Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bailey on Informal Controlled Oral Tradition

On Biblical Studies Kenneth Bailey’s article on Informal Controlled Oral Tradition is available to read.

Bailey disagrees with those who argue for memorization of the Jesus tradition (e.g. Gerhardsson) and those who opt for a fluid and flexible tradition that was susceptible to unsupervised alteration (Bultmann, Funk). Wright and Dunn both lean heavily on Bailey and his article is worth reading.

Mark Goodacre notes in his blog NT Gateway that Ted Weeden is planning to write a response to Bailey.

I have written my own musing in the recent issue of Westminster Theological Journal in a piece entitled: The Formation of the Gospels in the Setting of Early Christianity: The Jesus Tradition as Corporate Memory. There I argue for a modified version of Bailey’s thesis which is cojoined to Dunn’s theory of oral memory. I think Bailey’s model has great merit, but it is at best an analogy based on his experience rather than being a socio-anthropological model which can be easily transported into first century studies of oral tradition.

Keep also in mind another article I have coming out on an adjacent topic:

“The Purpose and Preservation of the Jesus Tradition: Moderate Evidence for a Conserving Force in its Transmission.” Bulletin of Biblical Research 15.2 (2005): 161-85.

Here’s an except from the BBR piece:

Developing a working hypothesis of how the Jesus tradition originated and was transmitted is fraught with significant problems. Indeed, the gap in our historical knowledge about the precise details of the transmission of the Jesus tradition is roughly analogous to those medieval ocean maps which marked uncharted regions as, “And here, there be dragons!” We simply cannot know with any degree of certainty what is out there beyond and before the Gospels. E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies comment, “We are left with questions which we cannot precisely answer: how was the material transmitted? Why were the diverse types either preserved or created?”


Alan S. Bandy said...

I cannot wait to read your articles, although Jesus research is not my specialty I have read a number of recent works on the historical Jesus and am keenly interested in the subject.

Michael W. Kruse said...

I just found your blog surfing for Kenneth Bailey posts. I have only had time to briefly look through it. I will certainly be back!

Currently, I am doing a lengthy series of posts on Kenneth Bailey's work regarding Luke 15. I haven't indexed yet but the first post is:

(I had to break this link in two. Otherwise it won't fit.)

Anyway I am pleased to find your blog and I will look forward to more indepth reading.