Oral Fixation and New Testament Studies? ‘Orality’, ‘Performance’ and Reading Texts in Early Christianity
You owe it to yourself to read this essay by Larry Hurtado- New Testament Studies, 60, pp 321-340. It is supremely interesting. It begins like this:
In recent decades, emphasising the ‘orality/aurality’ of the Roman world, some scholars have asserted that in early Christian circles texts were ‘performed’, not ‘read’ (and could not have been read), likening this action to descriptions of oratorical delivery of speeches (from memory) or theatrical performance. It has even been suggested that some texts, particularly the Gospel of Mark, were composed in ‘performance’, and not through an author working up a text in written form. These claims seem to be based on numerous oversimplifications (and so distortions) of relevant historical matters, however, and also involve a failure to take account of the full range of relevant data about the use of texts in early Christianity and the wider Roman-era setting.