Baker Academic

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Very Important Book - Le Donne

In 2003 I thought that I was the only person in the world who was applying "social" and "cultural" memory theories to the Gospels. I had discovered this book and I felt like I was looking at Yosemite for the first time. Then it was Egyptologist, Jan Assmann and historiographer, David Lowenthal. These fellows were the intellectual children of French sociologist, Maurice Halbwachs. So next I read Halbwachs.  For all I knew, I had the theory all to myself within New Testament studies.  Then I discovered this:
Jens Schröter, “Von der Historizität der Evangelien: Ein Beitrag zur gegenwärtigen Diskussion um den historischen Jesus,” in Der historische Jesus: Tendenzen und Perspektiven der gegenwärtigen Forschung (ed. by J. Schröter and R. Brucher; BZNW 114; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2002),163–212.
I was not alone in the universe.

My next discovery, which was no less significant, was that a guy named Alan Kirk was working on something similar. I was lucky enough to find Alan's email address. I read his seminal SBL paper and learned that he was planning a project that featured sociologist and historian, Barry Schwartz. That project turned into this book, the first of it's kind in biblical studies.

If you're at all interested in social memory, Christian origins, or the latest in historical Jesus research, you must read Memory, Tradition, And Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity. Yesterday, Brian LePort offered a helpful introduction.


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