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Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore Paperback – January 14, 1999
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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)
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)
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)
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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Top customer reviews
It was a delightful and insightful reading experience for me, and I finished it in a couple hours.
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.
Multiple Versions of same stories?
Professor Dundes reports examples of what he describes as 'multiple versions of various stories' that appear in the Bible. He believes that these stories were circulated for decades and even centuries as an oral tradition. During that time, each version of the stories subtlety changed as it was circulated before it was recorded in written form. From the discrepancies among the various version of the same story, he concluded not only that the Bible contains folklore, but that the Bible is folklore. Dundes writes: "It simply means that the Bible is oral literature that has been written down, and the nature of oral literature is that there must be two or more versions of any story...the Bible clearly manifests the basic distinctive criteria of folklore: namely multiple existence and variation."
Dr. Alan Dundes:
Known as a world class authority on folklore, Alan Dundes, is a professor of folklore and anthropology, University of California, Berkeley. He has written over 30 books based on his studies of the oral traditions of many cultures. In more than 30 books he has unveiled the meanings in the oral traditions of many cultures.