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Memory and Manuscript with Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity (Biblical Resource) Perfect Paperback – May 1, 1998
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Smith was never afraid to confront anyone. I once attended an SBL/ASOR conference where Dr. Smith made a swashbuckling assault on the towering William Foxwell Albright, then dean of American Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology. Understand, it was all verbal and it had Smith’s wealth of knowledge behind it. Albright stood at the podium with quiet dignity and aplomb and waited until Morton Smith sat down. Then, with the greatest respect for Dr. Smith, but with surgical precision, dismembered Smith’s arguments one by one.
The years have passed and Dr. Neusner now gets his chance to make amends. He writes a 21 page preface to the new publication and explains his change of heart about Smith’s critique of Gerhardsson’s work. That, alone, is a valuable contribution. Gerhardsson has also provided a very convenient list of the reviews of his work on pp. xxiii-xxiv.Read more ›
Yet today it may be one of the most quoted books by other biblical scholars. And no wonder. Gerhardsson struck a mortal blow to Bultmann and the form critics and their emphasis on literary form and the written word.
Most Second Temple Jews believed their oral tradition - the oral Torah - to be the equal of scripture, and as binding. Both Philo and Josephus attest to this belief.
To ensure that the truths they believed in were taught to children, Jews developed a school system. "Simeon ben Shetah...arranged for children to attend a bet sefer" (p 58)...toward the end of the Amoraic period, school attendance was, to judge from the evidence, quite general, although not compulsory, among the Jews" (p 59). It appears the sole subject taught was the "reading of the sacred Scriptures" (p 61). The bet sefer were primary schools and "are known to scholars as mishnah schools" (p 91).
Even so, theirs was more an oral than a written culture. And all the ancient schools apparently taught by rote, by unending memorization. Boys in Athens memorized vast portions of Homer. In Judaea, the lowest educational level for the youngest boys emphasized this sort of memorization. Various mnemonic techniques were utilized.
It was common for students to take notes "intended to facilitate learning and continued memorization; practice and future repetition" (p 161). These notebooks served as reminders. (Some scholars today argue that the reason the Christians began to use the codex form was because it resembled these notebooks.)
People read aloud.Read more ›