Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Did the disciples have good memory skills?

There is some debate over the historical accuracy of the words and actions of Jesus in the gospel. Since a majority of the population in the first century couldn't read, much less write, readers of the gospels have sometimes asked how we can trust the memories of the authors. One theory is by studying the nature of oral transmission. This was a popular approach among the early form critics and has seen a resurgence in the works of people like Birger Gerhardsson, Samuel Byrskog,  James D.G. Dunn and Terence Mournet, to name a few.

More recently Craig Keener has looked at the nature of oral transmission in his mammoth study on Miracles in  the New Testament. In the video clip below Keener discusses oral transmission and memory in ancient societies and modern. And he has some criticism for those whom he calls cultural elitists.

HT: Centre for Public Christianity.

1 comment:

  1. John - thanks for mentioning my work on oral tradition. For those interested readers of your blog - I have several copies of my book which I can sell for significantly less than the current sale price on readers can visit my website to contact me (

    For those interested in this important topic - I am currently working on a book for IVP Academic on this very subject (The Origins of the Gospel Tradition).