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Performing the Gospel: Orality, Memory, and Mark
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Performing the Gospel: Orality, Memory, and Mark

by , ,

Fortress Press 2011

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Before the written Gospel there was—what? 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 groundbreaking work gathered in this volume presents 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.

This book is organized around the three central foci in this discipline—narrative, orality and literacy, and memory.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Save more when you purchase this book as part of the Fortress Press Studies in Mark collection.

Key Features

  • Explores the cultural context of oral performance
  • Studies the Gospel of Mark as narrative
  • Analyzes the historical and cultural contexts surrounding Mark’s composition


  • “The Implications of Orality for Studies of the Biblical Text” by Holly E. Hearon
  • “Gender and Otherness in Rabbinic Oral Culture: On Gentiles, Undisciplined Jews, and Their Women” by Martin S. Jaffee
  • “Many Voices, One Script: The Prophecies of George Khambule” by Jonathan A. Draper
  • “Form as a Mnemonic Device: Cultural Texts and Cultural Memory” by Jan Assmann
  • “Memory in Oral Tradition” by John Miles Foley
  • “Tradition in the Mouth of the Hero: Jesus as an Interpreter of Scripture” by Ellen Bradshaw Aitken
  • “Jesus and the Canon: The Early Jesus Traditions in the Context of the Origins of the New Testament Canon” by Jens Schröter
  • “Interfaces of Orality and Literature in the Gospel of Mark” by Vernon K. Robbins
  • “Memory Technology and the Composition of Mark” by Whitney Shiner
  • “A Prophet Like Moses and Elijah: Popular Memory and Cultural Patterns in Mark” by Richard A. Horsley

Praise for the Print Edition

To get a glimpse into a field that will certainly gain even more prominence in biblical studies over the next generation, this book will serve as a good taste of that kind of thinking.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary Review

Performing the Gospel hints at the broad impact of narrative, orality, and memory studies for New Testament interpretation. Indeed, these essays urge the necessity of coming to terms with the spoken character of the New Testament. Understanding orality and memory is no longer optional but rather is a necessary precondition for all hermeneutical issues and approaches, from studies of the historical Jesus to textual criticism to research on the canon. Performing the Gospel furnishes a fascinating compendium of interpretative approaches enlighted by new appreciations of orality and memory inspired by Kelber’s insights.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

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About the Editors

Richard A. Horsley is distinguished professor of liberal arts and the study of religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of The Message and the Kingdom, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, and Jesus and the Powers.

Jonathan A. Draper is professor of New Testament at the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

John Miles Foley (1947–2012) was the W. H. Byler Chair in the Humanities and directed the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri.

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