Story as History--History as Story: The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History

Story as History--History as Story: The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History

Story as History--History as Story: The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History

Story as History--History as Story: The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History

Synopsis

Please note that this title is only available to customers in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. NO salesrights for Rest of World. Samuel Byrskog employs models from the interdisciplinary field of oral coupled with insights from cultural anthropology, in order to examine the interaction between the present and the past as the gospel tradition evolved. The gospels are the synthesis of history and story, intertwining the horizons of the past and of the present in their own right.

Excerpt

In 1961 Birger Gerhardsson published his standard work Memory and Manuscript on how the Torah was handed down in its written and, above all, its oral form in pharisaic-rabbinic Judaism, and the consequences of this for the transmission of the gospel tradition in early Christianity. This work criticized the form criticism that had originated in Germany at the end of the first world war and which was rooted in the older folkloristic research influenced by romanticism. in his book Gerhardsson contests the view that had prevailed for decades: an anonymous, collective and at the same time uninhibitedly “creative” transmission of the Jesus tradition, most of which emerged as later creations of the communities. This in my opinion revolutionary work did not at that time receive the attention it deserved. It was reprinted in 1964, and in the same year Gerhardsson published a small study, Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity. This important study was out of print for almost 35 years, until W. B. Eerdmans and Dove Booksellers published a reprint of both studies a little over a year ago, in 1998. the scholarship can still learn much from this superb work.

Having received a Humboldt research fellowship in Tübingen, a highly talented Gerhardsson student, Samuel Byrskog, who has already written an excellent monograph on Matthew (Jesus the Only Teacher. Didactic Authority and Transmission in Ancient Israel, Ancient Judaism and the Matthean Community [Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1994]), has now taken on his teacher's major subject, working from a completely different angle and at the same time in another area. He examines very thoroughly the question of the significance of eyewitness accounts and oral tradition in the ancient literature, a subject which has been severely neglected in New Testament research up to now. Byrskog deals in particular with this subject as it relates to Greek and Roman historians, studying it against the background of “oral history”, which has become an independent branch of research in the last decades, and, linked closely to this, against the background of narrative research, which is not confined strictly to narrative fiction, as many people believe. in this un-

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