Quite simply, Hübenthal’s essay is a must-read for anyone who wants to work accurately with the theory. Her comments toward the end on the differences between approaching the New Testament texts as kommunikatives Gedächtnis and kollectives Gedächtnis indicate just why this approach contains so much promise for New Testament and early Christian studies. We eagerly anticipate the publication of Dr. Hübenthal’s Habilitationschrift!
Monday, April 22, 2013
Sandra Hübenthal on Social and Cultural Memory—Chris Keith
In an earlier post, I pointed out that some critics of memory theory appear surprisingly uninformed of the complexities of the theory itself and seem to be dependent simply upon second-hand applications of the theory in Biblical Studies, and only a fraction of second-hand applications at that. One of the scholars I mention in that post who has been overlooked is Sandra Hübenthal of Tübingen. I have just finished reading her essay “Social and Cultural Memory in Biblical Exegesis: The Quest for an Adequate Application” (in Niels Peter, ed., Cultural Memory in Biblical Exegesis, Gorgias Press, 2012) and recommend it enthusiastically to anyone interested in memory theory in Biblical Studies. She shows precisely why generalized references to “memory” are inadequate—social memory, collective memory, and cultural memory all refer to different things. Furthermore, and this is a particularly significant insight, in German discourse soziales, kommunikatives, and kulturelles Gedächtnis tend to mean something different than their English counterparts mean. And, even further, Hübenthal notes something that several of us working with Jan Assmann have also noted, which is that his and his wife’s understandings of kommunikatives and kulturelles Gedächtnis have undergone changes just in the last several years.