The Oral Ethos of the Early Church: Speaking, Writing, and the Gospel of Mark (Biblical Performance Criticism)

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9781606088524: The Oral Ethos of the Early Church: Speaking, Writing, and the Gospel of Mark (Biblical Performance Criticism)

To experience the gospel message as first-century people heard it is to move into an oral world, one with very little reliance on manuscripts. The essays in this book explore this oral world and the Gospel of Mark within it. They demonstrate the oral style of Mark's gospel, which suggests that it was composed orally, transmitted orally in its entirety by literate and nonliterate storytellers, and survived to become part of the canon only because it was widely known orally. Women's storytelling also thrived during the first centuries of Christianity. With the transition to manuscript authority beginning in the middle of the second century, women's voices were often minimized, trivialized, or completely omitted in written versions. Further, when the Gospel of Mark was one of four written Gospels these voices were quickly ignored. An ancient audience hearing Mark performed, however, enjoyed a vibrant experience of the gospel message and its urgent call to follow.

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Joanna Dewey is Harvey H. Guthrie Jr. Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has written numerous articles and is the author of Markan Public Debate (1980) and a coauthor of Mark as Story (3rd ed, 2012).

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Dewey's latest collection helpfully brings together key articles from a leading voice in the study of the Bible in its ancient media context. Taken together, the essays summarize and illustrate foundational problems in the study of Scripture as a product and shaper of early Christian performances of Jesus tradition. An essential reference tool for scholars interested in media, memory, and Mark. --Tom Thatcher, Cincinnati Christian University

In these beautifully crafted essays, Joanna Dewey explores with clarity, rigor, and insight what it means to hear the texts of the New Testament as oral texts. I am especially pleased to see the inclusion of her essays on women and storytelling, an often neglected subject. . . . This is essential reading for anyone interested in the area of orality. --Holly Hearon, Christian Theological Seminary

Joanna Dewey's essays skillfully braid the strands of three scholarly approaches: narrative criticism, feminist interpretation, and orality studies, resulting in an engaging story of how New Testament texts, especially Mark's Gospel, came to be and an inviting reflection on how that context can enrich our interpretation today. --Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, Virginia Tech

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