is silent
      >about this, but it does not seem to me to run as directly counter to the
      >point Bailey was trying to make as Ted seems to suggest. Bailey was speaking,
      >I think, of the relative fixity and reliability of early traditions about
      >Jesus in the course of oral transmission -- which is not exactly the same
      >thing as attempting to make the argument that these traditions are, or were,
      >fully historical, without mixture of legendary elements, etc. What is
      >"reliably" transmitted in the particular oral-transmission-setting Bailey
      >claims to be bringing for the first time to the attention of Scripture
      >scholars may well itself have inbuilt features from the start that would
      >distinguish the story as narrated from what actually happened in the real
      >life of Jesus. My own question to Bailey would have been about the extent to
      >which any of this actually has relevancy to our Gospels, and in particular to
      >Luke, a Gospel which I think is situated primarily within a tradition of
      >writing and its conventions, rather than in one of oral tradition. I hope I
      >have not misread Bailey or Weeden, but I am sure that I will be informed if I
      >Leonard Maluf
      >Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      >List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...

      Peter M. Head, PhD
      Research Fellow
      Tyndale House
      36 Selwyn Gardens Phone: (UK) 01223
      Cambridge, CB3 9BA Fax: (UK) 01223 566608

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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