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Memory, Performance, and the Sayings of Jesus

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Much has been made in recent years of the oral/aural context in which the early Jesus movement was born, as both a needed adjustment to earlier models for understanding early Jesus tradition based principally on models of literary transmission and often as a surreptitious means to insinuate the faithfulness of oral transmission. This paper begins by reviewing recent memory studies, both cognitive and anthropological, and then assesses the proposals of Kenneth Bailey and James D.G. Dunn of faithful oral transmission of Jesus materials. It concludes with a test case, Q 6.37, concluding that even in the case of the stable transmission of aphorisms, there is profound and significant transformation of meaning, due to the pressures exerted by the transmissional context.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada,


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