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Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore Hardcover – January 1, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In the most recent of Dundes's three important contributions to the study of religion. It is our good fortune that this most eminent of American anthropologists and folklorists well known for his work on folklore theory and on subjects as diverse as German national charachter and American joke cycles, has now brought his scholarship to bear on religion. Dundes's work is already widely influential in the United States and deserves to be better known among British scholars of religion. (Journal Of Contemporary Religion)

It has long been recognized by professional biblicists that the Bible is full of duplications and that the Bible originally circulated orally. Folklorist Alan Dundes' original contribution, carried out with the spriteliness and verve for which he is celebrated, is to show how the duplications are not contingent but inherent in the nature of folklore, and thereby to show how the folkloristic nature of the Bible continues in even its written form. A wonderful book. (Robert Segal, Lancaster University)

Holy Writ as Oral Lit offers insight into the Bible without diminishing it. (Columbus Dispatch)

'Holy writ as Oral Lit,' a brief but illuminating excursus into the Bible. (Johnathan Kirsch Los Angeles Times, March 99)

The fact of variation in the Bible is an important point, which Dundes documents abundantly. . . Dundes's emphasis on folklore analysis for understanding the biblical writings is salutary. (Ronald S. Hendel, University of California, Berkeley Religious Studies Review)

The idea that the Bible contains elements of folklore is not new. What makes Alan Dundes's latest book so remarkable, however, is his claim that the Bible is more folklore than anything else. Even more remarkable is the fact that after reading this book,such a claim seems absolutely convincing. This is an outstanding book that belongs on the shelf of anyone concerned either with folklore or the Bible. (Michael P. Carroll, University of Western Ontario)

This study provides an explanation for several of the discrepancies found in the Bible. It also gives the reader insight into the method used in this kind of study. (The Bible Today)

Dundes persuasively makes his case for the folkloristic origins of biblical literature. (Western Folklore)

The Holy Writ as Oral Lit is a very worthwhile book. It is enlightening, convincing, entertaining, and familiarizes the reader with the most important research done on Scripture and folklore. (Evangelical Review Of Theology)

A worthwhile book. It is enlightening, convincing, entertaining, and familiarizes the reader with the most important research on Scripture and folklore. In addition, it gives the reader a bird's-eye view of the nature and genres of folklore. (Auss)

While written for the novice studying the orally discursive nature of the Judeo-Christian canon, the book will also be useful to more advanced scholars, especially for its survey of the literature and comprehensive biography. (Christianity and Literature)

About the Author

Alan Dundes is known as one of the world's leading authorities on folklore. In more than 30 books he has unveiled the meanings in the oral traditions of many cultures. He lives in Berkeley, where he is professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847691977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847691975
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,474,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Harumi Kawamura on November 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This was a fantastic read. The author step-by-step takes the reader through the basics of oral literature (folklore, folk tales), and gives numerous examples of oral literature in the Bible. Among many other examples, he shows how the two creation stories, the two flood stories, all demonstrate that the Bible, Holy Writ, is an example of a collection of Oral Lit, oral folk tales that the ancient people used to tell each other.
It was a delightful and insightful reading experience for me, and I finished it in a couple hours.
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Format: Hardcover
"Dundes observed that variations in the oral tradition were preserved in the Bible precisely because of its sacred nature. To a folklorist, it is utter folly to attempt to reconcile such diversity." Patricia McBroom

Folklore in Oral Transmission:
My dad never described the Old Testament narratives as mythical, but he convincingly argued that since it was written after centuries of oral tradition was tinted with variants of ideas and theologies.
Most biblical scholars acknowledge that the Old Testament was orally transmitted for decades before appearing in written form. Dundes offers a new and exciting way to understand its variant texts, using the analytical framework of folklore to unearth and contrast the multiple versions of nearly every major biblical event, including the creation of woman, the flood, the ten commandments, among many others.

Interpreting the Bible as folklore:
Using his expert knowledge of folklore, Dundes unearths and contrasts multiple versions of most major biblical event, to helps us resolve some of the mysteries and contradictions that evolved during the Bible's prewritten legacy and that persist in the Great Book today. With great reverence for the Bible, Dundes offers a new and exciting way to resolve some of the mysteries and contradictions that evolved during the Bible's prewritten legacy and that still persist today. "People say this is an oral tradition, but then they proceed to search for one true variant," said Dundes, "In oral literature, there is no such thing. This is not meant to be disrespectful, but people should stop worrying about the discrepancies among the stories. They don't matter. This doesn't mean the Bible isn't true, or that it isn't a sacred text," He hastened to explain.
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2 Comments 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Alan Dundes, one of the U.C.Berkeley's foremost professors, has written a fantastic book again! He proves that the bible's source is oral literature (folklore), thus explaining the different versions of events throughout the bible. Dundes' book is the voice of reason in a sea of confusion surrounding biblical history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Those who hold on to the belief of a God-inspired bibilical text won't have their minds changed -- but those who seek rational answers to all the brouhaha over the old fairy tales of the Bible will find real food for clear thought and understanding.
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