Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Before the Written Gospel There Was—What?

This came in today from Fortress:
Before the Written Gospel There Was—What?

MINNEAPOLIS (April 19, 2006)— Previous thinking regarding “oral tradition” imagined a one-way process of transmission, handing down the fairly intact textual chunks that would constitute what we know as the end result, the written Gospels.

That picture—and the implicit understanding of the Gospel writers as “editors”—has changed. The ground-breaking essays gathered in the newly-released volume, Performing the Gospel, present new insights into the fluidity of story in a cultural context of oral performance; into the power of cultural memory to transmit and shape community; and into the dramatically new picture of Mark’s Gospel that emerges from the results.

Contributors for Performing the Gospel include editors Richard A. Horsley, Jonathan A. Draper, and John Miles Foley, along with Martin Jaffee, Ellen Aitken, Holly Hearon, Vernon K. Robbins, Whitney Shiner, Jan Assmann, and Jens Schroeter.

Richard A. Horsley is Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Among his many books are Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel (2001), Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine (Fortress Press edition 1992), and Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (Fortress Press, 2003). He is editor of Christian Origins, Volume 1 of A People’s History of Christianity (Fortress Press, 2005).

Jonathan A. Draper is Professor of New Testament at the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and editor of The Didache in Modern Research (1997), The Eye of the Storm: Bishop John William Colenso and the Crisis of Biblical Interpretation (2004), Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Southern Africa (2004), and Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity (2004).

Together Draper and Horsley have written Whoever Hears You Hears Me: Prophets, Performance, and Tradition in Q (1999).

John Miles Foley, W.H. Byler Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, Curators’ Professor of Classical Studies and English, and founding Director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition and the Center for Research at the University of Missouri, Columbia, is a specialist in the world’s oral traditions, especially the ancient Greek, medieval English, and contemporary South Slavic traditions. Among his major publications, perhaps the most pertinent to biblical studies are Immanent Art (1991), The Singer of Tales in Performance (1995), and How To Read an Oral Poem (2002).

Performing the Gospel: Morality, Memory, and Mark

Format: Sewn Hardcover with Jacket, 6” x 9”, 224 pp

ISBN: 0-8006-3828-X

Publisher: Fortress Press
Price: $35.00
May 2006

To order Performing the Gospel please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at To request review copies (for media) or exam copies (for potential classroom use), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

1 comment:

boinky said...

Hmmm....they finally looked into how non literate cultures transmit stories, and how literate men took those stories and refined them into literature...
You might want to check Tolkien's essays on Beowulf, which is a written revision of oral tradition, and his ideas on mythology: how stories are created from oral history.